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Help America Vote?

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Has The 2008 Election Already Been Rigged?

By James Donahue

In October, 2002, while Americans were still reeling under the impact of the 9-11 disaster and armed forces were conducting the Enduring Freedom campaign in Afghanistan, President George W. Bush signed the Help America Vote Act.

Like so many of the names given to federal programs and legislation under the Bush Administration, the name Help America Vote Act was a misnomer. As columnist Gregory Palast described it: “Hidden behind its apple-pie-and-motherhood name lies a nasty civil rights time bomb.”

The legislation was generated by the then Republican dominated House and Senate after it was revealed that Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, on orders from Governor Jeb Bush, ordered local election supervisors to purge 57,700 names from voter registries, mostly in areas known to vote heavily for Democratic candidates.

How did they justify such a purge? There is a law on the books that prohibits convicted felons from voting. The Republican controlled Florida state voting machine simply put all of these names, mostly black and Hispanics, on the felon list. Later it was revealed that over 90 percent of these people were innocent and had been robbed of their civil right to vote.

If you remember, Florida was the key point where George W. Bush defeated Democrat Al Gore by only a few hundred votes. Even though Gore won the popular national vote in 2000, Bush captured the votes in the Electoral College by defeating Gore in Florida. It was such a hotly debated issue that the final decision went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Palast noted that something was happening nationwide in that same election the year Bush took the White House. He wrote that all over America, 1.9 million votes cast were never counted. He said they were “spoiled for technical reasons, like writing in Gore’s name, machine malfunctions and so on. The reasons for ballot rejection vary, but there’s a suspicious shading to the ballots tossed into the dumpster.”

What Palast meant was that a team of Harvard statisticians calculated that the “number of ballots spoiled was – county by county, precinct by precinct – in direct proportion to the local black voting population.

All right, the Palast column only confirms what most Americans have suspected since it happened . . . Bush stole the election in 2000 from Gore and then sent the nation on a spiraling downward course from which it may never recover. But what has this got to do with the Help America Vote Act?

Palast charges that the act “and other bogus reform measures, stressing reform through complex computerization, do not address, and in fact worsen, the racial bias of the uncounted vote.”

At the time he wrote his column, prior to the 2004 elections, Palast predicted that Bush would be re-elected because the purge of minority mostly Democratic voters would not only continue, but be even more intense than it was in 2000. If you remember, most Americans did not expect Bush to win a second term and there was high expectation for Democratic challenger John Kerry, a Vietnam war hero, to take the office.

Just like 2004, Bush squeaked another almost unexplained victory, this time depending on a closely contested number of winning votes in Ohio. Just as Palast predicted: “One million votes will disappear in a puff of very black smoke. And when the smoke clears, the Bush clan will be warming their political careers in the light of the ballot bonfire.”

This fall Bush can’t run again, but Senator John McCain, a man who supports the Bush programs almost line-by-line, including a continuation of the hated Iraq War, is conducting a feeble campaign against dynamic Republican Barack Obama. Obama is capturing so much attention some writers are comparing his charisma to that of the late President John F. Kennedy.

Obama appears to be a shoo-in for the presidency this time around. But with Republican and big business interests at stake, and the machinery for ballot tampering in place, we must wonder if Americans even have a choice to pick their leadership these days.