Will the GOP election theft machine do it again in 2008?
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
October 19, 2007
With record low approval ratings for the Bush/Cheney regime and the albatross of an unpopular war hanging from the GOP's neck, do you think that a Democratic presidential candidate will win the White House, get us out of Iraq, and end our long national nightmare?
Think again – the mighty election theft machine Karl Rove used to steal the US presidency in 2000 and 2004 may be under attack, but it is still in place for the upcoming 2008 election.
With his usual devious mastery, Rove has seized upon the national outrage sparked by his electoral larceny and used it as smokescreen while he makes the American electoral system even MORE unfair, and even EASIER to rig. Thus the administration has fired federal attorneys when they would not participate in a nationwide campaign to deny minorities and the poor their access to the polls. It has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to install electronic voting machines that can be "flipped" with a few keystrokes. And under the guise of "reforming" our busted electoral system, it is setting us up for another presidential theft in 2008.
Rove, Ney and the undead
Indeed, the Rovian theft engine is far from dead. The media groundwork has already been laid out for the Republicans to claim that hordes of illegal aliens have registered to vote. The Bush administration has been caught ordering public agencies – possibly in violation of the law – to cease registering voters. In an April, 2006 speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association, Rove openly alluded to the strategy of demanding photo ID and purging voter roles of poor, minority voters just as had been done in 2000 and 2004. And, as always with Bush/Rove, there is much more beneath the surface.
Nowhere has that movement been more in evidence than with the high profile firestorm surrounding Bush administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ firing of eight federal prosecutors without legitimate cause.
Evidence continues to surface from throughout the United States about this blatant Bush abuse of executive power. But we have traced the roots of the firings to an obscure Congressional hearing held at the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, on March 21, 2005, and to a shadowy GOP operative named Mark F. "Thor" Hearne.
The hearing was conducted by none other than former US Rep. Bob Ney (R-18th OH). The once-powerful Ohio Congressman (who is now behind bars) was the godfather of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the national boondoggle that mandated electronic voting machines for the American electoral process.
That the machines would cost taxpayers billions was a big plus for Ney. They would come from Diebold and other companies that poured money into Republican coffers. Thanks largely to the manipulations of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, these e-voting machine companies would help guarantee the GOP’s ability to steal elections.
Ney’s hearing featured a marquee appearance by J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Secretary of State responsible for delivering Ohio’s decisive 2004 electoral votes to Bush. Blackwell was a key operative for the Bush election campaign in Florida in 2000 and co-chaired the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign in Ohio.
Congressional protocol required that Ney allow Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) to question Blackwell. Soon Blackwell and Jones were yelling at each other in a legendary exchange that ended with Jones telling Blackwell to "haul butt" out of the chamber.
Not quite so high profile was the ensuing testimony by Hearne, who identified himself as the head of the American Center for Voting Rights. Hearne is a long-time GOP dirty trickster, with a Rovian rap sheet dating to the 1970s. He did not explain that the ACVR had a post box in a Dallas mall, but no office, few staff, a board stacked with GOP operatives, no grassroots mailing list or much else to confirm the functioning of a real organization. Nor did Ney clarify that Hearne had served as election counsel to the Bush-Cheney campaign, and had founded ACVR the previous month, at the urging of Karl Rove.