The Post Actually Does A Story On Ohio Voting Problems
In a way, you have to give the Washington Post credit for even running a story about all of the barriers that Democrats experienced in voting in Ohio last month. Peter Slevin and Michael Powell catalogue a litany of problems with how things went in Ohio, ranging from too few voting machines in Democratic precincts, to equipment that logged Democratic votes for Bush. The story documents how Ohio Secretary of State and statewide Bush campaign official Ken Blackwell interpreted a state law as restrictively as possible to disenfranchise voters who showed up to vote in precincts that may have changed on them without notice. The Post writers did not touch on the fact that local folks witnessed a election equipment technician last week wash the votes out of several machines and tell them what number of votes to enter into the count.
My big problem with this story is that it appears this late. Iím also distressed with the seemingly pervasive attitude amongst the media and election observers that none of these problems matter because there werenít enough votes affected in Ohio to change the statewide outcome, without any proof to back this conclusion up. The media and even the national Democrats, starting right with the Kerry people at the top, seem to think it is OK for largely Democratic areas to be the targets of insufficient machines, long lines, poorly trained workers, and local officials with conflicts of interest. And it seems that a collective ho-hum is the reaction to the news that the voting problems in Florida referenced in the Post piece may have delivered 130,000 extra votes to Bush, even as those conclusions have now been validated by a second researcher.
Why the nonplussed reaction by the media and frankly the Kerry campaign? Since when did it become acceptable for this country to adopt voting practices that resemble the Ukraine or any banana republic? Why did the media, especially the New York Times dismiss these stories last month and not return to them, like the Post is doing now? Why did Kerry walk away from these issues early on? Was he afraid that if the truth got out, we would have far bigger problems that it was worth? And if that was the reason, then why did he run in the first place?
As a result of the last two presidential elections, there can no longer be any rationale for states to be allowed to run their own national elections. Allowing each Secretary of State to administer their own rules and regulations as to how each county will run their elections and how resources will be allocated, and to serve in any capacity with one of the campaigns competing for votes is an outright conflict of interest, and we now have plenty of proof of this from watching Ken Blackwell and Katherine Harris in Florida last time. It is far past time for there to be election reform in this country, and if the Democrats are going to regain their footing in the next two years, it will be as the party of reform as an antidote to the corruption and cronyism of the GOP.
The best rationale for this actually comes from an unlikely place: Bush V. Gore, where the Supremes said that the 14th Amendment and the equal protection clause were their rationale for intervening in 2000. With so much documentation now available from not one but two national elections that Democrats and minority voters are not treated equally as compared to GOP voters under our current "let the states do what they want" system, it is far past time for the Democrats to turn Scalia's own arguments against the GOP as the pretext for massive election reform. Let's put the GOP on the defensive on this issue.
Remember how Rove worked with evangelicals to place initiatives calling for a ban on gay marriage on the ballots in key states in an under-the-radar way to drive up right wing turnout in this election? Maybe the Democrats can use election reform in key states to do the same for their base in the 2006 midterms. This will be one of our "moral values" for the next four years.