Why can't the left face the stolen election of 2004 & 2008 vote rigging?
By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
Journal Guest Writers
Oct 22, 2005, 15:28
If some of its key publications are any indicator, much of
the American left seems unable to face the reality that the election of 2004
was stolen. So in all likelihood, unless something radical is done, 2008 will
Misguided and misinformed
articles in both TomPaine.com and Mother Jones Magazine indicate a dangerous
inability to face the reality that these stolen elections mean nothing less
than the death of what's left of American democracy, and the permanent
enthronement of the Rovian GOP.
reporters based in Columbus, Ohio, we witnessed first-hand, up close and
personal, exactly how the 2004 election was stolen, and how it will most likely
be done in 2008. In the precinct in which Harvey Wasserman grew up, and in the
one where Bob Fitrakis now lives, we saw the well-funded, profoundly cynical
and deadly effective mechanisms by which the Bush-Cheney-Rove-Blackwell GOP
machine switched a victory for John Kerry to an easily-repeatable defeat for
That Kerry and the
spineless Ohio and national Democratic Parties have been complicit is a crucial
part of the problem much of the left also seems unwilling to face. But if you
live in Franklin County, Ohio, and watch the Republican and Democratic Parties
run joint pickets against progressive candidate, and cut backroom deals
allowing incumbents of either party run unopposed, you may miss the full scope
of the disaster.
And until the left
faces the rot that defines the Democratic Party, there is no hope for a fair
election in this country. In other words: those who think the White House can
be retaken in 2008, but refuse to face the theft of the vote in 2004, should
prepare to be ruled by the likes of Jeb Bush, now and forever.
Before we go into
the sordid details, we have to ask: exactly what is it about Team Bush that
makes people think they could not or would not steal an American election? Do
they lack funds? Do they lack expertise? Is there something in the
Machiavellian/mobster moral code of Karl Rove and the Bush Family that would
prevent them from doing here what they've been doing throughout the Third World
for so long?
CIA meister Poppy
Bush long ago perfected the art and science of stealing elections. US
manipulators have interfered with and tipped elections for decades. Why should
Ohio be any different? Especially when all the world knew control of the most
powerful office on earth would be decided right here.
Lets do the
bookends: before the voting, Ohio's infamous Republican Secretary of State J.
Kenneth Blackwell clearly and vehemently denied poll access to teams of
international observers from the United Nations and other international
Since the election,
he has effectively stonewalled and sabotaged all recount attempts, to the point
that no credible accounting of the Ohio election has ever been done. To this
day, at least 100,000 votes remain uncounted, electronic voting machines remain
unaudited, key hardware and data files have been trashed, paper ballots have
sat unguarded for anyone to pilfer and tallies in dozens of key counties remain
filled with statistical impossibilities.
In our How the
GOP Stole America's 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008, we list more than
180 bullet points on how this theft was perpetrated. It was a brilliant,
cynical and masterfully executed campaign of death by a thousand cuts.
In Florida 2000, the
means of the crime were limited to a few instances of intimidation, butterfly
ballots, computer manipulation and a corrupt Supreme Court. But four years
after, in Ohio, dozens of sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant tricks were
designed to steal a few thousand votes here, a few thousand more there, until
victory was in GOP hands. Unless they are exposed and blocked, every one of
these scams can and will be duplicated throughout the United States in 2006 and
2008. The question is: will the left follow mainstream Democrats with
sheep-like acceptance as every election goes the same way from here on? And if
so, why bother even staging more votes in this country at all?
Starting with Russ
Baker at TomPaine.com, the indicators are
grim. Last January, Baker penned an absurd, ill-reported piece of nonsense
called "What Didn't Happen in Ohio." Baker traipsed into Columbus for
a few days, interviewed the usual faux Democrats, and left with a Big Story:
"The Election Was Fair."
If Baker had done
any meaningful research he might have seen the dozens of other instances of
intimidation, irregularities and fraud that went unmentioned in his glib
paragraphs. Instead he relied on Bill Anthony, chair of the Franklin County
Democrats and Board of Elections.
Bill is a pleasant,
affable African-American with no commitment or fight for democracy or even the
Democrats. He has appeared on Bob's local radio show and with Harvey on others.
On one of them, Bill admitted that the Franklin County BOE knew there would be
problems with voting machines, and asked Blackwell for paper ballots well
before the 2004 election. Blackwell, Anthony said, turned them down. The result
was the now infamous chaos at the polls, with inner city voters stuck in the
rain for hours. Just what Blackwell wanted.
But did Bill Anthony
fight Blackwell's absurd ruling? Did he make it a public issue prior to the
Not a chance.
For a quickie
reporting job, Anthony is a dream. He's well spoken, charming and convincing.
