Ohio recount volunteers allege tampering and more
‘Why were there stickers on ballots in Clermont County, Ohio?’
By Larisa Alexandrovna | RAW STORY Staff
Serious new election tampering allegations have emerged from an Ohio county, where witnesses allege that stickers were placed on presidential election ballots, RAW STORY has learned.
Several volunteer workers in the Ohio recount in Clermont County, Ohio have prepared affidavits alleging serious tampering, violations of state and federal law and possible fraud. They name the Republican chief of Clermont’s Board of Elections Daniel Bare and the head of the Clermont Democratic Party Priscilla O’Donnell as complicit in these acts.
These volunteers, observing the recount on behalf of the Greens, Libertarians and Democrats, assert that during the Dec. 14, 2004 hand recount they noticed stickers covering the Kerry/Edwards oval, whereas the Bush/Cheney oval seemed to be “colored in.”
Some witnesses state that beneath the stickers, the Kerry/Edwards oval was selected. The opti-scan ballots were then fed into the machines after the hand recount.
Allegations of ballot tampering in Ohio – which decided the outcome of the presidential election by some 100,000 votes – find particular resonance in Clermont, one of three Ohio counties which saw the biggest increases in votes for Bush from 2000 to 2004. The other counties were Butler and Warren; Warren County had a lockdown after an alleged terror threat that the FBI later denied.
These counties “increased their support of Bush by only a few percentage points each,” the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Monday. “But in the raw numbers of votes, they made the difference.”
In a sworn affidavit, Clinton County Democrat Stephen Spraley, a retired plumber from Springboro, Ohio, saw the stickers on at least ten opti-scan ballots. Spraley brought this issue to the attention of Deputy Director for the Clermont Board of Elections, Kathy Jones, who is a Democrat. He says he was rebuffed by the Republican Director of the Board of Elections Daniel Bare.
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House Judiciary Democrats Request Hearings on Election Irregularities
January 19, 2004
The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner
Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Chairman:
We write to you at the very outset of the 109th Congress, to request that our committee hold hearings and investigate the vital issue of protecting our citizens right to vote. The right to vote is the very foundation of our Democracy and is at the core of our Committee’s jurisdiction, and we can think of no more important or urgent issue before us than protecting our democratic rights. While the election is settled, however, our job as legislators on the Judiciary Committee to make sure that the constitutional right to vote is protected is just beginning.
In congressional forums many of us participated in Washington D.C. and Columbus, Ohio, we learned of significant voter irregularities in Ohio. These irregularities are included in a 100 page report Mr. Conyers issued, and include the following:
• The misallocation of voting machines led to lines of ten hours or more that disenfranchised scores if not hundreds of thousands of predominantly minority and Democratic voters. In Franklin County, 27 of the 30 wards with the most machines per registered voter showed majorities for Bush, while six of the seven wards with the fewest machines delivered large margins for Kerry.
• The Ohio Republican Party’s decision to engage in preelection “caging” tactics, selectively targeting 35,000 predominantly minority voters for intimidation had a negative impact on voter turnout. The Third Circuit found these activities to be illegal and in direct violation of consent decrees barring the targeting minority voters for poll challenges.
• The Ohio Republican Party’s decision to utilize thousands of partisan challengers concentrated in minority and Democratic areas disenfranchised numerous legal voters, who were not only intimidated, but became discouraged by the long lines in the adverse weather. Shockingly, these disruptions were publicly predicted by Republican officials: Mark Weaver, a lawyer for the Ohio Republican Party, admitted the challenges “can’t help but create chaos, longer lines and frustration.”
• Numerous instances of intimidation and misinformation occurred across the state of Ohio that would appear to violate the Voting Rights Act. For example, the NAACP stated that it received over 200 calls regarding incidents of suspected voter intimidation or unusual election related activities, particularly actions taken by challengers who intimidated poll workers and voters. Other specific incidents involved a caller who reported that someone was going door-to-door telling people they were not registered to vote. A voter in Franklin County received information in the mail identified as being from the state that said he would have to vote by provisional ballot because he had moved; in fact, the voter had not moved and had lived at the address for 10-15 years. One polling place worker was reportedly only asking African American voters for their address.
• In Franklin County, a worker at the Holiday Inn observed a team of 25 people who called themselves the “Texas Strike Force” using payphones to make intimidating calls to likely voters, targeting people recently in the prison system. The “Texas Strike Force” members hotel accommodations were apparently paid for by the Ohio Republican Party, whose headquarters is across the street. The hotel worker heard one caller threaten a likely voter with being reported to the FBI and returning to jail if he voted. Another hotel worker called the police, who came but did nothing. There were also reports of phone calls incorrectly informing voters that their polling place had changed.
• The Cleveland Plain Dealer found that several Lake County residents received an official-looking letter on Board of Elections letterhead informing them that their polling place had changed or that they were not properly registered to vote. A fake voter bulletin from Franklin County Board of Elections was posted at polling locations, and fliers were distributed in the inner city, telling Republicans to vote on Tuesday and Democrats to vote on Wednesday due to unexpected heavy voter registration.
• In Cleveland, the Washington Post reported that unknown volunteers began showing up at voters’ doors illegally offering to collect and deliver complete absentee ballots to the election office. The Election Protection Coalition testified that in Franklin County, voters received fliers informing them that they could cast a ballot on November 3. Also, in Franklin County there were reports that about a dozen voters were contacted by someone claiming to be from the county board of elections, telling them their voting location was changed, and “door-hangers” telling African-American voters to go to the wrong precinct were distributed.
In our view, this course of events is not consistent with the right to vote as we understand it. The fact that many of these instances appear to be focused particularly on minority voters is all the more disheartening, and triggers even more clearly our jurisdiction involving civil rights.
We look forward to full and open hearings concerning these instances of disenfranchisement in Ohio and around the Nation. We very much would like to work with you and your staff to insure that allegations of improprieties by both Democrats and Republicans are looked into and considered.
Report suggests changes in exit poll methodology
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Exit polls overstated John Kerry's share of the vote on November 2, both nationally and in many states, because more Kerry supporters participated in the survey than Bush voters, according to an internal review of the exit-polling process released Wednesday.
The report said it is difficult to pinpoint precisely why, in general, Kerry voters were more likely to participate in the exit poll than were Bush voters. "There were certainly motivational factors that are impossible to quantify," the report said.
Problems with the numbers first surfaced on Election Day, when exit polls showed Kerry with a 3-point lead nationally and an edge in some key battleground states. Those exit poll results were leaked and became widely known through the Internet.
CNN did not air those inaccurate results or post them on its Web site, and CNN's projections of winners on election night were accurate.
Nationwide, Bush got about 3.5 million more votes than Kerry.
The discrepancies stemmed from problems in interviewing voters at the 1,480 randomly chosen precincts where exit pollsters were stationed, not from how those precincts were selected or the way the data were processed, according to the 75-page report.
The report recommends a number of steps to deal with the problem, including better training for interviewers, as well as continued research aimed at boosting participation in the polls.
The report was issued by Mitofsky International and Edison Media Research, the polling firms that conducted the polls on behalf of the so-called National Election Pool, a consortium of six national media organizations (AP, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC).
To prevent leaks in future elections, the news organizations have agreed not to access the data until 6 p.m. ET.
The report found that the exit polls offered no evidence of widespread fraud.
"Exit polls do not support the allegations of fraud due to rigging of voting equipment. Our analysis of the difference between the vote count and the exit poll at each polling location in our sample has found no systematic differences for precincts using touch screen and optical scan voting equipment," the report found.
The new report shows that exit polls overstated Kerry's support in 26 states, while estimates overstated Bush's support in four states. The problem is not new -- in every presidential election since 1988, exit polls have overstated support for Democrats nationally -- but the discrepancy in 2004 was more pronounced than in previous years.
The report identified several factors that may have contributed to the discrepancy, including:
- Distance restrictions from polling places imposed upon the interviewers by election officials at the state and local level.
- Weather conditions, which lowered completion rates at certain polling locations.
- Multiple precincts voting at the same location as the precinct in the exit poll sample.
