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The Myth of Fair Elections in America


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Koen



Joined: 10 Mar 2004
Posts: 336

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 3:31 am    Post subject: The Myth of Fair Elections in America Reply with quote

Quote:
The Myth of Fair Elections in America
By Paul Harris
The Guardian UK

Thursday 07 September 2006

The debacle surrounding the Republican victory in 2000 demonstrated to the world that America's electoral process is wide open to abuse. But as Paul Harris discovers, the system has actually worsened since then.

One person, one vote. Count the totals. The one with the most wins. The beauty of democracy is its simplicity and its inherent fairness. It equalises everyone, even as it empowers everyone. What could go wrong? In America, it turns out, quite a lot.

Everyone remembers the debacle in Florida, 2000. The recounts, the law suits and the eventual deciding of a presidential election - not by the voters - but by the Supreme Court. The memory still causes a collective shudder to America's body politic.

Which makes the fact that America's system of voting is now even more suspect, more complicated, and more open to abuse than ever before so utterly shocking. Across the country a bewildering series of scandals or dubious practises are proliferating beyond control. The prospect of a 'second Florida' is now more likely not less. There are many - and not all of them are conspiracy theorists - who believed it may have happened in Ohio in 2004.

This week the venerable New York Times was the latest of many organisations and institutions to declare that America's democratic system is simply starting to fail. Not in terms of its democratic ideals, or some takeover by a Neocon cabal, but by a simple collapse in its ability to count everyone's votes accurately and fairly. The Times is editorialising on a shocking government report into electoral rules in Ohio's biggest county, Cuyahoga, which contains the city of Cleveland. It details a litany of errors and a large discrepancy between the paper record of a ballot and the result recorded by the new Diebold electronic voting machines the county has just installed. It also worried that 31 per cent of black people were asked for identification as they voted compared to 18 per cent of other voters. '[The] report should be a wake-up call to states and counties nationwide,' the paper thundered.

But Ohio is far from isolated. The problem is simply that America has no national standard for tallying the votes in its elections. Apart from a few federal mandates to safeguard broad ?onstitutional rights, it is left up to local officials to sort out the details on the ground. This means in one state a machine might be used. In others a simple paper ballot and a pen. Or it varies from county to county. In one small town a touch screen machine might be on hand, a few miles away other voters might use a punch ballot and in the next county after that you might use a pen. Or pull a lever. Or countless other complex ways to do what should be so, so simple. It also means in one place there is a solid (paper) record of a vote that can be recounted, while in others, it is all down to famously fallible machines and their electronic memories.

In some places you can't vote if you have a prison record. In others, you can. In some states you need identification to vote. In others you don't. In some a drivers' licence will be enough, in others it won't. All this is fundamentally a violation of the basic genius of democracy: it should be simple and uniform. In America that is simply not true.

Then there is another layer of trouble. Because elections are organised locally they are often run and controlled by state office holders or county level election supervisors. Often these officials are nakedly partisan and all too willing to use the power of that office to favour one party over another. Their county or state is, after all, their patch of turf and they seek to protect it for their side.

Then you add a large dose of dirty tricks that are again all too common at a local level in US politics. Forget Ohio or Florida. Just look at Milwaukee where mysterious fliers appeared in 2004 in a black neighbourhood informing residents that all felons and their relatives - even those guilty of traffic violations - could not vote. Or an election in New Hampshire in 2002 where senior state Republicans hired a firm to jam the Democrats phone bank system. Three people are now in jail due to that little escapade. Similar examples of other abuses can be found all over the country.

Now I am not a conspiracy theorist. I don't believe that there is a cunning secret plan, set out in detail beforehand and then masterfully carried out to deliberately steal presidential elections. In fact, you don't actually need a shadowy plot to get much the same effect.

