“Why? Why would they do this to people?”
I was on the phone with my sister Karen.
It was a bitter cold January afternoon in 2005.
I was still in our nation’s Capitol, attending a conference, a sharing of the evidence around the contested 2004 presidential election that was decided in my home state of Ohio on November 2.
As a Kerry Traveler, organizing volunteers in Central Florida, I’d gone to bed on Election night believing Kerry had won, and woke up to something else entirely.
A fellow organizer called me, in tears and shock, “Sheri, we had it. We were winning. What happened?” I was in the airport in Orlando, headed for Philadelphia where my husband Dan was working on a film. Once I arrived at Dan’s hotel, located across from Philadelphia’s city hall and down the street from Independence Hall, (where our Constitution was signed), I donned my pajamas and barely left the room for weeks, except to partake of the free cocktails and bacon-wrapped wienies offered o commercial travelers at 5pm in the lounge. Chat rooms were just sprouting on the internet. I noodled my way to the chat room for Ohio, and hooked up with the people on the ground who witnessed, on election day, Texas lawyers threatening ex-felons with jail if they showed up to vote, many thousands of voters struck from the rolls, folks waiting hours and hours in the rain because of faulty machines. It was brutal.
Of course, all that hope and sweat and sacrifice to get John Kerry elected, to replace the failed presidency of George Bush, Jr… was stolen as well.
How could they CHEAT like that? I couldn’t fathom it.
And Karen responded matter-of-factly.
“Because they want to win.”
At that moment, I felt a chill. The “this be evil” tingle.
Once I found out that there was hanky panky in my home town of Delaware, Ohio, I dove in. I traveled to Columbus, Ohio, and helped distribute Lynda Byrket’s “Video the Vote.” Byrket is a filmmaker from Columbus, who volunteered with the Election Protection Coalition to video the voting process in Ohio on Election Day. The resulting documentary, “Video the Vote,” has been entered into the Congressional Record, along with “Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio,” a 102-page report by the House Judiciary Committee’s Democratic staff. This footage shows thousands of Ohio voters forced to wait in line for hours in the rain and the cold, how they were turned away, were given provisional ballots, or had to leave and could not vote at all. Once you watched this footage you could not un-watch it. You knew something was terribly wrong with our election system.
In Columbus I met other citizen journalists researching the rampant election fraud. We organized and went to D.C. I wrote a book about it; a graphic narrative, called “Cheated!”
It tells a story of hope, of courage and action. You may want to read how the disenfranchised of Columbus, Ohio organized hearings, to gather testimony from people who had been denied the right to vote. Or, you may want to own it for the illustrations:
I love the way my daughter, Sophie frames her experience of illustrating “Cheated!” in this interview. with The Comics Journal.
“I’d drawn my whole life. I made some attempts to draw personal comics in college, and I illustrated a 50-ish page comic on the 2004 election in Ohio that my mom wrote, called “Cheated!” that’s still available on Amazon, last time I checked. My mom grew up in Ohio and was there investigating the 2004 Bush-Kerry election results and the comic is a kind of lightly fictionalized on-the-ground report of the awful election-fraud that went on there. I drew the comic over the summer between my Sophomore and Junior year of college and during that time I lived in a trailer that was permanently parked behind my mom and step-dad’s house. Unbeknownst to me or my mom the trailer had a termite infestation and every morning I would wake up lightly dusted with termite droppings. It was a great summer job.”
Sophie is now an accomplished cartoonist with a stack of her own prize-winning work. Despite the fact that she created “Cheated!” under some duress, (besides the termites, I would not let her go back to NY to her cute NYU BF until we finished) I am deeply proud of how she illustrated the real folks that were on the ground, in the streets, testifying, fighting for their vote.
EVENTS IN THE BOOK
“Cheated!” draws from video and photographs to illustrate the story of the courageous citizens of Columbus, Ohio, who investigated and litigated against the massive voter suppression and fraud they experienced on Election Day, November, 2004. Because these hardy patriots refused to concede, they ignited a Voting Rights movement that spread like wildfire across the grassroots of America.
"Cheated!" is a non-fiction graphic narrative that tells what happened in Ohio during the 2004 presidential election: the too-long lines, malfunctioning voting machines, the sudden upswing in Bush's numbers after the polls closed….
We see the citizens organize hearings to speak up about the widespread disenfranchisement and machine breakdown they experienced:
Here is that GLORIOUS day in Washington DC as Wil B took the stage at Lafayette Park with the Winter Freedom Bus Riders, and pounded out “Get Up On the Bus.” I hope it inspires you, as it did me.
I found Cheated! to be an ultimately hopeful book. It is a salute to the brave people of Ohio, and a tutorial on how we can and should face stolen elections in our (very near) future…This election may take place in a few weeks, but the battle for our democracy will continue for quite a while, until there is victory or no one left standing.
Myers was just a regular person who was enraged and energized by what happened in 2004 in Ohio. She (along with We Do Not Concede) organized "Get Up on the Bus," which brought 52 people representing a cross section of Columbus to speak in Washington DC. Beyond telling their individual stories, they spoke to the press and lobbied and buttonholed Congressional aides. Ohioans enlisted Senator Boxer of California to stand up for them and for all disenfranchised voters by contesting the validity of the election. This action has only happened once before since 1877 and can be viewed as a major accomplishment.
Cheated! not only reminds us of what happened last time around but gives us some concrete ways to work towards change. As Myers asserts, "The right to vote is the front line for everything.” I couldn't agree more.
Let me tell you now that no one got back on that bus feeling defeated. When you stand and fight and keep fighting and keep speaking and refuse to surrender, you WIN.
This election, we are going to have to watch like hawks at the polls and bear witness and collect data. PROTECT THE VOTE.
HOW TO GET YOUR COPY OF “CHEATED!”
In that spirit, I am offering a copy of this wonderful, compelling graphic novel. FREE to ANYONE working the polls or poll monitoring on 11/03/20.
(I’m going to be a poll commissioner here in New Orleans.)
Send me your proof and address to firstname.lastname@example.org
I have about 100 copies to send out to my fellow citizens.
Here’s where to work the vote:
PROTECT THE VOTE
Volunteer to be a poll monitor!
WORK THE POLLS
Sign up to be a poll worker!
IF YOU CANNOT WORK THE VOTE AND WANT A COPY OF “CHEATED!”
Send $10 via PayPal to email@example.com. It will help with our mailing costs to our friends on the front lines.
Here’s my article in Scoop - a New Zealand paper - “Wide Awake in a Turdblossom Nightmare..." Starting with the 2004 Election in Ohio, read about my very deep dive down into the sewer of election stealing.