As an African-American with union connections, he would seem the perfect
In 2003, Anthony
endorsed the Republican mayor's former press secretary for the Columbus School
Board. He then supported two Republican candidates on a "Reform
Slate" aimed at ousting the Board's only progressive Democrat, an
Bill Anthony is just
one of a legion of what are known throughout the state as DINOs---Democrats in
Name Only. The Ohio Democratic Party is a national embarrassment. Its chair,
Denny White, was not long ago a Republican, and will soon be one again, once
the party is fully disemboweled, a job very close to done. Throughout Ohio,
DINOs piously cover this piece of fraud and that piece of theft with glib
"I hate Bush" rhetoric. The pity is, out-of-state reporters actually
take them seriously.
Mark Hertsgaard is a
well-respected author and reporter and a long-time friend of Harvey Wasserman,
and of election critic Mark Crispen Miller. He has contributed some very
valuable work over the years. But he's done himself---and the voting
public---very wrong on "Recounting Ohio" in the new Mother Jones.
Mark is smart and
thorough enough to leave open the possibility that Ohio's election was, indeed,
stolen. But he also falls prey to the DINO trap, failing to cover far too much
of what happened here while taking seriously centrist Democrats who are known
locally to have no credibility.
So Mother Jones
questions the significance of the firing of a Democratic election official who
blew the whistle on computer manipulations by Triad, an obscure Republican
voting machine company. But Triad was involved in counting the votes in nearly
half of Ohio's 88 counties. Questions are still being raised about Triad,
including: "How did they get all these contracts in the first place?"
correctly points out that seven times the number of votes by which Bush took
Ohio were cast on Republican-controlled machines. But the magazine fails to
follow up with mention that those votes have been tabulated on proprietary
non-transparent software---a fact we pointed out in our own article in
Motherjones.com many months prior to the election.
Mother Jones also
discounts the fact that a phony Homeland Security alert in Warren County landed
the vote count in an unauthorized warehouse rather than the official secure
location, and that reporters were barred from the vote count. That count, which
went hugely and suspiciously and very importantly for Bush, was observed by
nominal Democrats. But so were other highly dubious vote counts around the
state, as they had been in Florida 2000, which Mother Jones argues adamantly
was indeed stolen.
The irony of this is
that the same issue of Mother Jones leads off with a dead-on story about Ohio
and national Democrats who are sabotaging the campaign of the aggressively
electable Paul Hackett for a key US Senate seat. And another MoJo piece bemoans
the fact that national Democrats seem adept only at losing.
Yet here the back of
the book is a story discounting evidence compiled by a legion of independent,
grassroots election rights advocates, while favoring phone interviews with the
very Democrats being denounced in the front of the book.
Above all, the core
of evidence that the election was stolen in Ohio 2004 comes from some 500 sworn
statements and signed affidavits taken by people of all political parties,
including two Republican hearings officers, in the weeks after the election.
Anyone truly committed to finding out what happened here needs to start with
that huge body of evidence.
As MoJo points out,
none of this has been made easier by the "abandon ship" of the
biggest DINO of all, John Kerry. Kerry had $7 million in the bank earmarked to
"count every vote" and was apparently losing by just 136,000 Ohio
votes with more than 250,000 still uncounted when he turned tail and conceded.
Even Blackwell's corrupt, virtually meaningless first fake recount dropped
Bush's official tally by 18,000 votes.
The Democrats have
since attacked the election protection movement here through a lawyer named
Daniel Hoffheimer who comes from none other than the stalwart Cincinnati
Republican law firm of Taft, Stettinius et. al. MoJo quotes another Kerry/DINO
lawyer Michael O'Grady, counsel to the state Democratic Party, who argues that
for Ohio to have been stolen, the entire GOP would have had to be
"conspiratorial," while the Democrats were "dumb as rocks."
In fact, that's an
assessment many activists in Ohio heartily endorse, though you might add the
word "inert" to the description of the Democrats.
O'Grady claims, for
example, that an impossible vote count in three southern Ohio counties that
gave Bush his entire margin of victory can be explained by a feminist
outpouring for an African-American court candidate who ran zero campaign in
those counties. But the presumption is that those same feminists somehow didn't
bother to vote for Kerry over George W. Bush. No local student of that election
could begin to take such an assessment seriously.
Or how about the
quote from Chris Rakocy, a "tech specialist" about those notorious
touchscreens in Mahoning County where voters who chose Kerry saw Bush light up.
Rakocy says that problem was "only" on 18 of 1,148 machines, and that
it was corrected early.
