use the definition of Swing States by the Swing State Project.
select your state of interest to proceed. (If there is no link, that
means there is no content for that state yet).
Ohio's GOP Secretary of
State continues his disdain for voting rights by delaying start of
recount to the date when U.S. Presidential election will be formally
Bob Parry writes in the Consortium
W. Bush’s political allies appear to be slow-rolling a requested
recount in Ohio, leaving so little time that even if widespread
voting fraud is discovered, the finding will come too late to derail
Bush’s second term.
balloting occurred on Nov. 2, more than a month ago, Ohio’s
Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell still hasn’t
certified an official vote, a move now expected on Monday, Dec. 6.
Since Blackwell also has battled requests from third-party
candidates for an expedited recount, a review of Ohio’s vote now
won’t begin until Dec. 13, at the earliest, according to
Blackwell’s office. [See Boston Globe, Dec. 1, 2004]
the Dec. 13 date is the same day the electors of the Electoral
College meet to formally select the President of the United States.
So even if the recount uncovers enough fraud to reveal John Kerry as
the rightful winner in Ohio, it would be too late to change that
as Ohio’s official foot-dragging has gone on, Bush’s
election-night lead has continued to shrink with the counting of
overseas and provisional ballots. The Associated Press reported on
Dec. 3 that its vote tally of Ohio’s 88 counties showed Kerry
narrowing Bush’s lead to 119,000 votes from about 136,000 votes,
leaving Bush with a 2 percent lead.
Kerry also might stand to gain a substantial number of votes from a
recount that would examine ballots thrown out by antiquated
punch-card voting machines. They are used mostly in poor
areas, especially African-American neighborhoods that are Democratic
strongholds. Other voters, believing that Ohio’s electronic
systems were susceptible to vote rigging, have sought audits to
check for tampering.
of embracing these examinations to resolve voter doubts, however,
Secretary of State Blackwell and other Bush allies in Ohio have
resisted the demands. Now, the clock is running out for any
meaningful review. [Citizens demanding a full recount in Ohio
rally for Dec. 4 in the capital of Columbus Other
protests are being organized in the days leading up to the
Electoral College meetings on Dec. 13.]
some ways, the United States is witnessing a repeat of Election 2000
where Bush first frustrated Al Gore’s demands for recounts in
Florida and then had five Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court
block a recount ordered by the state Supreme Court. Finally, the
five Republican justices in Washington required that a reorganized
Florida recount be conducted in two hours, a clearly impossible task
that handed the presidency to George W. Bush.
national unity as a priority over democracy, the U.S. news media
stepped in after Election 2000 to sweep away any lingering doubts
about Bush’s legitimacy. The unity message was that the United
States needed to put the contentious election in the past, even
though Bush was the first popular-vote loser in more than a century
to move into the White House.
protection of Bush’s fragile legitimacy gained even greater
momentum after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The
“united-we-stand” sentiment put the New York Times and other
leading news organizations in a particular quandary in November 2001
when they completed an unofficial recount of Florida’s votes.
recount discovered that if all legally cast votes had been counted,
Al Gore would have won Florida regardless of what standard of
“chad” was used. In other words, Gore was the rightfully elected
President of the United States, not Bush.
avert the predictable conservative outrage over the recount
findings, the major national news outlets simply buried the
“Gore-won” lead. Instead, they topped their stories with a bogus
analysis that a recount would have left Bush as the rightful winner.
analysis assumed, falsely, that so-called “overvotes,” where
voters checked a candidate and wrote in the name, would not have
been included in the recount. But the news organizations were
erroneous in this assumption because the judge handling the Florida
recount had ordered those votes tallied and almost certainly would
have added them to the state’s total, since they were clearly
legal under Florida law. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “So
Bush Did Steal the White House.”]
with Team Bush running out the clock in Ohio, one has to wonder what
contortions the mainstream news media would put itself through if a
belated recount – after Bush’s election is formalized – shows
that Kerry should have won Ohio and thus the White House.
A sample of the vote
suppression and voting irregularities in Ohio captured by Voters Unite
in a single page graphic
has an excellent
single page graphic that shows some of the reasons why the
problems in Ohio need to be investigated and why Ohio deserves a
recount. For convenience I have captured their chart in JPEG form and
reproduced it below:
Ohio's Sandusky County
had some votes counted twice raising doubts about some results from
a report in the News-Messenger:
elections officials discovered some ballots in the Nov. 2 election
were counted twice.
The finding further
emphasizes the fact that the 49-vote lead Republican challenger Irma
Celestino has over Democratic incumbent Anna Senior isn't the final
word. That race will be decided when provisional, military or remade
ballots are counted and the official count is taken Thursday. It is
not known how much of an impact it might have had on any other
director of the Sandusky County Board of Elections, said when she
reviewed election information Nov. 8 she discovered the mistake.
"Clyde had 131
percent voting," Tuckerman said. "That's not possible. I
knew there was something amiss."
After reviewing the
computer discs used to store precinct tallies, officials came to the
conclusion that some ballots in nine precincts were counted twice.
Report from at least one
Ohio county that 20 to 30 machines were recording votes for one
candidate as votes for another and had to be recalibrated; another
report of a machine that recorded a negative 25 million votes!
Via reader radtimes, a column
In a report from the
Youngstown, Ohio Vindicator (Nov. 3), the chairman of the Mahoning
County Board of Elections said that 20 to 30 machines needed to be
recalibrated during the voting process because some votes for a
candidate were being counted for that candidate's opponent.
a report in the Los
Based on reports that
Dill's organization — Verified Voting.org — has received, one
precinct in Youngstown, Ohio, recorded a negative 25 million votes,
which was discarded from official results.
Former Deputy Director of
Auglaize County, Ohio, resigns after claiming that former employee of
electronic voting firm ES&S was given unauthorized access to the
county's central vote tabulation computer before the election
reader CS, there is this report in The
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.
Franklin County, Ohio,
absentee ballots designed similar to infamous "butterfly"
Via reader radtimes, a report in The
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.
Eligibility criteria for
Ohio provisional ballots (which are expected to favor Kerry) changed after
the election in Cuhayoga County (on 11/9/04) per Election Observer.
Ballots without birth dates are ordered to be thrown out even though
earlier instructions clearly stated lack of birth date was not a
disqualifier. Subsequently Ohio Secretary of State issues ruling
allowing such ballots to be counted.
Via reader radtimes, a report in The
Are the provisional
ballots in Ohio being thrown out? A new rule for counting provisional
ballots in Cuyahoga County, Ohio was implemented on Tuesday, November
9 at approximately 2:30 in the afternoon, according to election
observer Victoria Lovegren.
The new ruling in Cuyahoga County mandates that provisional ballots in
yellow packets must be “Rejected” if there is no “date of
birth” on the packet. The Free Press obtained copies of the
original “Provisional Verification Procedure” from Cuyahoga County
which stated “Date of birth is not mandatory and should not reject a
provisional ballot.” The original procedure required the voter’s
name, address and a signature that matched the signature in the
Lovegren described the clerks as “kind of disturbed” after the new
ruling came down. She said that one of the clerks told her, “This is
new. This just came down. They just changed it in the last thirty
minutes.” According to Lovegren, 80 yellow-jacketed provisional
ballots piled up in the hour and 45 minutes she observed. By
Lovegren’s tally, three provisional ballots were rejected because
the registered voters’ registration had been “cancelled.” The
rest, she said, were being discarded because of no date of birth.
at Dailykos, here is an update in the
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
that were confused about whether to validate provisional ballots
that don't have voters' dates of birth on them were told Friday by
the secretary of state's office in a conference call to allow those
elections board director Michael Vu said there had been confusion
over whether missing birth dates made the ballots invalid.
those now," he said.
Ohio Warren County
election officials who instituted a "lockdown" during vote
counting (keeping the media away) claimed terrorist threat
notification from FBI led to the "lockdown"; FBI and Ohio
Public Safety Director said there was no such threat.
Olbermann at Hard Blogger reports:
David Cobb of the Green
Party told a California radio station late yesterday afternoon that he
is “quite likely to be demanding a recount in Ohio,” with a final
decision to be reached and announced during the day.
any event, if Nader and Cobb are at the edges, questions about Ohio
moved back into the mainstream yesterday with another cogent article
in The Cincinnati Enquirer. The rationale for the bizarre
“lockdown” of the vote-counting venue in Warren County on
election night suddenly broke down when it was contradicted by
spokespersons from the FBI and Ohio’s primary homeland security
Emergency Services Director Frank Young said last week that in a
face-to-face meeting with an FBI agent, he was warned that Warren
County, outside Cincinnati, faced a “terrorist threat.” County
Commissioners President Pat South amplified, insisting to us at
Countdown that her jurisdiction had received a series of memos from
Homeland Security about the threat. “These memos were sent out
statewide, not just to Warren County, and they included a lot of
planning tools and resources to use for election day security.
a face to face meeting between the FBI and our director of Emergency
Services,” Ms. South continued, “we were informed that on a
scale from 1 to 10, the tri-state area of Southwest Ohio was ranked
at a high 8 to a low 9 in terms of security risk. Warren County in
particular, was rated at 10.”
the Bureau says it issued no such warning.
FBI did not notify anyone in Warren County of any specific terrorist
threat to Warren County before Election Day,” FBI spokesman
Michael Brooks told Enquirer reporters Erica Solvig and Dan Horn.
a spokeswoman, Ohio Public Safety Director Ken Morckel told the
newspaper that his office knew of no heightened terror warning for
election night for Warren County or any other community in Greater
the contradiction from both security services, Ms. South again
amplified, telling the Enquirer “It wasn’t international
terrorism that we were in fear of; it was more domestic
the media was kept two floors away from the vote counting at the
Warren County Administration on election night on the basis of a
“10” FBI terror threat that the FBI says was never issued.
Via reader radtimes I came across a
Free Press article that led to me to the website of Richard Hayes
Phillips who is monitoring the Ohio recount. Phillips has a page dedicated
to Warren County, raising questions about some of the results (not
to mention that massive Bush advantage in this county).
Additional modes of
Democratic vote suppression in Ohio may have easily cost Kerry tens of
thousands of votes: GOP Secretary of State stuck with outdated and
less reliable punch-card machines in Democratic counties (refusing to
spend budgeted tens of millions of dollars); the number of precincts
in highly populated Democratic counties was significantly reduced
unlike in Republican counties leading to a lower vote gain for Kerry;
polling machine reductions in Democratic precincts, other problems and delays lasting for several hours added to
the mix - indicating poor preparation even though turnout was below the
reader radtimes a report in the Boston
Phoenix (bold text is my emphasis):
BUSH HAS, at the
moment, won Ohio by 136,483 votes, but a number of considerations
throw that lead into serious doubt. For one thing, that number will
likely diminish when the state’s approximately 155,000 provisional
ballots are processed. Most of those who had to use provisional
ballots probably were first-time voters whose names had not made it
onto their precinct lists, observers say, and first-timers went
54-46 for Kerry in Ohio, according to exit polls.
votes were discarded, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer,
mostly due to now-familiar problems with punch-card ballots. Those
punch-card machines are — surprise, surprise — predominantly
used in urban areas that tend to vote Democratic. In Cuyahoga County
— two-to-one Kerry country — a voter reported misaligned holes
and out-of-order pages on the punch ballots to Election Protection,
a nonpartisan coalition of organizations led by People for the
American Way Foundation, which was monitoring elections in select
states, including Ohio.
Punch cards also
probably slowed down the voting process, suggests Carlo LoParo,
spokesperson for the Ohio secretary of state, as voters with
memories of Florida made super-extra-sure to remove the chads they
produce completely. "People were a little more methodical,
making sure they didn’t leave any hanging chads," agrees Dan
Trevas, communications director for the Ohio Democratic Party.
