What can you do about voter fraud?

Published 1:06 am Saturday, November 22, 2008

There was massive voter fraud in the Nov. 11 election. You may be wondering why you have not seen anything reported about that in the paper. The reason is the election that I am referring to happened in 1901. The same day that we use to honor our nation’s veterans is also the day 107 years ago that voters in Covington County went to the polls for the ratification vote of our current—and sixth—Alabama Constitution.

Almost 60 percent of the electorate in Covington voted against the ratification of the 1901 Constitution which gives too much power to the state legislature over local affairs. Those voters joined 31 other counties in the state that voted against the ratification. Had it not been for the stolen votes in the black belt counties, the ratification of our current constitution would not have happened.

If you fast forward to the Nov. 4, 2008 election, you will see some of the effects of the fundamentally-flawed 1901 constitution which has now been amended more than 800 times. In one item on that ballot regarding a local school district in Limestone County, the people in that county voted against the measure. However, the amendment passed because there were a majority of voters statewide who voted in favor of it.

Sections 286 and 287 of our current constitution give the two options to reform our governing social contract. The first path is by amendment (either through a modification of the text or through a full replacement of an article). To date, voters have amended Alabama’s constitution more than 800 times, making it the longest state constitution in the world. The second option is through a constitutional convention which is the path a growing number of individuals and organizations are supporting. Alabama’s next Convention will be historic since it will be the first time in our state’s history that women will actually have a seat at the table to draft it.

I am writing this piece to encourage you to get involved in this fundamentally important issue that will have a major impact over the next 100 years or more. If you are new to the cause, I hope that you will take 45 minutes to watch “It’s a Thick Book” documentary. That informative and entertaining film explains not only the history, but also the current impacts of Alabama’s 1901 Constitution. The Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform (ACCR) Foundation, a non-partisan, education organization, provides that video for free on our web site: www.constitutionalreform.org

If you are interested to help the cause, I hope you will get involved in our two education initiatives. Our High School Education Contest gives students an opportunity to express themselves and, in the process, to learn more about the 1901 Constitution. As you will see from our web site, high school sophomores, juniors and seniors can submit essays or multimedia entries for potential awards.

The second initiative you should take part in is our Mock Convention that will convene in the spring and summer of 2009. To address some of the fears that are being spread about holding a convention to write our seventh constitution, the ACCR Foundation is holding a simulated convention to help educate people in the state about the convention process. To be a 2009 Mock Convention delegate, you must have lived in your state house district for more than three years and continue to live in that same district in 2009. People who would like to serve in that capacity need to complete an application (yes, on our web site) before Dec. 31st.

A growing number of Alabamians are coming to the realization that there is no larger impediment to economic prosperity, local governance and healing the wounds of our racist past than the State’s 1901 Constitution. This fundamentally-flawed framework erodes the educational systems, discourages citizen involvement and creates an extraordinarily inefficient government. We still live under—and feel the effects—of a constitution that was born out of a fraudulent vote in 1901. Please join the Movement to write a new legacy for our state as well as a more modern Alabama Constitution.

Mark Berte is the Grassroots Education Director for the ACCR Foundation. (205-266-3371 or Mark@constitutionALreform.org)