By Winter Patriot on 7/9/2005, 9:41am PT  

Guest blogged by Bob Fitrakis

INTRODUCTION {by Winter Patriot}: On behalf of the BradBlog and the Blogathon I am pleased and proud to introduce Dr. Robert J. Fitrakis. According to his biography at freepress.org, Dr. Fitrakis is a professor of political science and a lawyer. He served as an international election observer in the 1994 presidential elections in El Salvador and as a dual-Ward legal advisor for the Election Protection Coalition during the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election. Dr. Fitrakis is also co-editor, with Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman, of DID GEORGE W. BUSH STEAL AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION? This essential volume is currently available from freepress.org, as well as through The BRAD STORE.

It's great to have Dr. Fitrakis here with us. And I think we can even call him "Bob".

We asked all our guest bloggers to write something for us to read, or else point to something that was already written. Bob Fitrakis has pointed to a couple of recent works, both well worth reading in their entirety.

As is our custom, I'll tempt you with a few excerpts from each.

An Open Letter to John Tanner, Chief, Voting Section, U.S. Department of Justice

July 2, 2005

An Open Letter to John Tanner, Chief, Voting Section, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Section in response to his June 29, 2005 letter to Nick A. Soulas, Jr., Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Civil Division, Franklin County:

Dear Mr. Tanner:

I was curious to find that you had �conducted an investigation into the November 2, 2004 general election in Franklin County, prompted by allegations that Franklin County systematically assigned fewer voting machines in polling places serving predominantly black communities as compared to its assignment of machines in predominantly white communities.�

Let me begin by suggesting the word �contrasted� would be more appropriate than �compared.� Indeed, the difference is literally black and white.

You praise the bipartisan nature of the Franklin County Board of Elections (BOE). But you fail to mention that the Director, Matt Damschroder, is the former Chair of the Franklin County Republican Party, and that J. Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's Secretary of State and the Co-Chair of the Bush-Cheney Re-election Committee appoints all board members as well as officers, and they serve at his pleasure. Blackwell's actions throughout the election year were openly partisan and obviously unethical.

For example, I was at a meeting prior to the election where Mr. Damschroder informed a delegation of esteemed international election observers that he would have them arrested based on the orders of Blackwell if they crossed the 100-foot line outside the polls to observe closer to the voting site. Is that what you mean by �the spirit of cooperation?�
...
In sum, your report is inadequate and inaccurate, and reflects a heavy bias toward the Republican party.

Among so much else, it ignores suspicious problems with absentee ballots, the purging of hundreds of thousands of inner city voters from registration rolls in Cincinnati and elsewhere, the illegal harassment of ex-felons, the discarding of more than 100,000 uncounted provisional and "spoiled" ballots, obvious manipulations of electronic voting and tabulation machines, and much more.

It also reflects a strong bias against revealing what really happened in Ohio: the co-chair of the state's Bush-Cheney campaign, J. Kenneth Blackwell, in cooperation with Republican county election board executives such as Matt Damschroeder, deprived tens of thousands of Ohioans of their votes and wrongfully and illegally swung the state to George W. Bush when exit polls and a flood of supporting evidence showed voters actually preferred John Kerry.

We understand your partisan desire to make the public believe otherwise. But the record is clear and unmistakable: any fair assessment of what happened in Ohio 2004 would confirm that this election was stolen for George W. Bush.

The DNC 2004 Election Report: An indictment of incompetence

by Steven Rosenfeld and Bob Fitrakis
June 25, 2005

The Democratic National Committee's investigation into Ohio's 2004 presidential election irregularities is the perfect postscript to the party's 'election protection' efforts last fall: it is a shocking indictment of a party caught completely off-guard in its most heated presidential campaign in years, and a party that still doesn't fully understand what happened and how to avoid a repeat in the future.
...
The DNC report is filled with omissions of that magnitude and dismissals of the work of citizen-activists who � with no help from the DNC, or Kerry campaign � fought for a fair accounting of the 2004 vote after Election Day.

Consider these paragraphs from an introductory letter to the report from Donna Brazile, the chair of the DNC's Voting Rights Institute.

"Although voters across America voiced concerns which questioned the fairness and the accuracy of the 2004 general election, President George W. Bush's narrow victory in Ohio (a pivotal state) provided sufficient electoral votes to ensure his re-election. There was a myriad of litigation surrounding the general election in Ohio that targeted controversial conduct on the part of the Office of the Secretary of State.

�Following the election recount, the House Judiciary Democratic Staff published an exhaustive report, �Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio� that is replete with anecdotal evidence of numerous, serious election irregularities in the Ohio presidential election which resulted in a significant disenfranchisement of voters.�

People who put their lives on hold and went to Ohio to work for John Kerry will shake their heads. Brazile cites �a myriad of litigation� that her party and candidate fought, did not fund and sought to undermine. Moreover, the reference to the House Judiciary Committee's Democrat Staff inquiry as �anecdotal� is an insult to voting rights activists and volunteer lawyers who conducted public hearings � at their own expense, not the DNC's - and took sworn testimony from more than 1,000 voters who cared enough and volunteered to testify under oath and file affidavits. The hearings were anything but anecdotal; they were perhaps the largest group of people to testify under oath about elections in the history of the state. The first two hearings in Columbus occurred within two weeks of Election Day. Four other hearings in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and Warren occurred more than a month before the DNC could conduct its phone survey from the east coast.
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[T]he biggest disappointment of the DNC report is that it gives no indication that the old-school Jim Crow abuses will be addressed and rectified, and that the newer school electronic voting machine abuses will be similarly addressed. The report portrays a statewide landscape of separate and unequal rules in election jurisdictions across the state. It says local and statewide election officials � and the private companies they hire � aren't interested in cooperating to make the system more transparent and equitable. And the party hierarchy that commissioned this report dismisses the work of its activists and loyal volunteers who worked before and after the 2004 race for electoral justice.

Is that any way to prepare for 2006 or 2008? Read the report at www.democrats.org and decide for yourself if the DNC learned the real lessons of 2004 in Ohio.

{Winter Patriot again}: Dr. Fitrakis --- Bob --- will be online with us early Sunday afternoon in the Eastern part of the country, late Sunday morning in the west. So you all have a while to read those articles in their entirety and think of some good comments and questions for him. And we've told the guest bloggers they only have to answer the best questions, so when we say "good questions", we're not kidding.

This item is part of the First Annual BRAD BLOGATHON, conceived and implemented by readers of The BRAD BLOG! Please help keep Brad blogging. You can click HERE to donate using PayPal or your credit card, or click HERE to donate using snail mail. Many thanks on behalf of Brad and the Bloggers behind the Blogathon!