Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Ohio AG seeks to sanction attorneys
I read about this in the comments on Blog for America just a little while ago. Sounds *awfully* petty and vindictive. You know, there are a lot of things we would *like* to do when we're angry with people, but hopefully we are able to listen to that inner voice that says, "Even if it would feel good, it's still wrong." Think of how angry many of us were about the partisan way Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell handled the 2004 election--and we sought appropriate legal channels in an effort to address those wrongs. Now, the attorneys who agreed to represent "we, the people" are being targeted for revenge (or punishment or whatever) for daring to stand up for us.
This piece can be found in the Free Press:
In a stunning legal attack, Ohio's Republican Attorney General has moved for sanctions against the four attorneys who sued George W. Bush et. al. in an attempt to investigate the Buckeye State's bitterly contested November 2 election.
Robert Fitrakis, Susan Truitt, Cliff Arnebeck and Peter Peckarsky were named by Attorney General James Petro in a filing with the Ohio Supreme Court. Petro charges the November Moss v Bush and Moss v. Moyer filings by the Election Protection legal team were "frivolous." Petro is demanding court sanctions and fines.
"Instead of evidence, contesters offered only theory, conjecture, hypothesis and invective," the Attorney General's January 18th memo about the suit said. "A contest proceeding is not a toy for idle hands. It is not to be used to make a political point, or to be used as a discovery tool, or be used to inconvenience or harass public officials, or to be used as a publicity gimmick."
But Cliff Arnebeck says it has been Petro and Ohio's partisan Republican Secretary of State, J. Kenneth Blackwell, who have stonewalled the election challenge legal proceedings. Both have refused to submit any evidence to the court to refute the allegations in the election challenge case - claiming George W. Bush did not win a majority in Ohio - and Petro's office has also refused to allow any Ohio public election official to be deposed.
"Their cage has been rattled and they popped their cork," Arnebeck said. "The chairman of the Ohio Republican Party is going berserk because he can't stand the fact we are not going away. We are still pursuing the legal investigation and the legal interrogations. They are just besides themselves because they cannot withstand cross examination."
Petro's filing is widely viewed as revenge for the heavy toll on the credibility of the Ohio GOP and Petro's cohort, Secretary of State Blackwell, caused by grassroots activists. Spurred by the lawsuit, by extensive coverage at http://freepress.org and other web sites, and by a nationwide grassroots campaign that was escalated by Rev. Jesse Jackson and a series of public hearings around Ohio and in Congress, some three dozen Senators and Representatives mounted the first-ever challenge to a state's Electoral College delegation.
Click here for the rest
Posted at 11:41 pm by Renee_in_Ohio
Monday, January 17, 2005
Open letter from John Conyers
As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it seems like a good time to remind everyone first, of the long-term effort it took to make this a national holiday, and secondly, that some of the same people who worked to gain real recognition for King's important civil rights work, continue decades later to fight for equal rights for all Americans.
The History of Martin Luther King Jr. Day
It took 15 years to create the federal Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. Congressman John Conyers, Democrat from Michigan, first introduced legislation for a commemorative holiday four days after King was assassinated in 1968. After the bill became stalled, petitions endorsing the holiday containing six million names were submitted to Congress.
Conyers and Rep. Shirley Chisholm, Democrat of New York, resubmitted King holiday legislation each subsequent legislative session. Public pressure for the holiday mounted during the 1982 and 1983 civil rights marches in Washington.
Congress passed the holiday legislation in 1983, which was then signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. A compromise moving the holiday from Jan. 15, King's birthday, which was considered too close to Christmas and New Year's, to the third Monday in January helped overcome opposition to the law.John Conyers, although belittled and dismissed by some as a "conspiracy theorist" for his recent efforts to expose the full truth about the 2004 election, deserves respect for continuing to be a leader in the decades-long fight for civil rights.
On the front page of John Conyers' web site, there is an Open Letter Concerning the Election Challenge.
"I believe what we achieved on January 6 will be a seminal event in the history of progressive politics, and significantly advance the cause of electoral reform. For this challenge to Ohio’s electors to have occurred, I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the internet activists, who spread the story of my efforts and supported me in every way possible. I am also thankful to the alternative media, including talk radio and blogs that gave substantial attention and investigation to these matters when all but a handful in the mainstream media refused to examine the facts. I cannot thank all of you personally, but you know who you are."
Click here for the rest, including his plans for the coming months. On Conyers' web site, there is also a link to his recent endorsement of Howard Dean for Chair of the DNC (in PDF format), an election reform survey, a volunteer form for people interested in helping him win his re-election campaign, and a place you can sign up for e-news updates.
There are many ways to honor the contributions and vision of Dr. King. One of those ways is to thank and support those who carry on his legacy--and, decades later, are still fighting the good fight.
Posted at 11:28 am by Renee_in_Ohio
Friday, January 14, 2005
Special prosecutor for Blackwell? And more Ohio news
House Judiciary Democrats to ask for special prosecutor to investigate Ohio election chief
for that story and other Ohio news and commentary.
Posted at 01:34 pm by Renee_in_Ohio
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Blackwell orders the use of optical scan voting machines
Not sure what to make of this...