But wait — wasn’t
the Help America Vote Act of 2002 supposed to help rid states of
these machines? Why, yes — in fact, Ohio received $133 million
from the federal government specifically to replace those old
clunkers with new DRE and optical-scan machines. The state even
contracted with venders. But then Secretary of State Kenneth
Blackwell — a Republican — had a change of heart. The technology
was not sufficiently proven secure, he said. Nothing has been
purchased. The $133 million stayed in the bank. "We weren’t
going to spend it on more punch-card machines," says LoParo. Or
on more poll workers, or training, or any of that nonsense.
have been a lot of effort [put into], instead of talking about
challengers, talking about getting enough machines and getting ready
to handle the large turnout," Trevas says.
have also been raised about absentee ballots, which may have been
withheld from those who requested them — a problem in the Bay
State as well. The single biggest election complaint in
Massachusetts came from college students who sent for, but never
received, absentee ballots from their home states, says David
Harris, executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil
Rights, in Boston. He received at least 50 such complaints from
Harvard alone. The same problem reared its head at Boston
University, says BU psychology professor Deborah Belle: more
than a half-dozen of her students told her similar stories.
We don’t know yet
how many of those students were trying to vote in Ohio, but we do
know that the Republican-led Ohio legislature prevented the
elections department from implementing expedited absentee balloting
and early voting, says Trevas. Then, Blackwell barred those who
never received their absentee ballots from casting provisional
ballots in person — that is, until Election Day, when a Toledo
woman filed and won a lawsuit against him in US District Court.
MANY OF THOSE who
did get to the polls had to wait ages to get to a booth. There were
reports of waiting times of two-and-a-half-hours in Cleveland, five
in Columbus, and six in the college town of Gambier.
This was all
officially blamed on extraordinarily high turnout, but many
disagree. After all, turnout was actually lower than
predicted by the Secretary of State’s office, and the increase
from 2000 worked out to just 64 additional voters per Ohio precinct.
"Everybody saw it coming — the huge lines, the huge voter
turnout," says Britton. "We’re very concerned that
county officials did not adequately prepare."
"It was poor
planning, and I think you lay that on the head of the governor and
secretary of state," Trevas says.
governor Bob Taft and Blackwell did prepare: they reduced the
number of polling places, ensuring long lines.
As noted above, the
state had been anticipating the purchase of DRE machines, which are
both more expensive and — at least in theory — quicker. That
meant, according to Blackwell, that counties could make do with
fewer machines without affecting the lines, and fewer faster machines
meant that counties could merge small precincts together to
share them. The Republican-led legislature helped
encourage precinct consolidation by raising the maximum allowable
number of registered voters per precinct. So, some counties merged
their polling places, cutting as many as 48 percent in some cases.
When the state
suddenly nixed the new machines, those counties were left with fewer
polling places for more voters, with the old slow machines, and
about the same number of poll workers. Erie County consolidated 101
precincts in 2000 into just 62 this year. As a result, the
average number of voters per precinct in Erie nearly doubled, from
355 to 640.
"Our county was
in a budget crunch," says Ruth Leuthold — Republican —
director of the Crawford County Board of Elections, which went from
67 precincts to 46. "We did it due to budgetary reasons, and to
go to electronic voting."
The long lines were
greatly exacerbated by the poll workers, whose average age was 78
statewide, according to Bryan Williams, director of the Summit
County Board of Education.
And in case the
octogenarians were too nimble, Williams — Republican —
encouraged them to take their time. "At their training, I
emphasized accuracy over speed," Williams says.
At one Columbus site,
the head poll worker was a half-hour late to open up, "and
things went downhill from there," reported the Columbus
Dispatch. Several other poll workers in the county overslept,
according to the paper. And oddly enough, the same thing happened in
Cuyahoga County, where four polling places opened late, according to
the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Another poll worker was fired for
showing up drunk.
Columbus’s Franklin County, including poll workers, could reach
the elections-board office by phone — even when machines broke,
which was frequent. For a 45-minute stretch at one site, all three
voting machines were inoperative, according to the Dispatch,
which added that half of the 100 people in line left without voting.
long lines disproportionately disenfranchise poorer, working-class
voters, who tend to live in high-density city precincts, and have
less flexibility in their schedules. "We heard of folks who
were told by their bosses they have to get back to work instead of
stay and vote," says Britton.
LoParo of the
Secretary of State’s office dismisses the concern, saying that
"we have heard anecdotally" that only a few
people showed up but didn’t vote. But Ohio newspapers were filled
with anecdotes to the contrary. And many people probably didn’t
bother to show up, as word about the long waits spread. "People
were in line on their cell phones telling their friends not to try
to take one hour to vote — everybody was in line doing that when I
went," Trevas says.
HERE’S THE rub:
a Phoenix analysis shows that the precinct reductions
disproportionately hurt Ohio’s Democratic turnout.
Of Ohio’s 88
counties, 20 suffered a significant reduction — shutting at least
20 percent (or at least 30) of their precincts. Most of those
counties have Republicans serving as Board of Elections director,
including the four biggest: Cuyahoga, Montgomery, Summit, and Lucas.
Those 20 counties
went heavily to Gore in 2000, 53 to 42 percent. The other 68
counties, which underwent little-to-no precinct consolidation, went
exactly the opposite way in 2000: 53 to 42 percent to Bush.
In the 68 counties
that kept their precinct count at or near 2000 levels, Kerry
benefited more than Bush from the high turnout, getting 24 percent
more votes than Gore did in 2000, while Bush increased his vote
total by only 17 percent.
But in the 20
squeezed counties, the opposite happened. Bush increased his vote
total by 22 percent, and Kerry won just 19 percent more than Gore in
If the reduced
number of precincts in those counties accounts for the difference,
it cost Kerry about 45,000 votes. And who knows what might have
happened had the state increased polling places in
anticipation of the high turnout it knew was coming? And if the
state had encouraged voting rather than threatened to challenge
credentials? And if there had been no dirty tricks and intimidation?
And if all had received their absentee ballots?
snippet from David Shuster on Hard Blogger:
still "don't know" why the officials in charge of
voting at Kenyon college in Ohio equipped the site with only two
voting machines. No explanation has been offered.
Students who waited in line for nine hours believe it was an
effort to disenfranchise easily identifiable democrats.
Via reader CS, a report in The
- 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
Via reader LV, another report in the Free
Press by Bob Fitrakis:
One telling piece of
evidence was entered into the record at the Saturday, November 13
public hearing on election irregularities and voter suppression held
by nonpartisan voter rights organizations. Cliff Arnebeck, a Common
Cause attorney, introduced into the record the Franklin County Board
of Elections spreadsheet detailing the allocation of e-voting
computer machines for the 2004 election. The Board of Elections’
own document records that, while voters waited in lines ranging from
2-7 hours at polling places, 68 electronic voting machines remained
in storage and were never used on Election Day.
The Board of Elections document details that there are 2886 “Total
Machines” in Franklin County. Twenty of them are “In Vans for
Breakdowns.” The County record acknowledges 2886 were available on
Election Day, November 2 and that 2798 of their machines were
“placed by close of polls.” The difference between the machines
“available” and those “placed” is 68. The nonpartisan
Election Protection Coalition provided legal advisors and observed
58 polling places in primarily African American and poor
neighborhoods in Franklin County.
An analysis of the Franklin County Board of Elections’ allocation
of machines reveals a consistent pattern of providing fewer machines
to the Democratic city of Columbus, with its Democratic mayor and
uniformly Democratic city council, despite increased voter
registration in the city. The result was an obvious disparity in
machine allocations compared to the primarily Republican white
Franklin County had traditionally used a formula of one machine per
100 voters, with machine usage allowable up to 125 votes per
machine. The County’s rationale is as follows: if it takes each
voter five minutes to vote, 12 people an hour, 120 people in ten
hours and the remaining three hours taken up moving people in and
out of the voting machines.
Once a machine is recording 200 voters per machine, 100% over
optimum use, the system completely breaks down. This causes long
waits in long lines and potential voters leaving before casting
their ballots, due to age, disability, work and family
A preliminary analysis by the Free Press shows six suburban polling
places with 100 votes a machine or less, and only one in the city of
Columbus meeting or falling under the guideline.
The legendary affluent Republican enclave of Upper Arlington has 34
precincts. No voting machines in this area cast more than 200 votes
per machine. Only one, ward 6F, was over 190 votes at 194 on one
machine. By contrast, 39 Columbus city polling machines had more
than 200 votes per machine and 42 were over 190 votes per machine.
This means 17% of Columbus’ machines were operating at 90-100%
over optimum capacity while in Upper Arlington the figure was 3%.
In the Democratic stronghold of Columbus 139 of the 472 precincts
had at least one and up to five fewer machine than in the 2000
presidential election. Two of Upper Arlington’s 34 precincts lost
at least one machine. In the 2004 presidential election, 29% of
Columbus’ precincts, despite a massive increase in voter
registration and turnout, had fewer machines than in 2000. In Upper
Arlington, 6% had fewer machines in 2004 One of those precincts had
a 25% decline in voter registration and the other had a 1% increase.
Compare that to Columbus ward 1B, where voter registration went up
27%, but two machines were taken away in the 2004 election. Or look
at 23B where voter registration went up 22% and they lost two
machines since the 2000 election, causing an average of 207 votes to
be cast on each of the remaining machines. In the year 2000, only 97
votes were cast per machine in the precinct. Thus, in four years,
the ward went from optimum usage to system failure.
Jeff Graessle, Franklin County Election Operations Division Manager,
told the Citizen’s Alliance for Secure Elections (CASE) Ohio
voting rights activists that Franklin County does not use a simple
100 votes per machine guideline. Rather, they allocated their
machines in the 2004 election based on a new criteria determined by
ACTIVE registered voters. Hence, an affluent area like Upper
Arlington which has shown a consistent pattern of voters is rewarded
with more machines and fewer losses. A less affluent area of
Columbus where voters miss voting at more elections and may only
come out in a hotly tested election, like Bush-Kerry, are punished
with fewer machines.
Of course, there’s a direct correlation between affluence and
votes for Bush and below medium income areas and votes for Kerry.
Franklin County, Ohio’s formula served to disenfranchise
disproportionately poor, minority and Democratic voters under the
guise of rewarding the “likely” voter or active registered
Bob Fitrakis has more
Via reader radtimes, here is an update
from Richard Hayes Phillips in the
The Free Press on
Election Day posted a disturbing story, later confirmed by the
Columbus Dispatch. The Free Press reported that Franklin County Board
of Elections Director Matt Damschroder deliberately withheld voting
machines from predominantly black Democratic wards in Columbus, and
dispersed some of the machines to affluent suburbs in Franklin County.
Damschroder is the former Executive Director of the Franklin County
Republican Party. Sources close to the Board of Elections told the
Free Press that Damschroder and Ohio’s Secretary of State Kenneth
Blackwell met with President George W. Bush in Columbus on Election
Day. The idea was to discourage turnout in Democratic wards by forcing
voters to wait in long lines at the polling places. Such a strategy
would be far more effective than encouraging turnout in Republican
wards. Elections are all about margins. There are 74 wards in
Columbus. George W. Bush won 12 wards, with a margin of 7.35%. John F.
Kerry won 62 wards, with a margin of 37.62%. Affecting Kerry’s
turnout would greatly reduce his margin of victory in Columbus, giving
the Republicans a much better chance of overtaking Kerry given a
strong enough showing in suburban and small town Republican
In order to investigate this matter, I obtained from the Franklin
County Board of Elections all the data I needed in order to calculate,
ward by ward, and precinct by precinct: (1) The ratio of registered
voters per voting machine. (2) Percent turnout, calculated as total
ballots cast divided by the number of registered voters. (3) Percent
for Kerry, calculated as votes cast for Kerry divided by votes cast
for president. (4) Margin of victory or defeat for Kerry, calculated
as the difference between the vote totals for Kerry and Bush.
All 36 of the wards at the bottom of the list of voters per voting
machine were won by Kerry, and they include most of his strongholds.
