The Secretary of State Project
If you are like me, you were appalled at the voting irregularities and vote suppression engineered by the GOP in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. Over the years I have received many emails and comments from progressives about the importance of securing the right to vote. I have also seen and heard the frustration amongst progressives (and sometimes, the feelings of disillusionment) about the Democratic party's weakness in fighting back the GOP's predictable vote suppression efforts.
The truth is, all progressives can help - in some form or the other - the movement that is rebuilding the foundation of voting rights in America brick-by-brick. One effort to reclaim voting rights is the Secretary of State Project - a project that was brought to my attention over email today. The goal of this project is to help elect Secretaries of State in 2006 who will help voting rights in 2008 and beyond.
The crucial role that Secretaries of State play in influencing voting rights is more than obvious if you recall the naked corruption and vote suppression by Ohio's Kenneth Blackwell in 2004 and Florida's Katherine Harris in 2000. As the SoS website explains:
Secretaries of States play a critical role in the certification and selection of machines at the state level. If the Secretary of State does not have confidence in the reliability of a specific kind of voting machine, he or she can make sure that model is not certified for use in that state. Voting machine vendors spend a disturbing amount of money each year lobbying elected officials so that they will have an advantage when competing for long-term state contracts worth tens of millions of dollars . We need to elect candidates who will have the integrity to discourage the machine vendors attempts to curry favor with state officials and who can be trusted to pick reliable, secure, and auditable voting machines.
This is not a partisan issue. All Americans need to be worried and concerned about the trampling and supression of voting rights. Yet, today's Republican party is extremist and radical and does not represent the people of the United States - and it is no surprise that they therefore chose to reward the Blackwells and Harris' of the world.
If you are concerned about voting rights in this country, make sure you visit the Secretary of State Project website and spread the word about their efforts.