Green Party Goes to Court to Protect Voting Rights
Green Pages: Fall 2008
From the Green Party of the United States media office
The Green Party has taken the lead by filing a civil action to protect voting rights of presidential electors. “We’ve witnessed in election after election how some states have used the winner-take-all formula to prevent the votes of political, ethnic, and other minorities from being counted,” said Jody Grage national treasurer for the Green Party.
The civil action was initiated by Greens under the conviction that the outcome of the 2008 presidential election may be affected by the antidemocratic apportionment of Electoral College votes, with the popular vote misrepresented by the winner-take-all system of assigning votes to electors.
“We’re in danger of seeing the 2008 election stolen again, as in 2000 and 2004,” said Clyde Shabazz, Green candidate for the U.S. House in Michigan. “In Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, we witnessed the obstruction and manipulation of votes by election officials and possible tampering with computer voting machines. But equally insidious is the mal-apportionment of Electoral College votes, which disenfranchises whole sections of the voting public.”
Asa Gordon, chair of the DC Statehood Green Party’s Electoral College Task Force and executive director of the Douglass Institute of Government, filed the civil action with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (1:08-cv-01294) on January 28, 2008. The action seeks relief against the defendant, Vice President Cheney, who will preside over the tabulation of “unbound electoral states” on January 6, 2009, challenging the recognition of Electoral College votes that are apportioned by states on a winner-take-all basis.
“Americans don’t vote for president. Instead, we vote for an electoral college which was created in the late 1700s to expressly increase the power of the slave states— and which it is still doing,” said Mark Dunlea, an election law attorney with the Green Party of New York State.
The civil action seeks enforcement of the ‘Mal-Apportionment Penalty’ provided in Section 2 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which mandates a reduction of a state’s presidential electors and congressional representatives if “the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States … is denied … or in any way abridged.” The civil action alternatively seeks the issuance of a court order providing proportional apportionment of presidential electors.
“If two thirds of the voters in a state vote for a candidate from Party A and one third vote for a candidate from Party B, and the state’s winner-take-all rule gives all of the state’s electors to Party A, then one third of the voters have been disenfranchised in violation of Amendment 14, Section 2 of the US Constitution,” said Grage.
Gordon said, “by refusing to challenge Electoral College mal-apportionment in 2000 and 2004, which blocked Democratic electors from voting in those elections, the Democratic Party’s leaders abandoned tens of thousands of their own voters, just as they failed to challenge the election irregularities in Florida and Ohio in 2000 and 2004. Will they fail to challenge mal-apportionment again in 2008, and hand the Republicans another victory? … The winner-take-all provisions in the general election present the distinct possibility that Mr. Obama in 2008 will win the popular vote by a considerably larger margin than did Gore in 2000, but will repeat the Democratic loss in the Electoral College.”
Green Party leaders noted that after John Kerry quickly conceded the 2004 election, Democratic leaders failed to respond to thousands of complaints about voting irregularities in Ohio and other states. Green presidential nominee David Cobb and Libertarian nominee Michael Badnarik launched the Ohio and New Mexico recount efforts and collected the initial evidence that Republican officials had blocked the votes of many African American and young voters. Greens raised most of the money for the recounts. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) later held hearings and published evidence of the election theft.
The civil action is part of the Green Party’s ‘Democratize the Electoral College’ program, which debunks accusations that the McKinney campaign could ‘spoil’ the Democratic candidates bid for president. “Democratic leaders should have to explain why they choose to ignore 13 additional electors from southern states they’d gain through the Green Party’s presidential electors project. Why is the Green Party fighting to give voice to Democratic voters that the Democratic Party will not fight for? Let me be clear—we’re not doing this to assist Barack Obama, but to foster real democracy and voter participation, and to offer Cynthia McKinney as the truly democratic choice for all the people,” said Gordon.
The Green Party’s national platform endorses a constitutional amendment abolishing the Electoral College and providing for the direct election of the president by instant runoff voting. Since the debacle of the 2000 presidential election, the Green Party in partnership with the Douglass Institute of Government has led the way in educating Americans about their constitutional “right to vote” under the provisions of 14th Amendment, Section 2.