Judah Freed's OFF THE BUS story on voter suppression that could cost Obama the election should scare every citizen in this country, regardless of party, background or desired outcome of the election. Not only do many Democrats feel Republican partisans rigged the results in 2000 in Florida, some say they feel that may have happened in 2004. Hanging chads in Florida and an eventual Supreme Court decision on the recount are all too recent. Voters across the country and political spectrum should be united in ensuring that the country does not feel this could happen in 2008.
With voter registration at an all-time high, election day could see more voters than in any other election in U.S. history. So what about the stories and lawsuits coming out over early voting this year? Reports of abuses are already out there, and it should give every voter pause.
Problems with voting machines and voter intent happen. Both campaigns have already committed to dispatch thousands of lawyers to battleground states over this issue. Even with the Supreme Court finalizing the determination of the 2000 Election, not enough has been done to calm many Americans that our voting system is fair. With state officials reporting to CNN that the majority of early voters are Democrats, it may be that this very distrust in how votes are tallied is what has caused so many voters to start early this year and be done with it before Election Day.
A non-partison project called MyFairElection has been created to give voters a way to register their complaints, independent of state government.
Voters can rate their voting experience at http://myfairelection.com . The site has a "weather map" that will show where problems have occurred and in which states and counties. This could actually go a long way towards allowing voters actual concerns about voting to come to light. If election reform is needed, something that is hard to gauge before an election, it will at least become apparent afterwards. It is a first step, one that requires voters to take the time to rate their experience on the website. But if problems occur, it could be the most neutral and best recorded information available this cycle.
In his Inaugural Address, President Steven Grover Cleveland said, "Your every voter, as surely as your chief magistrate, under the same high sanction, though in a different sphere, exercises a public trust." It is up to voters and public officials to restore the trust in the very system that allows citizens to cast their ballots by documenting the process in 2008.