A broad coalition has been put together by an alliance of civil rights groups to defend people's rights at the polls November 2 - and then stand ready the day after to hit the streets, wherever and for as long as necessary should any abuses occur.
We all remember what happened in Florida in 2000. As has been traditional in U.S. politics, the key to the vote theft was the abuse of poorer African-American voters. But 2004 is different.
The No Stolen Elections pledge, hosted by www.Nov3.us is being supported by a host of activists and groups, including Michael Moore, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Daniel Ellsberg, Gloria Steinem, Starhawk, Rabbi Michael Lerner, the AFL-CIO, Global Exchange, Rainforest Action Network, United for Peace & Justice and Code Pink.
They're vowing to "support efforts to protect the right to vote leading up to and on Election Day," and "if that right is systematically violated, I pledge to join nationwide protests starting on November 3, either in my community, in the states where the fraud occurred or in Washington, DC."
The Bush administration's attempt to govern from the hard right has ignited a massive, passionate, mobilized response across the country. This time we're watching.
There are many important jobs for U.S. voters: Take your friends and family and co-workers to vote. Send out personal messages, don't just mass e-mail. Give a few more dollars. Work on Election Day. Then, be prepared to defend the vote.
This time, because so many have mobilized, including Election Protection 2004, GOP forces will have more trouble intimidating voters, getting ballots tossed out on technicalities, ignoring provisional ballots and knocking voters off the rolls.
Florida 2000 taught us that there are many ways to cheat. Some are time-honoured and old-fashioned but deadly effective (throwing out valid ballots in heavily African-American precincts, extra holes punched in ballots in certain areas). Some are brand new, such as "black box" voting - electronic balloting with a potential for tampering.
Eyeballs will be needed to watch every precinct, techies to look for the clues that will reveal cheating. We need organizers and grassroots activists to provide support for voters, and so many observers that would-be cheaters will be overwhelmed by the vote for change. We will need lawyers. We will need donors, big and small.
And we need bodies, to provide the "street heat" that may well be necessary to secure a fair vote count in the days and weeks after Election Day. That's where Nov3.us comes in.
In Florida 2000, because no one was alert from the moment the polls closed, it took several days for the Gore campaign to realize that 27,000 votes had been tossed out in Duval County, largely from a few African-American precincts in Jacksonville. By the time this fact was uncovered, it was too late to file for a recount.
Back in 2000, all the passion seemed to the national media to be on the side of the Republicans. The Democrats showed little energy for Gore, and almost no one stood up for the principle of the individual voter's right to have his or her vote counted.
The Gore campaign, in an attempt to curry favour with the editorial writers, asked Jesse Jackson and John Sweeney to shut down their "count every vote - every vote counts" demonstrations. Reluctantly, they agreed to do so.
Not this time. This time our energized activist base is watching. This time we will use the same spirit and organizing tactics that worked so well for us on February 2, 2003, when the whole world came together to say no to war.
Signatories will volunteer to work all day on 11/2, watch the returns that night, be ready for a local rally for 11/3 and stay ready for a viral alert that fraud has been spotted. Be there or beware.
Some may call us paranoid. Let's hope a mobilization won't be necessary.
This time we are watching.