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Will The 1% Steal Ohio's Labor Rights Referendum?

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by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
November 6, 2011

Tuesday's most important vote is the repeal of Ohio's vicious anti-labor Issue 2. 

Polls show the repeal winning by 25% or more. But will it---like the 2004 presidential election---be stolen by the 1% intent on crushing working people and stealing huge sums of money? 

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Like Wisconsin's millionaire assault on the bargaining rights of public unions, the thoroughly bought Ohio legislature has passed a draconian law aimed at crippling the organizing ability of working people. 

The attack has the loud, persistent support of Wall Street's hand-picked Governor John Kasich, who made millions as a Foxist commentator and Lehman bond dealer. Among other things, Kasich helped pawn $400 million in Lehman's junk bonds onto the Ohio teacher's pension fund, making him a multi-millionaire. Control of that money would be directly affected by the outcome of this referendum. 

The legislature's original passage of the anti-labor bill drew thousands of demonstrators to the statehouse lawn and key locations throughout the Buckeye State. The pre-occupy rallies got ardent support from progressive, union and working people across Ohio's political spectrum. 

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But the vast, apparently virtually limitless resources of corporate America have been polluting the Ohio media, distorting the nature of the vote, aiming to thoroughly confuse the voters, who must vote no on this issue to defeat the bill. Since corporations are now considered "people," with no real limits on what can be spent, the corporate anti-labor deluge has been horrific. 

But that's only the beginning. In 2004, the Ohio's GOP control of the governorship and Secretary of State's office made possible the theft of the presidency for George W. Bush. Though highly sophisticated exit polls showed John Kerry winning the state by more than 4%, the "official" outcome had him losing Ohio's 20 electoral votes---and thus the White House---by more than 2%.

By all credible estimates such a shift of more than 6% was a statistical impossibility. It was primarily engineered by Bush consigliere Karl Rove and Republican Secretary of J. Kenneth Blackwell. 

Rove and Blackwell helped knock more than 300,000 primarily Democratic voters off Ohio's registration rolls prior to election day 2004. Despite the obvious irregularities that defined the registration process, voting procedures, ballot tabulations and final electronic manipulations, John Kerry conceded Ohio---and the election---with nearly 250,000 votes left uncounted. 

In July of this year, www.freepress.org posted the architectural maps used in Blackwell's 2004 voting operation in Ohio. His electronic reporting operation was designed by a partisan Republican firm, GovTech and linked directly to servers at the premier Republican and right-wing tech company SmarTech in Chattanooga, Tennessee. See New court filing reveals how the 2004 Ohio presidential election was hacked 

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In the 2005 election, a corporate coalition parallel to the one fighting to crush worker rights this year worked on a comparable Issue 2. In reaction to the theft of the vote in 2004, a popular uprising had designed that Issue 2 to make it easier for Ohioans to vote early by mail or in person. 

Two days before the 2005 vote, the Republican-leaning Columbus Dispatch poll showed that Issue 2 passing by 26 points, 59% to 33%. 

But, on that November 8 (the same day as this year's vote), Blackwell oversaw the defeat of Issue 2 with the utterly implausible support of 63.5%. Once again, the shift from pre-election polling to final "official" vote count was a virtual statistical impossibility. 

For Blackwell's official vote tally to square with the pre-election Dispatch poll, there would have to have been an unprecedented 22% shift in the last days of the election cycle. Given the ability of the Ohio Secretary of State to easily manipulate voter registration and ballot counting, American democracy was severely crippled in that 2005 outcome, a defeat that may again come into play this Tuesday. (See Has American Democracy died an electronic death in Ohio 2005's referenda defeats?

This time around, the Republican-dominated Ohio legislature has already attempted to disenfranchise 900,000 Ohio voters---nearly 20% of the overall electorate. The vast majority of these newly disenfranchised citizens come from demographics indicating they are progressive voters who would vote to defeat Issue 2. Republican efforts came through HB 194, designed to make it difficult for the elderly, disabled, poor, and students to vote. Thankfully, a separate petition drive has temporarily blocked this latest reincarnaton of Jim Crow in the north. 

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Harvey is a lifelong activist who speaks, writes and organizes widely on energy, the environment, election protection, social justice, grass-roots politics and natural healing, personal and planetary.He hosts "California Solartopia" at KPFK-Pacifica and "Green Power & Wellness" atprn.fm. (more...)

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