Thursday, August 19, 2004 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA


Jeb Bush is ready to throw the 2004 Florida presidential election results to his brother again. That’s a pretty heady statement, but let’s take a look at the facts. First, from the 2000 election in Florida.

Florida has a large percentage of black voters, most of whom vote Democratic. The easiest way to swing the election there to George Bush would be to invalidate or eliminate black votes. There are a couple of ways you can do that.

1. Don’t allow black people to vote. Is this possible in this day and age in our country? Indeed it is. It’s also very difficult to verify. No one can be sure of the number of people that were turned away from the polls in Florida or were deprived of their right to vote. But we do know that the Florida attorney general’s office received over 3,600 allegations, over 2,600 complaints, and over 1,000 letters stating that the caller or writer was restricted from voting in the 2000 election.

Both the Democrat and Republican parties received many complaints from Floridians who were restricted from or experienced difficulty when attempting to vote.

A commission was set up to study the Florida voting irregularities. Their report concluded that credible evidence shows many Floridians were denied the right to vote and that these denials fell squarely on persons of color.

2. Spoil the ballots of blacks who do vote. An analysis of the incidence of spoiled ballots (those cast but not counted) shows a correlation between the number of registered African American voters and the rate at which ballots were spoiled. The higher the percentage of blacks, the higher the chance of the vote being spoiled.

Thirty-four percent of the variation in the percentage of spoiled ballots across counties can be explained by the size of the African American population in the counties. Twenty-eight percent of the variation in the percentage of spoiled ballots is explained when considering the percentage of the population that is a member of a minority group. This is way above national averages. It is obvious that race is one factor in explaining why ballots were spoiled in the Florida election.

3. The Florida mandated purge list. Enacted in 1998, a statute required the Division of Elections to contract with a private firm to purge from voter files any deceased person, duplicate registrations, individuals who are declared mentally incompetent to vote, and convicted felons without civil rights restoration.

Many people appeared on this list inaccurately. In Miami-Dade county alone, 5,762 names appeared on the list. Of these, 327 appealed successfully and were returned to the roles. But another 485 names were identified after the election as persons who had had their rights restored, or shouldn’t have been on the list in the first place. 65.4% of them were black.

The commission unequivocally supported the fact that African Americans were denied the right to vote in Florida in 2000. It would not have taken many of these votes to have given the election to Al Gore.

Will things change in Florida for this year’s election? According to Paul Krugman, a New York Times columnist, the answer is a loud NO.

Florida’s new voting machines provide no paper trail as to who voted for whom. Florida officials could easily have mandated that such machines must be used, but they did not. Instead, Republican leaders in private emails to their constitutes strongly suggested that they use absentee ballots to ensure their votes be counted this year. One wonders why?

Recently Flordia state officials drew up another purge list and attempted to keep it secret. When a judge forced release of the list, it turned out to be just as corrupt as the two used in year 2000. Once again, many people were wrongly disenfranchised – mostly African Americans. Very few whites or Hispanics were on the list.

Florida State Police officers have been going to the homes of elderly black voters, including participants in get-out-the-vote operations, and interrogated them as part of what the state says is a fraud investigation. But there is little information from Florida officials about the investigation and it looks remarkably like an attempt to intimidate African-American voters.

I smell an upcoming foul again by the “Brothers of the Bush.”

©2004 Marcia Ellen "Happy" Beevre

# posted by Marcia Ellen @ 3:48 PM
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Sunday, August 15, 2004 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA


Time to discuss the California Supreme Court ruling concerning gay marriage. As you know, the justices ruled against Mayor Gavin Newsome. The court stated he had no authority to start issuing marriage licenses in San Francisco. It also annulled over 4,000 same-sex marriages that took place in California.

Believe me, this is not the great victory that the Christian right thinks it is. (Where were the outcries concerning “activist judges”?) It is simply one step along the path in testing a questionable law by a public official and the citizens of California. That this is true is shown by the fact that the Court did not go on to rule on the constitutionality of gay marriage. This has been reserved for another time and place. The Court itself stated that, “Should the state ban on gay marriages be judicially overturned as unconstitutional, same-sex couples would then be free to enter valid marriages.”

