You are browsing the archive for 2012 election.

An Election Protection Agenda for 2016

8:59 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

An Election Protection Agenda for 2016
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
November 9, 2012

A mass grassroots election protection movement has been born. It’s finally forced the issues of mass disenfranchisement and hackable electronic voting machines into the mainstream.

And it’s emerged from this election with a must-do list of things that need to be accomplished—soon—if we are to retain any shreds of American democracy.

Meanwhile the flaws in our system allowed the theft of the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, and threatened to do it again this year. They’ve allowed the theft of countless other races for Congress, governorships, state offices, judgeships, referenda and more.

This cuts to the core of our democracy process. But as we’ve seen so many times before, we can change all this.  Here’s a partial list:

• Money out of politics: Corporations are not people, money is not speech. We cannot afford a system of “one dollar, one vote.” Citizens United must be overturned and workable limits placed on campaign spending. This will require a Constitutional amendment. Move to Amend (www.movetoamend.org) is working on it, and needs our support.

• The Electoral College: This useless anachronism was meant to empower slaveowners through the 3/5 bonus granted for their slaves. It has allowed the theft of elections in 1800, 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000. It’s time the candidate who gets the most votes actually wins. It will require a Constitutional amendment. But the Electoral College has repeatedly flunked the test of time, and must be abolished.

• A guaranteed right to vote: Nowhere in the Constitution does it say all American citizens are guaranteed the right to vote. It must.

• Universal automatic voter registration: All US citizens should be automatically registered at the age of 18. Forms should be sent in the mail and made readily available at schools, motor vehicle bureaus and elsewhere. Only a signature should be necessary to then get a ballot and vote. This will have to be won on a state-by-state basis.

• Universal hand-counted paper ballots: Germany, Japan, Canada, Switzerland and Sweden stage their elections entirely on hand-counted paper ballots. Electronic voting machines are perfectly designed to steal elections. Ireland has just thrown out its voting machines and moved to paper ballots. We must do the same. This will also have to be won on a state-by-state basis.

• A four-day weekend for voting: The first Saturday-Sunday-Monday-Tuesday in November should constitute a national holiday for voting. High school and college students should be given credit for working the polls and counting the ballots. Early voting in general should be expanded, as long as it’s done in person and not over the internet or by smartphone.

• Washington DC wants to become a state. It’s long overdue. DC has more people than Wyoming and Vermont. It deserves full representation in Congress and the rest of our government. This will have to be done over the vehement opposition of the Republican Party. The option should also be available to Puerto Rico if it wants.

Winning all this will require the usual blood, sweat and tears of a long, hard national grassroots campaign. Since Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, we have made great strides in exposing the corrupt nature of an all-too-vulnerable electoral system.

But the hard work has just begun. If we are to live in a democracy, we have no choice but to win.

So let’s do it!

—————————————————

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman has co-authored five books on election protection. To sign on to the election protection movement, see us atfreepress.org

Will the GOP Steal America’s 2012 Election?

10:13 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

Will the GOP steal America’s 2012 election?
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
September 6, 2012

The Republican Party could steal the 2012 US Presidential election with relative ease.

Six basic factors make this year’s theft a possibility:

    1. The power of corporate money, now vastly enhanced by the US Supreme Court’s

Citizens’ United 

    decisions;

    2. The Electoral College, which narrows the number of votes needed to be moved to swing a presidential election;

      3. The systematic disenfranchisement of—according to the Brennan Center—ten million or more citizens, most of whom would otherwise be likely to vote Democratic.  More than a million voters have also been purged from the rolls in Ohio, almost 20% of the total vote count in 2008;
      4. The accelerated use of electronic voting machines, which make election theft a relatively simple task for those who control them, including their owners and operators, who are predominantly Republican;
      5. The GOP control of nine of the governorships in the dozen swing states that will decide the outcome of the 2012 campaign; and,
      6. The likelihood that the core of the activist “election protection” community that turned out in droves to monitor the vote for Barack Obama in 2008 has not been energized by his presidency and is thus unlikely to work for him again in 2012.

    Winning a fair and reliable electoral system can be achieved only with a massive grassroots upheaval.

    The power of money is now enshrined by the infamous Citizens United decision.  In at least 90% of our Congressional races and at least 80% of our US Senate races, the candidate who spends the most money wins.

    From the presidency to the local level, our elections—and thus control of our government—are dominated by cash.

    For more than a century, the ability of corporations and the super-rich to buy in directly has been legally constrained.  But the concentration of media ownership in the hands of ever-fewer corporations has vastly enhanced their power.

