Oct. 25: Protect Ohios votes!

Republicans peddle terrorist fear, but they mainly fear the American people. As this week’s PWW cover stories point out, GOP operatives are trying to steal or block the anti-Bush vote in Florida, Nevada, and elsewhere.

In Ohio, Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell has decided that democracy doesn’t mean “one person, one vote.” He issued an edict defying federal law that permits voters to cast a “provisional ballot.”

Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002, following the debacle of the 2000 election. It states that when voters arrive at their poll, but their name does not appear on the book, they can cast a provisional ballot. The ballot goes to the county election board to be checked. If the voter was registered and in the correct voting district, that vote counts.

The Ohio Voter Protection Project, a union based coalition, went into court in Toledo, challenged Blackwell’s dictum and won. Blackwell has filed an appeal in the 6th U.S. Federal Circuit Court in Cincinnati.

“Provisional ballots could be the hanging chads of this year’s presidential election,” said United Steelworkers of America (USWA) union President Leo Gerard. “Kenneth Blackwell is setting himself up to be the Katherine Harris of the 2004 election,” referring to the infamous Florida secretary of state who oversaw the 2000 “election” of George Bush. “We are not going to allow anyone to suppress the vote anywhere, especially in the industrial state of Ohio where thousands of our members have lost jobs under the Bush administration.”

On Monday, Oct. 25, the Ohio Voter Protection Coalition will hit the streets of Columbus, the state capital. The USWA is loading up buses from Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Warren. After an appeal was made from Ohio steelworkers to their brothers and sisters in Pennsylvania, at least four buses of steelworkers from Pittsburgh, Aliquippa and Washington County are set to join the demonstration.

George Edwards, president of Pittsburgh Chapter 20-15 of steelworker retirees, said, “Our members have been working night and day in Pennsylvania, but when they heard about the dirty tricks in Ohio, there was no hesitation. Defend the right to vote and that the votes be counted—that’s what democracy and this election is all about.”

For more information about the Ohio demonstration, call Dave Caldwell at (614) 888-6787.

The author can be reached at dwinebr696@aol.com