With the news of a guilty verdict in the Saddam trial being reached today (well, actually, not today, but two weeks ago), one of the 27 reasons given by the Bush ADDministration as to why we needed to fight this war, and more importantly to them, why we need to stay the course, or full speed ahead, or whatever cliche they are using this week to describe why we need to be mired in that unwinnable situation, the next reason given is because we need to build a democracy in that region to stand as a shining beacon for the rest of the Arab world.
The irony of this situation is that while we are fighting for democracy there, the very same people are doing their damnedest to eradicate democracy here at home.
In Maryland, for instance,security concerns on Diebold election machines were withheld from the election board and the governor. Meanwhile, in that same state, the Republican party has passed out handbooks to aggressively challenge the credentials of potential voters. The idea is to challenge most black voters to discourage them from voting and create long lines, because a mere six percent difference in black voter turnout will effect the results of the election.
In every state, the requirements for eligible voters differs. And in some states, these requirements have been changed to make it more difficult for people to register. For instance, in Ohio, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a Republican, isued new restrictions for registration in an efort to discourage people from registering, as most new registrants are young people and naturalized immigrants, both who have a tendency to vote, Democratic. Also Blackwell requires you carry a picture ID with you to the polls, a new law he has not informed the voters of, insuring lots of potential voters being turned away this Tuesday.
While not all attempts to squelch the opposition voters are carried out by Republicans, this List of The Worst Places To Cast A Ballot (or Try) shows for the most part these are being carried out by the Republicans. The most devious was the fliers sent out by someone in Franklin Co. OH, telling voters that because of high registration, Republicans would be voting on Tuesday, and Democrats would be voting the following day. Back when we had a Republican governor in Michigan, he refused to implement the motor/voter law, which allowed for people to register to vote when they got a driver's license, saying there was no mandate for it.
Diebold, who is the major manufacturer of electronic voting machines, has tried to block HBO from running the documentary Hacking Democracy, which shows just how easily these new voting machines can be rigged to change the outcome of the elections. What is even more interesting is are the major investors in companies that manufacture these machines. Northrup-Grunman, Lockheed-Martin, and Accenture, defense contractors, and you can bet they have a lot at stake in these elections, especially this one, which is being framed as a debate on the Iraq war.
This country does not have a uniform voting law, leaving it up to individual states to decide who can and cannot vote. Unfortunately, this led to a slew of problems and forced Congress to pass The Voting Rights Act, which prevented black voters from being disenfranchised. And until we can pass uniform voting laws nationwide, the voting rights will always be subject to the whims of partisan politics.