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General News    H4'ed 2/10/19

Interview: Marta Steele, Author, Activist and Senior Editor at OpEdNews

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The good news is that even within the first decade of the two thousands, many states realized the vast shortcomings of the DREs and traded them in for optical scanners, which facilitate recounts. These machines should be required throughout the country; 25% among the states still voted on DREs in 2018 and among those planning to change over --Georgia, for instance there is a state-of-the-art option that for all intents and purposes is a DRE clone, ES&S's ExpressVote, which is also far more costly and less efficient than opscans and that is Georgia's targeted product even though the same company also manufactures optical scanners. Another example of what can happen when the people mobilize, putting aside their differences for the collective good, occurred when for Election 2008 the people rallied together--Democrats and Progressives--to put Obama in office. The Election Integrity movement is nonpartisan, though lately weighted toward Democrats, who have suffered most from corruption in every category. But benefits accrues when differences are overcome. There is so much that can be accomplished to "make things better."

JB: Thanks for the recap. And the reminder that everything is not grim. That brings us to the recent midterms. What's your take?

MS: As much as there was a blue sweep, and different people have different views on this, there is reason for optimism. That the country wasn't dyed blue doesn't speak well for the American public, given the red sweep that drowned us in 2016 and the violations of the US Constitution and its laws at every level that have occurred since then. The number of voters increased, especially women, and the number of women in office increased. What does this mean? I guess that's off our subject, elections. (Dare I say that people are expressing a desire for more feminist values--peace and absence of corruption?) The number of voters who showed up to vote in a midterm election is also the highest on record.

There were so many close elections, one of which amounted to a margin of two votes, which will be recounted. Do so many close elections indicate an even split between voter ideologies? I don't think so. Given the rampant roadblocks to a fairly counted election, one that genuinely reflects the people's will, a close election could be a glaring sign of corruption, vastly exacerbated by the photo ID requirement and perhaps the worst villain of them all, gerrymandering. Not that everyone voted Democratic, but with the Georgia gubernatorial election as the glowering epitome, with 334,000 struck from the voter rolls, the number of would-be Democratic voters was far greater than the number of Democratic votes counted.

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And consider this: a recent poll indicated that a majority, more than 60 percent, of Americans favor progressive policies. No one wants a corrupt government except the perpetrators of corruption and those who profit from it and those convinced mistakenly that it is ideal--a minority. A handful. Now we have one arm of one of the branches of our federal government blue--the branch that most accurately reflects the will of the people, the House of Representatives. That in itself also speaks volumes.

JB: Indeed. The mainstream media have continued over the years to pooh-pooh concerns about election integrity, notwithstanding the hard work of Palast and the other Good Guys. And readers tend to follow the lead (or non-lead) of the mainstream press. How do you explain that?

MS: Ouch. Our heroes are pretty left of center. But some among us aren't. I guess one perspective is that all the channels, to my knowledge, are owned by fat cats (to revive a very dated term) and the fat cats live off money and greed, not concern to promote the general welfare. I asked Greg what to say when someone called me a conspiracy theorist. He said, "we're conspiracy experts." He's been interviewed on MSNBC a few times. All of the heroes you mentioned before are dynamite in front of cameras. Despite the "cats," we're getting more MSM attention than we used to, and the whole concept gained visibility with Trump's accusation of voter fraud committed by all voters in Hillary's lead of three million in 2016. Some MSM covered Trump's bogus commission dissolved in January, which was meant for no other purpose than to prove that ridiculous voter fraud theory. And the Georgia heist was pretty well publicized, though I wasn't watching Fox to get their take on it.

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JB: However much exposure those intrepid election investigators - again, Greg Palast, and Brad Friedman (BradBlog), Bev Harris, Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis, Mark Crispin Miller, Jonathan Simon, Steven Rosenfeld - and their ilk are getting is in a word, or two - NOT ENOUGH. They're drowned out by the mainstream journalists who either don't understand what's going on or are forbidden to talk about it and who dominate the conversation.

MS: Good point about the media; I didn't mean to imply that we were receiving the coverage we need; only that the mercury has moved up the thermometer by one or two degrees--thanks for the clarification.

Cover art for Marta's Book:
Cover art for Marta's Book: 'Grassroots, Geeks, Pros and Pols', [Columbus Free Press, 2012]
(Image by courtesy of Marta Steele)
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JB: Speaking of journalists, you are one as well. You ended up writing a book and are at work on another. Can you share with us how you went from being a concerned citizen to becoming an activist? So many folks care a lot but haven't a clue about how to engage.

MS: Joan, I was brought up by activist parents, ardent Democrats. Around the dinner table and even during the day, there'd be constant complaints about the status quo and how it must be changed and who's fault it was and "go fight city hall!" And how can such horrible people (the Russians) write such beautiful music? Etc. My daughter told me I did the same thing when she was a little girl, pacing back and forth across the living room and expounding at her. I had learned from my parents that when things were wrong, we should speak out and that I did, vociferously, at college and, of course, joined the "Children's Crusade" and attended rallies and meetings, including the historical Yippie parade in front of the Justice Department in 1968.

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What else could I do? Work with handicapped populations, which I did (as a volunteer and then professional), and underprivileged ones. I only got to writing as an activist while working as an academic editor. I was put in charge of the company's newsletter and began inveighing against the candidacy of George W. Bush and the abuse being heaped upon Bill Clinton. I'm surprised I lasted as long as I did as editor-in-chief, but my torch was lighted and once I left the press, I continued the newsletter under my own logo, Words, UnLtd., as a paper publication from 1999 to 2003. I sent it out to friends and colleagues, headlining political issues but expanding into many other terrains as well, each with a different pseudonym.

Politics became my main focus once Florida 2000 happened. I was a writer in search of a subject when I first learned of Greg Palast's discovery. I have written about him ever since, but after Florida 2000 came 9/11 and the Afghanistan invasion and Iraq War. They took over Words for a while; I haven't stopped since then. My book grew out of my involvement with EI once Election 2004 occurred and the grassroots caught on fire. The small group of six women from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, who responded to an ad for election integrity advocacy, turned into a force to be reckoned with, the Coalition for Voting Integrity, at the county level. Our leader, Mary Ann Gould, started a radio show, "Voice of the Voters," interviewing heroes of the movement. I'd blog about them and that's how I first joined OpEdNews, by offering my blogs to Rob as well as posting them at my own site, Rob lived in Bucks County and we met at an EI gathering; he had read my writing on other sites.

The blogs came together into knowledge and commitment that gelled into a long article I was commissioned to write. By the time I got done with it and the editor turned it down, I turned away but went back to it soon and said, "This is the germ of a book, dammit." Oh, there's so much more: Calling up Bob Fitrakis to thank him for saving our democracy when he and his colleagues saved Ohio for the Dems in 2008. (That's another amazing story I tell in my book) I told him, "Someone should write a book about you!" Guess who that turned out to be?

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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