Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Yes, Do Recount

The Times has appealed to its friends in Venezuela to stop pretending that the election was rigged. It only caused the oversight commission run by Jimmy Carter and the Organization of American States to run another careful recheck -- confirming before witnesses that the first count had been highly accurate. Hugo Chavez had once again defeated an effort backed by Washington, and the Times, to overthrow him.

A detail with special meaning for us is that the touch-screen voting machines used in Venezuela kept a paper trail that made a reliable recount possible. Not so for thousands of new machines sold to Florida and other jurisdictions in the U.S. Experts have been shocked at how easy it is to rig the code to report any count that is desired. And that is only one of the problems we face in trying to get fair elections.

Here as in Venezuela, difference in wealth and politics tends to be linked to difference in complexion. Conservatives in this country have always tried to deny the vote to people of color. The Bushes are again at work on that in a dozen dreary ways, trying to frighten the poor away from the polls. Already, they’ve brought in the police and the FBI. So the common folk won’t get a full count -- they never have. Their job will be to turn out, and fight for every vote. Venezuela proves they can win.