Reader Supported News
By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman,
April 27, 2016
At this delicate moment in the primary season, we all need to take a deep breath and evaluate what comes next.
Bernie Sanders has a mathematical chance to win. But Hillary seems the likely Democratic nominee.
Donald Trump has an army of delegates. But if he doesn’t win on the first ballot, Paul Ryan could be the Republican nominee.
For a wide variety of reasons, we believe Hillary and Bernie could beat Trump. But we’re not sure about Ryan, who we find absolutely terrifying.
Key is the stripping of our voter rolls. Millions of Democrats have already been disenfranchised. In a close race, that could make the difference.
Also key is the flipping of the electronic vote count, which few on the left seem to be willing to face in all its depressing finality.
As Greens, we believe this election’s most critical imperative is that Bernie convert the HUGE upwelling of mostly young grassroots discontent he has ignited into a long-term multi-issue movement. His success won’t be measured by whether he wins the nomination or presidency. Miles Mogulescu has written nicely about this at The Huffington Post.
It matters most that those he’s energized emerge after November full of commitment and heart. We’ve seen too many electoral campaigns feed into a general “disillusionment” when they don’t win the vote count. We’ve seen too many youthful uprisings too quickly dissipate.
As geezer vets of the civil rights, anti-war, No Nukes, social justice, election protection and other campaigns, we desperately want all these brilliant folks of all ages to take on the issues nearest to their hearts with renewed ferocity in the coming months, years, decades.
Having awakened this glorious beast, we need Professor Sanders to teach this class of ‘16 the ultimate lessons in staying power (of which he is such a sterling example).
So whatever happens with the nomination, we respectfully request that Bernie soon organize a broad series of grassroots gatherings where those who have worked so hard for him will get the best possible training and inspiration toward becoming lifelong activists who’ll make a tangible difference in the day-to-day business of saving this planet.
We all know that some meaningful changes can be made by putting better people in office. But in in the long run it’s the nitty-gritty grind of facing down the corporations issue by issue, place by place, nuke by nuke, that will save us.
Along the way there’s the collapse of our electoral system. From Jimmy Carter to Harvard to the UN and so many others who’ve studied it, it’s patently obvious the mechanisms by which we conduct elections in this country are ridiculously decrepit and corrupt.
As a partial solution, we’ve concocted the “Ohio Plan,” which demands: universal automatic voter registration at age 18; a four-day national holiday for voting; voter ID based on a signature that matches the registration form with stiff felony penalties for cheating; universal hand-counted paper ballots.
We also want money out of politics, public-funded campaigns, an end to gerrymandering, and abolition of the Electoral College.
In 2016, the first thing to face is the massive disenfranchisement of millions of voters, mostly citizens of color and youth. We are heartened to see Bernie and Hillary joined together in an Arizona lawsuit.
But the long lines and urban registration stripping that we saw in Phoenix, Madison, and elsewhere this spring will spell doom for the Democrats if they cannot guarantee their constituencies’ the right to vote in November.
At this point, we’re not optimistic. The efforts at re-enfranchisement are little and late. Among those doing superb work on this stripping of our voter rolls are the great Greg Palast, Ari Berman ofThe Nation, and others.
But the electronic flipping of the alleged vote count remains a demon black box. The 2000 election was turned from Gore to Bush by electronic manipulations in Volusia County, Florida. The 2004 election was turned from Kerry to Bush in a Chattanooga basement which transformed a 4.2% Democratic lead into a 2.5% GOP victory in 90 dark minutes.
All that could happen again in 2016.
Over the years we’ve respected the work of The Nation’s Josh Holland, who’s expressed concern about our reporting on indications of irregularities that seem to favor Hillary over Bernie.
But our stated conclusions on them remain far from conclusive. If we thought we had definitive evidence that the Clinton campaign was stealing the nomination from the Sanders campaign, we’d say so in direct, explicit and unmistakable phrases.
Simply put: we do NOT at this point believe they rise to the level of provable theft, as we are certain was the case in 2000 and 2004.
We understand concerns and welcome the dialogue. But we’d like to avoid the usual circular firing squad.
Writing in The Nation, Josh has deemed it important to mention disagreements with our former collaborator Steve Rosenfeld, and our good friend Mark Hertsgaard.
Mark’s writing on global warming has been legend. In 2004 he criticized some of our reporting on the Ohio vote count. We disagreed with him then and still do. Nothing in the past 12 years of our research and writing while based in central Ohio has surfaced that would make us change our reporting on how the 2004 election was stolen. Quite the opposite.
But other comments on the nature of electronic election theft throw up a HUGE red flag. And here we worry about a dangerous gap in the work from The Nation and the left as a whole.
If international election standards were applied to the 2016 primaries, eight states – Georgia, Massachusetts, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, New York, Tennessee – would be investigated for suspected fraudulent election results, because the actual vote deviates so greatly from the exit polls. Also, the exit polls indicated that Sanders won in Illinois, Massachusetts and Missouri.
The bottom line is this: there is no viable method for monitoring or verifying the electronic vote count in 2016. In a close race, which we expect this fall, the outcome could be flipped in key swing states where GOP governors and secretaries of state are running the elections. This includes most notably Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona, plus North Carolina and Florida (where the situations are slightly different).
Steve has called this “a stretch.” He and Josh seem to dismiss the assertion that an election can be electronically stolen as “conspiracy theory,” apparently based on the idea that such thefts would become obvious fodder for an infuriated media and public outrage.
