Interview with American political scientist Prof. Robert J. Fitrakis

 

Robert-Fitrakis

Kourosh Ziabari – Fars News Agency: A renowned American political scientist and author tells Fars News Agency that there’s ample evidence showing the 2004 presidential election in the United States was fraudulent and stolen by George W. Bush.

According to Prof. Robert J. Fitrakis, the Republican Party used all the instruments at its disposal to deceive the American people into believing that George Bush was the real victor, while he was declared the winner of the election thanks to the extensive and widespread cheating and vote-rigging in different US states such as Ohio where numerous irregularities were reported.

“In certain black voting precincts, up to 51% of the population had their names removed. When these people showed up at the polls on Election Day their names were not on the voting list and they were either denied the right to vote or made to vote with “second class” provisional ballots, many which went uncounted from black areas,” said Prof. Fitrakis in an exclusive interview with Fars News agency.

“In Toledo in just four areas with the highest black voting population, there were 40% of the uncounted provisional votes,” he said.

Prof. Fitrakis believes that the tactics used to distort the results of the elections in which John Kerry was the true winner “are very similar to those used by the CIA to disrupt or rig elections during the Cold War in countries the US had interests in.”

Criticizing the dysfunctional democracy of the United States, he said, “We are in a post-constitutional state in the United States right now. To quote former President Jimmy Carter, we live in a non-functioning democracy. We have locked up nearly 25% of all the prisoners on the planet, we have the most well-documented spy state, 90% of our congressional elections have rigged districts to be non-competitive, the Supreme Court has declared that money equals free speech and corporations have the same rights as people.”

Robert Fitrakis is a political scientist, author and Professor of Political Science in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at Columbus State Community College. He has carried out different studies about the irregularities and controversies of the 2004 presidential elections in the United States which secured George W. Bush’s second term as president.

FNA has conducted an in-depth interview with Prof. Fitrakis about the unsolved questions surrounding the 2004 presidential vote in the United States. What follows is the text of the interview.

Q: It’s widely believed, and there are scholars like you, who have argued that the 2004 US presidential election was marred with irregularities and vote-rigging practices. Would you please provide us with an overview of what happened in 2004 and what made you think that the election was fraudulent?

A: The international standard for detecting fraudulent elections [include] the exit polls. The exit polls in Ohio in 2004 showed an unexplained and improbable shift of 6.7% of the voters away from the exit poll results. As a former international election observer, who co-wrote the election report and delivered it to the United Nations following the first ever free election in El Salvador, I see Bush’s official numbers in Ohio in 2004 as fraudulent. The expected margin of error would be 1% of the vote, not 6.7%.

What happened in the 2004 election in Ohio was that core Democratic constituencies, blacks, Latinos, elderly people and young people were systematically suppressed prior to Election Day. For example, in three predominantly Democratic cities such as Toledo, Cleveland and Cincinnati, there were unexplained and unscheduled purges of over 300,000 voters from the rolls. County Boards of Elections in Ohio do not purge voters during presidential election years. But, not only did they do this in the city of Cleveland, which is a majority black city, 24.96% of all registered voters were purged from the voting rolls without an explanation.

In certain black voting precincts, up to 51% of the population had their names removed. When these people showed up at the polls on Election Day their names were not on the voting list and they were either denied the right to vote or made to vote with “second class” provisional ballots, many which went uncounted from black areas. In Toledo in just four areas with the highest black voting population, there were 40% of the uncounted provisional votes.

Also, in the last three weeks running up to Election Day, black and minority voters were being targeted by phony election officials directing them to wrong polling places. People who had minor criminal records or who were former prisoners were called and told they were not allowed to vote and would be arrested if they attempted to vote, which was not true.

On Election Day there was chaos in the major Ohio cities at the polls. In Columbus where I served as an independent election observer and legal counsel, the lines of people to vote in the black precincts were between 3 to 7 hour waits. Many of the people who waited for hours were then told they were in the wrong line or at the wrong voting location. The Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, who administers the election in the state, was also the Chair of the Bush-Cheney Re-election Campaign, which is a blatantly partisan conflict of interest. Blackwell closed many of the urban neighborhood polling places.

