by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
October 30, 2008

Obama supporters are exuding a potentially fatal air of confidence and expectation. Intoxicated by favorable polls and a gusher of campaign spending, many are, in John McCain’s phrase, “measuring the drapes in the White House.”

It is a classic error, made lethal by the Democratic Party’s on-going unwillingness to face the realities of electronic election theft.

In fact, the twin towers of pre-election disenfranchisement and rigged electronic vote counts make an Obama victory at best an even call, no matter how far ahead he may seem in the polls.

As reported by Bradblog, Greg Palast, Robert F. Kennedy, Mark C. Miller and others, the Republicans are waging all-out war to purge hundreds of thousands of Democrats from the voter rolls. The now-familiar attacks on ACORN are a smokescreen to cover highly effective state-by-state assaults on computerized registration lists. These lists are often privatized and run by Republican-connected companies like Triad in Ohio.

As Palast reported eight years ago, such tactics effectively removed tens of thousands of "ex-felons" (many of whom were no such thing) from Florida voter rolls in an election decided for George W. Bush by a fraudulent official margin of less than 600 votes.

Since 2005, at least another 170,000 voters have been removed from the rolls in Franklin County (Columbus), 94,000 in Hamilton County (Cincinnati) and 58,000 in Montgomery County (Dayton) according to public records obtained by the Free Press.

Also, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner effectively halted the purging of 600,000 additional existing voters by directing that all purged voters be given notification and a hearing. The Republican Party has sued repeatedly to remove another 200,000 new voters that have been registered since January 1, 2008.

An estimated 75-80% of these new registrations are thought to be Obama supporters. The Republican challenge in Ohio is based on so-called "mismatches" in a database. For example, a mismatch could merely be the lack of a middle initial for a voter’s name on their voter registration when matched with records from the Social Security administration, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Ohio Secretary of State or lists maintained by private vendors for the counties.

As reported at, the GOP disenfranchised at least 308,000 Ohio voters (of 5.4 million) prior to a 2004 election decided by a fraudulent official margin of less than 119,000. At least another 170,000 have since been removed.

Now the Republicans are using a compendium of tactics to do the same in other key states, much of which is being reported at and elsewhere.

Though they are meeting grassroots resistance in many cases, the combination of secret computerized manipulations and outright intimidation is certain to cost the Democrats hundreds of thousands of votes in the swing states that will decide the election. As in 2000 and 2004, with scant exception the Democrats are doing little or nothing to stop the slaughter.

Likewise electronic voting machines. As amply demonstrated in studies at Princeton University, the Government Accountability Office, the Carter-Baker Commission, the Brennan Center, by Bev Harris at Black Box Voting, and elsewhere, electronic voting machines are perfectly designed to foster election theft.

Steve Spoonamore, one of the world’s leading experts on computer data fraud and expert witness in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville vs. Blackwell case against the state of Ohio, has provided an affidavit declaring the Ohio electronic voting system vulnerable to tampering. This aligns with the results of the Everest study commissioned by Secretary of State Brunner that found Ohio’s voting machines easily hackable and the electronic pollbooks even more vulnerable, lacking any real security protocols.

As in Youngstown and Columbus in 2004, we are already witnessing across the nation widespread touchscreen "anomalies" in which voters press Obama’s name and other candidates light up. CNN has been forced to report on the vote flipping phenomenon. Election officials have rushed to explain it away with such bizarre reasons such as the use of hand lotion, latent fingerprint shadows on the touchscreen, and ignorant voters. Recently, Greene County, Ohio pollworkers told the Free Press that election officials have simply instructed them to wipe down the screens at 11am an 4pm if the votes are hopping.

Vote shifting has also surfaced where citizens attempt to select a straight party ticket. Even during less pressured advance balloting, machines are breaking down, causing delays and opening wide the door to theft and fraud. The magic word "recalibration" has come to mean mid-stream re-rigging of electronic machines, and is being strategically conjured in voting booths throughout the nation.

The antidote is clear: paper ballots must be made universal. In Ohio, Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has attempted to make this happen, but has been beaten back by Republicans. Maryland and Virginia have announced they will return to paper ballots, but AFTER this year’s election. In Pennsylvania, a Democratic Secretary of State has, incredibly, RESISTED making paper ballots universally available in a state now dominated by electronic machines without paper trails. It should be no surprise that the McCain campaign is now insisting that Pennsylvania is still "in play" despite a double-digit lead in the polls by his opponent, Senator Barack Obama.

