Vote Early! Vote Often!


Unless you’re overseas, where the Pentagon is keeping you from registering

You probably thought that with Katherine Harris now a member of Congress, she could do less harm to the small-D democratic process in that mostly moribund D.C. bunch than she did in 2000 as Florida’s secretary of state.

Maybe that’s true, but the election chicanery has already started, and of course some of it’s from her successor and some of it’s from Don Rumsfeld‘s Pentagon. I mean, you can’t properly influence an election without troops.

Expatriate American Marina Mecl writes to us from Munich with a plea for help. The Pentagon, using the excuse that it’s worried about hackers, is blocking overseas Americans’ access to the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website, where U.S. voters living abroad can go to download voting forms and get information on registering to vote. (The deadline in most states is October 2.) In “Pentagon Blocks Site for Voters Outside U.S.,” the International Herald Tribune‘s Jennifer Joan Lee points out that ISPs in at least 25 countries — including Japan, France, Britain, and Spain — have been denied access to the site. And, yes, the humorously named FVAP is indeed under the aegis of the Pentagon, because the site focuses on reaching our hundreds of thousands of imperial troops around the planet.

Asked by Lee whether other government websites have been blocked, the Pentagon declined comment. Her thorough story quotes Annalee Newitz of the watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation as saying, “It’s extremely ironic that the government is doing nothing to address the security of electronic voting machines” in the U.S., “which have been proven to be vulnerable to hacking, yet they block websites for expatriate Americans.”

Mecl suggests Overseas Vote 2004, a site set up by the Kerry campaign, for you scattered Americans to register and request absentee ballots. Hurry up and do it, because it looks as if Florida is once again going to try to enforce our Founding Fathers’ original aim of considering each black person only three-fifths of a human being.

Florida’s secretary of state this time around is Glenda Hood, and there’s little evidence that this Glenda will turn out to be a good witch. The former Orlando mayor, Hood was appointed secretary of state (Florida’s chief elections officer) in February 2003 by Governor Jeb Bush. She no doubt qualified for that job by, among other things, contributing $1,000 to the Republican Party of Florida on June 26, 2002. She and Harris each tithed to the Florida GOP on January 8, 2001, just before the start of George W. Bush‘s term — Harris gave $300 that day, and Hood chipped in $900, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Almost exactly four years ago — on September 25, 2000 — Hood poured in $5,000 to the Florida GOP. This time around, she’ll have a chance to prove her love of the party in a different way.

Just yesterday, the Associated Press reported that the Justice Department is probing alleged intimidation of elderly black voters by Florida state cops this past spring after Democrat Buddy Dyer won a narrow victory to become Orlando’s new mayor.