Wed Dec 08 2004
Ohio election fraud uproar blasting to new level
by Steve Rosenfeld, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
December 7, 2004
The bitter battle over the stolen November 2 election in Ohio has turned
into a rapidly escalating all-out multi-front war with the outcome of the
real presidential vote count increasingly in doubt.
In Columbus, major demonstrations on Saturday, December 4, have been
followed by an angry confrontation between demonstrators and state police at
the office of Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, the
Bush-Cheney state chairman who is also officially in charge of certifying
the election, at least for now. Civil Rights leader Jesse Jackson has
called on Blackwell to recuse himself from dealings with the election,
saying his role as Bush-Cheney chairman has compromised his objectivity in
delivering fair election results.
New revelations about voting machine allocations in Franklin County emerged
on Tuesday, December 7. William Anthony, Chair of the Franklin County Board
of Elections, told WVKO radio listeners that the Board begins "stationing
voting machines four weeks out" before Election Day. Security questions were
raised after a machine in Gahanna Ward 1B at the New Life Church recorded
4258 votes for Bush where only 638 voters cast ballots.
Cornell McCleary, former minority director of the Republican Party of Ohio,
argues that it would easy for computer hackers to hack directly into the
machines: "The two points of vulnerability are setting up a computer and
hacking directly into the machine, or the line that goes directly down to
the Board of Elections." He dismissed the Gahanna incident as a "prank."
Prank or not, Kerry's decision to concede early on November 3 was based in
part on these imaginary votes that were either a prank, a computer glitch,
or a deliberate effort to boost Bush's total in Ohio.
Anthony also conceded that some voters in Franklin County waited up to "five
or six hours' in order to vote. He admitted that the Board of Elections
usually holds back "a truckload of voting machines"--- 75---in case there's
a truck accident." He blamed this on the lack of machines and the fact that
77 voting machines malfunctioned on Election Day. Two affidavits from voters
obtained by the Free Press report that voting machine maintenance people
came out to fix machines and their technique seemed to be to continually
plug and unplug, or reboot, the electronic machines until the machines
Anthony also confirmed that the Board only delivered 2741 of its 2866
machines at the opening of polls on Election Day. He said Board of
Elections workers later placed an additional 44. This would put the total
number in use at the "close of polls" at 2785, leaving 81 machines sitting
unused. Anthony further said Election Day problems were the result of
utilizing essentially 4800 volunteers with minimal training, paid a small
stipend. Some poll workers have testified they repeatedly called the Board
of Elections for additional machines as lines stacked up at their inner city
precincts but got no response.
In addition, new evidence has continued to surface of widespread voter fraud
throughout the state. Among other things, a letter from Shelby County
election officials dated December 2 confirmed that the county discarded
"tabulator test deck reports" from the November 2 vote count "to reduce
paperwork and confusion with official results." As this county's response
is the first of 88 to come from Freedom of Information Act filings, it seems
likely other controversial practices could surface.
Moreover, new computer tabulation errors - first reported locally after
Election Day - have resurfaced, and are of a magnitude suggesting Bush's
margin over Kerry---now 118,775 votes or 2 percent of the total votes cast
in the state, according to Blackwell---could easily have been manipulated.
One precinct in Youngstown, Ohio, recorded a negative 25 million votes
(that's not a typo) on an ES&S Votronic voting machine, which was discarded
from official results, according to a Nov. 3 report in Youngstown's
Vindicator newspaper http://www.vindy.com/basic/news/281829446390855.php.
Machine malfunctions combined with human error to create the massive
negative vote count. "That led to some races showing votes of negative 25
million, Munroe said," quoting Mark Monroe, the Mahoning County election
chief. "The numbers were nonsensical so we knew there were problems." The
website www.VotersUnite.org lists dozens of voting machine errors, voter
intimidation reports and other problems - from the very large to very
small - that were reported in the Ohio press. At the very least these
errors, many of which are detailed below, add up to a scathing indictment of
a statewide election. On December 6 White House Spokesman Scott McClellan
called the election "free and fair."
But even the www.VotersUnite.org list does not contain some of the biggest
errors that will be cited in an election challenge filed Tuesday, December 7
by the Ohio Honest Elections Campaign in Ohio Supreme Court. It does not
cite two non-partisan Election Day exit polls, by CNN and Zogby, which found
Kerry leading by mid-afternoon. The Ohio Honest Election Campaign filing
also describes abnormal patterns in the votes for statewide Democratic
candidates - with Kerry receiving fewer votes than obscure candidates -
could point to computer vote shifting. The Honest Election Campaign is
seeking to investigate these abnormalities.
