In the final weeks before the 2012 election, cries of GOP voter suppression from social justice groups such as the ACLU and the NAACP have intensified as attempted voter fraud appears to be linked to the Republican National Committee itself. It has gotten so bad that the United Nations may be needed to monitor the U.S. election.
The U.N., in fact, agrees with this sense of urgency and has agreed to send international officials to monitor the almost inevitable suppression tactics that could call into question yet another U.S. Presidential election. Via The Hill:
United Nations-affiliated election monitors from Europe and central Asia will be at polling places around the U.S. looking for voter suppression activities by conservative groups, a concern raised by civil rights groups during a meeting this week. The intervention has drawn criticism from a prominent conservative-leaning group combating election fraud.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a United Nations partner on democratization and human rights projects, will deploy 44 observers from its human rights office around the country on Election Day to monitor an array of activities, including potential disputes at polling places. It’s part of a broader observation mission that will send out an additional 80 to 90 members of parliament from nearly 30 countries. . . .
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP and the ACLU, among other groups, warned this month in a letter to Daan Everts, a senior official with OSCE, of “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans — particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.”
This reaction comes following a year of Republican attempts to implement strict voter ID guidelines without just cause. But suppressive laws may not end up being the most dubious matter in the 2012 Presidential election's battle for authenticity. A series of investigative reports have found that Mitt Romney's family has invested heavily in a company that owns electronic voting machines in the swing states of Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma, Washington and Colorado:
"Late last month, Gerry Bello and Bob Fitrakis at FreePress.org broke the story of the Mitt Romney/Bain Capital investment team involved in H.I.G. Capital which, in July of 2011, completed a "strategic investment" to take over a fair share of the Austin-based e-voting machine company Hart Intercivic,"In July!? For an election in November!? Come, come now.
An article by one independent journalist does not make something true, even if that independent journalist is as respected as Brad Friedman of The Brad Blog. Heck, left-leaning site Think Progress was quick to write this off as conspiracy theory, but other progressive sites such as Truthout, The Nation and, most surprisingly, The New York Times, decided to investigate further. They have all now connected the same dots and concluded that Romney may, in the end, own your eVote.
Through a closely held equity fund called Solamere, Mitt Romney and his wife, son and brother are major investors in an investment firm called H.I.G. Capital. H.I.G. in turn holds a majority share and three out of five board members in Hart Intercivic, a company that owns the notoriously faulty electronic voting machines that will count the ballots in swing state Ohio November 7. Hart machines will also be used elsewhere in the United States.
In other words, a candidate for the presidency of the United States, and his brother, wife and son, have a straight-line financial interest in the voting machines that could decide this fall's election. These machines cannot be monitored by the public. But they will help decide who "owns" the White House."
If it's possible to pick a "worst" part of something this awful it may be the implication that Romney-owned voting machines appear in Ohio, the state where the legitimacy of George W. Bush's 2004 win was a, um...delicate matter:
They are especially crucial in Ohio, without which no Republican candidate has ever won the White House. In 2004, in the dead of election night, an electronic swing of more than 300,000 votes switched Ohio from the John Kerry column to George W. Bush, giving him a second term. A virtual statistical impossibility, the 6-plus% shift occurred between 12:20 and 2am election night as votes were being tallied by a GOP-controlled information technology firm on servers in a basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In defiance of a federal injunction, 56 of Ohio's 88 counties destroyed all election records, making a recount impossible. Ohio's governor and secretary of state in 2004 were both Republicans, as are the governors and secretaries of state in nine key swing states this year.The tactics used by the GOP during this election cycle have not been limited to slanted attack ads paid for with dark money or oh-so-pedestrian workplace intimidation. No, laws suddenly needed some altering to make sure this thing went their way. Better yet, let's just Diebolt this sumbitch.
If only there were a system in place to sound some kind of national alarm that let John Q. Public know one of the two candidates owns voting machines that cannot be monitored by anybody.
So what now? If Romney wins -- especially if more information on these elicit voting machine purchases surfaces -- it will undoubtedly be a tarnished election. Lawsuits are already being predicted and pursued. For those (not) keeping score at home this will mean three of the past four U.S. Presidential elections will have been viewed suspiciously or wind up in court.
The idea that American elections are "free and open," something we have tried to fashion ourselves as a policeman for overseas, is in danger of becoming illegitimate.