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Indy media fails ballot box democracy
by Maggie Thursday, Apr. 29, 2004 at 3:06 AM

primary election; HAVA; candidate; media; voters

With the April 27, 2004, primary election, Pennsylvania implemented its new rules under the state version of the Help America Vote Act. The requirements of identification are designed so that low-income citizens and other citizens who do not get noticed by the ruling classes often will face difficulty in proving they are eligible to vote.

When Pennsylvania held four public hearings on the new rules in the Summer of 2003, only 16 people testified. Fifteen of those people were public election officials, advocates for narrowly-focused groups (e.g., disabled voters), and companies with interest in elections. Only one person appears to have been a private citizen. Where were the members of the news media, corporate and independent, in promoting these hearings, and their issues, consequences, and outcomes?

For people who have moved to Pennsylvania in the last three years, and never voted in the state in a presidential election year, there were few, if any, instructions on how to vote offered by the news media, corporate or independent. If it had not been for Jim Ferlo commenting at a rally for Dennis Kucinich that voters needed to select both the candidate and the individuals to vote for the candidate in the electoral college, this writer would never have known the Pennsylvania process.

This writer still wonders if Green Party members, as well as other non-Republican/Democrat voters, were eligible to vote on the ballot question about issuing bonds for water/sewer infrastructure expenditures that was part of the primary ballot. If they were not eligible, what does that mean for democracy?

In addition, there was very little coverage of contests and the ballot question, beyond the presidential and Republican senate races. Even in the contests for nomination for state attorney general there was little acknowledgment of the contest in the general media. This writer was not aware of the three challengers for the Democratic nomination until the day before the primary, and only found out the names of the candidates from a chance reading of a specialized publication. Yet, the state attorney general will have as much direct impact upon daily lives of people in Pennsylvania as will the president. From consumer protection to college tuition to free speech and municipal police actions, the state attorney general's beliefs will determine what receives attention in Pennsylvania.

Americans and residents of Pennsylvania can attend all the pro-choice protests they want, can write all the reports about visits to Iraq they want, and can bemoan the uniformity of the established political parties all they want, but unless they vote and have realistic opportunities to be informed about their ballot-box choices, the protests, reports, and moans will be for naught. This writer would like to see independent media readers share experiences of having to prove identity at the polls and to use provisional ballots, as well as sharing information on local ballot box procedures and choices.


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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 7 posted about this article.
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Voting is... Earl Scheib Wednesday, Jun. 09, 2004 at 9:41 AM
Make your vote count G. Fawkes Thursday, May. 13, 2004 at 8:26 AM
Independent-Sewers IS Thursday, May. 13, 2004 at 8:15 AM
Apathy or Disgust? Maggie Monday, May. 10, 2004 at 4:45 PM
Just Vote Why dignify? Tuesday, May. 04, 2004 at 7:17 AM
well... somejerk Tuesday, May. 04, 2004 at 6:52 AM
Ballot boxes fail us all Why dignify? Thursday, Apr. 29, 2004 at 7:38 AM
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