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Life Arts    H1'ed 12/12/13

Million Milestone for OEN's Joan B

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OpEdNews'  Election Integrity Editor Joan Brunwasser hit a milestone last Sunday with a million views of her over 650 articles for OpEdNews. A large portion of her articles are interviews, so we turned the tables and interviewed her!

Meryl Ann Butler: Joan, congratulations on reaching a million views on your collection of 650+ articles for OpEdNews, wow, that's fabulous!  How did you get involved with OpEdNews in the first place?

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Joan Brunwasser: Thanks so much, Meryl Ann. It feels a bit strange to be the interviewee for a change! My activism, which led to my coming on board as Election Integrity Editor at OpEdNews, started when I saw a powerful documentary called Invisible Ballots

It was the summer of 2005, after the contentious and problematic 2004 presidential election. There was a large and growing contingent that felt there were "issues' that affected the election, like voter disenfranchisement and the iffiness and lack of transparency of computerized voting. I had spent the last several months sending out letters to all kinds of people, trying to stimulate discussion about democracy and how to insure clean, fair elections. I was getting nowhere.  The corporate media simply wasn't interested in seriously exploring any doubts about the legitimacy of that election [or the election process in general]. It didn't stop me, but I was pretty frustrated.

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After seeing the film, it was as if a light bulb had gone off in my head. This was really unusual for me. I didn't consider myself particularly imaginative but I clearly and immediately saw the tremendous potential to spread awareness through this film. People don't read as much anymore; we're a movie-oriented culture. Little by little, I started accumulating copies of the film and sending them around via what became a lending library.

Rob Kall, "Mr. OpEdNews," belonged to a group in Bucks County, PA, that had received a copy of the film.  He and I began corresponding. He offered me the position at OpEdNews and promised that it wouldn't impinge on my lending library activities. In fact, he promised me "synergy." I wasn't entirely sure what it was but it sounded good so I swallowed my doubts and came aboard in December, 2005. It didn't hurt that he promised that I could pull out at any time if I found it too demanding, too difficult, too whatever. I scheduled my debut during winter break because I was off work then. I knew it would be a good time for me to learn all the ins and outs of the website, posting and other tech issues, never my strong suit. From a kind of rocky start almost exactly eight years ago, it's fair to say that we've gone on to accomplish a lot!

That lending library took off, especially after I hooked up with OpEdNews. I made an arrangement with the director, William Gazecki, to make several thousand copies of the film independently. I raised the money, designed the cover and promo material, and schlepped them to the 2006 Take Back America conference in Washington, DC. For a gal who doesn't like crowds, pulling that off was pretty awesome!

MAB:  Wow, it's great to hear the back story! I remember being aware of some of your work 'way back then. I posted my first article here in 2005, also. Can you share with us some of your favorite election integrity articles and their importance?

JB: Where to begin? Over the past eight years, I've had the opportunity to work with many dedicated election activists doing wonderful work including Bev Harris , Victoria Collier , Lynn Landes , Mark Crispin Miller , Brad FriedmanJonathan Simon , Sally Castleman, Nancy Tobi, Harvey Wasserman , Bob Fitrakis , Steven Rosenfeld . Let's not forget Michael Collins or the "Diebold whistleblower" Steven Heller . I did a great four-parter with election fraud investigator Richard Hayes Phillips . Alastair Thompson and his Australia-based Scoop have covered much of the election news that correspondents much nearer by have chosen to overlook and underreport. Isn't that a national embarrassment? Then there's Ion Sancho , Leon County FL Supervisor of Elections, a personal hero. And Bruce Funk, Sancho's counterpart in Emery County, Utah, who was pretty much run out of office by Diebold officials who didn't like his concerns about their machines.

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Fellow Chicagoan Bob Koehler was one of the only mainstream media guys to talk about the topic in a serious way. Greg Palast has done great, consistent coverage -- although I haven't snagged him for an interview -- yet!  He's an American who works out of the UK. Many of his stories never hit the American media altogether. That's true for many of those writing in the alternative media; it's as if we're living in a parallel universe.  It's another very good reason to not depend solely upon traditional sources for your news.

Then, there are all the filmmakers who've documented our seriously messed up elections. A sampling: Tia Lessin and Carl Deal are finishing up Citizen Koch right now. We've got Dorothy Fadiman with Stealing America: Vote by Vote ; John Ennis: Pay2Play: Democracy's High Stakes ; Murder, Spies and Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story by Patty Sharaf, Commander N Thief by Tom O'Brien, Swing State Ohio by Jed Wolfington, American Blackout by Ian Inaba, David Earnhardt's Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections and Eternal Vigilance: The Fight to Save Our Election System .

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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)

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