Andi Novick is founder and legal counsel of Re-Media Election Transparency Coalition. Since 2005, she has organized a number of terrific events in New York's Hudson Valley. At some point, we discovered one another and I have been posting her doings at OpEdNews ever since. We have talked many times over the last few years. Andi has graciously agreed to continue our conversation as you OpEdNews readers listen in*.
So, Andi. When did you first wake up to the issue of America’s broken elections?
On the morning of the day after the 2004 election, I woke up to the news that Bush had ‘won.’ When I had passed out that night around one in the morning, he was losing 10 of 11 swing states. He'd 'won' all, as you know, by the next morning. I had not been paying attention to this issue of elections, etc. I was a newbie. But I just felt like I'd been kicked in the gut and couldn't get off the floor.
For three days, I was paralyzed with this really sick feeling - like the tanks had rolled in, only no one knew it. I was saying things to people, and everyone told me to get over it. Even my liberal friends. I said it's not possible. I didn't know about statistics and the one in however million chances of Bush winning 10 out of 11 swing states overnight or Jonathan [Simon, of Election Defense Alliance (EDA)] or Bruce [O’Dell, who has worked in the field of computer security for the last 25 years, and is also active in the election integrity movement]. I just knew it wasn't possible that he won.
I didn't know about you or Bev [Harris, of Black Box Voting] or Nancy [Tobi, of Democracy for New Hampshire and EDA] or Sally [Castleman of EDA] or Mark [Crispin Miller, author of Fooled Again and writer/editor of Loser Takes All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008] or anyone else involved in election reform. I didn't know anyone who felt the way I did: that this was not possible and that this election had been stolen. I didn't know about software (I did know about 2000, but at that time, I didn't know about 2002, although I did believe Paul Wellstone was murdered).
Where did that leave you?
So knowing nothing about election integrity activists and no one who believed what I felt in my gut, I decided either I was nuts or everyone was brainwashed. I went for the brainwashed. And, so, I decided the problem was the media. For my 51st birthday (5/16/2005) I got on a plane by myself, knowing no one, but somehow knowing there was this media reform movement, and flew to St. Louis - which was hosting the second national media reform conference.
I came home and founded Northeast Citizens for Responsible Media and decided I couldn't keep living the life I'd been living because something was very different. And the more I read the more I knew something was terribly wrong. And when I found Mark Crispin Miller's Fooled Again I knew I knew (which I always remind Mark of, when he's feeling overwhelmed by the challenge we're all taken on).
I kept doing the media reform work and built my grassroots network up here in the Hudson Valley - because I'd not lived here very long and didn't know a lot of people. I organized forums and had Amy Goodman and Jeff Cohen and Danny Schechter and others. I organized an FCC hearing and did lots of screenings and actually had more volunteers and were a group (as opposed to now when there's three of us, at best). But my heart was always in election theft and so for the last forum I organized as part of Northeast Citizens - it was on election theft and I invited Nancy, Jonathan, Steve Freeman [U PA professor, co-author of Was The 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?], Greg Palast [BBC investigative journalist and New York Times best-selling author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse] and Doug Kellner (one of our four State Board of Elections commissioners).
I think that was 2006 or ’07, and after that, I dropped everything to do this work full time. Working on election integrity felt far more hands-on than media reform. We'd already lost the media and the fight to reclaim our airwaves. The rest of the country already lost transparent, observable, publicly controlled elections and were fighting to reclaim what's been stolen. But in NY, we haven’t lost it yet! So the idea of trying to save the last transparent electoral system left in the United States - before we lost it - felt imperative. No more media reform (although I still think that's very important) and I stopped earning a living. And I haven't looked back.
Any positive developments anywhere that you can point to?
The decision out of Germany this past week affirms constitutional principles that the litigation I've prepared in NY is about. Their constitutional court wrote about the constitutional principle of the public nature of elections, which prescribes that all essential steps of an election are subject to the possibility of public scrutiny.[Andi is referring to Germany’s highest court’s historic ruling that electronic voting is unconstitutional.] This principle of publicly observable and publicly controllable elections is the only basis on which a democracy can survive and is integral to the constitutional form of government. But we in America have lost track of our founding principles. When I speak about the constitutional right to vote necessarily including a public count that regular people can observe and scrutinize, people’s eyes glaze over- as if they were someone else's principles, someone else's constitution.
That must drive you crazy!
I think people's inability to understand that their rights are being stolen and the regular stealing of millions of votes in the last 5 elections are tied together. I think criminals came into power by stealing our elections and then raping our electoral system and then destroyed our Constitution and Bill of Rights - they committed treason and got away with it and now people are too numb to react properly. The destruction of values and our economy and our civil liberties - destruction at such a rapid pace under a criminal administration that isn't held accountable is very much tied with people's inability to respond.
Now, we have a German court doing what an American court won't. My hope is that we can get one American court in the state of New York to stand up for these principles. All the law I've unearthed in New York over the past 232 years honors our democratic principles and we haven't lost it yet. Reclaiming rights is much harder than holding on to them, so I'm hoping to hold on to what we have. But, as the song goes, "don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."
Despite all the formidable challenges, Andi refuses to give up. She and I will discuss the litigation she is working on for New York State in part two of our interview. Stay tuned!