Ohio: None dare call it voter suppression and fraud


Richard Moore

From: "Global Network" <•••@••.•••>
To: "Global Network Against Weapons" <•••@••.•••>
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2004 15:58:32 -0500


None dare call it voter suppression and fraud
November 7, 2004
Columbus Free Press (Ohio)

Evidence is mounting that the 2004 presidential election was
stolen in Ohio. Emerging revelations of voting irregularities
coupled with well-documented Republican efforts at voter
suppression prior to the election suggests that in a fair
election Kerry would have won Ohio.

Democratic hopeful Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts
conceded on November 3, based on preliminary postings by the
highly partisan Republican Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth
Blackwell. These unofficial results showed Bush with 136,483
more votes than Kerry, although 155,428 provisional ballots,
92,672 "spoiled" ballots, additional overseas ballots, and
some remaining absentee ballots remained uncounted.

The day after his concession, Kerry drew 3,893 votes closer to
Bush when a computerized voting machine "glitch" was
discovered in an Ohio precinct. A machine in ward 1B in the
predominantly Republican Gahanna, Ohio, recorded 4,258 votes
for George W. Bush when only 638 people cast votes at the New
Life Church polling site. Buried on page A6 of the Columbus
Dispatch, the story also reported that the voting machine
recorded 0 votes in a race between Franklin County
Commissioners Arlene Shoemaker and Paula Brooks. Franklin
County Board of Elections Director Matt Damschroder told the
Dispatch that the voting machine glitches were "why the
results on election night are unofficial."

The right-wing New Life Church voting glitch is interesting.
Free Press reporter Marley Greiner has been tracking
Blackwell's relationship with far right-wing religious forces
like Biblical America and Christian dominionist groups that
want to establish theocratic religious rule in America.
Blackwell was campaigning around the state with the Reverend
Rod Parsley as part of a "Silent No More" tour in support of
amending the Ohio Constitution to outlaw gay marriage, on the
ballot as Issue One. Many mainstream commentators claim it was
the widely popular Issue One amendment campaign that brought
out Bush voters in record numbers in rural Ohio. Gay marriage
was already outlawed by state statute, and six of the seven
Ohio Supreme Court justices are Republicans.

The nonpartisan Citizen's Alliance for Secure Elections (CASE)
is investigating various other voting irregularities in Ohio,
among them:

In Auglaize County, a letter dated October 21 under the
signature of Ken Nuss, the county's former deputy director,
alleges that Joe McGinnis, a former employee of Election
Systems & Software (ES&S), violated election protocol with his
unauthorized use of the county's central tabulating computer
that creates ballots and compiles election results. Nuss, who
resigned on October 21, alleges that McGinnis was improperly
granted access to the computer the weekend of October 16.

In Miami County, with 100% of the precincts reporting at 9am
EST Wednesday, Nov. 3, Bush had 20,807 votes (65.80%) and
Kerry had 10,724 (33.92%). Miami reported 31,620 voters.
Inexplicably, nearly 19,000 new ballots were added after all
precincts reported, boosting Bush's vote to 33,039 (65.77%) to
Kerry's 17,039 (33.92%). CASE is investigating why the
percentage of the vote stayed exactly the same to three
one-hundredths of a percentage point after nearly 19,000 new
ballots were added. CASE members speculate that it's either a
long-shot coincidence with the last three digits remaining the
same, or that someone had pre-set a database and programmed a
voting machine to cough up a pre-set percentage of votes.
Miami County uses an easily hackable optical scanner with the
central counter provided by the Republican-linked vendor ES&S.

In Warren County, administrators and election officials locked
down the county administrative building and prohibited all
independent election observers from watching the vote count.
County officials cited "homeland security," according to the
Cincinnati Enquirer. WCPO-TV Channel 9 News Director Bob
Morford told the Enquirer that he had "never seen anything
like it." Morford asserted that throwing the media and
independent observers out of the centralized counting area
under the guise of "homeland security" was a "red herring." He
said, "That's something to put up when you don't know what
else to put up to keep us out." In Warren County, Bush picked
up an additional 12,000 votes over his 2000 election total.

