Unprecedented: The 2000
Directed by Joan Sekler
and Richard Ray Perez
L.A. Independent Media Center Film
Produced by Robert Greenwald Productions
50 minutes, $14.98
Imagine being an African American pastor never arrested for anything in your life. You show up at the polls on election day and are told you can’t vote because you’re a convicted felon. Why? Because your name happens to be the same as the name of someone who is a convicted felon, and the law says that convicted felons can’t vote in Florida. Never mind whether or not the date of birth matches. You can’t vote, period.
Sound far-fetched? This is in fact what happened in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. Not just to one person, but to thousands of people, mostly African Americans, who were effectively denied their right to vote in that election. Since African Americans vote 90 percent Democratic, it’s easy to conclude that Bush won the election because of voting irregularities in the state of Florida.
This is in fact the conclusion drawn by the directors of a film that is a “must see” for everyone in the U.S. “Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election” documents the astonishing story of how the election was stolen.
We learn how the Republican-controlled state Legislature passed a bill calling for a private firm to cross-match registered voters against a list of convicted felons, and to remove all “matches” from the rolls. The firm, Data Base Technologies, was told to use loose parameters. As a result, if the name or date of birth weren’t an exact match, the company was told not to worry about it.
When the company advised state officials that this would result in many “false positives” they were told, “We want to capture more names that possibly aren’t matches,” by a Board of Elections attorney.
The film takes us through the battles over undervotes, overvotes, dimpled chads, and overseas absentee ballots in a riveting presentation that brings back all of the nail-biting drama.
More than that, the film reveals the political maneuvering and plainly illegal tactics engaged in by the Bush camp. While the harshest condemnation is of George Bush, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Kathryn Harris, Al Gore and the Democratic Party do not escape criticism. Gore and the Democratic Party challenged the vote in only four Florida counties which they thought had voted heavily Democratic. In all likelihood, had the recount taken place in every county, as required by Florida law, Gore would have won.
We all know the outcome: “George W. Bush stole the presidency of the United States … and got away with it,” states Elaine Dutka, Los Angeles Times writer quoted on the jacket of the film.
But the film does not leave the audience in despair. It does just the opposite, making the viewer want to do everything possible to make sure that our democratic right to vote and have our vote counted is protected, not just in the next election, but for future generations.
In one of the most stirring moments in the film, Kweisi Mfume, president of the NAACP, says that we are called upon to be the stewards of our democracy. It is what we make it, and it is our responsibility to improve upon it and leave a democracy to future generations that they can be proud of.
The film is receiving wide interest in light of revelations about how easy it is to commit voter fraud with the new computerized voting machines now being introduced in many states.
The film “Unprecedented” is ideal for house parties and for meetings of all kinds of organizations – unions, civil liberties groups, places of worship, college campuses, and more. No doubt, after viewers finish watching the film, they will want to form a committee to protect voters in their state against voter fraud.
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