On last Sunday’s (Oct. 26) Meet the Press program, NBC news political reporter Kelly O’Donnell’s comments provided the narrative for another potential election larceny in 2008. She commented on the McCain campaign and Republicans: "…they are looking at Pennsylvania. They see Pennsylvania differently than the pollsters and the Democrats, and they are really looking in places where Hillary Clinton was strong, believing they can make up some ground there."

Like Ohio in 2004, where Karl Rove and his Republican operatives spun a tail of a last minute voter surge from right-wing evangelical Christians including homophobic old order Amish in horse and buggies, the Pennsylvania narrative is already obvious. It includes the following elements: Hillary Clinton beat up on Obama in Pennsylvania, the Bradley effect of closet racist Democratic voters, and Obama’s comments about "bitter" people clinging to their guns and religion. All of these will be used to explain away Obama’s double-digit lead when, in the wee hours of the morning the Republican cybervote comes in.

It was between midnight and 2am during the 2004 election that the Ohio majority for John Kerry electronically became a winning margin for George W. Bush. The "miraculous" shift occurred after Ohio’s official vote count was outsourced to private company SmartTech’s servers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The servers housed a virtual who’s who of Republican and anti-Kerry websites.

The Free Press has also learned that SmartTech technicians took over control at then-Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell’s office at approximately 9 p.m. on Election Day 2004.

Throughout the nation, the Democratic Party has been a no-show in the fight to rid the process of the machines that did so much to give George W. Bush his two illegitimate terms of office. The Democrats have refused repeated entreaties from the grassroots election protection movement to take meaningful action. Given the abject surrender of Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, this is not a good sign.

Nor is the syndrome limited to the Democrats. The arrogance of denial was recently trumpeted by the Nation Magazine’s Andrew Gumbel. His contempt for "underqualified" internet researchers who have "breathlessly" reported the GOP thefts of 2000 and 2004 reflects a widespread inability to grasp the enormity of what has been done to the American electoral process. Gumbel has refused to debate or appear on radio programs with co-author Bob Fitrakis, who holds a Ph.D. in political science and a J.D.

The grassroots election protection movement has made enormous strides in forcing this issue into the mainstream. But because of the GOP-sponsored Help America Vote Act, more Americans will vote this year on electronic machines than ever before.

That, and the stripping of the voter rolls, could make fleeting any apparent polling advantage Barack Obama may carry to November 4. He may yet win. But those who would see him enter the White House in January had best spend these last few days totally focused on the protection of voter registrations, on making paper ballots available wherever possible, and on finding ways to crack the secret fortress of electronic vote counting. In our next article, we will provide extensive documentation on GOP stripping of registration rolls.

Without neutralizing these twin towers of electronic disenfrancisement and vote theft, a McCain-Palin victory on November 4 is all but inevitable, no matter what the polls now seem to say.

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of four books on election protection, including HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008 and AS GOES OHIO: ELECTION THEFT SINCE 2004, both available at, where this article first appeared.

Bill Moyers sits down with Mark Crispin Miller, professor of Media, Culture and Communication at NYUBill Moyers sits down with Mark Crispin Miller, professor of Media, Culture and Communication at NYU

Bob Fitrakis
June 18, 2007

The current scandal involving the firing of U.S. attorneys cannot be separated from the Bush administration’s scheme to suppress black, poor and working class voters. In order to divert attention from its voter suppression tactics that won Bush the White House in 2000 and 2004, the Bush administration created the myth of “voter fraud.” Using fake “voting rights” organizations, obscure groups to finance civil suits and pressure on the U.S. Department of Justice to bring criminal charges against voter registration organizations, Karl Rove and his political operatives like Mark F. “Thor” Hearne have succeeded in undermining the United States’ democracy.

“Hearne was one of the most important Bush operatives that almost nobody in America has ever heard of. He applied his vote-suppressing trade from coast to coast, behind the scenes, in a well-funded systematic effort to undermine democracy and keep voters – Democratic voters – from exercising their legal franchise,” Brad Friedman, Editor of Bradblog, told the Free Press. Bradblog was the first to reveal Hearne’s masquerade as a voting rights advocate.

Hearne’s name recently surfaced in the scandal surrounding the White House’s firing of U.S. attorneys causing the mainstream media to begin scrutinizing his past political activity. The National Journal has pointed out that Hearne is a “common denominator” in the firing of Arkansas U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins and western Missouri U.S. Attorney Todd Graves. At the time of the firings, Cummins was investigating Republican Governor Matt Blunt’s administration, and Graves had refused to indict when partisan charges were brought against the Association of Communities Organizing for Reform Now (ACORN) for a voter registration drive just prior to the 2006 election.

Columbus mayoral candidate linked to scandal

Republican candidate for mayor of Columbus William Todd has direct ties to two controversial election organizations that are linked to the White House scandal surrounding the firing of U.S. attorneys.

