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We Must Stop the Republicans Who Are Threatening the Right of American Citizens to Vote!

October 31, 2004

(archived broadcast )
A CALL TO ARMS! (not literally arms, of course: Democrats don’t use violence, except as a last resort.)
Nationwide, the Republican Party has gone all out to stop the vote of hundreds of thousands of Americans who have a legal right to vote. They’re focusing on Blacks, poor people, and Democratic counties in Battleground States.

Brenda Snipes, Governor Jeb Bush’s appointee in the most heavily Democratic County in Florida, has illegally denied 76,000 voters their requested absentee ballots. 58,000 were lost in two days. She blames the Post Office. The Post Office angrily denies the charges, saying they delivered every letter they got. Republican absentee ballots have now been sent, but as of yesterday, they were STILL printing the labels to mail out to Democrats.
My friends, we must make clear that if these 76,000 legally registered voters are denied the right to vote by Jeb Bush, we must do anything necessary to allow them to vote. Florida law requires a voter who has received an absentee ballot and has not sent it back to return it before he or she can vote on Election Day. But 76,000 voters have not yet received their ballots. So if this rule is enforced, then Republicans will have successfully removed at least 76,000 Democrats from the voting rolls. At best, they should be able to vote provisionally, causing long lines and delay and subjecting each of these votes to Republican challenges. Needless to say, voters in Republican-leaning counties in Florida do not face these hardships.
And there’s another problematic rule on which public outrage can cause Jeb Bush to back down: the deadline for absentee voting is the ballot has to be RECEIVED by 7 pm Election Tuesday. But, in violation of Florida law, Florida won’t send out some of these ballots won’t go out until tomorrow (Monday). The rule must be changed — as it was in Pennsylvania for military voters — to allow any legal absentee vote to be counted so long as it is postmarked by the 7 pm Eastern time deadline.
If Jeb Bush refuses to allow Florida to count these votes or his poll workers kick these people out of polling places without voting on the grounds they have “already received absentee ballots”, then we will fight! It’s time to bring the troops to Florida. Democracy in Iraq can wait until we have democracy here!
Read more here:
Sun Herald
Bradenton Herald
Sun Sentinel
News Observer
Star Tribune
Note the Republicans’ complaint that too many Democrats are voting and “clogging the early voting lines.” Too many voters: a Republican cause for complaint! Hey Jeb Bush, how about opening more polling stations to accommodate the five-hour lines???
We’ll give state by state details on the show today at 6 pm Eastern. But this letter is just one example of the many illegal methods the Republican Party has already used in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and many other states to try to trick Democratic-leaning or minority voters into not voting, to illegally rip up their voter registrations, or to jam Democratic efforts to help the disabled and the elderly vote. This is being ordered from the highest levels of State Republican Parties: from Nathan Sproul, former chair of the Arizona Republican Party, to Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida. And they’re sending out their army of vote-deniers in battleground states on Election Day in Ohio and other states to intimidate Black voters, rip up Democratic voter registrations, and challenge Democratic voters until the lines in Democratic-leaning precincts get so long that people go home.
This is NOT happening in both parties. Only one party — the Republican Party — has a policy and practice of fighting to keep American citizens from casting their legal ballots. It is un-American. It is a threat to our democracy. It harkens back to the days of the Jim Crow South. And we citizens have to be willing to fight for democracy at home with the same patriotism and fervor that our troops fight for democracy abroad.
Republicans and Democrats should be Americans first and demand that the Republican Party stop their criminal attempt at another coup d’etat.
IF WE MUST USE PEACEFUL CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE TO PROTECT THE RIGHT OF LEGAL VOTES TO BE COUNTED, WE MUST DO THAT TOO. (I imagine Florida 2000 poll workers grabbing the ballot boxes and refusing to relinquish them to Scalia’s storm troopers until they are handcuffed and hauled away, singing “We shall Overcome” and shouting “The Whole World’s Watching!” to a large media presence. It would be an honor to be arrested trying to preserve American democracy and the right for every legal vote to be counted. And I think it would not just inspire the nation, it would pressure the Supreme Court this time to follow the Constitution and American law and NOT INTERVENE. The High Court should understand that if they again choose our President contrary to the Constitution and American laws, they do so at their own and the country’s peril.)
