In May of 2000 thousands of eligible voters in Florida were removed
from the rolls. Governor Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Catherine
Harris used Florida's rules that bar felons from voting to wrongly remove eligible
voters. Black voters were disproportionately affected and Al
Gore lost that state and the presidency because of this chicanery.
In 2004 Ohio Republicans used a simpler ruse to keep blacks from getting
anywhere near voting machines. They simply didn't send enough voting machines
to polls in black precincts. Voting machines were kept in storage on
the day of a presidential election. In Ohio and many other states provisional
ballots went uncounted. Electronic voting machines that lacked paper trails
produced dubious results.
There is no mystery about what ails the American voting system. There
is no guarantee that eligible voters will be able to vote and voters have no
guarantee that their votes will be counted. Instead of addressing the
obvious problems, politicians have instead decided to create new problems and
disenfranchise more people than they have already. The Commission on Election
Reform has given them the out that will do terrible harm.
Former president Jimmy Carter has spent the last twenty years observing elections
all over the globe. His role as the commission's co-Chair at first seemed logical,
but James Baker's participation is utterly illogical and an insult to anyone
who values the franchise.
Baker is the Bush family factotum who was instrumental in stopping
the Florida vote count in 2000. Congressman John Conyers expressed
his dismay at Baker's participation: "Specifically, I am concerned about
the inclusion of Mr. James Baker, III as a Commission Member. For many of us,
Mr. Baker will be forever remembered for his ultimately successful efforts to
shut down the counting of votes in the 2000 Florida election and I am concerned
that his involvement in that election may present a conflict with the goals
and initiatives of your Commission."
The Commission's report proves that Conyers had every reason to be
concerned. The commission addresses problems that don't even exist. Their worst
recommendation would make photo identification a requirement for voting. The
commission rationale for promoting such nonsense is insulting and bizarre.
Photo IDs currently are needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings, and
cash a check. Voting is equally important.
No, voting is not as important as check cashing or traveling. It is more important.
We don't have the constitutional right to board a plane and no one fought and
died to get the right to fly. It should be easier to enter a voting booth than
it is to enter an airport.
It is obvious that poor black people would be hardest hit by this requirement.
There are thousands of American citizens eligible to vote who do not have identification
and are unable to get it. That is precisely why Republicans and co-opted Democrats
think it is such a good idea.
Andrew Young is among those corrupt Democrats in sheep's clothing.
The vote thieves always say, "Andrew Young, who marched with Dr. King,
sees nothing wrong with identification requirements." Carter insulates
himself from criticism by quoting Young. "It was very encouraging to us
that Andy Young, for instance, says this will help minority voting instead of
It is difficult to see how that assertion could possibly be true. Right now
people can vote who don't have identification. If the Carter/Baker proposals
become law, people who currently vote without incident will suddenly have an
obstacle in the polling place.
It is immaterial that Young marched with Dr. King. In fact, his early history
makes his support of disenfranchisement all the more shocking. Young
is not just being used to cover Carter's and Baker's backsides, he is now praised
by the Wall Street Journal, proof of wrongdoing if it ever existed.
"I accept the recounts that show George Bush won" - and says it's
time for fresh thinking. "[Let's] ask what we do about low voter turnout
and whether it's the result of racial discrimination or not," he told me.
"I don't think it is, since everyone is equally inconvenienced by how we
No, Rev. Mr. Young, everyone is not equally inconvenienced by the
way we vote. White Ohioans had enough voting machines in their polling places
and black Ohioans didn't. White Floridians did not have to fear being labeled
felons when they went to the polls, black Floridians did.
If Young's history is being used to shut us up, we must ask very critical questions
about him. Why did Andrew Young work with King in the first place? Was he a
righteous man who wanted to end injustice, or did he only want a seat at the
table for himself?
Young came from a middle class family in New Orleans, the son of a dentist
and a teacher. He is an ordained minister with degrees from Howard University
and Hartford Theological Seminary. Those accomplishments were of limited use
to him in a segregated nation.
The sky should have been the limit for him, but for Young and every other black
America, there was always a ceiling, and it was set at a very low level. Andrew
Young profited from the civil rights movement and now allows himself to aid
and abet people who would undo its accomplishments. When Young's association
with King is noted it must also be noted that he now makes a mockery of that
A seal of approval from an opportunist shouldn't keep anyone from speaking
out. Young's allegiance is not with black people and he shouldn't be allowed
to claim otherwise. He is a turncoat and no one should be shy about saying so.
The ability of Andrew Young and his ilk to move into circles of privilege
may benefit them as individuals. If we think we must pay them homage no matter
what they do, it will be harmful to all of us as a people.