In 29 of the 36 wards, Kerry exceeded his city wide share of 62.22% of
the vote. However, these wards suffered a low voter turnout.It is
important to understand what these numbers mean. The polls in Ohio
were open from 6:30 A.M. to 7:30 P.M. That is 13 hours, or 780
minutes. If there are 400 registered voters per voting machine, and
turnout is 60%, each voter has less than 3.5 minutes to vote, and that
is assuming a steady stream of voters, with no rushes at certain
hours. It also assumes no challenges to voters at the polls. If there
are 550 registered voters per voting machine, and the turnout is 60%,
each voter has 2.4 minutes. All of this amounts to theft of votes. It
has been shown above that the Kerry precincts enjoyed a voter turnout
similar to that of the Bush precincts when supplied with enough voting
Thus I conclude that the withholding of voting machines from
predominantly Democratic wards in the City of Columbus cost John Kerry
upwards of 17,000 votes. A more detailed calculation could be done on
a precinct by precinct basis, but that is not necessary here. The
purpose is to illustrate the magnitude of the conspiracy. Matt
Damschroder did not act alone. There are 74 wards and 472 precincts in
Columbus, Ohio. It is not possible for one person to have delivered
all the voting machines, and it is unlikely that nobody else was
involved in planning where to deliver them. Anyone who associated with
Mr. Damschroder on or shortly before Election Day should be
investigated for possible complicity.
Bush gets extra 3893
votes in Gahanna Precinct in Ohio's Franklin County - only 638 total
voters cast ballots in that precinct
we have this AP
An error with an
electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in
suburban Columbus, elections officials said.
unofficial results had Bush receiving 4,258 votes to Democrat John
Kerry's 260 votes in a precinct in Gahanna. Records show only 638
voters cast ballots in that precinct.
received 365 votes in the precinct, Matthew Damschroder, director of
the Franklin County Board of Elections, told The Columbus Dispatch.
Democratic Party accused
of making calls to Republicans in Ohio with wrong polling site
information; Democrats claim volunteers made a mistake and that
Democratic voters were also provided incorrect information
we have this report in the Marion
The Ohio Republican
Party accused the Marion County Democratic Party of trying to
suppress Republican voter turnout in a last-minute legal attempt
filed Monday in Marion County Common Pleas Court.
Republicans, in a
suit filed by Columbus attorney Mark Landes, accused the local
Democratic party of calling registered Republicans and telling them
that their polling locations had been changed. While alleged
instances of such action were reported in five of Ohio's 88
counties, Landes said the suit was filed in Marion County because
the party had received an answering machine tape with the misleading
According to Landes
and Marion County Clerk of Courts Julie Kagel, Judge Robert Davidson
disqualified himself from ruling on the case and refused to file a
temporary restraining order because his household had also received
such a call. Considering Judge Robert Fragale, the other county
common pleas judge, is off this week and also a candidate in today's
election, Landes said he does not expect the court to take any
action until after the election.
they're willing to call and lie to people, I'm not sure if they
would follow a court order anyway," said Landes.
Democratic Party chair Cathy Chaffin said no attempt to mislead
voters was made by Democrats but acknowledged mistakes may have
Landes said the suit
was filed after Jamie Straw, a registered Republican in Marion
County, received a phone call saying to vote at the Marion Catholic
High School. Landes said Straw is a Capaldi Drive resident whose
precinct votes at the Marion County Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
According to an
affidavit signed by Straw, the caller claimed to be from the Marion
County Democratic Party.
Mark Weaver, attorney
and consultant for the Ohio Republican Party, said he has received
other similar complaints from Butler, Fairfield, Greene and Franklin
counties. He dismissed suggestions the calls were simply mistakes.
"This seems to
be a calculated attempt to steal this election," he said.
Out of those
counties, Landes said Marion County was selected because Straw's
tape was the strongest evidence available. He said if Davidson would
have been able to take action, it would have forced all five
counties' parties to stop calling with false information.
The suit was also
filed against the Ohio Democratic Party, Greene County Democratic
Party and ACT Ohio, a 527 political action committee. It also
claimed that Democrats misinformed registered Republicans about the
date of the election, saying it will be held on Wednesday, and told
them that certain documentation must be taken to the polls in order
for them to be able to vote. State law does not require
identification in order to vote.
The suit recommended
a temporary restraining order against Democrats to "halt their
un-American conduct" and stop making misleading phone calls.
The Ohio Republican Party also requested more than $25,000 in
Asked whether it
could lead to attempts to challenge results of today's election,
Landes said, "If people show up at the wrong polls we're going
to know why."
Chaffin said neither
the Marion County nor Ohio Democratic parties attempted to give
anyone the incorrect day to vote. As far as the other allegations,
she said no effort was under way to give out incorrect information
but said volunteers may have done so by accident.
make mistakes? Sure they do," she said. "If they made the
mistake it was an honest mistake."
Democrats were calling people who either voted Democrat in the last
two years or were identified as potential John Kerry for president
supporters. She said it is possible that calls may have been made to
people who had moved since the party obtained its list of registered
voters, which would mean their precinct polling place would have
also been misidentified. She said volunteers over the weekend were
told to stop giving out polling locations and instead refer people
to call the Marion County Board of Elections.
Dan Trevas, spokesman
for the Ohio Democratic Party, wished Republicans had called to
alert them of the problems, instead of rushing to file a lawsuit.
"It's just an
unfortunate mistake by some eager volunteers who are trying to get
people out to vote," Trevas said, noting the party also heard
from two Democrats in Marion County who also received incorrect
polling site information.
Volunteers would call
back those people Monday evening to rectify the situation, he said.
Republican Party chair Karyle Mumper disagreed and said she had
phone calls at her home over the weekend informing her that wrong
information was being given out.
Fake leaflet emerges in
Ohio saying Republicans should vote on Tuesday (11/2) and Democrats on
Voter Suppression News mentions this:
Franklin County hit
with phony leaflets
director of the Franklin County (Columbus area) Board of Elections
held a news conference Monday afternoon to announce that parts of
the county had indeed been victimized by people distributing the
[eRiposte note: Picture of flyer is
at the URL above. I am reproducing the text here in brown font]
Board of Elections
confusion caused [sic] by unexpected heavy voter registration,
voters are asked to apply to the following schedule:
voters are asked to vote at your assigned location on Tuesday.
voters are asked to vote at your assigned location on Wednesday.
Thank you for your
cooperation, and remember voting is a privilege.
Where Government Works
update from them:
Dirty Tricks on
Columbus East Side
My boss was canvassing
this morning for ACT, putting out GOTV door tags in a
predominantly black neighborhood on the near east side of
Columbus. Repugs had been there first, putting up door hangers
that read: Vote for George Bush/Dick Cheney on Tuesday, November
2: Vote for John Kerry/John Edwards on Wednesday, November 3.
Vote suppression dirty
tricks in Ohio grow at an alarming pace
Voter Suppression News writes:
dirty tricks haven't really started yet.
motive, election officials say voters are genuinely confused by
the misinformation. In the Cleveland area, election officials said
they received a spate of complaints after voters began receiving
phone calls incorrectly informing them their polling places had
changed. In addition, unknown volunteers began showing up at
voters' doors illegally offering to collect and deliver completed
absentee ballots to the election office.
Jane Platten of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections said
officials had not identified who is behind the tricks. ``We've
never seen anything like this before, where there seems to be a
concerted effort to give voters misinformation,'' she said.
- telling people
they can't vote if they haven't paid child support, having
undercover "angry voters" yell out that lines are
three hours long to discourage people from waiting and having
aggressive supporters yell at voters who want to choose the
election-protection groups and attorneys recruited by both the
Bush and Kerry campaigns to patrol tight states also said groups
are expected to send unregistered voters into crowded polling
places to slow down the already long lines.
- In Ohio's Franklin
County, both registered Democrats and Republicans have been
receiving phone calls from phony Board of Elections workers
telling them that their polling places have been changed, said
- Ohio Republican
Party spokesman Jeff Flint added that Ohio Republicans have
received calls telling them their absentee ballots will be
picked up by election workers — a process that's illegal.
- In West Dayton,
Ohio, registered Democrats received calls reminding them to vote
on Nov. 5 — three days after the election, according to Hagel.
over at Daily
Kos, from an Ohio phone bank volunteer:
I worked all day
yesterday at the largest Toledo area Kerry GOTV phone bank at
Gallon and Takacs law offices, 3516 Granite, Sylvania. Out of the
8 phone banks that we had here in the Toledo area yesterday, ours
produced one third of all of the contacts made.
Gosh, and how do you
think that might have happened?
Both the local phone company and our phone systems provider have
confirmed to us that phone relay point into the building was
purposely severed. Many volunteers were rerouted to other
locations and several also had to rely on cell phones when we
found our lines down this morning. We thought it was a coincidence
until the phone company verified to us that the lines were
fraud/dirty tricks in Ohio: letter claims voters registered by
Democratic campaigns or NAACP have invalid registrations and cannot
we have this
It is an outright
case of election fraud in Lake County.
The phony letter says
newly registered voters signed up by the Kerry or Capri Cafaro
campaigns or the NAACP, their registrations are illegal and they
will not be able to vote.
“That was not
authorized by the Board of Elections, said Elections Director Jan
Clair. “It was not mailed by the Lake County Board of
A real board mailing
would have Clair’s signature.
The letter was
brought to election officials by Ron Colvin, a longtime registered
voter and head of the Lake County NAACP.
Sheriff Dan Dunlap is
investigating. “It will be a federal offense because you have
interfered with the constitutionally protected right to vote,” he
Via Buzzflash, here
is a copy of the letter at Lawgeek. Lawgeek has some comments here.
Reader dfandbj sent in this email:
Attached is copy of
phony letter sent to newly registered voters in Lake County Ohio.
Apparently whomever sent this letter had access to the Lake County
BOE's new voter registration lists. Following is copy on report of
this activity by WKYC TV, Cleveland. As this activity has received
little publicity in Northeast Ohio, I e-mailed every Cleveland/Lake
County and Ashtabula County radio station (because of spill-in) I
could locate requesting that they issue a voter alert to include
this item on their newscasts and call-in shows. Here's the e-mail
list I used. Please post this on your site so other Ohio voters can
contact these stations.
; email@example.com ;
firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
; firstname.lastname@example.org ; WCRF@moody.eduDick
[sic?] ; News Director ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
[Since there is a lot of material on this
evolving issue, let me alert you that most recent material is towards
the bottom of this post]
GOP voter suppression
efforts in Ohio morph into another growing scandal with
fraudulent challenges and angry citizens/voters - Federal courts nix
The GOP originally challenged about
35,000 registrations in Ohio - only to withdraw thousands of the
claims because of self-described "errors" in their filings.
Moreover, some of those challenged were homeless. The GOP also claimed
over-registration fraud but the Election Board pointed out there is no
evidence of fraud and that "inactive" voters have to be kept
on the rolls for 4 years per the National Voter Registration Act. After
mass protests, Ohio's GOP Sec. of State partially caved in with a
"compromise" ruling that allows the challenged voters to
cast provisional ballots.
In the meantime, one of the GOP members who challenged the voters
faces a possible indictment on felony charges for swearing she had
personal knowledge about the voters being challenged when she had no
knowledge whatsoever - by her own admission. The election board
threw out another 976 challenges due to the latter incident. Another
challenger turns out to be Megan Harrington, President of the College
Republicans at the University of Toledo. She has been discovered
to have challenged a voter based on a claim that he does not live
where he claims he does, even though the voter actually does live at
that address. Many others including some faculty at the University of
Toledo were falsely challenged as well even though they were actually
living at the very address the GOP claimed was not valid [NOTE: New
Donkey points out that this type of vote challenge is a decades
old GOP trick and Dailykos
points out that that GOP settled a lawsuit agreeing to not indulge
in this kind of vote suppression about two decades ago]. Many of
those challenged are understandably angry at this nonsense. There is a
possibility that some of those who were challenged may have been on
the list since they were contributors to the Democratic party - but
this needs further investigation. At least one voter was
challenged under the pretext that she was dead, even though she was
very much alive. It is quite clear these challengers have no morals whatsoever and need
to be indicted or investigated, as appropriate.
