Why can't the left face the Stolen Elections of 2004 & 2008?
- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
Why can't the left face the Stolen Elections of 2004 & 2008?
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
October 18, 2005
If some of its key publications are any indicator, much of the
American left seems unable to face the reality that the election of
2004 was stolen. So in all likelihood, unless something radical is
done, 2008 will be too.
Misguided and misinformed articles in both TomPaine.com and Mother
Jones Magazine indicate a dangerous inability to face the reality
that these stolen elections mean nothing less than the death of
what's left of American democracy, and the permanent enthronement of
the Rovian GOP.
As investigative reporters based in Columbus, Ohio, we witnessed
first-hand, up close and personal, exactly how the 2004 election was
stolen, and how it will most likely be done in 2008. In the precinct
in which Harvey Wasserman grew up, and in the one where Bob Fitrakis
now lives, we saw the well-funded, profoundly cynical and deadly
effective mechanisms by which the Bush-Cheney-Rove-Blackwell GOP
machine switched a victory for John Kerry to an easily-repeatable
defeat for democracy.
That Kerry and the spineless Ohio and national Democratic Parties
have been complicit is a crucial part of the problem much of the
left also seems unwilling to face. But if you live in Franklin
County, Ohio, and watch the Republican and Democratic Parties run
joint tickets against progressive candidate, and cut backroom deals
allowing incumbents of either party run unopposed, you may miss the
full scope of the disaster.
And until the left faces the rot that defines the Democratic Party,
there is no hope for a fair election in this country. In other
words: those who think the White House can be retaken in 2008, but
refuse to face the theft of the vote in 2004, should prepare to be
ruled by the likes of Jeb Bush, now and forever.
Before we go into the sordid details, we have to ask: exactly what
is it about Team Bush that makes people think they could not or
would not steal an American election? Do they lack funds? Do they
lack expertise? Is there something in the Machiavellian/mobster
moral code of Karl Rove and the Bush Family that would prevent them
from doing here what they've been doing throughout the Third World
for so long?
CIA meister Poppy Bush long ago perfected the art and science of
stealing elections. US manipulators have interfered with and tipped
elections for decades. Why should Ohio be any different? Especially
when all the world knew control of the most powerful office on earth
would be decided right here.
Lets do the bookends: before the voting, Ohio's infamous Republican
Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell clearly and vehemently
denied poll access to teams of international observers from the
United Nations and other international election observers.
Since the election, he has effectively stonewalled and sabotaged all
recount attempts, to the point that no credible accounting of the
Ohio election has ever been done. To this day, at least 100,000
votes remain uncounted, electronic voting machines remain unaudited,
key hardware and data files have been trashed, paper ballots have
sat unguarded for anyone to pilfer and tallies in dozens of key
counties remain filled with statistical impossibilities.
In our HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008,
we list more than 180 bullet points on how this theft was
perpetrated. It was a brilliant, cynical and masterfully executed
campaign of death by a thousand cuts.
In Florida 2000, the means of the crime were limited to a few
instances of intimidation, butterfly ballots, computer manipulation
and a corrupt Supreme Court. But four years after, in Ohio, dozens
of sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant tricks were designed to steal
a few thousand votes here, a few thousand more there, until victory
was in GOP hands. Unless they are exposed and blocked, every one of
these scams can and will be duplicated throughout the United States
in 2006 and 2008. The question is: will the left follow mainstream
Democrats with sheep-like acceptance as every election goes the same
way from here on? And if so, why bother even staging more votes in
this country at all?
Starting with Russ Baker at TomPaine.com, the indicators are grim.
Last January, Baker penned an absurd, ill-reported piece of nonsense
called "What Didn't Happen in Ohio." Baker traipsed into Columbus
for a few days, interviewed the usual faux Democrats, and left with
a Big Story: "The Election Was Fair."
If Baker had done any meaningful research he might have seen the
dozens of other instances of intimidation, irregularities and fraud
that went unmentioned in his glib paragraphs. Instead he relied on
Bill Anthony, chair of the Franklin County Democrats and Board of
Bill is a pleasant, affable African-American with no commitment or
fight for democracy or even the Democrats. He has appeared on Bob's
local radio show and with Harvey on others. On one of them, Bill
admitted that the Franklin County BOE knew there would be problems
with voting machines, and asked Blackwell for paper ballots well
before the 2004 election. Blackwell, Anthony said, turned them down.
The result was the now infamous chaos at the polls, with inner city
voters stuck in the rain for hours. Just what Blackwell wanted.
But did Bill Anthony fight Blackwell's absurd ruling? Did he make it
a public issue prior to the election?
Not a chance.
