Month: January 2016

We Need the “Ohio Plan” to Stop the “Strip & Flip” of American Elections

booths

By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
21 January 2016

As the 2016 election approaches, we must remember that our electronic voting system as it currently stands is thoroughly rigged. The entire outcome can be flipped with a few late night keystrokes, as was done in Ohio 2004.

This year, at least 80% of the nation’s votes will be cast on electronic machines whose outcome can be altered by a governor and secretary of state with just a few keystrokes, and without detection.

There is a way – we call it “The Ohio Plan” – by which we can attain a fair and reliable vote count.

The Ohio Plan is this:

    1. Voter registration must be universal and automatic for all citizens as they turn 18.

 

    1. Electronic poll books are banned, with all voter registration records maintained manually.

 

    1. All elections happen over a 4-day weekend – Saturday, Sunday, Monday,Tuesday – which together comprise a national holiday, preferably around Veterans Day in November.

 

    1. All voting happens on paper ballots, using recycled or hemp paper.

 

    1. All vote counting is done manually, with ballots preserved at least two years.

 

  1. Polls are run and ballots are counted by the nation’s high school and college students, who will get the days off and be paid a “scholarship” for their work at $15/hour.

Part One of the Ohio Plan is to guarantee all citizens are registered to vote when they turn 18. Postage-free mail-in forms are available at schools, post offices, driver’s license bureaus, etc.

Today millions of Americans, mostly of color, are being wrongfully denied their right to register, with decisive partisan impacts dating at least to Florida 2000.

Part Two of the Ohio Plan requires that these registration records be maintained on paper logbooks that will be present at the voting precincts on election day.

The great investigative reporter Greg Palast has reported that a proprietary computer program being used by the GOP is center stage in the purging of countless voters in more than a dozen states as you read this. Those being stripped of their right to vote are mostly African-American and Hispanic, as well as students and the elderly.

Stripping at least 90,000 such voters in Florida 2000 was key to putting George W. Bush in the White House for the first time. His official margin was less than 600 votes. More than 300,000 voters were stripped from electronic logbooks in urban, largely Democratic areas of Ohio prior to the 2004 election, which was officially given to George W. Bush by less than 119,000 votes.

Under the Ohio Plan, all voter registration rolls must be maintained on paper files with double-blind multi-partisan supervision (to include Greens and other minority parties as well as the Democrats and Republicans) to guarantee they are not illegally purged in the lead-up to Election Day.

Part Three of the Ohio Plan requires our elections include extensive voting hours over a full four-day weekend, including Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Vote counting should begin as the polls close on Tuesday.

The Constitution requires voting happen the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, i.e. sometime between November 2 and November 8. But Tuesday is a work day, and millions of working Americans are deprived of their vote due to employment requirements. By extending access to the polls over a four-day holiday weekend we guarantee access to the millions who work as well as those who don’t.

Part Four of the Ohio Plan is to require all voting be done on paper ballots.

Electronic machines as currently constituted are virtually all corporate-owned. Courts have ruled the software is proprietary, meaning even the election boards that buy or lease the machines cannot verify the outcome. Internet voting is also impossible to verify. Thus our elections can be easily flipped with a few keystrokes by shadowy operatives, and without open public verification, as happened in Florida 2000, Ohio 2004 and elsewhere.

Germany, Ireland, Romania, Japan and Canada all conduct their elections on hand-counted paper ballots. Ours should be printed on recycled paper or paper made with hemp grown in the United States.

Part Five of the Ohio Plan requires that the ballots be hand-counted and preserved under federal protection for at least two years. Recounts are automatic, no matter what the apparent margin of victory, at public expense.

Part Six of the Ohio Plan provides for the nation’s polls to be run by our high school and college students, and for them to do the vote counting. They will be given time off from school to participate in this great civics lesson, and be paid at the level of any American city or state’s highest minimum wage, at this point $15/hour.

The provision for universal automatic voter registration has been endorsed by Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Sanders has endorsed the requirement of universal hand-counted paper ballots, as has more than 90% of the American public.

It should be understood that the ongoing electronic stripping of our poll books, as reported by Greg Palast, has already eliminated hundreds of thousands of American voters, most of them people of color.

The way things stand in 2016 with electronic vote counting, there is no paper trail, no transparency and no public verification. The Information Technology companies with the state contracts to tally most US elections have full control over the outcome, with no public scrutiny or recourse.

