Progressive Calendar 09.06.06
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2006 01:29:25 -0700 (PDT)
           P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R      09.06.06

1. Roseville candidates 9.06 7pm
2. Uhcan-mn/health      9.06 7pm

3. New Hope vigil       9.07 4pm
4. Eagan peace vigil    9.07 4:30pm
5. Northtown vigil      9.07 5pm
6. NE Mpls art/food     9.07 5pm
7. Small is beautiful   9.07 5pm
8. Moderator training   9.07 6pm
9. Como peace vigil     9.07 7pm
10. Third way peace     9.07 7pm Stillwater MN
11. Coldwater/moon      9.07 7pm
12. Concert/peaceJam    9.07 7:30pm
13. Lakes/rivers conf   9.07-09 Duluth MN

14. Leslie Reindl  - 9/11 event RSVP please
15. Marie Braun    - Fast for peace
16. Sasha Abramsky - 11 US worst places to try to vote
17. ed             - Crapmatic  (poem)

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From: Amy Ihlan <amyihlan [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Roseville candidates 9.06 7pm

Candidate Forum for Mayor and City Council
Wednesday, September 6
7-9pm
Roseville Skating Center
Sponsored by Roseville Citizens League

This is the first candidate forum of the election season.  Bring your
questions and find out where the candidates for Roseville Mayor and City
Council stand.


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From: joel michael albers <joel [at] uhcan-mn.org>
Subject: Uhcan-mn/health 9.06 7pm

Dear Health Care Activists,
Next MN UHCAN meeting
Wednesday, Sept. 6, 7PM-9PM
Walker Church Lower Level Lounge, 3104 16th ave s. (near lake street and 
bloomington ave in Mpls)

Items:
1. Welcome new people, intros, background 

2. Reportback Briefing:
- State Fair tabling/petitioning w/ DFL-PC. How it went. Continue petition
on website ?
- Our Protest of Bush HC visit to MN, major uncensored media coverage,
again
- Green Party Big Bike Ride/ picnic for Single-Payer, need sum of media
cov ?
-  Single-Payer t-shirts still available to buy or sell, $10.( 75 of 100
already sold)
- California state legislature passes Single-Payer; Politically feasible,
Political will

3. MN UHCAN Participation in The Walk for Justice on Sept 17th. We need
marchers (a few miles) pledge forms available. We will have songs
(including the Blue Cross Blue Shield Blues, and chants.  We will also be
tabling that day. Free food, fun and festive.

4. Debut of our new film, Everybody In, Nobody Out:  Sat Oct 7, 1pm at
Acadia Cafe. Promoing it , etc.

5. Forming our own HC Coop Pool: for uninsured,self-employed, small
businesses, artists etc. Buying equipment to do health screenings.

6. Solving Medicare Part D Disaster: Big issue for upcoming Sept
primary,Nov election.

7. Getting ready for next demo of Bill "ionaire" MCGuire and United Holdup
Group.
  
8. other items, ideas ? Come on down, bring a friend.

Joel Albers Minnesota Universal Health Care Action Network 612-384-0973
joel [at] uhcan-mn.org www.uhcan-mn.org Health Care Economics Researcher,
Clinical Pharmacist


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From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: New Hope vigil 9.07 4pm

NW Neighbors for Peace, Carole Rydberg, carydberg [at] comcast.net

Weekly demonstration at the corner of 42nd Avenue N. (Cty. Rd. 9) and
Winnetka in New Hope.  Many signs available ... just bring yourself.
Come and go when you please.


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From: Greg and Sue Skog <skograce [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 9.07 4:30pm

CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest
corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs
and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends
south of the river speaking out against war.


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From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 9.07 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com.


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From: tom [at] organicconsumers.org
Subject: NE Mpls art/food 9.07 5pm

First Thursdays in NE MPLS are shaping up to be a kinda monthly
Art-A-Whirl, carnival and a hoo-haa filled evening with Warholian
indulgences and transcendental rhyme.

The California Street Gallery. 22nd and California NE. Check out the new
and improved Mill City Cafe and Cocktails with 2 buck beers, 3 dollar
martinis and scrumptious food. Starting at 5:PM and going late.

