No Comment — November 3, 2008, 10:17 am

Go Vote!

Our nation’s current problems started with a whiff of sulfur on Election Day 2000. Americans went to the polls in substantial numbers and voted, by a margin of over a half million votes, to put Al Gore in the White House. But our election machinery seriously misfired. Down in Florida, more than a hundred thousand voters who went to the polls to vote, very largely for Vice President Gore, had their votes cast aside—through a combination of chicanery, voter purging, intimidation, and other obnoxious tricks in a quantum just sufficient to put George W. Bush and Dick Cheney into the White House. In the wake of that election, the mainstream media ridiculed accusations of fraud associated with black-box voting as tin-hatted lunacy. In the years that followed, however, the “conspiracy theorists” were very substantially vindicated: the black-box voting process that had spread throughout the country was revealed to be a petri dish for vote fraud. In a series of demonstrations, academics at Princeton and other institutions showed that vote tampering and manipulation of the results using this technology was child’s play. Moreover, the experts are now largely in accord that in 2000, 2002, and 2004, manipulation of black-box voting systems almost certainly occurred, affecting a number of races. It was one of the most serious assaults on the integrity of the democratic process in our country’s history.

When you go to the polls tomorrow (if you have not already gone), keep your eyes about you and be on guard against fraud, intimidation and acts of voter suppression. More importantly, make your vote count. Insist on a proper ballot. Don’t take a provisional ballot unless you have no alternative. Here, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal is a good run-through of predictable voting-day problems. You have the right to vote. And if you encounter any irregularities or challenges, report your experience immediately to the voter protection hotline: 1-800-792-VOTE (8683).

Here, for general background, is a video entitled “Making It Count,” which discusses how you can anticipate and cope with vote-suppression tactics.

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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

At the time, Chomsky was still finishing his doctoral dissertation for Penn, where he had completed his graduate-school course work. But at bedtime and in his heart of hearts he was living in Boston as a junior member of Harvard’s Society of Fellows, and creating a Harvard-level name for himself.

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