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Franklin County Prosecutor candidates weigh in on police-involved shootings, diversion programs, equal protection

by Steve Palm-Houser
SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

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On September 14, two candidates for Franklin County Prosecutor answered questions about how they would respond to officer-involved shootings, if elected. As the candidates’ forum at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church proceeded, only one mile away 13-year-old Tyre King was pursued and shot multiple times by Columbus police. He was taken to Nationwide Children’s Hospital and pronounced dead a few minutes after the candidates’ forum ended.

Adrienne Hood spoke at the beginning of the forum. Her son Henry Green was killed by Columbus police on June 6. “It’s unfortunate that the person who can give me the justice that my son deserves is not here,” she said, indicating the empty chair reserved for Ron O’Brien, the incumbent County Prosecutor candidate. O’Brien has not responded to demands by Green’s family to indict the officers who shot him and appoint an independent prosecutor to oversee the case.

Diversion programs

People’s Justice Project organizer Tammy Alsaada posed the first question to Democratic candidate Zach Klein and Green Party candidate Bob Fitrakis. “Would you keep families together by expanding diversion programs for youth, for addiction, and for mental health issues in underserved and overlooked communities?” she asked. “And how would you help keep people out of the system and get the treatment they need?”

“Yes,” Zach Klein said. “I’m a firm believer that the cycle of incarceration breeds a cycle of poverty, which breeds a cycle of incarceration. I think we need to be aggressive in expanding our diversion program to ensure that there is treatment” for drug addiction and mental health issues. “We also need a diversion program that recognizes when some people turn to crime to make ends meet. It may be a small number of people, but there are people who lack opportunity. Jail is for people that we’re afraid of, not for people we don’t know what to do with.”

There is currently “no rhyme or reason or policy directive out of the prosecutor’s office for who is eligible for diversion,” Klein said. “It’s all at the whim of whether the prosecutor knows the defense attorney. That’s not fair, open, or transparent.”

Bob Fitrakis also responded “yes” to Alsaada’s question. “As prosecutor I will not arrest anyone for drug possession,” he said. “It’s a medical problem, and that’s how it will be handled.” Instead, he would go after the people involved in heavy drug trafficking. “Many of these are connected with legitimate businesses. The people who fueled the crack epidemic in this town in the 1990’s were Southern Air Transport. They were bringing heroin and other drugs into this country. Instead of going after someone with ten balloons in their stomach, let’s go after the large aircraft that are coming in by the planeload, contaminating these communities.”

Fitrakis cited the recently revealed admission by Richard Nixon’s domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman that the War on Drugs was started not to curb drug use, but to marginalize blacks and the hippies who opposed the Vietnam War. “This has been a systematic campaign against the poor community, against the black community,” he said. “We need to redefine the problem.”

Equal protection under the law

“Research shows that mass incarceration disproportionately affects low-income people, and people of color,” said Jasmine Ayres, field director for the Ohio Organizing Collaborative. “We need more information to make evidence-based decisions on policies and practices. For example, black people in Franklin County are 3.8 times more likely to be in jail than whites.

“Will you collect and share demographic data — including race, gender, and income level — on who is charged, what they are charged with, what plea is offered, and what bail is recommended? And how would you set alternative metrics to evaluate your staff?”

“Will I comply with the open records law? Yes,” Bob Fitrakis responded. “There needs to be full transparency. For many years, before the Free Press went after the judges, they were double-bonding people. The bondsmen were running the court until they were exposed.

“I’m going to remove the jump-out boys,” he said, referring to plainclothes police officers who patrol so-called “crime hot-spots,” a code word for neighborhoods with many poor, black, and Latino residents. “They post white police, walking around with money, pretending they’re on drugs, acting like bait. They should be removed or charged criminally, because they’re causing the violence. They need to get off the streets.”

Fitrakis recalled teaching police officers about the U.S. Constitution in 1980. “They weren’t really receptive to it, but we were able to work out certain things,” he said. “We should pay our police well, and we should make sure they know our fundamental principles.”

Zach Klein responded, “Yes, as someone who’s running for prosecutor, trying to get that information that you seek. It doesn’t exist. We should have an open, transparent system in the prosecutor’s office that uses the best practices and technology, that’s not only available, but easy to understand.

“In 2014, which is the last year this data was available, there were 12,000 criminal filings in Franklin County. 190 went to trial. Think about the 11,810 cases that never went to trial, that fall squarely within the programs and opportunities that you’re talking about. But outside of knowing they didn’t go to trial, we don’t know anything about the defendants, the pleas, or the cases.

“Having an open and transparent prosecutor’s office restores the community’s faith in the criminal justice system,” Klein said. “We need to have a prosecutor’s office that is outward-facing, that is engaged in the community, that doesn’t just go home to the suburbs, that looks like the community,” Klein said. “What do I know about Ron O’Brien’s office? Four percent of his lawyers are African American. I think that’s abysmal. We need to have a more aggressive approach to recruiting African American, Latino, LGBT, and female lawyers.”

Trying juveniles as adults

“Youth should not be tried as adults. Research shows that if you send youth to adult prison, they are more likely to re-offend. They are more likely to be sexually abused,” said Candice Williams-Bethea, a grassroots educator with the People’s Justice Project. “How will you handle the practice of trying minors in adult court? And how will you use developmentally-informed decision making appropriate to youth?

“Those statistics are real, which is why any prosecutor should be careful about charging any juvenile as an adult, or as a juvenile,” Zach Klein responded. “A prosecutor’s office should be working with faith and community leaders to play quarterback on this issue and others, to give juvenile offenders a chance to pull themselves out of the cycle. A proactive prosecutor will bring the parties together with a mentor program that can give kids an opportunity to make a difference, not just treat them like a number.”

“I’m not charging any juvenile as an adult if I am prosecutor,” said Bob Fitrakis. “Social science states the obvious: the amount of lawbreaking between affluent suburban white kids and inner-city kids is about the same. The only difference is who gets charged, who gets a record, and who ends up doing time and being profiled for the rest of their lives.”