In the city of Columbus, we sued and received a list showing that 42 voting machines were removed from primarily black polling places without explanation, which caused people to stand in the long lines on Election Day. At Kenyon College, a liberal college whose students overwhelmingly supported John Kerry, election officials provided only two voting machines for 1300 students. One of the machines broke down on Election Day and students had to wait 13 hours to vote.

So, the strategy was to sow chaos and confusion on Election Day. These tactics are very similar to those used by the CIA to disrupt or rig elections during the Cold War in countries the US had interests in. During the hearings by Senator Church in the 1970s, the CIA admitted to some 5000 “benign operations” which is simply a polite term for election rigging. Many of the tactics that used to be done covertly in the so-called Third World were brought back to the United States and Ohio in 2004, when the son of a former CIA director was in a close election race for president.

Still, the key evidence that the election was stolen is that the final vote count for Ohio was not done in the state of Ohio. Supposedly the super computers in Ohio failed and the final vote tally was outsourced to a private vote counting company in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that also had George W. Bush as a client. The company, Smartech, completely managed the vote count as a private contractor for the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

When the numbers came in for the vote count, many of them proved to be statistically impossible. For example, a small city called Clyde, Ohio that heavily favored Bush, reported that 131% of their population voted. In two precincts in Perry County, a Republican majority county, one reported 121% voter turnout, the other 124%.

Three Republican-dominated Ohio counties – Butler, Warren and Clermont – gave Bush’s margin of victory with nearly 133,000 votes. The exit poll numbers predicted for Kerry were inexplicably low and he began to run significantly behind other minor Democratic Party candidates. Warren County election officials proclaimed a “Level 10” Homeland Security alert in their town on Election Day, which means a full-blown terrorist attack, without notifying the FBI, and took all the voted ballots into hiding. They wouldn’t let anyone observe the vote count and came back with an unexpected 30,000 vote gain for Bush.

In Ohio’s Miami County with 100% of the vote reported, a sudden 19,000 extra votes came in later in the night, overwhelmingly for Bush. The county later admitted that their computerized central tabulator had been tampered with, but could not explain how or why.

Also, I informed Senator Kerry of our findings after the election, and he indicated he was aware of similar election tampering in New Mexico. He told a colleague of mine, Mark Crispin Miller, that he thought the election was stolen and his wife made a speech warning about the voting machine computer “motherboards” that could be tampered with.

In 2004, one of Bush’s major fundraiser and donor, Wally O’Dell, not only owned Diebold Voting Machines but owned the GEMS software that ran the machines. He wrote a fundraising letter promising to deliver Ohio’s electoral votes to Bush.

Q: As you mentioned earlier in your response to my first question, one of the complaints made about the 2004 presidential elections by the American citizens was that many people, including college students, encountered difficulties in registering for voting and that some officials rejected voter registration forms on baseless grounds, such as a failure to use paper of a particular weight. Are the claims true? If so, then have the rejections resulted in the collapsing of the votes of the Democratic hopeful John Kerry? What about the other irregularities in voter registration in Nevada and Oregon where a company hired by the Republican National Committee solicited voter registration forms butfiled only the Republicans’ forms and destroyed those completed by Democrats?

A: It is a documented truth, since we have the records, that thousands of voter registrations were destroyed in Ohio because Blackwell, a former United Nations human rights diplomat refused to accept registrations unless they were on 80 bond paper weight. Virtually all modern voter registration forms are 20 bond for high-speed computer election scanning. Blackwell found an obscure election law and enforced it only in Democratic strongholds.

There were also several private companies hired by the Republican National Committee to register people to vote and then destroyed the forms from people who checked the Democratic Party box. Also, we found in the Cleveland area well-dressed youth showing up at nursing homes for the elderly who picked up absentee ballots and never delivered them to the Board of Elections.

Many college students’ voting status at public universities and private liberal arts colleges were challenged by the Republican Party. The strategy was to challenge students registered to vote at their campus address who had residencies at their parents’ homes instead of their dorm room on campus. Conversely, students who had voter registration at their parents’ homes were challenged if they lived in dorms. In Columbus, Ohio, home of Ohio State University, ten thousand students were ordered to show up and prove their voting status prior to Election Day. Thankfully a federal judge ordered it stopped. Still, the election officials eliminated many Ohio State University campus polling sites. Pollbooks at polling sites all over the City of Columbus, especially in the campus area, were out of date.

The massive voter suppression of Democratic Kerry voters made it close and allowed the Republicans to then electronically shift enough in the vote counting process to deliver the election to Bush.

Q: I read that voter suppression took place massively in the 2004 elections, especially in the state of Ohio. As said by Representative Dennis Kucinich, some dirty tricks including phone calls to voters giving them erroneous polling information occurred across the state. What really happened in Ohio? I know that you’ve studied the electoral fraud in Ohio. Would you please elaborate more on that?

A: Specifically, a group called the “Mighty Texas Strike Force” was sent into Ohio in the last couple of weeks before the election by Karl Rove. This is the group I described earlier who called voters to tell them they would be arrested at the polls if they tried to vote and gave them instructions to go to the wrong polling site. There is a police report in Columbus from a hotel where they stayed. They were armed with very sophisticated data lists of voter names and necessary information about the voters to threaten them. They also passed out flyers in Democratic neighborhoods announcing that Republicans should vote on Tuesday (actual Election Day) and Democrats should vote on Wednesday due to a large voter turnout.

Q: The African Americans have usually complained of rampant racial discrimination in the different elections in the United States. For instance, the US Commission on Civil Rights determined that, in the presidential elections in Florida in 2000, 54 percent of the ballots that were discarded as “spoiled” were cast by the African Americans, while they only composed 11 percent of the total voters. Why is it so? Is discrimination against the minorities commonplace in all the US elections?

A: There has been longstanding and widespread harassment of black voters. The United States only practiced a minimal level of democracy since 1965 when the US Voting Rights Act was passed. By that I mean, it was the first time the US allowed universal voting by its entire adult population regardless of race. Black voters are targeted because they have been casting their votes 90% or more for the Democratic Party. Hence, they were the easiest target for eliminating votes for Kerry in 2004.

Also, due to the inherent racism of the US society, you are far more likely to get away with disenfranchising a poor black voter than a white middle-class voter. The police really don’t care and refuse to take complaints on this matter. In fact, there is substantial evidence that the US phony “war on drugs” had a political agenda to disproportionately disenfranchise black male voters. In many former slave states of the southern US, if you are convicted of a felony, you may never vote in that state again.

In Florida in 2000, 92,000 voters were stripped of their voting rights, the majority of them black, when only 8,000 were former felons. The rest were prevented from voting at the polls because they had a same or similar name as a felon, or the same date of birth. This was done under the auspices of the Florida Secretary of State, and the Governor Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush is the brother of George W. Bush and of course, son of the former CIA director, George H.W. Bush. Jeb Bush also had black church buses and vans that were taking voters to the polls on Election Day stopped because the drivers did not have a taxi license.

Q: Right. So let’s move to the next question. I read in one of your interviews that during the 2004 presidential elections, former Ohio Secretary of State and the co-chair of Bush/Cheney re-election campaign J. Kenneth Blackwell hired an IT contractor that set up a computer system that you described as a “man-in-the-middle” which provided the authorities with the capability of altering the vote count. Would you please tell us about the role the computer-based technologies played in altering and rigging the results of the 2004 elections?

