Thursday, October 26, 2006
Another Stolen Election Headed Our Way? We Talked with Mark Crispin Miller About What Voters Can Do to Prevent It
Mark Crispin Miller is a very serious guy. We met recently over coffee at a quaint little cafe near New York University, where he teaches communications and media. Mark's been sounding the alarm on election fraud for years, convinced that both Al Gore and John Kerry were robbed of the presidency in 2000 and 2004. And he's afraid, very afraid, that the problem these days is worse, not better. Listening to him talk, watching his gestures, hearing his doomsday scenarios, it's easy to get caught up in it. And it makes you angry to think he's right. We vowed to riot in the streets should Democrats lose again in November. What I love about Mark is that you get the feeling he'd actually do it.
While I firmly believe that part of the Repugs' strategy to win elections is to steal them, I don't profess to be an expert on voting fraud. There's plenty of very dedicated folks like Mark, Brad Friedman and Bobby Kennedy Jr. who've thankfully been carrying that torch, making the rest of us painfully aware that the problem exists and that if, unchecked, it can and will happen again. If you don't believe that, all you need to do is monitor the blatantly corrupt actions of people like Kenneth Blackwell--Ohio's Secretary of State, gubernatorial candidate and loyal Bushevik--to get a greater sense of the threat facing Democrats at the polls.
So what I asked Mark was not to simply rehash the infuriating tales of fraud from the Gore/Bush and Bush/Kerry elections, but to clearly define for us what Americans can do to prevent a repeat in 2006 and 2008.
First and foremost, Americans must vote. And vote in record numbers. Sounds simple, right? Well it is. The ability to vote in this country is not just a right but an obligation. The more Democrats that vote, the less likely that fraud would impact the outcome of an election. 96-million, 105-million and 121-million people voted in the '96, '00 and '04 elections respectively. In '04, overall turnout was a record 61%, but the GOP's highly efficient "72-hour" program delivered more voters than the Democrats' get-out-the-vote efforts. But as we now know, we still need even greater turnout.
Miller believes, and has written this month in The American Spectator, that "We need the biggest turnout ever, as a protest on behalf of free and fair elections in America. Such a turnout will make it that much harder for the Bush Republicans to spin their victory."
Next, Miller urges that Americans bombard their congressmen and Senators demanding an end to electronic voting unless a critical paper trail is created. Even better, we should have paper ballots that can be hand counted. That companies like Diebold--headed by shameless Bushevik Wally O'Dell--get to control the machines that receive and tally votes is criminal. As Miller points out, one little programmed tweak can, and did, turn countless Kerry votes into Bush votes. How this situation is allowed to exist in our Democracy is incomprehensible.
Miller also believes the media must commit itself to educating the public to this growing problem. "The key here is mass awareness," he said. "Right now, when nobody has really heard what went down, it's hard to think of what to tell them to do...The real problem here is the media. Their failure to put a spotlight on this is a gross abdication of their Constitutional responsibility." He strongly urges contacting major newspaper editors: "The media should be inundated with letters from people demanding to know why it's not being covered...I mean, why aren't they covering this, it's unbelievable."
Miller is also frustrated that the liberal radio and cable shows aren't doing a better job at creating awareness, and cites just a handful of broadcasters who he says "get it" including MSNBC's Keith Olberman and Air America's Thom Hartmann.
Another suggestion Miller has is to demonstrate at the headquarters of the NY Times, Washington Post and other major news establishments to demand greater focus and coverage be placed on this very serious problem. Where are the young, righteous, idealistic Woodward and Bernsteins of today willing to tackle the greatest threat ever to our Democracy?
As for election day itself, Miller has a couple of suggestions. The first is that the U.S. government should make it a national holiday to make it as easy as possible for people to get to the polls. The less obstacles to voting we put in front of people, the greater the turnout we'll experience.
Additionally, and extremely important, Miller said every voter should go to the polls this November armed with the phone number 1-866-OUR-VOTE from Election Incident Reporting System, which records and analyzes information about voting problems before, during, and after elections. He also mentioned the Election Defense Alliance, "which is setting up a citizen's rapid response mechanism to go to places where there are close races--and where Republicans are cheating--to help people gather evidence." Should you witness fraudulent and/or suspicious activity on election day, get on your cell phone and contact these groups immediately.
Lastly, Miller wants consistency. "I think we need a federal standard of elections, so that there's a certain uniformity of voting methods coast to coast. The patchwork system we have now is a disaster, with different rules and systems from state to state and county to county....The vast crazy-quilt of different voting systems nationwide is very dangerous, as it allows for huge inequities, and has help to over-complicate, and thereby obfuscate, what ought to be a fairly simple process."
But he maintains that overall control should remain on the state level. "It's basically a good thing that the states control their own election systems, as that arrangement helps to keep the federal government at bay. Indeed, Bush is trying to tighten his control of the election system by strengthening the hand, and selecting the members, of the Election Assistance Commission. For BushCo to run the national vote directly would be catastrophic. So the principle of state control is worth preserving. The problem lies not with state control per se, but with the inordinate influence of the parties--and, lately, just one party--over the election process."
So, let's make this simple for voters:
1-Vote, vote, vote...and get everyone you know to vote as well
2-Write your congressmen and senators and demand uniformity and federal standards for the election process. Demand an end to electronic voting machines unless there's a viable paper trail. Demand paper ballots instead. Ask that election day be declared a national holiday
3-Bombard the media with letters and calls that demand coverage of election fraud
5-Go armed to the polls next month with 1-866-OUR-VOTE and call it immediately to report any fraudulent and/or suspicious activity
In parting, the most chilling thing Mark told me was his prediction of what the Republicans will do should Democrats win on Nov 7th, which he also expounded in American Spectator: "If the GOP should lose the House or Senate, its troops will mount a noisy propaganda drive accusing their opponents of election fraud. This is no mere speculation, according to a well-placed party operative who lately told talk radio host Thom Hartmann, off the record, that the game will be to shriek indignantly that those dark-hearted Democrats have fixed the race. We will hear endlessly of Democratic "voter fraud" through phantom ballots, rigged machines, intimidation tactics, and all the other tricks whereby the Bush regime has come to power. The regime will, in short, deploy the ultimate Swift Boat maneuver to turn around as many races as they need so as to nullify the will of the electorate."
To quote Alanis Morissette, "Isn't it ironic, don't ya think?".....