Ohio. Lovely place. Home of the Cuyahoga River, which has caught fire no less than five times (June 1949, March 1951, November 1952, December 1951, and the "big one" of 1969) [see a picture of the 1969 fire on the NOAA.gov site]. Home, more recently, to the second great American electoral fraud scandal of the 21st century (which is how old, now? Oh, SIX YEARS). Finally, someone's called them on it. Widely covered everywhere but in the national media (with it's huge "liberal bias" and all - see my last post for more on this), it's another case of widespread disenfranchisement of voters. A team of independent investigators has turned up massive irregularities, including denial of provisional ballots - which is illegal in the United States following the passage of the Voting Rights Act - as well as "loss" of legitimately cast ballots, election returns coming in hours prior to the closing of the polls, the closing of polls with voters waiting in hours-long lines in minority districts, and more.
Responsible for this? Well, the secretary of state runs the elections. I'm sure he has no guilt in the matter, despite resisting independent investigations into the matter for over a year, until he finally caved in to a subpoena. He was going to destroy the paper ballots - per state law, they are allowed to be destroyed after two years - until he caved again when threatened with a lawsuit. Now, according to the New York Times, he's temporarily placing the destruction on hold, but that doesn't do a hell of a lot of good, at least as long as he's got the authority to lift that hold whenever he pleases. Even in Florida, they've placed the ballots from the notorious 2000 election scandal into the state archive.
At this point, I'm sure that I'll be accused of partisan raving. That's all well and good - the corporatization of media organizations made sure that a profit-seeking press would have to resort to making all news adversarial and sensational. When day after day, we read about our world through a conflict-driven lens rather than an informational one, which buffers conflict through actual in-depth discussion, I expect nothing less.
The fact remains, however, that this should not be a partisan concern. The right to cast a vote is a fundamental cornerstone of American citizenship. This is not about Democrats, Republicans, Ralph Nader, George W. Bush, or John F. Kerry. This is not about abstract interpretation of legal fine points extrapolated from overly broad amendments to our Constitution. This is about our fucking right to vote. When any group engages in tactics designed to disenfranchise the citizenry, when "widespread irregularities" and "tampering" indicate that anyone has interfered with the basic right of a citizen to cast a vote and have it count, when evidence PROVES that something is not right, every member of our society should be concerned.
One small example of the tampering? In one precinct of Miami County, the official tally recorded 550 votes cast. The official signature books and ballots indicate that 450 people voted in that precinct. This means that 122% of the votes in that precinct were counted. More disturbing? In several other counties, blank ballots were found - ballots with votes recorded that indicated no precinct of origin - which once upon a time would indicate ballot box stuffing - Tammany Hall type shit.
currently on miPod - String Quartet no. 9, Antonin Dvorak