Here are a slew of updates on this
here's an AP
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)
-- State Republicans withdrew thousands of more than 35,000
challenges to new voter registrations because of errors in their
filings apparently caused by a computer glitch.
Republicans filed the
challenges Friday in 65 of Ohio's 88 counties, saying mail sent to
the newly registered voters was returned as undeliverable.
Over the weekend, the
party withdrew about 4,700 challenges in Hamilton County because the
names and addresses on the GOP list did not match voter rolls, and
Franklin County officials in Columbus accepted 2,371 challenges,
rejecting half of about 4,200 filed.
will be notified by mail that they are entitled to attend a hearing
with proof of their address.
Even if they fail to
show up, the elections board is not likely to throw out the
registrations, said Matthew Damschroder, Franklin County's elections
chief and a Republican. Doing so could violate the federal right to
vote even if the voter has failed to notify elections officials of
an address change, he said.
It is too late to
file a new challenge under the statute the party used, John
Williams, election director in Hamilton County, said Monday. There
appeared to be an error in the database program used to print the
challenges, so that addresses were not matched with the correct
names, he said.
But the largest
single batch of challenges, some 17,000 in Cuyahoga County, is still
being processed because there were no errors, said Jane Platten,
elections board spokeswoman.
to ACORN, a non-profit group, "46
percent of the Republican challenges in Cuyahoga County, which
includes Cleveland, were against black people, who represent only 27
percent of the county's population." (Don't let tactics like
these keep you from the polls. Remember, if you don't vote, this
election will not be stolen; it
will be given away.)
MYTH OF VOTER FRAUD: The Republican talking points manipulate
the facts to create a false
impression of widespread voter fraud in key states. For example,
appearing on Meet the Press on Sunday, GOP Chairman Ed Gillespie
said that "If you look at Franklin County [Ohio]... a very
important county in the election, there are 815,000 people according
to the census, 18 or older eligible to vote. There are 845,000
registered voters." Gillespie suggests that the only way this
can be explained is voter fraud. That isn't true. Federal
law prohibits purging records of voters who have moved out of
the state – or should otherwise not be on the rolls – for four
years. So if there are more registered voters than eligible voters,
that doesn't mean scores of people are attempting to commit fraud.
It means the state is complying with the National Voter Registration
AREN'T COMMITTING VOTER FRAUD, THEY'RE IN IRAQ: Many of the
people that Republicans are targeting in Ohio – claiming their
addresses are invalid – "are
overseas military members...whose mail cannot be forwarded."
Among those challenged was "Lisa Potts, a
longtime Marine currently stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C."
Potts – a Republican – said, "I pay taxes to the state of
Ohio every year."
FRAUD IS RARE: According to a new
study by Demos finds that "election fraud is at most a
minor problem across the 50 U.S. states, and does not affect
election outcomes." For example, election officials in Arizona
"say voter fraud involving undocumented immigrants is
rare." Karen Osborne, Maricopa County's director of elections,
we have one case a year, it's an amazement." Officials in
Arizona are concerned that a new ballot measure – which would
require proof of citizenship to vote – "could end up blocking
legitimate voters from exercising their rights."
we have this
report in the Washington Post (bold text is my emphasis):
voter-registration rolls contain more than 120,000 duplicate names,
and an untold number of ineligible voters, such as people who have
moved out of the state. A review of the rolls by the Columbus
Dispatch even found a murder victim and two suspected terrorists
among the eligible.
The rules for
challenging voters vary from state to state, and officials
nationwide are bracing for an onslaught. In Ohio, the state GOP is
drawing on a little-used 1953 law to file its pre-election
Ohio law states that
a party can challenge a voter's eligibility if the challenger has a
reasonable doubt that the person is a citizen, is at least 18, or is
a legal resident of the state or the county where he shows up to
vote. The law also states that local election boards must give
voters challenged before Election Day three days' notice before
holding a mandatory hearing, no later than two days before the
It is not clear,
however, how election officials can hold so many hearings, or what
they should do after them.
Gwen Dillingham, the
Cuyahoga County deputy election director, said 15,000 to 18,000
pre-election challenges have been filed in the Cleveland area, a
traditional Democratic stronghold. "I don't know how we're
going to find those people to tell them there's a hearing," she
pointed to what they contend is widespread evidence of fraud in
voter registration. Making the rounds on the Sunday talk shows, for
instance, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie
pointed out that in Franklin County, the latest Census shows there
are more registered voters than there are age-eligible residents.
officials and other experts say there is a reasonable explanation
for bloated election rolls that has nothing to do with fraud: The
National Voter Registration Act prohibits them from purging voters
from the rolls for four years after an initial notification is sent.
unfortunate that there seems to be an assumption that there's fraud
behind every problem," said Kay Maxwell, president of the
League of Women Voters. "There often is a simple explanation.
And we're very concerned that these challenges will intimidate
people and keep them from voting."
including those in the two counties that are home to the cities of
Columbus and Dayton, are tossing out most of the GOP's pre-election
challenges because the party made technical errors in filing them.
Of the 4,200
challenges filed in Franklin County, officials have determined that
1,600 are valid. Election Board Director Matthew M. Damschroder, a
Republican, said that his board will hold the required hearings on
the challenges that remain, but will more than likely keep every
voter on the rolls and allow those voters to cast provisional
One irony of the
GOP's challenges in Franklin County and Montgomery County is that
many of those challenged are overseas military members -- often
Republican supporters -- whose mail cannot be forwarded, officials
in both counties said.
Although Ohio law
specifies that removing a successfully challenged voter from the
rolls is an option, that conflicts with the rules laid out by the
National Voter Registration Act. Moreover, local Ohio election
boards are bipartisan, with two Republican members and two
Democrats, leaving the potential for deadlocks.
Hypothetically Speaking noted
The wheels may be about
to fall off of the Ohio Republican Party's challenge to over 35,000
voter registrations in Ohio.
A story in Enquirer
indicates that the GOP mishandled the data and mailing lists of new
voter registrants and that these screw ups are behind many (maybe
most) of the "questionable" voter registrations.
The controversy started when the GOP sent a mailing to over 230,000
new voters in 65 counties. Allegedly, about 35,000 of these mailings
could not be delivered. Ohio GOP chairman and others blamed ACORN,
ACT, MoveON, the unions and others for "massive and systemic
voter registration fraud" and on Friday announced that they would
launch challenges against these 35,000 in each of the county Board of
On Saturday, the Hamilton County Board of Election examined the over
5,000 returned mailers from that region. Lo and behold, instead of
fraud, the BOE found that the GOP had mismatched the names and
addresses of the recipients.
Not that they had a lot of choice, but the GOP screw-ups are so bad
that Bennett had to announce that it will drop all of their challenges
in Hamilton County.
An update here:
Daily News reports that 90% of the Republican voter registration
challenges in Montgomery County are invalid, including one case
involving Army master sergeant Surjo Banerjee who has been fighting
in Iraq for about a hear:
Local board of
elections officials believe the Republican Party challenged
Banerjee's registration because board mail sent to him in
Centerville was returned undelivered since he was in Iraq. Board
records also include a June request from Banerjee for an absentee
ballot, which last month was sent to him in Iraq.
It's still not clear exactly what all the problems are that are
underlying Ohio Republican Party's bumbling effort to get these
challenges to stick. There is agreement by everyone that the
challenge forms used by the ORP were filled out incorrectly in many
if not most cases and contain wrong information such as mixed up
precincts. This still leaves open the question of whether the
original mailings by the ORP were also mixed up since copies of the
returns have not been shared with the boards of elections.
At the same time, the
Dealer reports that over 9,000 of the 17,780 challenges in
Franklin Co. have to do with "inactive" voters. HAVA does
not permit inactive voters from being purged from voter rolls unless
they skip two presidential elections and don't respond to notices
from the local board of election. Besides general
disenfranchisement, challenges based on "inactive" status
have the affect of suppressing the African American vote. Again,
according the Plain
voter-registration group, ACORN, said the GOP list
disproportionately affects black voters. An analysis by the group
found that nearly half of the voters challenged were in largely
black Cleveland neighborhoods, said Jack Pannell, an ACORN
spokesman. Voters in those neighborhoods typically vote for
Ohioans and other
supporters need to be bombarding their newspapers, radio stations
and TV stations about this.
Regarding the hearings
the various Ohio county boards of elections were being forced to
hold because of the Republican's bogus challenges to voter
The US District Court
has issued a temporary restraining order, which will result in the
calling off of several hearings that were slated to begin Thursday
on the subject.
This may be a short-term
victory because the GOP will probably appeal, and they have already
stated that they will still make these challenges at the poll sites
on election day.
In Franklin County, 2,400 people, 35,000 overall, received notices
that there was a problem with their voter registration forms.
Republicans say that they are trying to prevent voter fraud with
the challenge, but Democrats say Republicans are trying to
suppress the vote.
Some local board of elections officials say they are happy with
Matt Damschroder with the Franklin County Board of Elections says,
"My preference would be to let this thing completely go away
and allow individuals to vote on Election Day. It allows for a
smoother administration of elections."
The decision could be appealed by Republicans to the 6th Circuit
Court of Appeals. That appeal would have to be made by Wednesday
Some of those
Also in Franklin
County, 291 homeless people are being questioned out of the 2,370
total challenges, according to an analysis of the challenges by the
Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. In Cuyahoga County,
757 people of the 17,717 total being challenged are homeless.
concerned that people that have chosen to participate in our
democratic process, who took a big step in registering to vote and
who were poised to go to the polls on Nov. 2, are going to be
disenfranchised, and we may never get them back," said Bill
Faith, COHHIO executive director.
Mary Sullivan, 57,
looked for work for a year after losing her job as a receptionist
and prescription filler for a local drug maker in August 2003. She
was evicted from her apartment after her money ran out this past
June and spent two months at Friends of the Homeless, a shelter on
Columbus' east side.
"My vote has to
be counted," Sullivan said. "Just because you're homeless
doesn't mean you're stupid."
G35Guy at Dailykos with an update:
Blackwell has caved into pressure (including a protest at his office
of over 1000 people) and now says provisional ballots should be
allowed to be cast.
Blackwell issued a directive Tuesday ... outlining the procedure
for hearing the challenges. He essentially told election boards to
let any of the people whose registrations are challenged cast a
provisional ballot if they show up at a poll Nov. 2.
Summit County Board of Elections Director Bryan Williams said he
believes the order does a good job of balancing state and federal
voting rights laws. ``I think that this directive properly
recognizes that since this is a federal election, these challenges
can happen, but you still have to protect the person's right to
vote,'' he said.
Williams said he has begun hearing from some of the 976 Summit
County registrants being challenged. Their hearing notices were
``We've gotten a number of calls -- about 30 of them,''
Williams said. He said some of the challenged registrants appear
to be college students, and the board has been instructing them to
send in identification and proof of residence if they cannot
attend their hearing.
MyDD has an
important update (bold text is my emphasis):
The Republicans have been compiling lists (probably in the tens of
thousands) of voters whom they have culled from lists of those newly
registered, mailing registered mail to them, preparing lists of
those who did not accept the Republican Party mailing, and then
challenging their right to vote.
Here's one such incident that's been exposed in Ohio:
ELECTION BOARD THROWS OUT 976 CHALLENGES BY REPUBLICAN PARTY
GOP Challenger Barbara Miller Could be Indicted on Felony
AKRON, Ohio - The Summit County Board of Elections abruptly
threw out 976 challenges of voter eligibility by the Republican
Party today after Barbara Miller, the challenger, revealed that
she did not have any personal information about the eligibility of
any of the challenged voters.
Instead, Miller said that her challenges were based on a list
of "undeliverable mail" given to her by the Republican
Party. The list was based on a GOP mailing sent to registered
voters throughout the state of Ohio.
After Miller presented this as her evidence, Russell Pry,
Summit County Election Board member, told her that she could be
indicted for signing a sworn challenge without any personal
knowledge about the eligibility of the voters. Miller's reaction
was to plead the Fifth Amendment.
