I hate George W. Bush more than Democrats do. I've certainly organized and participated in more anti-Bush protests than them. In fact, my fellow left-wing activists and I were already doing all we could to build up opposition to the war on Afghanistan for which all Democratic politicians except for The Honorable Barbara Lee voted.
The Anybody But Nader gang do prefer John Kerry to Bush, but they are NOT opposed to Bush being on the ballots, and they would live with Bush should Kerry manage to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. What they ARE opposed to is Nader getting on the ballots, for they can't tolerate the fact that anyone as well known as Nader is running without ruling-class permission, challenging the elite consensus for plutocracy and imperialism. Hence their crusade against the most basic of democratic rights -- the right to participate in politics: e.g.,
Ohio, too, may become a ballot access battleground. Even though Ohio petitioners for Nader/Camejo submitted 14,473 signatures -- nearly three times the required 5,000 in Ohio -- "Don McTigue, a Columbus lawyer who specializes in election law, was hired by the Ohio Democratic Party to scrutinize" them; and Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Dan Trevas (firstname.lastname@example.org/614-221-6563 x129) "said party officials will decide, in consultation with McTigue, whether they want to file legal challenges to Nader's petition" (Alan Johnson and Jonathan Riskind, "Nader Petitions Questioned: Ohio Democrats Might Fight Independent's Bid to Get on Ballot," Columbus Dispatch, August 21, 2004, p. B1).
- Ralph Nader's efforts to get his name on presidential ballots in important swing states are becoming mired in legal challenges and charges of fraud by Democrats who have mounted an extensive campaign to keep him from becoming a factor in this year's election.
. . . [L]ocal Democratic parties across the country, aided by a group of lawyers calling themselves the Ballot Project Inc., have initiated mini-campaigns to stop him, state by state.
"The Democrats are making this as difficult and as debilitating for him as possible, making him expend blood, sweat and tears for every inch," said Charles E. Cook Jr., a nonpartisan analyst who tracks races in every state. "He has only so many hours in the day and so many resources. And to the extent that he's tied up trying to get on the ballots, he's not getting any kind of message across."
So far, only three states have closed the door on Mr. Nader: Georgia, Oklahoma and Indiana. He seems close to getting on the ballot in 11 states, either on the Reform Party line or as an independent, though he could still face challenges in some. He has filed petitions in about 20 others and is awaiting rulings on their validity. He has yet to file in 18 states.
Most of Mr. Nader's deadlines come this month: the due dates for 23 states fall from Aug. 2 to Aug. 24, meaning he has had to meet almost daily deadlines across the country while fending off lawsuits.
He is entangled in an assortment of suits, many in states that may be the most contested in November. He is in court in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona and West Virginia, and faces potential suits or administrative challenges in Oregon, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and Maine. He is also in court in Texas and Illinois, which are not swing states but where his challenge to state ballot requirement is diverting his time and resources.
The legal strategies in most states are being developed by local Democrats, but the Ballot Project is helping them to find lawyers to work pro bono and share information. "We're doing everything we can to facilitate lawyers in over 20 states," said Toby Moffett, a Washington lobbyist and former Connecticut congressman, who, with Elizabeth Holtzman, a former congresswoman from New York, is overseeing the Ballot Project.
Because of federal campaign finance laws, the project cannot coordinate its activities with either the Kerry campaign or the national Democratic Party, but the party approves of the legal challenges, said Jano Cabrera, a spokesman, and is closely monitoring Mr. Nader's progress.
. . . The requirements vary from the minimal in Louisiana and Colorado, which require only that a candidate pay $500, to the more onerous, like Texas, which required 64,000 signatures as early as May 10.
"There is no other country in the world that has free elections that forces a candidate for chief executive to have to wrestle with 51 separate sets of laws," said Richard Winger, an expert on ballot access laws. . . .
"Where are the battles?" asked Kevin Zeese, Mr. Nader's spokesman. "Everywhere. It doesn't matter if it's a swing state or a safe state. The Democrats are doing their best to harass us everywhere. Their goal is to divert our resources and bleed our campaign."
At the same time, challenging the Nader petitions is "extremely difficult," said Dan Booker, a partner at Reed Smith, a Pittsburgh law firm that helped build the case against Mr. Nader in Pennsylvania.
The drive by Pennsylvania Democrats is one of the most extensive and offers a glimpse into what it takes to mount such a challenge.
Mr. Booker said that 8 to 10 lawyers in his firm were working pro bono on the case, 80 hours each a week for two weeks, and could end up working six more weeks. The firm also took on more than 100 volunteers.
Working with Reed Smith was a Philadelphia lawyer, Gregory M. Harvey, an elections specialist who has been detached from his firm while he organized 70 volunteers at his end of the state. . . .
On Aug. 2, the Nader campaign filed about 47,000 signatures in Harrisburg. The Democrats responded with the equivalent of a statewide bucket brigade: Officials in Harrisburg, under the auspices of H. William DeWeese, the House minority leader, photocopied the 47,000 signatures and trucked them to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, where volunteers began examining them line by line. They had one week in which to file their challenge.
In Pittsburgh, software programmers and data-entry volunteers occupied three conference rooms at Reed Smith, where they created a database of the 47,000 names that were checked against the state's list of registered voters.
In Philadelphia, Mr. Harvey sent volunteers to the city board of elections, where they compared the signatures from the petitions with those on voter registration lists.
. . . On Aug. 11, James Gardner Colins, president judge of the Commonwealth Court, ordered all parties to meet Thursday to set a date for hearing the evidence. He took the highly unusual step of ordering at least five judges in courtrooms throughout the state to hear the individual signature challenges simultaneously. That means at least five cadres of lawyers for the challengers and for Mr. Nader and probably handwriting experts for each side in each courtroom. . . .
Mr. Zeese said it was "crazy" to have to appear in five courtrooms at once. "This is a perfect game plan for how to destroy independent politics in this country," he said, accusing Democrats of "antidemocratic activities." (Katharine Q. Seelye, "Democrats' Legal Challenges Impede Nader," August 19, 2004)
- Democrats will soon air TV ads in Wisconsin and New Mexico trying to link Republican groups to independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader.
The Nader Factor -- led by former campaign workers for presidential hopefuls Wesley Clark, John Edwards, Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt -- expects to spend up to $50,000 on the ads.
The spots are set to launch Tuesday in Madison and Albuquerque, N.M., and run through Sunday. (Juliet Williams/The Associated Press, "Anti-Nader Coalition to Air Ads in Wisconsin," The Post-Crescent, August 21, 2004)
If the Ohio Democrats do file legal challenges, all who defend voting rights, not just Nader/Camjo supporters, should hold a protest or a sit-in or street theater at the Ohio Democratic Party headquarters (271 E. State St. Columbus, Ohio 43215)!!! And so should all who live in the states where the Democrats have already trampled, or are trampling, on the civil rights of Nader/Camejo voters. The Nader/Camjo campaign now needs to become more than a good fight on the electoral front. It's time to take action in the streets.