In Franklin County, where Franklin County Board of Elections
Director Matt Damschroder is also the former Executive
Director of the county's Republican Party, the county Board of
Elections building looked like a bunker. Scores of city buses
blocked parking spaces on the street outside, numerous
concrete barricades surrounded the parking lot, and a metal
detector was stationed at the only entrance. A phalanx of
armed deputy sheriffs swarmed the only site where provisional
voters could cast a guaranteed ballot. The Columbus Dispatch
confirmed an Election Day Free Press story that far fewer
voting machines were present in predominantly black Democratic
inner-city voting wards than in the recent primary election
and the 2000 presidential election, with their lighter
turnouts. The reduced number of machines caused voters to wait
up to seven hours and wait an average of approximately three
hours. One Republican Central Committee member told the Free
Press that Damschroder held back as many as 2000 machines and
dispersed many of the other machines to affluent suburbs in
Franklin County.

In rural Drake County, Kerry received 78 less votes than Al
Gore in 2000, but Bush received 3000 more votes. Drake is the
only county in Miami Valley where Kerry's votes was less than
Gore's and where Bush's vote rose dramatically.

Prior to the discovery of these irregularities, investigative
reporter Greg Palast, who exposed the systematic
disenfranchisement of Democratic voters in Florida in 2004,
wrote an article entitled, "Kerry won." Palast and numerous
other observers point to the fact that the exit polls showed
Kerry winning. Palast concludes that the exit polls were
correct, but Kerry votes were far more likely to remain
uncounted on election night.

Unofficial Ohio presidential results provided by the Secretary
of State's Office show 155,428 provisional ballots cast.
Blackwell was all over the national news telling everyone who
would listen that these ballots were randomly distributed and
not disproportionately for Kerry. As former New York Mayor
Rudolph Giuliani raved on national TV demanding Kerry's
concession, a basic analysis of the provisional ballots
suggested that they were disproportionately for Kerry.

Historically, provisional ballots are far more likely to be
cast by poor and minority voters, who live in the urban
centers and move more often. Ohio has 88 counties, the vast
majority of them rural. Kerry won 15 counties in Ohio,
virtually all large urban centers. In those counties, 85,096
provisional ballots remain uncounted. Past elections point to
the fact that these provisional ballots are hardly ever cast
in the affluent, primarily Republican municipalities, but are
overwhelmingly from the central city. Also, an additional
17,038 provisional ballots are from Hamilton County and Wood
County. Bush won Hamilton with 53% of the vote and Wood County
with 53.5%. Traditionally, the provisional ballots in Hamilton
County come from Cincinnati and its poor central city areas.
These are areas where John Kerry won handily on Election Day.

Thus, 102,134 of the provisional ballots, nearly two-thirds
(65.7%) in all probability come from solidly pro-Kerry areas
and are most likely cast by pro-Kerry supporters such as
African Americans and the poor. These fit the same
socio-economic demographics and racial profiles of voters
targeted by the GOP for challenges in Ohio.

Palast also points to the 92,672 so-called "spoiled" ballots
in Ohio that have yet to be counted, and may never be tallied.
The most famous spoiled ballots were the 2004 Florida punch
cards that could not be machine read, but when looked at
manually the voter's intent could be determined. Expert
statisticians who investigated spoilage in the 2000 election
in Florida found that 54% of these discarded ballots were cast
by blacks. In Ohio, most of the spoiled votes were lost
through punch card ballots in 2004.

By Blackwell directing county Boards of Elections not to count
the provisional ballots for 11 days, it benefited the Bush
campaign since an immediate counting would have no doubt made
the race tigher between Kerry and Bush, and perhaps prompted
Kerry to request a recount. This would have the 92,672
discarded "spoiled" ballots that were also likely to favor

Daniel Tokaji, Professor of Law at the Ohio State University
College of Law commented: "One other point. Ohio Secretary of
State Ken Blackwell has reportedly said that provisional
ballots won't be counted for 11 days. I'm not sure where he's
getting this, but he may be relying on ORC 3505.32. This
statute provides that the boards of election are to begin
canvassing election returns between 11 and 15 days after the
election and ‘continue the canvass daily until it is
completed.' Perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't see how
this precludes provisional votes from being counted earlier
than that, even if the canvass doesn't begin until the 11th

Spoiled ballots will only be counted if someone with standing,
such as five Kerry electors or the Ohio Democratic Party,
demands and legally qualifies for a recount. Thus, the exit
polls may have been correct. A majority of people voted for
Kerry in Ohio; but 250,000 votes were not counted, most
favoring Kerry over Bush. If Kerry had won by even one vote in
Ohio, he would be the next President of the United States.