Catherine Herold, the first voter challenged at the hearing,
told the board that she believes that she was on the undeliverable
list because she "refused the letter when she saw that it
came from the Republican Party." She and many others
expressed anger that their eligibility had been challenged - which
could force them to vote by provisional ballot on Nov. 2.
"This is an outrage," Herold said. "I feel as if
I am being called a liar for claiming to live at my address."
The Summit County Board of Elections has indicated that they
plan to call in the Department of Justice to conduct a criminal
investigation of the challenges.
Following is an excerpt from a transcript of today's hearing
(for email copies contact Emilie Karrick). Catherine Herold and
Neil Klingshirn, attorney for several of the challenged voters,
are available for interviews.
has more on the above incident.
Another case reported by Suicide
Girls, via Atrios
(bold text is my emphasis):
SG member Doctashock, a resident of Toledo, Ohio, in Lucas County, has
received notice that the validity of his voter registration is being
challenged, and that he will have to appear in court this Saturday to
answer the challenge or be denied the right to vote.
Who challenged him? One Megan Harrington, President of the College
Republicans at the University of Toledo.
Miss Harrington is heavily involved with the GOP, as demonstrated by
article quoting her reaction to the Presidential debates:
president of the College Republicans and a sophomore majoring in
political science, watched the debate at the Republican Victory
Center in Maumee.
"Bush was consistent with his statements," Harrington
"Everybody knows where he stands, especially on national
security and the Iraq War."
On what grounds is his registration being challenged?
They say he doesn't live where he lives. How the f***, then,
did he receive these letters?
Doctashock registered as an Independent, and, for the record, he
says that he does not live in a predominantly black neighborhood.
However, he is an African American, with a name (Jermaine) that is
common among African Americans. Makes you wonder why his
registration was among those selected to be challenged, considering
that 90% of blacks (Republicans, Democrats, and Independents) voted
for Al Gore in 2000.
Doctashock will show up in court to defend his right to vote.
How many won't?
Miss Harrington can be reached at: email@example.com
or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Update: Doctashock is not a college student, and his driver's
license does match his home address, and is the same address he
This outrage needs to be prosecuted.
Additionally, Atrios says this
(which I've not been able to confirm independently, but if true only
adds to the outrage):
...wow, I didn't
realize this is all based on *registered* mail.
update from Atrios:
I sure as hell wouldn't
accept a registered letter from the Republican party, and I
definitely wouldn't bother to stand in line for an hour at my post
office to pick it up if I wasn't home to get it. Let's see some
What the hell do you
care? What a monster.
- When Catherine
Herold received mail from the Ohio Republican Party earlier this
year, she refused it.
The longtime Barberton Democrat wanted no part of the mailing
and figured that by refusing it, the GOP would have to pay the
What she didn't count on was the returned mail being used to
challenge the validity of her voter registration.
Herold,who is assistant to the senior vice president and provost
at the University of Akron,was one of 976 Summit County voters
whose registrations were challenged last week by local
Republicans on behalf of the state party.
The challengers, all older longtime Republicans -- Barbara
Miller, Howard Calhoun, Madge Doerler and Louis Wray -- were
subpoenaed by the elections board and were present at the
hearings. Akron attorney Jack Morrison, a Republican,
volunteered to represent the four.
Democratic board member Russ Pry suggested that the four could
be subject to criminal prosecution for essentially making false
claims on the challenge forms. The form states that making a
false claim is subject to prosecution as a fifth-degree felony.
...The angry voters had the Republicans on the defensive.
``Why'd you do it?'' one challenged voter shouted out at
Calhoun. ``Who the hell are you?'' the man asked.
``What the hell do you care?'' replied Calhoun, an attorney.
Looks like Ms. Harrington, who has destroyed the privacy of innocent,
legitimate voters with false charges, is none too pleased with her
(publicly available information) being circulated! Atrios has this
In reference to
- In reference to
your website, I am here to tell you to take
down the e-mail address of Megan Harrington. That is
invasion of privacy, and defamation, and if it is not off in
twenty-fours hours, the proper authorities will be contacted
to remove your website. To use someone's e-mail without
their reference is invasion of privacy, and I hope you
Ms. Harrington's email can be found at georgewbush.com
site as well as the University of Toledo Young Republicans site...
Reader EN sends in this
article on this growing outrage (bold text is my emphasis):
Two University of
Toledo psychology professors believe challenges to their voter
registrations just days before the election are politically
professors tend to be more liberal and Democratic, if that was a
reason why some of us was targeted," said Alex Czopp. "The
Pre-Election Challenge uses a little known and seldom used Ohio law
that says any registered voter can challenge the legitimacy of
another's voter registration.
"I can show you
my voter registration. I got it the first week in September, said
Alice Frye." Alice Frye and Alex Czopp received notices from
the Lucas County Board of Elections alleging the two did not live at
the addresses listed on their voter registrations.
Both Frye and Czopp
registered along with their spouses, listing the same respective
addresses. Neither of their spouses' registrations were challenged.
"My husband and I have both donated money to the Democratic
Party. All the money donated has been in my name. We have different
last names. We are registered to vote at the same address. My
registration is being challenged. His is not, said Frye."
Czopp finds irony
in the pre election challenges. "They mailed the letter that
was protesting whether I lived at this current address to this
current address," said Czopp
Both voters plan to
attend an 11:00am Board of Elections hearing Saturday morning at
Government Center. Challenged voters will have a change to have
those pre election challenges overturned.
He also wrote this (bold text is my
including one University of Toledo Republican student leader, have
challenged the voting rights of over 930 citizens. The list includes
soldiers currently serving in Iraq, a military recruitment officer,
a UT student who is a Bush/Cheney volunteer, and at least four
University of Toledo professors. It includes my wife. My wife and I
live at the same place and registered around the same time. She was
challenged and I was not. If any mail was truly sent out and
returned, the supposed basis for this challenge, I should have
received such a letter but never did. This shows that their
challenging process is flawed and that other factors determined
their selection--perhaps because my wife donated to the DNC
(publicly available information) but I had not? Her challenger does
not even live in Toledo but in Waterville, Ohio. She never tried to
contact us. She knows nothing about us, we have never met or heard
of her, and yet she saw fit to issue a totally unjustified
challenge. We have had to take time out of our lives to deal with a
frivolous charge and much of our week has been wasted with a
time-consuming and worry-producing process of contacting various
officials and lawyers. This included attending a board of elections
hearing in order to make sure that my wife can still vote. Luckily
the challenges have been checked, but what about individuals who
were not able to show up at a last minute meeting and now believe
that they cannot vote? Adding further insult to injury, many
concerned people showed up at this board meaning in order to
guarantee their voting rights and the Republican members did not
allow them to voice their complaints. The signed challenge also
clearly states that misusing it is a felony. We hope these people
will be investigated because voter intimidation and suppression
should not be tolerated in a free society. One has to wonder about
the morals, values and character of people who seek to deny voting
rights to their fellow citizens, they should be ashamed of
Views (via Votelaw)
has more on the developments.
Reader EN sends in a few more
updates, partly concerned by the apolitical tone in the articles
considering this garbage is being perpetrated by the Republican
Blade article (bold text is my emphasis):
As the chief
recruiter in Toledo, U.S. Army Sgt. Peter Conklin is a busy guy.
So when he
received a letter last week from the Lucas County board of elections
notifying him that his right to vote in Tuesday's election was being
challenged, several thoughts sprung to mind.
"I thought a
lot of things. A lot of adjectives and adverbs," he said,
adding that none of them is fit to be published.
The notice, sent to
him and 930 others around the county, informed them that their voter
registration was under challenge and instructed them to attend a
public hearing yesterday morning to defend their right to vote.
Paid to defend his
country, defending his right to vote was a no-brainer.
Dressed in his
uniform, he arrived at Government Center only to discover the
hearing had been canceled because a federal court had ruled Friday
that the hearing could not go forward, and that no challenged voters
would be disqualified.
thing is someone is wasting my time. I want to know who is wasting
my time. I want to know who is challenging my right to vote,"
"I don't have
time to waste coming down here and fooling around with this
stuff," the sergeant said. "You give up your rights to
defend the rights of others to vote. And then this happens? Well,
they picked on the wrong pit bull."
Dozens of others
also showed up - most of them angry, some of them confused.
He sat in the front
row in City Council chambers while the four-member board of
elections convened a special meeting to deal with the challenges and
other issues springing up as Election Day looms. After it became
clear that no voters would be allowed to address the board members,
he stood up to leave.
"I've got to go.
I've got a nation to defend," he proclaimed loudly, as the
crowd broke out in cheers and applause.
Ross made a motion to allow public comment, but it was defeated by
Ms. Noe and fellow Republican board member Sam Thurber.
The decision was
not popular. Several in the crowd shouted at the board members,
demanding a right to speak. Soon after, five Toledo police officers
arrived in council chambers and things calmed down.
"This is my
first year that I can vote in a big election, so I thought I'd take
the chance," said Ashley Whetsel, 20, of Toledo. "No one
is going to take away my right to vote."
another young voter who works as a waitress at Max and Erma's
restaurant in Maumee, arrived at the council chambers wearing her
to be at work right now," she said. "My boss was nice
enough to let me come in late today.
elections officials said in their meeting last week that they were
uncertain how the voters were singled out to be challenged, but
thousands across the state were targeted, most of them newly
one from WTOL (bold text is my emphasis):
Instead of a hearing,
the Lucas County Board of Elections held a special meeting where it
addressed some challenged voter concerns. That was good news for folks
who just want to make sure their voice is heard on election day. "I
just want to vote like they do in Afghanistan. I want to
vote like they do in Iraq. I want to vote that's all I want to
do," said Bell.
one from 13abc (bold text is my emphasis):
Each spin of the
revolving door brought another frustrated voter into Government Center
this Saturday morning. Vietnam veteran Francis McElhannon was one
of many who came to defend his voter registration at a public hearing
only to learn the hearing was not happening. Even though there was no
public hearing, voters still wanted to be heard. Frustration gave way
to anger and the police were called in to keep tempers from
[The local ABC affiliate has posted
the challenged voter list here].
Voter Suppression News reports:
Daily News reports that 90% of the Republican voter registration
challenges in Montgomery County are invalid, including one case
involving Army master sergeant Surjo Banerjee who has been fighting
in Iraq for about a hear:
Local board of
elections officials believe the Republican Party challenged
Banerjee's registration because board mail sent to him in
Centerville was returned undelivered since he was in Iraq. Board
records also include a June request from Banerjee for an absentee
ballot, which last month was sent to him in Iraq.
Voter Suppression News also alerts us that the
returned-mail-type-of-vote-challenge is a longtime GOP dirty trick:
Ann Woolner, a columnist
for Bloomberg News, gives some additional perspective on Ohio Voter
suppression in this recent
A tactic that still survives to this day involves mass mailings
sent to certain registered voters to see which mail comes back
because of bad addresses. These mailings often target heavily
Democratic precincts, many of them black or Latino neighborhoods.
That's the sort of thing the Republican National Committee was
doing in Louisiana in 1986, when one party official said in a note
to a colleague that the Republicans' ballot security program
"could keep the black vote down considerably.''
Voter Suppression News reports:
Got this from Oberlin
Votes, a non-partisan voter registration effort. They have evidence
disproving allegations of fraud made by Robert Rousseau, Lorain County
Republican Party Chairman, and member of the Lorain County Board of
Juanita Smith, who was declared to be a dead registrant by county
Republicans, is very much alive. Last week an Ohio newspaper reported
that "Juanita Smith died more than four years ago, but somehow a
voter registration card with her name on it showed up at the Lorain
County Board of Elections office this year." (Elyria
Chronicle-Telegram, 10/23/2004) However, Ms. Smith is quite well.
"When I read that article saying I was dead," Ms. Smith
recounted, "I said to myself, 'I'd better go find my voter card.'
It comes down to the usual clerical errors that provisional ballots
are meant to resolve. Details of the hilarity are now posted at the organization's
Dailykos here is an
update on the 6th Circuit's ruling on the constitutionality of the
GOP's vote challenges:
A federal appeals court
Friday blocked the Republicans from contesting more than 20,000 voter
registrations in Ohio before Election Day.
The 6th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals in Cincinnati turned down several GOP appeals of a
lower court judge's order that stopped hearings on the contested
The action could mean
the hearings might never take place, since they must be held within
two days of the election, the Republicans said. The lower court judge
was considering Friday whether to make her temporary order permanent.
Ohio Attorney General
Jim Petro and the Ohio Republican Party said they would not pursue any
The GOP originally
challenged about 35,000 voters, but withdrew about 7,500 of those
challenges because of mistakes. County elections boards threw out
hundreds more. Few registrations have been rejected.
NOTE: Also see this
article on challenges in Greene County that were proved wrong, via
at Dailykos has a post on citizen protests against the vote
This is from the
subscribers-only electronic version of today's Columbus
Dispatch , about the voting irregularities hearing of 11/13.
voters air complaints
hearing question process, suspect fraud
Joe Popich, a field organizer for the Kerry-Edwards campaign,
displays a copy of a Perry County poll book that he contends has
An elderly man who
was refused an absentee ballot left his hospital bed and showed up
at a polling site with an IV still in his arm.
Another man had to
convince four elections workers that he still lives in his Bexley
machines, cars being towed from a Driving Park polling site, threeto
five-hour waits and too few machines -- these were some of the
stories shared by voters, poll workers and elections observers
yesterday at a Near East Side church. Robert Fitrakis, a lawyer and
political-science professor at Columbus State Community College,
organized the hearing so attendees could air their election
grievances -- then send the information to state officials.
It drew more than 200
people and ran hours longer than planned.
Most of the crowd
favored Sen. John Kerry, with many wearing campaign stickers and
They cheered when one
man called for Kerry to "unconcede" the presidential
election and booed at the mention of Ohio Secretary of State J.
A sign leaning on the
New Faith Baptist Church of Christ read Voting fraud = death to
democracy and many cars had Kerry-Edwards bumper stickers.
collected by a court reporter, and the hearing was videotaped and
broadcast on a local radio station.
Fitrakis said he'd
give transcripts and tapes to Blackwell as well as county boards of
elections, and if any glaring issues arise, he's ready to file
criminal or civil lawsuits.
"I believe there
is enough evidence for systematic voter suppression," he said.
"To pretend that it went well on Election Day is wrong."
Franklin County Board of Elections director, said later in an
interview that the election was a success.
happened in this election that doesn't happen in any other
election," he said. "The difference in this election was
there was far more attention being paid by everyone."
Harvey Wasserman has
been a voter since 1976 and has lived in Bexley since 1986. He knew
he'd be out of town Nov. 2 and applied for an absentee ballot.
"A few days
later, I received a rejection," he said. "It said I filled
out the wrong address even though (the letter) came to me."
After four phone
calls, he received a ballot.
"How many other
absentee ballots were rejected?" Wasserman asked.
Carol Shelton was the
presiding judge at the Linden library 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. This was a clear case of voter
Damschroder agreed in
the interview that adding one machine per precinct wouldn't have
made a difference with 102,000 more people voting than in 2000.
"We need to have
a public discourse about what is the appropriate level of resources
and funding for county boards of elections," he said.
Although there were
enough machines at Derek Winsor's Victorian Village precinct, three
broke down while he was in line for three hours. He asked how poll
workers knew the votes cast on those machines would be counted and
said he was told, "They just are."
"How do we as
voters and poll workers receive assurances that the votes are
stored?" he asked.
Floyd Mitchell Hall,
a volunteer for the nonpartisan Election Protection group, worked at
a Driving Park precinct where the man showed up with an IV in his
"He was told he
could not vote absentee, that he had applied too late," Hall
UPDATE ON 11/16/04:
Reader radtimes sent in this
link to videos from the vote suppression complaint
at Dailykos has notes from the hearings.
Another article here.
from Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman here
via reader radtimes and here
via reader LV.
Fraudulent calls made to
Ohio voters to suppress their votes using wrong information on voting
Lurch, we have this report in the Columbus
interrupting a North Side couple’s dinner earlier this week said
he was from the Franklin County Board of Elections.
He told the elderly
woman that her voting site had changed and that on Nov. 2 she and
her husband should cast their ballots at a South Side precinct. The
caller even left the phone number of the board.
Her husband, who
didn’t want their names published out of fear of retribution,
called the board, sat through a long menu of automated options and
finally spoke with an employee.
"They said there
was no way in the world they would make such a call," he said.
"I think it’s hankypanky and somebody in the election is
trying to kill some votes."
At no time, Elections
Director Matthew Damschroder said, does the board call voters.
communication from the board of elections is printed on official
board of elections paper with the logo," he said.
saying they’re the board of elections, that’s a violation of the
law. My recommendation to them would be to cease and desist."
His office has
received about a dozen calls since last week from voters checking on
there are two scams: The caller tells voters their precincts have
changed or the caller offers to pick up an absentee-ballot
application, deliver the ballot to the voter and return the
completed ballot to the elections office.
By law, the elections
board mails absentee ballots and the only deliveries are made to
voters in nursing homes by both a Republican and Democratic
elections worker. The only person who can return an absentee ballot,
besides the voter, is an immediate family member.
calling saying, ‘I got a call last night when I was watching Oprah
from this group,’ " Damschroder said. "By law, the board
of elections does not give anybody a ballot to deliver."
spokesman for Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, said he
hadn’t heard about the scams. But he said he was glad to hear that
voters who had received calls reported them to the elections board.
124 fake voter
registrations in exchange for crack cocaine in Ohio
Mark Adams (here
we have this story in the Toledo
Poppins. Jeffrey Dahmer. Janet Jackson. Chad Staton.
elections officials were confident the first three hadn't moved to
their small community. But the fourth one lived there, and - in
exchange for crack cocaine - tried to falsely submit the first three
names and more than 100 others onto the county's voter registration
rolls, police said.
Now Mr. Staton, 22,
of Defiance, faces a felony charge of false registration in a case
that has quickly gained national attention as part of a hotly
contested presidential battle that's attracted a flurry of new voter
registrations across the country - and a flurry of complaints of
voter registration fraud.
Sheriff David Westrick said that Mr. Staton was working on behalf of
a Toledo woman, Georgianne Pitts, to register new voters. She, in
turn, was working on behalf of the NAACP National Voter Fund, which
was formed by the NAACP in 2000 to register new voters.
Sheriff Westrick said
that Pitts, 41, of Toledo, admitted she gave Mr. Staton crack
cocaine in lieu of cash for supplying her with completed voter
registration forms. The sheriff declined to say how much crack
cocaine Pitts supplied Mr. Staton, or to say whether Pitts knew that
the forms Mr. Staton gave her were falsified.
under investigation," he said.
sheriff's deputies and Toledo police searched Pitts' home on
Woodland Avenue and found drug paraphernalia and voter registration
forms, the sheriff said.
Pitts, who over the
past two decades has been convicted of crimes ranging from domestic
violence to resisting arrest, was not arrested this week. She could
not be reached for comment. A month ago, she had just finished a
year of probation for driving with a suspended license.
Pitts told police
that she was recruited by Thaddeus J. Jackson II, who is
coordinating the Toledo efforts of the NAACP Voter Fund.
afternoon in Cleveland, Mr. Jackson described Pitts as a
"volunteer" with the group but said he knew of no problems
with her and of no voter fraud with her new-voter submissions.
"This is the
first I've heard of it," he told The Blade.
He refused further
comment on the case and representatives of the voter fund in
Washington declined to elaborate on Pitts' involvement in the
In a statement issued
late yesterday, Gregory Moore, the national executive director, said
the group was "shocked" by the allegations, welcomed the
investigation, and hoped it didn't hurt the reputation of other
"volunteers and canvassers who have worked tirelessly to
enfranchise the disenfranchised throughout the year."
Mr. Staton's 130
voter registration forms were among the 80,000 submitted to state
officials by The National Voter Fund's Ohio office, based in
Cleveland. The fund turned in Mr. Staton's completed forms to the
Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, elections officials said.
Of the 130 forms
submitted, county elections board director Wayne Olsson said that
only six turned out to be legitimate.
Noting that the
potentially new voters had listed addresses in Defiance County,
Cuyahoga County elections officials sent the forms to Defiance
County, where they arrived the afternoon of Oct. 8.
The package came with
a small note inside from Cuyahoga County officials: Check the
signatures on the cards for fraud.
Within an hour,
Defiance County elections workers had deduced that the batch of 130
was mostly faked forms, said Laura Howell, the county elections
board's deputy director.
"We could tell
by the handwriting that many of them were written by the same
person," she said. "And of course we know the streets.
Defiance being a small town, many of [the forms] had streets not
even in Defiance."
And so elections
workers immediately began sending out letters, addressed to the
people listed at those addresses, as a precaution to ensure that a
Mary Poppins, a Jeffrey Dahmer, or a Janet Jackson didn't, in fact,
live in Defiance County, she said.
Letters also went out
to George Foreman, Brett Favre, Michael Jordan, and Dick Tracy,
among others in the bundle to see if the post office would return
them as undeliverable.
Letters even went out
to a handful of people registered on forms with different personal
identifiers but the same name: Chad Staton.
None of the Chad
Statons made the cut.
In the meantime,
elections officials contacted the office of Sheriff Westrick, a
Republican, who began an investigation that included the Ohio Bureau
of Criminal Identification & Investigation.
arrested Mr. Staton as he walked along a Defiance street about 8
a.m. yesterday, and issued a press release by noon that soon spread
across the Internet.
The Ohio Republican
Party immediately seized on the scandal. In a statement issued hours
later, spokesman Jason Mauk cited the case in claiming that
"the effort to steal Ohio's election is under way, and it's
being driven exclusively by interest groups working to register
The Ohio Democratic
Party responded that they don't condone any registration fraud.
Spokesman Dan Trevas argued that, of the 500,000 forms submitted for
newly registered voters, "the vast, vast majority are clearly
eligible voters who did the right thing."
He called it a
"stretch" to link the Democratic Party and the NAACP Voter
Fund to fraud because "the volunteer to the volunteer did
But it's not the
first complaint of fraud against the NAACP Voter Fund, which insists
it is nonpartisan.
in Lake County, just east of Cleveland, last month began
investigating the group and an anti-Bush group called Americans
Coming Together, or ACT Ohio, for hundreds of suspicious
registration forms and absentee ballot requests.
Among them was one,
submitted by the NAACP Voter Fund, for a man who'd been dead for
more than two decades.
Mr. Staton's arrest
is not the first time someone who is paid to collect voter
registrations or petition signatures has been accusing of falsifying
them - such accusations have been made across the country.
And the NAACP Voter
Fund is not the first group to come under fire.
Among the others are
a Republican-linked group, Voters Outreach of America, which has
been accused of destroying voter-registration forms its workers had
collected from Democratic voters in Nevada and Oregon.
Some Ohio Hamilton County
absentee ballots mailed to voters WITHOUT the names of Kerry and
Edwards on them
much as the person interviewed in the article (reporting this
incident) would like us to believe that this is an inadvertent error,
my patience is running thin on what is going on in Ohio. I am willing
to give Ohio the benefit of the doubt if it turns out that, indeed,
only a small number of absentee ballots were affected - if so, I will
consider this an inadvertent error. Via Pacified
at Dailykos, here's a report
in the Cincinnati Post:
Some absentee ballots
distributed to Hamilton County voters do not include the name of
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, local election
officials confirmed today.
Because of a printing
error -- limited, election officials believe, to only a few ballots
in the Forest Park area -- absentee ballots recently mailed out
exclude the Democratic presidential ticket of Kerry and his running
mate, Sen. John Edwards.
screw-up," said Tim Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County
Board of Elections. "This just feeds the paranoia that's out
there. The tragic thing is that even though I think we will have a
very fair and accurate count here, this will cause people to
question the accuracy of our operation."
officials believe only two voters have received the inaccurate
ballot to date, Burke said he is worried that the mix-up "will
open us up to all kinds of questions and concerns." He also
conceded that some may question whether the problem is, indeed,
limited to only a few ballots.
