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November 13, 2012

Harvey Wasserman Warns Against Complacency About Election "Results"

By Joan Brunwasser

To win meaningful change we have to do many things:Abolishing the Electoral College will require a Constitutional amendment.So will overturning Citizens United.Universal automatic voter registration &hand-counted paper ballots might be mandated federally,but most likely that'll have to be done state by state.Likewise the four-day national voting holiday.But now that we have the critical mass of a movement we are ready to build


My guest today is author, journalist and Ohio-based election integrity activist, Harvey Wasserman. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Harvey. We last talked a week before the election. Just as the American people were getting used to the idea that Obama prevailed and that Romney had not pulled off a  last-minute upset, you wrote a very disturbing piece entitled "Romney would have won if it had all come down to Ohio" . What's that all about?   

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Union Square, NYC; photo credit: Lionel DeLevingne

It's good to be back with you, Joan, especially in a country that will NOT have Mitt Romney as its next president.

It's also clear we now have a full-blown social movement, a grassroots election protection groundswell that has been building for 12 years, since Florida 2000, and is now ready to win.

I'll be 67 in December, and in this lifetime I've seen incredible victories for civil rights, peace, women's rights, LGBT, No Nukes, Solartopia".and now election protection.  There are great people working in this movement, we have a general agenda, and some general agreement on where we need to go.

We have also accomplished some great things.  In 2008, activists came out by the thousands to go to the polls because we'd made it clear from 2000 and 2004 that elections can be stolen, and that Barack Obama was not going to become president unless people escorted our voters to the polls and protected their franchise.

This year, against all odds, those people came out again.  Many of us were skeptical because Obama had run such a corporate presidency and turned off so much of the activist left.  But I think Romney really scared the hell out of people, and the Republicans were so insanely anti-woman and so obviously retrograde that people felt they had no choice.  I think Obama also ran an excellent campaign.  It also helped that he did a masterful job of handling the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in such obvious contrast with how George W. Bush had handled Katrina.  All that and more allowed the Democrats to pull far enough away that it did not all come down to Ohio, or Ohio and Florida, as so many of us feared.  

But it's also very clear that had this election actually been decided in Ohio, or in just Ohio and Florida, that Rove and the Republicans were in perfect position to steal it.  They had the "Jim/Juan Crow" disenfranchisement machine wired to the max.  They had the electronic theft apparatus ready to go.

But the publicity we shined on the Hart Intercivic machines in Cincinnati, and Bob's [Bob Fitrakis, Ohio lawyer, Green candidate, author and election investigator] brilliant lawsuit on the ES&S compiling software throughout the state, really put the Republicans on notice that THE WHOLE WORLD WAS WATCHING and that if they did try to steal it, there would be hell to pay.

I think, when push came to shove, they were just too scared to pull the trigger.  And rightfully so".I think we had the experience, the knowledge and the power this time to really expose them and put them in danger of serious legal and political consequences.  And at some point I think some of them realized it.  Not Rove.  He was too far removed from the realities on the ground.  But people like Husted, the Ohio Secretary of State".I think they got the message.  And we've got to make sure that message gets ever stronger.  

I do think, nonetheless, that many of the down races were certainly stolen.  I'm very skeptical of the outcome of at least one Ohio Supreme Court race.  I think there are serious issues in Arizona with that US Senate race, and possibly with the Senate race in Nevada as well.  We also need to look at the GMO referendum in California.  And I'm sure throughout the country there are non-presidential races that were messed with, and that scream out for major investigation, followed by lawsuits and prolonged opposition.  That's what our movement is now about.

So, yes, the presidential margins were thankfully formidable for the Republicans this time.  They would have needed more than Ohio and Florida to steal the White House again.  But they also had governors and secretaries of state not only in Ohio and Florida but also in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, New Mexico and Arizona.  And if people had not been aware of their dirty tricks and mobilized to fight them on both the disenfranchisement and the electronic theft fronts, the GOP could have, in the dead of election night, made this another 2000 or 2004.  

Now the fight against the photo ID and other kill-the-vote frauds, the H.I.G. revelations, the Fitrakis lawsuit and much more we've done have taken things to a new level, and we must not stop.  We need to push relentlessly into every statewide vote count now and really examine what happened in these senatorial, congressional, judgeship, state legislature and referenda votes and let NOTHING pass by without a challenge.  

ALL this stuff needs to be cleared up.  We don't want to go into 2016 with the presidency once again vulnerable to this kind of dirty pool, and we don't want to keep suffering the continued loss of what precious little is left of our democracy in the interim.  

I don't know where to start!  Many people outside of Ohio have no idea about the illegal software patches suddenly installed on most of the voting machines in what was sure to be Ground Zero again this election year. Or the timely lawsuit filed right before the election. What was that all about?

The GOP was up to its dirty tricks in Ohio. As discovered by Bob Fitrakis & Gerry Bello, an illegal software patch was installed on ES&S machines that would handle about 4 million Ohio votes---approaching 80% of the total in the state.  The software would make it very easy to hack the compiled vote counts as they were electronically transmitted from the counties to the state.  The lawsuit Fitrakis v. Husted demanded the patch be removed.  The attorney-general said it was "experimental" which was bizarre since it's been around since 2002 and available in at least one version for free on the internet.  The only logical reason it would be installed was to make the vote count easier to hack.

The federal court denied the injunction against using the patch.  A local court also denied it, but was very friendly and urged the Free Press to re-file after the election.  So we shall see.   

We also publicized the fact that the Hart Intercivic machines in Hamilton County (Cincinnati) were owned, programmed, operated and tallied by a company controlled by Romney operatives and invested in by a Romney family fund.  Since when do we have elections on machines owned by one of the candidates?

Well, as it turns out, two senatorial elections were won by Chuck Hagel in Nebraska on ES&S machines when he was a principal in that company.  The results were completely implausible, but held up.  We saw a similar outcome to unseat Sen. Max Cleland in Georgia, and other such results throughout the country.  

Now we are looking at a very suspicious situation in Arizona.  I believe it's highly likely the Democrat actually won that Senate seat even though the "official" result now says otherwise.  I truly hope the Democrats and election protection folks there do NOT concede until there's been a full, definitive investigation, complete with lawsuits, grassroots uprisings, and more.  This lethal pattern of cynical right-wing election theft MUST stop!!!

There's so much pressure on candidates to concede prematurely, regardless of the murky circumstances surrounding the elections. It's hard to withstand. Were you surprised that the courts upheld the use of the patch in Ohio?  

Candidates who really care need to denounce the "Kerry Syndrome" of conceding when the outcome is still in doubt.  Let's especially speak up about the US Senate seat in Arizona, which is very much in play because of the ridiculous number of provisional ballots Hispanic voters were forced to use.  

We got a dual track response to the ES&S lawsuit.  The federal judge threw it right out.  But the local judge left the door very much open for post-election scrutiny.  We were not surprised by the fed response---the judge is a Bush appointee---but we're hopeful on the local case.  

We should also note that in a separate case the federal judge who upheld our 2004 suit demanding a recount in Ohio angrily berated the secretary of state's office for its dubious inconsistencies in dealing with provisional ballots here. This is a huge issue nationwide---as in Arizona---as provisionals are used to disenfranchise black and Hispanic voters throughout the US.  They too often get pitched in the trash, as were more than 90,000 in Ohio 2004.  

We are of course now hearing that since Obama won there was really no problem.  This is suicidal.  Until electronic voting is abolished (as in Ireland) and we have money out of politics, abolition of the Electoral College, universal automatic voter registration, universal hand counted paper ballots, fair access to the polls, etc., we can't say we have a democracy (see our "An Election Protection Agenda for 2016" at ).

The good news is we now have a full-fledged social movement to win these things.  It's up to us to make sure it succeeds".soon!!!

For those of us who have felt like we were spitting in the wind, it's encouraging that more and more people are finally joining the movement to protect our elections. What kinds of things need to happen to effect meaningful change?

That spitting in the wind made a big difference this time.  We made national news with the Fitrakis lawsuit against electronic theft in Ohio.  Thousands of people across the nation were paying attention.  Obama's margin thankfully prevented this thing from coming down to just Ohio, or just Ohio and Florida.  But next time, who knows?

To win meaningful change we have to do many things.  Abolishing the Electoral College will require a Constitutional amendment.  So will overturning Citizens United.  Universal automatic voter registration and hand-counted paper ballots might be mandated federally, but most likely that'll have to be done state by state.  Likewise the four-day national voting holiday.

But now that we have the critical mass of a movement, we are ready to build momentum and get these things done over the coming years.  Remember:  we are small "d" democrats and Big "G" Greens".

I get what a small d democrat is but what's a big G Green?  And what else would you like to talk about before we wrap this up?

A Big G Green is someone affiliated with or supportive of the actual Green Party.

I think we should be very proud of what this election protection movement has accomplished so far, and be geared up to finish the job.

We MUST have a democratic ballot system that protects third parties who actually challenge the core of the status quo.  No Nukes/no more stolen elections!!!

Amen to that. It was a pleasure speaking with you again, Harvey. I see we've got lots to do. Thanks for the pep talk!

Submitters Website:

Submitters Bio:

Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of transparency and the ability to accurately check and authenticate the vote cast, these systems can alter election results and therefore are simply antithetical to democratic principles and functioning.

Since the pivotal 2004 Presidential election, Joan has come to see the connection between a broken election system, a dysfunctional, corporate media and a total lack of campaign finance reform. This has led her to enlarge the parameters of her writing to include interviews with whistle-blowers and articulate others who give a view quite different from that presented by the mainstream media. She also turns the spotlight on activists and ordinary folks who are striving to make a difference, to clean up and improve their corner of the world. By focusing on these intrepid individuals, she gives hope and inspiration to those who might otherwise be turned off and alienated. She also interviews people in the arts in all their variations - authors, journalists, filmmakers, actors, playwrights, and artists. Why? The bottom line: without art and inspiration, we lose one of the best parts of ourselves. And we're all in this together. If Joan can keep even one of her fellow citizens going another day, she considers her job well done.

When Joan hit one million page views, OEN Managing Editor, Meryl Ann Butler interviewed her, turning interviewer briefly into interviewee. Read the interview here.

While the news is often quite depressing, Joan nevertheless strives to maintain her mantra: "Grab life now in an exuberant embrace!"

Joan has been Election Integrity Editor for OpEdNews since December, 2005. Her articles also appear at Huffington Post, RepublicMedia.TV and