Blackwell orders counties to use optical scanning: Touch-screen voting out in Ohio
Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell took the option of computerized touch-screen voting machines off the table yesterday and ordered all counties to deploy optical-scan devices using paper ballots by the November election.
"We have a tight election reform deployment schedule, too few allocated federal and state dollars, and not one electronic voting device certified under Ohio's standards and rules," he said.
It's the same position he threatened to take a year ago when lawmakers first assailed his decision to set a deadline for counties to select from a menu of voting machines. Eventually, the General Assembly mandated that any electronic device be equipped with a paper backup system for recount purposes.
Although optical-scan devices, which use paper ballots read electronically, meet her paper-backup requirement, Sen. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) questioned Mr. Blackwell's rush to judgment.
The federal Help America Vote Act does not require full compliance until 2006.
"An auditable machine is absolutely critical," she said. "However, he needs to allow the process to happen so everyone will have a voice, for everyone to make this decision. I feel the process he used to make his decision is flawed."
Posted at 11:08 pm by Renee_in_Ohio
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Flying a flag upside-down is a distress signal. Some weblogs are displaying the inverted U.S. flag as a symbol of a nation in distress. Now mine is too.
Several new articles in the Free Press. I flaked on posting about them yesterday, and I need to leave for work in a few minutes. So, rather than taking a chance of forgetting again, I'll just post the titles, and anyone who is interested can find all of them in the Election 2004 section of the Free Press.
"Rally Continues Drive for Democracy"
January 9, 2005
"Estimated vote count in Ohio"
January 8, 2005
"January 6 Washington, D.C. rally report"
January 8, 2005
"Together, we moved three mountains"
January 8, 2005
"What the election challenge means"
January 8, 2005
Posted at 03:58 pm by Renee_in_Ohio
Blackwell wants to limit state spending
Two articles came to me via keyword news for Kenneth Blackwell today, one describing how he wants to limit state spending, and an editorial saying why he shouldn't:
Posted at 03:48 pm by Renee_in_Ohio
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Final Election Update from georgia10
From georgia10 on Kos:
I have a feeling many here are suffering from election fatigue. But I thought one last update, a post-mortem of sorts, was in order. Let's tie up some loose ends, shall we?
Click here for more.
Posted at 07:06 pm by Renee_in_Ohio
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Blackwell letter asks for illegal contributions
From the Ohio News Network website:
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The state's chief elections officer, already accused of mishandling the presidential vote in Ohio and criticized for backing President Bush, sent a fund-raising letter for his 2006 gubernatorial campaign in which he asks for illegal corporate contributions.
Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican who co-chaired the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio, said the request for corporate checks was an oversight. His spokesman, Carlo LoParo, said on Saturday that any corporate donations would be returned.
In the five-page letter to GOP donors and activists, Blackwell said, "And with your help, I intend to provide fresh, new leadership and bold reforms to Ohio as our next Republican Governor." A pledge card accompanying the letter said "corporate and personal checks are welcome." Corporate donations are illegal in Ohio.
Jeff Ledbetter, fund-raising coordinator for Blackwell's gubernatorial campaign, blamed a printer for using a template for an issue committee, which is allowed to accept corporate donations.
He told The Columbus Dispatch for a story on Saturday that no corporate donations have been received in response to the letter.
Click here for the rest.
Posted at 09:02 pm by Renee_in_Ohio
Friday, January 07, 2005
Challenging the electors: what it meant
Yesterday was a historic day, the first time since 1877 that there was a challenge to the certification of electors in congress. Many people worked very hard to see that this challenge occurred with a senator signed on--to prevent a replay of the disgraceful day in 2001 when members of the Congressional Black Caucus were unable to get one senator to join in their objection.
It was a very emotional moment to watch the scene play out differently yesterday..."Has a senator signed the objection?" "Yes." Because the objection was signed by both a representative and a senator, the certification of the electors was interrupted, and members of the Senate and the House of Representatives retired to separate chambers to debate the challenge. The consistent theme of the individuals challenging Ohio's electors (as you will see in Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones' speech below) was that they did not expect to see Bush's Ohio win overturned. The speeches and statements of the Democrats who spoke highlighted the importance of electoral reform, giving example after example of American citizens (disproportionately African American) who were either deprived of their right to cast their vote, or who were subjected to unreasonable hardship. They discussed the many ways in which Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell threw up new roadblocks for Ohio citizens as they attempted to register to vote and cast their ballots.
Sadly, if you did not watch the proceedings, but only read about them later from a mainstream news outlet, you were very unlikely to get the same sense of "what this is all about."
Bush carries Electoral College after delay (Oh, what a nuisance--there was a "delay". There was also a DeLay, who, in an amazing show of chutzpah (or is it unmitigated gall? hypocracy?) for someone who is, himself, under investigation for ethics violations, called the effort "a shame" and its goal "not justice but noise."
Ohio Clash Starts Session on Partisan Note (Why should that have been partisan? Shouldn't fair elections be a nonpartisan issue?)
Dem Lays Out Case Against Bush's Ohio Win
Sigh. Some people just don't get it. But people who genuinely want to get it, and understand what yesterday was really about, are not being served by the mainstream media. Jon Stewart was right.