On Wednesday, Dec. 8, Rev. Jesse Jackson and many people associated with
recounting the Ohio vote and challenging the election returns, will brief
Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee in Washington.
Rev. Jackson has repeatedly traveled to Ohio, demanding at packed, angry
rallies that the Ohio Supreme Court consider setting aside Bush's victory in
Ohio and that Congress should investigate how Ohioans voted. Among other
things, the call for a re-vote as in Ukraine has become a consistent theme
among disgruntled Ohio voters.
Jackson's involvement comes as other national public-interest groups are
pursuing their own litigation. For example, People for the American Way is
trying to stop the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland from
rejecting 8,099 of the 24,472 provisional ballots cast there. The ballots
were thrown out because voters did not properly complete them or cast them
at polling places that were not their own.
(EDITOR's NOTE: What follows is an excerpted list
http://www.votersunite.org/electionproblems.asp of voting errors in Ohio
compiles by VotersUnite.org. They are placed in the following categories:
malfeasance, canvass anomalies, machine malfunction, vote suppression,
provisional ballots, fraud, absentee ballot errors, and others. The link to
the original news report follows.)
-- Lucas County. An extensive housecleaning in the Lucas County elections
office was announced yesterday with Elections Director Paula Hicks-Hudson
resigning and four other officials suspended pending investigation into
problems with the official count of the Nov. 2 election.
-- Some groups also have complained about thousands of punch-card ballots
that were not tallied because officials in the 68 counties that use them
could not determine a vote for president. Votes for other offices on the
cards were counted. http://www.nbc4i.com/politics/3953104/detail.html
-- Cuyahoga County. 8,099 provisional ballots (about 1/3 of those cast)
have been ruled invalid because the voter wasn't registered or was
registered in the wrong precinct. In 2000, about 17% were ruled invalid.
-- Mahoning County. 20 to 30 ES&S iVotronic machines that needed to be
recalibrated during the voting process because some votes for a candidate
were being counted for that candidate's opponent.
-- Lucas County, Toledo. Throughout the city, polling places reported an
assortment of problems, ranging from technical trouble with Lucas County's
leased optical-scan voting machines to confusion about precinct boundaries
and questions over provisional balloting.
-- Lucas County (Toledo). Technical problems snarled the process throughout
the day. Jammed or inoperable voting machines were reported throughout the
-- Lucas County Election Director Paula Hicks-Hudson said the Diebold
optical scan machines jammed during testing last week.
-- Cincinnati. Problems with punch card voting machines delayed the start of
voting for up to an hour Tuesday morning at a suburban precinct. Voters were
unable to slide their punch-card ballots all the way into any of the six
voting machines that had ALL evidently been damaged in transit.
-- In Franklin County, Columbus, overcharged batteries on Danaher Controls
ELECTronic 1242 systems kept machines from booting up properly at the
beginning of the day http://www.itworld.com/Tech/2987/041102evoteprobs/
-- Auglaize County In a letter dated Oct. 21, Ken Nuss, former deputy
director of the County Board of Elections, claimed that Joe McGinnis, a
former employee of ES&S, the company that provides the voting system in
Auglaize County, was on the main computer that is used to create the ballot
and compile election results, which would go against election protocol. Nuss
was suspended and then resigned
-- Franklin County, Columbus. A Danaher ELECTronic 1242 computer error with
a voting machine cartridge gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in a
Gahanna precinct. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that
precinct. A cartridge from one of three voting machines at the polling place
generated a faulty number at a computerized reading station. Matthew
Damschroder, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections said the
cartridge was retested Thursday and there were no problems. He couldn't
explain why the computer reader malfunctioned.
-- Warren County. Citing concerns about potential terrorism, officials
locked down the county administration building on election night and blocked
any independent observers from monitoring the vote count as the nation
awaited Ohio's returns. County Emergency Services Director Frank Young
explained that he had been advised by the federal government to implement
the measures for the sake of Homeland Security. The Warren results were part
of the last tallies that helped clinch President Bush's re-election. James
Lee, spokesman with the Ohio Secretary of State's Office in Columbus, said
Thursday he hasn't heard of any situations similar to Warren County's
-- Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell said voters could not cast
provisional ballots despite not receiving their absentee ballots in time. A
judge overruled him, calling his statement a "failure to do his duty" and
saying that the federal Help America Vote Act requires that people who claim
to be eligible voters must be allowed to cast provisionals regardless of the
reason they are not on the rolls or are challenged.