- Interviewer characteristics, such as age, which were more often related to the errors last year than in past elections.
The pollsters said they plan to further investigate the recruiting and training procedures, the interviewing rate calculations, the length and design of the questionnaire, as well as characteristics of both the interviewers and the precincts chosen to be surveyed.
"Even with these improvements, differences in response rates between Democratic and Republican voters may still occur in future elections," the report reads. "However, we believe that these steps will help to minimize the discrepancies."
In addition to the information included in this report, exit poll data from this election are being archived at the Roper Center at the University of Connecticut and at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan and will be available there for review and further analysis. A description of the methodology of the exit polls is posted at www.exit-poll.net.
From 1990 to 2002, exit polls were conducted by Voter News Service (VNS), whose exit polls in 2000 led to the networks' decisions to declare Al Gore the winner in Florida. In 2002, VNS was unable to deliver any exit poll data to the networks, resulting in the decision to disband it.
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Ohio AG Seeks To Sanction Attorneys Over Vote Challenge
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to sanction four lawyers who handled a legal challenge, later withdrawn, to last year's presidential election in Ohio.
The motion targeting Clifford Arnebeck, Robert Fitrakis, Susan Truitt and Peter Peckarsky was filed Tuesday on behalf of Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's top elections official, said Kim Norris, spokeswoman for Petro.
The motion said the 37 protesters filed a "meritless claim" for "partisan political purposes" and said "a contest proceeding is not a toy for idle hands."
"Instead of evidence, (the lawyers) offered only theory, conjecture, hypothesis, and invective," Petro's office wrote. It said the challenge was filed "only for partisan political purposes."
Arnebeck called the motion frivolous. He said his clients "put in a great deal of evidence in the form of affidavits and sworn testimony."
He accused Blackwell of "stonewalling" and refusing to answer questions as requested in his December court filings.
The challenge was withdrawn last week, with those contesting the election saying it was clear they would be dismissed as moot with Bush set to be inaugurated Thursday.
Ohio's 20 electoral votes went to Bush, who won the state by 118,000 votes over Democratic Sen. John Kerry.
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And With That. . .
Corrine Brown, FL
Julia Carson, IN
William Clay Jr., MO
James E. Clyburn, SC
John Conyers Jr., MI
Danny Davis, IL
Lane Evans, IL
Sam Farr, CA
Bob Filner, CA
Raul Grijalva, AZ
Doc Hastings, WA
Maurice Hinchey, NY
Jesse Jackson Jr, IL
Sheila Jackson Lee, TX
Eddie Bernice Johnson, TX
Stephanie Tubbs Jones, OH
Carolyn Kilpatrick, MI
Dennis Kucinich, OH
Barbara Lee, CA
John Lewis, GA
Ed Markey, MA
Cynthia McKinney, GA
John Olver, MA
Major Owens, NY
Frank Pallone JR, NJ
Donald M. Payne, NJ
Jan Schakowsky, IL
Bennie Thompson, Miss.
Maxine Waters, CA
Diane Watson, CA
Lynn Woolsey, CA
As well as those Senators who were in support of Senator Boxer.
Congress Formally OKs Bush Election
WASHINGTON - Congress certified President Bush)'s re-election Thursday but only after Democrats forced a challenge to the quadrennial count of electoral votes for just the second time since 1877.
Bush's Election Day triumph over Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was never in doubt. After a near four-hour delay to consider and reject the dispute over voting in Ohio, lawmakers in joint session affirmed Bush's 286-251 electoral vote victory — plus a single vote that a "faithless" Kerry elector cast for his running mate, Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.
In a drama that was historic if not suspenseful, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., formally protested that the Ohio votes "were not, under all known circumstances, regularly given." That, by law, required the House and Senate to convene separately and hold separate debates on the Ohio irregularities.
Boxer, Tubbs Jones and several other Democrats, including many black lawmakers, hoped the showdown would underscore the missing voting machines, unusually long lines and other problems that plagued some Ohio districts, many in minority neighborhoods, on Nov. 2.
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Other Senators preparing to support Sen. Boxer in electoral challenge
As many as eight senators ‘to support Boxer in challenge’
Sources on Capitol Hill have told RAW STORY that other senators are preparing statements of support to deliver when Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) challenges Ohio’s electoral votes today.
Several sources indicated that additional senators are not likely to sign the challenge, possibly at the request of Sen. Boxer and Rep. Tubbs-Jones. MSNBC’s Countdown program suggested as many as half a dozen senators might join Sen. Boxer.
According to Jesse Jackson, who announced the news at a D.C. rally, among those who are expected to speak in support of Boxer are Senators Clinton, Obama, Reid, Durbin and Dodd.
Boxer said Thursday afternoon at a press conference that there may be as many as eight. She said she had not spoken with Sen. Kerry about the challenge.
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Democrats to Force Debate on Ohio Results
A group of Democrats on Thursday planned to interrupt Congress' ceremonial counting of the electoral votes that gave President Bush his re-election victory and force the House and Senate to debate Election Day problems in Ohio.
The challenge does not jeopardize Bush's November win over Sen. John Kerry. But it does legally compel lawmakers to interrupt their formal count of the Electoral College vote — only the second time since 1877 that the House and Senate were forced into separate meetings to consider electoral votes.
The joint session began as required by law at 1 p.m. EST, with Vice President Dick Cheney presiding as the Senate's president and about 100 lawmakers present. One by one and in alphabetical order, each state's electoral votes were read aloud.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., signed a challenge mounted by House Democrats to Ohio's 20 electoral votes, which put Bush over the top. By law, a protest signed by members of the House and Senate requires both chambers to meet separately for up to two hours to consider it. Lawmakers are allowed to speak for no more than five minutes each.
"I have concluded that objecting to the electoral votes from Ohio is the only immediate way to bring these issues to light by allowing you to have a two-hour debate to let the American people know the facts surrounding Ohio's election," Boxer wrote in a letter to Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, a leader of the Democratic effort.
The action seems certain to leave Bush's victory intact because both Republican-controlled chambers would have to uphold the objection for Ohio's votes to be invalidated. Supporters of the drive said that rather than changing the election outcome, their hope was to shine a national spotlight on the Ohio voting problems.
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Executive Summary: House Judiciary Dems’ final report on Ohio election problems
Text: Executive Summary of Conyers’ Ohio election report
The following is the text of the Executive Summary written by the House Judiciary Democratic staff about election problems in Ohio’s November presidential election, and is the crux upon which Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) is seeking to contest Ohio electoral votes and open a discussion of the election on the Senate floor Jan. 6. The report was published Wednesday, and the text released to RAW STORY by the Judiciary staff.
The full document in PDF format can be found here.
Representative John Conyers, Jr., the Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, asked the Democratic staff to conduct an investigation into irregularities reported in the Ohio presidential election and to prepare a Status Report concerning the same prior to the Joint Meeting of Congress scheduled for January 6, 2005, to receive and consider the votes of the electoral college for president. The following Report includes a brief chronology of the events; summarizes the relevant background law; provides detailed findings (including factual findings and legal analysis); and describes various recommendations for acting on this Report going forward.
We have found numerous, serious election irregularities in the Ohio presidential election, which resulted in a significant disenfranchisement of voters. Cumulatively, these irregularities, which affected hundreds of thousand of votes and voters in Ohio, raise grave doubts regarding whether it can be said the Ohio electors selected on December 13, 2004, were chosen in a manner that conforms to Ohio law, let alone federal requirements and constitutional standards.
This report, therefore, makes three recommendations: (1) consistent with the requirements of the United States Constitution concerning the counting of electoral votes by Congress and Federal law implementing these requirements, there are ample grounds for challenging the electors from the State of Ohio; (2) Congress should engage in further hearings into the widespread irregularities reported in Ohio; we believe the problems are serious enough to warrant the appointment of a joint select Committee of the House and Senate to investigate and report back to the Members; and (3) Congress needs to enact election reform to restore our people’s trust in our democracy. These changes should include putting in place more specific federal protections for federal elections, particularly in the areas of audit capability for electronic voting machines and casting and counting of provisional ballots, as well as other needed changes to federal and state election laws.
