(APN) ATLANTA Youve got electronic voting machines. Many people called in and shared their concern. They pushed the button for Cynthia McKinney and Hank Johnson came up. It wasnt one time, it wasnt two times, it was many, many times, Karen Fitzpatrick, who has been monitoring elections for US Rep. McKinneys re-election campaign, told Atlanta Progressive News in an exclusive interview.
Let me repeat: The McKinney Campaign says they have documented complaints of voters here in Georgia whose votes FLIPPED BEFORE THEIR VERY EYES on Diebold machines.
It started early this morning. There were well over 25 to 30 calls that came in [to the campaign office]. Many of them went to the poll manager [after this happened]. In some cases, the poll managers said theres nothing we can do. In some cases the voter left frustrated as if their vote had been compromised, as if it had been stolen, Fitzpatrick said.
And many voters hadnt even selected the cast ballot button yet, when they were told it was already too late, Fitzpatrick said.
I believe that was their instructions. Theres no question in my mind they were following instructions, from the Elections Division under Cathy Cox, she said.
The zero results report didnt come up zero on many precincts today. Whenever it doesnt come out a zero, that means votes didnt get counted, Fitzpatrick said.
McKinneys campaign showed APN a stack of affidavits from who they say are traumatized voters. APN hopes to interview some of these voters very soon and bring you the details.
Meanwhile, Cindy Sheehan and Medea Benjamin talked exclusively with APN. The renowned activists both flew into Atlanta especially for the McKinney campaigns primary celebration. Sheehan told APN she hasnt ruled out running for Congress in the future in California.
But the celebration ended up only partially a celebration in fact. McKinney had the majority of the vote, but not enough to avoid a runoff race against Mr. Hank Johnson.
I dont believe the results, Fitzpatrick said, adding she expected to see problems with electronic voting and other aspects of the elections process, but didnt expect McKinney would end up in a runoff race.
But back to the vote switching. More on Sheehan and Benjamin and their hunger strike and the McKinney celebration in a moment.
With automated voting, youre entrusting what you put on a ballot will be encoded [properly], Fitzpatrick said.
The many programming insecurities in electronic voting have been covered extensively previously, including an extensive study recently by the Brennan Center.
It doesnt take much to say, Every tenth voter, I want you to do this with Cynthias vote, Fitzpatrick said.
McKinneys campaign has reported a volume of elections irregularities. We had so many failures, she said. There are situations where people got the wrong party ballot, of Democrats who received Republican ballots.
Fitzpatrick said she is also concerned with how the state of Georgia is trying to block the poll watchers, the only eyes and ears. They want to put elections in a black box.
Other problems included peoples polling places having been changed without them being informed, machines going down, and the slow processing speed of electronic poll books delaying the voting process.
The Congresswomans passion is to ensure the rights of everyone across all color lines, that your right of Democracy is protected, that your right to vote is yours, and that the vote you cast can be counted, Fitzpatrick said.
Weve got to put the public on notice that the office thats supposed to be ensuring the integrity of the elections process is not going their job, and is working against their interest because they are disenfranchising people. Their primary job is to administer transparent elections in the view of the public, Fitzpatrick said.
SHEEHAN, BENJAMIN ATTEND MCKINNEY PRIMARY GALA
She stands for everything I stand for, Cindy Sheehan told Atlanta Progressive News, when asked why she came to McKinneys primary shindig. Sheehan is in the 15th day of her fast. Over 4,000 Americans have pledged to fast for some period of time since July 4th.
Congresswoman McKinney joined other members of Congress in fasting for one day recently. A video of a DC press conference on this is available on truthout.org under multimedia.
She tells the truth. She speaks from the heart and integrity, even when its not popular sometimes, Sheehan said.
We need more people in Congress like her who have backbones, Sheehan said, adding she has worked with McKinney as a result of McKinneys role in the Out of Iraq Caucus in Congress.
We were talking about, if its a volunteer army, then you should be able to volunteer to get out if the mission changes, Sheehan said.
I came under a lot of attack from the corporate media too, Sheehan said, regarding McKinneys treatment by the megacorporate press. Like her I try to talk from my heart and stay focused on the issues.
Sheehan told APN she has not ruled out running for US Congress in the future. She had discussed a possible challenge to US Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) this year and later decided not to do it. Im gonna get the troops home first. If I thought running for Senate in California could do that, she would do it, she said. Right now shes trying to get a lot of antiwar candidates elected including Hillary Clintons challenger, Mr. Tasini, in New York.
Medea Benjamin of Codepink said McKinney helped her and other activists get access to US House hearings on the treatment of detainees following the Supreme Court ruling that holding them indefinitely is unconstitutional.
Shes one of the few people whos been supportive over the years of the Peace Movement, Benjamin said. Theres a growing chasm between Congress and the grassroots movement.
The peace movement is at a very critical juncture because on one hand, we have managed to capture public opinion. Most people think the Invasion of Iraq was a mistake and want the troops home at the end of the year. 72% of troops themselves say this. You cant continue to have politicians voting for the war. Whats new on this is the Iraqi side, not just Iraqi people, but the President, Vice President, and National Security Advisor, also opposing the US occupation of Iraq.
If we keep building opposition we will have to withdraw troops. It might happen this year or next year. Will they withdraw permanent bases, thats another question.
Benjamin admitted shes been deeply affected by the fast of the last two weeks shes been doing, she says, to bring the troops home fast.
I do get a little dizzy once in a while. Like today running around in the sun. I get a little less sharp and focused. On the other hand, you feel much more grounded, centered, because youre thinking about it all the time. Absorbing a little bit of suffering of the troops and their families and the Iraqi people, Benjamin said.
MCKINNEY CELEBRATION INCLUDES DANCING, BIG SPEECH
The celebration included singing, dancing, poetry, musical instruments, and more. McKinney, Benjamin, Sheehan, and copious local activists including Sir Jesse of the Feminist Outlaws boogied down on the dancefloor.
It was hosted by Bessie Winn, Miss Black Georgia USA. Performances were done by Delores Major, a jazz funk electric violinist; gospel singer Wanda Trent-Phillips; dancer Trinette Ogunnusi; Antoinette Dunstan, and others.
McKinney received the most votes in the Primary, but, as we said earlier, not enough to avoid a runoff with Hank Johnson. At the end of the night she gave a passionate speech, surrounded by supporters, and in front of every major media outlet fathomable.
Some people think by repeating something thats not true makes it so. Just repeating a lie doesnt make it true, McKinney said.
Im the one who tells the truth. On what George Bush knew about 9/11. I put my body against the war machine, against the wheels and the levers of the machine. And I said youve got to stop it.
We believe in the power of the people over special interests every time. I have a strong and uncompromising position against the war machine. It is outrageous [US Secretary of Defense] Rumsfeld can go before Congress and say $2,500,000,000,000 [2.5 trillion dollars] was lost and our children are suffering.
I have said [much] about this and so much more... The Carlyle Group... The defense contracts of Haliburton. I dont mind speaking truth to power.
Im asking the people of the 4th Congressional District to stand with me now... who think America is on the wrong track and think America can do better.
Quite frankly, weve been in this place before, but you know what? It is impossible to keep a good woman down. I intend to fight the good fight. I will continue to tell the truth. I will challenge anyone who tries to destroy anything [Ive built]. This battle is now engaged. We intend to win.
About the author:
Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor and a National Correspondent for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org This article contained additional reporting by Matthew Cardinale, News Editor.
This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.