Integrity in Voting

I co-founded African-American Conservatives six years ago, because I was angry about something: the direction our country was going in. My husband and I would have many animated dinner table discussions with our children; yet I realized there had to be a better way to model my dissent – thus the idea for AACONS was born.

I revisited that line of thinking recently when I witnessed what I perceived to be yet another injustice. After seeing my dear friend Allen West robbed of his election in Florida two years ago, and, in the last Presidential election, seeing ACORN bus voters in, committing numerous acts of voter fraud by using the rolls of dead, fictitious characters; and poll workers voting multiple times, I got angry, wondering just what happened to our just and fair system of voting with integrity.

So what happened to raise my ire? It had to do with voting for sure. An office that would tip the scales of justice and have far reaching impact long after the last ballot was cast? Hardly.

As a mother, one of the hardest things to do is sit by when you feel your child has been wronged. The kid may or may not care at all, but there is something about a parent’s heart that feels keenly about things like this, and so the spirit that drove me to co-found AACONS, is driving me to right this wrong in the correct way, and not by retaliating in the way “the other side did” just because I can. And trust me, “the wrong way” would be easier and quicker, but I am not that kind of person. I would know and God would know – and besides, who wants to win that way, by fraud and deception?

If you’ve seen me at all lately on social media, you know that my son’s blog is up for the Best Student Blog Award. Now the rules on the front page clearly state that you can only vote once per finalist per category. My son’s blog fairly garnered votes in this way. Several times his blog was in the number one position. One can look at the likes and see the names and see maybe one duplicate. However, each time he went ahead, the blog that was previously in the number one spot would catch up and go ahead, but when one looked closely, one would (and still can) see duplicate after duplicate name. Then the tactic switched to Google accounts (gmail accounts are notoriously easy to obtain).

But the kicker was when we actually went to the blog in question and saw two posts in which the student blogger asked people to vote multiple times, in clear violation of the rules. Not only that, but in one of the posts, the student enumerated how to do so step by step, even giving directions on how to clear your browser cookies, etc. This was done in clear violation of the rule stating one vote per finalist per category!

We asked Edublogs several times if the names would be vetted before a winner was declared this week, and we were told twice they didn’t “have the resources to police” every vote that came in, and even given tacit permission for us to do the same. Today they gave me their final answer that they acknowledge my “frustration and disappointment” and agree that it’s an “unfortunate” situation, however, they don’t plan to do anything further, such as disqualify anyone actively soliciting multiple votes in violation of the rules. I don’t know whether it’s just a ruse to get more traffic for their site, consumers for List.ly, all of the above or none of the above. But, because of what I have seen in the political world, and because of what I believe about integrity in voting – little contests like a blog contest to big contests like the leader of the most powerful country in the known world – I am using “the might of right,” the power of the pen, in an attempt to correct this injustice.

What happened to our just and fair system of voting with integrity?

It’s illustrative of why voter ID is so crucial. We need identification to bank, to fly, to drive, to work, to do almost anything in this country, except to vote. At the site where the blog voting takes place, there is a mechanism in place, supposedly, to prevent this, as it says at the bottom of the home page. Yet, when confronted with “ballot stuffing” a blind eye is turned. Don’t bother writing to them about it, Dear Angry Conservative – one) it will get you nowhere; two) I don’t want to ruin things for my child who is fighting on with the only tool at his disposal: his integrity.

Now, maybe to you I’m a mom who is carrying things too far. And, sure, to some, I’m sure I come off that way. I see myself as the mother of a child with a chronic health condition who has written about it in an attempt to help other children. I am a mother who has sacrificed years of sleep to stay up with that child doing blood sugar checks in the middle of the night when he was younger, staying up for hours until we could get his blood sugar up or down, because he had an autoimmune illness that attacked his pancreas and left him with Type 1 diabetes (different from Type 2 in that he did nothing to “get” it, it was genetic and an autoimmune response). I am a mother who has had to poke and stick her child, or watch her child poke and stick himself with needles to deliver life-saving insulin, time and time again, bearing it all with equanimity, even when I know it had to hurt. And, I am a mom, so incredibly proud of the young man who has participated in a number of clinical trials to “pay it forward” and help himself and others like him receive the technological advances that will make living with this condition easier. I’ve seen him mentor friends (and strangers through various diabetes support groups, etc.) through their own diagnoses. He also, through this blog, interviewed an athlete with Type 1, and others in the medical field; blogged about his transition from a regular insulin pump to a Continuous Glucose Monitoring System (CGMS); and blogged about just being a kid living life while managing this condition. So, yes, I am “just” the very proud mother of a wonderful Christian boy who is homeschooled, goes to college part time, interns for an educational software company, plays guitar in a rock band, and, is a loving son, and big brother to his siblings.