Irregularities in other key battleground states have prompted
three U.S. representatives to urgently request that the
Comptroller General of the United States David Walker and the
General Accounting Office "immediately undertake an
investigation of the efficiency of voting machines and new
technologies used in the 2004 election." Tom Hartmann, in his
post election article on
<http://commondreams.org/>CommonDreams.org ("Evidence mounts
that the vote was hacked"), reminds readers that Bev Harris,
who started <http://blackboxvoting.org/>blackboxvoting.org,
showed Howard Dean how to hack a county "central tabulator"
computer in 90 seconds live on CNBC.

The Diebold Corporation, which helped count the Ohio vote with
e-voting machines and optical scan machines, is run by a
notoriously pro-Republican CEO, Wally O'Dell. Last year O'Dell
wrote a letter to Ohio Republican donors telling them that he
is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to
the President next year." O'Dell is a proud member of Bush's
Pioneer and Ranger team of major donors who visit the Crawford
ranch. The other major election vote counting firm is ES&S,
which is being investigated for allegedly having a machine
that subtracted votes when the totals surpassed 32,000.

On Election Day, the Election Protection Coalition observers
who covered 58 polling places in central Ohio, documented
thousands of voter complaints over long lines and recorded
numerous people leaving the polls for work or because they
were elderly or handicapped and physically unable to wait for
hours to vote. Professor James K. Galbraith, of the Lyndon B.
Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas,
Austin, wrote the following summary of Election Day in Ohio:
". . . I drove a young African-American voter, a charming
business student, seven months pregnant, to her polling place
at Finland Elementary School in south Columbus. We arrived in
a squalling rain to find voters lined up outside for about a
hundred yards. . . . The real problem was a grotesque shortage
of voting machines."

Ohio State University Law Professor Edward B. Foley told the
New York Times, "When your lines get to two or three hours,
it's system failure."

Other bizarre tactics emerged in the run-up to the election:

Under an archaic Ohio law, both the Republican and Democratic
Parties, or any slate of five candidates, may embed official
election challengers inside polling places. The New York Times
reported on Oct. 23 that the Republican Party intended to
place thousands of lawyers and other GOP faithfuls inside the
polls to challenge voters. Republican insiders confide here
that the key goal was to jam lines and frustrate new voters.
After two federal judges rejected the GOP challengers,
Republicans got a favorable ruling from the Sixth Circuit,
which allowed them to place challengers in Ohio polling
places. Michael Beaver, Deputy State Commander with the
Election Protection Coalition says, "We now believe that the
challengers were a smokescreen to hide the real plan to
orchestrate a machine shortage in Democratic wards."

The Republican Party sent letters challenging thousands of
Franklin County registered voters who requested absentee
ballots. Franklin County is home to Columbus, the state's
largest city and its capitol. Though it is also home to Ohio
State University, thousands of local students go to schools
outside the county or state. The GOP targeted young voters for
challenges. The GOP pre-challenged an estimated 35,000 voters
and rented arenas in Cleveland and Columbus to conduct the
challenges. The GOP sent registered letters to registered
voters' addresses and when they failed to pick up a letter
from the Republican Party in primarily Democratic areas, they
were challenged for fraud. A federal judge disallowed the
challenges less than a week before the election.

The Franklin County Board of Elections has called or written
an undetermined number of voters who obtained absentee
ballots, challenging their addresses. In at least one case,
after a series of angry phone calls, the Board admitted there
was nothing wrong with the address in question and re-instated
voting rights. The voter in question was a registered
Democrat. His wife, an independent at the same address, was
not challenged. It is unclear how many others have been
wrongly knocked out.

Even if they are counted, Franklin County's absentee ballot
forms are designed in ways strikingly reminiscent of those
notorious butterfly ballots in the Florida 2000 presidential
election. On Franklin County absentee ballot forms, Kerry is
the third name on the list of presidential candidates on the
left side of the ballot. But, the punch card is designed to
fit in the middle, so the actual number you punch for Kerry is
hole "4." If you mistakenly punch hole "3" you've just voted
for Bush.

