Rob Knight

Fighting democracy until the end

February 11, 2005

In 2000, the presidential election went on for 37 days, in part because there was compelling evidence of election fraud and disenfranchisement in Florida. After initially asking for just the democratic-leaning counties to be recounted, the Gore team asked for every Florida county to be recounted. That request was rejected by the Bush team and eventually all recounts were stopped by the Supreme Court, which still makes no sense.

The decision by the Bush team in 2000 to reject a call for what seemed like the most fair thing to do demonstrated a common theme in the Karl Rove/George Bush wing of the Republican party: democracy is just a word.

In his state of the union address, Bush talked about the importance of free elections in Iraq. He never misses a chance to expound on the greatness of democracy. Yet he and his wingmates never miss an opportunity to hold democracy a prisoner of political power.

In the 2004 election, some people waited more than 10 hours to vote. Is that a free and fair election? No mention of that in the state of the union. No mention of our own broken system where some people can vote in 5 minutes and others have to take a day off from work. No mention of a truly fair election, where there is paper evidence of how you voted. I would be quite uncomfortable to find out my vote was only viewable on the equivilent an Excel spreadsheet. Not to mention that it would be on a Windows machine, but that goes without saying.

And then there is the biggest blow to democracy. The attempt to change the results of the election after the votes have been counted and recounted and sometimes recounted again. So the people speak, and Republicans don’t like what they say, so they bring out the lawyers. This is the new way. Elections mean nothing now, its what your lawyer can get you in court.

We are in the second week of February and one election challenge in Texas just ended. Granted, the difference between the candidates was 33 votes. The votes had been counted and recounted. But that doesn’t matter. The will of the people doesn’t matter. The news story seems to indicate that had this guy not been told by an investigator to stop his challenge, his buddies in the Texas legislature were going to do something to get him back in. I don’t know what, but hey, it’s Texas. If you read to the middle of the article you find out that this was just 1 of 3 challenges to democrats who won in Texas last November.

It is a moral value to respect the people of the United States of America and their will. It is the duty of election officials to ensure the will of the people can be represented by a vote (i.e. enough machines so it doesn’t take 10 hours to cast a vote). It is the moral obligation of those same election officials to recount the votes completely if it appears the will of the people is not clear. It is morally reprehensible to challenge the will of the people after the vote has been fairly conducted and counted.