Monday, October 15, 2012

US election double standards

Russia Today

While the US prides itself in free and fair elections, RT’s Anastasia Churkina reports on some of the flaws and double standards in the electoral system that American politicians pretend don’t exist.

Honesty is the best policy, but maybe not in US elections.

“Two words define why people hate America: double standard, on everything,” said editorial columnist and author Ted Rall.

This presidential election season, these two words are back in full swing. The basic definition of a “double standard” is a rule or principle that is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups. Let’s take a look at whether or not this is relevant to the US election system.

 Respecting every single voice is key in a democracy. Yet – voter suppression is alive and well in the US.

“Our citizens are kept away from the voting booth by rules that are meant to keep away a certain segment of the population, we have a lot of nerve, frankly, criticizing other countries for the way they run their democracies,” said blogger and investigative journalist Brad Friedman.

From questionable voter I.D. regulations, to shortened early voting time slots, to gerrymandering – or redrawing congressional district lines to favor a certain party – laws affecting voters’ rights are passed left and right, and vary state by state. Photo I.D. laws can affect 10 percent of Americans that simply don’t have one.

“There is an attempt to prevent large numbers of people from actually exercising their ballot,” said Jeanne Mirer from the National Lawyers Guild.

Election monitors usually serve the purpose of keeping track of indiscrepancies.

“We have the right to monitor other people's elections – of course! And if they don't do it, they are clearly cheating, it's not democracy, it's rigged, it's a dictatorship, what the hell?!” said Rall.

“When you are looking at an election where the votes are counted in public, by humans, that's the kind of election that is possible to observe. There really is virtually no opportunity for international observation,” said Jonathan Simon, co-founder and director of the Election Defense Alliance.
But the same goes for domestic observers.

“Even the Carter Center, which goes abroad and does the great work of monitoring elections abroad, refuses to monitor US elections on the grounds that they don't meet the basic standard of integrity,” said Jonathan Simon.
When election ideals are not met elsewhere, criticism runs rampant.

“Elections in Venezuela, elections in Iran, elections in Russia – the press will go to town on any sign that the outcome was fixed. Regardless of whether the evidence is sound, they'll just go crazy,” said Mark Crispin Miller, NYU Professor and author.

While nitpicking abroad is all the rage, the elephant in the room remains unnoticed at home.

“I promise you, the evidence they use to scream and yell about the outcome in those countries, is usually a whole lot weaker than the evidence of election theft in this country,” said Miller.

The good news: not all of the hypocrisy goes unnoticed.

“Our policy makers, and to a great extent our media, and trickle down to the American people – they literally think that the rest of the world is stupid. That they don't see it, that everybody naturally has to admire us, that we're great – and it's not the case,”Ted Rall.

While obvious flaws are met with a deaf ear, year in and year out – a flawed election process continues to be the first vote cast in the US.

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