Todd, an attorney at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP, is challenging Columbus’ first African American Mayor Michael Coleman in this fall’s election. Between 1993 and 2006, Todd served as an attorney at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey whose website stated that, “Mr. Todd served as litigation counsel in these election matters for groups such as the Free Enterprise Coalition, the American Center for Voting Rights and the Ohio Republican Party.”

The Free Enterprise Coalition (FEC) and the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) emerged as key players in the Bush administration’s voter suppression plan in the 2004 presidential election. Financing from the FEC funded a racketeering charge against grassroots voter registration groups including the NAACP. The ACVR is widely regarded as a fake voting rights organization created to repress minority and poor voters in urban areas while perpetuating the myth of “voter fraud” among Democratic voting blocks.

The Squire, Sanders & Dempsey website also showed Todd as general counsel for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated Citizens for a Strong Ohio (CSO). In 2005, the Ohio Election Commission fined the CSO for operating illegally as a Political Action Committee (PAC) and making illegal corporate expenditures to influence Ohio Supreme Court races.

The CSO was also linked directly to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In a legal complaint against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, election rights attorney Cliff Arnebeck exposed the fact that the Chamber had illegally moved $14 million in funds to Republican Supreme Court candidates between 2000-2004, to take over the highest court in Ohio. The role of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Karl Rove and the Bush White House needs to be explored in more detail.

Brad Friedman of Bradblog, an expert on the ACVR, pointed out that Todd’s connection to the ACVR would likely be enough to sink his candidacy. “Even the mainstream media is paying attention now,” he said. It will be interesting to see if the Columbus Dispatch reports on Todd’s connections to voter suppression groups and his ties to the U.S. attorney scandal.

Hearne “believed that the U.S. attorney . . . Todd Graves was not taking seriously allegations that ACORN workers were registering people who did not qualify to vote,” noted the National Journal. Also, Republican attorney William Mateja, “repeatedly contacted” Cummins during the Blunt investigation “. . . at the behest of Hearne, whose law firm [Lathrop & Gage] had retained Mateja on Blunt’s behalf,” wrote the Journal.

After Graves’ dismissal, he was replaced by Bradley Schlozman, who issued an indictment against ACORN workers less than a week before the 2006 election. Cummins was also replaced by Karl Rove operative Timothy Griffin.

The National Journal also reported that two other fired U.S. attorneys, David Inglesias and John McKay, said they believed they were fired because “Republican activists in their states complained that they weren’t doing enough to pursue voting-fraud cases.”

Who is scrubbing the Thor Hearne websites?

As the heat is turned up on Hearne, his past appears to be vanishing from the internet.

As Bradblog noted on June 12, “Mark F. ‘Thor’ Hearne must really want to hide something about his discredited past as the frontman for the GOP front group calling themselves the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR).”

Hearne testified before Congressman Bob Ney’s Committee on House Administration hearing in Columbus on March 21, 2005 as general counsel for the newly formed “voting rights” group, the ACVR. Incorporated a week before the hearing, the ACVR was ordained by Rep. Ney as a legitimate voting rights group, despite the fact that Hearne served as election counsel to the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign and had no references on his resume to any non-partisan voting rights groups. Congressman Ney is now known as federal prisoner #28882-016 for corruption as a result of his taking gifts from Jack Abramoff, among other charges.

In February 2005, at the urging of Karl Rove and the Bush White House, Hearne founded the ACVR, according to the National Journal. Co-founder Jim Dyke is a former Republican National Committee (RNC) communications director. The ACVR was a “non-partisan” 501(c)(3) legal and educational center committed to defending the rights of voters and working to increase public confidence in the fairness and outcome of elections, stated their website. The long-standing voting rights group, the League of Women Voters, charged that the ACVR was a Republican front organization.

Hearne’s testimony at the Ney hearing was placed on the Moritz College of Law Election Institute website along with Professors Ned Foley and Dan Tokaji. Hearne was given equal billing with Norman Robbins, the head of a non-partisan voting rights group from Cleveland.

Not only does Hearne’s Wikipedia page no longer refer to the controversial ACVR, but Hearne’s testimony before the Ney hearing is no longer linked to the Moritz College of Law Election Law Institute website. Also, the ACVR website recently disappeared and the National Journal reported, “The group now appears to be defunct.”

Hearne and the myth of voter registration fraud

As the Free Press reported in 2005, Hearne, with the help of Republican attorney Alex Vogel, concocted a story that the main problem with the 2004 elections in Ohio was that the NAACP was paying people with crack cocaine to register voters. Based on scant evidence and an incident of a volunteer being linked to crack use, Hearne pushed a version of voter fraud in Ohio that directly attacked not only the NAACP, but ACORN, the AFL-CIO and ACT-Ohio. By attacking this combination of groups, Rove and Hearne were targeting the leading forces for registering blacks, poor, union workers and young people in Ohio – those most likely to vote Democratic.

Aided by Vogel, then-attorney for Republican Senate Majority leader Bill Frist, and a front group connected to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Free Enterprise Coalition, local Republican operative Mark Rubrick filed an Ohio corrupt practices lawsuit (RICO) against all the voter registration organizations listed above in Wood County.

The civil RICO case, backed by financing from the Free Enterprise Coalition, alleged that the voter registration groups provided “. . . payments made in connections with the violations (in the form of, among other things, ‘bounties,’ payments or other rewards for collecting and/or processing the registrations including but not limited to illegal drugs, paid to individuals actually engaged in the violations), . . .” At the bottom of the document filed by attorneys Jeffrey Creemer and Douglas Haynam of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick of Toledo, the following words appear: “jsc\Free Enterprise Coalition\Amended Complaint.doc” calling into question who was behind the lawsuit.

The suit was later quietly withdrawn after election rights attorney Cliff Arnebeck discovered that the Free Enterprise Coalition had indemnified Rubrick and had promised to pay any and all expenses related to his RICO suit. “I told Rubrick in no uncertain terms that his accusations that the NAACP was a criminal organization were false and that the indemnification from the Free Enterprise Coalition wasn’t worth the paper it was written on,” Arnebeck said.

In writing about the Free Enterprise Coalition (FEC) on May 28, 2007, the website SourceWatch contains the following quote: “No website, no employees, a disconnected phone and a lapsed corporate registration. Without the 990s, you’d be hard pressed to know the GOP funneled $2.8 million through the Free Enterprise Coalition to fund election-related legal expenses between 2004 and 2005.”

The vanishing of the FEC is directly tied the growing Department of Justice (DOJ) scandal.

Mark F. “Thor” Hearne & election fraud timeline

1976 – Hearne began his association with the Republican Party by serving as a page at both the national and Missouri GOP convention

1980 and 1984 – Hearne was an alternate at the Missouri GOP Party convention

1986 and 1987 – Hearne worked for the Reagan administration’s Department of Education Office for Civil Rights as a law clerk and attorney

1988 – Hearne ran for U.S. Congress as a Republican from the Missouri 3rd congressional district

2000 – Counsel to the Bush-Cheney campaign and served as the Vice President and Director of Election Operations for the Republican National Lawyer’s Association. Hearne was also an operative in the so-called “Brooks Brothers” riot that stopped the Florida recount in one county after the 2000 presidential election. Hearne served as a Republican election observer in Broward County during the 2000 presidential recount

2002 – Hearne was the Republican lawyer who led the Missouri legislative redistricting fight

2004 – Counsel to Bush-Cheney re-election campaign

3/21/05 – Hearne shows up masquerading as a “non-partisan voting rights activist” and testifies under the auspices of the newly created American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) hearing on irregularities in the Ohio 2004 presidential election, accusing voter registration groups of fraud

4/27/05 – Free Press exposes Hearne’s role in Ohio in an article “How Blackwell and Petro Saved Bush’s Brain”

8/05 – Hearne testifies before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitutions, Civil Rights and Property Rights

8/18/05 – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reveals partisan nature of ACVR, that it is a sham voting rights group and a Republican partisan operation

10/6/05 – Bradblog reports that ACVR co-founder Jim Dyke was working for the Bush White House to push the President’s Supreme Court nominee

12/30/05 – publishes article “Fake voting rights activists and groups linked to White House”

2006 – U.S. prosecutors fired

12/5/06 – Hearne is given a seat as an expert on the federal Election Assistance Commission

3/16/07 – The New York Times reports that bogus voter fraud claims are linked to the purging of U.S. prosecutors

4/5/07 – New Mexico’s U.S. Attorney David Inglesias is pressured by Republican operatives to bring vote fraud charges against voter registration groups in that state

4/11/07 – The New York Times reports that the original bipartisan EAC draft which was never released concluded that fears of voter fraud were overblown

5/2/07 – Hearne admits that he hired powerful GOP connected attorney William Mateja to intervene in the DOJ investigation of Missouri Governor Matt Blunt

2007 – All traces of Hearne’s connection to the ACVR and Free Enterprise Coalition vanish from the internet

A press release from ACORN spelled out the reasons why Rove and Hearne attacked their organization, which is committed to registering poor people. In the 2004 election cycle, ACORN registered some 1.15 million low-income and minority citizens in 26 states. They also contacted 2.3 million citizens in their Get Out The Vote efforts.