A: Yes, we have published the documents showing that an electronic “man-in-the-middle” attack was programmed into the Secretary of State’s office in 2004. It was done by a Christian zealot named Michael Connell who later was killed in a small plane accident a month and a half after we took his testimony regarding his clearly illegal computer vote rigging. He was essentially the Bush family’s private IT expert. He worked with another far-right wing Christian fundamentalist, Jeff Averbeck, who formerly ran a religious publishing house. We used as our expert witness, Steve Spoonamore, a longtime Republican and well-known computer security expert. He pointed out how the vote was bounced from Ohio to Tennessee and was wide open for manipulation over the internet. In fact your readers can go to the freepress.org where we published the diagram and the contract. They actually planned more than a year in advance for the computers in Ohio to go down on Election night.

The United States allows private, partisan, for-profit companies to secretly program the computers that count our votes then declare that the computer code is protected as intellectual property. There is no transparency in our electronic voting system. It is an easily rigged system and much of the technology was developed by people close to the CIA.

Q: As a scholar who has broadly studied the electoral fraud of 2004, what’s your viewpoint regarding the mainstream, corporate media’s coverage of the election and the controversies, irregularities surrounding it? You said somewhere that the for-profit newspapers, magazines and TV channels are dominated by the Bush sympathizers and they have no interest in exposing that their candidate cheated. Is it true?

A: There is a broad consensus among the US for-profit media that you do not call our election process into question. Anyone who does is immediately labeled a conspiracy theorist. The vast majority of US newspapers endorsed Bush for president. There was some decent reporting. One reporter for the Columbus Dispatch did a good job of reporting but he was soon out of a job. There are 6 or 7 companies that control 80% of the for-profit infotainment business in the US and most of the world. They work directly with the US security and military industrial complexes.

Actually in the 2012 election, the best reporting came from Wall Street news sources that seemed somewhat worried about the blatant manipulation that was going on just prior to Election Day when it was revealed that friends of candidate Mitt Romney had bought up the third largest voting machine company in the US. Forbes questioned the technological foundation of the US vote in 2012.

Q: You wrote in a March 2011 article on Free Press that the Ohio Republicans of the Congress have disenfranchised 900,000 voters by demanding the Ohio voters to provide at the polls one of the four state photo IDs a US citizen can possess, and this is the most restrictive standard in the nation. Why do you consider this measure restrictive? Is it because many African Americans, aged people and low-income citizens lack a state ID? What will be the impacts of this legislature on the voting rights of the Ohio citizens?

A: The United States is the largest surveillance state on Earth. Yet, state officials won’t use federal Social Security records to register elderly people to vote. Many black, poor, young and elderly people don’t have automobiles, thus they don’t need to pay for a driver’s license. It is unconstitutional to force people to pay to vote in the US. Yet, state officials in states like Ohio, North Carolina, Texas and elsewhere want to force voters to pay for these IDs to show at the polls. Now, increasingly because of the war on terror, you must have your birth certificate. If you don’t have one, you have to pay $25 to get your birth certificate and then also pay to buy a state ID. Election officials could easily use the last four digits of people’s Social Security numbers to verify their citizenship. They choose not to. Instead they demand driver’s licenses and state IDs because they know 18% of blacks, 15% of Latinos and in some states up to 40% of the elderly don’t have these forms of ID. They do not enforce these ID rules in the all-white rural Republican counties.

Q: Do you believe that the civil liberties and social freedoms of the US citizens have dwindled and got weakened? Do you consider the US electoral system which doesn’t follow a directly representative format is fair and equitable?

A: We are in a post-constitutional state in the United States right now. To quote former President Jimmy Carter, we live in a non-functioning democracy. We have locked up nearly 25% of all the prisoners on the planet, we have the most well-documented spy state, 90% of our congressional elections have rigged districts to be non-competitive, the Supreme Court has declared that money equals free speech and corporations have the same rights as people. One percent of the population gives all the money to candidates and they can do it anonymously. The US solution to this is to steal oil in the Middle East and shock and awe other nations into adopting our dysfunctional form of democracy. It is an oligarchy that is neither fair nor equitable. It is arguably closer to a kleptocracy – we are being ruled by thieves that are looting our nation and the world.

This interview was originally published on Fars News Agency.