With regards to our factual finding, in brief, we find that there were massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio. In many cases these irregularities were caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio.
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House Dems to Contest Electoral Vote Count
A handful of House Democrats plan a long-shot effort to snarl President Bush's formal re-election by preventing Congress from counting Ohio's pivotal votes when lawmakers tally the electoral vote on Thursday.
No one expects the action to undo Bush's victory. Instead, it seems likely to do little more than call attention to Election Day voting irregularities, a growing frustration for Democrats who blamed similar problems in Florida for Bush's 2000 defeat of Democrat Al Gore.
In a measure of the dispute's political delicacy, proponents are considered unlikely to find a senator who will co-sign the objection, which is required to force Congress to act on the challenge. Most Democrats are reluctant to launch a serious effort to undo the election, in which Bush outpolled Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., by more than 3 million votes nationally.
Even so, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has sent letters to senators seeking their support for his plan to object to the counting of Ohio's 20 electoral votes, which gave Bush his November victory over Kerry. Some Ohio voters have complained of Election Day fraud, citing a shortage of voting machines at precincts with minority voters, unusually long lines and computer problems.
"I am hoping that you will consider joining us in this important effort to debate and highlight the problems in Ohio which disenfranchised innumerable voters," wrote Conyers, top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
The House Democrats' chief hope of finding a supportive senator may be Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Her spokesman, David Sandretti, said Tuesday that she has been asked to sign the complaint "and she is considering it."
Bush won the 2004 election by 286 to 252 electoral votes, with 270 required for victory. By law, the House and Senate will meet Thursday in joint session to tally the states' electoral votes.
Should a senator and House member formally challenge a state's results, the two chambers must meet separately and consider the objection. That scenario would still ensure Bush's re-election because both bodies are controlled by Republicans.
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Ohio Republican Secretary of State brags about delivering Ohio for Bush in gubernatorial fundraising letter
Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell boasted of helping “deliver” Ohio for President Bush and said he was “truly pleased” to announce Bush had won Ohio even before all of the state’s votes had been counted in his own fundraising letter, RAW STORY has discovered.
The letter, which was received by a Butler County resident Dec. 31, is a plea to support Blackwell’s campaign for governor. The resident has asked to remain anonymous.
In apparent disregard for his nonpartisan role as Ohio’s chief election official, the Republican Secretary and chairman of Bush’s Ohio reelection campaign slammed Senator Kerry as a “disaster” who would have reaped “terrible” and “horrible” results on both Ohio and the United States.
Further, Blackwell’s use of the word “deliver” finds striking resonance with another controversial fundraising letter sent by the CEO of voting machine manufacturer Diebold Walden O’Dell in the summer of 2003 when he said he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.”
Blackwell’s campaign office confirmed that they that sent the letter but offered no further comment.
(Continued with scan of letter available as well. . .)
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Bush Asks Judge to Toss Ohio Election Suit
COLUMBUS, Ohio - President Bush's re-election campaign asked the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court on Monday to throw out a challenge of the election in this swing state, saying the case resembles "a poorly drafted script for a late night conspiracy-theory movie."
The court filing was made as the Rev. Jesse Jackson held a rally before hundreds of people in Columbus to support the challenge and urge the U.S. Senate to debate Ohio's results on Thursday when Congress is in joint session for the official tally of the electoral votes.
Thirty-seven Ohio voters who filed the challenge are asking Chief Justice Thomas Moyer to set aside the election results. Some of the voters are suspicious of Bush's victory over Sen. John Kerry, while others say hours-long waits in heavily black neighborhoods caused voters to leave in frustration without casting a ballot.
"In 2000, if Al Gore had just held on and fought to the bitter end, he would have been president," said Mark Lomax, a black Columbus musician challenging the vote. "I kind of have the same feeling now — whether or not you like John Kerry, that's not the issue. It's just that your vote counts."
Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell said there's no reason to prolong the election.
"Jesse Jackson can complain, grandstand, whine, stamp his feet all he wants," said Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo. "It's not going to change the results of Ohio's election or how voters cast their ballots on Nov. 2."
The Bush campaign echoed those sentiments in the filing, saying the challenge falls "far short of a legitimate election contest."
It is not known when the chief justice might rule on the challenge.
Bob Fitrakis, one of the lawyers who filed the challenge, said that if Moyer's decision comes after the tally by Congress, it likely wouldn't have any effect on the outcome of the presidential election. But any ruling favorable to the challengers — regardless of when — would bolster their efforts to improve voting law, he said.
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Some national exit poll data leaked
Some national exit poll data from the presidential and other election races on Nov. 2 have been leaked online.
Others in prominent positions are in the process of vetting the data for any useful and/or relevant information, RAW STORY has learned. This site hopes to provide further context over the days to come, but for now the data can be viewed at Scoop.co.nz.
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US looking to 'rig' Iraqi elections???
Iraq's election body rejected a suggestion in Washington it adjust the results of next month's vote to benefit the Sunni minority if low turnout in Sunni areas means Shi'ites win an exaggerated majority in the new assembly.
Speaking of "unacceptable" interference, Electoral Commission spokesman Farid Ayar said: "Who wins, wins. That is the way it is. That is the way it will be in the election."
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Kerry moves to preserve Ohio recount evidence
On Monday afternoon, Kerry-Edwards' state counsel for Ohio filed a motion in to preserve evidence related to the state's presidential recount, RAW STORY has learned. Specifically, the motion seeks to preserve all ballots and voting machines for investigation and analysis, and to make a Triad Election Systems technician available for a sworn deposition. Triad had previously been accused of tampering with voting machines in Ohio.
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Ohio Recount Ends, Shows Votes Closer
Election officials finished the presidential recount in Ohio on Tuesday, with the final tally shaving a few hundred votes off President Bush's six-figure margin of victory in the state that gave him a second term.
The recount shows Bush winning Ohio by 118,457 votes over John Kerry, according to unofficial results provided to The Associated Press by the 88 counties. Lucas County, where Toledo is located, was the last to report its results Tuesday.
The state had earlier declared Bush the winner by 118,775 votes and planned to adjust its totals to reflect the recount later this week.
The Kerry campaign supported the recount, but said it did not expect the tally to change the election winner. Supporters of the recount, requested by two minor party candidates, said they wanted to make sure that every valid vote was counted.
Ohio and its 20 electoral votes tipped the race to Bush when Kerry conceded the morning after the vote.
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Ohio Official Refuses Interview Over Vote
Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell has requested a protective order to prevent him from being interviewed as part of an unusual court challenge of the presidential vote.
Blackwell, in a court filing, says he's not required to be interviewed by lawyers as a high-ranking public official, and accused the voters challenging the results of ``frivolous conduct'' and abusive and unnecessary requests of elections officials around the state.
Citing fraud, 37 people who voted for president Nov. 2 have challenged the election results with the Ohio Supreme Court. The voters refer to irregularities including long lines, a shortage of voting machines in minority precincts and problems with computer equipment.
President Bush defeated John Kerry by 119,000 votes, according to the official count by Blackwell. Ohio's 20 electoral votes gave Bush the 270 he needed for victory. Kerry conceded the morning after Election Day.
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Voting Problems in Ohio Spur Call for Overhaul
By JAMES DAO, FORD FESSENDEN and TOM ZELLER Jr.
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 22 - William Shambora, 53, is the kind of diligent voter who once assumed that his ballot always counted. He got a rude awakening this year.
Mr. Shambora, an economics professor at Ohio University, moved during the summer but failed to notify the Athens County Board of Elections until the day before the presidential election. An official told him to use a provisional ballot.
But under Ohio law, provisional ballots are valid only when cast from a voter's correct precinct. Mr. Shambora was given a ballot for the wrong precinct, a fact he did not learn until after the election. Two weeks later, the board discarded his vote, adding him to a list of more than 300 provisional ballots that were rejected in that heavily Democratic county.
"It seems like such a confused system," said Mr. Shambora, a John Kerry supporter who blames himself for the mistake. "Maybe if enough people's votes had counted, the election might have turned out differently."