Two similar suits had been filed in Florida as a result of ACORN’s activity in that crucial swing state during the 2004 election and dismissed around the same time.

Hearne spins Congress and the DOJ

From the outset, Hearne, who specialized in exaggerated and bizarre claims of voter fraud – what Arnebeck denounced as old racist stereotypes about blacks and drugs – lobbied the DOJ for a full-scale investigation of these imaginary drug-crazed volunteer voting registrars. In an initial letter to the DOJ, Hearne wrote that there was, “substantial evidence to suggest criminal wrongdoing by organizations such as Americans Coming Together (‘ACT’), ACORN, and the NAACP – Project Vote.”

Hearne told the DOJ that, “We understand that local Ohio law enforcement authorities are pursuing criminal prosecution against some of the individuals involved in this activity ‘which activities include paying crack cocaine for fraudulent voter registration forms.'” At the Ney hearing, Hearne assured U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones that he was basing his claims on “facts not anecdotes, affidavits, first hand accounts.”

When testifying before Ney’s committee in March 2005, Hearne blamed the voter suppression on “the Kerry campaign” referring to alleged events in Republican-dominated Marion County, Ohio. Arnebeck and other voting rights activists have dismissed Hearne’s claim that the Kerry campaign directed voters to the wrong polling places and telling them to vote on Wednesday, November 3 instead of Election Day, November 2, 2004. The facts in numerous legal filings, like the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville v. Blackwell and Moss v. Bush, suggest just the opposite.

Ironically, the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign was accused in hundreds of sworn affidavits of engaging in racist voter suppression tactics in Ohio’s urban centers. Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati’s majority black wards were littered with posters and fliers telling Democratic voters to vote on Wednesday, November 3. Both the Columbus Dispatch and the then-black-owned radio station WVKO documented calls directing voters in the inner city to the wrong polling places, where they waited up to three to seven hours, only to then be told they were at the wrong site.

Hearne claimed “the ACVR is a nonpartisan watchdog legal defense and educational center committed to defending the rights of voters and working to increase public confidence in the fairness of the outcome of elections.” He told the congressional committee that: “Ohio citizens deserve the confidence that they – the voters – not trial lawyers, activists judges and special interest groups soliciting fraudulent votes with crack cocaine determine the results of Ohio elections.”

What Hearne failed to tell the Congressional Committee, as he earnestly portrayed himself as a non-partisan voting rights activist, was his well-documented role as Bush-Cheney election counsel, the role of the Free Enterprise Coalition in financing the case against voting registration groups, and his role as a Republican operative with high-level ties to Karl Rove.

Hearne, with no real academic credentials, also had himself named as an academic advisor to the Carter-Baker Commission on election reform.

Caught in this masquerade

The National Journal called Hearne, “. . . a Republican Party operative who had served as national elections counsel for the 2004 Bush-Cheney presidential campaign and played a behind-the-scenes role in both cases [the firing of Cummins and Graves].”

One wonders how Hearne was able to masquerade for so long and testify before the Ney Committee without being immediately outed. His ties to the Republican Party reach back to the 70s and are well-documented in his posted online biographies. (See timeline, pg, 17)

“Hearne’s role provides a window into how a Republican activist was pushing Bush administration officials – and perhaps in some cases working in concert with them – to use the Justice Department for partisan purposes,” wrote the National Journal.

Part of the Rove/Hearne strategy was to “cage” and intimidate Democratic voters while at the same time to register as many Republicans as possible. It is well documented that the Republican National Committee (RNC) threw around millions of dollars to hire Sproul & Associates to do voter registration. Election and law enforcement officials in several states investigated complaints that the company’s temporary workers were registering only Bush supporters and trashing thousands of registrations collected from suspected Democrats.

The New York Times reported on April 12, 2007 that the Bush administration’s five-year crackdown on voter fraud, according to Justice Department statistics, had only led to charges against 120 people, the majority of them Democrats, with only 86 convictions. The DOJ found that many cases simply involved mistakes and a misunderstanding of voting eligibility rules, suggesting that the Rove/Hearne obsession with voter fraud may have been covering deliberately designed voter suppression tactics directed from the White House, facilitated by Hearne, with a compromised and intimidated Department of Justice.

Why was it so important to Hearne for voter registration groups to be accused of fraud in the 2004 election? The calculated targeting of voter registration groups – subjecting them to civil RICO suits and criminal prosecution – is part of a larger strategy to shrink the electorate. Nothing chills volunteers and grassroots organizations like the threat of legal problems or jail time. And nothing distracts the mainstream media away from the new Jim Crow tactics used by the Bush administration to suppress voters than the myth of black voter registrars using crack and accusations of racketeering. A corrupt and partisan Department of Justice is essential to furthering the Bush administration’s injustice against poor and minority voters.

