By Anthony Wade
January 14, 2005
Votergate 2004 has reached the mainstream. In the early afternoon of January 6th, 2005, a Congresswoman from Ohio stood up to protest the seating of the Electors from Ohio, and this time, a Senator stood up with her. This time, democracy actually worked. A politically dangerous move, meant nothing to Barbara Boxer, who stood up and said, "As we are shedding the blood of our military to this end, we must realize that we lose so much credibility when our own electoral system needs so much improvement. " Amen Senator Boxer, God bless America.
Let 's make sure we all understand what has led up to this moment in history. There is no doubt in any objective mind that there were gross "irregularities " in the 2004 vote, not just in Ohio, but around the country. Overwhelmingly, these glitches, computer errors, and irregularities favored George W. Bush. In Ohio specifically, the Secretary of State, who is responsible for ensuring fair elections, was also the State Chair of the Bush reelection campaign, a clear conflict of interest. Ohio has been the site of widespread voter fraud, voter suppression, and voter disenfranchisement. There is no doubt about this. It has been recorded for the past two months and there have been congressional hearings attesting to such facts. Secretary of State Blackwell has thwarted any fair attempt to recount and investigate. He has stalled the certification process, in essence trying to run out the clock. He has illegally stopped the recount at one point. He has sent in Triad employees to utilize cheat sheets to fraudulently fix the recount. He has hidden himself behind other GOP operatives to refuse to answer questions about the election he oversaw. His actions portray a guilty man. Displaying his arrogance however, he recently has sent out a fundraising letter BRAGGING about delivering Ohio to Bush. The fundraising by the way? Blackwell is running for Governor of Ohio. The GOP will be sure to throw their might behind him as payola for his services in ensuring Ohio went Bush. After all, they made sure Katherine Harris won a Congressional seat after she delivered Florida to Bush in 2000.
Despite the Congressional hearings, sworn affidavits, and overwhelming evidence of underhanded practices before, during, and after the election this story has received no coverage from the corporate controlled media, that prefers the deregulation presidency of Bush. For two months the Internet has been abuzz with the story, screaming in the wind apparently, while the country at large was clueless to what really happened in Ohio. January 6th, represented our last chance to have this debate in public, and demand coverage for it. It was never about overturning the election results; it was about tabling the most important subject in our country, in public. Thankfully, Barbara Boxer stood up for all of us and allowed that discussion, for a couple of hours.
Word about Boxer got out the night before and apparently the GOP got together to get their talking points straight. Forever insulting the intelligence of America, the GOP believes that if you simply say something enough, regardless of the truth, people will eventually believe it as being true. You remember that Al Gore invented the Internet, right? On January 6th however, you had two sides presenting their case. The democrats simply wanted everyone to work toward fixing a broken electoral process and the GOP was puffed up with faux indignation at the mere prospect that they had to spend two hours discussing a democracy they thought they had stolen already.
These apparently were the talking points of the GOP, because nearly every republican that bothered to speak on January 6th said some variation of this:
1) Bush won. He won by a lot. He got more votes than anyone in history.
2) I can 't believe we have to debate whether Bush won.
3) John Kerry knows that Bush won.
4) We need to get on with the work of the people.
5) The democrats are sore losers.
6) There is no evidence of any fraud in Ohio.
7) Our soldiers are fighting; we shouldn 't be talking about this.
8) Look at how many papers said that Bush won.
9) Ohio has democrats too; the conspiracy would be too difficult to pull off.
10) The votes have been counted, and now they have been recounted.
Every republican Congressperson said some variation of the above talking points. Unfortunately for them, they have no merit. Let 's debunk them point by point:
1) The democrats who protested never said Bush did not win. They never said they sought to overturn the results (I assume because they know it would not work with the GOP in control of everything). The fact that Bush got more votes than anyone in history does not mean anything other than we had the highest voter turnout in history, further buttressing the argument that Blackwell seriously under managed minority districts and shorted them of voting machines. Bush actually only won by 118,000 votes. We are talking about disenfranchisement beyond those numbers. Either way though, the results were never being questioned, just the conduct in Ohio and how we can improve our elections. The GOP wanted desperately to muddy the issue though and pretend the debate was about overturning results. Their hope was to make the democrats look bad, while avoiding having to talk about any serious reform.
2) The GOP kept trying to make this be about the democrats trying to contest the results. It was a transparent political ploy though, as Boxer and Tubbs both said they knew the results would stand. In the end, the GOP just sounded whiny.
3) Yes, John Kerry does know that Bush won. So does Tubbs. So does Boxer. This was about massive fraud and suppression and how to correct those problems. The GOP, who benefits directly from the fraud and suppression, refused to address the problems and hid like children behind these fake points that had no merit and were not in dispute.
4) In four years the GOP controlled Congress has passed an unfunded education platform, tax breaks for the rich that have crippled our economy, and transferred war powers to the president based on lies. No offense, we can wait two hours before you go back to work.
5) Hmmm, no, the democrats want to make sure that every vote is counted and that the mistakes that were made in 2000 and 2004 do not occur again in 2008. You can call me a sore loser if you like because I think that Kerry won. The democrats however, they never said that.
6) There is no evidence of fraud??? Now, I understand why the GOP would be confused since they refused to actually attend any of the Conyers hearings but if they had, then they would have had a chance to hear the evidence. If there is no evidence of fraud, why is Blackwell trying to legally ensure he never has to testify about an election he personally oversaw?
7) Never afraid to use the troops for their own selfish benefit, this argument is insulting and baseless. If we are really trying to bring democracy to the ends of the earth, maybe we should fix it here first.
8) Many republicans brought with them editorials from newspapers that said that Bush won and the allegations in Ohio had no merit. I cannot think of a more childish argument then saying that because a paper says there was no fraud, there must not be. Considering the papers did not cover the hearings, or the allegations, I would proffer they have no base from which to draw their conclusions.
9) Yes, Ohio has democrats, but none that are in control of anything. They were not responsible for voting machine allocation that saw black neighborhoods get shorted. They were not involved in the vote tabulation either. In many cases they were not permitted to even be at meetings held by the republican operatives. This argument is the ultimate red herring.
10) Ahh, everyone remember this one? That 's right, it was used by the GOP in 2000, the problem is that it was a lie then, and it is a lie now. In 2000 the Supreme Court actually stopped the recount. If it was allowed to continue we would be certifying the reelection of President Gore today. In 2004, the votes have not been recounted. 3% of the votes in certain counties were recounted but the recount was done illegally, in several instances. Using cheat sheets to ensure proper counts is not legal. No, the votes were not recounted.
Now, the two hours were filled with poignant testimony from many representatives that just wanted to make sure that our votes are counted. They were opposed though by self-righteous sanctimonious republicans who want to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that Ohio did not happen, just like Florida before her did not. It was quite sad for example to listen to Senator Mike Dewine, from Ohio. He opened his comments by saying he cannot believe that we are discussing whether Bush won Ohio (see point # 2 above), thus dispelling the notion that he has any clue about why he was even there. He finished his comments by quoting newspapers that said that Bush won (see number 8 above). Just remember Ohioans when he is up for reelection, that he had no concern about whether your vote actually got counted. Mike Dewine stood up on January 6th and showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that he does not care about his own constituents, period.
It is a sad statement in latter-day America when the opportunity to simply talk about gross election fraud, for a period of only two hours, is considered a great victory for democracy. That is what this was though. The bottom line is that moving forward; the GOP controls all three branches of government and 80% of the companies that count your votes. After 2000 what did the GOP Congress do to reform the electoral process? Nothing. They passed the useless HAVA, which paves the way states to use their own standards and purchase voting machines made by GOP-backed companies. Besides that the GOP actually SUED to make sure that there would be no paper trail for these machines. Good job.
Senator Boxer correctly pointed out,
"A year ago, Senators Graham, Clinton and I introduced legislation that would have required that electronic voting systems provide a paper record to verify a vote. That paper trail would be stored in a secure ballot box and invaluable in case of a recount. There is no reason why the Senate should not have taken up and passed that bill. At the very least, a hearing should have been held. But it never happened. "
Did you get that America? A year ago, legislation was proposed that would simply allow a locked record of every vote cast, to protect our democracy. To lend transparency to the process. To ensure that today, would never be necessary. But because the GOP controls the Senate, they NEVER EVEN HAD A HEARING ON THE MERITS OF SUCH A PROPOSAL. Now, I wonder why that is? Maybe because they knew already that they had control of the main swing states and 80% of the machines that do the counting were made by two brothers who run two companies that were outspoken about their desire to see Bush reelected.
What do you think is going to happen over the next four years? Do you honestly think that the GOP will enact any significant reform of an electoral process which they completely control? If they were so put off on January 6th to have to discuss the rampant disenfranchisement of thousands of voters in Ohio, for two measly hours, the only answer about their sincerity to reform has to be no. The Help America Vote Act has about as much credibility as the Healthy Forests Initiatives or the Clear Skies Act. The forests are not healthy, the skies are not clear, and America was NOT helped to vote, period.
Senator Boxer correctly recognized some salient facts. One, she recognized from the voluminous report completed by John Conyers, that thousands of people lost their right to vote, or lost their actual vote itself in Ohio. Secondly, she recognized that if the issue was not tabled on January 6th, it never would have been because the GOP controls all branches of government. Lastly, she realized that if voters could wait ten hours in the rain to vote, then by God, Congress can meet for two hours and discuss why. The GOP of course would have none of it. They discussed nothing and addressed no problems. It does not matter now though because the problems are now official. They are in the record. The people got to see where their elected officials stand on the subject of voter fraud and suppression. They saw the GOP line up to whine about having to even discuss the possibility of voter fraud. They heard them lie with impunity and try to twist today 's events into something they were not. They heard them sound petty and small, against a backdrop of the very fabric of our republic.
On the other side they got to hear that all votes should be counted. They got to hear that all voting machines should have a paper trail. They got to see democracy in action. They got to see some real American patriots stand up for the right to vote, period. Thank you Senator Boxer. On January 6th you gave us all back a small part of our collective American soul, which was stripped away from us four years ago. You gave us hope that in a political town, sometimes politics can take a back seat to the concerns of the people. History will remember you well Senator Boxer. We all will remember you well.
Anthony Wade is co-administrator of a website devoted to educating the populace to the ongoing lies of President George W. Bush and seeking his removal from office. He is a 37-year-old independent writer from New York with political commentary articles seen on multiple websites. A Christian progressive and professional Rehabilitation Counselor working with the poor and disabled, Mr. Wade believes that you can have faith and hold elected officials accountable for lies and excess.
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