vendredi 17 octobre 2008

On the Cover of the Rolling Stone -- Stealing back your vote

By Pistol Tanker Palin

"If Democrats are to win the 2008 election, they must not simply beat McCain at the polls - they must beat him by a margin that exceeds the level of GOP vote tampering."

-- By Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Greg Palast

From the current newstand issues of the Rolling Stone Magazine, "Can the Republicans Steal the Election?: The GOP is at it again, deterring new voters and discarding democratic votes"


Illustration, Rolling Stone June 2008 article
"Was the 2004 Election Stolen", by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

"Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted - enough to have put John Kerry in the White House."

-- Rolling Stone Magazine, "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?"


I will keep this brief this morning. The articles are long enough to read already, and important enough to bother. I have already written about this here (summary of caging efforts from Obama's Rapid Response Team) and here (Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s Sept. 24 warning of 30 Republican scams to get Democratic voters off the rolls, particularly in swing states).

In the cover story of this month's issue of RS, "Obama's Moment", Eric Bates asks Senator Obama about the Republicans efforts to suppress the Democratic vote in Ohio, whether he is worried about that this time out, and what he's doing about it.
In the last two elections, the Republicans worked to suppress the vote, especially in Democratic precincts. Reporting by Bobby Kennedy in Rolling Stone has raised questions about whether the Republicans stole the 2004 election in Ohio. Are you worried about those kinds of tactics this time? And what are you doing in advance to keep that from happening?
Without leveling any accusations about past misdeeds, I can tell you that we're paying a lot of attention to how the election a month from now is going to take place. We've got an extraordinary team of lawyers in every battleground state — hundreds of them — fanning out across these states. A lot of the work is actually being done now: We have organized such a surge in voter registration that there were clerks having difficulty processing the registration, and there was some question as to legal requirements for them to hire more clerks. So there's already been a lot of work done, and I feel pretty confident that if there are any shenanigans out there that we'll be on top of them.

But John Kerry said the same thing in 2004. Lawyers are mainly useful after the fact, when it's too late. Is there anything you can do before the fact to keep the vote from being tampered with?
Well, in Ohio the thing we did was make sure there was a Democratic secretary of state.

Replacing Kenneth Blackwell, the Republican who was in charge in 2004.
Right.

....

An email from contributing investigative
reporter, Greg Palast

Don't worry about Mickey Mouse or ACORN stealing the election. According to an investigative report out today in Rolling Stone magazine, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast, after a year-long investigation, reveal a systematic program of "GOP vote tampering" on a massive scale.

- Republican Secretaries of State of swing-state Colorado have quietly purged one in six names from their voter rolls.

Over several months, the GOP politicos in Colorado stonewalled every attempt by Rolling Stone to get an answer to the massive purge - ten times the average state's rate of removal.

- While Obama dreams of riding to the White House on a wave of new voters, more then 2.7 million have had their registrations REJECTED under new procedures signed into law by George Bush.

Kennedy, a voting rights lawyer, charges this is a resurgence of 'Jim Crow' tactics to wrongly block Black and Hispanic voters.

- A fired US prosecutor levels new charges - accusing leaders of his own party, Republicans, with criminal acts in an attempt to block legal voters as "fraudulent."

- Digging through government records, the Kennedy-Palast team discovered that, in 2004, a GOP scheme called "caging" ultimately took away the rights of 1.1 million voters. The Rolling Stone duo predict that, this November 4, it will be far worse.

There's more:

- Since the last presidential race, "States used dubious 'list management' rules to scrub at least 10 million voters from their rolls."

Among those was Paul Maez of Las Vegas, New Mexico - a victim of an unreported but devastating purge of voters in that state that left as many as one in nine Democrats without a vote. For Maez, the state's purging his registration was particularly shocking - he's the county elections supervisor.

The Kennedy-Palast revelations go far beyond the sum of questionably purged voters recently reported by the New York Times.

"Republican operatives - the party's elite commandos of bare-knuckle politics," report Kennedy and Palast, under the cover of fighting fraudulent voting, are "systematically disenfranchis[ing] Democrats."

The investigators level a deadly serious charge:

"If Democrats are to win the 2008 election, they must not simply beat McCain at the polls - they must beat him by a margin that exceeds the level of GOP vote tampering."

Block the Vote by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. & Greg Palast in the current issue (#1064) of Rolling Stone. [Media enquiries - Dave Falkenstein, Sunshine Sachs & Assoc, via interviews@gregpalast.com.]

Note - Kennedy and Palast are releasing, simultaneously with the Rolling Stone investigative report what they call, the vote-theft 'antidote': a 24-page full-color comic book, Steal Back Your Vote org> , which can be downloaded or obtained in print from their non-partisan website, StealBackYourVote.org org>


....

Stealing back your vote


I have voted. That's part of a happy story. After a more than gracious exchange of emails with the Republican Assistant Registrar of the Town of Greenwich, Ms. Ruby Durant -- there is also a Democratic Registrar of voters for the town --, and a phone call to the Town Clerk's Office, I received my Connecticut Absentee Ballot, mailed to all requesting it as they promised on October 3, during the next week, and after a moment spent appreciatively with it, I filled it out, scanned it for posterity and sent it back to Carmella Budkins, the Clerk of the Town of Greenwich, with no shortage of fanfare at the post office in Bonnières sur Seine.

I was almost embarrassed by the attention and care my ballot and I received in a crowed post office in France, filled with small children, some guys and a few elderly persons.

