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Republicans Conspire to Steal
More Elections in 2002
by Jackson Thoreau November 1, 2002
So much political treachery by Republicans, so little time to cover and expose it all.
This column is my attempt to cover just SOME of the many instances in which Republicans are conspiring to steal more elections come Nov. 5, 2002. Here goes:
Republicans conspire with Libertarians against Democratic Sen. Cleland in Georgia
In a recent letter that sounds like it was written by a Republican, Libertarian Party National Political Director Ron Crickenberger charged that "liberals tried to steal the 2000 presidential election with their 'Sore Loserman' campaign in Florida. They stole control of the U.S. Senate when GOP turncoat Sen. Jeffords jumped ship, leaving Tom Daschle in charge. Now they're fighting to keep that control... and they're doing it 'by any means necessary.' Well, it's time to fight back... using our own political tricks."
Crickenberger, who did not say how "liberals" are fighting to keep control "by any means necessary," bragged about the Libertarian Party helping to defeat Democratic incumbent Sen. Wyche Fowler in 1992, when Republican Paul Coverdell won in a runoff, after the Libertarians endorsed him. Crickenberger then outlined an "under the radar" scam this year to steal the votes of African-Americans who would normally vote for Democratic Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia.
"We're going to get a sizeable percentage of black Democrats - the ones most likely to vote - to vote AGAINST the Democrat incumbent, and FOR the Libertarian candidate," Crickenberger wrote. "These are voters who are passionate about one issue that Democrats are on the wrong side of: education choice, like vouchers and tuition tax credits….This is an 'under the radar' campaign - a 'sneak attack,' if you will….Cleland is the Libertarian Party's most targeted Democrat in this year's elections. We plan to attack him using other means as well, to pull black Democrats away from his vote total."
So did Republicans put the Libertarians up to conduct such a negative, targeted campaign against a Democrat? Some sources I talked to said it sure sounded like it. This letter has been circulated by Republican sites like Newsmax, so at the very least, Republicans are helping Libertarians raise money for this campaign.
I'm ashamed to admit that I voted for the Libertarian presidential candidate in 1980, when I was a confused college student who liked that party's message of individual liberties. It was a wasted vote, one that would have been better spent on Democrat Jimmy Carter. There are some aspects I like about the Libertarian Party, but right now, it's hard to think of any.
Republicans try to bribe Greens in New Mexico
In New Mexico, state Republican Party Chairman John Dendahl admitted that he promised "at least $100,000" to the state Green Party in exchange for the Greens fielding candidates in two of New Mexico's three congressional districts. His aim was to siphon votes from the Democrats, he said. Dendahl claimed he was acting as a "messenger" on behalf of an unnamed donor from the Washington, D.C., area.
The Greens, to their credit, refused Dendahl's offer, which the Greens said was as much as $250,000, and did not field candidates for the congressional seats. The New Mexico attorney general said the bribe attempt demonstrated "an attempt to manipulate the election process," but the offer was not illegal under state law. Idle question: Since when is bribery legal? For more information, go to: http://www.richardsonforgovernor.com/news/br_abqjournal_7112002.htm.
I have received other reports of Republicans contributing to Green campaigns and even voting for Greens to bolster their chances at spoiling Democrats' hopes. I have not been able to verify most of them. Green Party leaders say that, unlike the Libertarians, they have not had a national strategy to intentionally spoil elections, and they are not conspiring with Republicans.
Additional note: As a progressive, liberal Democrat who sometimes votes for Greens when there is not a Democrat in the race, I don't see the value of ostracizing Greens just because they support their parties' candidates. Sure, I argue sometimes with Greens that they helped get Bush in office. But then, so did the Socialists, who also amassed more votes in Florida than Bush's margin of "victory" there. For years, Republicans have complained how Libertarians have siphoned votes from them, even blaming them for losing the U.S. Senate seats in 1996 in Georgia held by Cleland and in 2000 in Washington state held by Democrat Maria Cantwell. If that does happen, it is balanced out by Libertarians helping to elect Republicans, such as the late Sen. Coverdell from Georgia in 1992, and Greens helping to elect Republicans in states like New Mexico.
I am slowly coming around to see that Democrats have to find ways to form alliances with Greens that will benefit both parties. One way is to support a concept Greens and others like the Center for Voting and Democracy are pushing called Instant Runoff Voting. Basically, voters rank two choices for an office. If one candidate fails to get 50 percent of the vote, the voters' second choices come into play. Under this system, Gore would have easily taken the presidency he won in 2000 without the hanging chads and despite the Republican fraud. And third parties like the Greens would have a better idea of their support - many progressive Democrats like me would give them my second-choice vote - and not be accused of spoiling elections.
The concept has been tested in other countries - Australia uses it for parliamentary elections, as does the Republic of Ireland for presidential contests. San Francisco recently adopted IRV for major offices beginning in November 2003. The New Mexico state senate passed the measure in 2001, but it died in the house. For more information, visit http://www.fairvote.org/irv/index.html.
I also support proportional representation, a more complicated system where parties obtain the proportion of positions according to the proportion of votes they receive. This system is at least partially used in 39 out of 41 major democratic countries, withthe U.S. and Canada the only exceptions. For instance, if the Democrats gained 49 percent of the national vote, they would receive 49 percent of the congressional seats. If Greens get 3 percent of the vote, they actually would gain some representation in Congress. More info on this can be viewed at http://www.fairvote.org/pr/index.html. Of the two, I think IRV is more likely to be supported by the major parties than proportional representation.
That said, I still hope Green voters at least consider voting for Democrats, especially in Congressional races [Greens are fielding 42 candidates for the House and six for the Senate]. We need to kick these Republicans out of office before they control every single segment of our government.