Support local, independent artists and businesses and having fun while you
are at it! -tt 612-788-4252


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From: Jesse Mortenson <jmortenson [at] Macalester.edu>
Subject: Small is beautiful 9.07 5pm

First and third Thursdays of the month
9.07 5pm
Cahoots coffeehouse
Selby 1/2 block east of Snelling in StPaul

Limit bigboxes, chain stores, TIF, corporate welfare, billboards; promote
small business and co-ops, local production & self-sufficiency.

http://www.gpsp.org/goodbusiness


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From: erin [at] mnwomen.org
Subject: Moderator training 9.07 6pm

September 7: League of Women Voters of Minneapolis Candidate
Forum/Moderator Training 6-8:30 PM. Light supper provided. LWVMpls office,
81 South 9th Street, Mpls. Free for LWVMpls members. $10 for non-members.
To register call 612/333-6319. www.lwvmpls.org.


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From: wamm <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Como peace vigil 9.07 7pm

Ceremony of Renewal for Peacemakers

Thursday, September 7, 7pm. Como Park, West of the Pedestrian Bridge. off
of Lexington Parkway, St. Paul. Deepen your inner peace through ritual,
meditation, and readings. Followed by a prayerful candlelight vigil around
Como Lake. This is a quiet evening of peace. Bring yourself and an open
heart. Please leave your signs, leaflets, and politics at home. Sponsored
by: St. Joan of Arc/WAMM Peacemakers.


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From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Third way peace 9.07 7pm Stillwater MN

Thursday, 9/7, 7 pm, Fr. Jerry Doherty talks about "The Third Way," a
peaceful means of conflict resolution, Ascension Episcopal Church, 214 N 3rd
St, Stillwater. earthmannow [at] comcast.net


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From: Sue Ann <mart1408 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Coldwater/moon 9.07 7pm

Coldwater Full Moon Walk

Thursday, September 7, 2006 7:00 pm.  What is a Green Museum and how does
it fit into the future of the Coldwater Spring area?  Now that the Draft
Environmental Impact Statement has been issued, what is the role of
citizen action in saving Coldwater?  Gather at 54th St. & Minnehaha Ave.
at the parking lot, just off Highway 55 and 54th St. at the far south end
of Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis.  www.friendsofcoldwater.org
info [at] friendsofcoldwater.org

What is a Green Museum?
How does the Friends of Coldwater Green Museum fit in with the future of
Coldwater, the Environmental Impact Statement, and other visions and
dreams held for Coldwater's future?  What is the role of citizen action
in saving Coldwater?

". . . Coldwater could become an urban wilderness, a place among burr oaks
and prairie grasses, where people have gathered for centuries around an
ever-flowing spring."  - from Green Museum

Directions: from Hwy 55, turn East (toward the Mississippi) at East 54th
Street, follow the road around (to the left) into the parking lot. If you
don't have a parking sticker, park and pay at the meters in the lot or on
the frontage road, or find alternative free parking across Highway 55 and
walk to the lot.

On September 7, the sun will set at 7:39 pm and the moon will rise at 7:46
pm. The moon reaches its fullness at 1:42 pm. Sometimes Minnesota full
moon dates are a day different from standard calendars, which are based on
Eastern Standard Time or Greenwich Mean Time. The dates and times above
are the actual times that full moons occur in Minnesota and are from
"Cosmo Doogood's Urban Almanac."


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From: "lydiam by way of \"Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for
    Peace)\" <web [at] mppeace.org>" <lydiam [at] mn.rr.com>
Subject: Concert/peaceJam 9.07 7:30pm

Come celebrate peace and hear some great music to help four students raise
money to attend a conference celebrating the 10th anniversary of the
PeaceJam Foundation.  The concert is on Thursday, September 7 from 7:30 to
9 pm and will feature Great River School high school students and local
artists.  It will be held at Great River School, 1326 Energy Park Drive in
St. Paul to benefit GRS students attending the PeaceJam Conference.
Tickets are $5 each or whatever you can give.  Besides music, you can get
some great munchies and find out what our young people think about peace.
The four students and one teacher leave on September 15 for the three day
conference in Colorado.

