Sunday, February 13, 2005

Who Really Won the Civil War?

This is a sample of the e-mails I've received this morning because of this strip, in which a small child questions who really won the Civil War.

"Good morning.

I've usually enjoyed your cartoon, but today I was really sad that you are perpetrating that tired old liberal lie about Ohio and some other states not letting people have enough voting machines.  Now, really, as a Democrat, you lost the election.  I don't know how to say it any other way, but you guys did and you did because people really did want a man of God in office.  I'm a conservative who voted for Bush - one of those who voted on moral issues and the war, and I have to say, what really makes the liberals sound so petty are people who keep talking about things that just aren't true.  I know you don't care, but heck, I thought I'd just write you and let you know that I wouldn't be reading your comic strip anymore.  I don't mind strips that are liberal or conservative, but actually, I enjoy the comics just to smile and get away from the other stuff.  That's why I don't read most political cartoons - although there are a few I enjoy.  So, anyway, I thought you might want to check facts next time before you put something like you did today in your comic strip.

I want you to know also, that I'm not angry with you, actually just disappointed that stuff like this keeps being portrayed as truth.  And, as for me, I stood in the voting line for 2 hours and my husband 3.  Guess we didn't have enough voting booths in our county either or we'd gotten done alot quicker than that.  I would have stood in line 10 hours if need be.  I'm just so thankful that I live in a place where all I have to do is stand in line a few hours and not get shot at just for voting. 

Anyway, have a great day."


I'll post my response here, because it's easier than sending it out to everyone who writes in.

Dear Ms. XXXX,

Thanks for taking the time to write. First I should point out that I'm not a Democrat. I'm also not a Republican. You don't have to be a Democrat to read the official investigations and the countless newspaper articles that described how Black people were disenfranchised both in 2000 and 2004. I know you believe you made a moral choice in November, but in my opinion, it's not moral to turn a blind eye to voter fraud. It's not reasonable to say it "just isn't true" in the face of official investigations, newspaper articles and first hand testimony that says it IS true. You may be right - Bush may have won the election in 2004, but we will never know because all the circumstantial evidence points to an unfair election (and if circumstantial evidence is sufficient for murder convictions, as the Supreme Court has long held, it's sufficient in cases of voter fraud). The lack of voting machines in Democratic and minority areas was only one aspect of the Ohio problem. I haven't even mentioned the fact that every "glitch" with the electronic machines resulted in tens of thousands of extra votes for Bush. Not a single error resulted in more votes for Kerry. I haven't brought up how the maker of those machines said, in his own words back in 2002, that he would make sure he delivers Ohio's votes to Bush in 2004. I haven't mentioned how the Republican Secretary of State, the man in charge of overseeing the election, was Bush's campaign chair in Ohio. I haven't even mentioned how he has since refused to comply with court orders that he turn over records from the election, or how he obstructed the recount until Congress ratified the vote.

You would have waited ten hours to vote, but would you have lost your job if you did? The Conyers investigation (link below) counted numerous instances of people (mostly minorities) who simply could not wait that long, either because they'd lose their job, they had to take care of a sick or elderly person at home, or they themselves were sick or elderly. It's not moral to dismiss that as "petty."

If you'd like to hear why I wrote what I did in today's comic strip, please read on:

First, the relevant links:
http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/vote2000/report/ch1.htm
http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/ohiostatusrept1505.pdf
http://www.truthout.org/docs_05/010605Y.shtml

I did not approach this topic lightly, nor did I rely on hearsay. I relied on the official investigation into Election 2000 by the US Commission on Civil Rights and the official Conyers investigation (as official as it could be since the GOP House leaders refused to participate) into the Ohio voter fraud allegations. I'm afraid the disenfranchisement of Blacks in 2000 and 2004 is no myth. I understand that you would like to believe that in this day and age, nobody would resort to anti-democratic means to win an election in the U.S. I would like to believe that as well, but that simply is not the case. In Florida, the Republican secretaries of state in 2000 and 2004 employed a post Civil War/Jim Crow era law that was aimed at decimating the Black vote -- banning convicted felons from voting. That is a problem in itself, because statistics show Blacks are more likely than Whites to be convicted of felonies (that's the reason the law was enacted in the 19th Century, in opposition to Reconstruction).

But the immediate affront to democracy here, the one that's been proven by a US Commission on Civil Rights investigation, is that a company since renamed "ChoicePoint", which has ties to the Bush family and was hired by Florida's Secretary of State (who also just happened to be Bush's Florida campaign chairwoman), added thousands of people to the felon list wrongfully. These are people who were never convicted of felonies. According to Florida law, local officials were supposed to verify the findings of ChoicePoint, but in most cases they did not. These people who were wrongfully labeled felons were predominately Black. Thousands of Black people were barred from voting in Florida in 2000, and Bush's margin of victory was fewer than 550. Since 90% of Black voters in Florida voted for Gore, had those thousands of people been allowed to vote, It's certain the outcome would have been different.

