Sanders Activists Look to Challenge Validity of Primary Results at Democratic Convention, Arguing That Sanders Won

Updated on June 8, 2018
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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He has published in the Boston Globe and the Baltimore Sun.

A coalition of election integrity activists led by noted attorney Cliff Arnebeck is working with Sanders delegates to the Democratic Convention to stage a convention upset, based on evidence that Sanders actually won more pledged delegates than Clinton but for fraudulent tactics which rigged the election.

Arnebeck has previously sued the Ohio Secretary of State and George W. Bush's chief of staff Karl Rove over election fraud in Ohio in the 2004 presidential contest. Arnebeck's case fell apart when a star witness, Republican IT guru Mike Connell, died in a small plane crash before being able to testify.

Ohio in 2004 was the critical swing state which handed George W. Bush victory, and a second term. Arnebeck alleged that vote totals were altered at the eleventh hour, when what looked like a sure victory for John Kerry suddenly vanished and Bush pulled even and overtook Kerry.

The American Institute for Democracy and Election Integrity, as the group of activists calls itself, describes, at its website, a presentation in which an election analyst:

"will give many people the assurance they need to know that Bernie has, in fact, won the Presidential Primary,"

The Institute is in the process of filing a lawsuit alleging that election fraud against Sanders was prevalent and significant in Ohio and many other states. Ohio election integrity activist, attorney, and political science professor Bob Fitrakis is also leading the suit.

A statement at a website run by activists supporting the lawsuit says:

"we are currently compiling the evidence in an easy to understand format, so that we can make copies of the evidence and give that evidence to every Bernie delegate who is going to the Democratic National Convention. We will distribute this information immediately following the filing of our lawsuit and compiling of the information in a clear and concise way. "

The site JusticeServed.org is raising donations to help defray the costs of the legal action. The American Institute for Democracy and Election Integrity has also put out a call for volunteers to help count ballots in Ohio, as it expects to get access to ballot boxes for recounting and verification of officially reported results.

The lawsuit is particularly concerned about the results in the delegate-rich state of California, where another lawsuit is pending which asks the court to delay the certification of results until all votes are counted, including the "provisional" ballots that were given to many independent and first-time voters who were not on the rolls, even though they say they had properly registered. California law requires all ballots to be counted, including provisionals, before certification.

As the provisional ballots in California continue to be counted this week, three California counties have "flipped" to Bernie Sanders, including the populous ones of San Bernardino and San Luis Obispo. Election activists expect more counties to go to Sanders after all votes are counted, including the largest, by population, of Los Angeles and San Diego.

San Diego County has been especially contentious. There, citizen election monitors uncovered white-out being used to blot out Sanders votes, and a shredder truck parked in the back of a counting station, two indicators of absolute malfeasance in the handling of original legal documents of record, except where allowed for specifically by statute. It is illegal to use white-out, for example, in a police log. If there is an error, a straight line must be drawn over the error so that it can still be read, with the corrected text following.

Shredding company truck parked outside ballot counting station
Shredding company truck parked outside ballot counting station

Likewise, in all jurisdictions "spoiled," i.e. invalid ballots, must be preserved, even if not counted, not shredded. Spoiled ballots remain part of the public record. For example, in California law, spoiled ballots must be "preserved...in the same manner as other ballots." The purpose, reads the law, is:

"to the end that anyone doubts the correctness of the action of the Election Board, that action may be reviewed in the Courts upon the documentary evidence thus preserved."

Attorney Arnebeck notes in his talks that the San Diego Registrar of Voters is Michael Vu. In the Ohio 2004 voting debacle, at the center of controversy was Cuyahoga County. At the time, the Cuyahoga Board of Elections Executive Director was none other than Michael Vu. The San Diego Union Tribune reported:

"Voting rights groups charged that Vu suppressed votes in 2004 by disqualifying provisional ballots and losing hundreds of registrations so people couldn’t vote."

The Union Tribune reports:

"The 2006 primary was also marred by insufficient poll workers who were not properly trained and new optical reading scanner for absentee ballots that didn’t work, resulting in a delayed count. A special panel formed to examine the election mishaps laid the blame on Vu and his staff."