For a quickie reporting job, Anthony is a dream. He's well-spoken,
charming and convincing. As an African-American with union
connections, he would seem the perfect liberal source.
In 2003, Anthony endorsed the Republican mayor's former press
secretary for the Columbus School Board. He then supported two
Republican candidates on a "Reform Slate" aimed at ousting the
Board's only progressive Democrat, an African-American.
Bill Anthony is just one of a legion of what are known throughout
the state as DINOs---Democrats in Name Only. The Ohio Democratic
Party is a national embarrassment. Its chair, Denny White, was not
long ago a Republican, and will soon be one again, once the party is
fully disemboweled, a job very close to done. Throughout Ohio, DINOs
piously cover this piece of fraud and that piece of theft with
glib "I hate Bush" rhetoric. The pity is, out-of-state reporters
actually take them seriously.
Mark Hertsgaard is a well respected author and reporter and a long-
time friend of Harvey Wasserman, and of election critic Mark Crispin
Miller. He has contributed some very valuable work over the years.
But he's done himself---and the voting public---very wrong
on "Recounting Ohio" in the new Mother Jones.
Mark is smart and thorough enough to leave open the possibility that
Ohio's election was, indeed, stolen. But he also falls prey to the
DINO trap, failing to cover far too much of what happened here while
taking seriously centrist Democrats who are known locally to have no
So Mother Jones questions the significance of the firing of a
Democratic election official who blew the whistle on computer
manipulations by Triad, an obscure Republican voting machine
company. But Triad was involved in counting the votes in nearly half
of Ohio's 88 counties. Questions are still being raised about Triad,
including: "How did they get all these contracts in the first
Mother Jones correctly points out that seven times the number of
votes by which Bush took Ohio were cast on Republican-controlled
machines. But the magazine fails to follow up with mention that
those votes have been tabulated on proprietary non-transparent
software---a fact we pointed out in our own article in
Motherjones.com many months prior to the election.
Mother Jones also discounts the fact that a phony Homeland Security
alert in Warren County landed the vote count in an unauthorized
warehouse rather than the official secure location, and that
reporters were barred from the vote count. That count, which went
hugely and suspiciously and very importantly for Bush, was observed
by nominal Democrats. But so were other highly dubious vote counts
around the state, as they had been in Florida 2000, which Mother
Jones argues adamantly was indeed stolen.
The irony of this is that the same issue of Mother Jones leads off
with a dead-on story about Ohio and national Democrats who are
sabotaging the campaign of the aggressively electable Paul Hackett
for a key US Senate seat. And another MoJo piece bemoans the fact
that national Democrats seem adept only at losing.
Yet here in the back of the book is a story discounting evidence
compiled by a legion of independent, grassroots election rights
advocates, while favoring phone interviews with the very Democrats
being denounced in the front of the book.
Above all, the core of evidence that the election was stolen in Ohio
2004 comes from some 500 sworn statements and signed affidavits
taken by people of all political parties, including two Republican
hearings officers, in the weeks after the election. Anyone truly
committed to finding out what happened here needs to start with that
huge body of evidence.
As MoJo points out, none of this has been made easier by
the "abandon ship" of the biggest DINO of all, John Kerry. Kerry had
$7 million in the bank earmarked to "count every vote" and was
apparently losing by just 136,000 Ohio votes with more than 250,000
still uncounted when he turned tail and conceded. Even Blackwell's
corrupt, virtually meaningless first fake recount dropped Bush's
official tally by 18,000 votes.
The Democrats have since attacked the election protection movement
here through a lawyer named Daniel Hoffheimer who comes from none
other than the stalwart Cincinnati Republican law firm of Taft,
Stettinius et. al. MoJo quotes another Kerry/DINO lawyer Michael
O'Grady, counsel to the state Democratic Party, who argues that for
Ohio to have been stolen, the entire GOP would have had to
be "conspiratorial," while the Democrats were "dumb as rocks."
In fact, that's an assessment many activists in Ohio heartily
endorse, though you might add the word "inert" to the description of
O'Grady claims, for example, that an impossible vote count in three
southern Ohio counties that gave Bush his entire margin of victory
can be explained by a feminist outpouring for an African-American
court candidate who ran zero campaign in those counties. But the
presumption is that those same feminists somehow didn't bother to
vote for Kerry over George W. Bush. No local student of that
election could begin to take such an assessment seriously.
Or how about the quote from Chris Rakocy, a "tech specialist" about
those notorious touchscreens in Mahoning County where voters who
chose Kerry saw Bush light up. Rakocy says that problem was "only"
on 18 of 1,148 machines, and that it was corrected early.