-- Cuyahoga County. In precinct 4F, located in a predominantly black
precinct, at Benedictine High School on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Kerry
received 290 votes, Bush 21 and Michael Peroutka, candidate of the
ultra-conservative anti-immigrant Constitutional Party, received 215 votes.
In precinct 4N, also at Benedictine High School, the tally was Kerry 318,
Bush 21, and Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik 163. The
Constitutional and Libertarian tallies were entirely implausible for the
-- Sandusky County. What appeared to be an overcount resulted when a
computer disk containing votes was accidentally backed up into the voting
machines twice by an election worker.
-- Sandusky County elections officials discovered some ballots in nine
precincts were counted twice. [ES&S optical scan] The county doesn't yet
know how it happened
-- Polling places in Northeast Ohio had half the number of voting machines
that were needed. This caused a bottleneck at polling stations, and many
people left without voting.
-- Columbus. Sworn testimony shows a disparity between the number of voting
machines provided to different precincts. With record turnouts, some inner
city precincts had fewer machines than in previous elections.
-- Columbus. Carol Shelton was the presiding judge at a Columbus precinct
with three machines for 1,500 registered voters. At her home precinct in
Clintonville, she said there were three machines for 730 voters. "I called
to get more machines and got connected to Matt Damschroder, and after lots
of hassle he sent a fourth machine," she said. "It did not put a dent in the
long lines." http://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal/news/state/10176004.htm
-- In Franklin and Knox counties, where voters use touch-screen units, long
lines developed and voters turned to a federal judge for help as the time
grew near for polls to close. To speed the voting, some of those voters were
given paper ballots
-- Cincinnati. "We've had reports that poll workers aren't doing a very good
job putting people in the right lines for their precincts," said Molly
Lombardi, a spokeswoman for the Election Protection Coalition. "People stood
in line for over an hour in the rain in some places only to find they were
in the wrong line. A lot of them gave up and went home."
-- Knox County. Kenyon College student Maggie Hill appeared on the "Today
Show" Wednesday morning. She was one of hundreds of students and other
Gambier residents who waited for up to 10 hours to cast their votes.
Observers in the Gambier precinct said there were only two voting machines
for 1,300 voters. Each machine, they said, is designed to handle 20 voters
per hour. http://www.newsnet5.com/news/3889129/detail.html
-- Stark County (Canton). The Election Board reluctantly followed the law
and rejected provisional ballots cast at the wrong precinct in the right
polling place. Up until this year, they remade a ballot that was cast in the
wrong precinct, meaning that the person's vote would be put toward the
appropriate races in the correct precinct.
-- Of the 11 counties that have completed checking ballots, 81 percent, or
4,277 out of 5,310 ballots, are valid, according to a survey Monday by The
Associated Press. Most of the counties are in rural areas. "They swear up
and down they're registered to vote and they're not," said Bill Thompson,
deputy elections director in Pike County.
-- Montgomery County. Two precincts had 25% presidential undervotes. This
means no presidential vote was recorded on 1/4 of the ballots. The overall
undervote rate for the county was 2%. The undercount amounted to 2.8 percent
of the ballots in the 231 precincts that supported Kerry, but only 1.6
percent of those cast in the 354 precincts that supported President Bush.
-- A woman sued elections officials Tuesday, December 7, on behalf of Ohio
voters who claim they did not receive their absentee ballots on time,
seeking permission for them to be able to cast provisional ballots at the
polls. SoS office said state law says that if a board of elections sent
someone an absentee ballot, that person cannot try to vote at a polling
-- Lake County. Some voters received a memo on bogus Board of Elections
letterhead informing voters who registered through Democratic and NACCP
drives that they could not vote. Election officials referred the matter to
-- Cleveland, unknown volunteers began showing up at voters' doors illegally
offering to collect and deliver completed absentee ballots to the election
Widely circulated "Voting Information" fliers from the "Bipartisan Voting
Authority" claimed that "due to record numbers of registered voters this
year," Republicans would be voting on Tuesday, November 2 while Democrats
should vote Wednesday, November 3. The flier did not inform voters the
polls would be closed on Wednesday.
-- Cleveland. Voters received phone calls incorrectly informing them that
their polling place had changed.
Steve Rosenfeld is a producer for Air America radio. Bob Fitrakis and
Harvey Wasserman are publisher and senior editor of www.freepress.org.
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