The Election Protection Coalition initiated by the NAACP and People for the American Way is enlisting 25,000 volunteers and 5,000 lawyers across the nation to guarantee that Black voters are not denied their right to cast ballots and have their votes counted in the Nov. 2 election.

They have set up a toll-free number, 1-866-OUR-VOTE, that voters can call on Election Day if they believe their right to vote is being stolen.

This initiative could not be more timely. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s scrubbing of 90,000 names, mostly African American voters, from Florida voting rolls was key to the stealing of the 2000 election. Earlier this year, he sent out a new scrub list. There was such an outcry that he withdrew it. But the list is out there and reactionary election officials can act on their own.

Armed police officers visited elderly Black voters in Orlando last spring, responding to rage within the Republican machine that a Democrat of Puerto Rican background had been elected mayor. The cover was reports that precinct workers had helped elderly voters fill out absentee ballots. But the real purpose was to spread fear and intimidation among voters.

Another trick by the Florida officials is to turn away voters who lack a photo ID, not informing them that Florida law permits voters to sign a form confirming their identity if they lack a photo ID.

John Pappageorge, a GOP legislator in Michigan, told his colleagues, “If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we’re going to have a tough time in this election.” Detroit is 80 percent African American. The Bush-Cheney gang hardly even bothers to conceal their racist plans to shred the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Our task is to overcome the climate of fear, to insure the biggest popular vote ever to remove George W. Bush and the Republican right from office. That number, again, is 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

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Dump the flim-flam man

Behind all the Republican talk of Kerry’s so-called “flip-flopping” is the question of democracy.

It is normal for the will of the people to change politicians’ minds. Bush should know this. He’s had to change his positions numerous times.

But instead of responding to the will of the people, Bush lies, maneuvers, and strong-arms in single-minded pursuit of his extreme anti-people agenda.

Bush not only flip-flops, he flim-flams. He’s a snake oil salesman whose words are sugar-coated with religion and patriotism. The poison pills of war, bigotry and class oppression are what he’s really selling.

Right-wing extremists have taken over the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court. They have to rule by lying and demagogy because if they told the truth, they would be run out of office in disgrace.

It’s time for a change. Millions have lost their jobs. Our public schools are in crisis. More than 45 million people have no health coverage. There are 40 million living in poverty. Where is the relief?

The Bush tax cuts are bankrupting our government and rewarding the rich and corporate fat cats. Where is the compassion?

The slaughter and chaos in Iraq continues. Over 1,000 U.S. soldiers and 15,000 Iraqis have perished. If Bush wins there will be no end to the bloodshed. This administration is colonizing Iraq for oil and empire, not democracy.

There was more then a whiff of fascism at the Republican Convention. In a lame duck Bush administration, Roe v. Wade, voting rights, clean air and water, Social Security and our right to dissent will all be on the chopping block. Unilateral, illegal and preemptive war will be the New World Order.

It’s time to uphold democracy and take our government out of their hands. It’s time to change our country’s direction: toward peace, international cooperation, and economic, racial and social justice. A Bush defeat will signal a new beginning to the entire world.

It will be down to the wire. All hands are needed now to stop Bush on Nov. 2.