    Already in 2012, the tsunami of dollars pouring in from corporations and super-rich individuals has soared to entirely new levels.  Even the floodgates opened by Citizens United can’t handle the flow.  With its June decision denying Montana’s attempt to keep some spending restrictions in tact, the John Roberts US Supreme Court has inaugurated an era in which virtually unrestrained “pay-to-play” money will re-define the electoral process.  Republicans in the US Senate have also blocked attempts to require that these campaign “donations” be made public.

    It’s not hard to guess where this leads.  The June, 2012, recall election in Wisconsin saw at least 8 times as much money being spent on protecting Republican governor Scott Walker as was spent to oust him.

    Barack Obama has spent much of his presidency courting corporate interests.  But he will be out-raised by the corporate/super-rich 1% backing Mitt Romney.  A handful of high-profile billionaires will spend “whatever it takes” to put the GOP back into the White House.  Just a dozen of them have already provided more than 70% of Romney’s early campaign budget.

    Most of this corporate money is being used to persuade voters to oust Obama, which they may well decide to do.  But US history shows that some of it can also restrict the ability of Americans to vote.  It can then “bend” the vote count in ways the public may not want.

    Our nation’s history shows that given the same chance, the Democrats would gladly do the same to the Republicans.  And it’s happened many times, especially in the Jim Crow south.

    But in 2012, it will be primarily Republicans using gargantuan sums of corporate money to take control of the government from Democrats, and democracy be damned.

    We are not writing this in support of Barack Obama or the Democratic Party.  We are mystified by their unwillingness to fight for meaningful electoral reform.  Both Al Gore and John Kerry were legitimately elected president, but neither was willing to fight for significant change, or even to discuss the issue.  When we broke many of the major stories on the theft of Ohio 2004, it was the Democrats who most fiercely attacked us.

    We’re continually asked why the Democrats have been willing since 2000 to sit back and let the GOP get away with this.  Frankly, we have no answer.

    But for us, the more important reality is that this electoral corruption dooms the ballot as an instrument of real democracy.  A system this badly broken means a bi-partisan oligarchy can always deny third and other grassroots parties the use of elections to challenge the status quo, in this case one increasingly defined by war, bigotry, injustice, moneyed privilege and ecological suicide.

    Thus it’s been a century since the last significant electoral challenges to the Democrat-Republican corporate domination of the political system.

    That challenge was staged by the People’s (Populist) and then Socialist Parties.  In rapid succession they rallied huge grassroots followings demanding core changes to the corporate domination of American politics.  The 30-year upheaval they represented laid the groundwork for major changes.  But it failed to crack the corporate domination of our political system.

    The Populists were shattered in 1896 with a combination of co-option by William Jennings Bryan’s Democratic Party and election theft engineered by Mark Hanna’s Republicans.  (Republican strategist Karl Rove, a serious student of the 1896 election, considers Mark Hanna to be one of his great heroes).

    The Socialists were co-opted and divided in 1916 by the Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who then crushed them in the most violent wave of physical repression ever imposed by a US President on a mass movement that derived from the heart of America’s working public.

    No third party has since risen up with enough real political clout to threaten corporate power through the electoral system.  As long as our ballot box is corrupted and unaccountable, none will.

    That one party could steal an election from the other means our democracy, if it could still be called that, is essentially in shambles.

    Would the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, the Chamber of Commerce and their related billionaires spend tens of millions of dollars to win the White House but stop short of spending the relatively small amount it would take to flip the vote?

    Thankfully, we are citizens of a nation born with the bottom-up overthrow of the planet’s then-most powerful king.  As believers in grassroots democracy, we know that the survival instinct is ultimately more powerful than the profit motive.  When it comes to the basics, we have no doubt the power of the people will ultimately prevail.

    For those working on the 2012 election, and for democracy in general, that will mean an extraordinary commitment to protecting the registered status of millions of Americans, getting them to the polls, guaranteeing their right to vote once there, and making sure there is an accurate vote count—electronic and otherwise—once those votes are cast.


    Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are authors of WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION, their fifth book on election protection. It is available as an e-book at www.harveywasserman.ning.com andfreepress.org/store.php#a2012.

    Four Ways Ohio Republicans are Already Stealing the 2012 Election

    9:43 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

    I VOTED TODAY

    (Photo: williac/flickr)

    by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
    August 23, 2012

    The Ohio Republican Party has moved four ways to steal America’s 2012 election.  The Buckeye State is almost certain to emerge as a decider in this year’s presidential election, and the GOP is moving fast to ensure victory, no matter what it takes.