Vu was forced to resign, before being hired on by San Diego.

Before the California primary took place, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who oversees elections, was roundly criticized for issuing the wrong instructions to voters who where registered as independent, or "No Party Preference," who wanted to vote in a party primary, which is allowed in California. Poll workers in large counties recall being told to give such voters provisional ballots, rather than the proper "Democratic crossover" ballot. Although all provisional ballots are supposed to be counted, they often are not, according to poll workers. According to official figures 30 - 40 percent of all ballots cast in the 2016 primary in California were provisional ballots. Provisional ballots take longer to process because they must be examined manually.

San Diego Board of Elections Registrar Michael Vu
San Diego Board of Elections Registrar Michael Vu
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla

Secretary of State Padilla is an open Clinton supporter, who headlined a fundraiser for Hillary recently in Riverside.

The 2016 Democratic primary season has been the most contentious in memory, perhaps since the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago when the world was treated to the sight of Mayor Richard Daley's police force beating with baton sticks on peaceful, anti-Vietnam War demonstrators, on national television. Machine politician Hubert Humphrey was nominated, as expected, over upstart anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy ("Get Clean for Gene,") but the nation was so disgusted with the display of corruption that it ushered in new nominating rules. However, election machineries still were, and still are, in the hands of local oligarchs and political machines. Hence the quote attributed to Josef Stalin, "those who vote determine nothing, those who count the votes determine everything" still applies.

One election integrity project, the Humboldt Project in Humboldt, California, makes a simple recommendation for all future election systems which, in a single stroke, makes the process all but completely transparent. The project says all ballots should begin getting scanned as digital images immediately after the polls close, and all scanned images of all ballots in an election burned onto a DVD. In this way, the project explains, ballots become public record viewable by citizen researchers at all levels as a constant check and verification.

As the convention approaches, lawsuits challenging Clinton's claim to pledged delegates have been filed in California, New York, Arizona, Illinois, and Massachusetts, and official investigations into voter suppression tactics have been announced in New York,Arizona, and Kentucky.

The American Institute for Democracy and Election Integrity, according to sources, is setting to arm all Sanders delegates with knowledge and irrefutable evidence of fraud, to be presented to the world as the media descends on Philly, and interviews with delegates take center ring. The strategy is not to question who is the better candidate, Hiillary or Bernie, a question to which all Sanders supporters are passionately convinced of the answer.

Rather, Sanders activists will argue that Clinton supporters are correct: the candidate who earned more pledged delegates should be the nominee. And that candidate, say they, is Bernie Sanders. At party conventions, challenges to the seating of state delegations are an integral part of the process. Even when motions fail, the world is witness.

Anyone seeking more information on the lawsuit or how to help should go to TrustVote.org, and JusticeServed.org.

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    • profile image

      maher kha 

      22 months ago

      let it be

    • RJ Schwartz profile image

      Ralph Schwartz 

      2 years ago from Idaho Falls, Idaho

      Love your enthusiasm for uncovering the truth. I see the recent events of govt corruption at such an obvious level that it might be the one thing both Parties can agree on in a long time.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      2 years ago from United States

      After following the primaries and reading about Nevada, the exit polls, the voter roll dumping in NY, etc., I am convinced Sanders did in fact win. In CA the fraud was patently obvious, and the news that Clinton had won announced before the votes were counted (which happened in Puerto Rico too). I hope the convention is contested and Bernie is the candidate. We have two potential presidential candidates, Clinton and Trump, who are almost universally hated, and who advocate policies that the majority does not support. Why should they? Their ideas for the future-- his ludicrous and hers the same old same old-- are not in the best interests of most Americans, young and old. If Trump and Hillary are really the candidates, voter turnout will be low, and Trump, that incipient fascist, has a strong likelihood of being elected. I will vote for neither, instead voting my conscience with the Green Party rather than supporting either of these morally bankrupt candidates. As a woman and a feminist, I object to those who call me a sexist for not supporting Clinton. Equality means interacting with others based on who they are, not what they are, and I refuse to support Hillary, whose views on fracking, trade, wages and healthcare as so opposite of my own, simple because she is a woman.

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