Below, you can find the words of some of the people who challenged the Ohio electors yesterday, and see what they said it was all about.
Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones' Congressional Speech
Mr. Speaker and ladies and gentlemen. I, Stephane Tubbs Jones, a Representative from the state of Ohio, and Senator Barbara Boxer, a Senator from California, have objected to the counting of electoral votes of the state of Ohio on the grounds that they were not, under all the known circumstances, regularly given.
I thank God that I have a senator joining me in this objection. And I appreciate Senator Boxer's willingness to listen to the plight of hundreds and even thousands of Ohio voters, that, for a variety of reasons, were denied the right to vote.
Unfortunately, objecting to the electoral vote from Ohio is the only immediate avenue to bring these issues to light. While some have called our cause foolish, I can assure you that my parents, Mary and Andrew Tubbs, did not raise any fools. They raised a lawyer, they raised a former judge, they raised a prosecutor and thank God they lived to see me serve as a member of the House of Representatives.
I am duty-bound to follow the law and apply to the law to the facts as I find them. And it is on behalf of those millions of Americans who believe in, and value, our democratic process and the right to vote, that I put forth this objection today. If they are willing to stand at polls for countless hours in the rain, as many did in Ohio, then I should surely stand up for them here in the halls of Congress. Senator Barbara Boxer's Objection
Read the rest here.
For most of us in the Senate and the House, we have spent our lives fighting for things we believe in – always fighting to make our nation better.
We have fought for social justice. We have fought for economic justice. We have fought for environmental justice. We have fought for criminal justice.
Now we must add a new fight – the fight for electoral justice.
Every citizen of this country who is registered to vote should be guaranteed that their vote matters, that their vote is counted, and that in the voting booth of their community, their vote has as much weight as the vote of any Senator, any Congressperson, any President, any cabinet member, or any CEO of any Fortune 500 Corporation.
I am sure that every one of my colleagues – Democrat, Republican, and Independent – agrees with that statement. That in the voting booth, every one is equal.
So now it seems to me that under the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees the right to vote, we must ask:
Why did voters in Ohio wait hours in the rain to vote? Why were voters at Kenyan College, for example, made to wait in line until nearly 4 a.m. to vote because there were only two machines for 1300 voters?
Why did poor and predominantly African-American communities have disproportionately long waits?
Why in Franklin County did election officials only use 2,798 machines when they said they needed 5,000? Why did they hold back 68 machines in warehouses? Why were 42 of those machines in predominantly African-American districts?
Why did, in Columbus area alone, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 voters leave polling places, out of frustration, without having voted? How many more never bothered to vote after they heard about this?Read the rest here
Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., in a guest post on Blog for America, wrote:
After four years of "improving" our system, the results remain ultimately the same as they did in 2000. It is clear that we have not done enough to fix the shortfalls in our voting system to ensure that segments of our population no longer feel disenfranchised. There can be no denial of these failures. Our government must work to ensure that voter's rights are protected and that all votes are counted, even if 100% of the citizens go to the polls on Election Day.
Since the 2000 election, our government has spent almost one hundred billion dollars trying to ensure all Iraqis have the right to vote, but only three billion dollars to ensure we Americans have the same right. We have ATM machines on every corner that keep our financial records, yet we can not provide an adequate number of voting machines capable of recording our votes accurately. Voting is the most fundamental aspect of our democracy; we must do everything in our power to protect it.
Today, the outcome of the election did not change. However, the voices of those citizens who did not have their votes counted on Election Day were finally heard. (Click here to read the whole statement.)
And finally, a brief attempt to explain what I felt as I watched the proceedings yesterday.
When I was growing up Catholic in the 1970s, the nature of "going to confession" was changing. When I went for the first few times, the assigned penance was the then-standard, "Say X number of Hail Marys/Our Fathers." Looking back, it reminds me of having kids write "I will not..." some large number of times.
I can't tell you when or why it changed--maybe it was when we got a new priest, but at one point I went to confession, and for my penance, the priest told me to do something to "make it better". So, for example, if I had told a lie, I was supposed to go back to the person and tell them the truth. If I had been mean to my younger brother, I was supposed to do something nice for him.
Gotta say, I would have preferred to knock out a dozen Hail Mary's or so. But I had to admit that "doing penance" by making amends in some way is much more meaningful.
Not a perfect analogy, I know, but I couldn't help but think of this when I watched yesterday's electoral challenge. The fight for fair elections is far from over, but at least some of the Democrats finally did their "penance".
Update: jmknapp at Kos has a diary with the names and pictures of those who stood for justice.
Posted at 11:21 am by Renee_in_Ohio
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Electoral College Debate on C-SPAN Now
ON CAPITOL HILL
Electoral College Debate
The House and Senate return to their respective chambers to debate the irregularities in Ohio during the November 2004 election. As always, sessions of each are airing LIVE in their entirety. Visit our Congress page for the gateway to our Congressional resources links.
THE HOUSE ON C-SPAN
THE SENATE ON C-SPAN2
Posted at 02:02 pm by Renee_in_Ohio