This we find this overly trusting and dangerous. Under our current system there is no way to counter-indicate a stolen electronic vote count except by exit polling, for which Josh has expressed contempt. Exit polls in other countries (especially Germany) are highly reliable; here the raw data is too, but can be hard to get. And it’s now standard procedure to have the public numbers “adjusted” to fit official vote counts, fraudulent or otherwise.
And even raw data exit polls have no legal standing. Nor, apparently, does the court system itself.
After the 2004 election, we won a ruling in the King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell federal lawsuit. Bob was lead attorney, Harvey a plaintiff. Judge Algernon Marbley ordered Ohio’s 88 county election boards to compile their records and bring them to Columbus for an official recount. But 56 of those 88 counties failed to produce the requested records. Some boards of elections “accidentally” destroyed all of the requested ballots. No one was prosecuted. There was never a recount.
Admitted into evidence in the lawsuit was the Ohio secretary of state’s architectural map of the computer network used to count Ohio’s votes. It is included here so everyone can take a look.
The votes were counted by private contractors in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The three main companies involved were all heavily linked to the Right to Life movement in Ohio. The Free Press also uncovered the contract where these companies arranged with the Secretary of State’s office a year prior to the 2004 election to move the Ohio vote count to Tennessee should Ohio’s supercomputers fail on Election Day, which would happen for the first time in known history. Cyber-security expert Stephen Spoonamore told the Free Pressthat the computer configuration was set up to allow a “man in the middle attack” to alter Ohio’s votes.
The late night shift in the 2004 electronic vote count in 10 decisive swing states was by all accounts a “virtual statistical impossibility,” with the odds against that happening in the millions. But now we are being told the idea that this could indicate a stolen election is “conspiracy theory.”
PLEASE!!! If someone – anyone! – can demonstrate EXACTLY how the electronic vote count will be monitored, verified and made clear to the media in 2016, and then guarantee that the public and the courts will react with enforceable fury, we will be eternally grateful.
We hope in the meantime The Nationwill add to Ari Berman’s fine reporting on the stripping of voter eligibilities an in-depth investigation into the “other shoe” of election theft – the flipping of the electronic vote count.
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) raised the “Diebold question” at a Congressional Black Caucus hearing on April 21, 2016. Johnson noted how easy it would be to hack the old voting machines, many that are over 20 years old, and vowed to introduce legislation that would make voting secure.
Finally, we are often asked how, if the 2000 and 2004 elections were stolen, Obama won in 2008 and 2012. We did, after all, write in 2004 that the 2008 election was being rigged.
The answer is simple: it was. But Obama won by far too many votes to have that election credibly stolen. And his campaign was not in denial.
We are happy to hear from Steve that our reporting on Ohio 2004 might have enhanced Obama’s scrutiny on the 2008 vote count.
But it should be made clear that Obama’s victory could easily have been flipped had the vote count been closer and had fewer states been so definitively won. We believe he actually won by more than 10 million votes in both 2008 and 2012, but was officially credited with far less.
Where, exactly, is the line beyond which an election can’t be stolen? Do the Democrats need to win by 5%… 10%… to get an official victory? And what then happens to the down-ballot races?
We prefer not to see those limits tested again.
And we need to have people prepared to take tangible action. In 2012 Bob Fitrakis filed a successful Election Day lawsuit preventing illegal computer patches being rigged into Ohio’s electronic machines. In a closer race, those patches might have made the difference. We believe the expectation that they would work did cause Karl Rove to do his legendary flipped-out double-take on Fox News as he was told Mitt Romney had lost Ohio.
We also reported (as did The Nation) that voting machines in key Cincinnati precincts were financially linked to the Romney family. We each wrote separate articles about that and were each blacklisted by Daily Kos for doing so, even though the vast bulk of Harvey’s 150+ previous blogs on that site were about nuclear power and renewable energy.
Some publications that aren’t progressive understand the problem. Twenty-three minutes into the 2012 Election Day, Forbes took the Free Pressreporting seriously, and warned voters of the dangers of private, for-profit companies owning and maintaining voting machines.
Over the years we’ve been repeatedly told that we should stop reporting on electronic election theft because it might discourage voter turnout. And that the key to a Democratic victory in 2016 will be another massive vote count victory that will be “too big to steal.”
Frankly, we don’t see that happening this year.
And we find such talk deeply disturbing. We have no doubt that innumerable US House and Senate races have been stolen over the years, along with governorships, control of state legislatures, referenda and more, all of it producing a deep reinforcement of the corporate control of our government.
We’re also reasonably certain that neither Hillary nor Bernie is likely to amass in November a margin of victory over either Ryan or Trump that would be big enough to negate the possibility of massive disenfranchisement and electronic vote flipping in key states like Ohio, Michigan, Iowa or Arizona.
And anyway … why the hell are we even thinking about leaving such a problem unsolved?
This disease needs a definitive cure.
We look forward to further reasoned and reasonable dialogue. We invite Josh and Ari to join us on our panel at the upcoming Left Forum in New York in May. We welcome a public discussion with Steve and Mark in California.
Above all, we hope to see those millions of Bernie supporters joining us at the reactor sites, the banks, the women’s health centers, the shelters, the schools and so many other critical hot spots in our corporate-plagued society, no matter who wins (or how) in November.
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of six books on election integrity, including the new Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows and Electronic Election Theft. Bob’s Fitrakis Files are at www.freepress.org. Harvey’s Organic Spiral of US History is coming soon at www.solartopia.org.