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.
Read more. . . (off site)
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.
Read more. . . (off site)
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.
Read more. . . (off site)
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.
Read more. . . (off site)
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.
Read more. . . (off site)
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.
Read more. . . (off site)
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.
Read more. . . (off site)
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.
Read more. . . (off site)
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. . .)
Read more. . . (off site)
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.
Read more. . . (off site)
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.
Read more. . . (off site)