From seven-hour lines that drove voters away to malfunctioning machines to poorly trained poll workers who directed people to the wrong polling places to uneven policies about the use of provisional ballots, Ohio has become this year's example for every ailment in the United States' electoral process.
With a state recount expected to be completed next week, few experts think the problems were enough to overturn President Bush's victory here. And many of the shortcomings have plagued elections for decades.
But with the 36-day Florida recount of 2000 proving that every vote counts and with the two major parties near parity, the electoral system is being scrutinized more closely than ever. Election lawyers and academics say Ohio is providing a roadmap to a second generation of issues about the way the nation votes.
Congressional passage of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 - which mandated the provisional ballot as a failsafe and provided states money to update voting technology - was considered a landmark overhaul that would help prevent another Florida.
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Video Supporting Ohio Vote Fraud Claim Revealed
Truthout has come into possession of video from Hocking County, Ohio. The video was recorded by a documentary film crew that was reporting on the Ohio election. The crew interviewed a technician from Triad Systems.
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Triad Systems Had Remote Access to Voting Machines
The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued a followup letter to the president of Triad Election Systems Thursday, noting that he had confirmed that Triad Election Systems had remote access to voting machines controlled by local Board of Elections. . .
(Continue to see scans of letter)
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Kerry to Enter Ohio Recount Fray
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Report
Thursday 23 December 2004
2004 Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry will file today, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, papers in support of the Green Party/Libertarian Party recount effort. Specifically, Kerry will be filing a request for expedited discovery regarding Triad Systems voting machines, as well as a motion for a preservation order to protect any and all discovery and preserve any evidence on this matter.
Triad Systems has come under scrutiny recently after Sherole Eaton, deputy director of elections for Hocking County, swore out an affidavit in which she described her witnessing the tampering of electronic voting equipment by a Triad representative. Rep. John Conyers, the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, has requested an investigation into this matter by the FBI and the Hocking County prosecutor.
Truthout will have more on this specific Triad allegation later in the day.
Previously, the Green Party and Libertarian Party have not fared well in their efforts to get emergency orders regarding this matter in Ohio. In order to pass muster with a judge, the individual or group requesting an emergency order for such a recount must show both irreparable harm as well as a substantial chance for success on the merits. While Green and Libertarian representatives have been able to show irreparable harm, they could not establish a substantial chance for success on the merits, because no recount would deliver Ohio to either party.
Kerry's entry into this recount effort changes the math on this matter dramatically. He can likewise show irreparable harm, and unlike the Green and Libertarian candidates, he can also prove a substantial chance for success on the merits because he lost the Ohio vote by a statistical whisker.
It should be noted that Kerry's filing of these requests does not indicate his complete entry into the recount process, but does clearly indicate that he is moving decisively in that direction. His previous stance on the matter was based simply on his desire to defend the right to have a recount in the first place. The evidence of election tampering in Ohio, specifically surrounding Triad, has motivated him to actively join the fight. The Democratic Party is also quietly putting financial resources into the Ohio recount effort.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of all this, from the activist point of view, has been the effectiveness of the telephone calls and letters to Kerry. The activist push to get him involved had a very significant effect on his decision to enter this effort. Likewise, calls to other Senators in order to convince them to join House members in challenging the election have likewise had significant effect. If such an effort continues, the activists involved will very likely see the desired result unfold.
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Conyers blasts election firm over "cheat sheets"
The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued a stinging letter to the president of Triad Election Systems Thursday, remarking that he had "more questions and concerns than ever" after viewing a tape of Triad's visit to the Hocking County Board of Elections Dec. 20.
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The Long Shadow of Jim Crow: Voter Intimidation and Suppression in America Today
A Report by PFAW Foundation and NAACP(Continued)
In a nation where children are taught in grade school that every citizen has the right to vote, it would be comforting to think that the last vestiges of voter intimidation, oppression and suppression were swept away by the passage and subsequent enforcement of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965. It would be good to know that voters are o longer turned away from the polls based on their race, never knowingly misdirected, misinformed, deceived or threatened.
Unfortunately, it would be a grave mistake to believe it.
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Ohio Vote Suppression Videos Show Numerous Issues
We have come across some amazing footage of various issues Ohio voters experienced on election day. This footage was provided by Free Speech Zone
Ohio Voter Suppression Videos
The following is the press release to accompany the videos:
GROUP RELEASES VIDEO FOOTAGE OF ‘JIM CROW LIKE’ CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN OHIO ON ELECTION DAY
An emerging coalition of civil rights, pro-democracy groups, and disenfranchised voters challenge US election’s legitimacy. Unprecedented Constitutional confrontation continues to escalate
View just released video footage here: http://oneblockover.net/dropbox/
A 25-minute video was made available to the press and public today that exposes the widespread civil rights abuses and voter disenfranchisement suffered by the African American community in Franklin County Ohio on Election Day. The footage was released by "We Do Not Concede" (www.donotconcede.com), a nonprofit grassroots organization created to unite and mobilize citizens whose voting right were suppressed, denied, or simply not counted.
"We hope this footage will serve as a wake up call to all Americans that the fundamental principles our country was founded upon like ‘democracy’ and ‘equal rights’ are being systematically dismantled by a small group of Republicans who are concerned with keeping power, not preserving liberty," said Zack Kaldveer, Communications Director, We Do Not Concede. "In America every vote must be accurately counted and equally valued, and that’s not what happened on November 2nd. We the people most definitely do not concede."
The video provides a first hand glimpse of an emerging civil rights scandal of historic proportions that will culminate in a "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" bus trip organized by We Do Not Concede, consisting of voters who are contesting the Ohio electorate, led by Rev. Bill Moss of Columbus Ohio. The buses will travel from Columbus to Washington DC on January 4th through the 6th. Rev. Jesse Jackson has pronounced Ohio's vote fraud fiasco "the biggest deal since Selma" and has called for a national rally at "the scene of the crime" in Columbus January 3rd.
"For the second Presidential election in a row African-American voters have been subjugated to the role of second class citizens through efforts by Republicans to suppress, intimidate, and disenfranchise our vote," said Rev. Bill Moss, original Contestant of Ohio Electors and founder of the Center for Freedom and Justice. "Whether its Katherine Harris or Kenneth Blackwell, the purpose is the same: do everything in their power to ensure George W. Bush becomes President. If they are willing and able to thwart democracy and abuse the civil rights of American voters right in the face of the press and public, what else are they capable of? I am contesting this election because tyranny, particularly in the guise of democracy, is our civic duty to fight."
The footage details what transpired in heavily leaning Democratic precincts throughout Franklin County on Election Day, including unexplained voting machine shortages, organized campaigns directing voters to the wrong polling places, malfunctioning voter tabulation equipment, election worker confusion and incompetence, and a host of other problems. However, as detailed in an official affidavit by Richard Hayes Phillips, a geomorphology Ph.D. from University of Oregon, the extent of voter disenfranchisement was systematic and widespread in African American precincts throughout the state. Dr. Phillips sworn testimony (http://web.northnet.org/minstrel/supreme.htm) read:
"It is my professional opinion that John Kerry's margins of victory were wrongly reduced by 22,000 votes in Cleveland, by 17,000 votes in Columbus, and by as many as 7,000 votes in Toledo. It is my further professional opinion that John Kerry's margins of defeat in Warren, Butler, and Clermont Counties were inflated by as many as 37,000 votes in the aggregate, and in Miami County by as many as 6,000 votes. There are still 92,672 uncounted regular ballots that, based upon the analysis set forth of the election results from Dayton and Cincinnati, may be expected to break for John Kerry by an overwhelming margin. And there are still 14,441 uncounted provisional ballots."
Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio’s Secretary of State, as was the case of Katherine Harris, Florida’s Secretary of State in 2000, simultaneously served as Bush’s campaign Co-Chair, raising serious conflict of interest issues. These concerns were only compounded by the fact that in each case, both Blackwell and Harris were accused of making decisions that seemingly twisted voting regulations to benefit the election of George W. Bush, and both stymied recount and investigation efforts seeking to determine the true will of the voters.
