by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
Is the Green Party's Jill Stein jumping into bed with Hillary and the Democrats in her call for recounts in PA, WI and MI? Or are Greens trying to lead the movement for voting rights, for fair elections tht count every vote, and to protect Green candidates in local races from having their elections stolen out from under them, often by Democrats?
For the record I haven’t been on the staff of the Stein campaign since late June, so my opinions are pretty much my own. I’m also a current co-chair of the GA Green Party.
So why is the Green Party's Jill Stein campaign filing for recounts in 3 states? It’s not to overturn the election results. As the Green Party has maintained all along when the choices are limited to Trump and Clinton we don’t have a dog in that fight.
Fact is, it’s not even a fight. President Obama said it best at his post-election White House meeting with the Donald, when he asserted that they were both on the same relay team and he was just passing the baton. To us Republicans and Democrats look a lot less like a relay team and much more like a sleazy wrestling tag team. Barack is tagging out, and now Trump is tagging in. Neither one is on our side.
The Stein campaign and the Green Party are filing for recounts because persuasive evidence exists that the vote totals were tampered with in several states. The researchers who uncovered these anomalies brought them to Democrats first. But since both capitalist parties are on the same team, Democrats were uninterested. But the Green Party and Jill Stein are NOT on their team.
While we don’t much care which of the two capitalist candidates win, Greens care very much about the integrity and security of the election process. We have candidates in local races across the country in 2017 and 2018 to protect.
Hundreds of Green candidates will be running for local office around the country as mayors, aldermen, school board members and the like. They need to know the votes their neighbors cast for them will actually be counted. If vote totals in multiple states can be manipulated in a presidential election, the same thing can and likely will happen in local races, often at the hands of Democrats.
Greens cannot turn a blind eye to vote tampering in 2016, and hypocritically ask people to pour their energies into local campaigns for office in 2017 and 2018. We have to do what Democrats won’t do and have never done, and that’s fight for accountable, tamper proof election processes, for the right for everyone to vote and have every vote counted.
While Democrats frequently claim voting is the single most important civic act you can perform, they have a history of throwing their constituents’ ballots away when it suits them, as in the presidential contests of 2000 and 2004.
In 2000 Democrats rolled over and threw away the vote in Florida and other states.
In November 2000 I was working for the Cook County Elections Department under the Cook County Clerk, a prominent local Democrat. That department conducts elections in the more than 2000 precincts making up the suburban half of Cook County, which is about equally divided between the city of Chicago and its inner suburbs.
For us, the November 2000 election was uneventful. By 10 or 11 PM all our precincts had reported. All the original tapes had been received at regional counting stations and were at or on the way to the vault to await the official tabulation. Like everybody else, we got up Wednesday morning to the news that Florida’s votes were still uncounted. Thursday or Friday morning our office was booking rental cars and flights to parachute a team into Florida to help find those missing votes, or as we joked among ourselves, to bring them with us. About lunch time the Gore campaign and Jesse Jackson both called telling us to stand down and stay home. They called other political operations around the country and told them to stay home too. Scores of Republican congressional staff and other operatives flooded into Florida and the rest is history.
The first chapter of Jane McAlevey’s indispensable book Raising Expectations Raising Hell recounts her own November 2000 Florida experience. She was part of an AFLCIO team which did the prep work for what could well have been a successful statewide recount effort. The Gore campaign she says, shut them down too.
There was a circus of rampant irregularities in other states as well, fights that Democrats might have picked if the rights of ordinary people to have their votes counted really mattered more than being “on the same team” as Republicans. But they didn’t.
Democrats dragged their long slow surrender all the way into December, by which they’d begun a partial recount in only a few counties instead of statewide and no attendant mass mobilizations. On December 9 the Supreme Court stopped the count and make George Bush president.
In 2004 Democrats ignored a nationwide crime wave of illegally disenfranchised voters and vote machine fraud to capitulate before all the votes were even counted.
In supposed response to the debacle of the 2000 election the 107th Congress passed HAVA, the cynically misnamed “Help America Vote Act.” It provided hundreds of millions to states and counties for the purchase of DRE or direct record entry voting machines. DRE machines are supposed to record a voters’ choice directly into electronic storage, which makes verifiable audits and tracking impossible, and renders the manipulation of results untrackable and trivially easy to whoever can access the software running the machines. That’s why reliance upon DRE machines to count votes is called “black box voting.”
The result was a 2004 electoral crime wave that Democrats did nothing to halt while it was in progress and which they declined to investigate or educate the public about. When US State Dept. observers monitor elections overseas they watch to see if exit poll results conform to announced voter totals. When the exit polls – surveys of actual voters leaving the polling places – differ significantly from announced results, US officials call that election fraudulent. Except when it happens inside the US.
