Listen and call-in to Bob Fitrakis’ new radio show on WVKO1580AM

See podcast at bottom!
Listen and call-in to Bob Fitrakis’ new radio show on WVKO, 1580 AM
This Saturday, April 7 from 11am-12noon
This week’s guest: Staughton Lynd, prisoner rights activist, author of Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising
OPEN LINE: Call in between 11:40am-12noon on whatever subject you want to talk about!

also, don’t forget —

Join us to Stop the Prison Industrial Complex!
Saturday, April 7, 2012
1-3:00 PM
Gather at Corner of Broad St. & High St. for a Rally (State Capitol Building), Columbus, Ohio.
Speaker: Bob Fitrakis
Followed by a march west on Broad Street to the Ohio Dept of Rehabilitation and Correction. Several organizations and activist groups are uniting for this rally to bring attention to the injustices which are inherent in the prison industrial complex.This is an effort to educate the public and law makers about these issues and to show our growing support for change.
• Free the framed Lucasville Five.
• End the death penalty.
• Parole for Old-Law prisoners – presumption for parole when eligible.
• Right to a life for former prisoners – remove barriers to employment and housing.
If you have a prison issue, come with signs, banners, drums and bullhorns. Show your support.
Sponsored by the Central Ohio Prisoner Advocates


Press Release: Green Party Congressional candidate Bob Fitrakis calls for end to the death penalty

April 5, 2012
Contact: Suzanne Patzer, media contact,

Green Party Congressional candidate Bob Fitrakis
calls for end to the death penalty

In response to U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost’s ruling that allows Ohio to resume the death penalty, Green Party Congressional candidate Bob Fitrakis (3rd district) called for the abolition of the death penalty in the United States. He echoed the Green Party’s official position: “We oppose the death penalty. Capital punishment is ineffective, racially biased and leads to errors which are unacceptable.”
“There is nothing the state of Ohio can do to fix its barbaric and broken death penalty process. I agree with the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Blackmun, ‘The process is so fatally flawed that the only solution lies in abolishing capital punishment,’” said Fitrakis.
“The European Union and virtually all western industrialized democracies have outlawed the death penalty, even the former Soviet Union, Russia, has banned it. Out of the nearly 200 nations of the world, only 20 allow their government to kill people. The United States is in the top five, with China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq,” Fitrakis stated.
In his book The Fitrakis Files: Free Byrd and Other Cries for Justice, Fitrakis documented the flaws of Ohio’s death penalty, the racist and classist nature of its application, as well as other brutalities in our state’s prison industrial complex. “Approximately 25% of all the death row inmates in Ohio are sentenced in Hamilton County, which has a corrupt system that has sent many people to death not on factual evidence, but on the words of snitches,” Fitrakis said. In 1992, Fitrakis served as presidential candidate Jerry Brown’s spokesperson at the Democratic Party Platform Hearings and at the Democratic National convention where he introduced a plank seeking to abolish the death penalty.
Fitrakis will speak this Saturday, April 7 at a rally against the prison industrial complex and the death penalty. The rally will begin at 1pm at the Ohio Statehouse, Broad and High Streets. Participants plan to march west on Broad Street to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

Has America’s Stolen Election Process Finally Hit Prime Time?

Prime Time

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
December 29, 2011

It took two stolen US Presidential elections and the prospect of another one coming up in 2012.
For years the Democratic Party and even much of the left press has reacted with scorn for those who’ve reported on it.
But the imperial fraud that has utterly corrupted our electoral process seems finally to be dawning on a broadening core of the American electorate—if it can still be called that.

The shift is highlighted by three major developments:
1. The NAACP goes to the United Nations

In early December, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the largest civil rights organization in America, announced that it was petitioning the United Nations over the orchestrated GOP attack on black and Latino voters.

In its landmark report entitled Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America, the NAACP directly takes on the new Jim Crow tactics passed in fourteen states that are designed to keep minorities from voting in 2012.

The report analyzes 25 laws that target black, minority and poor voters “unfairly and unnecessarily restrict[ing] the right to vote.” It notes “…a coordinated assault on voting rights.”

The Free Press has been reporting on this coordinated assault since the 2000 election, including the heroic struggle of voters in Ohio to postpone the enactment of the draconian House Bill 194 that was the most restrictive voting rights law passed in the United States. (See Voting rights activists fight back against new Republican Jim Crow attack in Ohio)

The NAACP points out that this most recent wave of voter repression is a reaction to the “…historic participation of people of color in the 2008 presidential election and substantial minority population growth according to the 2010 consensus….”

It should be no surprise that the states of the old Confederacy — Florida, Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina — are in the forefront of repressing black voters. Three other Jim Crow states with the greatest increase in Latino population — South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee — also implemented drastic measures to restrict minority voting.

The report documents that a long-standing tactic under fire since the 1860s — the disenfranchisement of people with felony convictions — is back in vogue. This has been coupled with “severe restrictions” on persons conducting voter registration drives and reducing opportunities for early voting and the use of absentee ballots complete these template legislative acts.

Most of these new Jim Crow tactics were initially drafted as model legislation by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive and conservative corporate policy group whose founder, according to the NAACP, is on record in favor of reducing the voting population in order to increase their own “leverage.”

