Plotted on ABC's Scandal: The Real Life Backstory
By Sheila Parks
In a flashback scene on last Thursday night's (1/17/2013) episode
of ABC's searing political drama Scandal,
a cabal of five voted to rig the upcoming presidential election to ensure that
their man "Fitz" won. The personal agendas of four of them were revealed to
viewers. Ultimately, Hollis - the gang leader - made a call to a computer wiz
he knew and told him "It's a go!"
Who is the nerd that Hollis called to rig the election?
Could the character be based on the late Michael Connell, the
hard-right-anti-abortion-true-believer, who many allege handed George W. Bush
the 2004 election by rigging in Ohio?
I think so. As a national expert on election rigging, I
have evaluated what we know and I believe we can trace how Connell fixed the Ohio election through computers in Chattanooga, Tennessee,
via a company called SMARTech. Connell was Karl Rove's high tech
operative. He died, suspiciously
perhaps, in a small airplane crash. Like
the characters in Scandal, he also had a personal agenda. He viewed abortion as
murder and wanted an anti-abortion president.
In fictional Scandal,
the election was rigged via the touchscreen electronic voting machines in Defiance, Ohio; we saw
this earlier in the "Defiance"
episode. Thursday night, in the flashback, viewers learned that the vote in
three counties in Ohio - Defiance,
Franklin and Summit
- could cause Fitz to lose Ohio. In the real-life 2004 presidential election
in Ohio, Franklin
and Summit went to Kerry; Defiance went to Bush.
In real life, Richard Hayes Phillips a scholar and the
author of Witness to a Crime: A Citizens
Audit of an American Election, provides a detailed report
about what happened in thirteen counties in Ohio in the 2004 presidential election where
there was evidence of fraud. He writes, . in at least six counties, the
methods of fraud we observed may well have been related to SMARTech". We
believed at the time that we were observing an after-the-fact attempt to get
the ballots to match a fraudulent vote count, and we are more convinced of it
In the real Ohio
presidential election, evidence of fraud was found by voting rights activists
in 13 counties. Scandal's producer and writer Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey's Anatomy as well, is absolutely
correct to include in her script that there was election fraud in Ohio in the 2004 presidential
In her depiction of
election fraud, she is on the money. To someone like me, who has watched
election rigging close up, I like her characters too.
Four of the members of that cabal want something for
themselves from this rigging -- and somewhere in their insides, perhaps they
might really think Fitz is the best person for the job. Or they are lying to
themselves about this.
At first, Olivia holds out. She does not want to rig the
election. In total turmoil -- and like
the confused soul she has become -- she gives in. I would say her romantic feelings
for Fitz get in the way, big time.
Hollis wants to rig the election because he wants the
Republican-supported pipe line laid throughout the country. Verna agrees to the rig because she wants to
be a Supreme Court Justice. Cyrus wants to be Chief of Staff. Mellie wants to be First Lady. And what about Fitz? I think he is in on it too. He has told Olivia that he wants to win this
election. That he is going to win. He
adds, "It's mine." What a
horrible bunch of self-serving, grandiose self-willed people. They want to run
the country and care not a bit about we the people. If only their fictional
characters did not remind me that they could have real life counterparts.
One big question this terrific series poses is what the
American people want in their elections.
Surely they want their votes to be counted as cast and not rigged by
electronic voting machines.
Advice to Shonda Rhimes: In a flashback or not, show some
jurisdictions counting by hand two times in a publicly observed election and
getting it right. And show some other
jurisdictions counting by electronic voting machines once and getting the count
wrong -- by an undetectable hacking. Publicly observed, secure hand-counted
paper ballots (HCPB) elections are the only way to ensure transparent, fair and
Sheila Parks, Ed.D. has been involved with the current wave of voting rights since the crimes, including the rigging, of the 2000 presidential election in Florida. She is the founder of the Center for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots http://www.handcountedpaperballots.org/ and the author of WHILE WE STILL HAVE TIME: The Perils of Electronic Voting Machines and Democracy's Solution: Publicly Observed, Secure Hand-Counted Paper Ballots (HCPB) Elections http://www.whilewestillhavetimehandcount.org/ She is an ardent feminist, internationalist and peace & justice activist.