Ohio’s top election official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, announced Friday that the voting systems that decided the 2004 election in Ohio were rife with "critical security failures." We speak with Harvey Wasserman, author of What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Harvey Wasserman, I wanted to switch gears —-
HARVEY WASSERMAN: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —- and ask you about voting. Ohio’s top election official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, announced on Friday the voting systems that decided the 2004 election in Ohio were rife with “critical security failures.” You and Bob Fitrakis have reported extensively on the 2004 presidential vote in Ohio, your most recent book, What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election. Your response to the report? What did you think was most important in her findings?
HARVEY WASSERMAN: Well, our initial response was “Yippee!” I mean, they finally, after all these years of us banging our — you know, we’re local boys. We live in Ohio, in Columbus. And we saw the election of 2004 stolen right in front of our faces. And we reported it extensively, and everybody laughed at us. And they said, “Oh, this couldn’t happen in America.” And we documented it in How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election and Is Rigging 2008. We documented scores of ways that this election was stolen. And we pointed out a myriad flaws that we saw right in our own neighborhoods, of what was done to keep people of color and young people from voting and to rig the vote count.
I mean, the servers for the computation of the Ohio vote count were in the same basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee that houses servers for the Republican National Committee. The programmers who did the stuff for Ken Blackwell, the Republican Secretary of State, were Republicans who did websites for the Bush administration. I mean, it’s amazing.
So, here we have — finally we have a Democratic Secretary of State, who took —- spent $1.9 million of state money, hired Battelle, which is not exactly a progressive organization, to study it, and found that every single method of voting, pretty much, except for, you know, marking paper ballots, was corrupted in the 2004 election. They, you know -—
AMY GOODMAN: Coming up with opposite results?
HARVEY WASSERMAN: Any — basically what she says was, you could have manipulated the 2004 election results with a Blackberry. You know, the Conyers report basically said all you had to do was drive by with a Wi-Fi. And she comes up and says there are very simple ways the 2004 election could have been flipped just like that. And that’s what we said since 2004. Look, this election could have —-
We are guaranteed certain that John Kerry won Ohio in 2004. The election -— the exit polls showed him winning. There was a flip of 6.7% in the exit polls from the official vote count. You know, my favorite, in Youngstown and in Franklin County in Columbus, in the inner city, people went in, and they hit touch-screen machines, and they pushed “Kerry,” and “Bush” lit up. How do you invent that? How do you make that up? We had votes that were taken away in a county in southeastern Ohio. They proclaimed a Homeland Security alert. Nobody knows where this came from. The FBI, the Homeland Security agency, they never called a Homeland Security alert, but suddenly —-
AMY GOODMAN: You mean, they locked down the place.
HARVEY WASSERMAN: They locked down. They kept out the media. Suddenly the ballots disappeared.
And most importantly -— and this, Jennifer Brunner did not discuss — I am party to a lawsuit. We filed a civil rights lawsuit. We won. The federal election law says the ballots were supposed — had to be protected, under federal law. We got an overlapping decision from a federal judge to preserve, for our civil rights suit, the preservation of these ballots. Fifty-six of eighty-eight counties in Ohio destroyed their election ballots, destroyed all their election records, or most of them, making a pure recount impossible. This is in direct violation of a federal court injunction and standing federal law. So far, nobody has been prosecuted. What kind of country are we living in?
Now, the Secretary of State comes out with a $1.9 million report and says that all the electronic methods of counting the votes that were used in Ohio in 2004 were easily — “easily,” that was her word — flipped. Anybody with a simple electronic machine could have gone in there and turned the election, and we know it was done, because the Republican Secretary of State was also co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign. How do you top that?
AMY GOODMAN: Ken Blackwell.
HARVEY WASSERMAN: Ken Blackwell, who’s gone.
AMY GOODMAN: And what’s he doing now?
HARVEY WASSERMAN: He’s out running a multimillion-dollar media operation, which is about to benefit from the FCC here. But —-
AMY GOODMAN: The vote of Kevin Martin tomorrow.
HARVEY WASSERMAN: Yes, which you’re going to talk about in a minute. But the fact is that he is not hurting, exactly, but he was defeated.
AMY GOODMAN: What company is he running?
HARVEY WASSERMAN: I’m not sure what company Ken Blackwell is with now. It could be Blackwater. But at any rate, everything we said has been confirmed. You know, it’s a sorry statement.
AMY GOODMAN: What does this mean for the 2008 elections?
HARVEY WASSERMAN: It means that Jennifer Brunner -— and also Debra Bowen, you know, in California, has come to similar conclusions and disqualified the electronic voting machines used there. These secretaries of state, if we’re going to have an actual election in 2008 that’s going to be even reasonably fair, they’re going to have a lot of work to do. They have to throw out all the electronic voting machines that were bought with federal money under the Help America Vote Act —-
AMY GOODMAN: Made by?
HARVEY WASSERMAN: You know, after the 2000 debacle, Congress comes in and they say we’re going to solve this problem. So Bob Ney, congressman from Ohio, now in federal prison, says, “OK, everybody has to buy touch-screen voting machines.” You know, and he gets money from the touch-screen voting machine companies, winds up in jail. And meanwhile, Ohio spent $100 million, taxpayer money, buying these voting machines. And now Jennifer Brunner -—
AMY GOODMAN: From which company?
HARVEY WASSERMAN: Well, from Diebold, from ES&S and Hart —-
AMY GOODMAN: Diebold, an Ohio company.
HARVEY WASSERMAN: Yeah, Diebold has renamed themselves, but Hart InterCivic, all these guys through -— who worked with Jack Abramoff, also in prison. And $100 million of our hard-earned tax money went to buy these machines, and now the Secretary of State says, hey, these can’t work. They can be flipped like that. And we knew this, and we reported this.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you saying our elections are being run from the prisons?
HARVEY WASSERMAN: Well, they should — the guys who have been running the elections should be in prison, let’s put it that way. But we know — I will guarantee you right here — after all the — you know, I grew up in Columbus, and we saw this election stolen in 2004. And, you know, whether John Kerry should have been president or — well, he won. And Al Gore won in 2000. I mean, where were these guys to stand up for what we were — you know, we were viewed as fringe guys. We never got the slightest bit of help from the Democratic Party. They were apparently too embarrassed to point out that they —-
AMY GOODMAN: They’re not talking about these issues now.
HARVEY WASSERMAN: No, they’re not at all. And, you know, Jennifer Brunner, we have to give her a lot of credit. The biggest opposition we got to pointing out that the 2004 election was stolen has come from the Democrats, because -— who knows? I can’t even begin to psychoanalyze them.
But the 2004 election was stolen. There is absolutely no doubt about it. A 6.7% shift in exit polls does not happen by chance. And, you know, so finally, we have irrefutable confirmation that what we were saying was true and that every piece of the puzzle in the Ohio 2004 election was flawed.
AMY GOODMAN: Harvey Wasserman, I want to thank you very much for joining us.
HARVEY WASSERMAN: Well, thank you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Author of a number of books, as well senior editor of the Ohio-based freepress.org and editor of nukefree.org.