There is little doubt that at a grassroots level America's election is in disarray and being abused. And at a time of narrow election victories where presidential races come down to a single state (Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004) a microscope is instantly cast on that state's electoral practises. And lo, they are found wanting. Or open to fraud. Or being abused. Or local groups (from both sides) are going hell for leather to keep the other side from the polls. This is not because this is being planned out of Washington and targeted into those key states. It is because it is actually happening all over the country. We just notice because it has come down to the wire at that particular state.

You don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to be seriously worried about this state of affairs. In many ways, it is more worrying that the system is not being deliberately stolen from on high. It is actually broken from the ground up.
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Vimes



Joined: 03 Jul 2005
Posts: 344

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

*sigh*

It becomes more and more likely that when I grow up I'm going to move to Europe or Canada. If I still have the freedom to do that. Sad
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Craze



Joined: 30 Jan 2005
Posts: 5676
Location: Indiana, U

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some of that article was total bullshit....

Quote:
In some places you can't vote if you have a prison record.


Errrrr.....Wrong
You know how many lawsuits would pop up if someone tried to keep ex-cons from voting? That shit would of been plastered on CNN.

Quote:
Often these officials are nakedly partisan and all too willing to use the power of that office to favour one party over another. Their county or state is, after all, their patch of turf and they seek to protect it for their side.


Ok so now its suggesting corruption in state goverment? Now everyone knows the basics of voting...Each individual votes for their canidate...the total is added up and depending on the votes, that states electoral college votes go to the state winner. But EVERY state has members of both parties involved in the counting. And their has been states controlled by one party that voted for the other.

But don't you love to see Europe's bounding distrust and conspiracy theories?

Quote:
Then you add a large dose of dirty tricks that are again all too common at a local level in US politics. Forget Ohio or Florida. Just look at Milwaukee where mysterious fliers appeared in 2004 in a black neighbourhood informing residents that all felons and their relatives - even those guilty of traffic violations - could not vote. Or an election in New Hampshire in 2002 where senior state Republicans hired a firm to jam the Democrats phone bank system. Three people are now in jail due to that little escapade. Similar examples of other abuses can be found all over the country.


And all of them being taken care of. Yes, no one is doubting that republicans have tried to screw the election process, but as long as the individual remembers its rights, they can't. Fact is, in any form of goverment their is scandel...we just have less, so its focused on more.

Quote:
Now I am not a conspiracy theorist.


Liar

Final note....I do agree that America needs to nationally change to one voting system....I however do not belive that if we don't every election will be rigged. Its our fault Bush is president...not our systems.
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Koen



Joined: 10 Mar 2004
Posts: 336

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Craze wrote:
Some of that article was total bullshit....

Quote:
In some places you can't vote if you have a prison record.


Errrrr.....Wrong
You know how many lawsuits would pop up if someone tried to keep ex-cons from voting? That shit would of been plastered on CNN.


Check this:
http://www.righttovote.org/state.asp

Craze wrote:
Quote:
Often these officials are nakedly partisan and all too willing to use the power of that office to favour one party over another. Their county or state is, after all, their patch of turf and they seek to protect it for their side.


Ok so now its suggesting corruption in state goverment? Now everyone knows the basics of voting...Each individual votes for their canidate...the total is added up and depending on the votes, that states electoral college votes go to the state winner. But EVERY state has members of both parties involved in the counting. And their has been states controlled by one party that voted for the other.

But don't you love to see Europe's bounding distrust and conspiracy theories?


All that he's saying is that the officials may well be partisan and that they have free reign as how to organise the elections locally. There is no standard federal procedure with enough checks and balances.

Craze wrote:
Quote:
Then you add a large dose of dirty tricks that are again all too common at a local level in US politics. Forget Ohio or Florida. Just look at Milwaukee where mysterious fliers appeared in 2004 in a black neighbourhood informing residents that all felons and their relatives - even those guilty of traffic violations - could not vote. Or an election in New Hampshire in 2002 where senior state Republicans hired a firm to jam the Democrats phone bank system. Three people are now in jail due to that little escapade. Similar examples of other abuses can be found all over the country.


And all of them being taken care of. Yes, no one is doubting that republicans have tried to screw the election process, but as long as the individual remembers its rights, they can't.