So, even though this is a very small, inconsequential voting matter, I’m going to implore you to vote. One, because I believe in principle and integrity and I’m tired of seeing elections taken from the people who play by the rules. No, this isn’t the same as Allen West, nor do I compare the two. But, I’m tired of the good guys taking it laying down and letting the rule-breakers win…again! Two, yes, it is my child. The kid I love. The one I have watched suffer with this chronic condition. The one I have seen grow despite it, or because of it, only God knows.

My son competed hard and competed fairly. He had a number of companies, support organizations and other diabetes groups write articles and mention him on their Facebook pages and Twitter handles. Groups like Medtronic Diabetes, Quality Health, CarbDM, and Christian Homeschool Moms. Our parenting e-mail support list Brave Buddies rallied around him, as did our homeschooling e-mail loop and our church family.

I want there to be absolutely no hanging chads! I want it to be utterly clear who the winner is in this contest. I want there to be a groundswell of support. A tsunami of votes. Single votes. A win with integrity. The might of right. Don’t leave ugly comments for the minor child who would “game the system.” Don’t stoop. Just thwart her objective and declare a clear winner. The one who ran with integrity: my son. His blog is Nikkobetes, and I’d appreciate your vote before 11:59pm ET/8:59p PT tonight December 15, 2014, when the contest ends.

To vote (and please, vote only once!), click the thumb under his blog, currently in 2nd place. You will be asked to sign in with your social media credentials. Once you do so, you will be routed back to the voting page. Click the thumb again, and it will change color and thank you for voting.

Instead of looting, I’m choosing to protest the only way I know how — with the power of the pen. When I am dissatisfied, I model my dissent through legal means of using my platform, just as I did when I co-founded African-American Conservatives. I believe in the power of the vote with integrity. ACORN can bus their people in or have their rolls of the dead vote. Students may cheat and rob the fun from a contest wherein children work hard all year. But votes matter, integrity matters, and soon, they will be grown ups and this will all matter so much more. The lessons must begin now.

UPDATE: Voting is now closed. Thanks to you, my son came very close, garnering 290 votes to the 297 the other student had on the books (many of them duplicates). After writing this post, I had another response from Edublogs, from Sue Waters the Support Manager, basically stating much of the same: reiterating my “frustation and disappointment” there was nothing more to be done unless in future they had panels of judges, which would not be feasible. Still no one has been able to directly answer any of my numerous queries as to why a student caught blatantly trying to game the system would not be immediately disqualified, and this note was no exception. My question was yet again ignored. If anyone would like to (politely) offer Edublogs their constructive feedback about this injustice, they may do so by utilizing the form found here. Thank you all for your tremendous outpouring of support!

 

–M.

About Marie Stroughter

The traditional bio for Marie Stroughter would be: “Loving wife to hubby of over 20 years, and homeschooling mom to three adorable kids (and one spunky cat!).” Getting a little bolder would be to say that she is an adoptive mom of two, and a freelance writer and copyeditor. Unique factoids might include: social media addict….uh, maven, avid knitter and Founding Mama of her local knitting Guild, and a devotee of all things gadgety. The rabble-rousing version would read: “Marie Stroughter is the activist mom turned co-founder of African-American Conservatives, and, the opinionated, no-holds-barred host of the African-American Conservatives radio show carried on Blog Talk Radio, and, From The Right Radio where she chats weekly with political movers and shakers like Karl Rove, Steve Forbes, Michelle Malkin, Star Parker, Newt Gingrich, Senator Jim DeMint, and other conservative all-stars and rising stars in addition to her contributor status with Breitbart.com and the iVillage #iVoices and iVote projects.” But the latter would be a run-on sentence, so we’ll stick with the others. [wink]
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Join the discussion!
AACONS says:

Thank you, Joyce. Your words mean a great deal, especially on a day like today when I am feeling very keenly the “good guys finish last” sentiment! In my heart of hearts I know he won both the blog contest, even though they refused to acknowledge it, AND the victory in God’s sight in that he stood fast against the schemes of the devil. –M.

AACONS says:

Thanks, Lana, we feel the same. My integrity, like my vote, is not for sale. I couldn’t live with myself if I had stooped to dishonest means and we had the “winner” banner today by those means. Give me my integrity any day. It has the longer lasting reward — here and in Heaven! –M.

AACONS says:

Thank you, Susan. It runs in my husband’s family as well. I will keep your husband and sons in prayer, as I understand the struggle, and know that you understand mine. Thank you for reaching out with your kind words! I *feel* blessed by God, I pray you feel the same each day as we live in this mortal body, but are renewed inwardly day-by-day! –M.