>From September 15 to the 17th, three thousand young people from across
the USA will gather in Denver, Co. to discuss peace.  They will meet with
the largest group of Nobel Peace Laureates ever in the US, attend
workshops and develop projects to take home to schools and cities across
America. Among the Laureates who will attend are The Dalai Lama of Tibet,
Bishop Desmond Tutu, Wangari Maathai and nine other winners of the Nobel
Peace Prize.  The PeaceJam Foundation was founded 10 years ago to help
educate the next generation of peace makers.  Four students from Great
River School, a Junior and Senior High Montessor School in St. Paul, will
be attending.  Please come to the concert to support them.  For more
information, please call 651-305-2780.


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From: Debbie <ddo [at] mchsi.com>
Subject: Lakes/rivers conf 9.07-09 Duluth MN

Lakes and Rivers Conference, September 7-9, 2006, Duluth
Information and Registration Now Available Online

Registration brochures have been mailed and registration is now available
online for the Lakes & Rivers Conference, "The Changing Landscapes of
Minnesota's Waters", to be held September 7-9, 2006 in Duluth, Minnesota
at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC).

Over 48 sessions, 8 workshops and three field trips during the three days,
with special sessions of interest to local water planners and local
government officials.
<http://www.minnesotawaters.org/conference06.html>Click here for all the
conference details, including agenda, session descriptions, online
registration, and hotel information. Special conference hotel discount
rates apply through the weekend­make the conference and Duluth a fall
destination­reserve rooms now. To request a registration brochure mailed
to you, call the office at 800-515-5253.  See you in Duluth


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From: Leslie Reindl altera vista <alteravista [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: 9/11 event RSVP please

Sept. 11:  9/11--What Really Happened? event.  If you are planning to
attend this event, Monday, Sept. 11, 6:30 to 10 pm, in St. Paul, the
organizers request that you RSVP.  The venue is limited to about 175
people.  We need to get an idea of the number coming who have not signed
up on the Brave New Theater site on the Internet.  Please RSVP to
alteravista [at] earthlink.net or call 651-633-4410 and leave a message,
stating number planning to come.  If you don't know anything about this
event, but would like to, e-mail or leave that message.  Thank you all.


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FAST FOR PEACE
From; Marie Braun 612-522-1861
Dear Peacemakers,

The week of September 21 - 28 marks the Declaration of Peace Week of
Nonviolent Action across the United States. The Declaration of Peace is a
nationwide campaign to establish, by September 21, 2006, a concrete and
rapid plan for peace in Iraq including: a prompt timetable for withdrawal
of troops and closure of bases; a peace process for security,
reconstruction and reconciliation; and the shifting of funding for war to
meeting human needs.

The Twin Cities Peace Campaign-Focus on Iraq has endorsed the Declaration
of Peace (see www.declarationofpeace.org) and is involved in a number of
actions, including calling our elected officials, gathering signatures of
support for the declaration of peace platform, and participating in vigils
and marches to promote this plan.

We are also planning a three-day liquids-only fast in the days leading up
to the week of nonviolent action, and are writing this letter to you to
ask you to join us in this public act of resistance to the war and
occupation of Iraq and the ongoing killing of innocents.

Three Day Liquids-Only Fast Stop the Killing; Stop the War; Bring the
Troops Home Now September 18, 19 and 20 Lake Street/Marshall Avenue Bridge
(crossing the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and St. Paul)

End the fast with a potluck dinner, 6:15 pm., Wednesday, September 20
following the weekly 5:00 - 6:00 pm vigil on the bridge Home of Carol and
Ken Masters 2528 - 29th Avenue South, Minneapolis

Some people will do a liquids-only fast for the entire three days;
others may skip one meal or fast for whatever length of time they can.
There will be fasters on the Lake Street/Marshall Avenue bridge from 9:00
am to 5:00 pm each day as a public witness against the war and occupation
of Iraq. Others are encouraged to spend time with the fasters on the
bridge; there will be opportunities for singing, readings, praying and
sharing at 9:00 am, 12:00 noon and 4:30 pm each day. Church and political
leaders will receive personal invitations to join the fast and to come to
the bridge to speak out against war and the killing of innocents.

