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A year ago today, Congress was the scene of an historic challenge to the Electoral College vote that gave George Bush the White House for a second time under disputed circumstances.  A year later, we know that the pattern of shady practices, half-truths and outright lies that we saw during the Ohio recount have become the hallmarks of Bush's tawdry tenure as president.

Today we should celebrate and send donations to the heroes of the day: Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones and California Sen. Barbara Boxer, as well as Rep. John Conyers and the valiant Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus who have kept the heat on Bush and his cronies all year.  We also should give credit where credit is due to the Green Party and Libertarian Party, who deserve our thanks for continuing the battle after John Kerry decided that his chance at a rematch in 2008 was worth more than counting every vote.  

More on the flip.

For me, the lessons of the recount process and Ohio Challenge include these:

  • Support electoral justice organizations, to make sure every vote counts and every vote is counted.

  • Push for Instant Runoff Voting, Proportional Voting, and other innovations that are enjoyed by almost every other democracy than our own.

  • Support candidates such as Ohio gubernatorial candidate Bob Fitrakis, who has pledged to clean up corruption and to challenge the election if even one vote is not counted properly.

With one year of hindsight, what do you take out of the recount and challenge, and what stories from that time can you share?

Originally posted to GrainofSand on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 04:31 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Some election lessons learned (none)
    The bottom of the ticket is extremely important.

    If judges are elected, they must not be party hacks and if they turn out to be, they must be replaced.

    The most critical office relative to elections is the Secretary of State.

    Legislative, county, and city officials are key to keeping local boards of election honest.

    Open source legislation for certifying voting machines is a great way to get rid of Diebold.  So far it seems to have worked in NC (now if the legislature will just hold firm on its legislation).

    The upcoming renewal of the Voting Rights Act is an issue in which we should be demanding aspiring Congresscritters to strengthen.  Especially with regards to provisions about universal IDs, voter intimidation, felons lists and the like.

  •  The Ohio recount triggered indictments (4.00)
    In Cuyahoga County, it was the recount that triggered the indictments of two employees. They were ordered to do what they did, of course, and for a long time it's looked like they they were going to take the fall.

    There are so many lessons to be learned from what happened in 2004 to help us oversee our elections more effectively. One is to TAKE A VIDEO CAMERA with you.

    • The law allows it (public meetings law)
    • You never know what you'll see during an election, but video can be the ONLY way to document violation of elections laws.

    In Ohio, for example, during the recount, Black Box Voting's Kathleen Wynne took a video of the entire thing. It was clear they were violating the law, because they didn't choose the precincts randomly and they counted the ballots in secret before they counted them in public.

    This videotape has reportedly now thrown the Cuyahoga County indictments into a delay, while prosecutors decide whether to take the indictments higher up the ladder. Our sources tell us that three people had taken the fifth, helping the investigation stall out at the lower levels. Taking the fifth didn't do them any good, it turns out, because there was a full day's video of them talking, in which they basically confessed to what they were doing. Yesterday's hearing was postponed while lawyers figure out what to do next.

    The recount also underlines in the most powerful possible way the importance of minor party ballot access. Evidence was uncovered that could not have surfaced without a recount, and the recount could not have happened without the third parties.

    While it is popular to credit legislators like Tubbs Jones and Boxer, they aren't the heroes, really. Neither would have done anything without nonstop pressure from constituents. It is the citizens themselves who are directly responsible for getting awareness of the anomalies on election day, and for persuading the public officials to do something.

    The most fundamental key to fair, accurately counted elections is the citizens themselves. Only AFTER citizens do the investigative work, the publicizing and communications work, the organizing work, and the lobbying/persuading work do most public officials take action.

    The Ohio recount unraveled a ton of information, as did the Florida records requests (which directly resulted in the Black Box Voting project in Leon County, which has directly resulted in California and Pennsylvania blocking certification of Diebold and three counties dropping the system, and directly resulted in the VoteTrustUSA lobbying effort on illegal code and John Kerry's recent acknowledgement that the machines have proven to be hackable.)

    There will be a blockbuster shortly regarding Diebold's illegal code, and this will happen because of internal situations related to the BBV examination of the code rather than sending e-mails. Those help, though, because they provide evidence of the public support for what is about to happen.

