The Grim Future (?)
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Election lawsuit gathering steam in mainstream media

While the outcome of the 2004 presidential election is all but in the history books, an interesting new chapter is being written right now in Ohio, the state that cemented George W. Bush’s electoral college victory.

A lawsuit filed there Monday challenges Bush’s victory in the state, alleging that a long list of irregularities, including intentional vote suppression in Democratic precincts and outright manipulation of vote totals in some locations, combined to steal the Ohio election and the presidency from Democratic candidate John Kerry. While Kerry isn’t behind the lawsuit, his campaign has become more vocal in recent weeks in pushing for answers about what actually happened in Ohio on Nov. 2. and is now funding some legal work there.

Questions about the vote in Ohio and elsewhere have been rampant on the Internet ever since Nov. 2, but the mainstream media has been slow to pick up on this developing story— until this week.

The lawsuit certainly has attracted media interest, as has an ongoing investigation into the situation, led by Democratic congressman John Conyers. Conyers began hearings this week in Ohio and already those hearings have produced very disturbing revelations about potential vote fraud. One of the most electrifying comes from an affidavit filed Dec. 13 by the deputy director of elections in Hocking County, Ohio. The official, Sherole Eaton, claims that a technician from the company that was hired to help tabulate returns from electronic voting machines, entered county offices on Dec. 10 under the guise of answering legal questions in advance of a partial hand recount of certain precincts, as requested by the Libertarian and Green Party presidential candidates in Ohio.

Instead, the individual told election staff that there was a problem with their main tabulation computer and he began dismantling the machine, while making several calls to his head office for programming instructions. He also asked local election officials which precincts would be recounted and appeared to make programming changes based on that information. The technician later provided election officials with what he called “a cheat sheet” that they could use to make sure their numbers matched during the recount.

The company, Triad Systems, involved in the alleged incident has sought to provide similar “assistance” in more than a dozen Ohio counties where it contracts for services. The head officials with the company, incidentally, are major Republican donors, although they’ve denied wrongdoing.

Conyers is seeking an FBI investigation into the incident, which for the first time suggests that private firms involved in vote counting in Ohio and elsewhere may have actually rigged machines.

Questions about that possibility have lingered for weeks, especially since the vote totals reported in Ohio and other states never matched up with exit poll results. Differences between exit polls and reported vote totals were the main justification for apparently valid charges that the recent election in Ukraine was rigged by the party in power there.

But in this country, similar discrepancies have been largely waved off as irrelevant by most major media. Conyers, as part of his investigation, has asked the firm that oversees the exit poll data for the major networks to release all of their raw data for independent analysis.

The questions about Ohio have only been exacerbated by the reaction of that state’s Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who, like Katherine Harris in Florida four years ago, headed Bush’s re-election effort in Ohio. Blackwell has stonewalled Conyers’ investigation and has failed to respond to inquiries from Kerry campaign lawyers. Blackwell may have also violated Ohio law last week when he ordered that voting records in one Ohio county be locked down, preventing citizen investigators from examining them. Ohio law is explicit that such records are open to public inspection.

Another Ohio County, Warren County, near Cinncinnati, locked down all of its information starting election night. Unlike other election counts, which take place in the open, Warren County officials banned all members of the public and media from witnessing their vote-counting, purportedly under order from the Dept. of Homeland Security. Warren County provided Bush with a huge margin of victory, contributing about a third of Bush’s total margin in the state. The fact that those results have yet to be accounted for publicly has left plenty of legitimate questions out there.

One other major issue is the well-documented discrepancy between the number of voting machines available in Democratic precincts in Ohio versus the number in Republican areas. Voters in many Democratic strongholds were forced to wait in line for many hours to vote, while most Republican precincts had an abundance of voting machines and little waiting. Whether the discrepancy was intentional or not, the effect is almost undeniable— lost votes for Kerry. And on that score, Democrats must share some of the blame. The party poured millions into Ohio in efforts to prevent voter disenfranchisement and yet they apparently paid little attention to the distribution of voting machines. Democrats, it seems, continue to overlook the fundamentals of the voting process. The Republicans don’t make that mistake— which is one reason they keep leaving the Democrats in the electoral dust.

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