The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that the 25 laws passed in these 14 states could prevent as many as 5 million voters from voting, a number easily exceeding the margin of victory in numerous presidential elections.

Ohio’s HB 194, which awaits a 2012 referendum vote, would disenfranchise an estimated 900,000 in one of our nation’s key battleground states.

An important statistic in all the legislation is that 25 % of African Americans lack a state photo identification, as do 15% of Latinos, but by comparison, only 8% of white voters. Other significant Democratic constituents — the elderly of all races and college students — would be disproportionately impacted.

Ohio voters have just repealed a draconian anti-labor law passed by the GOP-dominated legislature and the state’s far-right governor John Kasich. Whether they will do the same to this massive disenfranchisement remains to be seen. But the fact that it’s on a state ballot marks a major leap forward. Ohio activists are also drafting a constitutional amendment that includes revamping the registration, voting and vote count procedures.(Can we transform labor’s Buckeye victory into a new era of election protection?)

2. The Justice Department awakens

On Friday, December 23, 2011, the U.S. Justice Department called South Carolina’s new voter ID law discriminatory. The finding was based in part on the fact that minorities were almost 20% more likely than whites to be without state-issued photo IDs required for voting. Unlike Ohio, South Carolina remains under the 1965 Voting Rights Act and requires federal pre-approval to any changes in voting laws that may harm minority voters.

The Republican governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley denounced the Justice Department decision as “outrageous” and vowed to do everything in her power to overturn the decision and uphold the integrity of state’s rights under the 10th Amendment.

The US Supreme Court has upheld the requirement of photo ID for voting. Undoubtedly the attempt by US Attorney General Eric Holder to challenge this will go to the most thoroughly corporate-dominated Court in recent memory. The depth of the commitment of the Obama Administration to the issue also remains in doubt.

3. The EAC finally finds that voting machines are programmed to be partisan

Another federal agency revealed another type of problem in Ohio. On December 22, 2011, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) issued a formal investigative report on Election Systems & Software (ED&D) DS200 Precinct County optical scanners. The EAC found “three substantial anomalies”:
• Intermittent screen freezes, system lock-ups and shutdowns that prevent the voting system from operating in the manner in which it was designed
• Failure to log all normal and abnormal voting system events
• Skewing of the ballot resulting in a negative effect on system accuracy

The EAC ruled that the ballot scanners made by ES&S electronic voting machine firm failed 10% of the time to read the votes correctly. Ohio is one of 13 states that requires EAC certification before voting machines can be used in elections. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported in 2010 that the voting machines in heavily Democratic Cuyahoga County had failed during testing for the 2010 gubernatorial election. Cleveland uses the same Republican-connected ES&S ballot scanners — the DS200 opti-scan system. Ohio’s Mahoning County, home of the Democratic enclave of Youngstown, also uses the DS200s. The same opti-scan system is also used in the key battleground states of Florida, Illionois, Indiana, New York, and Wisconsin.

Voting rights activists fear a repeat of the well-documented vote switching that occurred in Mahoning County in the 2004 presidential election when county election officials admitted that 31 of their machines switched Kerry votes to Bush.

But a flood of articles about these realities—including coverage in the New York Times—seems to indicate the theft of our elections has finally taken a leap into the mainstream of the American mind. Whether that leads to concrete reforms before another presidential election is stolen remains to be seen. But after more than a decade of ignorance and contempt, it’s about time something gets done to restore a semblance of democracy to the nation that claims to be the world’s oldest.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, including How the GOP stole America’s 2004 election, at Free Press, where Bob’s Fitrakis Files are also available. Harvey Wasserman’s History of the United States is at Harvey Wasserman.


Brunner Moves In The Right Direction


by Bob Fitrakis

Ohio Secretary of State recently released a report that seeks to safeguard Ohio’s 2008 presidential election. A tall task after the open theft of the 2004 election by her predecessor.

The Brunner report as usual is a mixed bag. She’s responding to the Everest Study of electronic voting machines which showed the Ohio election system vulnerable to fraud and error. She was in a showdown with the Republican-controlled Statehouse who refused to give her the
$64 million she wanted primarily for precinct-based Optiscan machines.
In the game of chicken, Brunner was afraid to decertify the machines because she feared the Republicans wouldn’t give her the money to replace them.

Some of her recommendations seem to come directly from the consent decree that I authored in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville case pending in the State of Ohio. The case charges former Secretary of State Blackwell with manipulating the 2004 election as the agent of the Bush-Cheney Re-election Campaign, but also included 50 proposals for election reform to ensure free and fair elections in Ohio.

To her credit, she’s attempting to improve the county voter registration databases as well as fixing and promoting the polling sites. These were both problems in the inner cities in 2004. She’s also promoting more use of absentee ballots and early voting and is now requiring security plans from each county, particularly in regards to ballot access including the memory cards. This concern for chain of custody issues is long overdue. She’ll also be requiring an audit and has the ability to order every county to do a post election audit. I’m hoping she has the courage to demand a true random post-election audit.

So she’s moving in the right direction. But the result will depend upon how the final directives look.