And so it begins. A 10-year pollworker named Diane contacted the Free Press. She had just gone through three hours of training and gave the Free Press her manuals. She said she had been ordered to re-take the training because she had asked too many questions about counting paper ballots during training.

“They came in with a stack of 800 ballots from the last election that had never been counted. One they weren’t going to count because the city and zip code had been left off even though there was an address on it,” she explained. “I asked them why if the voter has already shown ID with his address on it and you’ve given him a ballot based on the candidates running in that precinct where he lives, why would you not count his vote when you have his name, street address, and date of birth?”

Diane noted that she was told not to tell voters to fill in the required information before they left. “Why do you have to sit there and watch them walk out and know their vote won’t be counted when you could tell them to fill it all in?”

She told us, “I quit rather than go through the re-training. It seemed like they were trying not to count people’s voted. And punishing me for asking too many questions.”

Not only are millions of voters de-registered and stripped from the voting rolls, but millions more never get their vote counted because of over-burdensome bureaucratic rules designed to prevent poor and minority voters from voting. As investigative journalist Greg Palast points out, these uncounted cast votes are called “spoiled” ballots.           

Be vigilant when you vote this primary season and let the Free Press know of any irregularities.

A reminder that Black Lives Matter

With the tragic loss of Marshawn McCarrel, I have been contemplating the psychic toll that the struggle for social justice takes on us. The 23-year-old activist died of an apparent self-inflicted wound on the Capitol steps on February 8.

Following the 1912 election, Julius Wayland, the editor of the largest newspaper in the world was despondent over the fact that Eugene Debs, a Socialist candidate, only got six percent of the vote. Wayland committed suicide and left a note saying “The struggle under capitalism isn’t worth it.”

Great human sacrifices have sometimes spawned greater movements. A fruit vendor in Tunisia who set himself on fire also set off the Arab Spring. A monk in Vietnam burns himself and starts a mass resistance movement.

We thank Marshawn for spawning the Feed the Streets and Pursuing our Dreams movements and for being a Black Lives Matter leader during in his lifetime. We hope the spirit that pervaded his life’s work will live on.

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