Smoking e-mail implicates Jeb Bush in vote suppression

The Sarasota Herald Tribune obtained a “smoking e-mail” proving that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was “personally involved” in ramrodding a new voter purge list for the 2004 election, even though the data firm that prepared it warned of its many “flaws.”

In an exchange of e-mails last May 4, Jeff Long of the Florida Secretary of State’s office wrote that the firm “recommended to the Gov. that they ‘pull the plug’ on the CVDB (Central Voter Database) primarily because they weren’t comfortable with the felon matching program… The Gov. rejected the suggestion to pull the plug so they are ‘going live’ with it this weekend.”

The new evidence of vote suppression by George Bush’s brother and others tied to the Bush-Cheney campaign was presented by Ralph Neas, president of People For the American Way (PFAW), and other leaders of the growing nationwide election protection movement, at an Oct. 19 news conference. (Details are available at www.pfaw.org.)

Thousands of Florida voters falsely identified as “felons” and removed from voting rolls by Jeb Bush in 2000 are still waiting for their voting rights to be restored, journalist Greg Palast charged. African Americans in Florida, he told reporters, are “900 percent more likely to have their votes thrown out. There is a huge racial bias and the new computer voting system increases that bias.”

An angry outcry by PFAW and African American leaders in Florida as well as many of the state’s 67 county election supervisors forced Gov. Bush to finally withdraw the new purge list. Yet many right-wing election supervisors are implementing it under the table. Neas demanded that Attorney General John Ashcroft name an independent counsel to investigate this racist vote suppression scheme.

Meanwhile, another vote theft scandal erupted in Nevada. A Republican-linked outfit, Nathan Sproul & Associates, has been exposed as tearing up Democratic voter registration forms in that battleground state. The Republican Party has paid Sproul & Associates just under half a million dollars. Sproul formerly headed the Arizona Republican Party and the Arizona Christian Coalition.

“There is outrage here, that a group paid by the Republican Party would destroy Democratic voter registration forms,” said Rozita Lee, assistant state director of the AFL-CIO-backed Voices for Working Families in Las Vegas. It is an affiliate of the nonpartisan America Votes coalition which has registered millions nationwide.

Sproul’s outfit stole the name “America Votes” to confuse potential voters. Lee told the World the real America Votes has registered more than 100,000 people in Nevada. Now many new voters are telephoning her office confused that her group is the one that destroyed the Democratic forms.

“It’s immoral!” Lee exclaimed. “We remember Florida. We’re not going to let it happen again.”

“We urge people to call the Board of Elections to make sure they are registered,” she said. “The Board complains they are swamped. We’re telling the Board it is their duty to process all these new registrations. People want to vote. It is their right to vote.”

Eric Russell, a former canvasser for Sproul, told a Las Vegas reporter his supervisor had sorted through the voter registration forms he had collected. “We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assistant to get those from me.” His charge was echoed by Tyrone Mrazek, a canvasser in Oregon, who said Sproul paid him not by the hour but by the number of people he registered — as Republicans. He received no pay for those who registered as Democrats.

Sproul & Associates has spread its dirty tricks to nearly every other battleground state: Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and Florida.

Meanwhile, the Bush-Cheney campaign has sent its top South Dakota operative, Larry Russell, to spearhead the GOP’s “get-out-the-vote” drive in Cleveland. Russell and five others were forced to resign from the GOP campaign in South Dakota over allegations that they improperly obtained an estimated 1,400 absentee ballot applications there — a perfect cover for voter fraud.

“Four to six million people were disenfranchised in 2000,” said Neas, citing the recent PFAW-NAACP report, “The Long Shadow of Jim Crow,” which exposes a century of racist suppression of the Black vote. “In the last 12 months we have seen voter suppression that could fill another two volumes.”

Yet 10,000 election protection volunteers have been trained to monitor precincts across the nation with a history of voting rights abuses, he said. “This is like Freedom Summer of 1964… This goes to the heart and soul of democracy. Democracy is at stake in this election.”

The author can be reached at greenerpastures21212@yahoo.com.