    The New Mexico citizens and the lawsuit there is uncovering a whole new can of worms, because they've managed, for the first time, to get vendors into formal discovery.

    California citizens are peeling layers off the contractual shenanigans (like "section O" in the Diebold contract with Kern County, which REQUIRES DIEBOLD TO RUN A MODEM LINE DIRECTLY INTO THE SYSTEM FOR "UPDATES") and California citizens are doing a great job revealing breaches of elections observations law (San Diego, Los Angeles, and Riverside have now all been documented violating election observation laws).

    Pennsylvania citizens single-handedly got a touch-screen system decertified; North Carolina and Wisconsin citizens have gotten source code escrow and examination laws broadened (though there is a long ways to go).

    The United States as a whole is stripping itself of its illusions -- we don't match our "brand image" for real democracy. It is the citizenry itself that has produced this.

    Be very wary of ever "trusting" any group of public officials, experts, scientists, elections officials, or vendors for anything election-related ever again.

    I've heard that pretty soon this will all be fixed and we can all go home again. What we have learned, from the Ohio recount and the other actions, is that we can NEVER go home again.

    Bev Harris
    Black Box Voting

    "There is only one force in the nation that can be depended upon to keep the government pure and the governors honest, and that is the people themselves. They alone, if well informed, are capable of preventing the corruption of power, and of restoring the nation to its rightful course if it should go astray. They alone are the safest depository of the ultimate powers of government."
    -- Thomas Jefferson

    Never forget. You yourselves are the catalyst of everything. Never again cede oversight to public officials, legislators, or anyone else.

    •  THANK YOU for your hard work & perseverance (none)
      On behalf of all Ohioans and Americans, I would like to thank you for your efforts to ensure fair and free elections.  To hell with those who thought taking a stand on this critical issue was futile or silly.

      Sadly, until we can pass meaningful election reform and take the money and politics out of the political process (e.g., political hacks counting the votes), we may not see the type of change that is so sorely needed.

      I wish you, and the voters, the best possible 2006.  We have some serious work to do in preparation for November -- let's make all the votes count, and let there be transparent elections that sweep the corrupt and imcompetent GOP from office nationwide.

      Energize America: Demand Energy Security by 2020!

      by Doolittle Sothere on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 05:44:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the best post of the morning! (nt) (none)
  •  If you love her fight for her. (none)
    Blackwell, who was insturmental in throwing the election is promising everyone anything they want for their vote...I know politicians do this, but blackwell did throw the election and he hasnt got caught..Why hasnt Taft and others in ohios govt. been charged with theft...What is the holdup... We have to get the media to tell people or this will fade away.If you love america fight for her..
    •  More dirt on Blackwell (none)
      Many people don't know that he commissioned THREE independent reports on voting machine security from CompuWare. The first was widely reported. It is the second report that could be Blackwell's downfall, if the citizenry takes it to heart and fights for consequences.

      The second CompuWare report was in Blackwell's hands by, at the latest, August 14 2004. Here's the excerpt that is devastating:

      GEMS defect rated HIGH, HIGH, HIGH risk

      Black Box Voting has done a series of public records requests and FOIA requests which show that Blackwell withheld this report from Ohio election supervisors using GEMS, and also withheld it from the U.S. Elections Assistence Commission and other secretaries of state.

      The defective GEMS system was used to count votes in 800 jurisdictions in the 2004 election -- nearly one-third of ALL votes for BOTH touch-screens and optical scans. Diebold has now admitted this flaw, and the state of Ohio has now, in a way, indirectly admitted how serious it is because they asked Diebold to come up with a solution, which apparently will be another vendor's software called Digital Guardian. Great.

      The question is, why did Blackwell withhold proof that the 2004 election was at "high high high" risk for tampering? He did not release the Aug. 14 2004 report until January 2005.

      By the way, this is an entirely separate risk from the Hursti Report and the Leon County hack. This is the hack that Dr. Herbert Thompson performed in Leon County on Feb. 14. This entirely separate security issue has yet to be resolved.

      The question here is: What can be done to Blackwell for withholding this information?

      Bev Harris
      Black Box Voting

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