As an attorney, Fitrakis sees “more justice when I go to mayor’s court in Worthington, Grandview, and Hilliard, when youth are charged with a minor misdemeanor because they’re good boys and girls and about to go off to a private school.” For the same offense a young person in Columbus might be given a first degree misdemeanor or a felony charge, he said. “That must end in the prosecutor’s office.”

Independent prosecutor for police-involved shootings

“Recently the Supreme Court of Ohio acknowledged the bias of the grand jury process when it comes to indicting police,” said Aramis Malachi-Ture Sundiata, statewide organizing director for the People’s Justice Project. “Will you appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate all police-involved shootings in Franklin County? And if not, how will you handle police-involved shootings?”

“If you appoint an independent prosecutor, who do you hold accountable?” Zach Klein responded. “When I am prosecutor, I want you to hold me accountable for decisions I make, not only in police-involved shootings, but in any issue of crime.”

Klein cited Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty, who lost a re-election campaign when he failed to indict police officers in the killing of Tamir Rice. “He was held accountable and got fired,” Klein said. “If we appoint independent prosecutors, I’m afraid that we might lose the accountability. You can’t vote an independent prosecutor out of office.”

“I have no problem with an independent prosecutor,” Bob Fitrakis said. “I just don’t think it goes far enough. I believe that there needs to be an independent civilian review board, with subpoena power, that is elected from the area commissions, and that is responsible in these shooting cases.

“Part of the problem is the tremendous hold the FOP has on elected officials,” Fitrakis said. “That has to stop. We need not only an independent prosecutor; we need a civilian review board with an auditor. We need real citizens from the high-crime neighborhoods. We should be able to elect people from those communities, because they’re the victims.”

At a Columbus City Council candidates’ forum last fall, Zach Klein went on record as opposing a civilian review board with subpoena power.

Both candidates agreed to meet with the groups who held the candidates forum’ 100 days after the election.

For each of the questions posed, the audience applause was consistently louder and longer for Bob Fitrakis than for Zach Klein.

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Bob Fitrakis Speaking The Jill Stein Rally, Capital University, Columbus, OH

September 2nd. 2016


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Distrust of 2016’s Hackable Election Is a Media Landslide With Just One Solution: Hand-counted Paper Ballots

Finally, the major for-profit media is approaching consensus that it’s easy to hack U.S. political elections. Even candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are raising unprecedented doubts – from very different directions – about the reliability of the upcoming vote count.

Ultimately, there is just one solution: universal hand-counted paper ballots, with carefully protected voter registration rolls, and a transparent chain of custody.

The corporate media and the Democrats are obsessed with the “Russians.” Donald Trump rants about a mythological army of voters voting multiple times.

But the real threat to our election system comes from private for-profit corporations that register voters, control voter databases, then count and report the vote with secret proprietary software and zero transparency, accountability, or recourse.

After ignoring or attacking the reportage since Florida 2000 of Bev Harris, Greg Palast, freepress.org and numerous others, the corporate media seems finally to be getting the message: under the current system, any American election – even the one for president – can be stripped and flipped by a tiny handful of electronic hackers working anywhere from the Kremlin to a party HQ to a state governor’s office to a teenager’s garage.

Here is some of what the mainstream media is finally admitting. In an article posted on July 28, 2016, NBC News pointed out that our elections are vulnerable to hacking because they “are not part of the vast ‘critical infrastructure protection’ safety net set up by the Department of Homeland Security.”

CBS News wrote August 10, 2016, about “the hackers at Symantec Security Response” who demonstrated how “Election Day results could be manipulated by an affordable device you can find online.”

Former national coordinator for counter-terrorism Richard Clarke, reporting for ABC News on August 19, 2016, analyzed the particular security problems related to battleground states like Ohio and Florida: “In 2000 and 2004, there were only a handful of battleground states that determined which presidential candidate had enough Electoral College votes to win. A slight alteration of the vote in some swing precincts in swing states might not raise suspicion. Smart malware can be programmed to switch only a small percentage of votes from what the voters intended. That may be all that is needed, and that malware can also be programmed to erase itself after it does its job, so there might be no trace it ever happened.” Clarke was on the White House National Security Council during both Bill Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s administrations.

Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the North Carolina School of Information and Library Science, in his August 12, 2016 New York Times op-ed “The Election Won’t Be Rigged but It Could Be Hacked,” wrote: “The mere existence of this discussion is cause for alarm. The United States needs to return, as soon as possible, to a paper-based, auditable voting system in all jurisdictions that still use electronic-only, unverifiable voting machines.”

On August 30, 2016, the Washington Post wrote: “Deleting or altering data on voter rolls could cause mayhem on Election Day disenfranchising some voters. Many voting machines themselves also are vulnerable, especially touch-screen systems that do not create a paper record as a guard against fraud or manipulation.” The Post also supplied a list of the 15 states with the most vulnerable voting systems.

The list of those now admitting the obvious includes the Boston Globe, The Atlantic, USA Today, The Guardian, Mother Jones, and Politico, some of which have previously mocked those of us reporting on this issue. Most important has been the highly influential The Hill, which weighed in on May 2, 2016 with “Election fraud feared as hackers target voter records.” The lede was straightforward: “A series of data breaches overseas are spurring concerns that hackers could manipulate elections in the United States.”

Trump advisor Roger Stone wrote a column in The Hill with the headline: “Can the 2016 Elections Be Rigged? You Bet.” He also referred to our latest summary volume, “The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft,” as “a must-read book on the strip and flip techniques used to rig these machines.”

But in the 2016 primary election, there are other must-reads as well. Perhaps the most important is Election Justice USA’s report entitled “Democracy Lost: A Report on the Fatally Flawed 2016 Democratic Primaries.” This report cites six major areas of election irregularities in this year’s 26 primary elections:

1) Targeting voter suppression

2) Registration tampering

3) Illegal voter purges

4) Exit poll discrepancies

5) Evidence for voting machine tampering

6) The security (or lack thereof) of various voting machines types.