As always though, the Courts decision had an adverse effect on the innocent people involved. In an enormous case of collateral damage, 8,000+ people saw their marriages come to an end. Forget the imposition on their families caused by lost health care insurance. Forget the higher taxes they will have to pay because of no longer being married. Forget the children who will no longer have the legality of two parents to protect them. Instead, concentrate on the pain that must have been felt by the couples involved.

Many of these couples waited 10, 30, some over 50 years to be able to legally say they were married. They can no longer do so. They will have to wait longer. Although the state will refund the money involved that was paid for their licenses, most will not turn them in to the administration to collect their cash. They will keep them were they now reside, in a frame on the wall of their home.

The bottom line is that marriage isn’t just about benefits, it’s about the love and commitment between two people that is recognized by the government of the country in which one resides. No matter what your opinion of gay marriage, you should be able to feel the pain of these people being told that they are no longer married. How would you feel if the government sent you a letter and said that due to a court ruling your marriage is null and void? That’s exactly what’s happening to these people right now.

To put the California Supreme Court ruling into perspective you should read the Superior Court ruling of the State of Washing for King County v Heather Andersen and Leslie Christian in its entirety. I have never read a more positive document concerning gay marriage and believe me, I’ve read a lot of them. Here are a few tidbits:

“In our pluralistic society the moral views of the majority can never provide the sole basis for legislation. It is clear that Americans have differing views as to what morality requires in the definition of marriage. It is not for our secular government to choose between religions and take moral or religious sides in such a debate.”

“It is true that marriage has long been defined as the union of one man and one woman. It is equally true that the shape of marriage has drastically changed over the years. It took a very long time for the courts to break down the traditional stereotypes that relegated women to second class status in society and in the marital relationship. As the Massachusetts Supreme Court has noted, ‘it is circular reasoning, not analysis, to maintain that marriage must remain a heterosexual institution because that is what it historically has been.’ While not to be ignored, the backward view toward tradition must neither be treated as binding nor allowed to be binding. Serving tradition, for the sake of tradition alone, is not a compelling state interest.”

“Some declaim that the institutions of marriage and family are weak these days and, in fact, stand threatened. Any trial court judge who regularly hears divorce, child abuse and domestic violence cases deeply shares this concern. It is not difficult, however, to identify both the causes of the present situation and the primary future threat. They come from inside the institution, not outside of it. Not to be too harsh, but they are a shortage of commitment and an excess of selfishness. Before the Court stand eight couples who credibly represent that they are ready and willing to make the right kind of commitment to partner and family for the right kinds of reasons. All they ask is for the state to make them able.”

“The laws never have placed a requirement on marriage that the parties procreate nor do they prohibit from marriage those who are unable or disinclined to procreate. Many families today are created through adoption, the foster parent system and assisted reproduction technologies. This last point is well illustrated by some of the plaintiffs who, thanks to government recognition of the fact that their sexual orientation is no bar to good parenting, are presently able to enjoy family lives with children.”

“After long and careful reflection, it is this Court’s firm conviction that the effect of today’s ruling truly favors both the interest of individual liberty and that of future generations. As to the conflicting legal principles at issue, it is true this Court’s favoring the equal rights of all citizens may place the judicial branch of the government briefly at odds with the legislative. That this may be so is not at all regrettable. Rather it is fully consistent with sound constitutional principle, with the wise structural design of our government and with the realities of the dynamic of healthy social progress.”

These statements, of course, are from the Honorable William L. Downing, who presided over the recent gay marriage case in Washington State. It would be very difficult to disagree with Judge Downing’s decision. I honestly can’t see any appellate court in the United States ruling otherwise.

©2004 Marcia Ellen "Happy" Beevre

# posted by Marcia Ellen @ 7:45 PM
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