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by Nancy Hedrick
Tuesday, Jan. 04, 2005 at 6:16 AM
We've been robbed again, and yet most voters probably know little about this latest episode of electoral travesty.. Action Speaks asks you to contact your senator.. Too much is at stake to simply drop this issue and move on.
ANOTHER ELECTION STOLEN WHILE AMERICA SLEEPS
By Nancy Hedrick
[This article was published in: The Portland Alliance, January 2005. Nancy Hedrick is a local activist and writer. She is a regular contributor to the Alliance, reporting on conditions in the Occupied Territories and Israel.]
“The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
- Josef Stalin
We’ve been robbed again, and yet most voters probably know little about this latest episode of electoral travesty. The most under-reported story of 2004 is what happened pre-, during, and post-election Nov. 2. Yet the story of irregularities and fraud, occurring in many ways and in many different regions, may be a hard one for the public to follow, as the story line is complex, and the information is out there, but mainly in the alternative media.
THE BACK STORY:
The vote was lost, suppressed, or changed in many ways across the country. Voters were illegally disenfranchised before Election Day (by arbitrary voter role purges), intimidated as the polls (with more challenges and more provisional ballots assigned to minority voters), had their registrations lost, or dealt with long lines and faulty equipment. Additionally, evidence has been piling up that hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of votes were discarded, miscounted, or electronically manipulated. People of color and youth were targeted in many ways, including lines up to 11 hours in predominantly minority or college precincts in Ohio. Candidates Ralph Nader (Independent), David Cobb (Green), and Michael Badnarik (Libertarian) have been seeking recounts in various states, which in a tardy fashion the Kerry campaign has also backed. Researchers like Bev Harris of Black Box Voting continue to uncover election irregularities, such as the poll tapes (recording optically scanned votes) headed for the trash in Volusia County, Florida.
Professional exit polling, which prior to 2000 was considered highly predictive (almost always coming within a few percentage points of the final outcome), showed improbable discrepancies with the results in at least 16 states. A University of Pennsylvania study found that the differences between the polls and the results in three states (Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) were statistically impossible (odds ratio of 250 million to one). This anomaly is of further note when one realizes that the exit polls continued with reasonable productive power in areas with paper ballots or proper ballot auditing. More than 40 percent of the U.S. vote now has no paper trail.
Corruption cannot be ruled out, since the head of Diebold Election Systems, Wally O’Dell, had earlier stated that he was committed to helping deliver Ohio’s elector votes to Bush. Additionally, the Secretary of State of Ohio, Kenneth Blackwell (who also co-chaired the Bush Ohio campaign) has been as obstructionist as any Kathleen Harris in blocking or delaying a recount.
Yet none of this has been covered well by the major print media. Neither The Oregonian nor The New York Times have covered the topic in depth. Even the Nation only ran a simplistic piece by David Corn, who pooh-poohed the vote protest and echoed the Boston Globe in making the issue seem only of importance to internet conspiracists.
In contrast, we have seen generous layouts for the Ukraine story in our local daily. Yet a true electoral review in the U.S. of such states as Nevada, New Mexico, and Ohio could reverse the election outcome! Those relying on the mainstream media are left in the dark about this reality.
INTERNET AND AIR AMERICA
The media “brown-out” means the internet and other alternative media become much more important. Progressive groups (such as People for the American Way, Code Pink) established writers (such as Ohioan Harvey Wasserman) and some popular web-sites (see Common Dreams, especially Thom Hartmann) have put the information out there. Randi Rhodes on Air America has rantingly detailed electoral crimes and misdemeanors. Ms. Rhodes has pointed out the irony that Washington State is conducting its gubernatorial re-count without undue delay or obstruction, while elsewhere the lack of transparent follow-through is such a problem.
A movement of frustrated voters has risen around Oregon. “Clean Vote” sprang from the Multnomah County Democrats, with the catalyst being activist Bill Dodds. Portland’s Action Speaks is a non-partisan group, which sprang from the efforts of Code Pink and others, with the principal spokesperson of Johnny Marie. Truth-in-Voting is active in Eugene, and has published a guest column in the Eugene Register-Guard.
These groups rallied at our state capitol on both Dec. 12 and 13, in synchronicity with the national vote protest movement. The Sunday event (Dec. 12) coincided with the “51 Capitol March” protests at the federal capital and other state capitols, and attracted over 200 people from around the state. Katy Eymann, activist and wife of Secretary Bradbury, was one of the many speakers; she pointed out that Oregon is one of only six states in the nation that do not have a lawsuit pending over vote irregularities!
Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury invited activists to come to the Capitol on Dec. 13 to observe the electoral process. On that same date, Ohio’s electoral college also voted, despite numerous challenges, for Bush. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Alliance for Democracy have filed for review of the election result by the state supreme court, alleging that in “high-tech stealing,” over 130 thousand votes were switched from Kerry to Bush in 36 counties. If the court decides to hear the challenge, it can declare a new winner or throw out the results.
Most Alliance readers will recall the part in Michael Moore’s last film where representatives of the Black Congressional Caucus came to the Senate floor in Jan. 2001, to beg that the election not be certified. Not one Senator was willing to support them, and block the flawed election result.
This time U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Caucus member, is leading the protest at the nation’s capitol, by holding hearings and instigating a GAO investigation. (See a detailed letter by Conyers to Blackwell at www.truthinvoting.org.)
The date of Jan. 6, 2005 is key; this is when the Nov. 2 election result will be certified. This is the date that at least one courageous senator needs to join one representative to challenge the validity of the election. (See Keith Olbermann Dec. 13, 2004 column, at MSNBC web-site, for specifics.)
Multnomah County Democrats as well as their Lane County counterparts have asked Oregon Senators to play this role. The Multnomah County Central Committee letter reads: “Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith, we encourage and support a public pledge to step forward and concur with any such challenges to state electors brought by members of the U.S. House of Representatives” (see www.multidems.org, “News”).
Action Speaks asks you to contact your senator. Considering you will read this after Jan. 1, CALL! Stay tuned to their website (www.actionspeaksportland.org) for more info.
Elizabeth Atly (of Portland’s Code Pink) declared at the Salem rally (on Dec. 12) that we have seen a coup d’etat, and indeed what has happened has been a blow against the state, a blow against our tradition of electoral democracy.
Too much is at stake to simply drop this issue and “move on.” As Jesse Jackson has said:
“We cannot vent and then have Congress not act. If these reports are not investigated, we have all wasted our time. This cannot simply be an academic venting session. Take this struggle to the streets and legitimize it there, as they did in Selma.”
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