This is not even taking into account the other instances discussed in the report, such as a police checkpoint being placed outside a polling location in a Black neighborhood, and doesn't take into account the fact that 65% of the spoiled ballots discarded as "spoiled" (in some cases because the voters wrote in "Al Gore" and that write in vote was counted as a stray mark that invalidated the ballots) were cast by Black voters.



ABOUT OHIO IN 2004:

Congressman John Conyers, Jr. of the House Judiciary Committee conducted an extensive investigation into reported abuses in Ohio. You can download the report as a PDF from the House website, or you can read the text of the report online here: http://www.truthout.org/docs_05/010605Y.shtml One of SEVERAL instances where the report concluded Blacks had been disenfranchised was this one: "The misallocation of voting machines led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters." Many more instances - over 100 pages worth - are catalogued in the Conyers report if you would like to see them for yourself.


ABOUT FLORIDA IN 2000:

Contrary to what you may have heard on Fox, CNN, internet weblogs or talk radio (all of whom have misquoted the findings of the USCR investigation over the years), the US Commission on Civil Rights concluded that 4439 Black voters who were incorrectly purged from the voter list by the company hired by Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris (who coincidentally was Bush's Florida campaign chair) were not allowed to vote. 90% of Blacks who voted in Florida in 2000 voted for Al Gore. 90% of 4439 is far greater than the margin of victory, which was fewer than 550 votes. In other words, if these Blacks hadn't been wrongfully purged from the voter roles, Al Gore would have won Florida in 2000. Here's the wording of the conclusion, and you can find the entire report online at http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/vote2000/report/ch1.htm :

"CONCLUSION

The Voting Rights Act prohibits both intentional discrimination and “results” discrimination. It is within the jurisdictional province of the Justice Department to pursue and a court of competent jurisdiction to decide whether the facts prove or disprove illegal discrimination under either standard. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights does not adjudicate violations of the law. It does not hold trials or determine civil or criminal liability. It is clearly within the mandate of the Commission, however, to find facts that may be used subsequently as a basis for legislative or executive action designed to protect the voting rights of all eligible persons.

Accordingly, the Commission is duty bound to report, without equivocation, that the analysis presented here supports a disturbing impression that Florida’s reliance on a flawed voter exclusion list, combined with the state law placing the burden of removal from the list on the voter, had the result of denying African Americans the right to vote. This analysis also shows that the chance of being placed on this list in error is greater for African Americans. Similarly, the analysis shows a direct correlation between race and having one’s vote discounted as a spoiled ballot. In other words, an African American’s chance of having his or her vote rejected as a spoiled ballot was significantly greater than a white voter’s. Based on the evidence presented to the Commission, there is a strong basis for concluding that section 2 of the VRA was violated."


Thanks again for writing, and I hope you'll continue to read Candorville.

Best,
Darrin

t r u t h o u t - The Conyers Report: What Went Wrong in Ohio: "The misallocation of voting machines led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters."



6 comments:

Anonymous said...

It frustrates me that people pretend there's no evidence of voter fraud. The evidence is sitting right there staring them in the face and they just choose to ignore it. I'm a Republican who voted for Bush the first time and was never convinced there was wrongdoing in 2000. I was leaning toward Bush this time, but I stood on line for ten hours in Cleveland. By the time I got to the end of that line, I decided to vote for Kerry, because I knew this time it couldn't be a coincidence.

Ed said...

Com'on Darrin, I think youre a talented artist, but I live in a southern state and I have many african american friends and none of them had trouble voting at all and their vote counted just as much as everyone else's did. No one was disenfranchised or anything like that. I wish you would put a more humorous slant to Candorville because no one wants to deal with politics when they pick up the funnies on Sunday morning. Believe me, Candorville would be a great comic if you would follow this suggestion. I am an aspiring cartoonist too, and if I ever get that big break, I will leave politics out of my material.

Thanks, Man

Ed Finley

Darrin Bell said...

Thanks, I appreciate the compliments, Ed. But about your challenging of the facts: did you actually read what was written above and did you read the Conyers report and the USCR report I linked to? They were a bit more comprehensive than your survey of your friends were.

And out of curiosity, in which Southern state do you and your friends live?

The reason I ask is, I've received a lot of e-mail from people in Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee trying to make the argument that since nobody they know in their state was disenfranchised, that means nobody in Ohio, Florida or New Mexico was disenfranchised. That's obviously a ridiculous argument.

And about politics in comic strips: Some people, such as yourself, don't like it and can't see the humor in it, just like some other people don't like reading about fat orange cats and their lasagna every week. Other people love it. To each his own.

Anonymous said...

Wait -- was the Conyers report on disenfranchisement a survey of Ohio voters, or was it a survey of Ed's friends?

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