By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
The US Supreme Court may be about to make a second Trump term inevitable.
The nine “Justices” have just heard oral arguments in an Ohio voter registration case. If their decision goes with Secretary of State Jon Husted, it would mean Republicans like him throughout the United States will be able to scrub from the voter rolls millions of citizens merely because they are suspected of wishing to vote Democrat.
In Ohio alone, millions of Ohio voters have tried to vote on Election Day over the past four presidential elections, only to find their names were erased from the pollbooks.
What’s technically at stake is whether the federal government has the right to demand fairness in purging voter registration rolls. Or will the secretaries of the various states be free to purge whomever they want.
In other words, it’s supposedly a “state’s rights” case.
But this is a country where an Attorney-General who fought for state’s rights to avoid accepting racial integration is now overriding the explicit choice of some thirty states to enjoy legal marijuana.
In Ohio, secretary Husted has become infamous for his extremely aggressive partisan purges. The state has roughly 5.5 million voters. GOP secretaries of state have become experts at the selective purging game.
In 2004, then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, stripped some 309,000 voters from the rolls and nearly all came from heavily Democratic cities – Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo. In Cleveland, nearly a quarter, 24.96% of all voters were removed from the voting rolls.
Blackwell simultaneously served as co-chair for the state campaign to re-elect Bush/Cheney. Despite the obvious conflict of interest, Blackwell was officially in charge of running that election. The election was decided by less than 119,000 votes, giving George W. Bush a victory over John Kerry, who never said a word.
As many as 300,000 of those votes were flipped on electronic “push and pray” machines by a Bush family consigliere operating on an unbid state contract with a bank of servers in Tennessee between 12:20am and 2am election night.
Between the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, an extensive study conducted by the Free Press examining all of the voter registration rolls in the state’s 88 counties found that 1.25 million had been scrubbed from the rolls. Again, these purged voters were overwhelming from Democratic precincts.
The latest Husted tactic is to mail letters to citizens who have not voted in the last two elections. He demands they write him back to confirm where they live. Husted’s letters do not contain return envelopes.
The now-defunct welfare rights organization ACORN and the Obama campaign had to engage in a massive project to re-register the voters before Election Day.
In the run up to the 2012 presidential election, the Free Press exposed the fact that 1.1 million voters had been purged, according to public records. The purges were highest in poor, minority and urban precincts.
The rural county boards of elections that are overwhelmingly Republican rarely strip any voters from the voting rolls.
In other words, if you receive junk mail from the Secretary of State, along with all the other junk mail you get, it’s not enough that it got to you without bouncing back. Husted instead demands a personal response, or else he will void your right to vote.
Part of his public excuse is that citizens who have died may remain on the voter rolls. But the obvious solution would be to link directly with the state’s coroner offices and integrate death notices into the management of the voter rolls.
Husted is also notorious for seizing on minuscule miscues to pitch ballots. An omitted middle initial, a name that has changed, forgetting to write your birthdate on an absentee ballot, or putting something on the wrong line….all are fair game for Husted to make sure you don’t cast a ballot, or that if you do it’s a provisional which he will then pitch in the trash depending on your age, skin color or social class.
In the 2016 election, Husted’s office failed to send absentee ballots to more than a million citizens, again virtually all in urban areas.
What can’t be explained is why, in a computer age with unlimited hard drives in a state that requires voters to show ID at the polls, you would strip any registered voters unless you knew they had died or you had evidence they no longer lived in the county.
Should the Court allow this to continue, GOP Secretaries of State around the US can be counted on to purge voter rolls deep and wide enough to swing almost any election.
The White House recently established a national commission to move the stripping to a new level. Blackwell was a charter member. So was Kris Kobach of Kansas (KKK) who pioneered the use of the Crosscheck computer program to strip the rolls in some thirty GOP-controlled states.
Last month Trump suddenly, without explanation, abolished the commission. But as investigative reported Greg Palast has shown, the registration stripping has been moved into the Department of Homeland Security. Where Kobach’s commission was opaque, now the partisan purge process with be essentially invisible. State officials who refused to provide critical information to Kobach may now have no choice with DHS.
In other words, America’s Trump-run FBI/KGB/Savak apparatus may now have the power to silently and invisibly remove enough potential voters to elect and re-elect whoever it wants.
That might include not only Trump, but Husted, who is running to become Ohio’s lieutenant-governor, and Kobach, who wants to be governor of Kansas.
This and much else could turn on the Supremes’ decision on the Ohio case. Should Husted’s right to purge whoever he wants from the voter rolls be confirmed by the Court, our sham elections will become an even bigger charade.
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-written The Strip & Flip Disaster of America’s Stolen Elections: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft, available at www.freepress.org along with The Fitrakis Files, at Harvey’s www.solartopia.org, his History of the US can be had.