After casting their votes for President and Vice-President in Maine's House chamber last month, Maine's four Electors issued an unusual statement of concern for the condition of our national election system. That statement concluded with the following sentence: "Our four electoral votes are held meaningless if our sister states cannot hold elections that are fair, accurate, and verifiable."
Just prior to November's election, a CBS/NYT poll indicated that only 35% of registered voters had full confidence that their votes would be counted properly. That leaves around 100 million people who had only partial, little, or no confidence in America's election process. As startling and sad as that statistic is - in this, purportedly the greatest democracy the world has known - it is sadder yet (but not startling) that those tens of millions of citizens have some very solid reasons for their lack of confidence.
Some of the reasons were carried forward from the previous Presidential election and were were evident in the months prior to the November 2nd election. For instance, Florida, a key electoral state, tried to institute yet another bogus felon purge - as it sucessfully did in 2000 - but was caught when someone noticed that the only "felons" they were purging were of a darker hue than the predominantly Hispanic (read: anti-Castro Republican) felon list they decided to ignore. Nonetheless, thousands of innocent Floridians were still purged from the rolls, and their party affiliation was overwhelmingly Democratic. Add to that, these facts: the Governor of Florida who ordered the purge is still the President's brother; his Secretary of State (who runs the election there) is still a rank partisan; the level of suspicious election-related incidents in Florida was at least as alarming in 2004 as it was in 2000; and it was proven by media recounts that the last Presidential election was, in fact, stolen there. At the very minumum, 100 million rightly suspicious Americans can safely mark that state's delegation of Electors down as "suspect."
Some reasons for continued voter distrust became evident after the election was held. In Ohio, where the Electoral rubber met the Constitutional road, tens of thousands of voters in Democratic-leaning districts were disenfranchised by a clever mix of machinations, many of which are well documented in this recently published piece from the Columbus, Ohio Free Press. Every American should read it and digest the implications. To those who would deny the fact-based assertion that, just as happened four years ago and five hundred miles to the South, this Presidential election was also probably stolen, the obvious question is: "Where is your evidence to the contrary; is it in Bush campaign operatives' denials?" Just as in Florida four years ago, the person in charge of counting the votes is a state campaign chair for the "winner." And also, as in Florida 2000, a full, manual recount never occurred, despite it's being necessary to clear up vast anomalies and discrepancies in the machine count - on top of numerous examples of tampering and mismanagement. And yet again, as in Florida 2000, the "winner's" agents have used their cronies in the judiciary to stall and obfuscate until the emergence of the truth has been effectively obscured - for the time being, or at least until the fait is accompli.
Furthermore (and much more encouragingly), as happened exactly four years ago, there will be an organized challenge to the Electors chosen by these Machiavellian methods. Those who will be challenging this Presidential eleciton - on January 6th at 1pm in our nation's capitol when the Congress receives the votes of that antique appendage known as the Electoral College - are a handful of principled US Representatives, who are also bona fide heroes. Many of them were honored in Michael Moore's expose', "Farenheit 911," for their courageous stand against the ignominy of Florida 2000, and they will shine forever in the annals of American courage as they stand again in the well of the House this week and demand yet another investigation into the documented corruption that continues to assault our once-great country. The only question that remains is: "Are there any Senators brave and principled enough to join them?" If none do, their objections will evaporate - but only in the parlimentarian sense. But something even more ominous will also happen.
If no Senators come forward to demand the investigation that the evidence requires, then the very Party - which once produced the great social advances that are now systematically being destroyed by those who stole this eleciton - will itself start to dissolve. But that dissolution will have been self-initiated.
The reason I know that the Democratic Party is standing on the brink of self-annihilation right now is because it is about to alienate the very people who can save it. I am just one of tens of millions of such people. We stood in the breach the last four years and we fought tooth and nail to defeat the most heinous government this country has ever produced, and the irony is, just as the evidence showed four years ago, we apparently succeeded. Only our leadership failed us, and it may be about to do so once again.
There will not be another chance, I can assure every Senator who reads this. Please remember that political parties are merely human contstructs and as such, they rise and fall according to the human conditions that engender them. It is your turn, Senators, to stand in the breach; if you fail to add your voices to those heroic House members as they demand an investigation into the desecration of our democracy that occurred in Ohio (not to mention all the outrages that preceeded it, as well as those we are surely yet to witness), you will have failed your country, your supposed "ideals" and your Party; you will also have failed your children and yourselves. (The excuses you are hearing whispered in your inner ear - that even if you do make this courageous stand, it will not change the outcome - is a devious one. Prinicipal demands action at the most critical moments in history, even when it seems futile.) To fail to act at such an historical juncture as this, is to fail historically.
If you do fail, I don't yet know what the new party will be called, whether it will merge with the Greens, what its logo will look like, or where it will convene, but I do know it will certainly be born from the ashes of your indecision. Only you, Senators, can forstall such an eventuality. Your decisions will be watched closely this coming Thursday. Please don't let your country and your Party down again.
Bruce Cole is a carpenter, songwriter, essayist and activist living in Maine. He was the lead drafter of a bill which required a voter verified paper audit trail for Maine voting machines, which was passed in the last legislature. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.