In their 96-page report, Election Justice researchers documented how Hillary Clinton’s campaign benefited from these “various types of fraud.” Their conclusion: “Based on this work, Election Justice USA has established an upper estimate of 184 pledged delegates lost by Senator Bernie Sanders as a consequence of specific irregularities and instances of fraud.”

Election Justice’s well-documented estimate that Sanders lost 184 delegates means that if the election had been conducted fairly, the Senator from Vermont would now be the Democratic nominee.

Another document essential to understanding election irregularities that allowed Hillary Clinton to capture the Democratic Party nomination is a paper co-authored by Axel Geijsel of Tilburg University in the Netherlands and Rodolfo Cortes Barragan of Stanford University. Their analysis found that primary election results in states with the most vulnerable and hackable voting machines and without a paper trail overwhelmingly favored Hillary Clinton 65 percent to 35 percent. Sanders led Clinton 51 percent to 49 percent in states where the vote count could be verified with a paper trail.

The correlation between the increased Clinton vote and the increased vulnerability of the voting machines has been avoided like the plague by the corporate media.

Equally important to read is mathematician Richard Charnin’s blog. Charnin is a man the mainstream media often attacks – but not with mathematical formulas to rebut Charnin’s detailed analysis. Rather they attack him because, like the vast majority of Americans, he believes that John F. Kennedy was not killed by a lone gunman. In 2016, official Democratic primary vote counts compared to exit poll results were significantly outside the margin of error in 12 of 26 states. Charnin concluded that the probability of those official vote tallies being correct are one in 78 billion. There were no such discrepancies in this year’s Republican primaries.

Now 16 years after the theft of the presidency in Florida 2000, and a dozen since it was done again in Ohio 2004, the corporate media are approaching consensus that it is indeed very easy to strip millions of legitimate citizens from the voting rolls, and then to hack electronic voting machines and computerized central tabulators to flip the official final outcome.

The threat to this year’s election does not come from non-existent armies of mythological hordes voting multiple times. It comes from the private partisan companies with their secret proprietary software that control the voter rolls, the electronic machines, and ultimately the final outcome at all levels of government. The mega-corporations are the ones that flipped George W. Bush into the White House and Hillary Clinton into the Democratic nomination, not to mention manipulating countless Senate, House, and state and local elections along the way.

For a hopelessly vulnerable electronic election system which is flawed, hackable and riggable from top to bottom, there is just one solution: transparent unhackable voter rolls, and universal hand-counted paper ballots open to public scrutiny from the precinct level to the final official tallies, as dutifully reported by our slowly awakening corporate media.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft, available at www.freepress.org and www.solartopia.org, where Bob’s Fitrakis Files and Harvey’s Solartopia! can also be found.

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What Really Happened at Jill Stein’s Green Party “Wrong City” Rally

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

SEPTEMBER 5, 2016

Jill Stein raising her fist at the podium

So the corporate media indulged itself with the idea that Green Party candidate Jill Stein flew to the “wrong city” for a Friday rally at Capital University in central Ohio. Her lateness was in the headline, lead and conclusion of every mainstream article about the September 2 event.

As usual, they ignored the real story.

Jill originally had a speech scheduled in Cincinnati, which was moved, although the tickets weren’t. So she was in Covington, Kentucky about a half-hour before the scheduled noon start of her talk at Capital, where Harvey is in his thirteenth year of teaching (primarily UC200: Cultural and Ethnic Diversity).

No big deal. Jill hopped into a Lyft and headed north. Estimated time of arrival: about 2:30.

Compare this to when Hillary Clinton appeared in Columbus on July 31, 2016 at Ft. Hayes Metropolitan Education Center, arrived two hours late, and a dozen people had fainted in the heat in the meantime. Although the Dispatch reported on it, the article did not emphasize her lateness in the headline or lead. Buried in the middle of the article, it read: “Several in the Ft. Hayes crowd had to be treated by paramedics as they waited on the newly-anointed Democratic nominees, who were about two hours late – in part because they stopped for Grandpa’s Cheese Barn along Interstate 71 near Ashland.”

Meanwhile, Harvey told Jill’s crowd of about 100 (many of them his students) that she was on her way and took orders for pizza. Since the local media craves the details, here they are: seven cheese pies, seven with onions, peppers and mushrooms, and one vegan (for Harvey, Suzanne and two other takers) with tofu and no cheese. (Total price: $220, Harvey’s most memorable campaign donation).

We then opened the mic. Among others, long-time Green Party activist Anita Rios spoke. So did Bob, Ohio Green Party Co-Chair, candidate for Franklin County prosecutor, a professor at Columbus State Community College, and Editor of the Columbus Free Press/www.freepress.org. Bob and Harvey have co-authored seven books on election protection, dating back to the 2004 theft of the presidency by George W. Bush and Karl Rove.

At one o’clock we switched over to Harvey’s iPhone. One of Harvey’s students hooked us up to the PA and we played the Jill Stein campaign theme song, followed by a good long session from the Grateful Dead.

It was a gorgeous Friday afternoon on the large lawn at a lovely liberal arts college. People sat, talked and stretched out. Thanks to the modern miracles of the telephone, texting, email and social media, the crowd grew by half.

A klatch of about a dozen libertarians hovered in the background wearing Gary Johnson t-shirts. We asked them if it was true that Johnson, who advocates legalization of pot, had promised not to smoke it while in the White House. We told them that was a mistake.

When Jill arrived she was greeted by Capital’s much-loved President Beth Paul. Back in 2008, the school hosted an appearance from candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin. George H.W. Bush and other presidents, ex-presidents and candidates—-including Barack Obama—-have appeared here.

When Bob finally introduced her, we had a rested, happy crowd of enthusiastic students, locals and Green Party volunteers. Jill spoke of the Green New Deal and her plan to put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work to create a clean energy economy by 2030. She asked the student crowd how many had taken out student loans and more than half raised their hands. The crowd roared approval when she announced she would cancel all student loan debt, which affects 43 million Americans.