    The strategy reflects much of what was done by the Republicans in 2000 and 2004 to steal those presidential elections for George W. Bush, as we report in the newly published WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION? (now at www.harveywasserman.ning.com and soon at www.freepress.org).

    If they get away with it, the Ohio GOP could make it virtually impossible for Barack Obama to carry Ohio this November. In the years since Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, the Democratic Party has made little headway in reforming our electoral system to make such thefts impossible:

    1. Since 2009, the Ohio GOP has purged some 1.25 million citizens from the state’s voter rolls. This accounts for more than 20% of the roughly 5.2 million votes counted for president in the state in 2008. The purge focusses on counties that are predominantly urban and Democratic.  ( http://www.freepress.org/columns/display/3/2012/1927 )

    2. Electronic voting machines have been installed throughout the state which are owned, operated, programmed and maintained — and will be tallied—by Republican-connected firms, including Diebold (now Premier), ES&S and Triad. ( http://www.freepress.org/columns/display/3/2012/1925 )

    3.  The GOP controls both houses of the Ohio Legislature, the governorship, the secretary of state’s office, and the state supreme court.  Soon after the 2008 election, it imposed a draconian photo ID law designed to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of suspected Democrats, as is being done throughout the US.  But Ohio is a referendum state.  A statewide grassroots movement recently crushed a GOP-pushed anti-labor law, and many Republicans feared the photo ID law would also go down.  Then Husted was ruled ineligible to hold office over a residency conflict.  Ohio’s Supreme Court re-instated his eligibility, but he was prompted to oppose the photo ID law.  Today a prospective Ohio voter can use 17 different kinds of ID, but in recent elections some poll workers have demanded photo ID anyway.  Without a grassroots army of independent election monitors to protect them, many more Ohioans are likely to be disenfranchised.

    4.  In 2004, 10.6% of the votes cast in Ohio were so-called “early votes” via absentee ballots. A voter had to be absent from the county to vote absentee. In-person Election Day voters at the 42 predominantly black inner-city precincts in Columbus waited between 3-7 hours to vote.

    In 2005, Ohio election law was modified so absentees could vote without actually being absent from their home county. When Ohio went for Barack Obama with 52% of the vote, early voting nearly tripled to 29.7%. This included voters able to vote in person at locations all over the state for 35 days prior to Election Day, including on weekends.

    This summer the Ohio GOP attempted to allow Republican Counties to use weekend voting, while denying the right to counties that are predominantly Democratic.  By banning all voting the weekend before the election, Husted took credit for “leveling the playing field.”  But African-American State Representative Charleta Tavares immediately charged that the exclusion of weekend voting represented a deliberate attempt to suppress Democratic voters, and particularly black voters who voted 95% for Obama in 2008.

    On Friday, August 17, while some 500 Ohioans protested outside his office, Husted suspended Democratic Montgomery County Board of Election members Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie, Sr. because they introduced and supported—and then refused to rescind—a motion for weekend voting.

    Lieberman told the Dayton Daily News that, “I believe that this is so critical to our freedom in America . . . that I’m doing what I think is right, and I cannot vote to rescind this motion.” Lieberman also argued that the directive did not specifically prohibit weekend hours.

    The Ohio Association of Election Officials, overwhelmingly dominated by Republicans from Ohio’s rural counties, endorsed the idea of cutting the final three early voting days. They argued that they needed the extra time over the weekend to prepare for Election Day, although some of the counties have very small voting populations compared to the nine urban counties that support keeping the three final early voting days.   Doug Priesse, Chair of the Franklin County (Columbus) GOP, sparked a firestorm when he explained that   “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter turnout machine.”

    The Obama campaign has sued, arguing that weekend voting be restored for all Ohioans, as it has been for members of the military.  The GOP has charged Obama with trying to deny those in the military their right to vote, which would be impossible for him to do.  Husted and GOP Attorney-General Mike DeWine responded with a suit saying:  ”There is no fundamental right to in-person early voting.”

    By purging registration lists, limiting voting times, messing with voter ID requirements and controlling electronic voting machines, the GOP has a huge leg up on winning what has often been America’s key swing state.

    Clearly the Ohio GOP is once again geared up to deny the vote—and vote count—to as many Democrats as it can.  If it succeeds, as it did in 2004, Barack Obama stands little chance of being re-elected.


    Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman’s new WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION?, introduced by Greg Palast, is a $4.99 e-book now at www.harveywasserman.ning.com  and soon at www.freepress.org.