"We must not succumb to tyranny and rationalize that imperfection in voting irregularities and suppression tactics are reasonable expectations. They are not," said Butch Wing, Director, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Silicon Valley. "Too many world-changing events have hinged on one vote for us to be cavalier when thousands are systematically disenfranchised. This system of 50 separate and unequal state elections must give way to the fulfillment of the American promise, which requires an amendment to the Constitutional affirming the individual right to vote, federally protected, and an even playing field for all Americans."
Sworn testimonies submitted to Rep. John Conyers "voter forums" investigating the tens of thousands of complaints regarding the legitimacy of the election have brought to light mountains of evidence that point in one direction: Bush’s "victory" in Ohio is highly dubious, and therefore so too is his electoral college total and the established view that he should continue to serve as President. In fact, lawsuits filed by Ohio voters, Common Cause, the Alliance for Democracy, the ACLU, the Green Party, and the Libertarians have already protested the official results of Election Day.
Among the findings uncovered by Rep. Conyers investigation are (see detailed statistical analyses of Ohio anomalies at http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2004/1012):
- Fewer voting machines were available in low-income precincts, creating lines of up to 10 hours, people never received their absentee ballots, polling places were moved at the last minute, voters were sent to the wrong polling places, and many were illegally removed from voter lists and had to fill out provisional (that weren’t counted) ballots.
- Only four of the 77 precincts that were extremely crowded on Election Day due to voting machines being subtracted were Republican. While some voters waited in long lines to cast a ballot, the Franklin County elections board left 39 voting machines unused on Election Day.
- South Concord managed a 98.5% turnout heavily tilted toward Bush; but a Cleveland precinct that was heavily tilted toward Kerry managed just a 7.1% turnout.
- In Miami County 19,000 votes came in after all precincts had voted, with a 2:1 margin for Bush.
- Exit polls, specifically in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio were all wrong and outside of the margin of error. Statisticians say there is a 180-million-to-one chance for this sequence of exit polling disparities to have occurred.
- Election officials in Warren County alerted staff on the Thursday before the election that there would be a Homeland Security alert on Election Day — and then took the ballots to a warehouse for a secret count which resulted in a 14,000 vote increase for Bush from his 2000 total.
- Dr. Norman Robbins of Cleveland testified that over 10,000 voters in Cuyahoga County alone were disenfranchised by various means, and that nearly all were "youth, poor and minorities." In one Cleveland ward, he said, 51% of the provisional votes cast were thrown in the trash, virtually all of them from African-Americans.
- Votes seem to have been added to Bush’s total, or in many cases, taken away from Kerry and added to the totals of other Democratic candidates further down the ballot. C. Ellen Connally, an African-American candidate for Ohio Chief Justice, who was little known and outspent in the southern part of the state, received hundreds of thousands of more votes than Kerry.
Another major national demonstration will take place in Washington DC on January 6, as Congress ratifies the Electoral College.
Ohio Chief Justice Moyer Lays Groundwork for Suit's Dismissal
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer, a Republican who was re-elected on the same ballot as President George W. Bush Nov. 2 but has declined to recuse himself from a suit contesting the president's election, issued a motion and procedural ruling today that denies an expedited hearing in the case and lays out the framework by which he might dismiss the case. RAW STORY acquired the ruling Wednesday afternoon.
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Ohio: A Crime Against Democracy
By Stuart Comstock-Gay / Tom Paine
The Bush electors in Ohio have cast their votes, even though the bitterly contested ballots that allegedly gave them standing as electors have not been recounted. When asked, the mainstream media will admit that there were rampant problems with this election. But there's no juicy story for them to cover because they don't believe a recount would change the outcome of the election. Thus, they neglect what's happening in Ohio. Here Comstock-Gay explains why it matters. For the best of TomPaine.com's coverage of the problems with election 2004, click here.
Stuart Comstock-Gay is executive director of the National Voting Rights Institute.
Electoral votes have been submitted by all states and the national news media has moved on, but a test of U.S. voting rights continues in Ohio. After the Ohio delegation to the Electoral College cast its votes for President Bush last week, election officials in Ohio counties began the recount of votes cast in the election. Concerns about the integrity of the 2004 election continue to surface. Something's wrong with this picture.
We at the National Voting Rights Institute—on behalf of Green Party Candidate David Cobb and Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik—are providing legal representation in the recount effort. We also want to find out what went wrong. Because clearly things went wrong. And whether in the end they are serious enough to change the outcome of the election, they create a cloud over the elections of 2004.
Too many commentators continue to claim the recount effort is the result of bad losers. Some have even gone so far as to say that if the Republicans lost, there would be no recount—that Republicans “play fair.” In fact, concern about "fairness" is in part what is driving the recount. These commentators overlook the fact that this effort is not only about verifying the outcome of the vote. More importantly, it’s about ensuring accountability of a highly fallible elections process.
As long as any votes are miscounted, misplaced or misdirected, our elections cannot be said to be properly working. And with an electoral system that provides no consistency in how votes are counted—and some election officials hostile to a full accounting— there remains work to be done to restore voters' faith in the system.
What Went Wrong On Nov. 2
The number of complaints in Ohio numbers thousands upon thousands—lines into the hours at polling places; shortages of poll workers and machines; electronic voting machines that malfunctioned; voters being required to show identification even though they were not first-time mail-in registrants; erroneous purges of voters from the voter rolls; and voters who requested absentee ballots but never received them and were nevertheless barred from voting in person. In one precinct in Franklin County, Ohio, an electronic voting system gave George W. Bush 3,893 extra votes out of a total of 638 votes cast. In addition, approximately 93,000 ballots were not counted and Ohio election officials may have improperly disqualified thousands of 155,000 provisional ballots cast.
Now the problems are escalating. In Hocking County, Ohio, Deputy Elections Director Sherole Eaton describes a troubling incident on December 10, three days before the recount was to begin. An employee of the Tri Ad company came into the office to check out the tabulator and computer and prepare voting officials for the recount, so that “the count would come out perfect and we wouldn’t have to do a full hand recount of the county.” He asked which precincts would be recounted, and made sure to focus on them. Voting machine expert Doug Jones from the University of Iowa believes this threatens the integrity of the entire recount. Now Congressman John Conyers has asked the FBI to investigate this incident.
What’s Going Wrong With The Recount
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. With the recount underway, we learn that counties are handling the process in different ways, depending on the whims of county officials. Every county was instructed by the Secretary of State to do a recount of 3 percent of the votes, followed by a hand recount of every vote if there any discrepancy appears. Some counties, however, have said they would do their recounts by machine only, and not by hand. Some have made space for observers, and allowed them to review voting polls and other materials. Some counties have kept observers—whether from the Green Party, Libertarian Party, DNC or Republican Party—out of the counting rooms entirely.
And this only after some elections officials tried to stop the recount in its tracks. Delaware County sued NVRI, Cobb and Badnarik, seeking to stop the recount, even though the law was followed. He said the recount was too expensive and frivolous. Delaware County has finally decided to conduct a recount, but only after a series of hearings.
On January 5, Congress will receive the votes of the electoral college votes and the election—for all intents and purposes—will be considered concluded.
Meanwhile the Ohio recount will continue well into January. As of this writing, results are not in, but we expect full recounts in most counties.
It is shocking that the cherished right to vote, which should be a major issue in this country, has become an invisible one. Even in the Ukraine, there will be a new election because of widespread irregularities in the presidential election. As the Supreme Court stated over a century ago, the right to vote is "a fundamental political right, because preservative of all rights." Now, more than ever, we must fight for this right.
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Wrong John Kerry Gets NY Electoral Votes
WASHINGTON - Even John Q. Public knows the middle initial of losing presidential candidate John F. Kerry. But New York's 31 electoral college votes are currently on the books for some guy named John L. Kerry.
State officials acknowledged the mistake Tuesday after the official "certificate of vote" appeared on the Web site of the National Archives.
The document was sent to officials and archivists in Washington and Albany, N.Y., as well as to Columbia University in New York, before the error was spotted.
