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AJC's 2004 Election Politics Sites and Blogs Campaign Finance
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Young Elephant
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
This is Helpful

By Steven Taylor @ 9:16 am

Nothing like trying to stir up fear:

Forty years after four black girls were killed in a church bombing here, Gen. Wesley K. Clark visited the same church on Monday and said African-Americans were still in danger of having their votes go uncounted and their voices unheard.

It would nice to have some actual examples of this, rather than innuendo.

And last time I checked this sort of thing is illegal, and is prosecuted when found:

“If anyone is intimidated or turned away from the polls illegally, we will push to prosecute the perpetrators to the full extent of the law,” he said.

This is just an irresponsible attempt to cash-in on fear (not to mention that the last thing we need are “election monitors” hired by candidates, who, oddly enough, have an agenda):

He said that if he became the Democratic presidential nominee he would appoint a legal team to monitor the 2004 elections to ensure that problems reported in the contested 2000 election in Florida would not be repeated.

Further, this suggests that the problem in 2000 wasn’t simply a closely divided vote, but rather some sort of fraudulent activity. This really is remarkable behavior.

What does he base such declarations on?

Despite passage of federal legislation in 2002 to overhaul the nation’s voting procedures, General Clark said later in Birmingham, “The result is that today it’s only one person, one vote if you live in the right county, and if you vote at the right machine and if your name happens to be on the rolls.”

There can be no doubt that there have been egregious injustices in the past, but where is the evidence that this kind of siutation continues? And if it does, it should be prosecuted. I find it hard to believe that if there was widespread denial of the right to vote based on race (or even isolated cases), that it wouldn’t be reported, publicized and dealt with. It isn’t like there aren’t groups that would aid a voter who had been disenfranchised, not to mention the media attention that would be focused on such a situation.

Again, these statements are outrageous and lead to the perpetuation of the perception that there is a conspiracy to deny blacks access to the vote in some institutional and systematic fashion. Heck, the General just said so, right?

Filed under: 2004 Campaign
  • Confessions Of A Political Junkie linked with Not Just Me
  • Matthew J. Stinson | weblog linked with When Your Polling Numbers Are Down, Scare Black People
  • Oliver Willis: Like Kryptonite To Stupid linked with Boggling

Click here to go to the main page.


  1. Katherine Harris disallowed about 90,000 people from voting in Florida in 2000 because they were supposedly felons. They weren’t. Just a mistake. A large majority of those disenfranchised voters were black.

    Blacks were not amused by this mistake. I imagine that’s what Clark is referring to.

    Comment by Kevin Drum — Tuesday, December 30, 2003 @ 9:42 am

  2. Kevin,

    I will give that a look. I assume you are referring to pre-election voter registration issues? That wouldn’t be the kind of thing that poll-watchers would solve.

    Further, if that is what Clark is concerned about, then he shoudl say so, rather than making this vague statements about race, which I deem to be utterly irresponsible.

    Comment by Steven — Tuesday, December 30, 2003 @ 9:50 am

  3. I have to agree with Steven re: alleged disenfranchised blacks in Florida.

    If this was true, and it was done intentionally, the parties responsible should be prosecuted. If it was a mistake, the system must be fixed.

    That much said… Floridians suffered other examples of disenfranchising:

    * the state was called ‘for Gore’ an hour before the NW polls were closed; many people who may have voted for either primary candidate may have simply turned around when the network news announced the race was over.

    * a considerable number of military ballots were challenged (if opened at all) because of dispute involving postmarks (APO mail for voting is often postmarked by the sack, not the individual piece).

    I wonder if Kevin has similarly strong views on these abuses as he does for the example he sited?

    Comment by Charlie on the PA Turnpike — Tuesday, December 30, 2003 @ 10:41 am

  4. I think this is a case of Wesley trying to play up an issue in an area where Dean is weak (African-American support). It’s pretty rotten of him to dump the charge without substantiating it, but it’s a potentially effective appeal nonetheless.

    Comment by Matthew Stinson — Tuesday, December 30, 2003 @ 11:01 am

  5. Matthew,

    I agree. But I don’t have to like it. ;)

    Comment by Steven — Tuesday, December 30, 2003 @ 11:05 am

  6. I agree with your analysis (the next post) for the most part. But one thing that wasn’t mentioned in these last two posts is how high the African-American vote was for Gore in the last election. 90% comes to mind.

    Clark is trying to tap into this. And although I don’t think any kind of race-baiting for votes is ultimately good, I don’t put it past any politician to try to garner votes through fear. I’m just surprised this hasn’t come up before this.

    And no, I don’t much care for it either.

    Comment by Eric — Tuesday, December 30, 2003 @ 11:24 am

  7. I don’t like it either, Steven, and you’d think that Clark learned his lesson about unsubstantiated claims after he was smeared by Shelton, but noo . . .

    Comment by Matthew Stinson — Tuesday, December 30, 2003 @ 12:20 pm

  8. I believe the 90,000 are referring to the statewide list of ineligible voters. Of that list many were disputed (the 12,000) which was a huge error rate and the reason many local Supervisors never used the list.

    Clark has said nothing that is new. In fact it sounds like he is just parroting speeches from many African-American leaders and Democrats from the past 4 years. Heck even the folks out in California said much of the same things during the recall.

    And please let us not get back into the efforts of both Republicans and Democrats during 2000 to optimize votes. Both sides did the best they could do.

    The mistake was asking for local recounts instead of statewide and the Fl. Supreme Court’s cold shoulder to the US Supreme Court (but you can’t blame Democrats for that one)

    Oh and you can read the US Civil Rights Commission report on Florida 2000 if you want to see where Clark gets the rhetoric.

