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Tuesday, November 5, 2002 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES
2002-11-05

Who Gets to Vote? A Roundtable Discussion On Election Day: Two Years After the Stolen Election, the Voter Rolls in Florida Are Still Illegally Purged; a Discussion with BBC Journalist Greg Palast, Mia

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Today is Election Day. Voters will go to polls in what the Washington Post is calling the most competitive mid-term elections in half a century.

Republicans are waging an uphill battle to take the Senate, where at least nine races are in doubt. Democrats are waging an even steeper battle to take the House. They would have to win a very high percentage of the close races to gain the six seats necessary to take back the majority for the first time in nearly a decade. President Bush swept through four battleground states yesterday, urging voters to send some allies to Capitol Hill.

But two years after the Stolen Election of 2000, will everyone be able to vote?

The Justice Department is dispatching more than 400 observers to monitor polling places in 14 states today to ensure compliance with federal voting laws.The observers will be watching for any signs of discrimination based on race or problems encountered by the disabled, as well as whether all eligible voters are able to cast a ballot. The observers will monitor elections in 26 counties in states from Florida, New Jersey and New York to California, Texas, Utah and Michigan.

In the Stolen Election of 2000, tens of thousands of African American voters were illegally purged from the voting rolls in Florida.

We are joined in our studios by Danny Schechter, co-founder of Global Vision, who has just produced a documentary "Counting on Democracy" which investigates the missing ballots, disenfranchisement and subverted recounts in the 2000 Florida presidential election.

BBC Investigative journalist Greg Palast also joins Democracy Now’s special election coverage. He notes in a recent article on Salon.com:

“In 2000, Katherine Harris, Florida Secretary of State, ordered county elections officials to purge 57,000 citizens from voter registries as felons not allowed to vote in Florida. In fact, about 95 percent of these voters were innocent of crimes — but 54 percent were guilty of being African-American.

“Harris and the state admit that tens of thousands of black voters had been wronged, and with plantation noblesse have agreed to return them to the voter rolls — at the beginning of 2003 ... In 2000, the 180,000 'spoiled ballots' came overwhelmingly from the blackest, poorest, most Democratic counties.

“Now, the old dogs of ballot-bending are learning some new tricks. Before resigning to run for Congress, Harris leaned hard on the counties to purchase touch screen voting machines. But not just any machines. Harris first authorized the use of machines by only one company, Election Systems & Software of Omaha. It was ES&S machines that were used in Florida’s 2002 primaries and were plagued by countless breakdowns.

"A report by the state Inspector General says that the company 'bears major responsibility' for the foul-ups. An ACLU study found that, once again, it was Miami-Dade’s black voters who were disproportionately disenfranchised by 'lost votes' ... Most troubling of all, some of these practices are going national."

Two years later, the state has knowingly not corrected its voter lists, setting the stage possibly for a second Stolen Election involving a Bush. George W.’s brother Jeb Bush is in a close re-election battle for governor with Democrat Bill McBride.

Critics of the Jeb Bush administration also fear the results of the new touchscreen voting system could be manipulated by the voting company which has extensive ties with the Republican Party.

Representatives from voter rights advocacy groups around the country join Democracy Now! for a special report on the Elections.

Guests:

  • Greg Palast, BBC investigative reporter and the author of "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy."
  • Danny Schechter, former CNN producer and co-founder of Global Vision Media. He is a television producer, independent filmmaker, the executive editor of the MediaChannel.org, and the author of several books.
  • Anita Hodgkiss, Project Director, Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The Voting Rights Project litigates voting rights cases, monitors U.S. Justice Department enforcement efforts, and enforces the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 through legal representation, advocacy and public education.
  • Eddie Hailes, Senior Attorney, Advancement Project. The Advancement Project is a public policy and legal action group in Washington, D.C.
  • Todd Cox, Associate Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
  • David Leahy, Supervisor of Elections, Miami/Dade County.
  • Lawrence Jacobs, Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota and author of "Politicians Don’t Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness"

Related links:

National Voters Hotline (Voting Rights Project):

  • 866-OUR-VOTE

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