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?
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
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.
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 Friedman, Jonathan 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.
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 .