Why are Ohio election officials still in office, even though they wrote excuse letters about illegally destroying 2004 ballots, and while constituents complain that their quality of life is on the brink of collapse since the "stolen" 2004 election.
Citizens ask these questions in an experimental video probe entitled, "Democracy Deadlocked." They wanted an end to war and to bring jobs home. In a journey across Ohio, a unique Fellowship project finds voters in an economic depression mode since the 2004 "stolen election" -- they share how they cash in metal cans, grow gardens to eat, and ride bicycles to survive. Hundreds of thousands of Ohio jobs were sent overseas since 2004 and home prices are cut in half. Meantime, the government has made no connection an economy in crisis and the loss of a true vote count.
As the rest of the nation catches up to the economic catastrophe, regular Ohioans of all income sectors offer what they've learned about daily survival against the backdrop of a powerfully celebrity driven media seems to have abandoned grassroots voices. A survey found seniors eat only at hunger centers and ambulances bring meals to people who are secretly living in their foreclosed homes.
Produced under the auspices of the George Washington Williams Fellowship, New Voices in Independent Journalism, the objective was to keep the ethics high and to deliberately keep costs of a news production as low as possible in a test of the First Amendment in a grassroots environment and through modern day technology.
Citizens who own websites, blogs, technical video production skills, and a track record of getting political stories out worked with Cornick under the rules of professional journalism. Jeff Kirkby of Cleveland, Ohio became the primary shooter and editor in Ohio. Faisal Azam was the chief editor in New York with students and others volunteering along the way.
The stars this time were not the voice of Oprah Winfrey or the hype of well-coiffed corporate news correspondents, but were disenfranchised voters such as Joy Grambrell, who offers suggestions for putting food on the table, like growing vegetables on a patch of land to save money on groceries and gas. She suggests, "large flower pots or a small plot of land, and canning."
The project examines how Ohio lives have changed in other ways. Willis Brown, who is the lead plaintiff in the King Lincoln vote fraud suit against the Ohio Office of the Secretary of state. Brown says he's suing. "to hold those officials accountable who have gotten away with the fraud." Linda Esson, a farmer, offers research on what she calls, "a global corporate monarchy that control seven crucial citizens' rights in order to make profits." Esson urgently calls for people to contact farmers for cheaper food prices. Paddy Shaffer says she was motivated by filmmaker Michael Moore to investigate Ohio's officials and has collected and analyzed a vast amount of official public records on election crimes.
The Ohio Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, as well as Shannon Leinenger, the President of the Ohio Association of Election Officials, a private group guided, ironically, by a former electronic voting machine lobbyist, Aaron Ockerman, explain how government officials continue to make the rules, even though their actions in 2004 were questionable. Plaintiff Willis Brown's attorneys, Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis, talk about how they have decided handle the class action vote fraud case, including redirecting the focus towards Karl Rove.
With so many political wrongdoings of the past eight years being cited by citizens but still ripe for investigation, the Fellowship project wants eyes to adjust to the vision of what regular people look like and offers guidelines to citizen and professional journalists who want to combine efforts using a bare bone budget and today's technical advances for publishing online. All data will be posted online as a multi media project with full interview clips by all participants.