AACONS says:

I don’t either, Veronica. I have prayed for this child and her family, however, that the “win at all costs” mentality that so many in our world seem to value so much will be replaced with that better value you quoted, “the truth that sets us free.” When I turned my life over to God, I truly wanted to “be transformed by the renewing of [my] mind.” (Romans 12:1-2) It’s against the grain sometimes, but it feels better, I can sleep at night and I can face the lady I see in the mirror every morning! Thank you for your kind words! –M.

AACONS says:

Thank you, Terry, and thank you for your service as an English teacher. English was always my favorite subject and the teachers who made the greatest impact on me were my English teachers. I’m sorry the teacher in this scenario did not, from all outward appearances, step in and do more to guide this student. It’s sad too, because the student’s misguided posts implicate the teacher’s blog voting, as well. I appreciate your kind words, Terry. –M.

AACONS says:

Oh, and He has, Sally, He has! On my son’s blog, he has posted a few of his sermons from the Preacher’s Boot camp he participated in this past summer. The head on this kid’s shoulders! I know I’m his biased Mama, but even if I weren’t….I tell you, *I* am very blessed to have him as a son. I learn a lot from him every day. Thank you for reaching out, Sally! –M.

AACONS says:

Awww, thanks, Julia! And thank you for actually taking the time to read his blog! I know he will be stoked to hear it! –M.

AACONS says:

Thank you, Vicki. I appreciate your kind words. I can only model what I know to be right from God’s word and pray that my children grow up to be good citizens who make the world a better place by their choices and actions. In that way, I feel very strongly that motherhood has been my ministry. “Just” a mom? No, we *can* change the world! –M.

AACONS says:

Awww, thank you, Lynn! I didn’t see this until today. Thank you for your willingness, and for your very sweet words. On a day like today when I am licking my wounds, they are a much needed balm.

Yes, my heart knows we did what was right, but I feel like the world has dealt “the good guys” yet another blow. But, I know good always overcomes bad choices and triumphs. Always. I have to believe that or I couldn’t model this for my kids. And you know what? Today, the kids are pretty happy. I think they are more concerned for me because I was naive enough to think in the end those folks were going to turn around and do the right thing, and it really hurt when that didn’t happen. I’m very trusting and really believe in “Right” and “Good” and have to remember it doesn’t always happen here. But then I come across people like you, and remember that things have a way of balancing out. If this “bad” had not happened, all of the good people I’ve met over the last 24 hours may not have come across my path. And that was definitely a “good” thing! Thanks again! –M.

AACONS says:

Thank you, Karen! –M.

AACONS says:

Then I know you know, Diana. I feel like we should have a secret handshake or something. T1D moms totally understand this :) Thanks for the kind words. Hope all is well with your son, as well. We had our endo visit yesterday and so many exciting technological advances are on the horizon, it’s truly a time of hope and expectation! –M.

AACONS says:

It’s true, David. I have a lot of anger, but also a lot of pity, and a lot of prayers that the behavior and heart changes and that parents realize what they turn a blind eye to now (or are just unaware of because they aren’t as involved) isn’t so cute later on and becomes a real problem. As someone said on Facebook, this is how we see some of what we’ve seen in our elections on a macro level begin. You get desensitized to it, or you think something is so good for people (or yourself) that the “how” isn’t as important as the “just that it IS!” we’re starting to see that sort of dictatorial, tyrannical behavior crop up and it ain’t purty. When it’s “your” guy, fine (so you think), but what about when it’s the “other” guy…how then do you cry foul? You’ve opened up the slippery slope. Thanks for chiming in, David! –M.

AACONS says:

Thank you, Gloria! I’m a little biased, but I think he’s a “keeper!” ;) –M.

AACONS says:

Thank you, Bill! –M.

AACONS says:

Amen to that, and thank you for voting! I know he’s won the better prize and for that I am grateful. –M.

AACONS says:

Thanks, Krys! Yes, I’m so thankful for this online community because it does feel lonely sometimes when you are trying to do the right thing, and teach your children to do the right thing and you wonder if there is *anyone* who gets it because it seems all around you the messages are contrary to what you believe in. Then I come here and see so many positive messages affirming the values I’m trying to inculcate in my children and it definitely keeps me going! I know God is on my side, and it’s also nice to see some cheerful faces along the way sometimes, too, even if we are a little battle weary at times! –M.

AACONS says:

Thanks for all the support, Pam, (and your granddaughters, too!). Wow! We were just talking to his endo yesterday. He’s been in the field for 40 years and he was talking about all the advances he’s seen in all that time. Just amazing how far the technology has come and how much more is on the horizon and set to change even over the next few years, Lord willing. My guy was diagnosed at 2-1/2, so yes, it’s tough when they are little, but in some ways, they grow up only knowing life with Type 1. Thanks for your efforts and for sharing your story. –M.

AACONS says:

Thank you for your support, Nora! –M.

AACONS says:

Thanks, Jonathan! –M.

AACONS says:

Thank you, Sam! –M.