On the phone with the the Town Clerk's Office, I had asked the woman on the other end of the phone if they really do count the absentee ballot, her tone just a little weary and bemused.

"That's why we are sending them all out October 3, so we can count them all." She sounded like they get a lot of them, and like the whole thing isn't much of a picnic, but sworn to do they duty, they'll do it. I felt somewhat comforted and thanked her, telling her that my vote is very important to me and appreciate the respect it receives from them.

I didn't have to say that -- it's their job -- but I thought she might like to know what their job means to one citizen, multiplied by millions away from home, or living outside of the United States. She took it in a sort of "Is this caller cracked? Think nothing of it" fashion.

That's Connecticut, though, friends. I have never lived in a Swing State, unless my family's residence in Maryland can be in any way thought to qualilfy. New York and Connecticut (that's all?), with summers spent in California (a blood red part, Orange County) and Massachusetts (no red part whatsoever).

Check your Voter Registration
It cannot hurt anyone to check your voter registration and make sure you are on the voter rolls. You can also check with your secretary of state or board of elections website (I called the local Registrar of Voters).

Make a habit of it if you live in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Obama's bi-racial heritage, coupled with the current political landscape ("Off with their Republican heads!") putting States like Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Virginia in play, with reports of West Virginia begining to feel just a little blue -- acording to Electoral-Votes.com, Insider Advantage has Obama just 2 points under McCain on October 13, and West Virginia Blue's West Virginia Lover reported on ARG's poll putting Obama 8 points up at 50% to McCain's 42% on October 9 --, you might want to check regularly, check often there, too.


Vote early
Check to see if your state permits early voting. This will give you time to act if you find that you are not on the voter rolls before November 4, and it will help ease congestion at the polls on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4, when record numbers are expected to cast their ballots.


Volunteer to help steal the vote back (legally of course)
Whether you are a lawyer, a law student, a paralegal or merely a concerned citizen, there are ways to help. You can use the following links to sign up with:
  • The Obama Voter Protection Program, and
  • Election Protection with the National Campaign for Fair Elections site. You can still sign up here to volunteer even if you don't have a legal background!

If you are a student, registering to vote for the first time and are planning to vote away from home by absentee ballot

Make absolutely certain to read this Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. piece, if you want you vote to be counted and not end up in the trash bin. His advice for you:

"If you're a newly registered voter... you MUST include your license or some other state I.D. when you come to vote. What that means is that if you're a college kid... if [you] send in the absentee ballot, and [you] don't include a copy of [your driver's] license, [you] vote is going to be thrown into a trash can. And none of these people know this, because you had to have to read the law in order to know it. There is no notification [of this requirement] when you fill out your registration form, so all of those 12 million people that the Democrats have regstered -- those ballot are going to be just thrown out."

If you are an United States Citizen living outside the United States
It is not to late to request a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot from Vote from Abroad, http://VotefromAbroad.org.

They walk you through it. It couldn't be easier.

And for those of you unfamiliar with how the language is applied in the case of US citizens living outside the United States, when we register to vote, it is only valid for that particular Federal Election.

When I left the country in 2002, I was registered in the State of Connecticut in my last town of residence, Greenwich. I voted in the 2004 election, but do not remember how I received my ballot. I had thought that it had been automatically sent to me because of my registration, but I am starting to think that I have forgotten something because I panicked when I used the check your voter registration tool provided by the Obama campaign, and it didn't find my registration.

After making some phone calls, I learned that a card I received and returned to the Registrar of Voters in Greenwich, confirming that my current address is outside the United States caused my name to be legitimately removed from the state's voter rolls. You can only be on them if you are living in your state and paying property taxes. This may vary in some states.

We all know already that we cannot vote in state and local elections.

In order to vote in the federal elections in which we are entitled to cast our vote, you must request a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) using a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). If you haven't done this already (the deadline was October 4), go to VotefromAbroad.org, use the wizard, and mail in your FWAB along with your FPCA.

"Every voter who sublits a valid ballot request 30 days before the election is legally entitled to use the FWAB. In addition, some states have later deadlines. You may send the FPCA and FWAB right up until Election Day, but it will depend on your state whether your ballot is deemed valid.

NOTE: The FWAB instructions refer to a 'Security Envelope', which goes inside your mailing envelope. YOu may use any black encelope to serve as the Security Envelope."

Have questions? Vote from Abroad also helpfully encourages you to email them with any questions at VoterCentral@democratsabroad.org, and if you have specific questions about your registration, to do what I did -- pick up your phone and call your Registrar of Voters office directly, "nothing can replace speaking to your local election officials... if you do not agree with the answer they give you, please contact [VoterCentral@democratsabroad.org] -- we may be able to help you."

I Googled "registrar of voters Greenwich CT" to get the phone numbers.

My French husband still cannot get over that this is even an issue in the United States of America and wonders, along with the rest of Europe, what is wrong with our country that we can't insure the most basic of democratic rights. It is a wrong that must be righted and protected indelibly.

Please do your part and make sure you are registered, continue to show as registered on your state's voter rolls, and that your vote is accepted on November 4 and cast by showing up to vote with all possible forms of ID anyone can ask from you.

And then, demand that it is counted and counts by demanding legislation for fairness in voting and ballot receipts.

If you suspect foul play with your voter registration
Contact the office of your Secretary of State and file your complaint. If you have difficulties doing so, contact your Democratic elected officials and state Democratic Committee officials. Consider writing a letter to the editor of your local paper, and contacting the media if your complaint goes without action.

Heck, do it anyway.

You betcha'.
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