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Investigation of disenfranchisement in 2000 election
May 22, 2002 3:20 AM   Subscribe

Investigation of disenfranchisement in 2000 election getting underway at Bush's Dept of Justice. Finally.
posted by engelr (29 comments total)

 
I'd say it's far too late to care, but maybe this will help keep Jeb from stealing the White House.
posted by pracowity at 5:04 AM on May 22, 2002


What about all the military people that had their votes turned down. Where's their day in court?

From what I've heard and of course I don't know the details and so do none of you if you hadn't been there, I heard they had police checkpoints set up to check people going through. Is this turning black voters away? What are they afraid of? We have checkpoints around here all the time to catch drunk drivers. Should drunk drivers then be crying racism? If there are checkpoints for good reasons, why should people that have nothing to hide be afraid to go through?

And to the disabled voters, where were the lawsuits before this? Some of these polling stations have been this way for decades, why no lawsuit before this?

Other charges, he said, include failing to allow voters with limited proficiency in English to have assistance at the polls and failing to provide bilingual assistance.

Oh man, and this one takes the proverbial cake. You are voting in an "American" election and you can not speak the language. Oh, this is great. What the hell are you voting for then? Unless you have an interpreter with you at every moment, you have no idea what platform the candidate is running on anyway. Just amazing, we cowtow to so much in this country. No wonder America is known as a joke to other countries.
posted by the_0ne at 5:30 AM on May 22, 2002


Couldn't you be quite familiar with a candidate's positions and name without being able to read English?
posted by pracowity at 5:37 AM on May 22, 2002


and you can not speak the language.
chinga tu madre, puta!
i mean, thank you for your most generous offer to participate in the democratic process for which i am eternally grateful, senor.
posted by quonsar at 5:42 AM on May 22, 2002


Couldn't you be quite familiar with a candidate's positions and name without being able to read English?

Yes in a sense, but I don't see it being the same as a person that can speak and understand every word they are saying without outside help, as in an interpreter.
posted by the_0ne at 5:44 AM on May 22, 2002


Illiterates can vote, can't they? Born and raised in the US, speaking English fairly fluently, but perhaps needing some help in the voting booth?
posted by pracowity at 5:51 AM on May 22, 2002


i mean, thank you for your most generous offer to participate in the democratic process for which i am eternally grateful, senor.

I didn't want to turn this into a huge, speak english or die thread, but since I've already gotten 3 comments back, here we go.

I don't agree with people that do not speak any english in America. My grandparents were both from Italy, in fact, different sections and spoke "different" italian, so even the same language didn't help them. When they came here there was not even a thought of not learning english. Why is that the mentality today? I have no problem with people speaking their heritage when they talk to each other. But choosing to speak their language and having to because they do not know english is different. It's the people that are so helpless because everything around them is english and they can hardly participate. I see it every single day. I have to wait in line at the grocery store, at a freaken McDonalds, the gas station, etc., etc., because they need to get that one person that speaks the language to help them.

quonsar, obviously you are not one of these people. Tell me the truth, do you think you could get anywhere in this country without being able to at least speak a little english? Maybe you think so, but I look around right now and can't imagine it.
posted by the_0ne at 5:53 AM on May 22, 2002


you misread my post. or perhaps i misread my post. at any rate, the problem isn't voters, the problem is candidates, which should be prohibited from being english-speakers, since all they do is lie anyway. i prefer to be lied to in a language i don't speak, or at a minimum, in pidgin english. "YOU VOTE ME NOW! I MAKE GOOD FAVOR YOUR BANK!"
posted by quonsar at 5:59 AM on May 22, 2002


sorry quonsar, you are right, I totally misread your comment. I try not to get into the idea that everything they say are lies. However, politicians/candidates are certainly not the most honest of people, far from it. :)
posted by the_0ne at 6:03 AM on May 22, 2002


Illiterates can vote, can't they? Born and raised in the US, speaking English fairly fluently, but perhaps needing some help in the voting booth?

