Why I don't vote

Thu, 07/31/2003 - 00:00

reprinted from her blog

I don't vote anymore. Not since the 1987 Constitution was ratified. It's disenchantment with the law and politics. I've decided that true democracy is an ideal and is unrelated to the form of government we have today. A government of the people, by the people, for the the people. But who are the people? The teeming masses who voted for Joseph Estrada?

It was a landslide victory for him. True. Popular will? Yes. Was it wise? Hell, How impractical democracy can be when a minority has to suffer for the mistakes of the majorityno. And the same teeming masses will once again decide who the next Philippine President will be. If the trend persists, I bet it's going to be another popular personality--a household name, someone visible in the media...

Resigned to the propensity of the majority of voters to make unwise choices, whether through lack of education or brains or both, and resigned to the fact that their will shall prevail, I will not take part in any political merry-go-round anymore. I decided long ago that if we get a drunk or a thief for a president, well, it's the masses that voted for him.

Sometimes, I entertain thoughts as to whether it is more socially responsible to subvert the popular will when it is so obviously making a gross mistake. Just a thought. I know I'd never condone cheating in elections, but when Joseph Estrada won, I thought about that a lot. And I thought about how impractical democracy can be when a minority has to suffer for the mistakes of the majority. Now I am thinking about how we, the few, will continue to suffer if the majority has not learned its lesson yet.

Winnie Monsod wrote about how Gore was cheated, citing the book "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" by Greg Palast, an American investigative reporter.

The reader may remember that Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic candidate, lost the US presidency in 2000 when he lost in Florida by 537 votes. And recall all the stories about "chads" and confusion arising from the official ballots.

Palast maintains that those chads and the confusion are beside the point. What he shows is that by "block and purge" operations, Gov. Jeb Bush and his underlings in Florida were able to prevent at least 100,000 voters from voting. More than 50,000 were purged from the voters' rolls, and another 40,000 barred from registering, on the grounds of being convicted felons. Of those blocked or purged, more than half were black, and most were poor, which means, from voter demographics, that they would have probably voted Democrat.

The "block and purge" operations were followed by another "no count" trick: 179,855 ballots were not counted. And Palast, using official documents (from cooperative election officers) again detects a pattern of discrimination: counties with heavily black populations show a markedly higher percentage of uncounted ballots. Is it because blacks are ignorant, as Ted Koppel's "Nightline" concludes, asks Palast? No.

Another election official demonstrated that whether a ballot was counted or not had almost nothing to do with a voter's education but the type of machines deployed and how they were set. It seems that Florida machines have a button that must be activated if the machine is to reject flawed ballots, and this button was not activated in the preponderantly black counties.

It was in the pursuit of the block and purge operations that overpriced contracts were awarded, laws were ignored and court orders disobeyed.

The contract to provide the "scrub list" (voters to be purged) was awarded to a computer company (with Republican connections) which had turned in the costliest bid, with the amount awarded even higher than the bid. The charge per record was 10 times the industry norm. After Palast's exposé, the new contractor admitted that the lists they provided were 95 percent wrong. Only 1 in 20 remained in a validated list.

Governor Jeb Bush required convicted felons from other states who had served their time to seek executive clemency from him before being registered, which was against federal law. Florida courts ordered him to allow them to register, but he ignored the order. Worse, his Office of Executive Clemency not only lied that it had sent out a letter to that effect, but tried to cover up with another letter (after elections) saying the opposite. Palast has copies of both letters.

Obviously, the major US media did not pursue the issue.

No, cheating is not a good option. Suffering is not a good option either. Maybe I can come up with something better before the 2004 elections.

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