Sunday, after several days of heated blogosphere discussion of the Rolling Stone article by Robert Kennedy Jr, Was the 2004 Election Stolen?, attorney Paul R. Lehto weighed in on the arguments and the issue at OpEdNews.com. In The False-Fake Debate over RFK Jr’s Rolling Stone Article Started by Salon Ignores Democracy and What’s Important, Lehto takes a longer view of the question and the consequences of the debate. Due to the probably unresolvable nature of these arguments, I think Lehto offers a perspective that is more constructive and supports Kennedy’s goal.
First, I will restate my own assessment. Kennedy titled the article with a question. Dan Tokaji on Election Law @ Moritz opens his 6/2 essay Back to Ohio: The Rolling Stone Piece with this summation:
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has published this article in Rolling Stone, entitled “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?” It’s a long article but, for those anxious to get to the bottom line, his answer to the title’s question is an emphatic “yes.”
The closest thing that I can find to an actual answer by Kennedy is this:
The issue of what happened in 2004 is not an academic one. For the second election in a row, the president of the United States was selected not by the uncontested will of the people but under a cloud of dirty tricks. Given the scope of the GOP machinations, we simply cannot be certain that the right man now occupies the Oval Office —which means, in effect, that we have been deprived of our faith in democracy itself.
Kennedy then concludes the discussion with this:
American history is littered with vote fraud — but rather than learning from our shameful past and cleaning up the system, we have allowed the problem to grow even worse. If the last two elections have taught us anything, it is this: The single greatest threat to our democracy is the insecurity of our voting system. If people lose faith that their votes are accurately and faithfully recorded, they will abandon the ballot box. Nothing less is at stake here than the entire idea of a government by the people.
Voting, as Thomas Paine said, ”is the right upon which all other rights depend.” Unless we ensure that right, everything else we hold dear is in jeopardy.
Think about how you would have responded to the article if it had been titled How Accurate Was the 2004 Election? Using a question to raise wonder in the mind of the reader is a very effective means of getting your concerns into their grasp and agreement. Unfortunately, Kennedy posed a question that raised the standard of evaluation to a higher level: proof.
Leahto changes the discussion to essentially address the other question and the implications of it’s answers. Given that we have so many oddities in the elections, and every way to answer the questions has been cut off, our emphasis needs to be on fixing the system.
Read the article to get a better handle on what the discussion should have been about. And make plans to call your local election comission or find an activist group that is working on the process. Find out if you can volunteer to do data entry of voter registrations or some other work if the entry backlogs. Plan to be available on election day to help with the process, either by working for the government, a campaign or an organization that works to secure voting rights.
Then bat this idea ball around. Along with getting rid of the Electoral College, using Instant Voter Recount (IVR, Google) Ballots, and government funding of all campaigns; how about…
Mandatory hours of election service by every citizen eligible to vote? Just a for-instance: 2000 hours by the time you turn 60. 500 by age 30, 1000 by 40… That is equal to fifty 40 hr weeks or one year of work with two weeks vacation. The service can be tied to your Social Security number. If you don’t do it and have no waiver …the best punishment I’ve come up with is an IRS audit.
It’s a light bulb, needs work. Volunteers and other (brighter) ideas welcome.