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Jewish World Review Nov. 11, 2002 / 6 Kislev, 5763

Julia Gorin

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Re-count! | I took my dog to the polls and they tried to register him. I said he didn't bring his license. They said it's ok. I said he didn't live in the state. "Too much information! Sign!"

Bruiser Gorin

So where did the Democrats go wrong? Not even all the dead people getting out the vote nor absentee ballots from the jailed folks who killed them helped. Nor did the two- and three-time voters or the roving buses of voters going precinct to precinct and casting ballots in place of less zealous voters. Where o where is Mayor Daley when you need him?

The Democrats worked so hard. They made such a concerted effort. They sent people unsolicited absentee ballots in Iowa. County officials in Arizona helped illegal aliens vote. In Wisconsin, campaign workers for Democratic Governor Jim Doyle gave out pastries, soda and quarters to the mentally disabled in a bingo game, then directed them to absentee ballots in the next room. In the 163-strong Minnesota town of Coates, 94 voter registration forms had addresses that matched Jake's Strip Club. The NAACP in Florida held a registration drive at the Duval County jail to register felons, who then requested and in some cases cast absentee ballots at the risk of committing a felony. (And one wonders why Democrats are against the death penalty.) In Marion County, Indiana, voters seem to have misspelled their names on applications for absentee ballots and used correction fluid to get their addresses right, but couldn't always match their on-file signatures.

A roomful of senior citizens in Maryland, my grandparents among them, was told to vote Democratic because Republicans would take away their benefits. Told by whom? By the people running the adult daycare center, which is questionably funded by Medicaid and is a booming Baltimore County business.

In Arkansas, a since fired Democratic Party staffer registered hundreds of residents, businesses and deceased people from a phone book, and a heavily Democratic Arkansas county kept the polls open 90 minutes extra. Also, the Arkansas Democratic Party paid people now under investigation in South Dakota to register voters. There, where a dead woman applied for an absentee ballot in two counties, investigators recovered charred absentee ballot applications from an independent contractor hired by the state Democratic Party, who copied information and forged signatures onto new applications. She worked in several counties around Indian reservations, which have been targeted by these efforts. Proof enough for Tom Daschle of "a concerted Republican effort to…launch initiatives intended to suppress Native American voting."

While no one can quite explain what went wrong during the recent Florida Democratic primaries, where no Republicans were involved but where the process broke down again anyway, Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe observes "a disturbing number of incidents in which Republican operatives are working to chill voter turnout." And retired Maine Senator George Mitchell scolds Republicans for trying to keep voter rolls exclusionary by opposing initiatives like "Motor Voter," which lets anyone applying for a driver's license register to vote at the same time, without proof of citizenship.

Indeed, the Republican upset in Maryland--where a Republican hasn't been governor since Spiro Agnew--has led to suspicions that the recent, well-timed sniper shootings were a Republican-organized operation. It was too perfect: A serial killer who was black--and Muslim? White people woke up and black people stayed home.

Other Democrats have been saying that requiring first-time voters to show i.d. to prove citizenship and state residency constitutes harassment. (But only Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton were courageous enough to ultimately vote against the measure.) Meanwhile, the Justice Department's appointing election officers to deter discrimination and fraud at the polls and to prosecute violators was "just a method to intimidate minority voters," according to DNC spokeswoman Maria Cardona, and others.

All nice tries, but still not enough to clinch the elections--which should serve as a lesson to the Democrats against complacency: They can't do things half-way: They neglected the creative counting that almost worked so well for them in 2000. One is tempted to give them a second chance, possibly to hand count, so they can get it right.

No wonder Democrats have been clamoring for new election laws since 2000. They're unable to follow the current ones.

In the weeks before the 2000 elections, when the electoral college was projected to work in their favor, Democrats praised it as a wise institution put in place by the respected Founding Fathers. After it didn't achieve the desired result, the electoral college proved "undemocratic." While Al Gore was taking the Constitution to court, Hillary Clinton--who two weeks ago said Bush was "selected" and not elected--called for an end to the electoral college, saying it was "unfair from the beginning."

There is only one way to ensure that "this doesn't happen again," as Dems demanded after the Florida fiasco. It is the law change they want but haven't yet figured out how to articulate. To get the election process right, from now on Republican candidates must be left off the ballot all together. In fact, only one Party should appear on the ballot--and make it every living and dead citizen's and non-citizen's law-enforced duty to vote. Today Senator Clinton must find the courage to take the next logical step and call for an end to free elections.

Progress is in the wings: For some, last Tuesday's elections already weren't free. Members of the Service Employees International Union in Boston escorted several voters inside the voting booth.

So why do Democrats continue the charade? All the campaigning, the ads, the debates and so forth are just a sideshow to the real Democratic process--which is used to knowing the outcome before it comes out.

That's why the presidential election from two years ago is still so galling, and why embittered Democratic leaders and voters still refer to it as the "stolen election." Because Republicans didn't let the Democrats steal it. Republicans fought back, robbing them of the theft. This was an outrage which no one was prepared for, and which went against precedent. In 1960, Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago--where several precinct results were first withheld then reported all at the same time once JFK was only four electoral votes away from the presidency--ensured a Kennedy victory over Richard Nixon. But in 2000, the attempts of the son, William Daley, to do the same for Gore proved futile.

If, after the dozens of independent re-counts showing Bush to be the winner, the election remains "stolen," the implication is that legitimate results are void, and fraudulence is legitimate.

Yet they say the Soviet experiment was a perversion.

During the creative counting in Florida two years ago, a broadcaster at a New York-based Russian radio station remarked, "We've seen this before. What is happening in America now, we've been through it."

These are American politics, Soviet style.

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JWR contributor Julia Gorin is a journalist and stand-up comic residing in Manhattan. Send your comments by clicking here.

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© 2002, Julia Gorin