A great historical victory occurred on January 6, 2005. The first formal challenge to an entire state delegation in the electoral college signals nothing less than the rebirth of a new 21st century voting rights movement.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was instrumental in kicking open Congressional doors, helping to persuade U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones of Cleveland to challenge Ohio’s electoral certification and Senator Barbara Boxer to sign on. U.S. Rep. John Conyers’ report “Preserving Democracy: What went wrong in Ohio” stands as a lasting monument to the massive irregularities in Ohio that led to Bush’s tainted victory.

Those who tell Free Press staffers to “get over it,” “your guy Kerry lost,” and “quit whining,” are missing the point. What they are asking us to “get over” are basic principles of democracy.

When you allow elections to happen where the machines are provided by private corporations whose CEOs are partisan supporters and fund-raisers of Bush – that is not democracy.

When you allow Diebold or Triad, or ES&S to count the votes on their secret proprietary software with no transparency or accountability to the people – that is not democracy.

What glib critics miss is that there is something infinitely more important at stake here than whether Bush or Kerry won. The American democratic system is on trial before the eyes of the world.

A vast array of sworn testimony points to only one conclusion: that deliberate, premeditated criminal activity took place in Ohio to illegally suppress voters’ rights. Mounting evidence documents that by accident, or design, the voting results were altered in many counties.

Why should we “get over” 105,000 voter registrations cancelled over the last four years in Republican-dominated Hamilton County? Why should we turn away as 34,000 former felons are lied to by 20 counties about their eligibility to vote? Why should we remain silent while students at liberal Kenyon College are forced to wait in line up to 10 hours, and their right to vote is exercised at 3 a.m. November 3 only after a federal judge forces Knox County to keep the polls open?

Why should we ignore long lines of African-American citizens standing in a cold rain for up to six hours in Columbus because Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell and Franklin County Board of Elections Executive Director Matt Damschroder conducted an election with only half the machines they needed?

We refuse to accept the criminal activity of the mighty Texas Strike Force who ran an aggressive dirty tricks campaign in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati to frighten and intimidate poor and black voters.

No democracy can accept the unethical and totally partisan role played by Blackwell as both Secretary of State and co-chair of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.

People in Ohio understand perfectly what it would mean if the Ohio State Buckeyes went to Michigan to play the Wolverines and found the referee dressed in maize and blue, co-chairing the Wolverine Booster Club, and high-fiving the Michigan players during the game.

The only reason Bush occupies the presidency is because he realized he could ethically compromise first Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in 2000 and our own Blackwell in 2004. It is easy to win a close election when your punk is tossing out new voter registrations that favor your opponent, narrowing provisional balloting rules at the last minute, certifying absurd voting results such as 124% turnout in Perry County or 98.55% in Miami County, and calling voters on Election Day lobbying them to vote for Issue One that banned gay marriage and domestic partnership in Ohio.

The election in Ohio represented a throwback to the thuggish tactics of Tammany Hall in the 19th century. Blackwell and Bush enthusiastically embraced naked and blatant voter suppression, dirty tricks and the outright theft of votes.

We will not get over this, and we still do not concede, but we shall overcome.

Appears in Issue: