Election interference at unprecedented levels

“Elections belong to the people. It is their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

—Abraham Lincoln

This election could be worse than Florida. It could wind up in the courts for months or longer. Already, there is a flood of lawsuits in connection with it.

Last time around, the problem was Florida. This time, potential trouble spots are Ohio, Oregon, West Virginia and Nevada. Problems with electronic voting machines are well documented. (See this week’s “Viewpoint”)

In Ohio, a security consultant found anyone with a security card and a simple password could take control of the terminals. In Maryland, consultants were able to hack into the voting system, delete vote totals, and make massive changes in the election results.

There have been reports that both parties–Democrats and Republicans–are up to “dirty tricks” in advance of the vote. We’ve heard of a company operating out in Nevada called Voters Outreach of America. It also uses the names of America Votes and Project America Votes. It was hired to carry out voter registration in that state.

Voters Outreach is headed by Nathan Sproul, former head of the Republican Party of Arizona, and is financed by the Republican National Committee. (Truthout.org) Sproul was behind the Arizona drive to get Ralph Nader on the ballot. He was accused of collecting 14,000 invalid signatures in that effort.

A former employee, Eric Russell, accused the company of trashing voter registration forms turned in by people signing up as Democrats. Writer William Rivers Pitt quotes Russell as saying: “I personally witnessed my supervisor at VOA, together with her personal assistant, destroy completed registration forms that VOA employees had collected. All of the destroyed registration forms were for registrants who indicated their party preference as ‘Democrat.’”

Similar complaints against Sproul’s company came from Oregon and West Virginia.

In Oregon, the secretary of state and the attorney general have launched an investigation into claims of registration tampering much like those in Nevada.

In Ohio, John Kerry’s name was left off the absentee ballots sent to voters. A man named Chad Stanton was arrested for submitting phony registration forms. He told police he was paid in crack cocaine. There are also reports that some Ohio college students are being paid $100 each to vote Republican on absentee ballots. Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell has tried to block newly registered voters there from making the voter rolls by claiming their registration forms were invalid because they were on the wrong weight of paper. He also tried to block such voters from getting provisional ballots, allowing them to vote if they have moved. Fortunately, a judge struck down such biased lunacy.

Efforts to suppress the votes of African-American, Hispanic and Democratic voters are more intense now than in any previous campaign. The Democratic Party has posted more than 10,000 lawyers, 2,000 of them in Florida, to fight this practice. Civil rights groups are sending out more than 6,000 attorneys. As writer Sidney Blumenthal observed: “…the battle over voting rights, over democracy itself, is being fought again.” (Common Dreams.org)

Ohio, Oregon, West Virginia, and Nevada provide a total of 37 electoral votes. In a race as close as this one appears to be, those 37 electoral College votes loom large.

Vote stealing has gone on in past elections, but never in as blatant and offensive a manner as in this one. The basic premise of our elections, count every vote and make every vote count, is being undermined by a biased, self-serving group who would deny us our right to vote.

Pitt put it succinctly. He said: “If the United States of America cannot have a free, fair, open and untrammeled election, if our nation cannot perform its most solemn duty without criminal interference and blatant propaganda soiling the process, perhaps we do not deserve the democracy so many have fought and died for.”

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