Fitrakis Voting Rights Speech
December 19, 2004
The following is the transcript from Bob Fitrakis’ speech at the December 4 Voting Rights demonstration at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus:
Thirty-two days ago, we voted in Ohio, and that election remains uncertified, threatening the core of our democratic system and our commitment to equal protection under our Constitution.
Now we are engaged in a great civil rights struggle, testing whether our nation, or any nation, so dedicated to democracy, can endure such voter suppression and election irregularities. We are gathered in the capitol of a great battleground state. We have come to dedicate ourselves to investigating the vote in all 88 counties, and pledge ourselves to counting every vote. Whatever the results may be. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this, just as the people of the Ukraine.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot concede, we cannot certify, we cannot accept the election results in this battleground state. The dedicated people -- handicapped and elderly, first time voters, poor and working class people -- stood in long lines for hours, many of them in a cold rain, to cast their votes in this election. Many were forced to vote provisional ballots, that may never be counted – or were falsely turned away, despite having duly registered and obeyed the law. We are here to confront the inherent corruption of the election officials in this state.
The world is watching us now, and may long remember that a movement was born here -- to do the unfinished work of the courageous men and women who fought for the right to vote, in the civil war, in the suffragette movement, and in the civil rights movement.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these great martyred dead, whose blood continues to consecrate our democracy, we take inspiration – that we here highly resolved that these voting rights martyrs should not have died in vain, that these people who waited 5, 10, up to 12 hours to vote – did not wait in vain. That our great nation, inspired by universal and natural laws of unbending justice, shall have a re-birth of democracy.
There is something infinitely more important at stake here than whether John Kerry or George Bush won this election. America’s election system is on trial before the eyes of the world. And future historians shall record that from this gathering, the people went forth to every state in this union and through their faith and actions -- fought back so that our government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
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