Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Election Protection, The Chesapeake Primary

Today in Virginia, Maryland and DC we go to the polls to cast our votes in the Presidential Primary Election. But yesterday when I was leaving campus, my eye caught a poster on the wall outside of the Political Science Department. The content on the poster reminded me how contentious this country has always been and continues to be not only in electing a president, but in allowing people to exercise their rights to vote. The poster advertised the work of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, "a private, nonprofit, nonpartisian legal organization formed at the request of John F. Kennedy in 1963." This organization has also established an Election Protection Coalition to answer questions regarding voters' rights during the primary. The telephone number is 1-866-OUR VOTE.

After the Bush-Gore debacle that went all the way to the Supreme Court, my colleagues and I were calling for the United Nations to monitor our elections in this country, just as the United Nations (as well as teams of lawyers, politicians, and even our former president, Jimmy Carter) monitors the elections of Third World Countries and newly formed democracies.

As the contention in this primary grows, perhaps it is time for the citizenry to rise and demand that our primary and general elections for president be monitored by the United Nations. A fair election helps to legitimize a democracy. Clearly our last two presidential elections have further illegitimized democracy in the United States.

As we galvanize together for one of the most important presidential election in our lifetime, let's not forget that when the stakes are high, people play dirty. We've already seen the air thicken with suggestions about what the DNC will do about the Florida and Michigan primaries. This is only a glimpse of the challenges that are ahead of us.

Remember 1-866-OUR VOTE. Call them if you have any problems. Also, it is time for us seriously to consider demanding more monitoring of our polls in this country. Perhaps it is time for the United Nations to step in.

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