We are deeply troubled and morally outraged at the violence and
destruction that currently is being perpetrated not only in Iraq, but also
in Lebanon and Palestine. It is our conviction that the killing and
maiming of thousands of innocent children is an indefensible act of
terrorism. Recent reports out of Iraq indicate that more than 6,000 Iraqis
died during the months of May and June (55% of them children under the age
of 15) and that close to 100 Iraqi civilians die each day.  The situation
in Palestine and Lebanon is also dire.

It is our hope that this public fast will help to raise the awareness of
people in our community, and will be a way to invigorate ourselves to
speak out against the violence and injustices being perpetrated against
the people of the Middle East.

If you wish to participate in the fast, we would appreciate your
responding to the form below, indicating if and when you can be on the
bridge and what days you will be participating in the fast.

Thank you for considering being a part of this action.

Sincerely,

Marie Braun 612-522-1861
for Twin Cities Peace Campaign-Focus on Iraq

Fast for Peace

Yes, I will join the fast!
____ I will fast for _____ days/meals.
____ I will be on the bridge on ___ Mon.___ Tues.___ Wed. (Sept 18, 19, 20).
____ I will come to one or more of the gatherings.
____ I will come to the potluck dinner.

Name ______________________________Address_________________________
City ____________________State _______Zip ____________________________
Telephone ____________________Email_________________________________
Any contribution to help cover the costs of mailings would be appreciated.

Return to Twin Cities Peace Campaign, 4015 Upton Ave N., Minneapolis, MN
55412

"Any bombing is a demonstration of human depravity. It breeds nothing but
despair and hatred. Above all, it kills innocent children! Injuring and
killing children is an "absolute" evil. Bombing is an indefensible act of
terrorism. It must be totally outlawed and abolished if humankind is to
remain human." Hiroshima survivor, Kosuke Koyama, Peace Garden, 8/6/06


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Just Try Voting Here: 11 of America's Worst Places to Cast a Ballot (or
Try)
By Sasha Abramsky
Mother Jones
September/October 2006 Issue

Machines that count backward, slice-and-dice districts, felon baiting, phone
jamming, and plenty of dirty tricks.

We used to think the voting system was something like the traffic laws - a
set of rules clear to everyone, enforced everywhere, with penalties for
transgressions; we used to think, in other words, that we had a national
election system. How wrong a notion this was has become painfully apparent
since 2000: As it turns out, except for a rudimentary federal framework
(which determines the voting age, channels money to states and counties,
and enforces protections for minorities and the disabled), U.S. elections
are shaped by a dizzying mélange of inconsistently enforced laws,
conflicting court rulings, local traditions, various technology choices,
and partisan trickery. In some places voters still fill in paper ballots
or pull the levers of vintage machines; elsewhere, they touch screens or
tap keys, with or without paper trails. Some states encourage voter
registration; others go out of their way to limit it. Some allow prisoners
to vote; others permanently bar ex-felons, no matter how long they've
stayed clean. Who can vote, where people cast ballots, and how and whether
their votes are counted all depends, to a large extent, on policies set in
place by secretaries of state and county elections supervisors - officials
who can be as partisan, as dubiously qualified, and as nakedly ambitious
as people anywhere else in politics. Here is a list - partial, but
emblematic - of American democracy's more glaring weak spots.

    #1 The New Poll Tax
     Atlanta, Georgia

In 2005, Georgia state legislators passed a bill requiring voters to
present either a driver's license or a state-issued photo ID that costs
between $20 and $35 and is available only from Department of Motor
Vehicles offices. Supporters claimed this was necessary to keep people
from casting votes in someone else's name, even though Georgia secretary
of state Cathy Cox noted that her office had no evidence of this
happening. Either way, the measure is likely to have a dramatic effect on
who can vote. Two-thirds of the state's counties don't even have a DMV
office; Atlanta, the state's largest city, has just one, where waits at
the ID counters often run to several hours. In late June, the secretary of
state issued a report finding that more than half a million active-status,
registered voters in Georgia don't have valid photo IDs. Fully 17.3
percent of African American voters, and one-third of black voters over age
65, wouldn't be able to cast a ballot under the law. When the federal
Department of Justice had five experts examine the ID legislation in 2005,
four of them objected to it, as the Washington Post discovered. But
higher-ups at Justice overruled them and the measure (pushed by
conservative think tanks such as the American Center for Voting Rights)
went on the books. In October of last year a judge blocked its
implementation, and the law - along with another version that offers free
voter IDs - remains in limbo as appeals continue.