Bob Fitrakis is co-author, with Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO. This article was originally published at

Cover from Amazon

Cover from Amazon

Gook examines McCain’s partnering with leading white supremacist Richard Quinn, as well as McCain’s endorsement of hate group lecturer George Wallace, Jr. for lieutenant governor, both actions fitting with his support for the Confederate flag as an official state symbol.

Gook: John McCain’s Racism and Why It Matters

Dr. Bob had an interview with Mr. Tang  on WVKO 1580 AM Thursday, October 16, 2008.

Dr. Fitrakis has a show, “Fight Back” Monday through Friday 5-6 P.M. on WVKO 1580 AM.



The Columbus Dispatch is at it again. This time it’s Thomas Suddes on the Sunday October 12 Op-Ed page. Suddes sank to a new low even by Fourth Reich-style Dispatch rhetoric and propaganda standards. Suddes wrote: “To weigh Obama’s Ohio prospects, Al Gore’s 2000 tally might offer some hints, except to conspiracy freaks who know 2000’s vote-count was rigged by GOP munchkins in a Columbus basement. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, ‘When paranoia walks in the door, facts go innuendo.’”

The only one who has ever offered this conspiracy theory is Suddes himself. The Ph.D.s and professors at Penn and NYU who challenge Bush’s 2004 results have never questioned the 2000 election results in Ohio. Suddes knows this, but the he prefers that facts be banished from the room and door be barred.

Gore did not contest Ohio in 2000. Nor was the real-time apparatus linking the county boards of elections to ultra-partisan J. Kenneth Blackwell in place in 2000.

For Suddes to perpetrate conspiracy theory and attribute it to fact-based social scientists is an old trick perfected by Hitler’s co-horts and sycophants. It is a fact that Ohio’s real-time vote count was outsourced in 2004 to the old Pioneer Bank Building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is true that Smartech, the company that provided the servers at the Tennessee site, was hosting a who’s who of right-wing Republican political operatives from the swift-boaters to linked to the White House.

Suddes is offering the classic sleight of hand by forging and manufacturing absurd facts so he doesn’t have to deal with unpleasant realities. Suddes has to be regarded as a political operative, or paid political whore. Whichever one he is, history will record that it was bought and paid for journalists or brown-nosing hacks like Suddes who helped destroy American democracy.

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
October 10, 2008

The GOP assault on American voters has hit full stride as the economy and John McCain tank in synch.

With just over three weeks until election day, the Republicans have mounted an all-out attack against newly registered voters and the organizations working to sign them up. As many as 75% of these new voters are expected to vote Democratic, but the attacks have also spread to long-established voters as well. Recent calculations show more than a million more newly registered Democrats in Ohio than Republicans.

The usual drumbeat claiming massive voter fraud has become ceaseless at Fox “News” and other right wing media mouthpieces.

As expected, the assault centers in Ohio, which once again could decide the presidency, but has manifested throughout the nation:

1) A Republican sheriff in Greene County, Ohio, has demanded social security and other records from 302 local voters whose ballots he apparently wants to negate. Sheriff Gene Fischer has requested registration cards and address forms for all Greene County residents who voted in a special session established in Ohio allowing new voters to register and vote on the same day. The process was challenged in court by the GOP. The Ohio Supreme Court turned down that challenge, and allowed the same-day voting to proceed. But now Fischer claims telephone calls complaining about the potential for voter fraud have prompted him to go after the information.

In Franklin County, home of Ohio State University, Columbus State Community College, Capital University, Ohio Dominican University, and Otterbein College, election protection observers are reporting continuing surveillance by Republicans at Veterans Memorial, the site for early voting. The observers have documented Republican operatives taking photographs and writing down license plate numbers of voters. Election activists expect similar criminal charges as in Greene County to be filed in the state’s capital.

Greene County is home to Wright State, Central State, Wilberforce and Cedarville Universities, along with Antioch College, which was recently put out of business by a right-wing putsch on its board of directors.

Llyn McCoy, Greene County’s deputy elections director, says names, telephone and Social Security numbers will be blacked out of any records handed over to the Sheriff. According to McCoy, the Sheriff says he has no evidence of voter fraud other than phone calls stating fraud was a possibility. It is widely assumed that the same-day registration/voting option was exercised primarily by students who lean heavily Democratic. In 2004, African-American students from Wright State, Central State and Wilberforce were regularly challenged on their registration credentials and forced to endure waiting in lines to vote for hours. Students at Cedarville, a Christian school, made no such reports. Sheriff Fischer’s targeting of historically black college students, the core of Obama-mania, is intended to send a chilling effect through the ranks of these Democratic voters.