"The ballots were correct, but for some reason with this document when it was typed up, nobody caught it in the proofing, including myself," said Peter Constantakes, spokesman for the New York Department of State.
The state is now rushing corrected copies to those who received the document, he said.
Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry carried New York as the Democratic nominee for president, but lost the nationwide election to President Bush.
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How Democrats Enabled Republicans To Steal the 2004 Presidential Election
By J. F. Miglio
Since the presidential election, there have been hundreds, perhaps thousands, of stories on the Internet (and even a few in the mainstream news media) about voter fraud and how easily the 2004 presidential election could have been rigged by the Bush Administration and their corporate allies, Diebold and ES & S, the companies in charge of counting a majority of all the votes in American today.
What isn't being discussed, however, is the Democratic Party's complicity in this year's presidential election farce. If you recall, after the 2000 presidential election, Democrats claimed they were madder than hell about voter fraud, reiterating ad infinitum how the Supreme Court "stole" the election from Al Gore and vowed it would never happen again.
Given their level of anger and righteous indignation, most Americans who voted against George W. Bush assumed that as soon as he slithered into the oval office, the leaders of the Democratic Party would rush to their desks to write legislation that would remedy the problem of voter fraud-- once and for all.
In addition, the anti-Bush crowd believed that once Democratic leaders wrote the legislation, that if the Republicans in Congress tried to block it, the Democratic leaders would immediately call press conferences, make the rounds on all the news shows, and proclaim to the American public in the boldest way possible how the Bush Administration was trying to block legislation that mandated open and honest elections with fail safe back up systems and paper trails to verify each vote.
Unfortunately, this never happened. Instead, most Democrats (including John Kerry) got sidetracked by 9/11 and the war in Iraq, allowed two years to pass, and then let the Republicans seize the initiative. How? By allowing the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), a lobbying group representing technology firms like Diebold and ES & S, to push legislation through Congress favorable to their interests. As a result, a bill was written called the Help Americans Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.
Ostensibly, the bill was a bipartisan piece of legislation that was supposed to ameliorate the punch card voting problems that had plagued the 2000 presidential election by using touch screen vote counting machines. In addition, it was supposed to make the entire voting process fairer and more transparent.
The bill was written by two Republicans, Mitch McConnell and Robert W. Ney (of Ohio-- surprise, surprise!), and two Democrats, Steny Hoyer and Chris Dodd (a "Golden Leash" award-winner for taking special interest money), and it passed overwhelmingly in both houses of Congress, receiving praise from Democrats and Republicans alike. Steny Hoyer even went as far as to refer to HAVA as "the first Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century."
Incredible as it seems, the legislation did nothing to restrict the pervasive control and partisan influence that Diebold and ES & S lorded over the election process, nor did it use language precise enough to mandate that any company that manufactured electronic vote counting machines had to produce a paper trail to verify the authenticity of voter selections.
In essence, HAVA was a complete sham, an extraordinary giveaway to the Republicans, and Diebold and ES & S got exactly they wanted: carte blanche to sell their paperless, touch screen voting machines all over the country. And as soon the Congress shelled out $3.8 billion to state governments for the acquisition of new touch screen voting machines that replaced the old punch card ballots, Diebold and ES & S were there to cash in-- big time!
Once the Democrats realized what a monumental mistake they had made with HAVA, they tried to rectify it. Bob Graham and Rush Holt wrote the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003, which would have mandated a paper trail for all electronic voting machines. In addition, Hillary Clinton wrote her own bill (although weaker than the Graham-Holt bill) asking for better vote counting procedures. Naturally, both bills were stalled out in committee, and they had no chance of passage before the 2004 election.
And here's the kicker: After the aforementioned bills were presented to Congress, both Chris Dodd and Steny Hoyer, the Democrats who co-wrote the HAVA legislation, opposed the two pieces of legislation introduced by their fellow Democrats that would have given it more teeth.
Now let's do a little critical thinking and ask some obvious questions:
1) Why did Chris Dodd and Steny Hoyer go against their fellow Democrats who proposed legislation that would have strengthened the bill and made it more difficult for companies like Diebold and ES & S to do business? Could it be that they received campaign contributions from ITAA?
2) Why did so many Democrats sign on to the bill in the first place, knowing it did nothing to diminish the pervasive influence of Diebold and ES & S? Didn't they know that both these companies received financial backing from billionaire Howard Ahmanson, an ultra right-wing financier who, over the past several years, has contributed millions of dollars to fundamentalist Christian organizations, the Heritage Foundation, and other right-wing groups in tight with George W. Bush?3) Is it possible that many Democrats were simply unaware of Diebold, ES & S and Ahmanson? Possible, but if they weren't aware, they should have been, because ever since the 1990s, there were numerous reports about their influence on elections, including a nice little piece in 1996 when Republican Chuck Hagel, who at the time had a major financial interest in ES &S, ran for the U.S. Senate and won "stunning upsets" in both the primaries and the general election.
4) In case Democrats missed that news item, were they also dozing through the 2002 mid-term elections when fellow Democrats, including the enormously popular Max Cleland of Georgia, were losing Congressional elections across the country in which Democrats were ahead by wide margins in the polls, only to lose in "amazing upsets" at the end of the race?
5) Were Democrats also unaware that the word was out that the mid-term Congressional elections were a "trial run" for the upcoming presidential election? And if Diebold and ES & S machines were successful at "counting the votes" to assure Republican victories during the mid-term elections, wouldn't it be logical to assume they would also be successful at counting the votes for Bush in the presidential election?
Finally, if the Democrats knew the answers to these questions, or at least to some of them, then it follows that the DNC and John Kerry knew all along they were entering an election that would be decided not by American voters, but by individuals in charge of counting the votes and individuals in charge of reporting the results of the votes, i.e., Diebold, ES & S, and the corporate-controlled mainstream news media.
Which explains why Kerry threw in the towel so quickly after the election, and why mainstream Democrats didn't challenge the results. The $64,000 question is, if Kerry knew the election was stacked against him from the beginning, why did he bother to run?
This is where it gets really dark and depressing. Go back to the Democratic primary when Howard Dean, the man who said, "I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," was ascending faster than a Roman candle at a Fourth of July celebration. Then ask yourself this question: Who torpedoed his candidacy?
Not the Republicans. No, it was the DNC and their friends in the media. And why did the DNC and their friends in the media destroy Howard Dean? Because Dean was portraying himself as a populist who was trying to change the system and make it more equitable for average Americans, an anathema to the financial backers of the Democratic Party, i.e., all the large corporations and special interests that also donate millions to the Republican Party.
And once Dean was destroyed, the Democratic Party power brokers knew they couldn't lose. They knew Kucinich and Sharpton, two other populists, had no chance to win, and the rest of the candidates were all mainstream Democrats who knew their place and would be loyal to the Big Business interests of the party.
But getting back to the question of why Kerry bothered to run if he knew the deck was stacked against him. This is where its gets even darker and more depressing.
Given the pervasive power of Diebold and ES & S over vote counting procedures, Hillary Clinton knew she couldn't win, so she passed on running for president in 2004, perhaps positioning herself for 2008-- if she can do something about the voting counting process in the meantime, that is!
This left the field wide open for everyone else, namely, all the second shelf candidates who were at best long shots. With Dean gone, Kerry emerged as the presumptive candidate, but he knew, given the vote counting situation, there was only one way for him to win the general election: He had to prove to the financial backers of both political parties, as well as the mega-corporations that own the mainstream media, that he would not change the system; he would only fine tune it and do a better job than their boy Bush.
Of course he knew it was a long shot, since Bush was already the consummate stooge for Big Business and the poster boy for the unholy alliance between born-again Christians and conservative Jews. But, if he could show that Bush was just too damn incompetent and dangerous to run the country in an age of terrorism, maybe, just maybe, they would shift their allegiance to him.
But, to quote the right-wing pundits, "Kerry never made his case." In other words, the power brokers decided to stick with Bush, and they tweaked the election in his favor rather than Kerry's.