An "individual remembering its rights" isn't enough to solve these problems.

Craze wrote:
Quote:
Now I am not a conspiracy theorist.


Liar

I think he explained himself pretty well in saying he isn't. Please refute these arguments, before you simply call him a liar.

Craze wrote:
Final note....I do agree that America needs to nationally change to one voting system....I however do not belive that if we don't every election will be rigged. Its our fault Bush is president...not our systems.

Then you basicly agree with the point of this article. I also wish to respond with: "Every rigged election is 1 rigged election too many"

Before "bringing democracy to the middle east", the US might want to start at home.
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Koen



Joined: 10 Mar 2004
Posts: 336

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

More about persons excluded from voting by felony convictions:

Quote:
Today, more than four million Americans are unable to vote as a result of a felony conviction in the forty-eight states and the District of Columbia that employ disenfranchisement policies for varying categories of felons and ex-felons. If there was previously any doubt about the practical effect of these laws, that skepticism was shattered by the historic Florida 2000 Presidential election experience. That election was decided by just 537 votes, while an estimated 600,000 former offenders—people who had completed their sentences—were ineligible to vote due to that state’s restrictive policies.

The racial inequities in the criminal justice system unsurprisingly translate into substantial disparities in voting eligibility as well. While an estimated two percent of the national population is disenfranchised, the rate for African American men is thirteen percent, and in some states is well over twenty percent. These high rates affect this population directly, of course, but they spill over into political influence of black communities generally. When such high numbers of black men in many urban neighborhoods are unable to vote, the voting power of that whole community is impacted in relation to neighborhoods with relatively low rates of incarceration. This is not to suggest that all African Americans vote as a bloc, but clearly different racial, ethnic, and social groups often have priorities in the political world that may set them apart from other demographic groups.

The full impact of these policies is difficult to gauge, but anecdotal evidence and new scholarship suggest that the impact may be considerably greater than the actual numbers of people with current or previous felony convictions. First, there is a great deal of misinformation about the scope of these laws, both among people with a felony conviction and electoral officials. Reports to this author and others make it clear, for example, that ex-felons in a number of states incorrectly believe they have permanently lost the right to vote even though that is not the policy in their state. Local election officials are often misinformed as well. A survey of officials in all counties in New York State found great inconsistencies in the documentation required for a person to demonstrate that he or she had completed parole supervision and was therefore eligible to register.

New evidence also indicates that disenfranchisement effects may go beyond the legally disenfranchised population as well. A study of voter turnout shows that in the most restrictive states voter turnouts are lower, particularly among African Americans, even among persons who are not themselves disenfranchised as a result of a felony conviction. It will take further investigation to determine why this is the case, but it may be related to the communal nature of voting. Voting as a civic duty is a task we engage in with our families and communities. Family members often talk of electoral prospects at home, drive to the polls together, and see their neighbors there. But when substantial numbers of people in a community are legally unable to participate in this process, it is likely to dampen enthusiasm and attention among others as well.

Ironically, forty years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the intersection of criminal justice policies and disenfranchisement is resulting in greater numbers of African Americans and other people of color losing their right to vote each year. As long as that trend continues, any claims to being a fully democratic nation will be increasingly suspect.

source

Quote:
Citing the work of sociologists Christopher Uggen and Jeff Manza, Mauer argues that disenfranchisement of convicted felons has changed the face of American politics:

Even with a projected lower turnout, [Uggen and Manza] conclude that disenfranchisement policies have affected the outcome of seven U.S. Senate races from 1970 to 1998, generally in states with close elections and a substantial number of disenfranchised voters. In each case the Democratic candidate would have won rather than the Republican victor. Projecting the impact of these races over time leads them to conclude that disenfranchisement prevented Democratic control of the Senate from 1986 to 2000.

source
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theTJtrooper



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm pretty sure by now Koen posts these bs articles to stir up a little contreversey and create more action on the forums. No human being alive can believe the horse shit he posts.
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center
Level 1 Judge


Joined: 06 May 2006
Posts: 440

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually the electoral college was ment to keep the power with the well educated not the people, so it isn't like we have ever let the people make there choice.
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Craze



Joined: 30 Jan 2005
Posts: 5676
Location: Indiana, U

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MeddlingMatt wrote:
edit: Where does KOEN live? I'm sure there are some interesting "procedures" in his banana republic he might like to know about as well. Lets help KOEN change the world (starting right here on the Magic-League forums)!


Magic-League.com wrote:
Koen Moerman - Financial Director

Koen handles the financial aspects of the League and most general issues.

Koen Moerman lives in The Netherlands and works at the Finance dept. of UPC, a big cable tv and broadband internet supplier. Koen also studies to get a Bachelor degree in Business Administration. Further in his spare time: he works on Magic-League.com, plays tennis, likes going out and interests himself in international politics and economics and web-programming.

Koen@magic-league.com


banana republic? Yea...wow aren't we being a bit hypicritocal.
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Vimes



Joined: 03 Jul 2005
Posts: 344

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

theTJtrooper wrote:
I'm pretty sure by now Koen posts these bs articles to stir up a little contreversey and create more action on the forums. No human being alive can believe the horse shit he posts.


Reality has SUCH a liberal bias, doesn't it? After all, this can't be true. There's just SO MUCH bad stuff apparentally going that regardless of the facts, some of it just HAS to be lies, right?

If you aren't outraged, you aren't paying attention. I'm outraged, but what exactly are you and the seemingly rest of America? On second thought, don't answer. I'm scared to know.
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Koen



Joined: 10 Mar 2004
Posts: 336

PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2006 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MeddlingMatt wrote:
KOEN sure does love him some picking on the Americans. But where are you from, KOEN? I mean, yeah, it's easy to pick on the big guy (especially when the big guy has been in a slide for the past few years), but do you REALLY believe, KOEN, that the other Democracy's on the planet do a better job of representing their people??


G.W. Bush quotes:
Quote:
First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions.


Quote:
The mission of this Foundation is to defeat terror by promoting democracy -- and that is the mission of my administration.


If the US says it stands for Demcracy and that it's their mission to promote democracy, I think it's fair game to criticise the organisation of the US "democracy".

MeddlingMatt wrote:
I mean, the people of the UK have been howling for two years to get rid of Tony Blair and yet the electoral system really DOES NOT give them that option. So they have an unpopular leader who led them into an unpoular war for profit, just like the USA does.


Quote:
The United Kingdom general election of 2005 was held on Thursday, 5 May 2005 and won by the Labour Party, led by Tony Blair.

That was an option... And it's perfectly fair to give the elected majority like 4 years to bring their plans into practice. If there would be an election after every important decision, it would become impossible to organise a country.

MeddlingMatt wrote:
Different methods for keeping the powers that be in power, equally effective. Mexico just finished (or maybe not yet) their own version of the 2000 US elections, with an incredibly close result and allegations of voter fraud flying. Hell, in Ukraine's last national election, one party actually had the other party's candidate POISONED!

Ok, it's good to see you admit the United States isn't much better than that.
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Colossus



Joined: 10 Nov 2004
Posts: 396

PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2006 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pwned.
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Koen



Joined: 10 Mar 2004
Posts: 336

PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tks for the compliment that you think I could close the gap between the quality of the US and The Netherlands.

Although I think The Netherlands is a better place to live already.

So I criticise the US, giving you idea's to become as good as us. And since the US is fucking up the entire world, it might not be such a bad idea to criticise.
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Colossus



Joined: 10 Nov 2004
Posts: 396

PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Koen wrote:
Tks for the compliment that you think I could close the gap between the quality of the US and The Netherlands.

Although I think The Netherlands is a better place to live already.

So I criticise the US, giving you idea's to become as good as us. And since the US is fucking up the entire world, it might not be such a bad idea to criticise.


We can ruin the world of we want.

We're American.






...and we have more bombs than you do.






?
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