Thus the election of 2016 is likely to be decided by a tiny handful of governors, secretaries of state and computer operators in the deep hours of election night, with no verification or recourse available to the public, and no necessary connection to how the public actually voted.

We support strict regulation of campaign financing. But without the mechanics of reliably registering our citizens to vote and guaranteeing an open, public, verified vote count, all else is moot.

We hope at least that much can be dealt with by Election Day 2016, lest it more accurately be known, once again, as Corporate Selection Day.

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Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are election protection activists. Bob & Harvey’s “The Sixth Jim Crow: Electronic Election Protection & The 2016 Strip/Flip Selection” is available at www.freepress.org and www.solartopia.org along with six other books on election protection.  “Harvey’s America at the Brink of Rebirth: The Organic Spiral of US History” is coming soon.

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cross posted at Reader Supported News

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Will the GOP Strip & Flip the 2016 Election?

By Harvey Wasserman, Mimi Kennedy and Bob Fitrakis

rep pres hopefuls

t is midnight, Election Day, 2016.

The votes (80% of them electronic) have been cast all across the United States. Except in Hawaii, the voting stations are now closed.

By all credible calculations, the Democratic presidential candidate (Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton) has won a solid victory in the public vote. All polls have shown a strong national margin. A solid majority of the key swing states have gone to the Democrats, giving them an apparent victory in the Electoral College.

With that have come solid advances in the US Senate and House races, plus major gains in statehouses and local elections across the board.

Divisions among the Republicans, shifting demographics, revulsion against the concentration of wealth, gun issues, civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, climate chaos, green issues, and a wide range of other factors are generally viewed as the key reasons for the Democratic sweep.

But as of midnight, the Electoral College could still be flipped by six key swing states where there are Republican governors and Republican secretaries of state. Those states are Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona. Taken in tandem they have more than enough electoral votes to swing the presidency, and enough clout to decide who will control the US Senate and much of the House.

In each of these “decider” states, the governor and secretary of state control how the election is administered, and how the votes are counted and reported.

In the lead-up to Election Day, millions of African-American, Hispanic, elderly and young voters (especially college students) have been systematically purged from the voter rolls. Without those purges, far more than just these six major swing states would be in play.

Meanwhile, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and other GOP multi-billionaires have poured in limitless dark money millions. The corporate media has duly reported the usual late “shift in momentum” to the Republicans.

But even that has not been enough. The people have spoken.

From Tallahassee to Raleigh to Columbus, Lansing, Des Moines and Phoenix, the governors and secretaries meet quietly and alone with a shadowy third party – their chief of Information Technology. They know full well how the popular vote has gone, and what the consequences might be.

So they ask the IT expert what can be done about it.

The expert tells them what they already know: that the electronic voting machines from which the official vote count must now be extracted are owned by private corporations, nearly all of them with strong Republican roots. The courts have ruled that the source code is proprietary.

There have been various feints loudly staged to simulate a paper trail. They’re meant for public consumption. Any recount in any of these states is pre-rigged to be a sham.

In fact, as in Ohio 2004, there is no way for the public or the media or the Democrats or international monitoring agencies or anyone else on this Earth to definitively monitor or verify how the American people have actually voted in 2016.

So the question is asked: having already stripped the voter rolls, how long will it now take to flip the outcome?

The IT expert gives the obvious answer: about 60 seconds, maybe less. Not only the presidency but control of the Congress, statehouses, state legislatures and much more can be flipped in tandem.

In the process, the expert says, it’s customary to plant media stories of “glitches” in the voting process that will delay the reporting of the vote count. In Ohio 2004 the flipping process was stretched from 12:20 am to 2 am, during which John Kerry’s 4.2% margin of victory became a 2.5% George W. Bush margin of victory, giving him a second term.

But the process is clear, simple and long-since prearranged. Funded by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, the vast majority of America’s electronic voting machines date back at least a decade. Many can be flipped at the precinct level by operatives driving by with WIFI apparatus. In other cases, “technicians” from the voting machine companies have already recalibrated the tabulators while Election Day was in progress, or immediately after.

So the months of campaigning, endless media bloviation, and millions in campaign expenditures can all be funneled down to about a minute of one hired hacker doing a few quick keystrokes that no one will ever be able to fully unearth or overturn.

All that’s then needed as follow-up is to adjust the pre-election exit polls, which are usually extremely accurate, to match the official vote count, which will have been flipped by 2 or 3 am. (Sooner or later, such polling will be banned altogether).

