After an initialreport that letters were sent out to many Ohio voters, particularly in Democratic voting areas, questions have been raised as to whether inappropriate voter purging, particularly of young, student voters and apartment dwelling, city African American voters occurred.
Two days ago, OpEdNews reported in an article,Ohio Lawsuit to Reinstate hundreds of thousands of Purged Democratic Voters to be Filed Fri or Monday that Robert Fitrakis intended to file a suit blocking inappropriate purges of young or minority voters. One blogger posted a diary disputing the voter roll purge on dailykos. The article was titled No truth to Ohio “purge” letters
The diarist, in the opinion of some readers, suggested that things were all safe and comfy, perhaps persuading some to let their guard down. The title along suggested factual proof, when all the diarist reported was failure to find evidence.
OpEdNews received calls and emails from a number of people.
Some said that they’d heard the whole story of voter purging in Ohio was false.
Others wrote or said in phone calls that Markos Moulitsas and the Dailykos site are reputed to oppose discussion of the theft of the 2000 and 2004 elections, vote theft and risks of vote problems in the 2006 elections.
Others reported that the Democratic leadership wanted to downplay discussions of threats to the vote because they feared it would discourage a strong voter turnout. Most of these people disagreed, saying people have the right to know the truth.
Just to clear things up, my first conversation with Bob Fitrakis was about thereport of purging and letters sent out that the senders didn’t want recipients to answer.
Early in our Wednesday evening conversation, I asked him, referring to the report of Blackwell’s vote purging, “What do you know about what’s been reported on Kos and by Hartmann?”
He replied: “It’s very similar to the stuff we reported after ’04. We’ve already reported that they had purged half a million voters in the major democratic cities– Cincinatti, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo since the 2000 elections and this is the same pattern.”
This was not a conversation about other problems. It was a discussion directly in response to the original posting, linked to above, on dkos.
But, in response to the counter-claiming diary mentioned above, I called Fitrakis to follow up. I asked if he had any problem with my first article and he replied that he did NOT. Then he started telling what he was up to and what he was doing.
He has had a ton of experience with the multitude of assaults on vote integrity in OHio, so he knows how to “play the Game,” fighting back and making sure the vote and voter rights are protected.
I asked him if he agreed that there was “no truth to the Ohio Purge Letters.”
He replied, “WE are not satisfied at this moment that this purging did not occur. WE don’t know yet.”
Since we last spoke Fitrakis reports he has seen or had read to him letters from two different counties.
“Letters were sent out on or about August first, (in Miami county August 6th.) We talked to one person who read us the letter and told us what was in it. And we got a change of address letter that was sent about that time.”
Fitrakis reports that, though some basic elements were required by the state, different counties created different letters. That means there could have been as many as 88 different letters sent out. He determined that in Ohio’s Miami county, the letters did not require a response which, failing, would cause a purge. The vendor managing the registered voter roll was instructed not to purge voters. But Fitrakis added that all registered voter databases created at the county level are sent up to the Ken Blackwell’s central state voter databank, and that it is possible they were purged there, in spite of the local county official’s instructions to the vendor managing the records at the local level.
To ascertain just what has been going on with letters to voters, Fitrakis says, “This weekend, we are requesting the letters of all 88 counties.”
Fitrakis says, as he reported to OpEdNews earlier, “If we find after our due diligence inestigation there was any inappropriate purging– if mistreatment for minorities or young people, we will move for an injunction.
“What we’re trying to do now is to examine the letters and also, compare the data bases, electronically, from all 88 counties, with the secretary of state’s office (database.) But there is the possibility that exists that the private companies that have been contracted to run the voter registration may have taken
action, unless otherwise authorized (instructed) not to by the board of elections. And the possibility remains that the secretary of state’s office could have taken action (purged voter names from rolls) and this is still under investigation. It’s not a settled issue.”
OpEdNews asked, “With the history you already know of, do you have serious concerns that this happened?”
“This is the exact same pattern of purges that occurred in three key democratic areas in 2004– Toledo, Cleveland and Cincinatti.”
“We believe that past abuses have occurred and these initial reports would be directly in line with the past abuses. The potential that these abuses occurred still exists.
“We are pursuing it. We are gathering information and if that information suggests any of these purges targetted young people or minorities, we are in fact, going into federal court.
“We are not satisfied at this moment that this did not occur. In fact, the evidence suggests the clear possibility that the system would allow such a purge.”
OpEdNews replied, “Thanks, because there was a posting on Dailykos, which was titled,No truth to Ohio “purge” letters
Fitrakis replied, “We’re going to get to the bottom of this.
“We don’t know yet. We really don’t want to be lulled into– I mean, we should be checking these rolls every week and right before the election, every day.”
OpEdNews asked; “Do you advise that people check in with their voting board to see if they’re registered or not?”
“Yes, they have to.”Fitrakis replied.
OpEdNews; “Ahead of time?”
Fitrakis: “Eight to ten thousand people disappeared off the Deibold electronic (records) system in 2004.”
OpEdNews: “What’s the connection between Diebold and the record system of the voting rolls?”
Fitrakis: “They have a “D.I.M.” system– electronic voter registration system– and a lot of the counties have this computerized system. People are on it one day, then suddenly there’s a computer glitch and eight to ten thousand people are gone the next day.
“ES&S has a system, Triad has a system. All the manufacturers have computerized voter registration software.”
OpEdNews “So there’s a very good possibility not only that there have been purges but that Diebold could have been involved in doing the purges?”
Fitrakis “Diebold and Triad at the county level. We know they inadvertently purged eight to ten thousand people in ’04.”
“That’s the key question that’s been raised in all of this –who is controlling the voter registration rolls– the vendors, the secretary of state or the county? And we don’t know yet. All we know is that people have raised the possibility of purges.”
Bottom line– Ohio is generally recognized as one of most at-risk states in the nation, in terms of vote theft, manipulation and voter disenfranchisement. Now is the time to be vigilant, to turn over every rock, to scrutinize every potential whiff of possible vote integrity threat. In the past, Democrats failed to take the threat seriously. John Kerry minimized or ignored the reports of problems in Ohio and failed to use the reputed $20 million war chest that was raised specifically to investigate and fight vote theft and corruption efforts.
Bob Fitrakis is a voting integrity hero, committing enormous amounts of time, energy and resources to fighting the good fight, forcing the actions of nefarious Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell to see the light of day. He needs and deserves support from the net roots You can make a contribution to help support his efforts to evaluate actions in all 88 Ohio counties by goinghere.