Sunday, September 11, 2005

Race May Not Have Played A Factor In The Katrina Response, But It Still Does In American Elections

As problems mount for America and the Bush approval rating continues to snowball downhill, the 537 vote theft in Florida of the entire 2000 election proves what a mistake the Bush presidency has been for America. Other than hitting a high point in public trust during his strong performance after the 9/11 attack, almost every aspect of the Bush presidency has been far below the previous years under Bill Clinton. After the sluggish Federal response to the Katrina disaster, a new AP Poll puts the current Bush approval at a mere 39% . And another unpopular major part of the Bush presidency has become Iraq. Yet while the Bush Whitehouse promotes the concept of "free elections" for Iraq and the MidEast, democracy was hardly served at home in Florida in the election of this vastly unpopular president to begin with.

One ugly fact about the 2000 election is the role that suppression of Black vote by top Republican leaders in Florida played in that election.

This is how George W. Bush became president by just 537 official votes due to election manipulation in Florida in 2000.

Prior to the 2000 election, Florida Governor, Jeb Bush and Florida Secretary Of State, Katherine Harris were instrumental in hiring a firm called DBT Choicepoint to set up a list of felons that would be disqualified from voting. When it was found out that this list contained many names of Blacks similar to the names of convicted felons, who were often White or from other states such as Ohio, Jeb Bush refused to allow DBT Choicepoint to use a name verification process to eliminate only the names of persons actually convicted of a felony. This was against the professional policy of DBT Choicepoint, which argued that the since the list was not verified it eliminated many persons who were disportionately Black and not necessarily actually a convicted felon. This disqualified 94,000 mainly Black voters from casting ballots in Florida. Yet one analysis of this list found that 95% of the names on the list could be eliminated it as not being convicted felons, but merely having a similar name or spelling as a felon. The DBT Choicepont list also used names of convicted felons from throughout America, yet any Florida resident had their name disqualified from voting if their name was merely similar. Social Security numbers could have been checked to accurately disqualify only the convicted felons, yet this verification was not used. Only those with similar sounding names was as the basis to disqualify 94,000 persons, who were mostly Black from casting a ballot in the 2000 election in Florida. And while Jeb Bush officially claims he had no part in this scheme to scrub many Blacks from the Florida voter rolls, a document has surfaced with Jeb Bush's name on it to DBT Choicepont that verification of the names of the suspected lists of felons need not verified, and the fees for this verification process were not authorized by Jeb Bush.

One name on the felon list from DBT eliminated the name of a White man from Ohio, Thomas Cooper, yet a Black man in Florida was denied the right to vote in the 2000 election in Florida. Other Blacks, such as military and hospital workers were denied the right to vote. Yet a screening process would disallow felons in either the military or hospital service. These persons were simply denied the right to vote to " suppress the Black vote" as one Republican official once claimed. And in addition, when Katherine Harris was in a hurry to "certify" the 537 vote margin for Bush election in Florida and name Bush as winner, 179,855 votes were left uncounted in Florida. Again a disportionate 54% of these total were votes from Blacks living in Florida.

And the Republican Congressional leadership continues to fail to renew portions of the Voting Rights Act, that would eliminate racial bias in American elections.

The response to Katrina may not have been race based. But elections in America are still race based, where active GOP efforts to "suppress the Black vote" remain very active. In this regard, America has not progressed all that much from the early 60's when Blacks were routinely denied the right to vote in Southern states.


Post a Comment

<< Home