But Rakocy stands
alone against dozens of sworn statements and affidavits confirming that the
problem went on all day, and was never fixed, and may have involved far more
machines than 18, and not only in Mahoning County but also in Franklin. Even at
that, in heavily Democratic Youngstown (not to mention Columbus), just 18
machines could have accounted for switching thousands of votes. And, in fact,
Kerry's margins in both Youngstown and Columbus were suspiciously light.
And what would
Mother Jones herself do to machines that disenfranchised even one voter, no
matter what the apparent impact on the ultimate vote count? Why is the magazine
named for her discounting the you-couldn't-make-this-one-up reality of voters
pushing one candidate's name on a touchscreen and seeing another's name light
up, time after time after time? Or are we taking this---and her---all too
Then there's the
song and dance from Warren Mitofsky. The father of exit polls saw his work used
to overturn a stolen election in Ukraine just prior to the American vote. But
when his poll-taking here showed John Kerry with a nationwide margin of 1.5
million votes, somehow Mitofsky jumped ship on his own decades of
Exit polls funded by
six major news organizations showed Kerry carrying Ohio, Iowa, New Mexico and
Nevada as late as 12:20 am on Wednesday morning, well after balloting stopped
even in Alaska and Hawaii. These four "purple states" gave the
election to the "blue" Democrats, then miraculously switched to
"red" for Bush, giving him the White House once again.
Given all that's
known about exit polls---and it's a lot---the odds on one state switching like
that are about one in one hundred. For four, it's a virtual statistical
impossibility. Add the fact that not one, not four, but TEN of eleven swing
states showed drastic shifts from Kerry to Bush and you enter the realm of,
well, a stolen election.
Add huge, unexplained
shifts from pre-election polls to post-election vote counts in crucial 2002
Senatorial races in Georgia, Minnesota and Colorado, then remember what
happened in Florida 2000, and examine the basic Bush attitude toward democracy
itself, and you've got a pattern to say the least. And an obvious prescription
for one-party rule as far as the eye can see.
Except when you are
dealing with America's Democratic Party in 2004 and with reportage that relies
on a few phone calls and a disheartening lack of grassroots perspective. If all
politics is local, as Tip O'Neill well knew, then so are all vote counts.
Our first article
predicting what would happen in Ohio 2004 was published many months before the
election in, of all places, MotherJones.com. We warned that electronic voting
machines deployed by the likes of Diebold could give Ohio and thus the nation
to George W. Bush. Wally O'Dell, Diebold's infamous CEO, pledged to deliver
Ohio's electoral votes to Bush in 2004, and all evidence points to the fact that
he at least helped.
What we missed in
addition was the myriad clever tricks the GOP would bring to bear in pulling
this off. Ohio has a long history as a test market. New products like white
bread and Spam are brought here first, to see how they'll fly with America at
In Ohio 2004, scores
of tools for stealing an American election were tried and proven out. Outside
reporters have come here again and again to pull at this one and tear at that
one. Almost always, they get even that wrong. And almost always, they fail to
see the bigger picture.
If we have a
"know it all" attitude, as is sometimes charged, it's because we were
(and are) here, we saw it happen, we witnessed the seven-hour waits and the
denials of the absentee ballots, and we took the testimony of the hundreds who
later went under oath.
And we see more
unravel every day. Conspiracy theories happen sometimes when actual
conspiracies occur. The stakes involved, the players on both sides and the
events that are out there plain as day are all of a piece that's simply too
obvious for anyone on the ground here to miss.
Hertsgaard has the
good sense to mention indictments that have recently come down on election
thieves in Cuyahoga County. We know that to be the tip of the iceberg.
What matters now is
whether the GOP will be allowed to repeat nationwide in 2006 and 2008 what they
saw they could get away with in Ohio 2004.
skeptics tend to conclude their put-downs by urging we forget about the
vote-count stuff and concentrate on coming up with candidates so good that
"the election won't be close enough to steal."
Having seen what we
saw here, knowing what Mother Jones is reporting about the Democratic attacks
on Paul Hackett, and about the loser instinct ingrained in the Dems' DLC/DNA,
we must charitably describe such a conclusion as being profoundly wishful
Someday we may
indeed have candidates far worthier than Al Gore and John Kerry. But they both
won the presidency of the United States, however corruptible their margins of
We need to guarantee
that if someone worthwhile and willing to fight ever does come along, we will
have a left that's prepared to make sure the votes are fairly counted.
As Rev. Jesse
Jackson put it while speaking to election protection activists here, "We
can afford to lose an election. We can't afford to lose our democracy."
Who would agree more
strongly than Tom Paine and Mother Jones?
Bob Fitrakis and
Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of "How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election
& Is Rigging 2008," available at Freepress.org
and harveywasserman.com. Their
upcoming "What Happened in Ohio," with Steve Rosenfeld, will be published by The
New Press in spring, 2006.
Copyright © 1998-2006 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor