Monday, October 27, 2008

Comment on Voting

My daughter's college classmate and friend, Marty, posted that after a number of people voted in one locale, a directive came down to "recalibrate" the machines to compensate for voter error in touching the screen "but not inside the box" for their choice, and the speaker noted they were doing all they could NOT to disenfranchise anyone."

The problem? Think Florida, think two STRAIGHT elections, think a REPUBLICAN secretary of state that ignored civil rights violations in making it impossible for whites, blacks and others to vote, clear concerns over the whole process as shown by independent monitors. So why now are we to unquestioningly accept that nothing will occur that is unsavory, disenfranchising, illegal and rotten? Think of the days when, in more than one locale, people voted before they were old enough, after they were dead, or frequently. Why now do we assume all is well.

The solution? I think there does have to be some trust from voters to state elections boards, but I also think everyone is best served by some independent - say English, Canadian, Swedish, Swiss or others watching our elections as we have others watch foreign elections. The truth is that our own elections have never been all that far from the difficult elections of others.

Think I'm kidding? Think about dogs and fire hoses, clubs and sardine conditions in jail cells for blacks seeking their rights in the south. Think of voters turned away from voting sites because the voting hours had expired, even though the reason they hadn't voted yet was due to problems inside. Think of people refused the chance to vote over issues that were clearly manufactured.

Perhaps we don't have armed guards killing all those who voted "wrong," but what is the difference of a person's right to vote denied through death or some slick procedural maneuver that is never successfully challenged, because the power-brokers were the controlling party that did all they could to make sure nothing would come of the challenge. Yes, one has one's life, and one doesn't. That is significant, life changing! However, both leave the voter wondering what the point is.

That is what makes this election so important. A candidate has decided to use the tools the young use to get through life, and has done so more effectively than any candidate has ever done. A candidate has shown that "he" can reach across the aisle, through the curtain of several hot button issues and bring people together. I recall hearing of Republicans showing up at Obama rallies with some trepidation, to be informed there were many others there. Now we listen to Republicans of prominence endorsing a Democrat for President, because they feel he has the better plan for the next four years (may it last far longer than this candidate!).

I would challenge people in places where there are concerns to make yourselves knowledgeable, and present at election sites, observe but don't interfere unless you find clear indications of efforts to sway the elections. Be willing to speak out, to be public and to defend the rights of anyone to their opinion and voting choice. This I say from the perspective of having spoken outside my official capacity as a pastor, and defended the rights of everyone to their vote - even when I strongly disagreed with - because that is the American way, and, I believe, the way of the Master I serve and follow.

Let's begin to make our country once again the ideal that draws others to come to this place where everyone has the possibility of achieving the dream. Let's show the world why we became the goal, what we truly have to offer - respect for one another, and the American ideals.

Think about it! Peace!

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