The GOP assault on American voters has hit full stride as
the economy and John McCain tank in sync.
With just over three weeks until election day, the
Republicans have mounted an all-out attack against newly registered voters and
the organizations working to sign them up. As many as 75 percent of these new
voters are expected to vote Democratic, but the attacks have also spread to
long-established voters as well. Recent calculations show more than a million
more newly registered Democrats in Ohio than Republicans.
The usual drumbeat claiming massive voter fraud has become
ceaseless at Fox �News� and other right-wing media mouthpieces.
As expected, the assault centers in Ohio, which once again
could decide the presidency, but has manifested throughout the nation:
1) A Republican sheriff in Greene County, Ohio, has demanded
Social Security and other records from 302 local voters whose ballots he
apparently wants to negate. Sheriff Gene Fischer has requested registration
cards and address forms for all Greene County residents who voted in a special
session established in Ohio, allowing new voters to register and vote on the
same day. The process was challenged in court by the GOP. The Ohio Supreme
Court turned down that challenge, and allowed the same-day voting to proceed.
But now Fischer claims telephone calls complaining about the potential for
voter fraud have prompted him to go after the information.
In Franklin County, home of Ohio State University, Columbus
State Community College, Capital University, Ohio Dominican University, and
Otterbein College, election protection observers are reporting continuing
surveillance by Republicans at Veterans Memorial, the site for early voting.
The observers have documented Republican operatives taking photographs and
writing down license plate numbers of voters. Election activists expect similar
criminal charges as in Greene County to be filed in the state�s capital.
Greene County is home to Wright State, Central State,
Wilberforce and Cedarville Universities, along with Antioch College, which was
recently put out of business by a right-wing putsch on its board of directors.
Llyn McCoy, Greene County�s deputy elections director, says
names, telephone and Social Security numbers will be blacked out of any records
handed over to the sheriff. According to McCoy, the sheriff says he has no
evidence of voter fraud other than phone calls stating fraud was a possibility.
It is widely assumed that the same-day registration/voting option was exercised
primarily by students who lean heavily Democratic. In 2004, African-American
students from Wright State, Central State and Wilberforce were regularly
challenged on their registration credentials and forced to endure waiting in
lines to vote for hours. Students at Cedarville, a Christian school, made no
such reports. Sheriff Fischer�s targeting of historically black college students,
the core of Obama-mania, is intended to send a chilling effect through the
ranks of these Democratic voters.
2) U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith, a Reagan
appointee, has approved a GOP lawsuit demanding that the state give county
boards of elections great leeway in attacking new voter registration forms. The
decision, framed under the Help America Vote Act, would allow Republican
challengers access to data from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Social
Security agency to challenge new voters. The judge noted that Ohio law permits
challenges to absentee ballots, thousands of which have been pouring in to
elections boards. If allowed to stand, it could give the GOP the right to shred
ballots already cast in the Buckeye State, with the precedent possibly being
used to further enable a GOP nationwide disenfranchisement campaign. Smith gave
Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner a week to respond. Brunner has stated
she will appeal.
3) Before the ruling, Brunner announced at the close of
registration that the number of registered voters in Ohio had jumped by
665,949, from 7,518,189 active voters on January 1, 2008, to 8,184,138 active
voters now. About 5.4 million votes were officially counted in Ohio�s 2004
presidential election. Then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell certified a
Bush victory of less than 119,000 votes. A massive GOP disenfranchisement
campaign could easily exceed that margin.
4) The New York Times has reported that boards of elections
in at least nine crucial states, including Ohio, have violated federal law in
conducting purges and have been illegally using Social Security databases as
part of those purges. The Times� Ian Urbina quotes Colorado Secretary of State
Mike Coffman as asking the Colorado Attorney General to review how some 2,500
citizens were removed from the registration lists there. The Times has cited
purges in Colorado, Louisiana and Michigan that have apparently been conducted
within 90 days of the upcoming November 4 election, violating federal law that allows
states to expunge only those who have been convicted of a felony, moved out of
state or died.
5) The Times has also reported that boards of elections in
Nevada, North Carolina, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio have illegally used federal
Social Security databases to flag and possibly eliminate voters whose
registration applications were suspected of irregularities. The Times reported
some 37,000 Colorado voters removed in the three weeks after July 21; Secretary
Coffman said the number was 14,000.
6) Michigan Elections Director Christopher Thomas said his
state had removed about 11,000 voters in August, while the Times estimated the
real number to be closer to 33,000. Thomas refused to make the purged files
public. Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is a long-standing
Republican partisan whose political activism traces back to the mid-70s when
she worked for Gerald Ford�s campaign in high school. Critics charge that she
functions in the tradition of Florida�s Katherine Harris and Ohio�s J. Kenneth
7) North Carolina�s BOE director Gary Bartlett dismissed
concerns raised by the Social Security Administration about possible misused of
SS files to purge registrations there in conjunction with drivers licenses. The
SSA contends Social Security numbers can only be accessed when there is no
drivers license or other form of state ID available.
8) A CBS News report has revealed organized caging attempts
by the GOP to eliminate registered voters from the rolls in 19 states. The
report marks one of the first initiated by a corporate news organization
isolating Republican anti-vote campaigning.
9) An electronic voting machine in New Mexico was found to
be operating on faulty software which could have eliminated hundreds of votes.
The glitch was apparently corrected, but was of a type that could result in
thousands of votes being lost on Election Day 2008, as they were in 2000 and
10) The grassroots organizing group ACORN has come under
serious attack in Nevada, Missouri, Ohio and elsewhere from Republicans
attempting to negate the thousands of generally low-income citizens ACORN has
registered to vote. As a matter of law, ACORN is required to report irregular
registrations that come through its process. But GOP operatives have equated
these with �fraudulent� filings, and a have ramped up a smear and fear campaign
aimed at negating thousands of legitimate ACORN registrants throughout the US.
11) The GOP continues to resist attempts to subpoena Michael
Connell, a shady Republican computer operative who programmed the 2000
Bush-Cheney web site. Connell was also hired by former Ohio Secretary of State
J. Kenneth Blackwell in 2004 to tabulate the Ohio vote count. Under Connell,
Ohio�s vote totals were shunted to a computer bank in the same basement in
Chattanooga, Tennessee, that housed the servers of the Republican National
Committee. In the early hours of the morning after election day, vote totals
mysteriously began shifting from Kerry to Bush, swinging the 2004 election.
Connell�s cyber-security industry colleague Stephen Spoonamore, a Republican
and former McCain supporter, has said that Connell may be able to shed light on
vote count rigging in the 2008 vote count as well. Attorneys in the
King-Lincoln-Bronzeville civil rights lawsuit have thus far been unable to
secure Connell�s sworn testimony.
12) CNN has reported that Obama�s surging poll numbers may
leave him �in position to steal Virginia from the GOP.� Virginia hasn�t backed
a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, but CNN�s use
of the word �steal� has raised hackles among election protection activists who
argue the flow of theft is in the other direction.
As the moment of truth arrives, McCain-Palin attacks based
on race, alleged �terrorist� ties and more are sure to increasingly dominate
the GOP campaign. But far more insidious will be an all-out assault on voter
registration in the name of �voter fraud,� and on finding new ways to undermine
the national vote, most importantly on electronic voting machines of the kind
programmed by Michael Connell.
If those supporting the democratic process are not
exceedingly vigilant, the GOP could use these tactics to once again take the
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors
of four books on election protection including HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA�S 2004
ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, and AS GOES OHIO, just published by www.freepress.org, where this article originally appeared.
They are attorney and plaintiff in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville lawsuit.