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Bob’s Election Integrity Work

Election Assessment Hearing Kathy Dopp, Bill Moss, Robert Fitrakis, Richard Hayes Phillips

Election Assessment Hearing Kathy Dopp, Rev. Bill Moss, Robert Fitrakis, Richard Hayes Phillips

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. . 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 is currently 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 1 million voters were purged in the Buckeye State. Fitrakis is currently working with Harvey Wasserman in updating their election book for a new edition in 2012.

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Republicans Ban Minor Parties In Ohio: Battle On To Repeal Law

By Bob Fitrakis

August 10, 2011

Ohio Secretary of State John Husted has banned all minor political parties in Ohio from the ballot. In an August 5, 2011 letter written to the Libertarian Party of Ohio, Husted made it clear that his interpretation of the draconian Ohio House Bill 194, passed by the Republican-dominated legislature, means that all minor parties have lost their official statewide party status effective September 30, 2011.

In a bizarre twist, Husted wrote that the bill “…included laws related to the requirements minor parties will have to satisfy in order to gain ballot access.”

In Husted’s reading of HB 194, the Libertarian, Green, Socialist and Constitution Parties that have been on the ballot since the 2008 election will have to start over to gain ballot access that they already held under a federal court ruling. In a similar situation, then-Secretary of State Ted Brown left minor parties on the ballot in 1970 and 1972 rather than revoking their ballot access due to a new election law.

In 2006, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found the qualifications for minor parties two restrictive and the Ohio election law was declared unconstitutional. One provision in the bill struck down by the 6th Circuit held that minor parties had to file in November of the year before the election. HB 194 moved this petition filing deadline to early February of the election year for minor parties.

But the U.S. Supreme Court in Williams vs. Rhodes, a 1968 Ohio case, ruled that a February deadline is “unreasonably early.”

The law gives the minor parties three and a half months to collect 40,000 valid signatures to place their Party back on the ballot.

The Libertarian Party of Ohio filed a lawsuit on August 9 for “First Amendment rights and voting freedom,” seeking to overturn the short turnaround for the ballot access signatures portion of HB 194.

Former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner spoke on Talktainment radio August 10 and was critical of Husted’s letter, arguing that it was a waste of taxpayers’ money to force the minor parties to sue to gain ballot access. “It’s an unfortunate waste of taxpayer dollars. The minor parties should prevail. But the Secretary of State’s office will have to pay the bills out of their budget,” she said.

Brunner and her CouragePAC are part of a broad coalition of forces that include Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH and ProgressOhio. They will be gathering signatures to repeal HB 194 because it restricts the right to vote for many Ohio voters, including the elderly, students, urban and poor people. The law forbids pollworkers from directing voters to the correct precinct among other anti-democratic measures.

On August 6 at the Mt. Hermon Baptist Church in Columbus, the anniversary of the historic Selma to Montgomery civil rights march, Rev. Jackson told Ohio activists seeking to repeal HB 194 that “Fundamental to protecting all the rights is voting rights.”

Jackson accused the Ohio Republican Party of embracing a “state’s rights ideology” left over from the Civil War. He stressed that it was no accident that the Republican Party is now engaging in the largest disenfranchising of voters since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and it is happening in 34 states across the country.

If Brunner and Jackson’s coalition is successful in gathering the signatures to place the repeal of HB 194 on Ohio’s ballot in 2012, the law will not go into effect on September 30. Rather, it will decided by voters in the 2012 November election.

Where this leaves Ohio’s minor parties may ultimately decided by the courts. Part of HB 194 retrospectively “declared void the 2009 and 2011 Secretary of State directives providing ballot access to certain minor parties,” Husted wrote to the Libertarian Party of Ohio. Those directives came as part of a consent agreement between the Secretary of State’s office and minor parties, enforced by Ohio’s federal court in the Southern District.

Husted’s letter makes it clear that he intends to enforce the partisan Republican law even if it is placed on hold by a repeal process.

It was the Libertarian and Green Parties in 2004 that demanded the recount of Ohio’s suspect presidential vote, and it was the Green Party that conducted statewide election protection operations in 2008.

If the Republicans have their way, they will not only remove the minor parties from the ballot, but also the vehicle by which election protection activists observed and reported on Ohio’s presidential elections.

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Bob Fitrakis is Co-Chair of the Ohio Green Party and was the attorney who filed to secure the Green Party of Ohio’s ballot access in 2008. He was also an independent candidate for governor in Ohio endorsed by the Greens in 2006.