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Lady MJ Santos, Publisher‘s Note: I do not believe that the Republicans are any more prone to stealing elections than the Democrats. But knowing who are behind Mitt Romney, the Republican Party could steal the 2012 US Presidential election with relative ease. Four major factors make all this possible: the continued existence of the Electoral College, the systematic disenfranchisement of millions of American voters over the past decade, the widespread and growing use of electronic voting machines, and GOP control of the governorships and secretary of state offices in the key swing states that will once again decide the election. Add the likelihood that the core of the activist community that came out to protect the vote for Barack Obama in 2008 may not do so again in 2012.
The reality that corporate money has come to totally dominate the American electoral process is very old news. One only needs to trace the stories of election theft dating all the way back to John Adams and Tom Jefferson to explain all this fretting over the corruption that defines so much of the back-and-forth between Democrats and Republicans. For well over a century, at least since the 1880s, corporations have ruled American politics. Back then the courts began to confer on corporations the privileges of human rights without the responsibilities of human decency.
American history is chock full of election abuse from both parties, dating at least back to 1800, when the Democrat-Republican Thomas Jefferson wrested the presidency from Federalist John Adams based on the “votes” of African-American slaves who were allowed nowhere near a ballot box. That Adams spent the next six years muttering about that theft before he opened a legendary exchange of letters with his former friend and rival did nothing to rid the country of the Electoral College that made it possible. Nor did it prevent his son, John Quincy, from using it to steal the 1824 election from a very angry slaveowner named Andrew Jackson, who then formed the Democratic Party that now claims Barack Obama The corruption of U.S. electoral system is perfectly geared toward crushing third and other parties whose focus is challenging a corporate status quo deeply entrenched in war, inequality, and ecological destruction. However, this is now taken into a whole different level. We are watching gargantuan waves of unrestricted capital pouring into political campaigns at all levels in 2012. Nationwide this year, though both major political party are corporate in nature, the corporate largess vastly favors Republicans over Democrats. Even more alarming, in 2012, the GOP controls the registration rolls and the swing state vote count in ways that the Democrats do not.
This is not an endorsement of Barack Obama or the Democratic Party but to assist those who are mystified by anyone in U.S. Government’s unwillingness to fight for meaningful electoral reform. Indeed, both Al Gore and John Kerry were legitimately elected president, but neither was willing to fight for meaningful reform, or even to discuss it. One needs to understand who are really pulling the strings, which makes them ‘paralyzed’ to make any true changes. Until the head snakes are removed completely, nothing much can be done.
This is a two-part series of investigative articles documenting who owns the electronic hardware and software used in the U.S. voting process as well as some of the people who are involve behind the scenes. Our goal is simple: To reveal the man behind the curtain and expose the vulnerability of non-transparent, faith-based voting. The second part can be read here.
We hope that this exhaustive research assists the Americans to wake up to TRUTH and do something about this ongoing crime before the voice of the people gets hijacked again.
October 20, 2012 (TSR) – Various far-right conspiracy researchers have been alleging for some months that George Soros somehow secretly will control the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election. The Free Press’s exhaustive research can find not a single tangible link between George Soros and any manufacturer of voting equipment. Our research did find links much more frightening.
The Free Press widely reported the various dirty tricks employed by Karl Rove and company to apparently outright steal the election for George W. Bush in Ohio, and thus the nation, in 2004. Since then, a witness in our case has died in a mysterious plane crash, and all the players in the DRE (Direct Reporting Electronic) voting machine game have shifted seats in a gigantic game of musical chairs.
The Soros Allegations revolve around the entry of Barcelona based Scytl into the US elections market. Scytl was formed as a start up out of the Autonomous University of Barcelona to leverage existing concepts in modern cryptography (public key cryptography, digital signatures and zero-knowledge proofs) to ensure a secure and verifiable voting system in paperless remote environments including the internet and over wireless carriers. Scytl’s scheme is intended to provide the voter with both privacy and verification that their vote was recorded as intended. Scytl’s start up funding comes from three European venture capital firms, Balderton Capital, Nauta Capital, and Spinnaker SCR (a subsidiary of Riva y Garcia, which is described as an independent financial group). None of these are connected to George Soros. Balderton Capital is the London based spinoff of Benchmark Capital Investments which has no overtly political connections that our research could determine at this time. Nauta Capital and Spinnaker SCR are a different matter.