In the meantime, in this dark post-democracy night, there is a pause. Each IT expert asks each governor and secretary of state in each of these key swing states what they wish done. And how much the Koch Brothers will be paying them to do it.

See if you can guess the answer.

And then look for what to do about this in our upcoming articles, along with Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman’s “The Sixth Jim Crow: Electronic Election Theft & The Strip/Flip Selection of 2016,” all due out in 2016.

Mimi’s Action Tips:

First learn your state’s laws and voting systems on The Verifier. Then visit National Election Integrity Coalition or Black Box Voting for ideas for action based on your voting system. Definitely be a poll worker. You’ll learn your system’s strengths and vulnerabilities. Who services machines when they fail? Are many voters forced to vote provisionally? Why? Is it a problem that can be corrected before the General Election? Ask to tour your county elections office. If you’re denied, ask why, and publicize the answer. Observation deters crime. Ask to observe the count. If told you’re obstructing well-run elections, bravo! You and your election officials are on common ground. You both want well-run elections – which require public oversight! Finally, learn to hand-count ballots. Copy an online template or ask for your county’s sample test ballot. Copy a dozen of those and vote them randomly. Copy that dozen to a precinct-sized batch (about 300) then go to People Demanding Action and follow the instructions. You are not a Luddite. You’re learning the election equivalent of jury duty – by which democracy will be regained.

 


Mimi Kennedy, Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are election protection activists.

This article was originally published by Reader Supported News: Link

Wind Power Guru: Nukes Fail to Gain Traction in Monumental Paris Accord

by Harvey Wasserman

January 4, 2016

Paul Gipe is one of the world’s great Solartopian pioneers. His early work on wind power helped make the industry possible. His website publishes some of the most up-to-date and reliable information on the wind and solar industry. His books form the basic library for the progress of wind energy. His newest book, Wind Energy for the Rest of Us: A Comprehensive Guide to Wind Power and How to Use It, will be available in mid-2016.

i want to live

Based in Bakersfield, California, Gipe is known throughout the business as a brash, independent straight shooter with an incorruptible vision of a green-powered economy and how to best get there.

So when I interviewed him recently on my Solartopia radio show, I was curious to hear his reactions to the Paris accord, since some time has passed to let the dust settle.

But Gipe’s take on this landmark agreement comes from well outside the mainstream. Gipe is devoted to community-controlled energy and to the integrity of the green technologies that will take us there.

Gipe minces no words about the horrors of nuclear power. And recent reports of a rising death toll of “Nuclear Gypsies” being sacrificed at Fukushima have not made things any better.

But for Gipe, “Paris was a watershed event,” especially with the failure of the nuclear industry to gain real traction there.

Gipe said:

“The world, for the first time, agreed there is a problem with climate change and that we should do something about it. This occurred despite two decades of a sophisticated campaign to downplay and even deny that climate change was occurring.

“Further, several states, regions and provinces agreed for the need to put a price on carbon and numerous cities announced plans to meet 100 percent of their energy needs with renewables.

“There appeared to be a consensus that renewable energy’s time has come and that renewables are the future. Regardless of a massive lobbying effort by the nuclear industry there was a sentiment that nuclear is too little, too late and too expensive.

“Another indication of the success of Paris in drawing attention to climate change and need for action has been the shrill cry of right-wing shills for the fossil-fuel industry calling the event a ‘sham’ because COP 21 didn’t include binding targets. They know what happened in Paris and like cornered beasts are reacting with tooth and claw to slow or stop progress toward our renewable future.

“Of course, Paris could have done much more, but considering the opposition of the most powerful corporations on Earth and the nations that profit from the burning of fossil fuels reaching agreement on the need for action is historic.

“Quickly on the heels of Paris, the U.S. Congress, where the party in power in both chambers publicly denies climate change, voted overwhelmingly to renew and extend the subsidies for solar and wind energy. While the wrong policy, the vote revealed that the party’s rhetoric about its opposition to subsidies and subsidies particularly to renewable energy is simply a charade.”

Gipe concluded though that there’s ample room for skepticism. He said that there’s no doubting which way the future is going. The Koch Brothers with their fossil/nuclear investments have a lot of clout. But time is not on their side. And when the GOP sides with the renewable energy industry, it’s only because there’s sufficient financial clout to drive it there.

“There’s money to be made in renewables and a lot of it as the world moves toward renewable energy,” Gipe said. “Even the Republican party sees that.”

And if the Republican party is lining up even partially around renewables, the end for King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes & Gas) has surely drawn near.

Here’s the link to my interview with Paul Gipe

 

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