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by Rady Anada
July 20, 2005

COLUMBUS, OHIO  Close to 75 protesters gathered by 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 8, on East 17th Avenue, within the Ohio Exposition Center complex, to send a message to President Bush and the Ohio Democratic Party. Bush’s motorcade arrived around 10:50 am and was greeted with angry shouts and signs to repeal the Patriot Act, bring our troops home from Iraq, reject electronic voting machines and to fully investigate the $215 million diverted from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation fund into Republican campaign coffers. “I think the George Bush campaign raised a lot of illegal money in Ohio,” US Rep. Sherrod Brown said. “That puts the election in some question,” as reported at http://www.ohiohonestelections.org. 

Just before noon, as the motorcade of SUV limos exited the Ohio Highway Patrol Academy, and drove slowly past the demonstration, a secret service agent, riding shotgun, raised his machine gun for all to see through an open window. 

Six or seven vehicles openly aimed cameras at protesters as they slowly drove past. The motorcade passengers smirked and pointed microphones at protesters, who chanted slogans and shouted obscenities. 

The Associated Press, Ohio daily newspapers and local radio 610 AM reporters interviewed rally participants. Connie Harris and Dave Hickman spoke for the Progressive Ohio Backbone Campaign MeetUp (democrat.meetup.com/365/ or backbonecampaign.org). 

Harris and Hickman asked the Ohio Democratic Party to explain its lack of action on several key issues facing Ohioans, including the grassroots petition circulated early this year to overturn Taft’s lame-duck passage of House Bill 1 that raised campaign spending limits. (See full story at http://www.clevescene.com/issues/2005-04-13/news/news_2.html.) 

Hickman seeks the return of email lists taken from various MeetUps, totaling nearly 2,500 members. Appeals to the Ohio Democratic Party were ignored. “Candidate campaign staff and the Ohio Democratic Party should respect the independent grassroots nature of MeetUp groups. Withholding our email lists creates a hardship for grassroots organizers,” Hickman said. 

Connie Harris raised another issue about Dennis White, ODP chairman, who recently commented on the Noe Coingate scandal, saying “Bob, that’s what you get when you have a one-party system.” Harris objected to this whitewash. “Denny White should have said, ‘Bob, you’re stealing injured people’s money.” The money, so far totaling $215 million, was diverted from Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation funds. 

Paddy Shaffer was also interviewed by the media, explaining how electronic voting machines are hackable, expensive and complicated. The remaining 32 county Boards of Election (BOE) that havent yet chosen a system should reject the HAVA money and institute paper ballots, hand-counted at the precinct. Under HAVA (Help America Vote Act), Ohio was granted $115 million to buy systems promoted by Blackwell. 

The current bipartisan petitions being circulated to reform the election process, by design or fluke, “will distract from true election reform,” Shaffer says. We need to get county BOEs to reject these electronic machines before Blackwell’s fast-approaching September 15th deadline.

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