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First, it’s time to buy some new voting machines and throw a wet
blanket over some ministers. The way Jesse Jackson is spinning it, “African Americans
in Florida were targeted to be disenfranchised,” with the number of votes
uncounted by machines in the minority districts “too massive and
significant not to have been planned.”

Jackson is right that an unusual number of votes not registered in
the Florida machine count were cast by minorities. But he’s wrong about it
being “planned.” Just the opposite — the unequal treatment of voters is the
result of a lack of planning by government officials for decades, both
locally and nationally, to standardize voting procedures and equipment.

“Under our system, a dramatically disproportionate percentage of poor
voters have their votes thrown out every year — not just in Florida but all
over the country,” reports Katie Isenberg, an assistant editor of The New
Republic. “That’s because punch-card machines, which have introduced
‘chads’ into the American lexicon and which often produce ballots that can’t be
counted, are disproportionately used in poor, minority communities.”

Communities that are richer, more white and more Republican, in
contrast, are more likely to be voting with optical-scan and touch-screen systems,
equipment that can be programmed, for instance, to prevent voters from
indicating more than one choice per office, allowing a voter to correct
an “overvote” on the spot.

“In 1992, a study by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported a
drop-off (votes uncounted by machines) in Fulton County of more than 11,500
presidential votes, or 4.3 percent, largely concentrated in
low-education, high-poverty, high-minority urban areas,” writes Isenberg. “And this
year, news reports put Cook County’s combined undervote and overvote total at
122,000, while nearby McHenry County, an affluent, predominantly white
area that uses optical-scan technology, threw out only 12 ballots due to overvoting.”

Says Kim Brace, president of the Washington, D.C.-based elections
consulting firm Election Data Services, “It really is a case of economics.” Put
simply, the purchase of state-of-the-art voting equipment, priced 10 times
higher than punch-card systems, is put on the back burner in poorer areas.

The second lesson is that liberals have discovered the perils of
freewheeling judicial activism. For Democrats, it was a convenient argument to say
that it was OK for the Florida Supreme Court to engage in the blatantly partisan

act of slapping down the secretary of state’s certification of the Bush
win but yet somehow not OK for the U.S. Supreme Court to slap down the
Florida Supreme Court. Convenient but naïve. It’s hardly a good game plan to
push for the courts to take over the task of picking a president when the
Republicans have the last word in the highest court.

The third lesson is that the campaign strategy of the Democrats has
left us with a heightened level of racial polarization. Ad nauseam, the NAACP
ran its black-and-white footage of a man being dragged from the back of a truck,

filmed from the perspective of James Byrd Jr., and accompanied by the
voice of Byrd’s daughter: “My father was killed. He was beaten, chained, and
dragged three miles to his death, all because he was black. So when
Governor George W. Bush refused to support hate-crimes legislation, it was like
my father was killed all over again.”

And there were pro-Gore leaflets showing George W. Bush’s face
superimposed on a Confederate flag, and Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s campaign manager,
telling the Washington Post that she would never let the “white boys” win. And
Gore in a black church, comparing his election battle to a fight between
“good” and “evil,” playing the race card: “When my opponent, Governor Bush,
says he’ll appoint strict constructionists to the Supreme Court, I often
think of the strictly constructionist meaning that was applied when the
Constitution was written — how some people were considered three-fifths of a human being.”

At another stop, Gore told a black audience, “The Republicans don’t
even want to count you in the census.” James F. McCarty, staff writer for
Cleveland Plain Dealer, points to the impact in Ohio: “Democratic precinct
committee leaders on Cleveland’s East Side accomplished an electoral feat that
left veteran politicians gasping. In those eight voter precincts, Al Gore
beat George W. Bush in presidential polling by a combined total of 1,386 to
0. Almost as remarkable, in Cleveland’s predominantly black wards 1 through
10, Gore beat Bush by roughly 58,000 to 2,000.”

Says Jim Trakas, co-chair of the Republican Party in Cuyahoga County:
“They scared the daylights out of the black community. They’re the most
staggering numbers I’ve ever seen in politics. It’s unheard of. We witnessed the
most vicious campaign in the modern history of politics at play here in
Cleveland.”

In the end, nationwide, Gore took nine out 10 black votes, better
even than Clinton, while George W. Bush won 60 percent of white male votes, versus
36 percent for Gore — a nation at odds, more now than before, deliberately
separated by an agenda of divisiveness.

The fourth lesson comes from Llewellyn H. Rockwell, president of The
Mises Institute: “This election taught the man on the street a thing or two
about political reality. Government power is a dirty and dishonest business.
We are reminded of the wisdom of the framers, found primarily in their desire
to curb power as much as possible by distributing it as thinly as they
thought possible.”




Ralph R. Reiland,
the B. Kenneth Simon Professor of Free Enterprise at Robert Morris College in Pittsburgh, is the co-author of “Mom & Pop vs. the Dreambusters.”

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