A friend of mine went to Ohio to participate in the recount effort there undertaken by the Green and Libertarian Parties.
I know there is a lot of important stuff going on here in MA and around
the world, but I wanted to share some thoughts about my participation in
the Ohio Recount this week. Like many of you, I see little difference
between Kerry and Bush, and I am not interested in seeing Kerry win the
presidency (even if that were really still possible), however, I believe
there are few issues more important for our party than electoral reform,
and the Ohio recount and the related investigations going in Ohio right
now are the at the forefront of the movement for electoral reform.
Indeed, if we mean to remain involved in electoral politics in any way, I
believe we must take a position on the recount and work to help the issues
the recount is raising gain national media attention-as we all know so
well, without elecotral reform, we will never gain power through the
After volunteering through the Cobb/LaMarche website to help with the
recount several weeks ago, I received a call from Holly Hart (a member of
the Cobb/LaMarche campaign team currently organizing in Ohio), asking if I
would be interested in organizing the approximately 50 Massachusetts
people who had signed up to volunteer through the website. Since I'm
still basically unemployed, I gladly accepted the task. I started work
Monday morning by contacting all of the MA volunteers, and trying to
contact folks in Ohio in order to see if they were still in need of
volunteers in various counties. By the end of the day, I had learned that
Cuyahoga County (metro Cleveland) still needed help. That evening I began
to recruit volunteers to make the trip out to Cleveland. By the end of
the day Tuesday, 8 MA folks had decided to go out. Two carpools and two
people flying. Though I think that pretty much everyone who signed up for
this effort was a Democrat, I think the fact that our party is leading
this effort is of extreme importance, the better we are able to describe
our long-term electoral reform goals, the more our party will gain from
its leadership in the recount.
In Ohio, the importance of the Greens to the effort cannot be (and is not
being) overlooked. Everyone is calling it the "Green/Libertarian
Recount." David Cobb has been all over the state, making moving testimony
at hearings congressional hearings in Columbus and working tirelessly
(along with his campaign staff) to facilitate the effort. Even the most
partisan Democrats among the recount team in Cuyahoga County (where I took
part in the recount) were forced to acknowledge that the Greens were
completely responsible for the recount taking place, and that the Cobb
campaign had bankrolled the entire operation (despite Kerry's $51 million
left in the bank...).
Probably the most moving experience of the week for me was walking into
the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections building Thursday morning to begin
the recount, and seeing nearly 300 volunteer witnesses there--especially
after I realized that it was our party's unwillingness to roll over and
allow the numerous elements of electoral fraud taking place in Ohio (and
across the country) to persist, which enabled any of those witnesses to
be at the Board of Elections Thursday morning. Our power to do what
others refuse to do, and to take advantage of every option available
to us within the electoral process was pretty clear Thursday morning.
The more of a ruckus we can raise through
this recount and the Congressional hearings associated with it, the better
chance we will have to make much needed reforms to the electoral system,
and the more we will prove the determination of our party (unlike the
Democratic leadership) to a fair and just electoral process. Kerry and
the Democratic leadership clearly are not taking this seriously at all-and
In Cuyahoga County, the Board of Elections staff was relatively friendly,
and we saw few problems with the ballots were allowed to look at.
However, we saw a lot of suspicious things going on, and we were in one of
the most cooperative counties in the state. Cobb's testimony to Rep.
Conyers' hearings in Columbus reveals the huge problems occurring in some
other counties (you can watch Cobb's testimony on www.votecobb.org).
While I do not personally consider myself one of the "conspiracy
theorists" who believes that the election was manipulated behind the
scenes by widespread computer fraud and sabotage (although there is
mounting evidence to support these types of claims in some Ohio counties),
it is undeniable that there were countless problems and dirty tricks
pulled by Blackwell (among many others) in quasi-legal broad daylight.
The more we make of the recount process, and the bigger this all
snowballs, the more likely we are to bring these problems to light, and to
receive national attention. The Green Party is taking leadership on this
issue (just as we have on electoral reform issues for years), and I
believe that the Green-Rainbow party needs to step up on this issue here
There is a great deal we can do on the ground here, and we must begin
discussing how we can do to bring this issue to media attention and how we
can make our leadership role on this and other electoral reform issues
better known. We need to consider our options, and we must also consider
making use of direct action and civil disobedience to make our voices
heard, if the appropriate opportunities arise (a step which clearly is not
being taken in Ohio).
Anyway, this is all just my thoughts after having spent most of the week
working on this effort. I know there is very much going on, and I also
realize now more than ever that electoral work may in and of itself be a
futile and meaningless process. If we mean to continue as a political
party, however (particularly as a non-explicitly revolutionary party),
then I think it is clear that we must engage in the broad effort to enact
electoral reform. Never has our party's leadership in the process of
electoral reform been clearer to the outside world.