This explains why the mainstream news media is doing their best to ignore the election fraud story while at the same time underscoring the Republican proposal to get rid of exit polls, traditionally the most accurate polls, and the best deterrent against election fraud caused by easily hacked computerized vote counting machines. It also explains why Kerry accepted his defeat with humility-- the same way Al Gore did-- and didn't bother to put up a fight.
As it turns out, Ralph Nader was right all along: A vote for Kerry was just a vote for the same corrupt corporate system that supports both parties. And listen up, all you Democrats and Progressives who derided Ralph Nader. You owe him a public apology! He stuck to his principles and never caved in to all his friends and admirers who begged him to drop out. He was too wise for that. He had been fighting the system for too long to be suckered by Democratic Party propaganda.
In fact, he tried to tell everyone that the Democrats and Republicans were part of the same hypocrisy; part of the same corrupt system, but no one was listening. "Anyone but Bush!" was the clarion call from Democrats and Progressives alike. "Please, Ralph, don't spoil it for us like you did in the last election! Step aside!"
But Nader knew in his heart that he wasn't the one who caused Al Gore to lose the last election, any more than he would be the one to cause John Kerry to lose this one. Indeed, St. Ralph knew the truth: the fix for the presidential election was in from the very beginning.
The Democratic insiders knew it too; so did the Republicans. The only ones who didn't know it were all the well-intentioned chumps who stood in line on Election Day, idealistically believing their votes really did make a difference.
For their sake, I hope I'm wrong about all this. I hope John Kerry surprises me and comes charging into the news arena on a white horse, kicking up dust, exposing the election as a fraud, and demanding Bush's head on a spear. It would make a great end to a movie or a novel. As Hemingway said in the last line of The Sun Also Rises: "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
- The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HTML) (PDF)
- Information Technology Association of America
- Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act
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Michigan Congressman Seeks Exit Poll Data
By SETH SUTEL, AP Business Writer
NEW YORK - The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee (news - web sites) has asked The Associated Press and five broadcast networks to turn over raw exit poll data collected on Election Day so that any discrepancies between the data and the certified election results can be investigated.
Rep. John Conyers (news, bio, voting record) Jr. of Michigan said in a letter released Tuesday in Washington that the polling firms that conducted the polls on behalf of the news organizations, Mitofsky International and Edison Media Research, had declined to share the information with the committee.
"Without the raw data, the committee will be severely handicapped in its efforts to show the need for serious election reform in the United States," Conyers said in the letter.
The AP and the five television outlets — ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox — formed a consortium called the National Election Pool to conduct exit polls for this year's election after disbanding a previous exit poll group called the Voter News Service, which had problems in both the 2000 and 2002 elections.
Edie Emery, a spokeswoman for the National Election Pool and a CNN employee, said the poll data were still being analyzed and that the group's board would decide how to release a full report on the data early next year. "To release any information now would be incomplete," she said.
Several Web logs carried accounts on the afternoon of Nov. 2 of what they said were leaked information from the exit polls showing that Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, was leading Bush in several battleground states, including Ohio, and poised for victory.
But Bush, a Republican, beat Kerry by about 119,000 votes in Ohio, winning that state's 20 electoral votes and putting him over the top in the race. Bush won re-election with 286 electoral votes to Kerry's 252.
Conyers' letter said the exit poll information could help determine whether there is evidence "of voting irregularities that occurred as a result of poor election practices and intentional voter disenfranchisement."
The exit polling was conducted for the AP and for ABC, a unit of The Walt Disney Co.; CBS, a unit of Viacom Inc.; NBC, a unit of General Electric Co.; CNN, a unit of Time Warner Inc.; and Fox News, owned by News Corp.
"Like Congressman Conyers, we believe the American people deserve answers," said Jack Stokes, a spokesman for the AP. "We want exit polling information to be made public as soon as it is available, as we intended. At this time, the data is still being evaluated for a final report to the National Election Pool."
Officials from ABC and NBC referred calls for comment to the National Election Pool, where CNN's Emery responded for the group. A CBS spokeswoman declined to comment, and officials at Fox could not be reached.
Earlier this month Kerry asked county election officials in Ohio to allow his witnesses to inspect the 92,000 ballots cast in the state in which no vote for president was recorded.
Despite improvements since 2000, when the presidential outcome was delayed for weeks by problems counting ballots in Florida, the nation's voting system remains a locally administered patchwork whose lack of national uniformity distinguishes the United States from many other democracies.
Most complaints have come from Democrats and third-party candidates, but Republicans and bipartisan groups have acknowledged problems. The Government Accountability Office is investigating election problems. Rep. Bob Ney (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio and chairman of the House Administration Committee, will oversee an inquiry next year.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, created in 2002, is also scrutinizing the outcome. It plans to publish in January the government's first report on the voting, which will serve as the basis for congressional recommendations and reforms.
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Presidential Election 2004: Interview of Rep. Conyers on Ohio Election
By Tim Grieve, Salon.com
Rep. John Conyers isn't ready to declare the election stolen, but he'll continue to dig into the droves of complaints - and fight to fix the broken U.S. election system.
For those who believe that the 2004 election was stolen by George W. Bush, Karl Rove and an unholy alliance of party operatives and voting-machine impresarios, a 75-year-old Democratic congressman from Detroit has emerged as the last best hope for American democracy. Almost alone in official Washington, Rep. John Conyers has insisted that the nation understand - and then correct - the problems that plagued the 2004 vote.
With little attention from the media and little support even from members of his own party, Conyers has launched his own probe of the 2004 election. His early conclusion: There may not have been an active conspiracy to suppress the vote and steal the election, but all those problems in Ohio - the long lines in Democratic precincts, the voting machines that may have switched votes, the suspicious actions of a voting-machine company representative, the trumped-up concerns about terrorism in Warren County, the Republican-friendly rulings by the state election official who also happened to chair the Bush-Cheney campaign - well, those things didn't all happen by accident, either.
"You know, orchestrated attempts don't always require a conspiracy," Conyers told Salon on Monday. Conyers said that Bush's supporters in Ohio may have worked to suppress the vote based on cues rather than orders from party officials. "People get the drift from other elections and the way [campaign leaders] talk about how they're going to win the election."
Conyers isn't looking to overturn the election, and he won't say that the Republicans stole it; coming from a member of Congress, such an allegation would be "reckless," he said. But neither is he willing to put the election of 2004 behind him yet. This is the second presidential election in a row in which Republicans have succeeded in suppressing the vote, Conyers said, and he wants to ensure that the system is changed so that it won't happen again. He'll continue his investigation, he'll join the Rev. Jesse Jackson in a protest rally in Ohio on Jan. 3, and when the new Congress meets in January he'll push for further investigation and reform.
Conyers spoke with Salon by phone from Detroit.
Your first public forum on the 2004 election was called "Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio?" Do you know the answer to that question yet?
Well, dozens and dozens of things went wrong. It depends on what part of the state we're going to examine. In Hocking County, a private company accessed an election machine and altered and tampered with it in the absence of election observers. It disturbed a deputy chair of the election in the county so much that she has given a sworn affidavit that has been turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and we're in the process of running that down. But what about in Cleveland, Ohio? There, thousands of people claimed that their vote for Kerry was turned into a vote for Bush. Poll workers made mistakes that might have cost thousands of votes in Cleveland. And in Youngstown, machines turned an undetermined number of Kerry votes into Bush votes as well. Provisional ballots were thrown out. There were several conflicting rules. There was mass confusion. In Warren County, they talked about [the possibility that] terrorism might close down the election. I mean, please.
What we're doing, understand, is we're collecting the complaints, the grievances, the outrages, the indignities that people suffered, and then we've got to process them to find out what is valid and what needs to be further examined and what needs to be tossed out. It's not like every complaint is one that has to be counted. What we're trying to do is make the system better.
Do you believe that there was an orchestrated attempt to steal the election?
Well, you know, orchestrated attempts don't always require a conspiracy. People get the drift from other elections and the way [campaign leaders] talk about how they're going to win the election. When you have the exit-polling information discrepancies that occurred in 2004, where the odds of all the swing states coming in so much stronger for Bush than the exit polls indicated - they say that that is, statistically, almost an improbability.
