The simple truth of Barack Obama’s victory is that if it had just come down to Ohio, Mitt Romney might have won.
The gears of the election theft machine were well-oiled and running at top speed. . . . until an “October Surprise” named Hurricane Sandy intervened.
Those now rejoicing over the Obama triumph should know that there is absolutely no excuse for leaving this sinister apparatus of electronic election theft in place. Election reform should be at the top of the progressive movement’s list, led by the non-negotiable demands for universal hand-counted paper ballots and universal automatic voter registration. As Obama said in his victory speech in reference to the long lines in Florida: “We need to do something about that.”
This year, as in 2004, the Rovian blueprint was simple if not clean: keep the election close enough that Ohio and Florida would be the deciders . . . and then do the deciding.
Part One was the massive Jim/Juan Crow campaign aimed at disenfranchising millions of primarily black and Hispanic voters throughout the US, but especially in swing states Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.
With photo ID and other restrictive laws, along with yet another 2004-style tsunami of misinformation, intimidation and artificially induced mass confusion, the GOP brought on truncated voting hours that caused long lines intended to keep suspected Democrats as far from casting countable ballots as possible.
Part Two was to embed a thoroughly corrupted electronic voting system that could flip Ohio to Romney with a few simple dead-of-night keystrokes. The Rovian narrative that all would turn on Ohio spread predictably through the corporate media.
All bloviating eyes were focused on Hamilton County (Cincinnati), population 800,000, where the votes would be cast and counted on machines owned, programmed, operated and tallied by Hart Intercivic, a company with deep ties to the Romney family and campaign apparatus.
Most of the rest of Ohio would do its electoral business on machines from the Republican-owned E.S.& S company. To guarantee the right outcome, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted installed an “experimental” software patch ideally designed for theft and fraud by a secretary of state ready to flip an election. The patch would handle about 80% of Ohio’s 5-plus million votes.
All the GOP had to do was keep the Electoral College tight enough through election night to throw it all to the Buckeye State. Then, with confusion rampant, the GOP could use the cover of “computer glitches” and the like to sway the electronic vote count as it did in 2004. On election night, the Ohio Secretary of State website went down at 8:53 p.m. and at 9:14 p.m. the Cuyahoga County website went down. Confirmation of the plan came of sorts in the hissy-fit pitched by Karl Rove on Fox “News” the night of the election. While all the networks were calling the Buckeye State for Obama, Rove would not concede. When he petulantly demanded his Murdochian cohorts retain the chance of Ohio going for Romney, he was revealing a focused mind stuck firmly on the program that would replay Bush-Gore 2000 Florida and Bush-Kerry 2004 Ohio.
Back in 2000, a Bush first cousin named John Ellis bucked the tide at a key moment and insisted on air that Florida would go for Bush even after it had been widely called for Gore. Case in point became some 16,000 votes that had been electronically removed from the Gore column in Volusia County and 4,000 were added to Bush’s column, and 20,000 vote shift. Though the votes were later restored to Gore, the momentum had shifted, and the rest is eight years of very ugly history.
Rove’s desperate attachment to Ohio 2012 as being still in play mirrored preparatory election eve statements by GOP Governor John Kasich, a Murdoch acolyte who made clear that a late night outcome would favor Romney. With governors and secretaries of state installed in eight key swing states, Rove’s GOP had plenty of leeway to perpetrate just as much electronic vote flipping as might be needed to make Obama a one-term president.
But fate and a few billion tons of climate-changing greenhouse gasses intervened in the form of Hurricane Sandy and the astute manner in which it was handled by President Obama. When the massive global-warmed storm swept into the Northeast, Obama’s no-drama efficiency persuaded both New Jersey Governor Chris Cristie and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to embrace him. The contrast with George W. Bush’s criminal mishandling of Hurricane Katrina could not have been more stark.
So in the critical middle of the last week of the campaign, Sandy shut Romney out of the media and neutralized those tens of Koch/Adelson/Chamber of Commerce millions. Obama appeared pricelessly presidential and persuasive. The time the Romney campaign expected to use for closing the Electoral College gap was filled instead with photographs of the Democratic incumbent arm-in-arm with the Republican Governor who had so thoroughly slammed him at the GOP convention.
So when Election Day rolled around, the apparatus for flipping Ohio was set to go (note that Florida was still being contested) but the gap was too great. Obama has officially won Ohio with more than 100,000 votes, but John Kerry was ahead by more than 200,000 in 2004 when the vote count was shifted to Bush after the Ohio Secretary of State’s computer system “failed.”
This time around, with Ohio no longer the decider, and with the whole world watching, there was little even Karl Rove and all those Citizens United millions could do.
Be eternally grateful. Had this election been closer, your media days would now be filled with breathless bloviators perched here in Columbus, searching for hanging electronic chads. We would be in the throes of yet another losing Constitutional crisis, courtesy of an Electoral College whose roots are in slavery, and electronic registration and voting systems that should have been abolished long ago.
If any of that is still in place come 2016, shame on all of us.
HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES is at harveywasserman.com. With Bob Fitrakis he has co-authored five books on election protection.