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Disenfranchisement, The New American Way?
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!
Cindy Sheehan for Congress