This Election’s In Your Hands

This Election’s In Your Hands

The only one way Tuesday’s vote will be protected is if citizens show up at the polls with cameras, note pads, cell phones and lawyers.


Barack Obama heads to Election Day with a razor-thin, six-point lead in the popular polls in Ohio, according to the usually reliable Columbus Dispatch poll. This means that the Buckeye State could again decide who enters the White House in January, despite the fact that nationwide Obama’s lead has been registered as high as 12 percent.

In a country with truly fair elections, a reliable vote count, and no Electoral College, such a lead should be commanding. But in the America of 2008, it will be enough only if tens of thousands of grassroots election protection activists, rallied primarily through the independent Internet, can protect voter registrations, guarantee the ability to vote at the polling stations and somehow procure an accurate, untampered-with vote count.

In short, it depends on you and your willingness to protect American democracy. It will not be the pundits or campaign managers who decide the outcome—it will be the get-out-the-vote activists, the poll workers, the monitors and observers, the election protection attorneys, the video-the-voters and the vote count investigators.

The story of the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004 is now all too familiar. Three stolen senatorial races in 2002 gave George W. Bush pivotal clout to wage a catastrophic war and destroy the American economy. In 2006, Democrats made substantial gains in Congress, but were denied numerous additional seats in races where they failed miserably to protect the franchise. Voters in Ohio elected a new governor and secretary of state, but only by overcoming the loss of 12 percent of the vote predicted by pre-election polls. The votes were stolen by disenfranchisement and electronic “irregularities” or “glitches.”

Throughout the decade, the election protection movement has been sustained by the Internet. Both the Democratic Party and corporate media have avoided the question of stolen elections like the plague. Last month the “left” media again attacked grassroots election protection as Andrew Gumbel wrote contemptuously in The Nation of “underqualified” Internet reporters who “breathlessly” document the Bush/Rove larceny.

That means you.

Now the Democrats are e-mailing appeals for election protection monitors. Through a message from Florida Congresswomen Deborah Wasserman-Schulz (no relation), the Democrats are raising money for a vaguely defined “protect the vote” effort, ignoring the fact that John Kerry raised $7 million for such an effort in 2004, then walked away from the election. A Democratic video refers to the nightmare of Florida 2000 and “stories” heard about Ohio 2004. James Carville, who loudly threw in the towel from his televised bloviator perch in 2004 while 250,000 votes were still uncounted in Ohio, has also jumped on the election protection bandwagon.

Maybe this year the Democrats will actually do something about protecting the vote. Maybe, if they carry the White House, they will actually correct some of the abuses that put George W. Bush in power, as some have begun to do in Ohio and elsewhere. After all, election irregularities will not only affect Obama, they’ve already affected Oprah.

But ultimately there is only one way Tuesday’s vote will be protected–if thousands of committed, independent public citizens show up at the polls with cameras, note pads, cell phones and lawyers, bound and determined to protect this election.

If the electronic vote on a computerized voting machine starts hopping from your candidate to another, or just fades away and poll workers do nothing–we’re asking voters to dial 911 and make an emergency report on felony election-tampering. Demand that the malfunctioning machine be immediately quarantined as a crime scene.

If Obama wins, the doubters and deceivers will cry “no wolf” in reverse, and dismiss the efforts of those who have written, organized and shown up at the polls to protect the vote. “He would have won anyway,” they’ll say.

But we will know otherwise. Only if you turn up on Election Day will the networks be discussing a McCain/Palin defeat on Wednesday.

If we see you at the polls, we can all share in an Internet-based victory party on Wednesday. Then we can spend the rest of the century working to guarantee that nothing like the Bush nightmare can ever happen again.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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