What should have been the lead was Stein’s call to cut the U.S. military spending in half. She pointed out that our nation has 900 military bases all over the world. Other than the U.S., all the other nations on the planet combined have only 30 military bases outside their borders.

We took questions after Jill’s speech, then a group photo, and a long selfie line. A good time was had by all.

By the time Jill hopped in Anita’s car to head to Cleveland for her next gig, this time just a half-hour late, the media had filed its story, but obviously missed an excellent rally.

The media are also misrepresenting Stein’s official ballot status:   A Dispatch article Monday, September 5, said:   “Green Party nominee Jill Stein is on track to make it in at least half [of the state ballots].” At the time the Dispatch published this AP report, Stein was already on the ballot in 41 states and likely to end up on at least 45 states, or 95 percent of the states. Only in South Dakota is she not on the ballot by name or as a write-in, and in only three states is she certified as a write-in only – Indiana, North Carolina and Georgia.

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Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, THE STRIP & FLIP SELECTION OF 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft CICJ Books 15$

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, THE STRIP & FLIP SELECTION OF 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft
CICJ Books 15$

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A “…masterful dissection of elections and voting as a system between the Civil War and today. Quite a time period to cover in less than 100 pages, but authors Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman face this challenge, prefaced and introduced by the famed author and investigative reporter Greg Palest and actress and activist (head of Progressive Democrats of America) Mimi Kennedy.” ~ Marta Steele.

Buy online or send a check for $15 to: CICJ Books, 1021 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43205

Buy the print book online

 

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Is the 2016 election already being stripped & flipped?

Vote sign

Disturbing signs of the time-tested “Strip and Flip” strategy for stealing elections have already surfaced in 2016. Will they ultimately decide the outcome, as they have in too many recent elections?

The core approach is to STRIP citizens of their voting rights, then FLIP the electronic vote count if that’s not enough to guarantee a win for the corporate 1%.

Historically, “stripping” has been based on race. It’s rooted in the divide-and-conquer strategies of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. Today it centers on racist demands for photo ID and other scams designed to prevent blacks, Hispanics, the young and the poor from voting.

“Flipping” is related to electronic voting machines, on which the vast majority of Americans will vote this fall. Nearly all these machines were bought with money from the 2002 Help America Vote Act, which came after the theft of the 2000 presidential election. Virtually all these machines are 10 years old or more, and can easily be hacked. Swing states Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona, among others, have GOP governors and, except for Florida, secretaries of state who can easily flip the vote count once they are cast, without accountability or detection. Also, private partisan voting machine companies have unlimited access to the electronic poll books, voting machines and central tabulators.

Those who dismiss such warnings as “conspiracy theory” might confront this simple question: “How will the electronic vote count in the 2016 election be verified?”

The answer is simple: “It can’t be.” The vote count in 2016 for the offices of President, US Congress, governorships, state legislatures, county commissioners, dog catchers and thousands of others will come through electronic black boxes. The veracity of the outcomes will vary from state to state based on the whims and interests of those in charge of the electronic tallies.

In the meantime, we have already seen deeply disturbing signs of the “strip and flip” scam in the 2016 primaries. All, of course, have been to the detriment of the Bernie Sanders campaign:

·         Despite the claim that Hillary Clinton, “won” the Iowa and Nevada caucuses, there’s clear evidence Bernie was the rightful winner in both states. In Iowa Clinton’s “victory” apparently turned on six coin tosses, all of which she allegedly won.

·         There’s clear evidence that Bernie actually won the Massachusetts primary, which the corporate media and official vote count gave to Hillary. Analyst Richard Charnin has examined pre-election polls and post-election exit polls, both showing Bernie substantially ahead of Clinton prior to the voting. In a phenomenon we have seen elsewhere (most notably as George W. Bush “beat” John Kerry in New Mexico 2004), Bernie won all the precincts with hand-counted paper ballots but lost all the ones with electronic voting machines. Exit polls significantly “outside the statistical margin of error” are the international gold standard for determining election fraud. If the U.S. held the same standards as the European Union, the Clinton campaign would be investigated for election fraud not only in the Massachusetts primary but also in Missouri, Illinois and Ohio primaries.

·         In Arizona we saw a re-run of Ohio 2004, where left-leaning Democratic urban areas were stripped of precincts and short-changed on voting machines and back-up paper ballots, resulting in long lines and thousands of citizens being deprived of their vote. African-Americans in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Dayton and Cincinnati waited up to seven hours and more to vote in 2004, causing mass disenfranchisement that helped give Bush Ohio and a second term in the White House. In Arizona this year, thousands of citizens were also robbed of their vote due to the elimination of precincts, machine shortages and the failure to provide back-up paper ballots. Many were handed provisional ballots which regularly are discarded and never counted. It is quite likely that with reasonable access to voting, Bernie would have won the Arizona primary.

A wide range of irregularities in other states have also dogged this primary season. They could well be the determining factor in who gets the nomination in both major parties.

A recent study by Harvard and the University of Sydney, Australia found that the United States had the “worst elections of any long-established democracy.” The U.S. ranked 47th out of the 47 long-term democratic nations.

Something serious must be done. Without radical action, these carefully engineered precinct eliminations, ballot and machine shortages, mass disenfranchisements and too much more will not only determine who wins the presidency this fall, but also who controls the Congress, numerous governorships and state legislatures and the whole gamut of elective offices around the country.

In the long run, only universal automatic voter registration, a four-day national holiday for voting, universal hand-counted paper ballots and other reforms will guarantee us a fair and reliable vote count. Posted at www.freepress.org, we call it the “Ohio Plan.”

But none of that will be in place this fall. In our coming articles, and in two weeks with our book THE STRIP AND FLIP SELECTION OF 2016, we will discuss what we can do in the interim.