I'm not sure I agree with your statement. If these people are illiterate because they just don't feel like learning how to read, then they are in the same group I am speaking of. If they are illiterate because of a mental challenge, this is something they did not choose. Not learning how to speak english in a predominately english speaking country, without some kind of a mental or physical limitation, is a choice.
posted by the_0ne at 6:08 AM on May 22, 2002


The problem is not police checkpoints. The problem they seem to be investigating is removing people from rolls of registered voters incorrectly. When the majority of people removed incorrectly seem to be a targeted group (black or poor or democratic-party-members or in a particular geographic area), then I think there should be an investigation. If the military voting procedures don't get investigated as well, I would be surprised. ...Being able to read well is not a requirement for citizenship; just ask the president!
posted by engelr at 6:13 AM on May 22, 2002


the_One, maybe 5 of 9 comments is too many. Your call. In any case, there was only one police safety check, according to official USCCR complaints, and that was "within a few miles of a polling place in a predominantly African American neighborhood", lasted an hour and a half, and stopped about 150 vehicles total, issuing 16 citations. Wow. As much as it may have been unauthorized it's not some grand conspiracy.
posted by dhartung at 6:18 AM on May 22, 2002


I don't agree with people that do not speak any english in America.

I take it you are not just disagreeing, though, but that you would like to enforce compliance.

So much for the "Land of the Free."

Personally, I think that if I want to speak only Pig Latin or Klingon, and am willing to accept the consequences of doing so, that I have the right to make that choice. I also have the right to try to convince others to join me and to accommodate my lifestyle. Which is NOT the same thing as expecting accommodation as some sort of legal right.
posted by rushmc at 6:26 AM on May 22, 2002


If the military voting procedures don't get investigated as well, I would be surprised

I wouldn't...
posted by the_0ne at 6:27 AM on May 22, 2002


the_One: since you obviously weren't paying attention during the election, here's a quick summary:

In Florida, ex-felons are not allowed to vote. In the summer of 1999, Katherine Harris hired a company (Database Technologies) to go through the voting lists and remove anyone suspected of being a former felon. In the process, under instructions to cast as wide a net as possible in matching names, they also removed thousands of people who were not ex-felons -- people who happened to share a name or just a birthday with an ex-felon -- who should have had every right to vote. And when these perfectly innocent people showed up at the voting booths, they were turned away.

An additional 8,000 Floridians were prevented from voting because their names appeared on a list supplied by another state -- Texas -- which claimed the 8000 people were ex-felons who had moved to Florida. However, according to Texas law, felons have their voting rights reinstated after they serve their time, so these 8,000 people should also have been allowed to vote.

As for all the "military people that had their votes turned down:" those ballots were part of a frantic push by Republicans to bring back their lead once it became clear they were falling behind. Many of these were postmarked after election day, were missing witness information, came from unregistered voters, etc., so according to the rules for absentee ballots shouldn't have been counted. (According to the NY Times, 580 of the 2,490 overseas ballots were flawed.) When the Democrats complained about this, the Republicans made a brilliant PR move, turning it around to make it sound like the Dems didn't want all the votes to be counted. This though the Republican mantra all along had been to follow the rule of law, not try to change the rules after an election (which is what "count every vote" would have amounted to.)

If you want more info, or to check my numbers, try here or here or here. And next time try to know at least a little bit about what you're talking about before you make half the comments in a thread, eh?
posted by ook at 6:46 AM on May 22, 2002


I'm sorry; that second URL was not what I was aiming for (though there is some interesting related material there as well). I meant that to point here.
posted by ook at 6:48 AM on May 22, 2002


You are voting in an "American" election and you can not speak the language

And what language is that? Where does it say English is the official American language. Don't bother to look ... there is no official language in America. BTW, do you speak LAKHOTA?
posted by magullo at 7:13 AM on May 22, 2002


"Don't bother to look ... there is no official language in America"

best argument...ever : )
thanks for the great post!
posted by das_2099 at 7:36 AM on May 22, 2002


The other thing about non-English speakers, the_0ne, is that they never speak to anyone who can understand English. It's hard to understand, but true: those "foreign types" are too lazy to want to discuss politics with their neighbours - they don't take any interest in their country.

I can just imagine Juan and Juanite sitting around and home. Even if they've read their Spanish-language newspaper, neither one will be interested - or informed enough to vote. And if they bump into Jose - who speaks both English and Spanish - they'll ignore anything he says he read in the Times. "If it's not Spanish, it's not good!" they'll say, in funny accents. If Mr Cortez - a Republican candidate - comes to talk to them about his platform, Juan and Juanita will obviously kick him out or misunderstand him - certainly they won't be equipped to contribute to society except through taxes, labour, buying-power and the arts.