2) U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith, a Reagan appointee, has approved a GOP lawsuit demanding that the state give county boards of elections great leeway in attacking new voter registration forms. The decision, framed under the Help America Vote Act, would allow Republican challengers access to data from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security agency to challenge new voters. The Judge noted that Ohio law permits challenges to absentee ballots, thousands of which have been pouring in to elections boards. If allowed to stand, it could give the GOP the right to shred ballots already cast in the Buckeye State, with the precedent possibly being used to further enable a GOP nationwide disenfranchisement campaign. Smith gave Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner a week to respond. Brunner has stated she will appeal.

3) Before the ruling, Brunner announced at the close of registration that the number of registered voters in Ohio had jumped by 665,949, from 7,518,189 active voters on January 1, 2008, to 8,184,138 active voters now. About 5.4 million votes were officially counted in Ohio’s 2004 presidential election. Then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell certified a Bush victory of less than 119,000 votes. A massive GOP disenfranchisement campaign could easily exceed that margin.

4) The New York Times has reported that boards of elections in at least nine crucial states, including Ohio, have violated federal law in conducting purges and have been illegally using Social Security data bases as part of those purges. The Times’ Ian Urbina quotes Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman as asking the Colorado Attorney-General to review how some 2,500 citizens were removed from the registration lists there. The Times has cited purges in Colorado, Louisiana and Michigan that have apparently been conducted within 90 days of the upcoming November 4 election, violating federal law that allows states to expunge only those who have been convicted of a felony, moved out of state or died.

5) The Times has also reported that boards of elections in Nevada, North Carolina, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio have illegally used federal Social Security databases to flag and possibly eliminate voters whose registration applications were suspected of irregularities. The Times reported some 37,000 Colorado voters removed in the three weeks after July 21; Secretary Coffman said the number was 14,000.

6) Michigan elections director Christopher Thomas said his state had removed about 11,000 voters in August, while the Times estimated the real number to be closer to 33,000. Thomas refused to make the purged files public. Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is a long-standing Republican partisan whose political activism traces back to the mid-70s when she worked for Gerald Ford’s campaign in high school. Critics charge that she functions in the traditional of Florida’s Katherine Harris and Ohio’s J. Kenneth Blackwell.

7) North Carolina’s BOE director Gary Bartlett dismissed concerns raised by the Social Security Administration about possible mis-used of SS files to purge registrations there in conjunction with drivers licenses. The SSI contends Social Security numbers can only be accessed when there is no drivers license or other form of state ID available.

8) A CBS News report has revealed organized caging attempts by the GOP to eliminate registered voters from the rolls in 19 states. The report marks one of the first initiated by a corporate news organization isolating Republican anti-vote campaigning.

9) An electronic voting machine in New Mexico was found to be operating on faulty software which could have eliminated hundreds of votes. The glitch was apparently corrected, but was of a type that could result in thousands of votes being lost on Election Day 2008, as they were in 2000 and 2004.

10) The grassroots organizing group ACORN has come under serious attack in Nevada, Missouri, Ohio and elsewhere from Republicans attempting to negate the thousands of generally low-income citizens ACORN has registered to vote. As a matter of law, ACORN is required to report irregular registrations that come through its process. But GOP operatives have equated these with “fraudulent” filings, and a have ramped up a smear and fear campaign aimed at negating thousands of legitimate ACORN registrants throughout the US.

11) The GOP continues to resist attempts to subpoena Michael Connell, a shady Republican computer operative who programmed the 2000 Bush-Cheney web site. Connell was also hired by former Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in 2004 to tabulate the Ohio vote count. Under Connell, Ohio’s vote totals were shunted to a computer bank in the same basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that housed the servers of the Republican National Committee. In the early hours of the morning after election day, vote totals mysteriously began shifting from Kerry to Bush, swinging the 2004 election. Connell’s cyber-security industry colleague Stephen Spoonamore, a Republican and former McCain supporter, has said that Connell may be able to shed light on vote count rigging in the 2008 vote count as well. Attorneys in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville civil rights lawsuit have thus far been unable to secure Connell’s sworn testimony.

12) CNN has reported that Obama’s surging poll numbers may leave him “in position to steal Virginia from the GOP.” Virginia hasn’t backed a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, but CNN’s use of the word “steal” has raised hackles among election protection activists who argue the flow of theft is in the other direction.

