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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/1/20

Election Theft Is a 120-Year Tradition. Let's End It This Year.

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Voters in US capitol cast their ballots
Voters in US capitol cast their ballots
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Every four years we suffer the sad ritual of begging or bashing a left third party to refrain from draining votes from the mainstream Democrats because of a horrendous Republican alternative.

And every four years the real point election theft is missed.

It's a 120-year tradition dating back to 1896, the year in which the evangelical Democrat William Jennings Bryan persuaded radical Populists to back his presidential bid. He may well have won the popular vote. But steel baron Mark Hanna (the era's Karl Rove) promised to have Bryan shot if he won, and then stole the vote count for William McKinley.

Bryan and Hanna's manipulations shattered the Populist (People's) Party. Bryan divided it by region and race, Hanna crushed it with stolen ballots. Together they weakened grassroots progressive campaigning for 12 decades to come.

As always, this election year, many on the left question how the Green Party might affect the 2020 election. Much of the debate is brilliant, and the minds behind it on all sides are the best.

But here's a simple request: How about we postpone this evergreen argument until the last week of October?

Right now, it's time to join together to prevent another election theft by protecting the voter rolls and stopping another stolen vote count.

The Transformative Justice Coalition, vote.org and rockthevote.org are among the groups we can support. Their time is now.

Because, as in 1896, in 2020 we're already drowning in real-time voter suppression. It's computerized and violent, as we've just seen in Ohio, where more than 460,000 citizens have been stripped from the voter rolls, and where corporate thugs have used physical force to assault signature gatherers working for a legitimate referendum. Add this to the scourge of a new generation of voting machines that are vulnerable to hacking, and you have the perfect mix for another poisoned election... and for an entrenched autocracy to follow.

At this time, it's helpful to look back through recent history in order to grasp the scope of election theft and how to confront it.

The corporate Democrats did win the presidency in 2000, 2004 and 2016. Each time they wal ked away without a word (except to blame the left). The Gore, Kerry and Clinton campaigns all were shafted by the GOP stripping the voter rolls and flipping electronic vote counts. But instead of fighting to change the basic nature of our electoral system, they have blamed the left and left the machinery of theft in place. So the same pattern of fraud and deceit that cost the Democrats three of the last five presidential elections could strike again in 2020.

Put simply, since the theft of Florida 2000, the Democrats have failed to protect the vote, failed to provide reliable voting machines and failed to abolish the Electoral College all of which could enthrone Donald Trump in 2020.

Those of us reporting on stripped registration rolls and flipped vote counts in Florida in 2000; Ohio in 2004; Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 2016; and more, have been relentlessly attacked not by the Republicans (who don't seem to care) but by the corporate Democrats and many so-called progressives.

Officially decided by 537 votes, the 2000 election in Florida was turned by Gov. Jeb Bush's stripping of more than 90,000 people allegedly with felony convictions (the vast majority of them people of color) from the voter rolls, disenfranchising them using a law from the former Confederacy. In The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Greg Palast shows virtually none actually had felony records. (Of course, even if they had, this should not have resulted in disenfranchisement.) But Ralph Nader is still being blamed for the Democrats' defeat.

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John Jonik

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Submitted on Saturday, Feb 1, 2020 at 4:16:52 AM

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Steve Schneider

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Great article, Bob. We can also support Democracy Counts , a nonprofit, nonpartisan hi-tech startup that is tackling election fraud with same-day election audit apps that empower volunteers to protect elections, in spite of the inaction of Congress and state governments. Democracy Counts is already working with Citizens Audit of Broward, in Florida, to ensure the vote is counted accurately and election fraud is confronted here. DC is also reaching out to citizens in the battleground states to recruit and train volunteers in time for the presidential election. https://democracycounts.org/

This is how an October 8 article in OpEd News described the three apps:

"One app collects information on voter suppression. People denied their right to vote will be asked to enter their preferences on a cell phone or tablet that contains the app. The app will also show any patterns that might emerge from location to location or race to race, Friend notes.

"According to Wolf, the information will be stored on more than one server to "make it all but impossible to hack and damage the data." He says Democracy Counts will share what they learn with candidates and parties injured by the alleged voter suppression, as well as authorities.

"A second app creates a parallel vote count. It will establish a minimum vote count for each candidate, says Friend. This will be compared to official results and tally tapes. Any under reports will be flagged for fraud. Friend is also president of the Progressive Democratic Caucus of Broward.

Part 2 to follow.

Submitted on Saturday, Feb 1, 2020 at 11:16:07 AM

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Steve Schneider

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Part 2:

"The third app keeps an eye on the chain of custody of data transmission from the polling station to the Supervisor of Elections office, which tabulates results. Wolf explains, The app will "take pictures of the tally results posted at polling places and upload them onto our servers. After the precinct results are released by the Secretary of State, the data on the tallies is compared with the officially released precinct data."

Democracy Counts will inform officials and the public if they find results that are different than results authorities have made public, Wolf says. He adds, the citizen watchdog approach is important because "America's 10,000 county election systems are highly variable, many are weak and vulnerable to hacking, some are highly partisan and simply not reliable."

Democracy Chronicles also recently published an interview with the founder of Democracy Counts. Check it out.

(A local NPR station has expressed interest in covering the joint efforts of Democracy Counts and Citizens Audit of Broward, in Florida.)

Submitted on Saturday, Feb 1, 2020 at 11:18:28 AM

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Steve Schneider

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Hey Bob,

I was glad to see you mentioned the theft of Florida in the 2000 election. I agree with you, to an extent.

However, the more important point is the mistake the Supervisor of Elections in liberal, Democratic Palm Beach County made. She designed a ballot that was supposed to be easy to read by the many seniors in the county. But the design was confusing, prompting possibly thousands of elderly Jewish voters to vote for Pat Buchanan when they meant to vote for Al Gore. Just go online, you will find studies and articles in Salon, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, to name a few.

click here

Bush won the state by less than 600 votes. All 67 counties in Florida elect Supervisors of Elections. The more liberal, Democratic counties of Palm Beach and Broward have not always done a great job picking someone to run the election agency.

We paid a big price for that error in 2000.

From Washington.edu/news/2016:

...the longtime elections supervisor in Palm Beach County, Florida, who designed the controversial ballot. LePore's good intentions toward seniors led her to increase the font size of the candidates' names, thus spreading them across two pages of the Votomatic punch-card ballot instructions.

"In her desire for readability, she sacrificed almost everyone believes inadvertently another key design principle: usability," Janes says in the podcast. Subsequent analysis would suggest that thousands of people may have mistakenly voted for ultra-conservative Pat Buchanan due to the ballot confusion.

Submitted on Saturday, Feb 1, 2020 at 11:34:45 AM

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Rob Kall

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Sadly, even if we get rid of Election fraud, that will still leave Democratic leadership, at all levels, stealing elections, as we all know they will try to do with Bernie Sanders, and which they do every day at the local and state level.

Submitted on Saturday, Feb 1, 2020 at 4:25:13 PM

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Hello Rob,

Fortunately, we've got independent voices such as OpEd News to lead the way and set a new course.

Sadly, though, it isn't just election fraud or voter suppression or even the manipulations of mainstream political leaders we must overcome. Sometimes, it's a lack of competence by mainstream officials that make matters worse.

A mainstream Democrat running for president would have won Florida in 2000 if the Democratic Supervisor of Elections in Palm Beach County had produced a ballot her voters could understand. She didn't, and many voted for Pat Buchanan, even though they thought they were voting for Al Gore.

I don't blame Ralph Nader or the U.S. Supreme Court, or even various voter suppression tactics for the 2000 defeat. I blame a Democratic Supervisor of Elections who was kept in office by Democratic voters in Palm Beach County, in Florida.

Mainstream Democrats need to look inward if they want to win elections for mainstream Democrats and/or progressive candidates. The good old boy ways ain't working.

Submitted on Saturday, Feb 1, 2020 at 5:20:26 PM

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Alexander Kershaw

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The best voting machine is a Ticonderoga #2. Storage is easy and they require no software upgrades and are unhackable.

All HS students could have as a graduation requirement participation in ballot counting or precinct monitoring and other civic participation. The young can be fooled but are less likely to be corrupted. Like Canada and other countries the US could still have its results within hours of polls closing while saving counties millions.

Even if the system is cleaned up there is still inherent undemocratic bias. Wearing a Nader 2000 T-shirt I was mocked by a conservative for wasting my vote. I informed him that his vote was wasted too since all electoral votes in CA went to Gore. His smirk faded. He must have believed the propaganda that Bush won because of Nader. A friend and avid supporter of Gore never forgave me even after I informed him that Bush won because of the black male vote and the white woman vote. Those votes being Clarence Thomas and Sandra Day Oconnor.

No matter how you define democracy it has never existed in the US but it could.

Submitted on Saturday, Feb 1, 2020 at 8:28:32 PM

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