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Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored six books on election protection, including the upcoming power point compendium THE STRIP & FLIP SELECTION OF 2016: FIVE JIM CROWS AND ELECTRONIC ELECTION THEFT. Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES are at www.freepress.org. Harvey’s AMERICA AT THE BRINK OF REBIRTH: THE ORGANIC SPIRAL OF US HISTORY will be published soon via www.solartopia.org

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Green-Socialist Dream in Houston

Bob Fitrakis and Philena Farley

Ohio Green Party delegates Bob Fitrakis and Philena Farley at the Green Party national presidential nominating convention

More than a few have wondered why the Green Party headed for Houston in August to nominate Jill Stein for President. I heard a few press observers note that maybe it was because Houston is one of the hottest and most polluted cities in the nation – perhaps more in need of Stein’s proposed Green New Deal than any other major U.S. city.

The reality is that the national Greens chose Houston because the state Party there practices thoroughgoing grassroots democracy. Simply put, Houston’s state Green Party had the best proposal. The Ohio Greens had proposed Toledo and were a finalist, with a vision of the Cleveland fascistic Republican convention contrasted with adecentralized democratic meeting in the city that is, for all practical purposes, a suburb of Detroit.

Prior to the Saturday, August 6 nominating convention, there were no major questions outstanding. Stein was the presumptive nominee, had chosen her Vice President, and her platform was clear. This is despite the fact in the past few months, Stein had offered Bernie Sanders to be the Green Party presidential nominee (with Stein as VP), and offered former Ohio State Senator, Sanders supporter, and renegade Democrat Nina Turner a spot as her running mate.

There was also talk of Cornel West as a VP candidate. But in the end, Stein turned to a stalwart human rights activist with ties to the Black Lives Matter movement to balance the ticket and reach out to the Party’s growing minority base, Ajamu Baraka.

The two most fiery calls to action during Stein’s nomination process were from the always eloquent Cornel West and YahNe Ndgo. Ndgo, as if conjuring up the spirit of “criticism/self-criticism” from the 1970s, appealed far more to the primarily white 200 or so Green Party delegates than the numerous Bernie-or-Bust observers, who broke into frequent chants of “Jill! Not Hill!”

There was some tension in Stein’s nominating process when presidential hopeful Sedinam Kinamo Christin Moyowasifza-Curry immediately objected to the Alabama delegation casting their votes, because she claimed she had not been invited to that state. Moyowasifza-Curry has argued vigorously for the Green Party becoming a minority-led vehicle to advance issues of concern to people of color.

Although there were frequent procedural objections from the floor by Moyowasifza-Curry, Stein easily won the nomination. The platform that, among other things, calls for reparations for African Americans, passed with little debate and only one dissenting vote.

The Ecological Economics amendment placed the Green Party firmly on the record as a Left eco-socialist party, reading in part: “…The Green Party seeks to build an alternative economic system based on ecology and decentralization of power, an alternative that rejects both the capitalist system that maintains private ownership over almost all production as well as the state-socialist system that assumes control over industries without democratic, local decision making…” and “…“addresses the economic inequalities, social inequalities, and productivism of both capitalism and state socialism and emphasizes grassroots democracy in the workplace.”

The platform also included the Green Party’s commitment to election integrity, calling for the end to all privately-owned proprietary computer codes in the U.S. electronic voting process.

A highlight of the convention was a livestream by Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in Britain. He spoke to the crowd about movements like the Green Party and how they keep American politics “honest.” He repeated his assertion that asking people to vote between Trump and Clinton is like asking people to choose between “cholera and gonorrhea.” Both Assange and West argued that the legendary “triangulation” of the Clintons, while they govern from the corporate center, is fanning the flames of right-wing takeovers to hold the Left at bay.

Stein asserted that all the fears of a Trump presidency – naked oligarchies, endless wars – actually occurred during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Stein also pointed out, along with West, that the current U.S. mass incarceration state that has disproportionately arrested blacks and Latinos was fueled on the federal level by the policies of Bill Clinton.

The key unanswered question from the convention is how many of the Berners will bolt from the preference of their leader and dedicate their energy and enthusiasm to the Stein campaign. Reports are already coming in of record small donations to the Stein campaign. In a press conference following her nomination, Stein said she had raised more money in the last three weeks than in the first year and half of her campaign.

Will the long sought-after, post-60s dream of an eco-socialist alliance, with state and local elected officials finally breakthrough in 2016?

Bob Fitrakis, Co-Chair of the Ohio Green Party, was an alternative delegate to the 2016 national Green Party convention and is the Federal Election Commissioner of the Green Shadow Cabinet. 

Connie And Cornel

Nathan Lane and Jill

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Bob Bites Back: Fear and hacking at the Democratic National Convention

Bernie delegates holding up Election Fraud sign at DNC

Why would the Ohio Green Party Co-Chair end up addressing Bernie Sanders delegates in Philly during the Democratic Party convention? I found myself with them in a pizza place in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania at the behest of the mostly-California-based Election Justice organization.

In a crowded back room, angry and angst-ridden Berners, as they call themselves, listened intently as election protection attorney Bill Simpich outlined what can only be described as a Clinton election coup in the California primary. Simpich has filed three lawsuits in California so far, trying to ensure every vote is counted. Immediately following the primary in California, 2.4 million votes – overwhelmingly from Sanders’ supporters – remained uncounted, resulting from a combination of dirty tricks and illegal voter suppression activities.

When all the votes are counted, Sanders would likely be the victor.

Berners were outraged over the apparent election fraud and the Wikileaks release of 20,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails just prior to the start of Hillary Clinton’s well-orchestrated coronation. They pondered the suspicious death of DNC staffer Seth Rich, found shot twice in the back on July 10 before he was set to testify in the Clinton email investigation. The delegates were particularly pissed about the content of one Wikileaked email from a DNC staffer named “Marshall” to DNC Communication Director Louis Miranda. Marshall wondered about Bernie – “Does he believe in a God.” In another email, staffers plotted to describe Bernie as a “Jew” and “atheist” in hopes of discouraging support for him from West Virginia voters.

In an interview about the revelations in the DNC emails, Sanders had stated, “The Party leadership must always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race.”

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, implicated in the email scandal, was initially “quarantined to keep the peace,” according to DNC officials. But, Wasserman-Schultz resigned in shame only to be immediately hired by the Clinton campaign.

