The real winner in the November 7 election is the grassroots voter
That the well-oiled, well-funded Rove/Bush theft machine lost control
of the US House with the Senate as close as it is says just one
thing: somebody was watching. In 2006, that would be thousands of
volunteer grassroots activists who left no stone unturned to expose rigged voting machines, Jim Crow registration roadblocks, trashed
provisional ballots, manipulated absentee voting processes, and much
A nationwide movement has been born to apply the lessons of the stolen
elections of 2000, 2002 and 2004. In the lead-up to 2006, activists
and independent experts scrutinized voting machines and electoral
processes as never before. Mainstream media reports from the New York
Times to CNN's Lou Dobbs to hundreds of radio talk shows finally paid
attention to "glitches" and "problems" and "long lines" and "disputes"
that just an election cycle ago were dismissed as "business as usual"
or the stuff of conspiracy theory.
At least six major reports have now warned of the hackability of
electronic voting machines. More than 90% of the American public has
expressed concern about the sanctity of the US electoral system. At
least two state governors have called for electronic voting machines
to be discarded in favor of a return to paper ballots.
As we write, in Montana the fate of the U.S. Senate rests on a hand count after a software failure on voting machines in a few remaining precincts.
The impact? There is no way the 2006 election would not have been
stolen without a concerted 50-state effort to guarantee otherwise.
In Ohio, an unprecedented project by five statewide Green, Libertarian and independent candidates dispersed scores of election observers throughout the state placing them inside key county boards of elections and precincts.
A classic case comes from central Ohio, "scene of the crime" for the
2004 election. In the 15th Congressional District, election
protection attorney Cliff Arnebeck was initially turned away from voting due to
lack of "proper I.D," even though he presented a valid Ohio driver's
license and proof of his current address.
Arnebeck serves as lead attorney in the King Lincoln lawsuit that has
won preservation of the Ohio 2004 ballots and a number of key
victories regarding election protection. After correcting the precinct officials through a call to the County Prosecutor’s office Arnebeck learned upon arriving at his office that, hundreds of voters were being wrongly forced to show various forms of personal identification. Arnebeck called the Secretary of State’s lawyers and Justin Letts, the law clerk to US District Judge Marbley. Soon after the SOS issued a new directive confirming that a valid drivers licence need not contain a current address. Election observers documented a staggering percent of
voters who were being forced to cast provisional ballots. Provisionals
are notoriously easy for GOP Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell
to pitch or now delete from the e-voting machines. More than 16,000 of them, mostly on paper, remain uncounted from 2004.
Clearly, this was set up to be a stolen cakewalk for incumbent
Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-15th), fourth ranking House Republican and a
close Bush ally.
Instead, Pryce's alleged margin of victory is now less than 4,000
votes. Rather than conceding, challenger Mary Jo Kilroy has vowed to
fight it out until the last ballot is counted. A Democratic poll watcher at the Ohio Student Union at Ohio State University estimated that as many as 50% of the students may have been forced to vote provisional ballots. These student voters are in the heart of the undecided race in the 15th district, and early reports indicate there are 20-40,000 uncounted e-provisional voters in that race.
Around the country, races in at least eight states are still under
extreme scrutiny. Lawsuits are being prepared, video tape reviewed,
testimony collected, reports compiled. Numerous eyewitness accounts
have been filed at firstname.lastname@example.org, with CommonCause and a
wide range of other election protection web, phone and legal
operations. Both Democrats and Republicans who might earlier have
meekly conceded are now holding out until the very last vote is
This is new to American politics. In years gone by, elections have
been stolen and the populace---and even candidates, like John Kerry in
2004---have shrugged their shoulders.
No more. Team Bush/Rove has taught the grassroots that our electoral
process cannot be taken for granted.
One major, hopefully temporary, casualty in 2006 has been exit
polling. Exit polls have become the most reliable overall monitor on
election outcomes. The are regularly within 0.1% of the official vote
count in Germany. In 2004, they showed clearly that John Kerry won
Ohio and the national popular vote. They've been used to guarantee
and even overturn dubious results in Ukraine, Mexico, ex-Soviet
Georgia, the Philippines and more.
But in 2006 the major networks did their best to lock up exit polls
results that might have embarrassed the White House. Instead, the
exit poll results we re impounded under lock and key, to be released to
the public only after the election, and after "experts" massage the
data to make it match official vote counts. To this day, the core
data from the 2004 exit polls has yet to be released to the public.
This cannot be allowed to stand. In the upcoming 2008 election, exit
polls must be made fully public well before the final vote counts are
announced. They must be funded to one percent accuracy or better, and
their raw data must be a matter of open public record.
In the interim, the science of election protection will advance and
spread. There is still no reliable way to monitor electronic voting
machines, whose computer codes are still deemed private property, and
held in secret. Before 2008, this practice must be abolished. As the
Rev. Jesse Jackson has put it, there can be no public elections on
privately controlled machines.
A return to paper ballots is the bottom line. The color-coded,
multi-shaped Swiss sequencing ballots would work perfectly fine here
in the U.S., and would save the nation billions of dollars, as well as
the hard uncertainty that surrounds our electoral process.
But however we cut it, there has been a sea change in the election
As Americans, we have too long taken for granted the right to vote and
have our votes counted.
Now we know we have to fight for that right. And that doing so has
already helped turn the tide of American politics.
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors, with Steve Rosenfeld,
of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO?, just published by The New Press. Fitrakis and Wasserman are
of counsel and a plaintiff in the King Lincoln lawsuit. Fitrakis was
an independent candidate for governor of Ohio, endorsed by the Green
Party. Wasserman's SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH, A.D. 2030,
is available at www.solartopia.org. Read more of their work at http://freepress.org.
The real winner in the November 7 election is the grassroots voter