Another Stolen Democracy?
By Mumia Abu Jamal
If the major media is to be believed, the recent election is a done deal—over and done with. It was free and fair, and folks should just accept it, and quietly move on.
If Greg Palast, an American journalist usually working out of London, is to be listened to, American democracy has been ripped off—again.
Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, really did the prodigious legwork to crack the Florida debacle back in 2000. He demonstrated, quite convincingly, it seems to me, how the White House, Florida’s Governor, Jeb Bush, and the then-Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, essentially stole the elections there, by undercounting and spoiling sufficient votes to allow Bush to eke out a win in the Sunshine State back in 2000.
Palast now argues that, once again, this time utilizing dirty tricks, and ambitious politicians, the same thing happened in the states of Ohio and New Mexico. In a brief, four-page Internet article, Palast presents facts and figures that once again demonstrates that there is a system in place in the U.S. that uses terms like democracy; but in practice, it’s something else again. It’s bait and switch; it’s hide and don’t seek; it’s actually the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands, and indeed, millions of Americans, based on their race, their ethnicity, and often, their economic class.
Palast reveals how, particularly in poorer and minority districts in Ohio, the old punch-card voting machines were still in use, and such machines have been shown statistically that they “spoil” a certain percentage of votes. Those same machines led to the infamous “hanging chads” controversy of four years ago. One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that those who live in poorer, working class, urban districts, tend to vote Democratic, while those who have more means, such as small (and large) business owners tend toward Republicans. In Ohio, where chads have appeared, these were counted as “undervotes.” While these account for some 2 percent of the state’s total, when counted in whole numbers that comes out to 110,000 presumably Democratic votes.
When you factor in the “provisional” ballots of people who were challenged at the voting booth, you can add some 175,000 to 250,000 to that number. Those “provisional” ballots seem like voting ballots, and sound like voting ballots, with one critical difference; Unless there’s a legal challenge, or a recount, they are not counted! A similar tale may be told about Mexican-American voters in parts of New Mexico. One journalist from Albuquerque, Renee Blake, reported that, “They were giving them out [meaning provisional ballots] like candy.” [Palast, “Kerry Won. Here’s the Facts.”, gregpalast.com, (11/5/04), p.3].
If Bush won Ohio, and thus the electoral college’s allocation, by 136,483 votes, and at the bare minimum of 285,000 presumably Democratic votes were “lost, spoiled, or mutilated” in Ohio alone, then who really won?
Why aren’t Democrats demanding recounts? Because the corporate media has effectively shut them down. This is a story that they don’t want blared around the world, especially at a time when America allegedly is fighting to bring “democracy” to Iraq!
This really is, now more than ever, a corporate media, that, as we have seen, takes its cues from Wall Street and the White House. A rough and tumble over stolen votes would be bad for the U.S. Imperial image.
Yet, in truth, there is another reason: Democrats sat back, for four years, and didn’t fight for the voting rights of tens of thousands of voters in Florida, many of them African-American, Haitian, Jewish, and non-Cuban Hispanics in 2000. Democratic Senators didn’t fight back when the Congressional Black Caucus tried to get congressional investigations going into the Florida debacle (and yes—Kerry was among them!). They didn’t fight in 2000; why should they fight in 2004?
The voters who were disenfranchised in Florida, Ohio, and New Mexico are disfavored, and disposable. As long as the corporate gelt comes in, it’s cool.
—Copyright Mumia Abu-Jamal, November 14, 2004