COUP WATCH: Voting Rights In Florida-- From Red Rock Eater News Service
COUP WATCH: Voting Rights In Florida-- From Red Rock Eater News Service
By Phil Agre
Thu Dec 07 13:22:31 2000
[So let's get this straight. A Republican became mayor of Miami through
massive absentee ballot fraud. The election was thrown out by means
of a statistical adjustment of the vote and his opponent was given the
post. Florida's Republican government reacted by hiring a Republican
firm with a history of questionable business dealings to prepare lists
of citizens who should be cleansed from the voting rolls.
the lists included many thousands of extra people. The Republican
legislature also enacted tough laws making it highly illegal to mess
with absentee ballot applications. So what happens? Republicans walk
into at least two county election offices and mess with thousands of
absentee ballot applications. And who is helping the Florida Republican
Party prepare absentee ballot applications? Yes, that's right, the guy
who became mayor of Miami through massive absentee ballot fraud.
same time, George W. Bush says that his favorite Supreme Court justice
is Antonin Scalia, who the other day said that Americans have no right
to vote for President. Meanwhile, the chief justice of the Supreme
Court, our buddy Bill Rehnquist, got his start by agitating against
minority voting rights in Arizona. These same Supreme Court justices,
just a few months ago, repealed big hunks of Article VI and the 14th
Amendment to the Constitution by adding to the 11th Amendment a new
states'-rights provision that, as the majority openly admitted, can
be found nowhere in either the text or the framers' discussions of
This new provision prevents the federal government from allowing
citizens to sue individual states. The case at hand was something
perfectly obscure, but it's plain that the real target of this brazen
activism was voting rights. Florida violated the voting rights of its
citizens in at least a dozen different ways in the election just past,
including ways that are quite amazingly reminiscent of the mysterious
Florida elections of recent times, and citizens are in court right
now attempting to seek redress under federal voting rights statutes.
Can you spot the pattern?
Although I said that I'm not systematically collecting election-related
URL's any more, people keep sending me useful items that I can't just
toss on the floor. So here they are:
Neither Won, So Split Electors Between Them
Choking the Florida Black Vote
Just Our Bill
The Loose Ends of Election 2000
Keep Them Out!
America in the Grip of Bush's "Iron Triangle"
Republican rioters identified
Butterfly Voters Confused
Credibility of Voter Purging Questioned
Problems In Florida 2000 Vote Echo 1988 Senate Race
For those who want to forward this message to their friends, here are the
election-related URL's that I included in my list of pointers the other day.
Who Lost Florida?
The Madness in the GOP's Method
Florida's Flawed "Voter-Cleansing" Program
Thanks to everyone who contributed.]
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Date: Wed, 06 Dec 2000 12:09:10 -0800
From: "Paul H. Rosenberg"
*The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United
By Alexander Keyssar / Basic Books
467 pages; .00
The United States has abysmally low voter turnout, yet we still
cherish a public mythology that America is the "Land of Democracy",
superior to all others in every significant way. This includes
the assumption that Americans have long enjoyed something close to
universal suffrage. We know this wasn't true in the pre-civil rights
era South, but that's usually regarded as a regional anomaly and is
readily shrugged off. If we haven't always been perfect, at least
we've always striven for perfection -- so goes the myth.
Historians have long known otherwise. Most notoriously, blacks
gained the right to vote after the Civil War, only to lose it almost
completely in the deep South under Jim Crow, but there are numerous
less-dramatic reversals. In *The Right To Vote: The Contested History
of Democracy in the United States*, Duke historian Alexander Keyssar
does much more than collect these various reversals together. He
develops a broad-based, realistic picture of the various historical
forces working for or against the expansion of democracy, which in
turn makes sense of an otherwise bewildering array of advances and
retreats. The result is a marvelously coherent, richly detailed
history of a most hard-won right. America certainly was the first
modern democracy, but being first did not exempt us from the kinds
of historical struggles that plagued other countries in expanding the
right of self-government.
Without oversimplifying, Keyssar identifies four different periods in
our history when distinctive dynamics tended to prevail. Immigration,
urbanization, industrialization and class conflict were the great
engines driving these changes. The first period of expanding the
electorate lasted until around 1850. Then mass immigration and the
specter of a European-style working class triggered a period of upper-
and middle-class hostility to democracy in which a variety of measures
(such as registration laws and residency requirements) contracted
the electorate until WWI. A third, static period of mostly minor
tinkering lasted until the 1960s, when the impetus of the civil
rights movement helped do away with most other obstacles as well.
The two highest-profile struggles for voting rights -- that of women
and blacks -- generally don't fit neatly into these periods. Instead,
the different period dynamics explain a great deal about the obstacles
those movements struggled against and the forces favoring them.
This history is sprinkled with surprising details, such as 19th
century frontier states that allowed alien settlers to vote, states
that allowed women to vote in school board elections, and the
nearly-universal loss of voting rights by free blacks between 1790
and 1850, when voting rights for whites were expanding. Even more
revealing is the harsh light the factual record throws on spurious
ideals used to restrict voting rights. Residency and registration
laws, invariably proposed in the name of good government always
managed to have a sharp class and ethnic bias in keeping people from
the polls. States often passed such laws limited to major cities
populated by immigrant workers.
Equally telling is the recurrence of anti-democratic ideas, raised
to the level of high principle whenever too many of the "wrong sort"
start to think that the "self" in "self-government" includes them.
Particular favorites were the notion that voting is a privilege
or a trust, not a right, and a cluster of sometimes contradictory
rationales surrounding property or wealth restrictions. Although
such battles seem safely past, the yawning chasm between our mythic
ideal and our real history is a potent reminder against glib self-
congratulation, particularly when so few now see this right as the
precious prize *The Right to Vote* shows it to be.
Reason and Democracy
"Let's put the information BACK into the information age!"