Nauta Capital was founded by 8 executives of the European management consulting firm Cluster Consulting. Cluster Consulting was purchased by Diamond Consulting (NYSE: DPTI) to form Diamond Cluster consulting. Diamond Cluster was subsequently purchased by Mercer Management Consulting and its Europe division spun off. The principles of the original Cluster Consulting used their profits from these mergers to fund Nauta. Two of the principals, Jordi Vinas and Charles Ferrar Roqueta, also have board positions at Spinnaker SCR and/or Riva y Garcia, keeping this coterie’s control of Scytl very close. All of Nauta’s partners have a strong background in the telecommunications business. In 2010, Scytl purchased a 100% interest in SOE software, an up and coming player in the American elections market with their Clarity Software Suite which is used in 525 jurisdictions in 19 states. SOE has a strategic partnership with ES & S, the major marketer of electronic voting systems in the US. ES & S was sued by the US DOJ in 2009 on anti-trust grounds after purchasing Diebold’s elections division, Premier Election Solutions. ES & S subsequently sold Premier to rival manufacturer Dominion. Bob Urosevich, founder of ES & S, was also President of Diebold. In 2006 Urosevich was listed as managing director of Scytl Americas, although his name has subsequently been removed from their website.
The director of Nauta’s American operations is Dominic Endicott, who went from Cluster Consulting to Booz Allen Hamilton (NYSE: BAH) where he oversaw wireless practice. He then rejoined his former colleagues from Cluster Consulting at Nauta. In his capacity as a Nauta partner Endicott also sits on the board of CarrierIQ.
Booz Allen Hamilton is majority owned by the Bush family friendly firm Carlyle Group. A long time government contractor, Booz Allen’s current and former management team has included some of the leading lights of the intelligence community such as:
• James Woolsey (director of the CIA 1993-1995),
• Michael McConnell (Director of the NSA 1992-1996 and Director of National Intelligence 2007-2009)
• Dov Zakheim (Comptroller of the Pentagon and part owner of Landmark Aviation, a support company for the extraordinary rendition flights)
• George Little (Director of Media Relations, CIA 2007-2011)
• James Clapper (Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency 1992-1995 and the current Director of National Intelligence)
• Keith Hall (Director of the National Reconnaissance Office 1997-2001)
Booz Allen was heavily involved as a sub-contractor in Projects TrailBlazer and PioneerGroundbreaker, which were NSA warrantless wiretap programs that spied on US Citizens in the wake of 9/11. These programs, along with Echelon, Carnivore, Thinthread and StellarWind were designed as an end run around FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) and the 4th amendment. The programs relied heavily on cooperation from private industry, including most telecom and wireless providers, a community where Endicott has vast experience having “worked with nearly all American mobile operators and is a well-known expert in wireless industry in USA,” according to Nauta’s website.
Booz Allen also has a finger in the electronic voting industry, being the providers of the first DRE voting scheme for use by overseas voters in 2000. In the end, the $6.2 million program allowed 84 service members to vote. Booz Allen applied for and was granted a US patent (7,729,991 applied for 3/20/01 granted 6/1/10) for another electronic voting system and voter registration system over a network. This system bears a passing similarity to Scytl’s scheme, although without the verification of voter intent by the voter.
Endicott’s board tenure at CarrierIQ is also not without controversy around privacy concerns. Researcher Trevor Eckhart discovered in November of 2011 that CarrierIQ’s software, installed on smartphones made by Apple, HTC, NEC and Samsung and used by the carriers AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, logs the location, phones call times and destination (pen-register), texts, internet searches and keystrokes for the mobile service provider without end user knowledge or opt-in, possibly in violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The FBI denied a FOIA request for training manuals and documents relating to CarrierIQ’s software on the basis of a pending law enforcement proceeding. The FBI could make this claim this if it is using CarrierIQ for domestic surveillance of American citizens.
Scytl’s allegedly secure voting method would be completely undermined by CarrierIQ’s software. Interestingly Scytl seems to be set to market and deploy mobile phone voting applications for iPhone and Android in the 2014 election cycle. Scytl’s end user verification of voter intent is completely useless in conjunction with all DRE voting machines currently in use. With direct internet and wireless reporting, targeted man-in-the-middle attacks against certain precincts could tip election results without leaving the evidence traces of 2004 which allowed the Free Press to raise serious questions as to whether the United States of America was subjected to its second coup in as many elections.
Will the GOP steal America’s 2012 election?
The Republican Party could steal the 2012 US Presidential election with relative ease.
Six basic factors make this year’s theft a possibility:
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 meaningful reform, or even to discuss it. 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?
In the larger view, the ability of either (or both) corporate parties to do this means no grassroots party will be allowed to force meaningful change in America—at least not through the ballot box.
But 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.
Will 9 GOP governors electronically flip Romney into the White House?
Nine Republican governors have the power to put Mitt Romney in the White House, even if Barack Obama wins the popular vote.
With their secretaries of state, they control the electronic vote count in nine key swing states: Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Arizona, and New Mexico. Wisconsin elections are under the control of the state’s Government Accountability Board, appointed by the governor.