Republicans recruit phony candidates to run as Democrats in Michigan
Republicans in Michigan recruited "stealth" candidates to run as phony Democrats for nine state Senate seats, all Democratic-controlled districts. Local newspapers - see, there are some good journalists out there - exposed the scam after an 18-year-old was recruited to run, violating a law in which state Senate candidates must be at least 21.
Michigan Republican State Senator Ken Sikkema acknowledged Republican involvement in the scheme, attributing it to "overzealous staffers."
Republicans manipulate voting machines in Texas
In Dallas, Texas, a bastion of Republican strength where both Bush and Cheney have lived for several years, machines used for early voting are marking votes made for Democratic Sen. Candidate Ron Kirk in the column of Republican John Cornyn. Dallas County Democrats have sued to suspend early voting. Election officials blame mistakes on the calibration of the machines in the key Senate battle.
I have lived in Dallas County for decades, and it has a long history of such electoral manipulation. I don't trust election officials here at all.
Republicans intimidate African-American voters in Arkansas
In Arkansas, Republican Sen. Tim Hutchinson and Democratic attorney general Mark Pryor are locked in another tight, key Senate race. Democrats have charged that two Hutchinson campaign workers tried to harass African-Americans at a county courthouse by asking for identification - in addition to their voters registration cards - before they could vote.
A Democratic Party official said it was a "calculated effort to intimidate African-American voters." Judging by what went on in 2000, especially in southern states like Arkansas, it sounds like Republicans are continuing their racist tactics.
Missouri Republican election official accused of confusing issue
In Missouri, Democrats have filed a lawsuit to block rules issued by Republican Secretary of State Matt Blunt concerning a law allowing a voter whose eligibility is questioned to cast a provisional ballot counted only if eligibility is later verified. The law was passed after Republicans complained of alleged voter fraud in strong Democratic precincts in St. Louis in 2000. Democrats say Blunt's new rules confuse the issue.
South Dakota Republicans try to keep Native Americans from voting
Republicans are trying to keep absentee votes made by Native Americans in South Dakota from being counted in the hard-fought Senate race between Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson and Republican Rep. John Thune. Republicans have asked for federal election monitors on American Indian reservations, which some say will intimidate new voters.
Republicans' use of private planes from Enron and Air Force One
Bush, Cheney, and other Republicans have spent thousands of taxpayers' money to campaign for Republican senators using Air Force One in recent months. Clinton and other Democrats did this, but not to the extent that Bush & Co. are doing so this year.
Besides outspending Democrats by about five-to-one in the 2000 battle for Florida, Republicans used private planes from Enron Corp. and Halliburton Co., the firm headed by Dick Cheney that also practiced phony accounting fraud, to crisscross the state and block the counting of Florida votes.
White House influence on Ventura administration in Minnesota
Chief White House dirty trickster Karl Rove himself reportedly called Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and the Secretary of State's office to get them to agree to throw out absentee votes for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, but retain those for Rep. Senate candidate Norm Coleman. A ruling issued by that office read like one of Rove's memos, not like previous rulings by the office. The Minnesota state Democratic Party has taken the issue to court.
Bush himself called up Coleman to tell him to run for the Senate instead of governor, as Coleman originally planned to do.
More dirty tricks in Florida
The Sept. 10 primary in Florida was marred by widespread confusion, mostly in Florida's two biggest Democratic-strong counties, Miami-Dade and Broward. Numerous glitches were reported concerning the touch-screen voting machines, causing long lines and delayed results. Rep. Gov. Jeb Bush tried to blame Democratic election officials in those counties for the problems, despite the fact that the Republican-controlled elections department ultimately calls the shots. In the Democratic primary, Bill McBride barely won over Janet Reno, the former U.S. attorney general who was strongly opposed by Bush.
Also in Florida, misleading fliers are being circulated again, saying that some people should vote on a day after Nov. 5. Similar fliers were circulated in Florida before the 2000 election, which some say confused some voters there.
Republicans try to turn the tables by accusing Democrats of dirty tricks
The Republican National Committee has issued a hotline [1-866-NOT-TRUE] and Web site [http://democratattacks.com] to report supposed Democratic attacks and dirty tricks. It's a case of the thieves trying to point the finger at others so no one will finger them.
Here are some examples of "outrageous" Democratic "dirty tricks" reported to the RNC:
* "Lois Capps is doing her usual thing, speaking about how Republicans are hurting the elderly." [The nerve! Imagine that, a Democrat telling the truth about Republicans! What a dirty attack!]
* "There are television ads running in the greater Boise area attacking the president's plan." [Call the National Guard! A TV ad attacking the president's policies, oh no!]
* "In Allentown, there was reported repeatedly on the news a bus trip to Canada for drugs, saying in the report that the people on the bus won't be voting for our Republican candidate because of his stance, then interviewed the head of the trip who endorsed O'Brien, the democratic congressional candidate. I didn't know (if) it was out of the game book, it wasn't presented that way, it was a local news story." [More Democrats controlling the news media, telling a newscaster what to say, no doubt!]
I reported an attack to the RNC myself, though it was one done by Republicans. I haven't seen it listed on the RNC site yet. Should I hold my breath?
I'm sure you have heard of more dirty tricks by Republicans this year. It's amazing that we let them get away with it.
Finally, thanks to all who sent emails, information, and links to other stories raising questions about Sen. Wellstone's suspicious plane crash. I will continue to pursue those, believing that "accident" was the ultimate dirty trick played on that great American.
Vote Democratic on Nov. 5.
Jackson Thoreau is co-author of We Will Not Get Over It: Restoring a Legitimate White House. The 110,000-word electronic book can be downloaded at http://www.geocities.com/jacksonthor or at http://www.legitgov.org/we_will_not_get_over_it.html.
Thoreau can be emailed at email@example.com.