    Comment by Rob Moates — Tuesday, December 30, 2003 @ 1:07 pm

  9. Who would you suggest investigate disenfrachised voters? Bushs’ Supreme Court? John Ashcroft? The Republican Congress? Or maybe Jeb Bush or Katherine Harris?

    What about all those absentee ballots submitted AFTER election day? But we couldn’t question those because they came from our men and women in uniform. Even though absentee ballots must be received “prior” to election day, these were all accepeted and anyone who questioned it was deemed anti-American. Typical Bush-speek.

    Comment by digi — Tuesday, December 30, 2003 @ 1:29 pm

  10. The Commission on Civil Rights held an investigation and hearings after the Florida fiasco of 2000 and did indeed find numerous examples of disenfranchisement. They could not prove conspiracy, but there was neglect at the very least. The voting processes in minority communities are NOT equal to those in white communities. The General is correct in what he said.

    Comment by Monni — Wednesday, December 31, 2003 @ 9:16 am

  11. As I recall, many voters thought they were registered but, as Kevin pointed out, found they were ineligible.

    Perhaps the most dramatic undercount in Floridas election was the uncast ballots of countless eligible voters who were turned away at the polls or wrongfully purged from voter registration rolls.

    And this:

    Poorer counties, particularly those with large minority populations, were more likely to use voting systems with higher spoilage rates than more affluent counties with significant white populations. For example, in Gadsden County, the only county in the state with an African American majority, approximately one in eight voters was disenfranchised. In Leon County, on the other hand, which is home to the prosperous state capital and two state universities, fewer than two votes in 1,000 were not counted. In Florida, of the 100 precincts with the highest numbers of disqualified ballots, 83 of them are majority-black precincts.

    So it’s not like this is something being cooked up by whacky liberals. There’s still massive anger in the black community over voter disenfranchisement. Probably Clark is aware that the people he was talking to knew this already, and he expects the rest of you can do your own homework.

    All italicized quotes are taken from a publication from an organization called the US Commission on Civil Rights.


    Comment by Mikhel — Wednesday, December 31, 2003 @ 12:13 pm

  12. For further elucidation, please read Greg Palast’s “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy". It details a very thorough documentation of the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of African Americans in the Florida election of 2000. In particular, the company hired by Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush were told to use very loose criteria to remove people whose names were similar to those of felons, from the rolls. As a result, African Americans were turned away at the polls in huge numbers. Another source is the documentary, “Unprecedented", produced by Greenwald, wherein these abuses are detailed. How many of you know that, when James Baker took the issue to the Supreme Court to stop the counting, two of Scalia’s sons were working in the Bush campaign, and Thomas’ wife was on the Bush transition team? Why did these two not recuse themselves from this ruling?
    “Digi", posted above brings up a good point: who is going to investigate this travesty of justice? Ashcroft? Jeb Bush? Is Katherine Harris going to order an investigation of herself?
    This election was so clearly stolen that it turns my stomach. Even worse, people like Steven, Matthew and others in postings above, are completely unaware of this election fraud. It is thoroughly documented, but there is no agency who wants to open it up to a criminal investigation. I believe the NAACP wanted to press charges, but now we’re in another electioni cycle.
    That brings us to the next election. My fear is that these electronic machines, in particular the Diebold machines which are already in use in Ohio, are subject to fraudulent tabulations. Apparently, there is no paper trail, which would allow a recount; and the software has shown to be subject to glitches. It’s not beyond expectations that the software could be programmed to select one candidate or another. And the candidate that will probably be “selected” is Bush. Why? Because the president of Diebold sent out a memo stating that he would do everything in his power to make sure that Bush stays in power.
    I believe Wes Clark is by far the best candidate to set this country straight again, and to work for the benefit of the American people, not just the rich and well connected. Unfortunately, if the 2000 election is any indication of what can happen in this country, we might as well expect the 2004 election to be something out of a banana republic-or maybe the 99.9% Iraqi vote for Saddam.

    Comment by Barbara D’Angelo — Wednesday, December 31, 2003 @ 9:56 pm

  13. I suggest Clark may have read an article in The Nation wherein Greg Palast exposes with documented facts the way Katherine Harris and a company of questionable integrity called Choice Point were able to illegally remove thousands of black voters from the rolls.

    It’s an interesting read.

    Comment by Al Hedstrom — Friday, January 2, 2004 @ 7:58 pm

  14. It is possible, and I will give the piece a look.

    However, one has to admit that The Nation isn’t exactly a non-ideological source. I find the The Nation to be about as trustworthy a source as I would the American Spectator. It isn’t that either is always wrong, but I take publications with extreme ideological position to be one worthy of taking with a grain of salt.

    Comment by Steven — Friday, January 2, 2004 @ 8:18 pm

  15. There is also documentation of psuedo (or real) polling calls to voters in Georgia accusing one of the candidates-McCain, as I recall, of having a daughter who is/was black.

    As for the “facts” supporting his statements, I do not find it hard to believe given the fact that while living in Colorado Springs in the 1990s my neighbor told me not to sell my house to a black, and another person told me not to use a certain daycare because it used by African-Americans.

    Comment by cindy — Friday, January 30, 2004 @ 10:04 pm

  16. There is also documentation of psuedo (or real) polling calls to voters in Georgia accusing one of the candidates-McCain, as I recall, of having a daughter who is/was black.

    As for the “facts” supporting his statements, I do not find it hard to believe given the fact that while living in Colorado Springs in the 1990s my neighbor told me not to sell my house to a black, and another person told me not to use a certain daycare because it used by African-Americans.

    Comment by cindy — Friday, January 30, 2004 @ 10:04 pm

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