At least two other states, Wisconsin and Missouri, have passed similar ID
legislation. (Wisconsin's governor has since vetoed it.) University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor John Pawasarat has found that fewer than a
quarter of 18-to-24-year-old black men in that state have valid driver's
licenses, the most common state-issued ID. In Indiana, a new law requires
valid IDs to bear an expiration date, ruling out Veterans Affairs cards,
among others.

"In my view it's an orchestrated vote-suppression strategy by less
scrupulous strategists in the Republican Party," says Dan Tokaji,
associate director of election law at Ohio State University's Moritz
College of Law. "It's pretty clear to me that these are disenfranchisement
strategies. I try not to use that word too often, but in this case it
fits."

Runner-up: Arizona voters in 2004 passed Proposition 200, which requires
"proof of citizenship" when a person registers to vote. There's no
evidence that noncitizens had been flocking to the polls, but the measure
is bad news for Native Americans, the poor, and the elderly, who often
don't have the requisite documents. Driver's licenses issued prior to 1996
don't count - a not-insignificant fact, given that Arizona licenses are
valid until a person turns 65. Officials say that 14,000 voter
registrations in Phoenix and environs have already been rejected because
of the law.

    #2 Machine Meltdowns
     Beaufort, North Carolina; Fort Worth, Texas; Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania (tie)

In 2004, a touch-screen voting machine in Beaufort, North Carolina, erased
4,439 ballots cast during early voting two weeks before Election Day; they
were never recovered. A similar problem in Burke County, North Carolina,
resulted in several thousand votes for president not being counted. And,
according to the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a
voting machine in Ohio managed to add 4,000 extra votes for Bush. But
those episodes, voting experts say, are just a preview of balloting
debacles to come: The federal Help America Vote Act requires most counties
to replace punch-card or lever machines with newer technology by the end
of this year, and election officials are scrambling to meet the deadline.
Already during this spring's primaries, reports of trouble multiplied:
Initial results in Fort Worth, Texas, showed 150,000 votes being tabulated
in a county where only about 50,000 people voted. In Pottawattamie County,
Iowa, machines suddenly began counting some candidates' votes backward. In
Philadelphia, more than 5 percent of voting machines broke down on primary
day.

The most sensational claims about voting technology have to do with the
possibility of actually programming the machines to manipulate elections;
computer scientists have warned that viruses could, for example, be
inserted into vote-counting programs to delete a set number of votes and
then erase themselves. So far no smoking guns have been found to prove
such vote-fixing. But there have been myriad well-documented instances of
human error and machine failures, and of extreme reluctance on the part of
machine manufacturers to make their software accessible to outside
experts. "Elections in this country are becoming proprietary," explains
Lillie Coney, coordinator of the D.C.-based National Committee for Voting
Integrity. "Vendors are saying, 'You can't investigate our technology, or
our software.' They've put the technology in place, but the mechanisms for
public officials to manage the technology, they're just not there."

When Ion Sancho, the elections supervisor in Leon County, Florida,
discovered last year that Diebold's machines could easily be tinkered
with, the company responded by refusing to service or upgrade the county's
voting equipment so long as Sancho remained in charge. Since then,
researchers in Florida and California have discovered more problems with
Diebold technology, finding that the machines could accidentally allow one
person to cast multiple votes, could be tricked into terminating an
election count before all the votes had been tallied, and could permit
changes to election results without detection.

Even some of the "paper trail" systems for electronic voting are deeply
flawed. On some machines, logs have been designed so badly that auditors
are at risk of counting "tentative" votes instead of the voters' final
choices; on others, a voter wanting to check whether her choice has
registered must lift an inconspicuous door and then peer, through a
plastic screen, at a tiny printout, with the actual vote often not even
scrolling into view.

    #3 Line Forms Here
     Franklin County, Ohio

Like many states, Ohio theoretically requires equal treatment of voters in
all parts of the state; in practice, it frequently ignores its own
requirements, especially in urban, predominantly Democratic,
neighborhoods. In Franklin County, for example, more than 2,500 voters in
the city of Columbus found themselves crammed into a single precinct in
2004, even though the state's guidelines call for no more than 1,400 -
apparently because officials assumed that in a poor neighborhood, turnout
would be low. The state only partially reimburses counties for buying
electronic voting machines, so Franklin, like many poor counties, didn't
have enough machines on hand to start with. When record numbers of voters
showed up, massive lines snaked toward the handful of machines. The
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has sued Ohio; among the
complainants was an elderly woman with arthritis who had to leave because
no one could find a place for her to sit.

Runners-up: New Orleans and St. Louis have long been plagued by long lines
in poor neighborhoods; in 2000, so many polling places failed to open on
time in St. Louis that a judge ordered the polls be kept open late, a
ruling that Republicans battled to the last minute. In Broward County,
Florida, waits stretched to four hours even during early voting in 2004;
on Election Day at least one polling station didn't open until the early
afternoon, and poll workers frantically calling the county elections
office got nothing but busy signals.

    #4 Incompetence
     Cuyahoga County, Ohio

Dominated by the city of Cleveland and its Democratic machine, Cuyahoga
County has a stunning history of poll-worker incompetence and technology
failures, resulting in de facto disenfranchisement on a massive scale. In
primary elections this spring, so many poll workers failed to show up for
work that numerous polling places opened more than an hour late, some
because they didn't have extension cords or three-prong adapters. Once
voting began, it was promptly undermined by a shortage of voting machines,
confusion over precinct voter lists, and paper jams that poll workers did
not know how to fix (some asked random voters to repair the machines).
Though only 20 percent of registered voters turned out for the primary, it
took more than a week to count their votes. Around the nation, says Brenda
Wright, managing attorney at the Boston-based National Voting Rights
Institute, election administration is massively underfunded, with poll
workers paid mere pittances, trained only marginally, and overseen bystate
officials who don't provide "any meaningful check on recurrent problems at
the local level."

    #5 Foul Play
     New Hampshire

Intimidation, deception, and assorted trickery have long been staples of
American elections, practiced with equal aplomb by both parties and by
operatives working with (or without) a nod and a wink from party leaders.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 2004, fliers from the nonexistent Milwaukee
Black Voters League were distributed in black neighborhoods, warning
residents that "if anyone in your family has ever been found guilty of
anything, even a traffic violation, you can't vote in the presidential
election," and that "if you violate any of these laws you can get ten
years in prison and your children will get taken away from you."

Meanwhile, in (again) Franklin County, Ohio, fliers purporting to be from
the county Board of Elections announced that because of high voter
registration, Republicans would be voting on Election Day, and Democrats
would cast their ballots the next day; they ended with the inspired line,
"Thank you for your cooperation, and remember voting is a privilege." In
the same county, a group of out-of-state Republicans known as the Mighty
Texas Strike Force made phone calls from a hotel warning ex-prisoners that
they could be returned to the slammer if they dared to vote, and
reportedly telling other voters that their polling places had changed.
Congressional investigators later discovered that the Ohio Republican
Party had paid the Strike Force's hotel bills.

The dirtiest-trick award, however, goes to New Hampshire, where the state
Republican Party - its executive director, a veteran, working on the
military principle of disrupting "enemy communications" - hired a
Virginia-based company named gop Marketplace to jam the Democrats' phone
bank system during the 2002 U.S. Senate election. Republican John Sununu
won the close contest; three men are serving prison terms as a result of
the endeavor, and a fourth is under indictment, with evidence still
surfacing that the action may have been approved by senior party officials
in Washington.

    #6 Gerrymandering
     Travis County, Texas

In recent elections, 95 percent of members of the U.S. House of
Representatives have been reelected; the vast majority ran in districts
drawn to be entirely noncompetitive in the general election. In these
districts, registered Republicans or Democrats may have a say in the
primaries, but everyone else's vote is for all intents and purposes
meaningless.

Gerrymandering got a major boost with the advent of redistricting software
in 1991. The new algorithms were first used to boost the chances of black
and Latino candidates; soon, both parties realized that you didn't need
the fig leaf of minority representation, and they began slicing and dicing
districts at will. In Texas, Travis County, which includes Austin, has
long dominated a congressional district that reliably sent a Democrat to
Washington. But in 2003, the Texas Legislature snipped off various chunks
of Travis and attached them to a series of jagged-edged districts snaking
north-south and east-west through strongly Republican areas outside the
county. This, and a series of other creatively shaped districts in Texas,
would be the ultimate legacy of Tom DeLay, who in 2002 launched a push to
create a Republican majority in the Statehouse that would redraw the
state's electoral map and thus cement the GOP's hold on Washington. Last
June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that this was constitutional, even
though Travis and other areas were carved up "with the sole purpose of
achieving a Republican congressional majority."

At the state level, the redistricting game has also taken the uncertainty
out of politics in many places. The New York Public Interest Research
Group estimates that only 11 percent of New York's 212 legislative
districts are competitive, and that 27 of the state's 62 Senate districts
have been engineered to create Democratic advantages of at least 40,000
votes per district. Similarly, researchers at Claremont McKenna College in
Pomona, California, have found virtually 100 percent of California
legislative districts to be noncompetitive thanks to gerrymandering, and
The Economist estimates that November's election outcome is uncertain in
only one of the state's 53 congressional districts. Redistricting has
produced crazy-looking, swirling districts whose shapes make sense only
under an increasingly complex political calculus. In one notorious
instance, in 2001, then-Senate leader John Burton, a Democrat, went out of
his way to have a specific district's boundaries redrawn to weaken the
election prospects of Fred Keeley, a Democrat from Santa Cruz whom Burton
viewed as a troublemaker and who had announced interest in the Senate
seat. The Senate district, which previously included all of Santa Cruz
County, migrated north, extending a thin southward finger through the city
of Santa Cruz. So effective was the maneuver, Keeley didn't even bother to
run.

    #7 No Felons Allowed
     Mississippi Delta

Since the 2000 election, when the state of Florida disenfranchised
thousands of people by falsely tagging them as felons, half a dozen states
have gotten rid of laws permanently barring felons from voting, but felon
bans still affect more than 5 million Americans. In Florida, close to 1
million people, or about 9 percent of adult citizens, cannot vote because
they have felony records. In 2000 and 2004 the state went to the trouble
of hiring private companies to "scrub" the rolls of suspected felons who
had registered to vote; both times, it became apparent that because of
shoddy database criteria the companies were flagging many people who
either weren't felons or had had their voting rights restored.

But perhaps the nation's most scandalous disenfranchisement law is found
in Mississippi, which in the early days of Jim Crow crafted its felon
codes with the specific intent of disenfranchising only those convicted of
"black crimes." In the Delta, about a quarter of African American men are
for all practical purposes disenfranchised, and even more assume that they
are: Though not everyone convicted of a felony is automatically barred
from voting - in fact, people convicted of drug felonies retain their
voting rights - corrections and election officials have made no effort to
get that information out. One ex-con in Jackson told me that she knew
people who were terrified of voting because they had become convinced that
any interaction with authority would put them at risk of losing their
welfare payments.

What's more, to get re-enfranchised in Mississippi, a felon has to
persuade his state senator or representative to author a bill personally
re-enfranchising him, has to get the bill approved by both houses, and
then has to get the governor to sign it. In reviewing records from January
2001 to December 2004, I could identify just 52 people - in a state with
more than 25,000 prisoners, 2,100 parolees, and 21,000 men and women on
probation - who had managed to get their voting rights restored.

    #8 Voting While Black
     Charleston, South Carolina

Though the Voting Rights Act ended many race-based practices, local
politicians continue to come up with creative methods to maximize white
clout. A favorite is at-large voting, which dilutes minority votes. In
Charleston, South Carolina, 38 of the 41 people elected to the county
council between 1970 (when the county switched from district-based voting
to at-large) and 2004 were white. A lawsuit from the federal government
finally ended at-large voting for council seats in 2004. But Charleston
still has at-large voting for school board members; in the 1990s, several
black candidates nonetheless managed to get elected when the white vote
split among a number of candidates. In response, a conservative state
senator named Arthur Ravenel Jr., who'd made a name for himself by
defending public display of the Confederate flag and mocking his opponents
as the "National Association of Retarded People," pushed through
legislation that made the school board election partisan, thus introducing
a primary process that ensured a one-on-one fight in the final round. The
number of blacks on the nine-member school board went from five in 2000 to
one today.

Runner-up: The town of Martin, South Dakota, is sandwiched between two
Lakota Sioux reservations; its City Council district map, which according
to an aclu lawsuit was drawn specifically to ensure a white majority, was
found unconstitutional earlier this year. Voting-rights monitors also
allege that voter-registration personnel in South Dakota sometimes
"forget" to give registration cards to Native Americans, and that sheriffs
harass reservation residents coming into town (often across enormous
distances) to vote.

    #9 Suspect Students
     Waller County, Texas

Prairie View A&M is a black school in the heart of east Texas, where the
local leadership has, over many decades, worked to deny the students'
claims to being full-time county residents and thus eligible to vote. In
2003, Waller County district attorney Oliver Kitzman wrote a letter to the
elections administrator and the local newspaper warning that any students
who tried to vote could face 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The
NAACP filed suit, noting that as far back as 1979 the U.S. Supreme Court,
ruling on a lawsuit brought by Prairie View students, held that students
could register to vote in the communities in which they attended college.
Students in Arkansas, Florida, Maine, New Hampshire, and Virginia have
also been prevented or discouraged from registering; in Williamsburg,
Virginia, William and Mary students were denied permission to register
merely for acknowledging that they were going home on vacation.

    #10 Failing to Register
     Florida

Voter registration forms are easily lost. In 2004, for example, headlines
focused on a Republican National Committee contractor named Sproul &
Associates, which subcontracted with a company called Voters Outreach of
America that, in Las Vegas, was found destroying forms filled out by
people trying to register as Democrats. Incidents like this would seem to
justify a new Florida law that imposes fines of $250 to $500 per form on
anyone who registers voters and doesn't immediately deliver the paperwork
to election officials, with no exceptions for difficult circumstances or
natural disasters. But since it was already illegal in Florida to
deliberately delay handing in voter registration forms, and since the new
legislation does not apply to the two main political parties, its only
likely effect is to intimidate independent voter-registration
organizations; the largest among them, the League of Women Voters, has
stopped doing voter registration in the state altogether.

    #11 Politicos in Charge
     Ohio

Election activists don't have Florida's Katherine Harris to kick around
anymore, but in a system where most states' top election officials are
also politicians, there's no shortage of other nominees for worst
secretary of state. The current leading candidate must be Ohio's Ken
Blackwell, now a Republican candidate for governor, who seems intent on
making sure as few Ohioans as possible are registered to vote. In 2004
Blackwell achieved national notoriety when he announced that his office
would accept only voter-registration forms printed on paper of at least
80-pound weight. Blackwell had to back off that requirement, but a slew of
other restrictions remain, including one under which door-to-door
registration workers must sign in with county officials, and another
requiring them to personally mail in the registration forms they collect.
"The constant promulgation of rules and regulations keeps members of the
Board of Elections jumping around like cats on a hot tin roof," says Chris
Link, executive director of the Ohio ACLU. "And this essentially hurts
Democrats. Who is newly registering? People who've just become citizens,
young people who've just gotten the right to vote." Meanwhile, Blackwell's
office has done nothing to inform voters that come Election Day this year,
they will have to bring photo IDs to the polls - guaranteeing that tens of
thousands of mostly Democratic voters will be turned away.

[How much of more this crap are we going to take? How many shruggings of
shoulders, of deferring to the corrupt powers that be? Are we dead? Are we
just giving up to third world status? Wouldn't want to rock any boats.
Better to be enslaved, just so long as it won't happen say for a year or
two. Perhaps there is something in the water that erodes backbones. Other
countries aren't this supine; we deserve the Horizontal Award. Perhaps
we're waiting for full-blown fascism, by which time it will be too late.
-ed]


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