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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/12/08

Richard Hayes Phillips,Author of "Witness to a Crime: A Citizens' Audit of an American Election"

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Part One: Why I was able to become an Election Fraud Investigator

In the sphere of election integrity, Richard Hayes Phillips stands out. For the last several years, he has dedicated himself to investigating the forensic evidence of the 2004 presidential election in the state of Ohio. Why Ohio? Because it was key to the Bush “victory,” and because he saw disturbing anomalies, he threw himself into what would turn out to be a three-year project “to find out for [him]self” (p. 1). Long after most people had reluctantly returned to their normal lives, Phillips soldiered on, studying the election records to a degree that they had rarely, if ever, been studied before. He requested, photographed, and analyzed “126,000 ballots, 127 poll books, and 141 voter signature books from 18 counties in Ohio.”

The result, Witness to a Crime: A Citizens’ Audit of an American Election was just published some weeks ago. The story Phillips unfolds is a fascinating one. This book is an indispensable aid to understanding the 2004 election in general, and Ohio specifically. Because Kent State University Press reneged on its contract, Witness to a Crime almost wasn’t published at all. But, this mild-mannered holder of four degrees, former college professor, talented musician, and seasonal Adirondack trail-clearer simply refused to allow this story to slip away.

In this series, Phillips will lay out the intriguing story behind the story. I am honored that he chose me and OpEdNews as the vehicle for his tale. I urge you to check this book out, pass it around, buy it for your local library, and write letters to the editors of your local newspaper about it. We need to break through the media blackout. As Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. says:
This landmark investigation is a testament to what private citizens can accomplish when government officials fail to protect our right to vote and to count those votes as cast. Every American – Republican and Democrat – should read this book, and join the fight for democracy’s most fundamental right.

This series will explore, in his own words, how Phillips got involved, how he was the right guy with the right skill set to do the job, the (non)response of the corporate press, and the mystery of the broken contract. He writes – and speaks – very clearly, considerately providing visual aids to bolster his contention. He doesn’t expect you to just take his word for it. He lets the evidence speak for itself. Each copy of Phillips’s book includes a CD containing a sampling of the 30,000 digital photographs of forensic evidence.

While Phillips’s individual effort is staggering in its scope, he does not imply that he did it all on his own. Without volunteers, he could not have amassed the data he did, and he acknowledges more than 60 individuals by name at the beginning of the book.

Phillips is a pretty unassuming person to be in the midst of what is, in my humble opinion, the biggest uncovered story of the last 50 years. He is also a fascinating character in his own right and I have tremendously enjoyed collaborating with him on this series. Clearly, my goal is to drum up interest in this book. But, ultimately, it is what Phillips’s investigation revealed that is the true focus here. It is my fervent wish that you follow RFK Jr.’s advice and go out and grab a copy to see for yourself. You won’t find it in the bookstores. It is available only in person, by mail order, or online. I urge you to create some noise, and be the media. Do their job for them, because we simply can’t afford to wait for them to figure out that they should be doing it themselves.
Why I Was Able to Become an Election Fraud Investigator
by Richard Hayes Phillips

As I write these words I am sitting in a lean-to with a view of Giant Mountain in the Adirondack High Peaks of Essex County, New York. A lean-to is a log structure with three sides and an overhanging roof to keep the inside dry when it rains. Every spring I live in this lean-to during my seasonal employment with the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society (ATIS). We are responsible for clearing and maintaining about 112 miles of foot trails in some of the most rugged terrain in the eastern United States. The pay is modest, but you can’t beat the workplace, and sometimes we commute to work in a guide boat or a canoe.

When I began working with ATIS twelve years ago I loved it so much that I decided to structure my life around this seasonal job, and never again to accept year-round employment. And that is the reason why I was able to become an election fraud investigator, as ironic as that sounds.

The reason why most people cannot do what they want to do, or what they are called to do, is because their time is not their own. Most of us have a full-time job, or are looking for one, or are studying in preparation for one. Most of us struggle to pay the bills and cannot possibly finance a serious investigation, even on a shoestring basis. Most adults have dependent family members in need of income, care and sustenance. And most of us shun controversy because we fear criticism, ridicule, intimidation, retaliation, and ostracism; or because we doubt that we can do what we have never done before; or because we think that nothing we can do will make a difference.

I was not restrained by any of these things. I did not have to quit my job because, during most of the year, I have none. I accepted contributions which amounted to less than half of minimum wage, and when it wasn’t enough to pay the bills I borrowed from my own retirement accounts. I am the master of low overhead, and my house is paid for. I live only with a cat, and he is quite independent.

I do not enjoy criticism, but neither do I fear it, because my research is thorough, my knowledge is deep, and I tell the truth as well as I can see it. I cannot be intimidated because I have no fear, which renders courage unnecessary. I cannot be bribed because I am not motivated by money. I cannot be blackmailed, because I have nothing to hide.

I do have four degrees, although I rarely use them, and these are not what qualify me to be an election fraud investigator. The methodology is elementary. I only used four mathematical techniques: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Nothing more is necessary when the numbers don’t add up. And I do have certain attributes that proved well suited to the task: perseverance, ability to focus, attention to detail, the ability to smell a rat, and a detective’s knack for asking the right questions in the right order.

I do not seek controversy. It finds me. Some say it is the Lord’s way of using me, knowing that I will rise to the challenge. I much prefer the peaceful life, and steadier income, of a folk musician, or a field geologist, or a trail blazer.

And as I watch the rain clouds descend upon Giant Mountain, I think of that e-mail from Blue Knob in Pennsylvania, and how one woman, having seen election results from Cleveland that simply could not be right, decided to throw the first rock in the water, and thus make waves in all directions. One person made a difference by reaching another person who made a difference. That is how the world is changed, one person at a time. Seeing those numbers made me a witness to a crime, and my mother had taught me that a witness must come forward. Ohio needed an election fraud investigator, and I was willing to do it.


Stay tuned for the next installment in this series: Being Multi-Faceted in a Two-Dimensional Society

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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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