How to Stop the Rigging of Election '08

Don't be fooled by all the accusations about ACORN. The real voting scandal is the voter suppression methods that likely swayed election results in 2000 and 2004, and are in process again as you read this.

of the news has focused on John McCain's accusations that ACORN is
perpetrating a major vote fraud. The problems with ACORNs work that
have surfaced involve registration, not voting. The truth is that
ACORN, a group that organizes poor people, has been registering record
numbers to vote: a jaw-dropping 1.3 million -- mostly low-income
people, people of color, and young people.

readily admit that a tiny fraction of the 13,000 canvassers they hired
turned in faulty registrations. "If they had too many mistakes or
problems, we fired that person," Brian Mellor, senior counsel for Project Vote, said in an article in the New York Daily News.
But the organization has no choice about turning in the faulty forms;
most states require that every registration form filled out be handed
over to election officials. "I personally went to the office of the
Clark County [Nevada] board of elections in July and told them we're
bringing these forms in, we've separated the ones that have problems," he said.
"You should investigate and prosecute those you feel necessary. They
told us they weren't interested." Nevada state officials raided the
ACORN office in early October.

But there's little chance that
these errors will result in improper voting on election day, much less
affect outcomes. According to researcher Lorraine C. Minnite, of Columbia University, a total of 24 people, across the U.S., were found guilty of voter fraud between 2002 and 2005 -- an average of eight per year.

This video features ACORN leaders and others responding to the charges of election "fraud."

issue of voter fraud is a smokescreen designed to cover a much more
serious issue with a long and ugly history: the suppression of the vote
of groups that tend to vote Democratic -- especially the poor,
minorities, and young people. Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said as much when I interviewed him last year.

In the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Greg Palast and Robert Kennedy Jr.
show that thousands of voters have been disenfranchised in key swing
states, dating back to the 2000 election, and continuing today.
Techniques include purging voter registration rolls in targeted
districts, challenging voters, requiring excessive identification, and
discarding ballots.

There are also cases where heavily
Democratic districts get few voting machines, resulting in long lines,
while Republican precincts in the same county are well stocked, with no
waiting to vote. Reports are already coming in of
scare tactics repeated from the last two elections, especially flyers
and posters warning that voters will be arrested at the polls if they
have so much as an unpaid parking ticket.

Then there are the infamous black box voting machines, which, computer scientists warn, can't be secured or audited. There are already reports of voting machines in West Virginia flipping Obama votes to John McCain during early voting.

country has a long and ugly history of suppressing the votes of
minorities and poor people, and today's voter suppression tactics
follow in that shameful tradition.

So what do we do protect the votes now that the election is just days away?

YES! Magazine is sending out an email to thousands of our readers entitled 12 Ways to Protect the Vote. Click on this link for simple things you can do, and forward on these simple instructions for safeguarding your vote.

Here are other resources available at the YES! website. Click here for information on:

this will be the year that voter suppression efforts fail and faith in
the honesty of our election system is restored. A lot will depend on
responsible election officials, alert reporters, Internet watchdog
groups, and perhaps most important, the vigilance of voters.

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This article was written for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.