Many of you have asked me how things went down in Florida, where I volunteered as an Election Protection (nonpartisan organization) legal team poll monitor. Well... there were problems with long lines, disabled voters having to wait over four hours to get their ballots, machine issues, wrong precinct issues, confusion over proper forms of identification, extreme confusion by both poll workers and voters over provisional ballots, confusion over absentee ballots, problems with polling places that were understaffed, problems with whether or not ex-felons voting rights had been reinstated, voter registration issues, and voter fraud to the extent that people were being told by partisan representatives to go to the wrong precinct or that they needed more than one form of i.d., etc. I could go into great detail about all this, but perhaps that is better left to another e-mail. It is interesting to me that the election was decided without counting the thousands of provisional and absentee ballots nationwide...
Below is a compilation of some of the reflection on the election e-mails that I have received from friends here and abroad in the last few days. All identifying information has, of course, been omitted.
This first e-mail is from a Dutch friend in the Netherlands:
Subject: Poor you...
Date: Nov 3, 2004 1:27 PM
My condolences, so sad to hear that you're stuck with that monkey for a couple more years. If you still plan to move to Europe, know that you're very welcome here. Though things aren't much better, I am afraid. The american elections were completely overshadowed here in the news by the killing of a dutch cineast and writer, Theo van Gogh. He was savagely killed and found with two knives in his chest. The killer, a 26 year old of Moroccan descent, radical moslem apparently. So now we have to listen to what everybody has to say about that. Big sigh.
Anyway, hope all is well, considering the circumstances.
The following e-mail is from a fellow Election Protection volunteer in Florida:
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 2004 11:00:44 -0800
Subject: Now what.
Just wanted to check in with you to see how you are feeling about Election 2004 after you've had some rest.
Yes, it was a close vote. Yes, it's half of the country that is unaware of the seriousness of the damage of Bush and co.
But, something's not right in the Florida and Ohio results. Everything certainly went real smooth at the polls on the outside, didn't it? I think we got creamed by Karl Rove at the polls on the inside. . .Diebold electronic voting, partisan elections officials, etc..whatever. Something. That's my guess. Notice the lack of Republican representation on the outside?
It just doesn't feel right. They didn't need to be there, did they? They didn't need to challenge the voters. We outdid them on new registrations overall, I heard, 2-1. So, what happened? Something's not right.
I saw Bush this am at his press conference and my gut tells me that it's wrong. It's bizarre. I'm listening to Fox News right now and everywhere else in the media it seems they are rolling over and capitulating to the Bush agenda. The press questions seem as incredulous as the answers and as the image of Bush on the screen as President 2004. And I feel betrayed by Kerry's easy concession. I won't support the Democratic Party every again. They have shown that they are the same people as they were in 2000 when not one would vote to take the Black representatives complaints seriously. Once again they rationalize rolling over as being "for the good of the country."
I keep hearing cheesy "We're going to have to work together now" crap coming from everywhere. Everyone's telling us to roll over. Just roll over. Don't fight it. Telling us that anger is not good. Telling us that denial of our gut instincts is healthy. I feel like the America I grew up in, is no longer. I don't recognize it. On the plane leaving Florida I looked down on a country I no longer recognized. A country in the hands of people I share no values in common with. From skirting around the Geneva Convention, withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, Kyoto, lack of respect for the principles of the UN and the International Declaration of Human Rights...to the rise of the agenda of the religious right, loss of domestic civil rights/spying.....I'm deeply dismayed.
Here's something I wrote on the plane ride home.
It was a very strange flight back from Miami the morning of November 3rd. My face was mashed up puffy from crying. In the middle of the flight two stewardesses rang the bell and began an instruction drill. Microphone in hand, the taller one from Germany began, "Passengers, everyone, please sit up tall in your seat. Now, with your right hand please reach around over to your left shoulder. Using the tips of your fingers feel around for a swollen bump just over your shoulder on the surface of your scapula. Now, taking a deep breath, rip into your skin and pull out the implant. Let me repeat. Pull out the implant. Unite America, are you listening? Pull out the implant. United STATES of America. Pull out the implant."
(On the way back the movie we watched was "The Manchurian Candidate.")
The Netherlands are sounding good. So, you know people in the Netherlands?
Glad to have met you.
Again, from the Netherlands:
Subject: Re: Hi
Date: Nov 4, 2004 4:48 AM
The feeling here is one of disbelief, how can you vote for that man again, knowing what he stands for and all. We knew he could be reelected, we just wanted to believe it wouldn't happen. But it did. I suppose it's as you say, yours is a completely divided country. And it must be awful to see that happen, and not being able to do anything about it. Well, we all just have to be patient, wait for them to completely screw things up, but it's sad many will have to suffer from it.
From a German friend in Germany:
Date: Nov 4, 2004 10:35 AM
Reema, don't be too upset!! Hope you are not too mad at Bush's victory. Well, in germany everyone was hoping for kerry, as this would be the easier choice for improving transatlantic relations. On the other hand - with kerry germany would have been forced to contribute its part to the troups...as saying 'no' to the 2nd US president in a row....not a good option! Hope life is treating you well! big hug,
From a lawyer in Tennessee:
Date: Nov 5, 2004 12:03 AM
I don't believe Dubya was fairly elected. I have heard there are 250,000 provisional ballots that have not been counted.
In Davidson Country (Tennessee), I saw voters turned away with no ballot of any sort and others forced to cast provisional ballots when they should have been allowed to vote. I confronted and reported the election officials to no avail. Even the Democratic party leaders did nothing much. It is disgusting beyond belief.
From a friend in Ramallah:
Subject: Re: Sorry
Date: Nov 6, 2004 1:15 AM
Although short, but very important e-mail is this one I got from you. The few lines you describe about American society is one sign, (as I see it) that Americans are less superficial and naive than before, (sorry for my words).
It is interesting how our different geographical and political contextes are, for me I expect this stupid to win, I was not surprised, (although my husband was very upset and got furious about the result) my neighbour also was not suprised, you know? many of us did not care, the situation is so so bad, that the feelings of helplesness and impotency make the winning of Bush a continuation of this horrible situation of us, so? we got used........ I really don't know and don't understand if Kerry was able to make significant changes in the USA international policy, e,g, Irak and Middle East, and all international policies of USA…
Your feelings make understand that for the internal policies Kerry was going to be better, and I share your feelings. But we should remember that after each night there is the light of the sun, and the sun of liberty and freedom is done daily by thousands all over the world who at the end will be able one day to get stronger.