In 2004 exit polls inexplicably diverged from announced returns in thousands of precincts across the country. Strong Republican precincts where exit polls said Bush got 65% came in at 80%. Democratic votes in heavily black and brown precincts were lost, left uncounted, falsely labeled “felons” and prevented from casting ballots, or had their votes disappear in the DRE machines in heavily black and brown precincts dropped off the map by the hundreds of thousands in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, New Mexico and Ohio. In New Mexico the Democratic presidential candidate mysteriously lost EVERY precinct statewide where DRE machines were used. And tellingly, none of the anomalies favored Democrats, they all broke in favor of Republicans.
In Ohio more than 300,000 votes mostly from black and brown people and students were lost, stolen, destroyed or left uncounted according to Greg Palast. That state alone provided Bush’s margin of victory. But Democrats refused to demand the recounts which would be the beginning of any investigation, not in Virginia or Florida, not in North Carolina or New Mexico or Ohio.
It fell to the 2004 Green Party candidate David Cobb’s campaign (David Cobb is Jill Stein’s 2016 campaign manager) to raise $800,000 online in about 4 days to fund an Ohio recount. This Green Party funded Ohio recount provided the evidence to spark other investigations in multiple states. It sent one election official in Ohio to prison and helped give birth to a nationwide movement against black box voting.
As a result of this nationwide movement several states gave up their exclusive reliance on DRE machines and adopted hybrid systems. California conducted a top to bottom review of its voting setup and and attached a kind of paper trail to DRE. And in New Mexico outraged citizens forged a potent movement led by the Green Party that changed that state’s election law to one of the most accountable in the nation. Some Democratic party outliers including Rep. John Conyers used the findings of the Green funded recount to hold minority hearings on the 2004 electoral crime wave, but Democratic party shot callers and funders, and the Democratic led US Senate would have no part of it. Illinois’ newly sworn in Senator Barack Obama, disappointed many by not being the one to question Ohio’s electoral vote. It was not to be their last disappointment.
The recounts are supposed to cost $7 million. Wouldn’t that money be better spent building the capacity of the Green Party in communities across the country?
Protecting our local candidates from having their elections stolen out from under them is a definite benefit to local organizing.
$7 million is double what the Stein campaign raised and spent, maybe twenty times what the national Green Party raised and spent. They expect to raise this in a few days. Legal restrictions prevent those funds from going to local Green parties except to underwrite direct operations in that effort, like dispatching a busload of precinct recount observers. So it's not as though the Stein campaign is diverting these resources from other places.
If Stein and the Greens put out a call for contributions to build local and national Green Party capacity they wouldn’t get $7 million. They probably wouldn’t get $70,000. The recount effort and attendant publicity will get more people on Stein’s lists and those will eventually become the property of state parties. So leading the fight for election integrity and to protect our local candidates isn’t something that takes place at the expense of growing state parties.
By filing for recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania aren’t Stein and the Greens selling out to, allowing themselves to be led by, or jumping into bed with Hillary and the Democrats?
Absolutely not. Democrats didn’t fight for voting rights in 2000 or 2004. Hillary and her Democrats are not fighting for voting rights today. Democrats are not standing up for the victims of felony disenfranchisement. Democrats aren’t insisting on voting rights for the District of Columbia. In 30 years, Democrats have not meaningfully contested unfair state level redistricting schemes in states like Indiana and Texas which Republicans lopsided Congressional majorities elected by a couple million fewer votes than a minority of House Democrats. Democratic politicians had more than 40 years after the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act to consolidate their victory with a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote, which would have put voting rights in a place untouchable even by the Supreme Court, and prevented the entire panoply of laws and practices that currently infringe on that right.
Democrats are perfectly content to keep Greens off the ballot entirely in Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana and Oklahoma, and force Green candidates to run without party labels in Tennessee, Alabama and many other states. Fighting for voting rights is just something Democratic shot callers don’t DO.
When Jill Stein appeared on CNN to answer questions about filing for the recount, the host insisted that American voting machines were bulletproof, and that questioning the integrity of the elections was almost “conspiracy theory.” Stein might have reminded her that high ranking Democrats in and out of government and their media mouthpieces have been peddling baseless stories about Russian meddling in US elections for months, but she did not.
There are rank and file Democrats, voters not elected officials, who support the Jill Stein and Green recounts. MoveOn.Org, for instance is encouraging its devotees to contribute. Some of them might even believe this effort will overturn the election results. We know better. Democratic shot callers, Democratic funders and the Democratic president have embraced Trump. They’re tagging out, and he’s tagging in.
Fortunately Democrats are not leading this recount effort or a movement for truth and transparency in elections. Greens are, and for our own reasons. We have local candidates across the country whose elections can be stolen, in many instances by Democrats, if we don’t create a broad movement to prevent it. If Jill and the Greens don’t pick this necessary fight, nobody else will.
We’re fighting to lift felony disenfranchisement, something most Democrats won’t even talk about. We’re fighting to make voting a constitutional right, and to make sure every vote cast is actually counted, something Hillary and her crew care nothing about.
Instead of asking as some are, whether Jill and the Greens are selling out, maybe the question ought to be whether rank and file Democrats who forsake their party bosses and their elected officials to follow our lead are really still Democrats? Or are they on the way to becoming something else?
Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and co-chair of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.