In tandem with the GOP’s massive nation-wide disenfranchisement campaign, they could—in the dead of election night—flip their states’ electronic votes to Romney and give him a victory in the Electoral College.
Thankfully, resistance has arisen to the disenfranchisement strategy, which seems designed to deny millions of suspected Democrats the right to vote. The intent to demand photo ID for voting could result in some ten million Americans being disenfranchised, according to the Brennan Center at New York University. Other methods are being used to strip voter rolls—as in Ohio, where 1.1 million citizens have been purged from registration lists since 2009. This “New Jim Crow”—personified by groups like True the Vote (New York Times Article)—could deny the ballot to a substantial percentage of the electorate in key swing states.
This massive disenfranchisement has evoked a strong reaction from voting rights activists, a number of lawsuits, major internet traffic and front page and editorial coverage in the New York Times.
But there has been no parallel campaign to guarantee those votes are properly counted once cast. Despite serious problems with electronic tabulations in the presidential elections of both 2000 and 2004, electronic voting machines have spread further throughout the country. In Ohio, former Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell awarded a no-bid state contract to GovTech—a well-connected Republican-owned company which no longer exists—to help count Ohio’s vote. GovTech contracted with two equally partisan Republican companies: Smartech for servers and Triad for IT support (Push and Pray Voting).
Electronic voting machines with ties to Republican-connected companies have proliferated throughout Ohio. Federal money from the Help America Vote Act has helped move electronic voting machines into other key swing states in substantial numbers that are not easy to track.
The machines can quickly tabulate a winner. But their dark side is simple: there is no way to monitor or double-check the final tally. These partisan Republican vote counting companies have written contracts to avoid transparency and open records laws.
American courts have consistently ruled that the hardware and software used in e-voting machines is proprietary. For example, California’s Public Records Act (CPRA) contains a Trade Secret Exemption. The courts in California apply a “balancing test” to determine whether the Trade Secret Exemption applies, but the contracts with voting machine vendors are written in such a way that the court usually has no other choice but to side with the vendors and the state and county election officials who inked the contract. High priced attorneys like Daniel McMillan of the Jones Day firm are often hired to “clarify” the law for the court.
In a filing with the Voting Systems Procedures Panel of the California Secretary of State’s office during the 2004 election, McMillan hammered out a “Stipulated Confidentiality Agreement” that states in part that a public records request by a voting activist “contain[s] confidential proprietary or trade secret information” and thus, is not a public record.
Also that year, McMillan showed up in Georgia on behalf of the infamous Diebold Election Systems company and invoked the Peach State’s Trade Secret Exemption to the open record law. McMillan wrote: “If information constitutes a trade secret under the Georgia Trade Secrets Act, the government agency in custody of the information has a duty to protect the information” from public scrutiny.
McMillan goes on to argue that there’s also a Computer Software Exclusion that, “To the extent that any request is made for Diebold’s computer program or software, such a request would not be a valid request for a public record.” Diebold’s attorney cited the concern that “…it makes it easier to sabotage and hack the system and circumvent security features” if there’s transparency.
That same year in Ohio, Diebold’s secret pollbook system “accidentally” glitched 10,000 voters in the Cleveland area from the registration rolls. During the 2004 election in Toledo, thousands of voters lost their votes on Diebold optiscan machines that were improperly calibrated or had the wrong markers. How the the calibration and markers work are trade secrets.
So, even the election boards that buy them cannot access their tabulation codes. The bulk of the major e-voting machine companies are owned by Republicans or by corporations whose roots are difficult to trace. WHILE WE STILL HAVE TIME by Sheila Parks of the Center for Hand Counted Ballots (Article)warns that we enter the 2012 election with no reliable means of guaranteeing that the electronic vote count will be accurate.
In fact, whether they intend to do it or not, the Republican governors of the nine key swing states above have the power to flip the election without significant public recourse. Except for exit polls there is no established way to check how the official electronic vote count might square with the actual intent of the electorate. And there is no legal method by which an electronic vote count can be effectively challenged.
There is unfortunate precedent. In the heat of election night 2000, in Volusia County, Florida, 16,000 electronic votes for Al Gore mysteriously disappeared, and 4,000 were erroneously awarded to George W. Bush, causing a incorrect shift of 20,000 votes. This was later corrected. But the temporary shift gave John Ellis at Fox TV News (Ellis is George W. Bush’s first cousin)an opening to declare that the GOP had won the presidency. NBC, CBS, and ABC followed Fox’s lead and declared Bush the winner based on a computer error. That “glitch,” more than anything else, allowed the Republicans to frame Gore as a “sore loser.”
