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July 10, 2012

Crashing at the Intersection of Women's Rights and Voting Rights

By Sheila Parks, Ed.D.

I defended the abortion clinics with my body for a very long time. I do not want to do that again and fervently hope that those of you who have not done so, never have to.


Crashing at the Intersection of Women's Rights and Voting Rights

By Sheila Parks, Ed.D.

Prologue 1: Enter Rigged Erections

The war on women and war on our ballots via hackable electronic voting machines are inextricably intertwined.   These wars are being waged by the same oppressors. These oppressors want to control not only the entire country but also, specifically and especially, women's bodies.   They seek this control by restricting and outlawing our reproductive rights, including access to contraception.   Not a peep about abolishing insurance coverage for Viagra and rigged erections.

Prologue 2: The Silencing of the Vaginas

The silencing in Michigan of Representative Lisa Brown for saying vagina - VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA - while the men in the room were trying to legislate our vaginas is a new low in the lengths the good old Republican boys will go to in their attempts to control us.   As Brown said, "I am outraged that this legislative body not only wants to dictate what women do, but what we can say."   Michigan was in the midst of attempting to pass the most restrictive law in the country on abortion rights - so far.   Eve Ensler performs The Vagina Monologues with Representative Brown and other Michigan representatives in the Capitol building on Monday, June 18.   

The Recent War on Women and Reproductive Rights

All these laws are being introduced by Republicans.

In April 2012 I spoke and emailed with Elizabeth Nash, the State Issues Manager of the Guttmacher Institute.   I learned that the two states where the worst legislation against women has passed are Arizona (Governor Jan Brewer (R) and Kansas (Governor Sam Brownback (R).   Arizona legislators passed six major restrictions: limiting how medication for abortion is provided, mandating an ultrasound before an abortion, prohibiting physician assistants and nurses from providing abortions, banning abortions for reasons of race and gender selection, prohibiting the use of public funds or tuition to be used to pay for abortion training at Arizona universities, and banning abortion at 18 weeks post fertilization.   Kansas law bans abortion at 20 week post fertilization, has onerous and unnecessary abortion clinic regulations, limits how medication for abortion is provided, prohibits abortion coverage in health plans (except when necessary to save a woman's life), and requires abortion counseling.   This counseling must include information that the abortion "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique and living human being."

Here is a state-by-state report of state legislation, enacted in 2012, regarding reproductive rights. Nash said that between 2000 and 2011, the number of states with less intrusive abortion-related policies dropped from 19 to 9, whereas the number of states with laws hostile to reproductive choice increased from 15 to 26.   Jezebel recently published a terrific article by Erin Gloria Ryan on state by state anti-choice laws enacted in 2012.

In 2010, ultra-right-wing Republican governors were elected in Alabama, South Carolina, Arizona, Maine, Texas, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey and Wisconsin.   In several of these states, these 11 governors were not part of a long line of Republican governors.   In fact, in some of these states, these governors interrupted a long line of Democratic governors.

Also in 2010, the Republican Party took control of a majority of the state legislative bodies.   Nineteen of these state houses went from Democrat to Republican control.

 Here in Massachusetts, Scott Brown (R) won Ted Kennedy's (D) seat, and with that vote we lost a supporter of reproductive rights.   A review of Brown's record on abortion issues reveals that in 2011 NARAL rated him 45% and National Right to Life rated him 75%.   In 2010, NARAL rated Brown 0% and in 2009-2010 National Right to Life rated him 100%.   See Vote Smart to understand these evaluations.

Americans United for Life (AUL) is the organization that writes templates and boilerplate legislation against abortions and other reproductive rights.   AUL specializes in the super-hatred of women and our bodies.   Charmaine Yoest, the president and CEO of AUL who influenced the Komen Organization to defund Planned Parenthood, also testified against the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor and Elana Kagan to the Supreme Court.  

Reproductive rights, including contraception, are only part of the War on Women.   There are other areas where this war is being fought: equal pay, jobs, domestic violence, and education.   If we women don't own our own bodies, we have nothing. The recent laws restricting abortions will most heavily affect low-income women, young women, women of color and rural women.   Rich women will always have access to abortions.

We have not heard the last of pre-natal personhood (North Carolina, Governor Bev Perdue (D); both legislative chambers Republican) and trans-vaginal ultra sounds (Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell (R); both legislative chambers Republican). These misogynist crimes against women are two of the most barbarous tools in the war on women currently being perpetrated by the ultra-right wing.   Since the Republicans vote in lock-step for these laws, I wonder if there are any who don't subscribe to the ultra-right wing of the Republican party.

Enter Rigged Elections -- The War on our Ballots

I still believe that most people do not align with the ultra-right wing (the Tea baggers and the Wisconsin recall results notwithstanding).   So how can we explain the shift in the vote to the right wing, represented by the Republican party?   As someone who cares deeply about these issues and who has been following them since the 2000 Florida presidential election, I cannot help but conclude that Republicans are rigging elections by means of all electronic voting machines.   I also cannot help but ask why the Democrats are silent and, therefore, complicit.

See Richard Charnin 's ground-breaking and brilliant work for an account of what really happened in the totaling of votes in the Wisconsin recall of Governor Scott Walker (R).   Charnin talks of "adjusted exit polls", meaning exit polls that the corporate media "adjust" to match the rigged outcome of the elections.   Our elections are not owned by the people.   Our elections are rigged by a privatized electronic voting machine industry, a few corporations.   The people who are behind these corporations promote their hatred of women and control of our bodies via rigged elections.