OUR BATTLE FOR DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY BATTLE FOR DEMOCRACY ABROAD. Like Yeltsin standing on the tank, we must recognize that American democracy can only be defended if we stand firm against all who would try to defeat it.
I have joined the fight, and I ask you to do the same, whatever your political party. Every American citizen who is registered in his/her precinct has a legal right to vote. Did you register but your name is not on the voting rolls? You may be one of the tens of thousands of new voters whose applications the Republicans trashed. INSIST ON YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE ANYWAY.
Even if you’re not on the voting roll, you have an ABSOLUTE right to vote provisionally. Make sure you’re in the right precinct and INSIST ON YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE. If they say no, make them give a reason. Take names. Call the registrar. If they do not give you a reason (“Oops, sorry. Your name’s not on the list!”) and the registrar’s line is busy, get their names and the name of every poll worker in the room. Immediately contact the Democratic Party (or the Republican Party, if you’re a Republican), call 866-OUR-VOTE and do not leave the polling place until you get a right to cast your vote.
If they cannot give you a reason why they won’t let you vote, insist on your right to vote normally. In most states, identification is not required. You can affirm who you are by signing an affidavit under penalty of perjury. Know the law. Contact your Democratic Party for state by state details. Maybe you recently moved but can still vote. They’ll let you know. In any event, DON’T GO DOWN EASY. If there is no legitimate reason to keep you from voting normally, vote normally. (Provisional ballots can later be challenged.) But do not go home without at least being allowed to cast a provisional ballot.
Democrats should protect everyone’s right to vote — including Republicans! — even if they’re covered from head to toe in Bush/Cheney stickers. Even if Republicans don’t support the right of Democrats to vote, we must be Americans first and support theirs. Hopefully, all Americans will put their partisanship aside and support the right to vote.
WHEN YOU GO TO VOTE, KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS OPEN. If someone tries to deny you or any other citizen the right to vote, begin by being polite but firm, checking the registration listings, double-checking the voter’s in the right precinct, and insisting on the right of every American citizen to cast a ballot. If they still say no, get the reason and the name of who told you no and immediately call your local Democratic and/or Republican party to find out the legal requirements. Call 866-OUR-VOTE, call the registrar, even call the media or police if you must (particularly if the poll worker won’t give you their name and the registrar cannot be contacted or refuses to help the voter).
Learn your legal rights. Many poll workers do not know the details of state election laws. But if you are right and they are wrong, do not be intimidated. Nothing less than American democracy is at stake. And in almost every state, you will have Democratic Party attorneys on call to let you know the law and to battle for you.
You shouldn’t have to cause a scene. But they shouldn’t take away a citizen’s right to vote. And sometimes causing a scene will embarrass the poll officials enough that they agree to back down and follow the law. So if a voter says he/she is registered, stick up for him/her. Help the voter find his/her precinct. Insist that he/she be at least given a provisional ballot.
Help a disabled or elderly voter get access to the polls. Offer to drive them. If a disabled person is turned away or can’t climb steps to a polling place, demand that the polling officials bring a ballot out to the disabled person. Don’t take no for an answer! Don’t let it go. Call for help.
One last thing: if you get to the polls before they close — even one minute before — you have an ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO VOTE. Do not leave even if they tell you to leave. It does not matter how long the line is. It does not matter if they have to hold the polls open 4 hours after the normal closing time. If you arrive on time, you have a right to vote. Do not leave. Make them call the police to escort you out. Then a report can be officially filed. (In the meantime, of course, you’ll call 866-OUR-VOTE, your local Democratic Party, and the media). If they fight with you, ask to cast a provisional ballot. BUT DO NOT LEAVE THE VOTING PLACE WITHOUT CASTING A BALLOT.
Will America become a democracy again? Or remain an unconstitutional tyranny where unelected judges choose unelected Presidents? where Republican operatives — like the KKK of old — successfully bar American citizens from using the ballot booth?
It’s your decision.
We’ll discuss these voting threats and give Mark’s Electoral College Predictions for each State on Election Day.

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  • Nostradamus Smith November 1, 2004 8:41 am

    I know where you are Stalin, you are in Washington, now–but, like I said, after the election you can crawl back into your coffin and have your memoirs ghostwritten.

  • Stalin October 31, 2004 7:12 pm

    Don’t you know, Nostradamus, that I have been reincarnated, and I don’t live in Siberia.