But Rakocy stands alone against dozens of sworn statements and
affidavits confirming that the problem went on all day, and was
never fixed, and may have involved far more machines than 18, and
not only in Mahoning County but also in Franklin. Even at that, in
heavily Democratic Youngstown (not to mention Columbus), just 18
machines could have accounted for switching thousands of votes. And,
in fact, Kerry's margins in both Youngstown and Columbus were
And what would Mother Jones herself do to machines that
disenfranchised even one voter, no matter what the apparent impact
on the ultimate vote count? Why is the magazine named for her
discounting the you-couldn't-make-this-one-up reality of voters
pushing one candidate's name on a touchscreen and seeing another's
name light up, time after time after time? Or are we taking this---
and her---all too seriously?
Then there's the song and dance from Warren Mitofsky. The father of
exit polls saw his work used to overturn a stolen election in
Ukraine just prior to the American vote. But when his poll-taking
here showed John Kerry with a nationwide margin of 1.5 million
votes, somehow Mitofsky jumped ship on his own decades of
Exit polls funded by six major news organizations showed Kerry
carrying Ohio, Iowa, New Mexico and Nevada as late as 12:20 am on
Wednesday morning, well after balloting stopped even in Alaska and
Hawaii. These four "purple states" gave the election to the "blue"
Democrats, then miraculously switched to "red" for Bush, giving him
the White House once again.
Given all that's known about exit polls---and it's a lot---the odds
on one state switching like that are about one in one hundred. For
four, it's a virtual statistical impossibility. Add the fact that
not one, not four, but TEN of eleven swing states showed drastic
shifts from Kerry to Bush and you enter the realm of, well, a stolen
Add huge, unexplained shifts from pre-election polls to post-
election vote counts in crucial 2002 Senatorial races in Georgia,
Minnesota and Colorado, then remember what happened in Florida 2000,
and examine the basic Bush attitude toward democracy itself, and
you've got a pattern to say the least. And an obvious prescription
for one-party rule as far as the eye can see.
Except when you are dealing with America's Democratic Party in 2004
and with reportage that relies on a few phone calls and a
disheartening lack of grassroots perspective. If all politics is
local, as Tip O'Neill well knew, then so are all vote counts.
Our first article predicting what would happen in Ohio 2004 was
published many months before the election in, of all places,
MotherJones.com. We warned that electronic voting machines deployed
by the likes of Diebold could give Ohio and thus the nation to
George W. Bush. Wally O'Dell, Diebold's infamous CEO, pledged to
deliver Ohio's electoral votes to Bush in 2004, and all evidence
points to the fact that he at least helped.
What we missed in addition was the myriad clever tricks the GOP
would bring to bear in pulling this off. Ohio has a long history as
a test market. New products like white bread and spam are brought
here first, to see how they'll fly with America at large.
In Ohio 2004, scores of tools for stealing an American election were
tried and proven out. Outside reporters have come here again and
again to pull at this one and tear at that one. Almost always, they
get even that wrong. And almost always, they fail to see the bigger
If we have a "know it all" attitude, as is sometimes charged, it's
because we were (and are) here, we saw it happen, we witnessed the
seven-hour waits and the denials of the absentee ballots, and we
took the testimony of the hundreds who later went under oath.
And we see more unravel every day. Conspiracy theories happen
sometimes when actual conspiracies occur. The stakes involved, the
players on both sides and the events that are out there plain as day
are all of a piece that's simply too obvious for anyone on the
ground here to miss.
Hertsgaard has the good sense to mention indictments that have
recently come down on election thieves in Cuyahoga County. We know
that to be the tip of the iceberg.
What matters now is whether the GOP will be allowed to repeat
nationwide in 2006 and 2008 what they saw they could get away with
in Ohio 2004.
Election theft skeptics tend to conclude their put-downs by urging
we forget about the vote-count stuff and concentrate on coming up
with candidates so good that "the election won't be close enough to
Having seen what we saw here, knowing what Mother Jones is reporting
about the Democratic attacks on Paul Hackett, and about the loser
instinct ingrained in the Dems' DLC/DNA, we must charitably describe
such a conclusion as being profoundly wishful thinking.
Someday we may indeed have candidates far worthier than Al Gore and
John Kerry. But they both won the presidency of the United States,
however corruptible their margins of victory.
We need to guarantee that if someone worthwhile and willing to fight
ever does come along, we will have a left that's prepared to make
sure the votes are fairly counted.
As Rev. Jesse Jackson put it while speaking to election protection
activists here, "We can afford to lose an election. We can't afford
to lose our democracy."
Who would agree more strongly than Tom Paine and Mother Jones?
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of HOW THE GOP
STOLE AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, available at
Freepress.org and harveywasserman.com. Their upcoming WHAT HAPPENED
IN OHIO, with Steve Rosenfeld, will be published by The New Press in