The primary election in Ohio will be on May 2--less than two weeks away. I know that Paul Hackett's candidacy--even the one for Senate before he withdrew back in February--drew national attention and support. As this election nears, I have been trying to find a way to make the case that this election is of national
importance. With all that people have on their plates--with all the very important issues we need to care about--how, I wondered, was I going to get people to take notice? And actually give a rat's
--er, hindquarters about this election and this candidate. This morning, thanks to some audio that I had not yet transcribed from a Subodh Chandra event I attended earlier this month, I hit upon the answer. It has to do with the Attorney General's role in ensuring clean and honest elections.
From the question and answer section after Subodh Chandra's speech in Columbus, Ohio on April 8...
What role does, or can, or should the Attorney General have in ensuring clean and honest elections?
Well, I'll tell you what I would have had done in 2004 election. It would have been very different from the way Jim Petro handled things.
At the first sign of trouble, and to me--correct me if I'm wrong. The first sign of trouble--here's an oldie but a goodie--was when Ken Blackwell announced that boards of election should not honor voter registration forms unless they were on the right weight of cardstock. (Laughter). Even when they were printed off his own web site. At that very moment, he would have found his ass in court.
And what we would have done in a courthouse, well before the election, is to sort out the rules of democracy, and ask him a series of questions about how he believed that election was going to be administered, what the rules were going to be. And we would have tried to get some kind of consent judgement out of the court--maybe get a special master--get some kind of ruling as to what the rules were going to be. And that then would have been an enforceable document that the Attorney General, running the might and weight of that 350 person law firm would have been able to enforce.
Instead, what happened is that private parties had to react to the shenanigans as they were becoming public. And so it took until 4:00 on Election Day before a federal judge ordered that Ken Blackwell had to permit absentee voters who had requested their ballots but didn't receive them, to even vote provisionally. He wasn't letting them vote provisionally! Now, call me crazy, but I don't see the point of a provisional ballot other to vote provisionally. And why he turned away, who knows how many--was it hundreds, was it thousands of voters from the polls--for no reason. And of course, where are you most likely to not get your absentee ballot? Urban areas.
So, look...I am not by nature a conspiracy theorist. Good lawyers aren't permitted to be. You have to try to look at every issue and try to get to the truth. And so, I have no idea whether the 2004 election was stolen. I know the 2000 election was. I went there and protested...in Washington. Can you imagine the spectacle of a sitting Assistant United States Attorney trying to go in and protest the election? I had a little bit of a tiff with a Secret Service agent that day. And then we both cooled off.
But, I have no idea whether it was stolen in 2004. But, that's not the point, in a way. Once we have our faith in democracy undermined, then everything else is on the line. I couldn't even swallow the Alito nomination, and the cooperation the Democrats were giving, because I kept thinking, his whole presidency is illegitimate! People make all that a radical position, I don't think it is. Because, he undermined my faith in democracy. ...I moved to Ohio to work for Dick Celeste, to help plant the seeds of democracy in central and eastern Europe. Because after the Berlin Wall fell, Celeste acted to create a program to train young leaders from central and eastern Europe who had fought for democracy, but who had never experienced it, in the fundamentals of campaign organizing skills, and we sent them home to raise hell with the skills that they've learned. And they're now all big shots in their home countries. One of them is Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the majority political party, one of them runs the umbrella organization for all the nongovenmental organizations, one of them's a leading human right's lawyer. They're doing amazing things.
But now I feel like I need to call them and say, "Could you come back and give us some retraining?" We need to call Jimmy Carter and ask him to come monitor elections here in Ohio. We cannot let these things go that far.
One of the reasons that David Boies, who represented Al Gore in the Florida recount in 2000, came to Ohio to support my candidacy--twice, in Cleveland and Columbus. And he kept hammering away at this point--he said this is a job for a lawyer and prosecutor with the experience to ensure that we have a free and fair election in 2008. This is not a job for a politician with a law degree--even a well intended one.
And, we have got to ensure this. Because, we all know, it's not just Ohio that's at stake. It's the fate of our nation, and as a result, the fate of our world that's at stake.
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