"I'm happy we're
talking about a very small number," Burke said. "But it's
something that never should have happened."
One of the voters who
received the inaccurate ballot said today she "just couldn't
believe it" when she opened her absentee ballot envelope and
noticed that Kerry's name was missing.
"I knew enough
to see something was wrong," said the voter, who asked not to
be identified. "But you wonder whether others maybe didn't
notice it before they sent their ballots back."
The printing error is
the second major mistake to plague Hamilton County's absentee
ballots for the Nov. 2 election.
Earlier this month,
officials scrapped 17,500 absentee ballots after Ohio Secretary of
State J. Kenneth Blackwell ordered presidential candidate Ralph
Nader off the ballot because of invalid signatures on his candidacy
petitions. Those ballots also had been tainted by the elections
board's discovery that the punch positions of Hamilton County
Engineer Bill Brayshaw and one of the candidates for Ohio Supreme
Court had been switched.
Nader's removal from
ballots throughout Ohio also figures into the new problem that
caused Kerry's name to be dropped from some absentee ballots in
Hamilton County. In seeking to remove Nader's name from some local
ballots, Hamilton County officials inadvertently struck Kerry's name
On the flawed
ballots, the words "Candidate removed" appear on the line
where Kerry's name should appear. On the line below, Nader's name --
where "Candidate removed" actually should have been
printed -- remains.
director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, explained that
there are 72 different ballots countywide covering different
political jurisdictions. For each of those 72 ballots, the order in
which candidates' names are listed is rotated 10 times, Williams
The problem with
Kerry's name being dropped occurred with one rotation on a ballot
used in Forest Park. Although 22 absentee ballots in that area have
gone out to voters so far, election officials believe that only two
of them are the flawed ballots without Kerry's name, Williams said.
contacted over the weekend by one of the voters who received an
inaccurate ballot and gave her a corrected ballot. Election
officials today were trying to contact the rest of the 22 people who
received the particular style of ballot at issue to find the one
person they know also has a ballot without Kerry's name.
in every election," Williams said. "I'm not happy about
it, but we're trying to do what we can to correct it. This time,
you're under their magnifying glass, so it gets more
What is especially
frustrating, Williams said, is that the mistake actually had been
caught by the election board's proof readers. But when a broken
copier forced officials to use an old copying machine, the old,
mistaken ballot format without Kerry's name accidentally was
printed, he said.
GOP plan to field thousands of
challengers" in Ohio exploiting a historical minority voter
intimidation law dating back to 1953 (the pre-Civil-Rights era) -
pushed by GOP
Secretary of State and Bush Justice Department. Strongly conservative
judges in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court
Via reader MB, we have this editorial
in the Akron
How much does your
in Summit County and elsewhere across the state have answered
emphatically in recent weeks. They have begun to organize squads of
``challengers'' to be deployed at polling places in Ohio. They point
to a 1953 state law, rarely if ever used, a relic of the past,
echoing dark and ugly days in the South, when whites did practically
all they could to deny blacks the right to vote. The law permits
designated representatives of the political parties to challenge a
voter on the basis of his or her citizenship, residence or age.
they are pursuing a wholesome activity. Jason Mauk, a state party
spokesman, explained to Lisa Abraham, a Beacon Journal staff writer,
that in view of the many election reforms since 2000, ``we want to
ensure that voters are not disenfranchised.'' Mauk proved more
biting when he added that Democrats are largely to blame for this
escalation of the political ground war, contending that they
``engaged in fraudulent activities while seeking to register
Summit County did
receive a load of dubious voter registrations via collection points
at an AFL-CIO headquarters and the Cuyahoga County Board of
Elections. Yet walk that cat back, and the trouble may stem from
paid petition circulators for Ralph Nader and Issue 1 (the proposed
state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man
and a woman and denying certain rights and benefits to all unmarried
couples). Those are hardly ardent Democratic causes.
Many Republicans hope
the proposed amendment will increase the turnout among their ranks.
They saw clearly the benefit of Nader appearing on the ballot. (In
the end, Nader failed to qualify in Ohio.) Even Democrats less prone
to conspiracy theories have connected the dots: these error-filled,
perhaps fraudulent, petition efforts contributing to Republican
calls for challengers at the polls.
At the very least,
Republicans understand the dynamic in Battleground Ohio. Democrats
have registered roughly 500,000 (or more) new voters in the state,
an estimated 50,000 in Summit County. Republicans have reaped a far
smaller number. George Bush won the state by 166,735 votes four
years ago. If those newly registered Democrats actually cast
ballots, the president will be looking for 20 electoral votes
elsewhere, attempting no less than to defy recent history,
Republicans absolutely needing Ohio to capture the presidency.
As fervently as
Republicans insist their motives are noble, their ``fraud patrol''
serving in the spirit of the League of Women Voters, they understand
the fallout from playing aggressively. Mere talk of dispatching
challengers to polling places may discourage first-time voters from
casting their ballots. These voters are unfamiliar with the process.
They read or hear that lawyers in suits will be ready to pounce. Why
That doesn't absolve
them of their civic responsibility. They should go to the polls,
even call their county Board of Elections tomorrow to confirm their
registration and polling place. The worry is, the prospect of
challengers on the scene has a calculated and profound chilling
effect. Has turnout already been dampened?
Challengers take an
oath, pledging that they will ``faithfully and impartially''
discharge their duties. The office of the secretary of state has
issued guidelines stating that challengers ``may not interfere with
the voting process or unnecessarily delay it.'' If a challenger
targets so many voters that the process stalls or voters are
intimidated, the presiding poll worker can toss the challenger out
In the next day or
two, poll workers are slated for training. They would do well to
work on their backbones in case they encounter bullies. As it is,
the law says a challenger must show ``good cause.'' J. Kenneth
Blackwell has much to do in the coming days, especially sorting
through the confusion over provisional balloting (triggered, in
part, by his own doing). Still, the secretary of state would advance
the right to vote by explaining to boards of elections what the
standard precisely means.
Challengers must be
named by Friday. Democrats insist they will respond with their own
deployment (although challengers cannot directly challenge
challengers). Once a voter is challenged, he or she must take an
oath and then answer questions posed by the presiding poll worker
who formally records the responses. The sight of all this, or the
resulting delay, may lead those still in line to bolt, choosing not
to vote even though their registration may be all in order.
and their soldiers may scoff at such concerns. Recall the fiasco in
Florida. Katherine Harris and the butterfly ballot received much
attention. The greater outrage was the thousands of black voters
essentially denied the right to vote.
The past four years,
the country has begun to repair its elections process. The effort
has proceeded more slowly and less smoothly than many had hoped.
That is partly because of the increasing legalization of the
elections process, the political parties inspired by the messy
Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore to mine the law for
partisan advantage, more frequently going to court to get their way.
Thus, the appearance
of a 1953 law that more closely resembles the poll tax and the
literacy test than the spirit of counting every vote. Those who are
registered should take up the challenge. Your vote does count. So
much so that you should be more determined than ever to cast your
More from the New
officials in Ohio took formal steps yesterday to place thousands of
recruits inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the
qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast
Party officials say
their effort is necessary to guard against fraud arising from
aggressive moves by the Democrats to register tens of thousands of
new voters in Ohio, seen as one of the most pivotal battlegrounds in
the Nov. 2 elections.
Election officials in
other swing states, from Arizona to Wisconsin and Florida, say they
are bracing for similar efforts by Republicans to challenge new
voters at polling places, reflecting months of disputes over voting
procedures and the anticipation of an election as close as the one
officials said they had never seen so large a drive to prepare for
Election Day challenges. They said they were scrambling yesterday to
be ready for disruptions in the voting process as well as alarm and
complaints among voters. Some officials said they worried that the
challenges could discourage or even frighten others waiting to vote.
Ohio Democrats were
struggling to match the Republicans' move, which had been rumored
for weeks. Both parties had until 4 p.m. to register people they had
recruited to monitor the election. Republicans said they had
enlisted 3,600 by the deadline, many in heavily Democratic urban
neighborhoods of Cleveland, Dayton and other cities. Each recruit
was to be paid $100.
The Democrats, who
tend to benefit more than Republicans from large turnouts, said they
had registered more than 2,000 recruits to try to protect legitimate
voters rather than weed out ineligible ones.
said they had no intention of disrupting voting but were concerned
about the possibility of fraud involving thousands of newly
left's efforts to, quote unquote, register voters - I call them
ringers - have created these problems," said James P. Trakas, a
Republican co-chairman in Cuyahoga County.
Both parties have
waged huge campaigns in the battleground states to register millions
of new voters, and the developments in Ohio provided an early
glimpse of how those efforts may play out on Election Day.
officials said that by state law, the parties' challengers would
have to show "reasonable" justification for doubting the
qualifications of a voter before asking a poll worker to question
that person. And, the officials said, challenges could be made on
four main grounds: whether the voter is a citizen, is at least 18,
is a resident of the county and has lived in Ohio for the previous
in Ohio said they hoped the criteria would minimize the potential
for disruption. But Democrats worry that the challenges will
inevitably delay the process and frustrate the voters.
"Our concern is
Republicans will be challenging in large numbers for the purpose of
slowing down voting, because challenging takes a long time,'' said
David Sullivan, the voter protection coordinator for the national
Democratic Party in Ohio. "And creating long lines causes our
people to leave without voting.''
challenges in Ohio have already begun. Yesterday, party officials
submitted a list of about 35,000 registered voters whose mailing
addresses, the Republicans said, were questionable. After
registering, they said, each of the voters was mailed a notice, and
in each case the notice was returned to election officials as
In Cuyahoga County
alone, which includes the heavily Democratic neighborhoods of
Cleveland, the Republican Party submitted more than 14,000 names of
voters for county election officials to scrutinize for possible
irregularities. The party said it had registered more than 1,400
people to challenge voters in that county.
Among the main swing
states, only Ohio, Florida and Missouri require the parties to
register poll watchers before Election Day; elsewhere, party
observers can register on the day itself. In several states
officials have alerted poll workers to expect a heightened interest
by the parties in challenging voters. In some cases, poll workers,
many of them elderly, have been given training to deal with any
Mr. Trakas, the
Republican co-chairman in Cuyahoga County, said the recruits would
be equipped with lists of voters who the party suspects are not
county residents or otherwise qualified to vote.
The recruits will be
trained next week, said Mr. Trakas, who added that he had not
decided whether to open the training sessions to the public or
reporters. Among other things, he said, the recruits will be taught
how to challenge mentally disabled voters who are assisted by anyone
other than their legal guardians. In previous elections, he said,
bus drivers who had taken group-home residents to polling places
often helped them vote.
Reno Oradini, the
Cuyahoga County election board attorney, said a challenge would in
effect create impromptu courts at polling places as workers huddled
to resolve a dispute and cause delays in voting. He said he was
working with local election officials to find ways of preventing
disruptions that could drive away impatient voters and reduce
State law varies
widely on voter challenges. In Colorado, challenged voters can sign
an oath that they are indeed qualified to vote; voters found to have
lied could be prosecuted, but their votes would still be counted. In
Wisconsin, it is the challenger who must sign an oath stating the
grounds for a challenge.
personal knowledge," said Kevin J. Kennedy, executive director
of the Wisconsin State Elections Board. "You can't say they
don't look American or don't speak English."
officials said yesterday that Election Day challenging had been done
only sporadically by the parties over the years, mainly in highly
contested races. In the bitterly contested 2000 presidential
election, they said, challenges occurred mainly after Election Day.
The preparations for
widespread challenging this year have alarmed some election
chaos and confusion in the polling site," said R. Doug Lewis,
executive director of the Election Center, an international
association of election officials. But, he said, "most courts
say it's permissible by state law and therefore can't be
Neas of PFAW writes this (via Buzzflash):
Secretary of State Ken Blackwell issued a directive that, for the
first time, will allow political parties to apportion partisan
challengers by precinct instead of polling site, thereby greatly
increasing the number of challengers at Ohio polling places.
