by Steve Emerson
I became a Republican because our sitting Vice President, Al Gore, and the Democrat National Committee (DNC) colluded to suppress the vote of 1,420 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines during the election of 2000.
Up until that time, during my 27 years as a Marine, I was a registered Independent voter. I believed it was inappropriate for an active duty military officer to be a member of a political party. I worried that that active party membership might at some point conflict with the oath I had taken to defend the Constitution. Also, in the 80’s and 90’s, it was considered unprofessional among Marines, or at least bad form, to talk about politics outside the context of national strategy and budget allocation, both in the workplace and at social events. It wasn’t the culture, it just wasn’t done.
Nevertheless, I voted regularly by absentee ballot from my home of record (I moved 9 times in 27 years). Because I moved so frequently, I often didn’t vote in “down ballot” local races and left blank my ballot on races about which I had no insight or knowledge. Most of my buddies had a similar experience, they voted absentee while at sea or deployed. Like them, I had always thought that my ballot counted.
My political epiphany came during the recount of 2000. During that extraordinarily close election, losing Florida meant losing the Presidency. Gore and the DNC requested a recount, not of the whole state, however, but of ballots in heavily Democratic counties likely to vote Democratic.
I believe Gore’s strategy was twofold: find/create Democrat votes by contesting “hanging chad” and unmarked ballots, and to suppress the votes of likely Republican voters. His chosen method to suppress votes was to challenge military overseas ballots.
Gore and the DNC provided their loyalists with instructions to challenge overseas absentee ballots by focusing on the postmarks. Democrat officials at the county level went to work challenging military ballots and were successful in negating the votes of 1,420 Servicemen and women. This voter suppression included ballots from those serving on the USS Cole which had suffered 17 killed and 39 wounded in Yemen a month prior.
Gore and the DNC knew full well that military overseas ballots were kept secure by competent government authorities – admirals in charge of fleets, generals in charge of bases and ambassadors in charge of embassies. Gore also knew these ballots were secured until they could be sent to the US by next available airlift or diplomatic pouch, and that these ballots wouldn’t get a US postmark until they hit the US postal service.
Gore – a sitting Vice President and an Army veteran – didn’t want service member votes to count unless they were for him. Gore and the Democrats conspired to steal the right to vote from those most deserving of it: our men and women serving overseas in harm’s way. In the end, Al Gore lost Florida by 537 votes. Soon afterwards, I became Republican.
Lt.Col. (Ret) Steve Emerson is a member of the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee and Chairman of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. He is also President of the Alafia Republican Club in Valrico. He served 27 years as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.