01 April 2014

Nov 3- The Central Ohio Peace Network and the
Toledo League of Pissed Off Voters organized an
anti-war protest for today at 5:00 PM to send out the
message that whoever the next president is, we need to
end our occupation of Iraq. After hearing about
Kerry's concession earlier in the day, the focus of
the event at the Federal Building turned heavily
towards expressing dissatisfaction with questionable
election procedures.



One sign read, "Hundreds of thousands of voters
suppressed- democracy failed." Written on another was,
"Blackwell sucks," accompanied by a picture of ballots
being sucked into a well.



A man who identified himself as David claimed that
votes were lost because of Secretary of State Ken
Blackwell's decision to only count provisional ballots
that were cast at the correct precinct, and also
because Republican workers "cleansed the voting
lists," taking off people who had not voted in recent
elections.



Yoshi Furuhashi was a vocal leader. She said,
"Kerry already conceded. He is even more of a wimp
than Gore!" She stressed that we need to bring back
complete democracy to the country, and encouraged the
crowd to "take this opportunity to send a statement to
the rest of the world that we are not going to take
it," referring to the war in Iraq, where she says that
the American military is responsible for the deaths of
100,000 Iraqis, and also to the indirect
disenfranchisement of many voters.



On Election Day, there were huge bottlenecks at
democratic precincts, as poll worker Erin Deignan
attested to. She worked at East Linden Elementary
school, where there were only three machines. If
everyone took 5 minutes to vote, she calculated that
the maximum number of people that could vote in one
day was 468, when there are 1100 registered voters
assigned to that precinct. The judge in charge of a
precinct near Victorian Village said that he had asked
for ten machines and did not receive nearly as many.
He estimated that almost 800 people would have time to
vote, and said that there were over 3000 registered in
the precinct. Another man at the rally described a
similar number mismatch at his precinct, and was
incensed at the lack of appropriate preparation,
maintaining, "We paid them to set up enough machines
to let everyone vote, not to make preparations
according to anticipated voter turnout."



Whether this bottlenecking was intentional or not,
it almost certainly caused many potential voters to
turn away, although of course, it is impossible to
calculate the exact number. It is arguably infeasible
for senior citizens or the handicapped to wait in
three or four hour lines. Many others had jobs that
they have to get to, and students had tests to study
for.



Election Protection volunteer Evelyn Van Till said
that there were many students who applied for absentee
ballots but did not receive them until Election Day or
the day before. They were unable to mail them early
enough to be received on the second, and unable to
apply for a provisional ballot, having already applied
for an absentee ballot.



At 6:00 the rally moved down to the Statehouse
where police threatened to arrest those who would not
disperse after two warnings. When it became clear that
there were almost 30 activists who were prepared to be
arrested, the police departed.



A significant impact of the rally was that it took
the despondency and anger of the progressive community
due to yesterday's outcome, and turned it into a
positive energy, bringing forward the message that
those who hope for peace, justice and democracy should
not give up. There was singing and chanting at the
statehouse as the rally evolved into a sort of peace
vigil.