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OPINION: Your Vote Got Counted. Here’s Why

by Sheila Parks

Yes, my side won. So, the argument could be made that I was wrong when it comes to election fraud. The real story is more complicated. I believe that my side – your side, the women’s side – won in part because voting rights activists were vigilant. They kept Americans watching, to make sure to document irregularities at the polls.

As the result of a fair election, women now have a far better opportunity to lead and influence. More glass ceilings were shattered, although we still await total demolition. We also won due to a heavy turnout from diligent voters. At one polling place in Boston, many were still standing in line to vote at 9:30 PM. Women voted in large numbers, as did African Americans, Latinas, LGBTQs and youth. They voted for our side – for their side – and thanks to voting rights activists their votes were counted.
On The Issues Magazine - PARKSpostelection  height=Suffrage parade, NYC, Oct. 23, 1915. Photo: Library of Congress.
Here are some ways in which activism worked:

  • * Early in the day, a Pennsylvania voter caught an irregularity on his android (and it went viral) as he tried to vote for Obama and the machine kept highlighting Romney. A poll worker told him not to worry. But voting rights activists everywhere repeatedly told people to take pictures of all unusual events. It worked. At the time of this writing, there are over 9 million views on that Pennsylvania voter’s YouTube post.
  • * At a press conference at the Washington Press Club on November 5, the day before the election, Harvey Wasserman announced: “We are in the process as we speak of filing a federal lawsuit in Columbus, Ohio, asking for the removal of some software that has been installed into the computer system...”
  • * Also, bold and righteous acts in Ohio had all eyes on the state. These acts included research conducted by Gerry Bello, Bob Fitrakis and Wasserman of the Free Press and a lawsuit filed by Cliff Arnebeck, including an affidavit by Michael Duniho. The lawsuit charged that Ohio Secretary of State John Husted “has installed ‘experimental’ uncertified and untested software [experimental software patches on the ES&S machines] to count a large portion of the Ohio vote. It was also filed against ES&S. The judge “declined to interfere in an on-going election, but indicated that he would consider taking action as the case continues after the election if it was needed.”
  • * In Boston, one of the lawyers I had approached as part of my own efforts to combat election fraud is Mimi Turchinetz. She initially said she was skeptical that the machines could be hacked and requested more evidence. I provided this evidence and ultimately we joined forces to enlist an election attorney to file an injunction in case the Massachusetts Senate race was very close due to possible irregularities caused by the machines – machines that would be used by 69 percent of voters. We wrote and circulated a paper about the dangers of these machines and also distributed a book I wrote about election fraud. Although our time was short, we had email, telephone or face-to-face conversations with lawyers in different specialties in Massachusetts and other states. Included among them were election specialists, radicals, non-profit attorneys, attorneys for the Democratic Party, Harvard law school faculty, a judge and attorneys for Albert Gore. Some disagreed with our position. Others said they believed us but were preoccupied with “Get Out the Vote,” (GOTV). We will continue this work. 
  • * Earlier Turchinetz told me in great detail what GOTV accomplished in Massachusetts this year. Volunteers knocked on doors, distributed literature and returned and/or repeatedly called those who were not at home. They went to those who voted regularly and those who voted infrequently.

On Election Night, as Obama was named the winner – even by Fox News – Karl Rove said those words everyone has heard by now: “I’d be very cautious about intruding in this process.” I heard that and stopped exhaling. I thought, oh my Goddess, they are going to rig it again. Rove mentioned Republican suburbs in Hamilton County, Ohio, where they use Hart InterCivic voting machines. The Romney family's financial connection to Hart InterCivic has been widely discussed in the media (here, for one, is a Forbes report on this connection). Snopes says it isn’t true; but Forbes says it is. Who would you believe? Also, a dazzling roadmap details "Karl Rove's Empire of Election Fraud." It is by Jill Simpson, an attorney and former Republican and Jim March, a Black Box Voting Board member and a Libertarian.

Honest elections depend on a three-legged stool: stopping suppression  of the vote; overturning Citizens United; and getting rid of all electronic voting machines. The work by activists on stopping the suppression has been constant and brilliant and taken up by the mainstream media. The outcry against Citizens United has been ongoing and continues to be widespread and fierce. And we, as activists, will continue to ensure that Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers know forever, as they did this time, that they cannot rig our elections via the electronic voting machines. We will be everywhere, taking many actions.

Just imagine what you would be thinking and feeling now had the election not gone the way it has. As I write this, the GOP in Ohio has started to get the "Heartbeat Bill," HB 125, on the table again. It would be the most prohibitive anti-abortion bill in the country, with no exceptions for rape.

And just imagine what it means that in 2012, the Voting Rights Act is being challenged in the Supreme Court.

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Sheila Parks, Ed.D. is the founder of the Center for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots and the author of WHILE WE STILL HAVE TIME: The Perils of Electronic Voting Machines and Democracy's Solution: Publicly Observed, Secure Hand-Counted Paper Ballots (HCPB) Elections.


Janis Smith posted: 2012-11-14 15:02:23

Great Article, Sheila! We haven't let the election stop us from moving forward.

Michael-David BenDor posted: 2012-11-16 18:11:45

As an Michigan election official, on election evening we could not get our electronic tabulator to accurately count the ballots. After the tabulator registered a different number than our poll book, our Precinct Chair decided to "zero out" the tabulator and recount the ballots. We had less than 1000 walk in voters and close to 500 absentee ballots, so we started afresh with the walk in voters having hand counted the ballots into groups of 25. The tabulator was not able to keep an accurate count and just before 3 AM, we declared it a night. We had to report to the County Board of Canvassers that we could not get the tabulator to agree with the poll book. In my opinion, the "bed sheet ballot" which included numerous races and ballot proposals was too long for our machines to process. The rollers and sensors were just not up for the task. We need to return to a public hand count. From the time the polls closed at 8 PM until we quit trying at almost 3 AM, we could have counted the ballots and all of the races by hand--probably at least twice. Instead we had to rely on a machine programmed by unknown company agents and we know that the count could not be correct because the ballot count itself was wrong.

Sheila Parks posted: 2012-11-21 22:20:13

Yes, Janis Smith. Thank you for your comment.

Sheila Parks posted: 2012-11-21 22:20:22

Yes, Janis Smith. Thank you for your comment. Thank you so much Michael-David BenDor. I wish we had more election officials like you. Will you please come over to my FB page and friend me, so we can talk more. Thanks

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