Monday, January 17, 2005

Martin Luther King Day

Rep. John Conyers Jr. is asking for your help in determining the future of election reform. Please take a few minutes to fill out this short survey: Seeking Your Thoughts on Election Reform.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that two Arkansas State Representatives are introducing legislation to require a paper trail for all optical voting machines in the state. To quote one of the Representatives, “The general public as a whole is mad and p***** off and fed up with our elections. They are losing faith.”

Another story on touch screen voting from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, entitled Touch screens more likely to be flawed, analysis finds, notes that voters using the ATM-style voting machines in November of 2004 were 50 percent more likely to cast a flawed ballot or have an unregistered vote in the presidential race, compared to voting machines employing simple paper ballots.

In the Pacific Northwest, the Seattle PI tells the story: GOP's request for criminal list raises concern. It states:

"Exercising the right to vote should never be an activity that triggers a criminal investigation," said Jenny Durkan, a lawyer for Washington State Democrats.

"This could have a chilling effect in a number of communities who don't understand the terminology," Durkan said. "They may believe that their right to vote hinges upon whether they paid traffic tickets."

I would like someone to explain to me why felons who served their time in prison are not allowed to vote. It seems only fair that someone who served his or her dept to society have this precious right restored. Are we to make felons pariahs forever, or are we to integrate them back into civilized society? Could this be just another of the myriad of ways to disenfranchise the poor voter that, by the way by coincidence I’m sure, is more likely to vote Democratic?

Finally, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, there is this excellent article in The Free Press, In the Shadow of Dr. King, counting the vote remains a civil rights issue, begins:

In the shadow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., America's electoral crisis continues.

King marched across the south and the nation to guarantee all Americans, black and white, the right to vote. But in 2000 and again in 2004, that right was denied.

Now in the wake of another bitterly contested vote count, is the electoral situation improving in the spirit of Dr. King?

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, when briefing the Senate Democratic leadership on the day before the historic challenge to the Ohio electors, told them that in the 40 years since the Voting Rights Act, the people opposed to voting rights have simply changed parties -- from "Dixiecrats" to Republicans -- while still doing "everything in their power to suppress the voting rights of [the] poor and minorities." Jackson also told Senators Reid, Durbin and Stabenow that after President Lyndon Johnson refused Martin Luther King, Jr.'s pitch for voting rights in 1964 at a ceremony commemorating King's Nobel Prize award, it was a "remnant of the civil rights movement that went down to Selma" that was beaten and bloodied in a struggle that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


In Jackson's analysis, all that was won was a Jim Crow "state's rights" voting system that with new Republican political strength has moved to openly suppress voting rights. His Rainbow/PUSH is beginning talk about a Montgomery (Ohio) to Selma bus ride in the spring.

It concludes:

The original Moss v. Bush lawsuit filed to overturn the seating of George Bush has been withdrawn, in large part because it was expected the courts would rule it moot. But the prospect of new litigation based on the legacy of Dr. King means the election of 2004 won't be over for a long time. It is 37 years since the legendary civil rights activist was shot. But in Ohio, New Mexico and around the US, the battle for the ability of all Americans to vote, and to have those vote fairly counted, has never been hotter.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been 76 on January 15th. Happy birthday Dr. King; we won’t let you down!

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