Damschroder, Franklin County's right-wing Elections Director
is insisting on e-voting machines that have malfunctioned in
at least two Congressional elections. The machines have no
paper trail and one subtracted 3% from former Rep. John
Kasich's and added 3% to Ed Brown, a six-point shift. The
November issues of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics
Magazines ran the following headlines on their covers,
respectively: "E-vote emergency: And you thought dimpled chads
were bad'" and "Could hackers tilt the election?" Vigorous
protests against the paperless machines have been staged here,
but many will be used, rendering a meaningful recount

Twenty GOP-dominated Ohio counties have given wrong
information to former felons about their voter eligibility. In
Hamilton County, home of Cincinnati and the Republican Taft
family, officials told numerous former felons that a judge had
to sign off before they could vote, which is blatantly false.

Franklin County, which normally cancels 2-300 registered
voters a year for felony convictions, has sent at least 3,500
cancellation letters to both current felons and ex-felons
whose convictions date back to 1998. The list includes
numerous citizens who were charged with felonies but convicted
only of misdemeanors.

Republican Secretary of State Blackwell reversed a
long-standing Ohio practice and is barring voters from casting
provisional ballots within their county if they are registered
to vote but there's been a mistake about where they are
expected to cast their ballot. In this year's spring
primaries, Blackwell allowed voters to cast provisional
ballots by county, even if they were in the wrong precinct.
But this fall, voters had to leave if they were in the wrong
precinct and find their way to the right one even though they
had waited in line two to three hours. Blackwell hopes to
succeed Republican Bob Taft as governor, and has labored hard
to install Diebold e-voting machines with no paper trail
throughout Ohio. Blackwell is being widely compared to the
infamous Katherine Harris, who handed Florida to George W.
Bush in 2000 and was rewarded with a safe Congressional seat.
Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones accused Blackwell of
seeking "to disenfranchise the people of the state of Ohio."
Tubbs Jones pointed out that the 2000 census had caused
massive redistricting, particularly within inner city
precincts, which would lead to many people ending up at the
wrong voting site.

The October 22 Columbus Dispatch, which endorsed Bush, and
WVKO Radio have both documented phone calls from people
impersonating Franklin County Board of Elections workers and
directing registered voters to different and incorrect polling
sites. One individual was falsely told not to vote at the
polling station across the street from his house, but at a
"new" site, four miles away. Under Blackwell's new rules, such
a vote would not be counted. Nor do the precinct locations
make much sense in the inner city. Someone living on the
northwest corner of Bryden and Wilson, instead of walking half
a block to the polling site at Franklin Alternative School,
must vote seven blocks northeast at the Model Neighborhood
facility polling site. The previous polling site for the
precinct was two blocks west before the Republicans
consolidated several inner city polling places in the 1990s.

In Cincinnati, some 105,000 voters were moved from active to
inactive status within the last four years for not voting in
the last two federal elections. This is not required under
Ohio law, but is an option allowed and exercised by the
Republican-dominated Hamilton County Board of Elections.

Secretary of State Blackwell ruled that any voter registration
form on other than 80-pound weight bond paper would not be
accepted. This is an old law left over from pre-scanning days.
Many voters who had registered on lighter paper, had their
registration returned, even though the forms had been
officially sanctioned by local election boards.

On Election Day, fliers littered the inner city telling voters
that Republicans were to vote on Tuesday and Democrats on

No Republican has ever won the presidency without carrying
Ohio. The voting irregularities suggest that Bush is the first
Republican President to win the presidency without winning the
actual Ohio vote. Kerry won the vote in Ohio. The exit polls
are correct. The mainstream media, instead of investigating
the massive irregularities, are busy concocting theories as to
how all the exit polls, the safeguards for fair elections,
were all wrong on election night in the Buckeye State. None
dare suggest voter suppression and fraud.

Bob Fitrakis is a Professor in the Social and Behavioral
Sciences Department at Columbus State Community College. He
has a Ph.D in Political Science and a J.D. from The Ohio State
University Law School. He is the author of seven books, an
investigative reporter, and Editor of the Columbus Free Press
(<http://freepress.org/>freepress.org). He has won ten major
investigative journalism awards including Best Coverage of
Politics in Ohio from the Ohio Society of Professional
Journalists. He served as an international election observer
in the 1994 presidential elections in El Salvador and was the
co-author and editor of the report to the United Nations. He
served as legal advisor for eight polling locations on
Columbus' Near East Side for the Election Protection

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