Dear Fellow Democrat:
Like many Americans — especially those of us who worked on John Kerry’s presidential campaign — I spent Election Night 2004 wondering how the exit polls, which had overwhelmingly predicted defeat for George W. Bush, got it so wrong.
Baffled — and sick at heart that a President so unpopular and incompetent was heading for a second disastrous term in the Oval Office — I heard the rumors of a Republican campaign to suppress Democratic votes.
And then, painstakingly, page-by-page, with no agenda in mind but finding the truth — the same skills I have employed in my career as an attorney — I began to examine the evidence. What I found shocked me to the core — and by the time I pieced it together in an expose for Rolling Stone magazine, I was convinced beyond all doubt:
The Republican Party mounted a coordinated, criminal campaign to steal the 2004 Presidential election — and it worked.
Now, as another election approaches, you and I need to stand with Democrats for America’s Future (DAF) to make absolutely certain it doesn’t happen again. You can get involved now by supporting us here.
We need to stand up because our country cannot stand for another four years of reckless Republican policies. But most of all, we need to stand together because the integrity of our democracy is at risk.
This is about more — far more — than who wins the next election, as important as that is. If we can’t guarantee the citizens of a democracy that their votes will be counted, every other liberty we hold dear is at risk.
And that, I regret to say, is a guarantee that our nation failed — abysmally — to uphold in 2004. Consider:
|Of six million Americans living abroad — a constituency known to vote Democratic — nearly half either never received their ballots or received them too late because the Pentagon shut down a web site that files overseas registrations.
George W. Bush “won” New Mexico by 5,988 votes — but more than 20,000 ballots there weren’t properly tallied.
Nationwide, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting machines.
You might be wondering how irregularities like that happened all over the country. After all, elections are administered by state officials free of partisan influence, right?
Well, allow me to introduce you to a man named Kenneth Blackwell. He’s the former Republican Secretary of State in Ohio — the state that, as you surely recall, officially tipped the 2004 election to George W. Bush.
As such, Blackwell’s job was to administer an impartial election. But he had another portfolio that year — Ohio chair of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.
If that sounds like a conflict of interest, it was. And Blackwell — having earned his stripes as a top Bush-Cheney official during the notorious Florida recount of 2000 — exploited it with relish.
In the run-up to the 2004 elections, Blackwell — known in Ohio as a partisan Republican zealot — allowed 300,000 voters to be expunged from the registration rolls, including almost one in four voters in predominantly Democratic Cleveland.
Blackwell also set up a network of kangaroo courts at which Ohio Republicans challenged Democratic voter registrations — often without giving the voters in question a fair opportunity to stand up for their rights.
The whole affair was so egregious that a federal court declared it unconstitutional — but by that time, much of the work was done. All told, more than 35,000 newly registered voters were challenged. Many were disenfranchised outright, and many more were intimidated.
I could go on. Sadly, though, we can’t reclaim what I am now convinced was the stolen election of 2004 — an election in which the Republican Party implemented a nationwide effort to suppress Democratic votes.
What we can do, though — and must — is work together to make sure every last Democratic vote is counted in 2008. That’s where Democrats for America’s Future comes in.
DAF is mobilizing a nationwide “NoVoterLeftBehind.net” project that will monitor voting on Election Day in 2008. The squad will shine a public spotlight on every last irregularity. Democrats for America’s Future will urge every Democratic candidate not to concede a single race until every last vote is counted.
And from beginning to end — from the voter registration process to Election Day challenges and beyond — DAF will fight every last fight to the very end, insisting that every American is guaranteed a democracy’s most sacred right: their vote.
Here’s the challenge: We have every reason to believe the Republicans are, at this moment, preparing a 2008 vote-suppression effort that will rival, or even exceed, the dirty tricks they pulled in 2004.
Unless DAF is equally active — unless they have the resources to monitor every vote, every precinct, every campaign, every court challenge — the Republicans may very well get away with it again.
That’s why I urge you, in the strongest terms, to rush a generous contribution of $30, $50, $100, $250 or even more to support DAF’s “NoVoterLeftBehind.net”. Your help will ensure that this effort is as aggressive and broad-based as it absolutely must be to succeed.
The 2008 elections are approaching fast — and Democrats can’t win unless our votes are counted. Please help today.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.