I imagine if non-English speakers had their way, in areas where English isn't the most common language, they would argue that the English-speakers shouldn't even have resources provided to help them understand the ballots! Those silly nachonachonacho talkers - when will they learn about the true spirit of America!
posted by Marquis at 7:48 AM on May 22, 2002


More here and here: 'One of those 58,000 was Linda Howell, who says she has never committed a felony. Her protest was immediately taken seriously, since she happens to be Madison County's election supervisor. The false accusation shook her faith in the purge process: "It really is a mess," she told me afterward. '
posted by riviera at 7:52 AM on May 22, 2002


Not to put too fine a point on it, the ability to read, write and speak English is supposed to be a requirement for those wishing to become a US citizen -- or so says the INS website. I'm curious to know how these people whose English proficiency is so dim that they are unable to vote without assistance were able to pass the exam to become citizens (one presumes that those born and educated here do not have other languages as their primary tongue) to begin with.

That aside, how much bilingual assistance does there need to be in order to not constitute a violation of someone's Constitutional rights? An instruction sheet which gives the basic how-to guide in various languages? Someone on hand who speaks all of the languages of the people who vote in the precinct (in some voting places, you'd need ten interpreters) who can answer direct questions? What happens then if someone whose English is weak and whose primary language is something highly unusual in the area, say a Swahili-speaker in Lincoln, NE?

Btw, interesting that no one noted that lawsuits are being filed regarding irregularities in Missouri (where polls were illegally held open, the dead were voting and the dead were winning) and Tennessee (the uncarried home state of, uh, who was he again?) as well.
posted by Dreama at 8:19 AM on May 22, 2002


interesting that no one noted that lawsuits are being filed regarding irregularities in Missouri

the Florida election is generally regarded as the one that matters.
posted by tolkhan at 8:27 AM on May 22, 2002


The issue of speaking English (there is no such thing as a national language on the books) is moving away from the post. In fact, from what I recall, Ook is right on target with the problems that have brought about the lawsuit.
But of course they can not reverse the election at this point, or won't, so if in fact they prove that Bush was not the winner, the country will be further emotional turmoil.
posted by Postroad at 8:33 AM on May 22, 2002



Not to put too fine a point on it, the ability to read, write and speak English is supposed to be a requirement for those wishing to become a US citizen


I thought being born here was enough.
posted by rdr at 9:10 AM on May 22, 2002


I'm curious to know how these people whose English proficiency is so dim that they are unable to vote without assistance were able to pass the exam to become citizens (one presumes that those born and educated here do not have other languages as their primary tongue) to begin with

Ay amigo! Usted nunca oyó hablar de Cuba, mi hermano?
posted by magullo at 9:10 AM on May 22, 2002


> What happens then if someone whose English is weak
> and whose primary language is something highly unusual
> in the area, say a Swahili-speaker in Lincoln, NE?

If you planned ahead, I'm sure you could arrange things, even in Nebraska. For example, starting with a candidate list and voting instructions printed in English, a cheatsheet could be printed with the help of faxes or e-mail to and from Tanzania.

And there are plenty of Swahili sources in the US who would be happy and proud to help a Swahili speaker in Lincoln, Nebraska. You might ask the University of Nebraska's Black Studies department in Omaha for guidance.

The only real difficulty would arise if local officials were unwilling to help.
posted by pracowity at 9:30 AM on May 22, 2002


so if in fact they prove that Bush was not the winner, the country will be further emotional turmoil.

Good. We should be.

Or are you one of those who believe "fuck the truth, once someone gets away with something, let's just pretend it never happened so we're not made uncomfortable by the facts"?
posted by rushmc at 11:58 AM on May 22, 2002


"chinga tu madre, puta!"
i mean, thank you for your most generous offer to participate in the democratic process for which i am eternally grateful, senor.
posted by quonsar at 5:42 AM PST on May 22

That, my friend, is a thing of beauty!
Thank you for the belly laughter--I needed it today.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 3:46 PM on May 22, 2002


Justice Dept. Urged To Widen Fla. Probe
Groups: Voter List Purges an Issue

posted by homunculus at 11:01 PM on May 23, 2002


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