By Robert Miranda for   Published Oct 19, 2004 at 5:23 AM

{image1}Well, the fix is on! So it appears.

The first major controversy of this election cycle has come to light, and in the mix we have Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, co-chair of the John Kerry campaign, and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, co-chair of the Bush campaign, accusing each other of skullduggery.

At issue is the lack of printed ballots city officials requested from the county for the November elections. Not one to take accusations lightly, the county executive accused the city of inventing a problem.

Mayor Barrett asked at a recent press conference, "why is the city being treated differently than the suburbs?"

What is at issue? The city is concerned that there will not be enough ballots for the central city to cover what is expected to be a record number of voters turning out for the presidential election. City officials charge that the number of ballots printed by the county is smaller this time around than they were for the elections in 2000.

But hey, it's not as if we're struggling for the rights of a civil society, like the Polish voters who voted to get rid of an entire regime. And its not as if we live in China where Chinese officials, fearing democracy, resorted to calling out the "Peoples Army" to smash the democracy movement. And that stuff that happened in South Africa, where power held by a tyrannical minority by means of dictatorial force finally fell.

No sir, this is AMERICA! Where ballots cost too much and printing more could cause a strain on the American taxpayer. Demanding more ballots to be printed can hurt the budget of a local government already unable to afford hiring people to pick up garbage in its own building.

The idea that we should be prepared to handle an influx of new voters reeks of fear mongering. Surely black, brown and poor white people don't vote, so why should the county spend money to print ballots?

Ballots! We don't need no stinking ballots.

The emerging notion of pluralism in America is becoming almost a terrorist threat to our "civil society." Walker seems to be of the opinion that such a notion needs to be nurtured and limiting the number of ballots being printed is one sure fire way of doing that.

Indeed, we should not forget to turn a critical eye toward ourselves. How high is the quality of our civil discourse in America? Do we really understand what it takes to produce just laws and to nurture the common wealth? Are we able to protect individual freedom?

Those who use their energies to private advantage, personal gain and interest-group politics destroy our democracy, and clearly Walker has resorted to this brand of politics.

See Walker's response from the weekend: The Truth about Ballots in Milwaukee here.

Miranda is a national award-winning columnist, Latino community activist and columnist for the Milwaukee Spanish Journal.

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, its advertisers or editorial staff.

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