There is an enormous amount of evidence that electronic voting machines are vulnerable to errors, to hacking, and to fraud, and that such breaches of democratic process have repeatedly occurred.   See more evidence here and here.   I cannot think of any Democrat who has won an "upset" election since the 2000 presidential election.   Can you?   I can think of many Republicans who are in office from such "upset" victories.   I cannot think of any state or legislative body where the democrats are in control and where legislation against women gets introduced and passed.   Can you?

Some say it can't happen here.   But an honest look at U.S. history tells us we have never had democracy for the 99%.   First, Europeans came and slaughtered the Native peoples; then, the oppressors enslaved people of African descent (60 million Africans shipped here like cargo from Africa); women did not vote until 1919, and we continue to fight wars all over the world.

Rigging elections is a hydra-headed monster.   Voter ID and other means of suppressing the vote of elders, students, and African Americans occurs everywhere, and these measures are mostly, if not entirely, introduced by Republicans.   Money and Citizens United also play their part.   In Massachusetts in 2010, millions of dollars from out of state poured into Scott Brown's (R) coffers and in the Scott Walker (R) recall in Wisconsin in 2012 millions also poured in from out of state.   Yet, even if all the suppression of the vote and the money were stopped immediately, election fraud will continue as long as the electronic voting machines are in use.

Rigging our elections via electronic voting machines allows the ultra-right wing to triumph in its hatred and fear of women and its ardent desire to control us, and few realize that this is going on.   All the electronic voting machines are tallied in ways not visible to the human eye and recounts are difficult, if not impossible. How does this work?   Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) and touchscreen electronic voting machines often do not have a paper trail at all, so elections cannot ever be recounted.   Optical scan machines do have a paper trail, but obtaining a hand recount is expensive and riddled with regulations.   Optical scan machines, as well as touchscreens, are susceptible to error, hacking and fraud.   Hand-marked, publicly observed secure hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB) elections are the only way to ensure that our elections are fair and that our precious votes are counted as cast.

To the Occupy Movement

I know, I know -- many people in the Occupy movement and elsewhere see no difference in either major party and say voting is irrelevant.   For me, there is a difference even between -1 and 0.     I want to know first that our votes are counted as cast, and next who really won the election. On the machines there is no way of knowing.   Both DRE's/touchscreens and optical scan electronic voting machines have been hacked by computer scientists, without trace.   The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) issued a warning in December 2011 about ES&S DS200 IntElect optical scan electronic voting machines errors during voting. These machines were used in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and New York and will be used again in 2012.   There will be no decertification of these machines, according to the EAC's Brian Hancock, "Our goal is not to decertify systems. We never want to be in a situation of putting counties in a position where they cannot run an election."   Read more details here and here. Read here about the most noted hacks of electronic voting machines by computer scientists. .

Watch Hacking Democracy free on your own computer for one of the most famous hacks, done on the same machines on which Volusia County counted its vote in Florida in the 2000 presidential election.   In this hack, Harri Hursti also demonstrated that he could go in and tamper with the program of the machine and leave no trace. Read the full description of what happened in Volusia.

I love the Occupy movement and am part of Occupy Boston.   We in the voting rights movement need you, the Occupy people: your honesty, courage, mic checks, steadfastness, analysis, reaching millions of people, street creds and non-violent civil disobedience.   I implore all Occupy people to join us and help stop election fraud, the war on our ballots, and thus also the war on women.

See web site, Center for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots and our Facebook page .

I am completely responsible for the text and any errors in it. This article may be reproduced in whole or part, with attribution of authorship given and link to this article.

 Thank you to all the sisters and brothers fighting both these wars everywhere, Elizabeth Nash, Jackie, Michelle Weiser, Mindy Fried, Nina Moliver, Stephen Caruso.

 Bio: Parks is the Founder of the Center for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots, and a long-time ardent Socialist Feminist and Internationalist. She spent a year in prison for the 13th non-violent Plowshares action against first strike nuclear weapons and defended the abortion clinics with her body for a very long time. She does not want to go back to doing that and fervently hopes that those of you who have not had to do so, never have to.

Submitters Website: http://www.whilewestillhavetime.org

Submitters Bio:

Sheila Parks, Ed.D., is a former college professor. She had a spiritual awakening many years ago and left her career to do peace and justice work full time. She is the founder of the grassroots group On Behalf of Planet Earth (found on FB). The group vigiled at the Japanese Consulate/Boston in 2014, standing in solidarity with the people of Japan about the tragic and disastrous meltdown of nuclear power plant Fukushima Daiichi, The group now focuses on closing all nuclear power plants now. We are also focusing now on boycotting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The entire country of Japan is radiated and is not a place where we should be sending our young athletes or anyone else. Nuclear power plants are crimes against humanity, all living creatures, and our beautiful and so troubled planet Earth. They leave radioactive waste that lasts hundreds of thousands and even millions of years. They cause leukemia and other cancers. We stand in solidarity with all our sisters and brothers working to keep all fossil fuels in the ground, stop fracking, close all pipelines, halt the construction of new pipelines - that includes all the corporations that do this work for the oil and gas industries. She spent many years in the struggle against nuclear weapons with the Catholic Left. Many of those years involved lots of non-violent civil disobedience against nuclear weapons and other evils of the USA society. She spent a year in prison for a Plowshares action against first strike nuclear weapons, Trident II. Defending the abortion clinics with her body for many years was a part of her feminist activities. Parks spent 13 years working for voting rights, against all electronic voting machines and for the solution of hand-counted paper ballots. She is the author of a book, published September 6, 2012: "WHILE WE STILL HAVE TIME: The Perils of Electronic Voting Machines and Democracy's Solution: Publicly Observed, Secure Hand-Counted Paper Ballots (HCPB)Elections" and the Founder of the Center for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots. She lives in Watertown, MA, and is an ardent feminist, internationalist, investigative journalist and peace & justice activist/organizer.