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Healing the Wounds: An Activist’s Notes for a Scandal Episode


Logo of ABC's Scandal

Sheila Parks proposes a new direction for the televised political drama, Scandal.

Scandal‘s Nobody Likes Babies aired February 7, and ended with Olivia, the “fixer” of Olivia Pope & Associates, riddled with guilt and shame for helping to rig the election for Fitz to become president and now also devastated because he has dissed her (to put it mildly). The next Scandal episode, to be aired February 14, will be ten months later.


During those months, Olivia has become concerned about her drinking and asks Huck to take her to an AA meeting.  As she sobers up and starts thinking more clearly, she begins to see how she needs to be fixed herself, from the inside out, if she is to continue to help fixing others.


Alika is an elder, an African-American woman who has long sobriety and good recovery in AA. In the outside world Alika is a political activist.  She is played by Cicely Tyson.


Olivia asks Alika to be her sponsor and Alika accepts.  In careful bits and pieces, over a period of time, Olivia starts telling her story at meetings and also to Alika. Over coffee one night, Olivia tells Alika about her role in rigging the election in Defiance, Ohio. Alika, long accustomed to the confessions of newly sober alcoholics, strives to hear this non-judgmentally. It is a struggle for her, because of her strong political beliefs and her longing for democracy. Alika shows Olivia – in flashbacks – about the real life rigging of the 2000 presidential election in Florida – that time via optical scan electronic voting machines and not the touchscreens that had been used in the rig in Defiance, Ohio.

Alika, while appreciating Olivia’s honesty and courage in making her confession, is not sure her sponsee sees the big picture.  She wonders if Olivia understands that by rigging the election, she played a big role in causing more years of climate change. Finally, Alika says to Olivia, gravely but gently, “Do you understand that the climate crisis is one of the most dire consequences of the rigging of the 2000 Florida election as well as the Defiance, Ohio rig and going against the will of the American people? Can you see that your own actions in the last election affect so much more than just the man you loved?”

Olivia leaves her meeting with Alika deeply troubled. She remembers Cyrus saying to her and Mellie once when they discussed rigging Defiance, “Steal the White House? Yes, we can. Been done before. Will be done again.” She wonders if Cyrus was in on that too, the Florida rigging Alika has just told her about.

If Olivia admits publicly to the rigging, her career is over, and she’ll either go to prison, or she’ll get immunity in return for turning state’s evidence to send Cyrus, Mellie, and Hollis, if not Fitz himself, to prison. She needs more information and perhaps a lawyer? Or her own gladiator team, Pope & Associates? And she needs to do nothing about all this right now except to stay sober, continue to get to know herself,  begin to love herself again and to be true to herself.


Diebold AccuVote OS [optical scan] electronic voting machines are easy to hack.  As with the touchscreens, the tampering can be done without leaving a trace. These same machines were most likely hacked in Volusia County, Florida, in the 2000 presidential election. Each machine is supposed to have one memory card. In the middle of the night in Volusia, a second memory card [called “card no. 3”] “mysteriously appears” in precinct 216 and negates 16,022 votes for Gore. Alika gives Liv a copy of Bev Harris’ book and tells her to read Chapter 13, especially pages 172-180, the appalling verbatim conversation between Diebold higher-ups and between these higher-ups and election officials in Volusia County about this memory card.


Olivia keeps on thinking about the thousands of people across the country  who are intending to get in busses, trains, cars, planes and come to Washington, D.C. for February 17, 2013, this coming Sunday, to be part of the largest demonstration in the USA against the climate crisis and also the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline. Alika has told her yesterday that Bill McKibben, of, had written an alarming essay on global warming.  She remembers the recent horrific destruction of Sandy and the more recent blizzard of Nemo and those who deny the climate crisis and she googles and reads some articles Alika has told her about  here, here, here and here.

Filled with all kinds of contradictory thoughts and feelings, she wonders about calling Pew Charitable Trusts, and asking them more about the “Voting Technology” section in their detailed February 2013 report about elections. The New York Times article Alika gave her to read about the report said nothing about rigged elections and the technology that allows them.  Perhaps neither did Pew. Now having talked with Alika, she feels bolder and more willing to deal with these issues and sees how crucially important they are.

Olivia decides to take Alika up on her invitation to go with her on Sunday to the rally and so be part of speaking out against the climate crisis and also the pipeline.  She determines to make amends for her rigging of the election in small steps now and to be a fixer of the planet in crisis as well as of people in crisis.

Sheila Parks, Ed.D. has been involved with the current wave of voting rights since the crimes, including the rigging, of the 2000 Florida presidential election. She is the founder of the Center for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots and the author of WHILE WE STILL HAVE TIME: The Perils of Electronic Voting Machines and Democracy’s solution: Publicly Observed, Secure Hand-Counted Paper Ballots (HCPB) Elections.  She is an ardent feminist, internationalist and peace & justice activist.


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Sheila Parks

Sheila Parks

An ardent and longtime feminist, internationalist, and peace & justice activist, I defended the abortion clinics with my body for a very long time. I do not want to go back to doing that and fervently hope that those of you who have not had to do so, never will. I was in the Women's Caucus of occupy boston and after that an affinity group in ob. Active in the current wave of voting rights since the crimes of the 2000 Florida presidential election, I am opposed to all electronic voting machines and for publicly observed, secure hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB) elections, and am the founder of the Center for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots. I spent a year in prison for a Plowshares non-violent direct action against first strike nuclear weapons.