Tag Archives: voter surpression

Ohio Battles to Protect the Vote

Learn more about the Voter Purge Project here.

Columbus        Twenty-five people made their way into the Vanderelli Room in Columbus.  The art, performance, and all-around community space in the Franklinton neighborhood of the city near downtown had been offered to TrustVote and the Columbus Free Press as the venue for a matinee meeting entitled “Protect Your Vote.”  The overstuffed diner-style benches that bordered the seating space were the popular first choice of the crowd, pushing later comers into the doughnut hole left in front of the stage.

Meeting Preparation

The crowd knew what they were doing, even if they didn’t know the room.  These were veterans of decades of voting rights wars in Ohio fought at the state and county level certainly, but peppered with battle scars from election commission meetings and in the precincts themselves.  Sometimes the stories revolved around ballot access whether with the Green Party or in the Democratic lists with John Kerry in the state or even the 2004 debacle with Bush.  Lawyers, old League of Women Voters veterans, election security experts, poll watchers, door knockers, and others were there to pull their chairs closer to see what the 2020 fight might involve.  This wasn’t about Trump.  This was about how to get the voters through the barriers presented by the politicians, and then how to actually get the votes counted.  This was tech talk with the old school.

Steve Tingley-Hock and I were invited to talk about our partnership between his database expertise and management with the Ohio Voter Project that had combined with ACORN and Labor Neighbor Research & Training Center to create the Voter Purge Project.  I gave the big picture on the range of our work, the links to our website, and the problems with accessing lists and bringing the states to heel with the data and fieldwork.  Steve told the story of his successful efforts in Ohio to restore 40,000 voters by removing them from the purge list.  We took a dozen questions and collected interest and volunteers.

Bob Fitrakis Speaking & Steven Tingley-Houk Getting Ready

Bob Fitrakis, an attorney, detailed what needed to be done to protect voting access and Suzanne Patzer, the organizer pulling the pieces together, recruited volunteers to help, while getting all the trains to run on time and to the right station.  There was extensive discussion of the Ohio voting machines and the type of records they produced, or didn’t produce, the technical details were described, and the level of privatization of the entire system was derided. John Brakey of AUDIT-USA, a Tuscon, Arizona-based voting rights and transparency advocate and investigator, came to the meeting via Zoom, which after some trial and error, worked better than many of the voting machines he was describing along with his concern about whether or not the machines competently protected and saved ballot images of a voter’s preference.  This was all heady stuff, and the crowd was enthralled.

This was a serious business crowd.  We also heard how Ohio absentee ballots could be manufactured to swing an election with a fake signature and the last four digits of a social security number.  We heard about 10,000 absentee ballots that may have never been counted in Lake County, the moral being, don’t vote that way up there or maybe absentee anywhere.  A security whiz told us how in the Ohio system if you could hack into the machine in any precinct, you could control the whole election.

In Ohio, preparing for an election is akin to getting ready for Armageddon.  They’ve been there, and they are spreading the word.

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The Case of the “Casual Registrant” Being Blocked from Voting

998239_10151907246868646_2144718912_nLos Angeles  President Obama’s quote on the governmental shutdown saying essentially that it “would be funny, if it weren’t so crazy,” comes to mind again with the latest bulletin on the anti-democratic rants of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, also famous as the legal creator of various voter suppression and anti-immigrant measures like those famous in Arizona.  I first came to the Kobach-watch when he was declared in a press conference in Salina, Kansas and subsequently throughout the state as he waged continuous hater-ation that he was running for office in order to stop ACORN from voter registration chicanery and election chaos, even as I knew, and he must have known, that ACORN had no active operations in the fine state of Kansas.

In Kansas, his career seems founded on not only that falsehood but a string of others as well.   Unable to find ACORN behind his woodshed, according to the Times, he now seems to have invented “a bus full of individuals believed to be aliens” that somehow upended a county ballot measure 16 years ago and a 2010 election he claims was hijacked by “50 votes illegally cast by citizens of Somalia.”   It simply takes the breath away!

But aside from the pure, unproven fabrications that fuel his politics of hate, his anti-democratic rationales for why Kansas should be able to blatantly suppress or “suspend” potential voters so that they are not allowed to cast ballots is even more outrageous.   In 2013, 17,000 Kansans, more than one-third of those who have registered are on a “suspense list” because they failed to have with them some form of citizenship document, not required for federal elections, but essentially of Kansas own invention.   Are these just more Somalian terrorists or Mexican drogas?   No, “state officials have acknowledged that a majority of those on the list may be there because of confusion over conflicting state requirements.”   Just some confusion, ma’am, but nothing they seem able to solve.

Is this a problem?   Not for Secretary of State Kobach!   You know why?   According to Kobach these were “mostly casual registrants, many of whom do not intend to vote.”    The shocking and transparent arrogance and deceit in that sentence is an indictment of this whole gang of ballot busters.   What in the world might a “casual registrant” be?  An American who just stumbled by a polling place?   Someone who found a registration form lying about and blowing in the wind? And, even if we can’t know them well, how can Kobach know that they “do not intend to vote.”   He can only know that because this is a self-fulfilling prophesy.  Many “do not intend to vote,” because Kobach and his antics along with his radical acolytes around the country are all about keeping them from voting.

There ought to be laws to stop people like Kobach.   In fact there are.  There’s no place for this in America.  How can anyone allow this kind of behavior to continue?   Even in Kansas.

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