Lulu Fries’dat unveiled a 96-page report entitled “Democracy Lost: A Report on the Fatally Flawed 2016 Democratic Primaries” issued by Election Justice USA and endorsed by Fritz Scheuren, the former president of the American Statistical Association. The report concluded that “…an upper estimate of 184 pledged delegates [were] lost by Senator Bernie Sanders as a consequence of specific irregularities and instances of fraud. Adding these delegates to Senator Sanders’ pledged delegate total and subtracting the same number from Hillary Clinton’s pledged total would more than erase the 359 pledged delegate gap between the two candidates.”

The report also pointed out that, “Even small changes in vote shares in critical states like Massachusetts and New York could have substantially changed the media narrative surrounding the primaries in ways that would likely have had far reaching consequences for Senator Sanders’ campaign.”

I explained to the crowd that the lawsuit I filed, Johnson v. Edison Research Group, accuses the presidential primary exit pollsters of collaborating with secretaries of state to deliver bad numbers to the giant media polling consortium – NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, CNN and the Associated Press. While none of the Republican primary election exit poll results were statistically suspicious, 12 out of 26 Democratic primary exit poll results were so far off the actual vote totals that they would not have been validated by the U.S. State Department Hillary used to head. Among the worst were Arizona, Alabama, Ohio and New York. Edison had unexpectedly canceled all further primary election exit polling just prior to the California vote.

Suddenly the Bernie supporters were asking “What should we do?” about all the election fraud. Their solution was to issue a statement about the primary election fraud and Wikileaked emails, and stage a walkout at the convention after Clinton’s name was put in nomination for president. They emailed a draft statement to participants around 1:30am. It was now clear that the walkout would happen and chaos would ensue.

Outside the Wells Fargo Center convention site, people were in the streets daily marching and chanting and setting up an “Occupy the DNC” continuous convergence at FDR Park. I joined Cheri Honkala’s, and the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign’s “March for our Lives” Monday at 3pm starting outside the Philadelphia City Hall. Honkala, Jill Stein’s Green Party Vice Presidential running mate in 2012, was joined by Cornel West, a leading Sanders surrogate and platform spokesperson who had recently endorsed Stein for president this year. West was his usual nattily attired self, in a three-piece suit, in preparation for the 4-mile march in 100-degree temperatures.

Jill Stein spoke briefly at the start of the march. Chants included: “Hell no DNC! We won’t vote for Hillary!” and “Jill, not Hill!” Halfway through the march it paused, and I was handed a megaphone to address the marchers on the issue of election fraud. I denounced the fact that “Private, for-profit, partisan corporations secretly count our votes and maintain our pollbooks with secret proprietary software.” I urged occupation and arrests to end this unacceptable and undemocratic practice.

Two voting machine companies Dominion (formerly Diebold) and Hart Intercivic were listed as donors to the Clinton Foundation. As the axiom goes, there’s not much money in vote counting, but a lot in vote results.

Fifty-four marchers took arrest for going over the fences outside the Wells Fargo Center protesting election fraud and Citizen’s United. They were cuffed and given bottles of water, much to their relief.

Under a large white tent in FDR Park, Green Party stalwarts like Medea Benjamin, David Cobb and hip hop artist Immortal Technique revved up the crowd in anticipation of Jill Stein’s appearance. I saw a “Rigging is not Winning” sign.

The sky was filling with dark gray clouds. Luckily Howie Hawkins, Green Party legend from New York, was serving as security and allowed me backstage. Then a Parks and Recreation staffer rushed into the tent and demanded we shut it down before the impending thunderstorm. He proclaimed an emergency and told us to leave immediately. A black security person answered “Hell no! We don’t know if you’re with Hillary!”

As an election attorney for the Green Party of Ohio, I was drawn into the conversation and we realized the legal implications – stall as long as we can so Jill can finish speaking.

We refused to vacate the tent and shut down the rally as Jill was being ushered on the stage. We demanded a note from his supervisor. While Jill spoke, inviting the Berners to break from the Democratic Party, the Parks and Rec guy returned to show us an email on his phone verifying his orders. We perused it slowly and sent him away a second time where he vowed to return with police. He did, but by that time Jill was done speaking and Immortal Technique was rapping the rally up.

Then came the righteous cleansing rain.

When Hillary was nominated on Tuesday night, there was a mass walkout by Bernie supporters chanting “Walk out! Walk out!” “Election Fraud!” and “This is what democracy looks like!” Berners from California and New York visibly emptied large areas of the convention hall. Clinton controlled state delegations were down near the front for mainstream media cameras to pick up, while the seats that Sanders’ large contingent got were higher up. Some Bernie delegates stopped and had a silent protest at the convention media tent wearing black gags and tape over their mouths – words on the tape read “Election Fraud” and “Silenced.”

We were receiving constant messages from delegates in convention center. The first important post I noted on Monday was from a California delegate at 5:48pm urging people to join a class action lawsuit against the DNC. There were six links to devastating online articles and videos regarding the DNC’s election manipulation.

Many of the delegates messaged that they were being threatened with having their delegate credentials pulled, something that actually happened to Ohio State Senator Nina Turner. Reports are that she had refused to specifically endorse Clinton in her planned “second” to the Sanders nomination. Numerous Bernie supporters reported that their Bernie signs were confiscated by convention officials and Hillary delegates. New Yorkers complained that a white noise machine was placed by them to drown out their Hillary heckling.

Later in the week during the convention when Tim Kaine took the stage election integrity activists dropped a green banner over the side of the balcony reading “Election Fraud #wikileaks” and Hillary’s acceptance speech was marred by glowing neon green vests and T-shirts that read “Enough is Enough” indicating their plan to vote Green Party in November. Jill Stein was invited in to the convention center to be interviewed by Fox News, causing consternation.

As a fellow for the Institute for American Democracy and Election Integrity, I spoke on a panel at the parallel People Demanding Action (aka Progressive Democrats of America) conference on election integrity. Many in the audience were California Bernie delegates and during the Q and A they came to the conclusion that they should walk out during Clinton’s nomination address. There were two dissenters that led to a profane shouting match during the discussion.

