Since the Bush-Cheney-Rove theft of the 2000 election in Florida, the right of millions of American citizens to vote and have that vote counted has been under constant assault.
In 2014, that systematic disenfranchisement may well have delivered the US Senate to the Republican Party. If nothing significant is done about it by 2016, we can expect the GOP to take the White House and much more.
The primary victims of this GOP-led purge have been young, elderly, poor and citizens of color who tend to vote Democratic. The denial of their votes has changed the face of our government, and is deepening corporate control of our lives and planet.
There’s no doubt the Democrats have alienated their core constituency and given millions of their former supporters little reason to vote. Perpetual war, blank checks for mega-banks, stiffing the working poor while giving away the planet to the rich—these are all part of the malaise. Our political landscape is currently defined by corporate personhood and its gutting of the Democratic Party.
Part of that is the destruction of our electoral rights, and the refusal of the Democrats to even face the issue, let alone do something about it. Our voting system is, to put it mildly, bought and rigged, further feeding the deadening sense of public futility and frustration.
As the GOP moves toward total control of our governance—the media, the Internet, the Supreme Court, the Congress, local government and, in 2016, the presidency—our future depends on knowing the nuts and bolts of how the destruction of our democracy proceeds, and what we can do to stop it.
In this year’s takeover of the US Senate and many statehouses, barely more than a third of the eligible citizenry was credited with having voted. Official vote counts gave the GOP a consistent “bonus” of about 5% over pre-election polls. In the US Senate race in North Carolina and the Governor’s race in Florida, that margin clearly gave the Republicans their victories, and probably did the same in many other close races.
The GOP’s Jim Crow disenfranchisement campaign has outright robbed millions of citizens of their right to vote. It’s deliberately created an air of confusion and doubt that’s further suppressed the turnout.
Greg Palast, for example, has reported extensively on the Kansas-based “cross-check” technique, used in 28 states, where Republican secretaries of state denied voting rights based on arbitrary judgments that allowed them to eliminate several million potential Democratic voters.
Deliberate (and often illegal) disinformation campaigns, destruction of voter registration forms, outright intimidation, repressive photo ID requirements and other suppression techniques made things worse. It’s by design, not accident, that America’s voter turnout is ranked 120th among all nations.
In evaluating the actual vote count, manipulation of untrackable electronic voting machines must also be accounted for.
Over the years, Bev Harris, Brad Friedman, Jon Simon, Richard Charney and many others have added vital research leading to the inevitable conclusion that the 2014 election—like 2000 and 2004—was essentially bought, rigged, stolen and lynched.
We do not believe the Republican Party legitimately won the US Senate or many of the statehouses they’ve been granted, any more than George W. Bush should have been handed the White House in 2000 and 2004.
Unless we finally face the core issues of election protection, history could repeat itself in 2016 as both tragedy and farce.
Because the dust is still settling, many of the specifics about 2014 remain hidden. In the coming weeks we’ll present as much of the evidence as we can gather.
In the meantime, we welcome President Obama’s new statements supporting net neutrality. There’s no more important foundation for what shreds of democracy remain to us than the ability to freely communicate. Handing control of the internet to mega-corporations, as proposed by the current (Democratic) head of the Federal Communications Commission, would be catastrophic. As with reclaiming our elections, our future on this planet demands an open global highway for unfettered communication. We must do everything we can to preserve and expand it.
We also congratulate US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for proposing that election day become a national holiday. After the 2004 debacle, we proposed a four-day election holiday to cover the first Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in November. This four-day stretch would help enshrine access to our election process as the sacred ritual it should be.
We also propose universal automatic voter registration, universal hand-counted paper ballots, abolition of the Electoral College, and a massive reform of the role of money in politics.
We hope Sen. Sanders’ initial proposal opens the door to a bottom-up remake of our electoral system. Without it, our democracy is nothing more than a hollow shell.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll explore how that shell was cracked yet again in 2014.
All indicators are that it could be definitively crushed in two years if we don’t act now.
To be continued . . .
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored six books on election protection, which are at www.freepress.org, along with Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES. HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE US is at www.solartopia.org, along with his SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH.