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Harvey Wasserman On Ohio's Upcoming Labor Rights Referendum

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My guest today is author, no-nuke activist and election watchdog, Harvey Wasserman. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Harvey. You and Bob Fitrakis authored an article at freepress.org today:  "Will The 1% Steal Ohio's Labor Rights Referendum?" You and your fellow Ohioans have an important decision to make on Tuesday. Can you tell us about it?

photo credit:  Annie Wasserman

The Ohio legislature has passed a horrific bill designed to gut the power of public sector unions.  Tuesday's referendum is meant to overturn it.  Polls show us ahead by 25% or more.  But with the 1%-GOP in control of all branches of government, the theft of the vote count is a high likelihood.

Ohio has been the site of some contentious electoral wrangling, most notably, the Presidential election in 2004. Tell us a little about the players, Harvey.

Ohio is always a key state in presidential elections.  It determined the 2004 outcome.  Karl Rove engineered its theft with then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell.  In 2005 a critical voter rights referendum, winning in the polls by more than 20% just prior to election day, was also stolen.  Today the governor, secretary of state, legislature and judiciary are all controlled by the GOP.  Through manipulation of the registration rolls, balloting procedures, vote count and more, the referendum on repealing a horrific anti-union bill is also in jeopardy.

Are these facts well-known and well-publicized? Are people out on the streets protesting the co-opting of their elections?

The silence on election theft issues is deafening.  The Democratic Party not only says nothing, it has repeatedly attacked Bob Fitrakis and I for breaking these stories.  Neither Al Gore nor John Kerry raised the issue in any significant way despite each having legitimately won the presidency while then allowing Bush/Cheney/Rove to steal it.  The corporate media, of course, also scorns the reality that our electoral process is thoroughly corrupted.  Overall, voter rights has not gained the widespread grassroots uproar it needs, but there have certainly been effective pockets of activism in various places, including Ohio.  

We hope the Occupy movement will now take up this issue.  We must have limitations on corporate purchase of our elections.  This includes winning universal automatic voter registration for all citizens when they turn 18; universal hand-counted paper ballot; and at least a four-day voting period stretched over the weekend prior to the final election day.  

How disappointing and incredibly short-sighted of the Democrats. It's really hard to fathom their reasoning. What should voters be watching for? And what can they do about it?

The Democrats are deeply divided between the party's genuinely progressive wing and the mainstream, which is corporate-owned and operated, and whose function is to present the illusion of democracy while delivering power to the corporate one percent.

Voters need to react strongly if they find themselves bounced off the voter rolls.  There should be a legal infrastructure on place to deal with registration manipulations leading up to and including election day.  Polls on election day must be thoroughly monitored.  We also must have strong exit polling to make sure the inevitable electronic manipulations of the vote count can be contrasted with the voters' intent.  Exit polls, when done right, are the gold standard of true election outcome.  In Germany and elsewhere, they are within 1% and less of the true vote count.

I know there have been efforts on the part of election officials in various locations nationwide to outlaw, restrict or strongly discourage exit polling.  If exit polls are so accurate, why would they be so resistant to them?

There are election "officials" who are there to insure the theft of elections.  Exit polls are a key way to expose what they're doing.

Ahhh... Sadly, that makes sense. I know that Richard Charnin, an election analyst with great credentials,  has done extensive work on the statistical impossibility, not just implausibility, of various official "results" in recent presidential and other electoral races. The glaring discrepancies that he points out have not gotten much attention. Are you familiar with his work? What do you think?

I don't know Richard Charnin's work, but the conclusion that many of our elections are being stolen is inescapable.  Question is:  what are we going to do about it.  I think a Constitutional amendment requiring universal automatic voter registration, universal hand counted paper ballots and at least a four-day voting window would be a great remedy.

Are any efforts being made in that direction? And what the heck do we do in the meantime? It feels like across the country, our elections are being hijacked.

Our elections are definitely being stolen, first by huge corporation "contributions" to their hand-picked candidates, and by truncated registration rolls and outright vote count theft.  This has been a critical issue at least since the 2000 Bush/Gore theft, but traction has been difficult, and will continue to be.  It requires a major national grassroots effort.  Hopefully the Occupy movement will adopt election protection as a key demand.  But we must keep it as a focus for all small-d democratic activism as we move forward.

It all boils down to that, doesn't it, Harvey? Fair, free and transparent elections where votes are cast in private but counted in public are the foundation upon which democracy rests. The farther we stray from that ideal, the more up for grabs and corrupt the system becomes. Anything you'd like to add before we wrap this up?

Our lives and those of our children depend on restoring whatever semblance of democracy this nation has ever had.  It has always been compromised, of course.  But we now have the means and ability to win a truly transparent electoral system.  The corporate elite is resisting with all it has, because if we prevail, their days are numbered.  If we don't, OURS are.  So we have a clear platform, we know the problem, now let's solve it!!!!

From your mouth to God's ear, Harvey. Thanks so much for talking with me again. Good luck to you and the Ohio 99% on Tuesday!

Harvey's website: www.harveywasserman.com


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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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