[People] are saying, "No, no, no, that doesn't mean much." But it means a lot. It feeds this growing, [but] not provable feeling among millions of Americans that this was another unfair election.
Do you have that feeling?
Sure, I have a feeling that whenever we can come across ways to make elections fairer or work better or improve the process or simplify the regulations or make voting more available to people who have language problems or disabilities, we have a responsibility to do it. We're trying to improve the system. I'm not trying to attack the outcome. What we need is a system where there are only a few of the kinds of the tens of thousands of complaints that we already have.
Do you believe the outcome of the election would have been different if it had been conducted more fairly?
I have no way of saying that because this gets into conjecture. I make one conjecture and somebody else makes a counter conjecture, and where are we? We're all, "This is what I think." I'm not as concerned about what I think as I am about what people told me went wrong on Election Day that we in Congress, especially the Judiciary Committee, have the responsibility to correct.
But is there any real chance that anything will be corrected? The entire nation was focused on the problems with the electoral system in 2000, yet very little seems to have changed. If meaningful reform didn't come then, how can anyone expect it to come now?
I thought that the Help America Vote Act would improve things dramatically. And although it helped in places, the provisional ballot [process] was misinterpreted. We couldn't get all these private companies to come up with a paper trail on their machines. And with the precinct machines, there was quite a disparity in the conservative counties in Ohio as opposed to the Democratic areas where there were only a few machines.
Republican precincts had plenty of machines, and people could vote quickly.
Instantly, yeah. And we had people waiting for hours only miles away.
So what comes of all of this?
First, we've got to collect the complaints. Second, we've got to investigate them and bring forward the ones we're willing to stand by. And then we have to examine how we correct them. There needs to be, generally stated, more federal regulation over presidential elections. There are just way too many differences, from not only state to state but also county to county.
So far, which complaints are you willing to "stand by"?
It's not a matter of my claiming ownership over the complaints. I'm just doing my job. If all of them are valid, that's what I'm going to present. If half of them are valid, that's what I'm going to present. I'm not going forward with complaints that don't reach the level of believability or credibility.
The complaints you've described in this interview - do they meet that level of believability and credibility?
Oh yes, and plenty more reach that level. So we've got a problem. Many people in the media are saying, "Look, the election's over, and yes, we had problems." It's like many people are just taking this. Then we have the hundreds of thousands of people who are outraged and supportive of me for carrying on and trying to make sure we get to the bottom of all these grievances that have been brought forward.
We've received e-mails from hundreds of those people, and many of them seem certain that the election was stolen, or at least that the outcome would have been different if the election had been more fair.
But you're not there yet.
Well, no, that's not why I'm doing this. I'm not trying to get there. I'm trying to do the kind of job that people will say, "I think the congressman and those working with him are going about this in a fairly impartial, effective manner" - and not that they're coming in as thieves trying to upset the election result. To me, that would not be what I'm in Congress to do. I mean, I would be doing this if it were just the reverse. A fair election process applies to everybody - Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals alike.
Four years ago, when it came time for Congress to certify the election results, a number of House members rose to protest the certification of the Bush electors from Florida. Not a single member of the Senate joined them. Do you expect the same thing to happen this time around?
No, I think the Senate is going to go along with an inquiry this time. I don't think they would embarrass themselves to let this happen two times in a row.
Has any senator said to you that he or she will call for an inquiry?
No, I haven't talked with a single one. I'm not citing somebody who I know is going to do it. I'm not aware of anyone. I just don't think the Senate would get caught in that position.
You haven't exactly enjoyed a groundswell of support from other members of Congress. Are there Democrats in Congress who support what you're doing but won't come forward and say so publicly?
Well, there are Republicans who support what I'm doing who haven't been willing to come forward. Look, calling for fair elections is not the most radical thing in the world. We're not positing some revolutionary theory here. We're asking that the people who complained be given a fair hearing.
Have any Republicans actually told you that they support your efforts?
I'd rather not comment on that.
Are you surprised that none of them have said so publicly?
No, not really. If you had a majority leader like theirs, you'd probably think twice about it yourself.
What about the Democratic leadership? Harry Reid, the new Senate minority leader, says he'd rather dance with Bush than fight him. Should the problems in Ohio change the way Democrats in Congress think about accommodating Bush in his second term?
Well, I'm not sure how much accommodation is going to happen. I listen to Bush talking about "reaching out," which he talked about the first time, and we had the most divided federal system in memory. And now those kinds of phrases are being tossed about during the Christmas holiday again. Please. I don't put much stock in it.
Bush billed himself as a "uniter, not a divider."
I keep reminding myself of what he said. He sure didn't unite anybody I knew of.
And what about John Kerry? Have you spoken with him about your investigation?
His lawyer was in Columbus for our hearing there last week. And he has also, at the same time, asked for a full recount in Delaware County [Ohio].
Has the Kerry campaign done enough? A lot of Democrats think Kerry conceded too soon.
It's easy to be in an armchair somewhere saying, "You've got to do this; you've got to do that." He had more in his control. And besides, he's the candidate. I wish he'd listened to me more, and everybody wishes that the guy they voted for would listen to them more. But he's the master of his ship.
When you say that you wish Kerry had listened to you more, do you mean during the campaign or in the days after the election?
During the campaign and after.
What do you wish he were doing now?
I don't want to go into all of this "shoulda, coulda, woulda." I think it takes our focus off the fact that we had far too many grievances and misfires in this election that have to be corrected.
But you don't believe that those problems were the result of a concerted effort by the Republican Party or the Bush-Cheney campaign? You think people who wanted to see the president reelected just got the message somehow that they were supposed to do the things they did?
People didn't have to get a message. If you use questionable tactics and generally attempt to suppress the vote - that's what the Republicans' strategies were all about: "How do we limit the vote?" Because the more people who voted, the more imperiled they felt they would be. And from that kind of an assumption, you can get a whole lot of activities that might not meet the smell test.
Because people on the ground understand the overall strategy and then take it upon themselves to engage in whatever conduct they think will help?
That's what frequently happens, and usually does.
Do you believe that Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell did that? Do you think he acted with the intent to suppress the vote?
I know that Kenneth Blackwell made some decisions that were blatant and outrageous for a secretary of state. How he felt that his head was big enough to be chairman of the "Re-elect Bush" committee and also head of the administration of the electoral vote for the president in that same state was beyond me.
Is that the sort of issue that you hope to address through legislative reform?
Oh, good night, yeah. There are very few people who did what he did.
Do you think you'll ever be able to prove that there was a coordinated effort to steal the election?
We're not trying to prove that. This is what we're discussing: We're trying to improve the situation wherever we can to make a better voting system in the states.
But a lot of the people who support your efforts desperately want you to prove that there was a conspiracy. If the e-mails we get are any indication, a lot of them believe that the existence of a conspiracy has already been proven.
Well, you know, a citizen's point of view may be different from a federal lawmaker's point of view. The citizens are entitled to form their own opinions. They can assert that easily. A member of Congress, the ranking member of Judiciary ... I can't make those assertions without proof. That would be reckless.
So you don't make them.
No, I don't.
What do you do?
We pass laws. We make laws and we try to correct the system through the legislative process.
And what conclusions have you reached about how the system can be fixed?
Everyone is beginning to reexamine the appropriateness of the Electoral College. We realize that provisional balloting needs to be streamlined and simplified. We know that there should be paper trails in computers. We're beginning to wonder if we haven't privatized the electoral system so that the computer tabulators can do more and know more than the electoral commissions of the counties themselves.
In the meantime, what do you say to all of the people who believe in their hearts that our democracy is broken and that the election was stolen?
I ask and invite everybody to turn in any evidence that they want that helps proves whatever position they believe, or even a position they don't believe. But this isn't a hunch and suspicion game. This is very serious business. Either there were defects so numerous and so plentiful that we had a faulty election, or we had an election that had these defects [but they didn't alter the outcome of the election]. And as we go forward with trying to improve the process, my whole objective is not to change the election result but to try to improve the process itself.
Tim Grieve is a senior writer for Salon based in San Francisco.