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Stealing the Election Again?

The Bush Thugs Get to Work

August 20, 2004
By Brad Friedman

The Florida 2000 election was clearly an aberration of our democracy on more levels than one may care to count.

From the elderly Jews "voting" for Pat Buchanan on the butterfly ballot, to the grossly racist and inaccurate corporate purging of "felons" from the voter rolls, to the military absentee ballots postmarked days after the election but left unchallenged by a cowed Gore campaign, to the staged demonstrations - meant to look like a voter uprising - of "angry" Republican campaign workers storming the vote counters, to the Florida Secretary of State/Bush Campaign Co-Chair "confirming" the count of uncounted ballots... etc., etc., etc.

To put it bluntly, it was a debacle and a blight on our country's record of free, fair, honest and open elections.

And yet, I was prepared to look back at it all it as a one-time anomaly of a bitterly divided country and a virtually tied state run by the brother of the Republican nominee as he was looking to find that one foot in the door to snatch the deciding edge in a nearly evenly divided national electorate.

In other words, it sucked, it was un-American, un-democratic and un-seemly, but it was over and it could never happen again.

Am I na´ve, or what?

That "one-time anomaly" was likely nothing of the sort. And it looks like the Bush Bros. may be preparing a repeat performance, seeking any and all opportunities to squeeze out just enough votes to win again. Or perhaps more appropriately, squeeze out enough votes to make it look as though they've won again.

This column from Bob Herbert in Monday's New York Times may be an ominous sign of who and what is at work in Florida again for this year's crucial Presidential election. The elderly black vote in Florida is crucial to a Kerry win, and so the piece is particularly ominous and frightening:

State police officers have gone into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando and interrogated them as part of an odd "investigation" that has frightened many voters, intimidated elderly volunteers and thrown a chill over efforts to get out the black vote in November.

The officers, from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which reports to Gov. Jeb Bush, say they are investigating allegations of voter fraud that came up during the Orlando mayoral election in March.

Officials refused to discuss details of the investigation, other than to say that absentee ballots are involved. They said they had no idea when the investigation might end, and acknowledged that it may continue right through the presidential election.

...

The state police officers, armed and in plain clothes, have questioned dozens of voters in their homes. Some of those questioned have been volunteers in get-out-the-vote campaigns.

I asked [Geo Morales, a spokesman for the Department of Law Enforcement] in a telephone conversation to tell me what criminal activity had taken place.

"I can't talk about that," he said.

I asked if all the people interrogated were black.

"Well, mainly it was a black neighborhood we were looking at - yes,'' he said.

He also said, "Most of them were elderly."

When I asked why, he said, "That's just the people we selected out of a random sample to interview."

Chilled yet?

One woman who was questioned is quoted in the column as asking "Am I going to go to jail now because I voted by absentee ballot?"

Joseph Egan, an attorney for one of the 73-year-old vote workers being "investigated," speaks of the blanket of fear and intimidation that is beginning to emanate through the community:

According to Mr. Egan, "People who have voted by absentee ballot for years are refusing to allow campaign workers to come to their homes. And volunteers who have participated for years in assisting people, particularly the elderly or handicapped, are scared and don't want to risk a criminal investigation."

If this is the one story that has been picked up by the media about possible chicanery in the Sunshine State, imagine what may be going on that we don't yet know about down there.

When I received an email last night asking me to become an "Election Protection Volunteer," it seemed perhaps to be a bit of overkill. This morning however, I'm beginning to think differently. If the people won't step up to ensure a free and fair election this time around, who will? Jeb's thugs? James Baker? The Supreme Court?

And with the margin of victory as close as it could be, how na´ve would we be to make the assumption that BushCo won't do anything and everything again this time to "win" the election once more.

As it's been said: "Fool me once... shame on... shame on you... ... ... if ya fool me, ya can't get fooled again."

Pay attention.

Brad Friedman is a freelance writer and software designer. He is also a proud "Liberal Hollywood Elitist" sharing all of the great esteem and many rewards that come with it. His blog can be read at http://www.BradFriedman.com/BradBlog.

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