Page 28


EDITORIAL Counted Out? Economic levees have burst. The water’s pouring in, and we’re being herded toward the Superdome, where we’ll be asked to sacri fice while lords of Wall Street hammer Congress to recognize the economic high ground as their birthright. Pretty serious stuff. It may be time for a New Deal or a Better Deal. But if polling indicates just a few points between the candidates before the election, the machines are in place for the Same Deal. They’re not leaving it to chance, hanging chads, or voter whim. Legislation and intimidation have set the stage for an election that could be a fraud. Not voter fraud. A number of prominent Republicans, including our own AG Greg Abbott, have tried to prosecute mostly poor and minority voters for alleged mail-in ballot improprieties \(“Vote by Mail, Go to Jail,” TO, April The American Prospect that John Ashcroft’s 2002-2005 voter-fraud crusade netted only 24 convictions nationwide. The flurry of state photo-ID registration laws popping up around the nation led to convictions of only 14 non-citizens. David Iglesias, a former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico fired for failure to prosecute fraud, told Levine, “It’s [voter fraud] very frightening, and it doesn’t exist.” In this case, the fraud could be an election result triggered by voter suppression and intimidation, along with lingering vote count questions. The 2002 federal Help America Vote Act mandated states to keep voter lists current. Andrew Hacker in The New York Review of Books reports that Florida complied by matching voters to Social Security numbers. Because more than one-quarter of Social Security names are problematic \(mostly due to name changes caused by marvulnerable to this voter-purging method. Florida also purges names that have 80 percent of the letters of the name matching names of convicted felons. Black voters were 13 percent of the scanned pool but 26 percent of those purged. In Ohio in 2006, 303,000 voters were purged in three urban counties. It’s rampant. Michigan tried to eliminate voters with foreclosed homes. Colorado officials told college students they couldn’t vote where they go to school if their parents claim them on their tax returns. Expect voter suppression to pop up across the country. Nearly 30 states have considered legislation requiring proof of citizenship or a photo ID to register or vote. In a key decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Indiana Voter ID bill, requiring a passport or a driver’s license. According to Hacker, 673,926 adults in Indiana, most poor, do not have driver’s licenses. If all else fails, elections can still be won the old-fashioned waymanipulating the count. In his ground-breaking 1988 New Yorker article on the potential of electronic vote manipulation, Observer founding editor Ronnie Dugger quoted Boss Tweed: “The ballots made no result; the counters made the result.” BlackBoxVoting, a non-partisan vote watch organization, put 49 Texas counties on its watch list for the November election because they use a paperless voting system considered “at high risk for fraud and errors.” BlackBoxVoting put eight other Texas counties on the watch list because they use machines whose “tabulation system is the subject of a product advisory It has been discovered dropping votes….” As Dugger also reported, voting machine computer codes are vulnerable to manipulation. All these tricks can determine an election if the race is close. But if a ninepoint polling spread leads McCain to suspend his campaign, what perversity might a 15-point spread inspire? It may be time for an international election commission. Bring in Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel. Let’s see if the longest-running democracy can still hold a democratic election. Geoff Rips THE TEXAS OBSERVER I VOLUME 100, NO. 19 I A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 Founding Editor Ronnie Dugger CEO/Executive Publisher Carlton Carl Visiting Editor Geoff Rips Managing Editor Brad Tyer Associate Editor Dave Mann Publisher Charlotte McCann Associate Publisher Julia Austin Circulation Manager Sandra Beckmeier Art Director Leah Ball Webmaster Shane Pearson Investigative Reporter Melissa del Bosque Poetry Editor Naomi Shihab Nye Copy Editor Rusty Todd Staff Writer Forrest Wilder Editorial Interns Elisabeth Kristof, Mary Tuma Contributing Writers Nate Blakeslee, Robert Bryce, Emily DePrang, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Steven G. Kellman, James McWilliams, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olsson, John Ross, Andrew Wheat Staff Photographers Alan Pogue, Jana Birchum, Steve Satterwhite Contributing Artists Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Gary Oliver, Doug Potter Editorial Advisory Board David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Sissy Farenthold, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid, Rusty Todd Texas Democracy Foundation Board Melissa Jones, Susan Longley, Jim Marston, Mary Nell Mathis, VAR affia7 pot 1/4114. *4,6′ *17; o at !A :4 poll 11 I, Gilberto Ocarias, Jesse Oliver, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips, Geronimo Rodriguez, Sharron Rush, Kelly White, In Memoriam Molly Ivins,1944-2007 Bob Eckhardt, 1913-2001 Cliff Olofson,1931-1995 Frankie Carter Randolph, 1894-1972 The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040-4519/ righted 2008, is published biweekly except during January and August when there is a 4 week break by the Texas Democracy Foundation, West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. E-mail [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page . Periodicals Postage paid at Austin, TX and at additional mailing offices. Subscriptions One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13 per year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 pre paid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Books & the Culture is funded in part by the City of Austin \(1.;=” through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts. Ails* grin *NO..” OCTOBER 3, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3