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Disenfranchisement: The New American Way?

By Cindy Sheehan

I knew it was not going to be easy to challenge the two party duopoly (that is brought to us by the US Military Industrial Media Complex), but I did not realize how hard this same system would make it to obtain ballot access.
In California, if one has the audacity to actually want to represent the voice of the people and not represent the corporate parties, then you have to obtain signatures amounting to 3% of EVERYONE who voted in the last election, no matter what party, to get on the ballot.

Here in San Francisco, for the November general election that number is: 10, 198.

Now, in a city where there are approximately 467,000 registered voters it would seem that getting 10,198 signatures would not be that hard. But, counter to what one would think, it is very hard. My campaign and some dedicated volunteers have given up every single weekend and work non-stop during the week to be out in the community collecting every last signature that is available. In a town that is famous for being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, over half of the people we talk to don't even live in San Francisco, which is unfortunate, because most of those people would have signed.

We hired paid signature gatherers for the last few weeks and we have been garnering anywhere from 100 to 1000 signatures a day and dozens of disgusted (with Pelosi) people walk in off the streets to our office on Mission to sign for us.

The first batch of signatures we turned in was for the 3000 "signatures in lieu" of filing fee. We couldn't pay the filing fee; we had to collect those signatures. For that round, we turned in over 3300 and 22% were invalidated, so we could count 2504 of those. We had to pay for 496 (at .55 per signature) and STILL collect those signatures. So that left us with 7694 to collect by August 8th. If we didn't pay the filing fee, they would not give us our nomination papers.

On July 30, Cindy for Congress turned in 10873 signatures, which were 40% over what we needed to qualify for the ballot---our staff, and the volunteers were jubilant because we hit the hurdle easily and with what we thought was a good margin of error. That euphoria lasted until Friday, August 1st, when we got the preliminary call from the Department of Elections in the bowels of SF City Hall (the staff there are actually very helpful and professional). The preliminary analysis was that 41% would be challenged!

Today we got the final bad news: the DOE sampled 531 signatures, allowed 300 and challenged 231: 120 of those because the signers weren't "registered." In a city where the population is so fluid, and homeless citizens are the most educated about how the system fails people, this is a huge problem. Many of our homeless are vets that have had the system fail them more profoundly.

I don't understand why in a "democracy" the powers that be make it so difficult to run for office. A healthy system of government demands more choices and should hear even more voices. There are three qualifications listed in the Constitution to be in Congress:

1) Have attained 25 years of age
2) Live in the USA for 7 years
3) Live in the same state you wish to represent at the time of the elections.

I more than meet and exceed all of these qualifications and besides the Constitutional issues, I have a burning desire to right the wrongs of the excesses of the last few decades; make this world more peaceful and healthy; and transform this country into the one that they say my son, Casey, died for.

I understand that there should be some signatures required, but to disqualify almost 5000 of my signatures from a sampling of 531 is ludicrous. And to require so many is oppressive to democracy, not conducive.

When I am in Congress, I will work extremely hard to make sure that everyone who is qualified is not only enfranchised, but that those enfranchised feel like they have a voice in what happens in their country and community!

No matter how many obstacles "they" throw in our way, we will persist and persevere. We need 1694 more valid signatures by Friday and we will get them. We already have 1926 and will work every day to squeeze every last signature out of the district. So many people are counting on us. The harder "they" make it, the tougher we get!

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This exemplifies how our two-party system has led America and the world towards Fascism. The two colluding gangs "rig the rules" so as to prohibit any serious challenge.

With all due respect to Ron Paul and Kucinich, somehow, someway, the Democratic/Republican Empire must be stopped and defeated.

0 Cindy Sheehan is learning what alot of us have had to learn -- that is, how tough it is to challenge Local Political Machines. (We hear alot about corruption on the federal level, but anybody who's tried to buck the local, county and state cliques will know the federal connections exist not separate from but rather as a continuation of the local, county and state problems.)

0 Sheehan is lucky she is doing this in a county where the Registrar of Voters is an elected official. It could be worse if the RofV were an appointed official, and totally beholding to those who permitted/facilitated the appointment.

0 It is normal to take a) samples and b) challenge signatures. And, as none of us would want ANY candidate getting on the ballot with a bunch of phony or invalid signatures, there is method to the frustrating rules. However, the rules have been made tougher recently via state law (Calif.), including upping the number of signatures required, and there is a point at which the rules might become a tourniquet on the process.

0 On the surface of this description, the only item that bothers me is the >>"signatures in lieu" of filing fee<<. A filing fee should not be so large as to be prohibitive, so more information here would help.

0 It is not uncommon -- and understandably so -- for paid signature gatherers to end up with more challenged signatures. They may not be as pains-taking and committed to screening signers as are volunteer supporters. Also, volunteers may stand outside a store with one clipboard of forms; a "professional" signature gatherer could have a table of numerous clipboards and attract more signers, yet not have the opportunity to speak to each individually. Being paid by the signature puts their gathering into another category in terms of incentive; that is not a detriment however, because, at the same time, they are clearly going for more signatures faster with the long term goal of beating the odds (valid v. invalid sigs) and attaining the quantity of signatures required in the long run; it can work.

0 I sympathize with the frustrations, and do think the rules (which can vary from place to place and can be altered) allow for ways the 'outsider' can be given a harder time. At the same time, it MUST be noted, that the rules that make a first-time run for public office hard, are sort of like the kind of rules that make one's first bridge or poker game such a challenge; but once the rules are learned, the 'game' gets easier.

0 MOST IMPORTANTLY: It's not clear here in the post whether Cindy and Friends challenged the challenged signatures and looked them over to see if they were indeed unacceptable. I believe that is within the rules and finding even a few acceptable signatures amongst those challenged by the RofV could have helped....

Best of luck to Cindy Sheehan.

And thanks to those doing the work with her and for her candidacy.

We NEED you, Cindy! Thank you!

I figured she would steal the election. It did not occur to me that she would avoid having an election. Nancy Pelosi it a real piece of work and her minions give not one thought about democracy or the rule of law. We really need to clean our House.


You are running a marathon.


You will succeed.

You have the law, you have morality, you have ethics, you have accountability on your side.

Go Cindy, Go!!!

You will go to Washington and bring democracy back!

Go Cindy, Go!!!

I had never thot to live to watch America die, tho I now realize that she has been afflicted with a probably fatal malignancy for decades. My heart and mind are with you but WtF? I suffer from Post Polio syndrome, heart disease, GERD/hernia, and Skin Cancer—none of this unexpected at my age— but the heartbreak that my country has become is the one I would cure first were it possible. Getting Pelosi (political canker) out of there would be a start.

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
[Thomas Jefferson]

"When once a republic is corrupted There is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by REMOVING the corruption . . . every other correction is either useless or a new evil."
[Thomas Jefferson]

But what is truly not funny is the pathetic spectacle of the United States of America, a nation with the greatest political legacy that the world has ever known, letting itself be gnawed to death by the greed in a corrupt system that can be so easily fixed. [Molly Ivins - Star]

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