After the Q and A, I raced back to FDR Park to join comedian/news analyst Lee Camp and my favorite investigative reporter Greg Palast on a panel. It never happened because the occupiers were heading over to the convention center for another round of arrests.

Now that it’s over, I read a report that the FBI was on the DNC email case. The great irony is that the FBI has announced it is going to investigate the source of the leaks, but not any potentially illegal activity that was in the email leak.

On a more positive note, I read a July 29 open letter to Bernie Sanders by 22 former campaign staffers and his current National Latino Outreach Deputy Director Cesar Vargas urging him to run for president on a Sanders/Stein Green Party ticket.

 

Appears in Issue:

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Green Party candidate Bob Fitrakis is running for Franklin County Prosecutor in 2016.

He promises to prosecute polluters, rogue cops, and corporate criminals.

What I hope to accomplish as Franklin County Prosecutor?
* Prosecute any police using excessive force
* Prosecute polluters poisoning the people, soil, water, or air
* Prosecute individuals involved in scandals, such as Redflex and data-rigging within Columbus City Schools
* Set up a whistleblower’s hotline
* Prosecute anyone involved in vote tampering or voter suppression, including elected officials
* Make Franklin County a Bill of Rights Enforcement Zone
* Arrest any individuals or government officials illegally spying on the people of Franklin County
* Guarantee due process and equal protection for all people, especially immigrants, minorities, and the poor who are targeted unfairly by the police
* Advocate for decriminalization and legalization of marijuana and hemp
* Provide treatment and diversion programs rather than jail sentences for drug addicts and abusers
* Go after the real drug dealers with ties to the CIA who bring drugs in by the planeload – wealthy, well-connected cartels

Bob Fitrakis Biography
Bob Fitrakis is currently the co-chair of the Ohio Green Party and the Franklin County Green Party. He ran as the Green Party Lt. Governor with Anita Rios in 2014 when the Green Party received over 100,000 votes in Ohio. He was also a candidate in the 3rd congressional district in 2012 and as the Green Party endorsed candidate for governor of Ohio in 2006. He has been a member of the Green Shadow Cabinet as the Federal Elections Commissioner since 2013 after he worked with Jill Stein, the 2012 presidential candidate.
Fitrakis is a Political Science Professor in the Social Sciences department at Columbus State Community College, where he won the Distinguished Professor Award in 2012. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Wayne State University and a J.D. from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. He was a Ford Foundation Fellow to the Michigan State legislature and currently serves as a Near East Area Commissioner. He co-authored “What Happened in Ohio: A documentary record of theft and fraud in the 2004 election” (New Press, 2006), and has authored or co-authored 12 other books including six on election integrity. Fitrakis is the editor of the Free Press, freepress.org and columbusfreepress.com.
Fitrakis was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 2003. In his first major case, he sued Ohio State University for violating students’ civil rights who were organizing the annual Hemp Festival, and won. He represented anti-fracking activist madeline ffitch, arrested for civil disobedience at a fracking well in southeastern Ohio. He also had charges dismissed against Kevin Egler in Kent, Ohio for posting an “Impeach Bush” sign on public property. He was served as the attorney for the Columbus NAACP, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, the Ohio Green Party, the Ohio Rights Group, Columbus Film Festival, The Neighborhood Network, Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism, among others.
Fitrakis has been an election protection activist since March 1994, when he served as an international observer for the national elections in El Salvador. He co-wrote and edited the El Salvador election report for the United Nations. Fitrakis was an election protection attorney on November 2, 2004 in Franklin County. After witnessing election suppression, he called the first public hearings on voter suppression and election irregularities and was one of four attorneys to file a challenge to Ohio’s presidential elections results: Moss v. Bush and Moss v. Moyer. In 2006, Fitrakis was co-counsel in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville lawsuit against the Ohio Secretary of State’s office seeking to end racially discriminatory electoral practices in Ohio and to ensure free and fair elections. He authored a 50-point consent decree to ensure election integrity in Ohio submitted to the current Secretary of State. Many of these proposals have been adopted by the state of Ohio.
In December 2004, Fitrakis testified before the Judiciary Committee of Congress at the request of Rep. John Conyers in both Washington D.C. and Columbus. The information gathered from the Fitrakis’ investigations and hearings resulted in the Conyers Report, “What Went Wrong in Ohio?” released January 5, 2005. Fitrakis spoke to the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Ohio’s election issues. Fitrakis briefed John Kerry, worked on election reform with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-LA), and briefed the Democratic Party Senate leadership. He later briefed the Congressional Progressive Caucus as well as the Congressional Black Caucus and the Senate Democratic leadership. Dr. Fitrakis testified at the Election Assessment hearings in Houston, Texas in 2005, which became part of the Carter-Baker Commission Report on federal election reform.

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Fitrakis’ Election Integrity Work

US Prfesidential Election Theft

Fitrakis was an international election observer for the 1994 El Salvador presidential election and co-authored and edited the International Observer Election Report. Fitrakis’ investigative reporting on election irregularities and fraud began prior to the Florida debacle of the 2000 election. He uncovered the history and Republican and CIA connections to the electronic voting machine companies in several articles throughout 2000 prior to Election Day. He worked with the late Athan Gibbs, inventor of TruVote voting machines that supplied a paper trail, in exposing the flaws of computer voting machines.

He helped organize Election Protection activities in central Ohio for the 2004 election including Video the Vote and legal observers at the polls. He received international attention after being an Election Protection attorney during the 2004 Ohio presidential election, and subsequently investigating the election irregularities. He initiated the original public hearings at the New Faith Baptist Church and Franklin County Courthouse in Columbus, Ohio two weeks after the November 2, 2004 Election Day to hear sworn testimony and take notarized affidavits from voters and observers who experienced election irregularities. Over 750 people participated in the hearings that were simultaneously broadcast on radio and on international media.