As the moment of truth arrives, McCain-Palin attacks based on race, alleged “terrorist” ties and more are sure to increasingly dominate the GOP campaign. But far more insidious will be an all-out assault on voter registration in the name of “voter fraud,” and on finding new ways to undermine the national vote, most importantly on electronic voting machines of the kind programmed by Michael Connell.

If those supporting the democratic process are not exceedingly vigilant, the GOP could use these tactics to once again take the White House.

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of four books on election protection including HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, and AS GOES OHIO, just published by, where this article originally appeared. They are attorney and plaintiff in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville lawsuit.

October 11, 2008

Free Press Second Saturday Salon
NEW LOCATION: 1021 E. Broad St., parking in rear. 6:30pm-midnight. Co-sponsored by the Central Ohio Green Education Fund.

Meet progressive friends for socializing, networking, talking politics, and fun. Music, art, and refreshments. Presentations by the Central Ohio Peace Action Network and “Struggle” a movie by Ohio’s Roger Hill.
Location: 1021 E. Broad St., side door
Phone: 614-253-2571
Email: Email

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
October 1, 2008

Ohio 2008 has opened with a surge of first-time voters and the subpoena of a shadowy Bush electronic operative who may have helped steal the White House, a subpoena that may be followed by one for Karl Rove.

The presidency could again be decided here by how well what’s left of the American democratic process can be protected. So election activists are asking concerned citizens everywhere to become registration volunteers, poll workers and judges, Video the Vote observers and to conduct post-election hearings with legal standing.

In-person balloting began Tuesday, September 30, as new Ohio voters registered and voted simultaneously. Thousands crammed into county facilities throughout the state. Set to continue until October 6, the innovation came by accident in an otherwise repressive piece of legislation foisted on the state by Republican legislators after the theft of the 2004 election.

The GOP has since sued to stop this simultaneous register-and-vote process, but lost 4-3 in the Republican-dominated Ohio Supreme Court. Thousands of new Buckeye voters have now surged into election centers, and may do so through October 6.

Election officials predict as many as a third of Ohio voters—around 2 million—will vote absentee this year. But the GOP now appears to be mailing to Democratic voters fake absentee ballots with bogus return addresses and features that could result in their being discarded. The Republicans are also using caging techniques, such as fake mailings, to eliminate likely Democratic voters from the registration rolls.

Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has tried to make paper ballots available at every polling station for those who don’t trust electronic touchscreen machines. But GOP legislators intervened, claiming “cost problems,” and Brunner so far has limited availability to just a quarter of the potential demand. Pro-democracy activists are suing to make them universally available.

While that fight proceeds, Attorneys Bob Fitrakis and Cliff Arnebeck have subpoenaed IT specialist Michael Connell, a shadowy operative who managed the Bush-Cheney 2000 web site. Connell has a checkered history in highly partisan behind-the scenes information manipulation (

In 2004, Connell was paid with state funds by GOP Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell to shunt the Ohio vote count was shunted to the same basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which housed the servers for the Republican National Committee. In the wee morning hours of election day, vote counts mysteriously shifted from John Kerry to give George W. Bush his second term in the White House.

Connell has since been fingered by Stephen Spoonamore, a McCain supporter and GOP computer operative who has charged that Connell may have manipulated the Ohio 2004 vote count. As a Repubican insider, Spoonamore’s sworn testimony is being given legal credence by Federal Judge Algernon Marbley, who certified the subpoena against Connell.

Connell and the GOP are certain to continue fighting demands for public testimony. But as the case escalates, it becomes increasingly likely that Connell’s close associate, former White House advisor Karl Rove, could also be subpoenaed as part of the on-going King-Lincoln-Bronzeville civil rights lawsuit.

The final outcome of the case is not likely to be settled until long after the 2008 election. Amidst what is likely to be the largest voter turnout in US history, election protection activists are recruiting and training thousands of democracy advocates to register new voters and to check the registrations of those who may be knocked off the rolls without their knowledge. More than 300,000 Ohio voters were disenfranchised in the run-up to 2004, and at least 170,000 have since been eliminated in Franklin County alone. Many citizens who believe they are registered may not be.

Democracy advocates are also asking citizens throughout the nation to serve as poll workers, poll judges and Video-the-Vote observers, and to organize post-election pubic hearings. With thousands of new voters already surging to the polls, with millions of absentee ballots beginning to pour in, and with an energized electorate expected to overwhelm the precincts on November 4, the difference between what happened in 2004 and who next enters the White House will likely be determined by how well the 2008 electoral process can be protected.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, including AS GOES OHIO, now at, where they are publisher and senior editor. They are zattorney and plaintiff in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal lawsuit.

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