Something's rotten in the state of Denmark

Monday, November 15, 2004

Washington Post's Britt on Irregularities

I'd missed this, but Donna Britt, metro columnist for the Washington Post, had a spot-on piece in last Friday's Washington Post. The headline? "Worst Voter Error is Apathy Toward Irregularities."

But citizens who insist, election after election, that each vote is sacred and then shrug at hundreds of credible reports that honest-to-God votes were suppressed and discouraged aren't just being hypocritical.

They're telling the millions who never vote because "it doesn't matter anyway" that they're the smart ones.

Amen, Donna. And she makes this completely accurate and far too rarely made point:

If Republicans had lost the election, this column would be unnecessary because Karl Rove and company would be contesting every vote. I keep hearing from those who wonder whether Democrats are "too nice," and from others who wonder whether efforts by the mainstream media to be "fair and balanced" sometimes render them "neutered and less effective."

I never stopped chuckling at the irony that the President who allegedly was campaigning against activist judges and trial lawyers run amok completely owed his Presidency to, yes, activist judges (five of 'em) and a team of trial lawyers. And you better believe we're going to see those trial lawyers return on Bush's behalf if the recounts turn anything up.

Much of the media dismisses anxiety over such irregularities as grousing by poor-loser Democrats, rabid conspiracy theorists and pouters frustrated by Kerry's lightning-quick concession. Some of it surely is.

But more people's concerns are elementary-school basic -- which isn't coincidental since that's where many of us learned about democracy. We feel that Americans mustn't concede the noble intentions upon which our nation was founded to the cynical or the indifferent. We believe in our nation's sacred assurance that every citizen's voice be heard through his or her vote.

Why aren't more Americans exercised about the issue of irregularities? Britt suggests that "maybe the problem is who's being disenfranchised -- usually poor and minority voters. In a recent poll of black and white adults by Harvard University professor Michael Dawson, 37 percent of white respondents said that widely publicized reports of attempts to prevent blacks from voting in the 2000 election were a Democratic "fabrication." More disturbingly, nearly one-quarter of whites surveyed said that if such attempts were made, they either were "not a problem" (9 percent) or "not so big a problem" (13 percent)."

You read that right.

Read the rest of the column, which includes some disturbing descriptions and anecdotes of Election Day occurrences that feel like they're out of the America of 1954, not 2004.