In Ohio 2004, at 12:20 election night, the initial vote tabulation showed John Kerry handily defeating Bush by more than 4%. This 200,000-plus margin appeared to guarantee Kerry’s ascent to the presidency.
But mysteriously, the Ohio vote count suddenly shifted to Smartech in Chattanooga, Tennessee. With private Republican-connected contractors processing the vote, Bush jumped ahead with a 2% lead, eventually winning with an official margin of more than 118,000 votes. Such a shift of more than 6%, involving more than 300,000 votes, is a virtual statistical impossibility, as documented in our WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION (www.freepress.org).
That night, Ohio’s vote count was being compiled in the basement of the old Pioneer Bank building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The building also housed the servers for the Republican National Committee and thus the e-mail of Bush advisor Karl Rove. Secretary of State Blackwell was co-chair of the Ohio Committee to Re-Elect Bush and Cheney. He met earlier that day in Columbus with George W. Bush and Karl Rove. That night, he sent the state’s chief IT worker home early. The official Ohio vote count tabulation system was designed by IT specialist Michael Connell, whose computer company New Media was long associated with the Bush family. In 2008 Connell died in a mysterious single-engine plane crash after being subpoenaed to testify in the federal King-Lincoln-Bronzeville voter rights lawsuit (by way of disclosure: Bob is an attorney and Harvey a plaintiff in this lawsuit).
FreePress.org covered the vote shift in depth. The King-Lincoln suit eventually resulted in a federal injunction ordering Ohio’s 88 counties to turn over their ballots and election records.
But 56 of Ohio’s 88 counties violated the injunction and destroyed their election records. Thus no complete recount of Ohio 2004 has ever been done. More than 90,000 “spoiled” ballots, like those in Toledo, went entirely uncounted, and have since been destroyed.
No way was ever found to verify the 2004 electronic vote count. There are no definitive safeguards in place today.
In 2008, swarms of election protection volunteers filled the polling stations in Ohio and other swing states. They guaranteed the right to vote for many thousands of Americans who might otherwise have been denied it.
They had no means of guaranteeing the accuracy of the electronic vote count. But Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan all had Democratic governors at the time. Florida’s governor was the moderate Republican Charlie Crist, not likely to steal an election for a party he would soon leave.
At the time, we advocated banning money from electoral politics, abolishing the Electoral College, universal automatic voter registration for all US citizens, universal hand-counted paper ballots and a four-day weekend for voting, with polls worked and ballots counted by the nation’s students.
But as Sheila Parks puts it in her new book, which is subtitled The Perils Of Electronic Voting Machines And Democracy’s Solution: Publicly Observed, Secure Hand-Counted Paper Ballots (HCPB) Elections : “In 2010, ultra-right-wing Republican governors were elected in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. In several of these states, these governors were not part of a long line of Republican governors. In fact, in some of these states, these governors interrupted a long line of Democratic governors.”
So this year Rick Scott is governor in Florida, Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania, John Kasich in Ohio, Rick Snyder in Michigan, Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Jan Brewer is in Arizona. All are seen as hard-right Republicans unlikely to agonize over flipping a Barack Obama majority into a victory for Mitt Romney.
That doesn’t mean they would actually do such a thing. But the stark reality is that if they choose to, they can, and there would be no iron-clad way to prove they did.
Another stark reality: hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to win this election by multi-billionaires Sheldon Adelson, Charles and David Koch, the Chamber of Commerce and other corporate interests. For them, spending a few extra million to flip a key state’s electoral votes would make perfect sense.
While Obama seems to be moving up in the polls, the huge reservoir of dollars raised to elect Mitt Romney will soon flood this campaign. We might anticipate well-funded media reports of a “surge” for Romney in the last two weeks of the election. Polls could well show a “close race”—for Congress as well as the presidency—in the early hours of election day.
And then those electronic voting machines could be just as easily flipped on election night 2012 as they were in Ohio 2004.
Would this batch of swing state Republicans do that for Romney.
We don’t know.
COULD they do it?
Would you be able to find definitive, legally admissible proof that they did it?
Would the courts overturn such a tainted victory?
What could ultimately be done about it?
In the short term: ….nothing.
In the long-term, only a bottom-up remaking of how we cast and count ballots ballots can guarantee this nation anything resembling a true democracy. It is, to put it mildly, a reality worth fighting for.
Four ways the Ohio GOP is already stealing the 2012 election
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.
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 roughly a million citizens from the state’s voter rolls. This accounts for some 15% 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.
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.
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 GOP stalwart Jon Husted (now the Secretary of State) 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 (Dayton) 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.”
Under intense pressure, Husted has since re-instated the two Dayton Election Board members. But 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.
Source: Free Press
For Part 2, click here.