Dr. Fitrakis was instrumental in putting together a coalition of nonprofit organizations, public officials, attorneys, voters, videographers, and activists to continue the investigations across Ohio. He helped organize four other public hearings in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, and Warren, Ohio. In December 2004, Fitrakis testified before the Judiciary Committee of Congress at the request of Rep. John Conyers in both Washington D.C. and Columbus. The information gathered from the Free Press investigations and hearings resulted in the Conyers Report, “What Went Wrong in Ohio?” released January 5, 2005. Fitrakis spoke to the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Ohio’s election issues. Fitrakis was one of four attorneys who challenged the election results in federal court immediately after the election, Moss v, Bush, with the assistance of Rev. Jesse Jackson. While working with Jackson, Fitrakis briefed top Democratic leaders, including U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and helped organize and craft the language for the first Congressional challenge to the seating of Ohio’s delegates in our country’s history.

Fitrakis briefed John Kerry, worked on election reform with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-LA) and Rep. John Kerry (D-Atlanta), and briefed the Democratic Party Senate leadership. He later briefed the Congressional Progressive Caucus as well as the Congressional Black Caucus and the Senate Democratic leadership. Dr. Fitrakis testified at the Election Assessment hearings in Houston, Texas, which became part of the Carter-Baker Report. Throughout 2005-2007 Fitrakis organized investigators under the auspices of the CICJ to visit key Boards of Elections in Ohio to physically examine and count ballots, videotape and photograph election evidence, and write reports. Much of this evidence appears in his books and in a project he coordinated for an online digital archive.

Fitrakis co-authored What Happened in Ohio? A documentary record of theft and fraud in the 2004 election (New Press) and has authored or co-authored three other election books including How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008 the companion summary book to the 767-page volume Did George W. Bush Steal America’s 2004 Election? Essential Documents, co-edited with Harvey Wasserman and Steve Rosenfeld. He co-wrote the freepress.org article “How a Republican Election Supervisor Manipulated the 2004 Central Ohio Vote” that received the Project Censored Third Most Censored story in the world in 2005. He has written chapters for the book Hacked (Truth Enterprises Publishing) in 2006 and Mark Crispin Miller’s Loser Take All (Ig Publishing) in 2008.

Fitrakis has been interviewed on countless national and local radio and TV programs as an expert on Ohio’s election irregularities and subsequent election reform issues. He was a featured speaker at the first voting rights teach-in in Berkeley in February 2005 and at national organizing conferences for the growing voting rights movement from San Francisco to Nashville to New York City. Fitrakis received a grant to take his books on a west coast book tour from San Diego to Seattle during 2005. He helped a coalition of individuals and groups hold a 3-day Voting Rights Revival conference in Columbus in 2005 and another in 2008. Over 10 national and international independent video documentaries feature Fitrakis, including the Sundance Award-winning “American Blackout” by Ian Inaba of GNN. Through the Free Press, he and the Ecological Options Network co-produced the short video “Help America Vote on Paper” on election reform advocacy video that has been distributed worldwide. On behalf of the Free Press, Fitrakis wrote and received two national grants to continue the election reform work through 2006 and 2007. Fitrakis was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now and by Lou Dobbs on CNN.

Fitrakis ran for Governor of Ohio in 2006 as an independent endorsed by the Green Party on a platform of election reform. He worked with five other independent statewide candidates to place dozens of election rights observers inside the polling sites and Boards of Elections on Election Day throughout Ohio. Gore Vidal volunteered to help Fitrakis with his campaign. Vidal sponsored and appeared alongside him at a fund-raiser and live Pacifica radio broadcast in Santa Monica. Fitrakis successfully brought the election irregularities to public attention, as well as the criminal antics of his Republican opposition for governor Ohio’s Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell was sorely trounced in the election and is no longer a political entity in Ohio, and Fitrakis received 41,000 votes.

As of June 2008, Fitrakis was co-counsel in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville lawsuit against the Ohio Secretary of State’s office seeking to end racially discriminatory electoral practices in Ohio and to ensure free and fair elections. Fitrakis authored a 50-point consent decree to ensure election integrity in Ohio submitted to the current Secretary of State. Many of these proposals have been adopted by the state of Ohio. He continues to speak on radio and TV programs, present at conferences, and help produce independent election-related videos. He and Wasserman continue to report regularly on election reform issues in the Free Press, on freepress.org and numerous other progressive websites such as Counterpunch, Commondreams, Salon, Alternet, and Bradblog – as well as their own internet radio program at freepress.org/podcasts.

Fitrakis continues to lead annual election protection efforts in Ohio. The post-election report of 2008 was brought before the UN by the International Association of Educators for World Peace. In 2008, the CICJ exposed that over 1.25 million voters had been purged in Ohio and in 2012 was able to document that over one million voters were purged in the Buckeye State. Fitrakis is and Harvey Wasserman in updating their election book for a new edition in 2012, Corporate Vote Theft and the Future of American Democracy.

Fitrakis ran for the 3rd district of U.S. Congress with the Green Party in 2012 and held several press conferences with Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein about the vulnerabilities of voting machines.

In 2012, Fitrakis uncovered information about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his family and friends ties to the voting machine company Hart InterCivic. Also that year, the Ohio Secretary of State, Jon Husted, planned to put experimental and untested patches on voting machine tabulators in the state. Fitrakis was the plaintiff in a lawsuit to stop the patches on Election Day that November. The Washington Spectator speculated in an article entitled “Did an Election Day Lawsuit Stop Karl Rove’s Vote-Rigging Scheme in Ohio?” that the legal proceedings may have prevented a stolen election in Ohio.

During the 2016 Democratic primary season, Fitrakis filed a lawsuit to gain access to unadjusted exit poll results from the Edison Research company because of suspicious results in 12 key states. He is a fellow with the American Institute for Democracy and Election Integrity working to research, expose, and prevent election fraud and organize election protection efforts. Fitrakis and Wasserman co-authored another book, “The Strip & Flip Selection on 2016: Five Jim Crows and Electronic Election Theft.”

US Prfesidential Election Theft