For example, a polling place serving four precincts would normally
have one challenger from each party. Blackwell’s directive will
now allow four challengers at that location, one for each precinct
The deadline for registering partisan poll challengers passed on
October 22nd. A New York Times story the following day revealed that
the Republican Party registered 3,600 challengers, while the
Democratic Party registered 2,000. Neither party is allowed to add
challengers, but Blackwell’s directive will allow the parties to
concentrate multiple challengers at polling places with multiple
People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas said:
“There is something terribly wrong here. The question must be
asked: is the Ohio Secretary of State using his position for
partisan advantage? What is the purpose for putting an unprecedented
number of challengers at the polls and allowing them to be
concentrated in precincts?
Reader radtimes sent in this
Los Angeles Times article:
As two federal judges
in Ohio prepared to rule on lawsuits contending that the state's
procedure for challenging an individual's right to vote is
unconstitutional, the Justice Department weighed in with an unusual
letter brief supporting the statute.
Assistant Atty. Gen. R. Alexander Acosta sent a brief during the
weekend to U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott, who held a rare Sunday
night hearing in one of the cases, a lawsuit filed late last week by
Donald and Marian Spencer. The Spencers, an elderly African American
couple, are longtime civil rights activists in Cincinnati.
The Spencers' lawsuit
contends that the Ohio procedure, which was enacted in 1886 and
permits individuals to challenge the legitimacy of a voter at the
polling place, is a vestige of "Jim Crow" laws and creates
the possibility of disenfranchising a voter without due process of
Another lawsuit, pending in federal court in Akron, raises similar
contentions. It was filed by two Akron residents, two residents of
nearby communities and the Summit County Democratic Central Committee.
Ohio's Republican secretary of state, J. Kenneth Blackwell, is a
defendant in each case, along with local election officials in the
Acosta's letter urged the judge to heed the Help America Vote Act, or
HAVA, which was passed in 2002 to help remedy some of the problems in
the 2000 presidential election. In particular, the letter said HAVA
permitted a voter whose "eligibility to vote is called into
question" to cast a provisional ballot.
"We bring this provision to the court's attention because HAVA's
provisional ballot requirement is relevant to the balance between
ballot access and ballot integrity," Acosta wrote.
"Challenge statutes, such as those at issue in Ohio, are part of
this balance," he added. "They are intended to allow
citizens and election officials, who have information pertinent to the
crucial determination of whether an individual possesses all of the
necessary qualifiers to being able to vote, to place that information
before the officials charged with making such determinations."
Acosta's letter also stated that "nothing" in the Voting
Rights Act barred challenge statutes. Consequently, Acosta concluded,
"a challenge statute permitting objections based on United States
citizenship, residency, precinct residency, and legal voting age like
those at issue here are not subject" to a challenge based on the
language of the law alone, because those criteria are "not tied
Alphonse A. Gerhardstein, a veteran civil rights lawyer who represents
the plaintiffs in the Cincinnati case, said he thought "the
letter was highly irregular."
"The Justice Department is not a party to the case. They have not
filed a motion to intervene in the case or filed an amicus
brief," Gerhardstein said.
"They volunteered information that goes beyond any federal
interest. It's startling to say that challengers can bring information
to [the official] poll watchers. That presumes they will bring in
outside information. If you are a poll watcher, how are you going to
evaluate that information on the spot?" Gerhardstein wondered.
Gerhardstein's lawsuit emphasizes that under Ohio law, a voter can be
disqualified at a polling place.
Last week, Dlott held two days of hearings. On Friday, David Maume, a
sociologist at the University of Cincinnati, testified that
demographic data demonstrated that a disproportionate number of
Republican challengers would be placed in precincts that were
predominantly African American.
Maume told the judge that his analysis found that 77% of black voters
in Hamilton County, where Cincinnati is the largest city, could face a
Republican challenger on election day, while only 25% of white voters
could encounter a challenger.
Maume said there was "a clear correlation between a voting
population that is black and the placement of Republican
Republican Party officials countered, submitting affidavits stating
that the places where they planned to deploy challengers were not
determined by race. Rather, they would place challengers at all
precincts where then-Vice President Al Gore got 60% or more of the
vote during the 2000 presidential election, said lawyer Michael
Barrett, co-chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party.
Dlott adjourned the hearing Friday night and asked the parties to
submit additional briefs by Sunday morning and present additional
testimony at a Sunday night hearing.
At the hearing, Drew Hicks, a Cincinnati lawyer who has volunteered to
serve as a Republican challenger and who attended a training session
Sunday, was questioned sharply by Gerhardstein. Hicks said volunteers
had been directed to lodge challenges against voters who were on a
list of people who had applied for absentee ballots.
Hicks said volunteers also had been instructed to inform officials at
the polls if names of voters were on a list of dead people given to
volunteers by Republican officials. Hicks conceded he did not know the
genesis of the list or whether it was accurate.
He also sent in this follow-up
Two federal judges on
Monday barred political party representatives from challenging
voters at polling places throughout Ohio, saying poll officials
should handle disputes over voter eligibility.
U.S. District Judge
Susan Dlott said plaintiffs in a lawsuit likely would be able to
prove that Ohio's law allowing polling place challengers was
The GOP appealed her
ruling to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and planned to
appeal in the second case.
In that case, U.S.
District Judge John Adams of Akron said poll workers are the ones to
determine if voters are eligible.
"In light of
these extraordinary circumstances, and the contentious nature of the
imminent election, the court cannot and must not turn a blind eye to
the substantial likelihood that significant harm will result not
only to voters, but also to the voting process itself, if appointed
challengers are permitted at the polls," Adams said.
Based on the two
rulings, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell's office told county
election boards Monday to bar all challengers from polling places.
here's an update from Make
A federal judge has barred
vote challengers from Ohio polls.
A federal judge issued an order early Monday barring political
party challengers from polling places throughout Ohio during
U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott found that the application of
Ohio's statute allowing challengers at polling places is
She said the presence of challengers inexperienced in the
electoral process questioning voters about their eligibility would
Dlott ruled on a lawsuit by a black Cincinnati couple who said
Republican plans to deploy challengers to largely black precincts
in Hamilton County was meant to intimidate and block black voters.
However, as larre
at the Left Coaster points out the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled
that challengers should be allowed.
Tonight, a majority of
the Ohio Supreme Court, without opinion, summarily
reversed an earlier trial court decision which had restricted the
presence of partisan "challengers" inside actual polling
The net effect of this
unexplained decision is to allow state Republicans to gang up multiple
"challengers" inside single polling places.
Justices Resnick and
Sweeney dissented, citing prior Ohio court precedent as well as the
majority's flouting of long-accepted common law doctrine that
"the court should not so readily grant extraordinary
relief..." when the most directly affected parties -- voters
whose franchise rights are to be tested -- "are not named parties
and are effectively barred from opposing the emergency relief."
Democracy does not die.
It simply loses its appeal.
List has an update on the 6th Circuit judges (via Josh
Who are these two
judges from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed
challengers to hold up the voting process in minority-heavy Ohio
counties this morning?
James Ryan -
appointed by Ronald Reagan - notable for: dissenting in 2003 against
6th Circuit panel ruling that barred 10 Commandments from Kentucky
courtrooms; wrote in his dissent "The influence of religion upon
American law and government is a fact of American history and politics
that has been widely recognized by scholars, jurists, legislators,
presidents, and, not least, the founders themselves...In his Farewell
Address to the nation, George Washington stated that religion was not
only a part of the foundation of our law and government, it was a
John Rogers -
appointed by George W. Bush - notable for: writing the initial draft
of the 1986 Thornburgh brief that urged the Supreme Court to
overturn Roe v. Wade (as well as to uphold requirements requiring
abortion providers to give their clients information about abortion
alternatives and requiring that a minor girl obtain the consent of her
parents, or a judge, before obtaining an abortion)
Can we just call the
courts partisan now? Enough with the robes and the religious overtones
and the veneer of objectivity. That ideal broke down before it even
GOP operatives who
resigned over vote fraud scandal in South Dakota recruited by GOP to
run operations in Ohio
here is a report from the Argus
South Dakota campaign
official who resigned after questions arose over absentee-ballot
applications will work in Ohio for the Bush-Cheney campaign, an
internal Republican Party memo indicates.
Larry Russell, who was chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party's
get-out-the-vote operation, resigned this week after questions were
raised about the validity of some of the 1,400 absentee-ballot
applications gathered, largely on college campuses, by the program
Students on campuses in Brookings, Vermillion,
Yankton and Spearfish have questioned the absentee-ballot application
process, saying young men obtained their applications, but the
notarization of the documents carried the signature of a woman.
The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation has been
interviewing several people about the matter.
No charges have been filed as a result of the probe, which Attorney
General Larry Long on Thursday would only say "is
When South Dakota Republican Party Chairman Randy Frederick announced
the resignations of Russell and five others Monday evening, he said
the state party has a "zero-tolerance policy."
But an internal Republican Party memo obtained by the Argus Leader
said Russell would be going to Cleveland "to lead the ground
operations" for President Bush and Vice President Cheney there.
Ohio is a swing state considered vital to a successful presidential
Attempts to contact Bush-Cheney campaign officials in Cleveland were
The memo was e-mailed to Republican staffers and officials Sunday
evening by the state
party's Executive Director Jason Glodt. Three other GOP workers who
resigned over the application fracas also will be involved in the Ohio
campaign, according to the memo.
"Todd Schleckeway, Nathan Mertz and Eric Fahrendorf have also
been recruited to Ohio to work with Larry on the President's
campaign," the e-mail stated.
at Dailykos, here's an update on this from the
• Three of the six
state Republican Party workers who resigned late last week are now
working as field coordinators for the Republican Party in Ohio, not
for the Bush-Cheney campaign, according to Ohio officials.
Six people involved with the Victory operation lost their jobs late
last week because of the questions about irregularities, including
Hoff and Larry Russell, Victory's executive director.
Russell and two of the others who resigned - Nathan Mertz and Todd
Schlekeway - are now working for the state Republican Party in Ohio,
said Jason Mauk, Ohio Republican Party spokesman.
"They are not with Bush-Cheney. They are working for the
party," Mauk said Friday. "Larry and the others are field
coordinators for our voter turnout in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland).
They work the phone banks, recruit and organize volunteer
activities, but they are not working in a supervisory
Brendon Cull, communications director for the Ohio Democratic Party
campaign, said he was surprised that the former campaign workers
were coming to Ohio.
"Clearly, these guys are bad enough actors that the GOP in
South Dakota didn't want them, and I don't really think they belong
in Ohio," Cull said. "Certainly, we hope they aren't up to
headquarters in Toledo, OH, burgled and campaign computers containing
highly sensitive information stolen, while other valuables/electronics
Via reader PT,
here's a very
disturbing report from the Toledo Blade:
shattered a side window overnight at Lucas County Democratic
headquarters in Toledo, stealing computers with sensitive campaign
information and triggering concern of the local party's ability to
deliver crucial votes on Nov. 2.
Among the data on the
stolen computer of the party's office manager were: e-mails
discussing campaign strategy, candidates' schedules, financial
information, and phone numbers of party members, candidates, donors,
Also taken were
computers belonging to Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon
Wozniak and to a Texas attorney working with the Kerry/Edwards
presidential campaign to ensure election security.
The thefts have
prompted the Kerry/Edwards campaign and Democrats in Washington to
offer help and have left local officials fretting about the crime's
impact on the upcoming election, in which Ohio plays a high-profile
"This puts us
behind the eight ball," party spokesman Jerry Chabler said.
"This can affect our entire get-out-the-vote operation."
Party pledged to deploy volunteers, lend computers, or "provide
whatever source of assistance they need," said spokesman Dan
importance of Lucas County cannot be overstated, Mr. Trevas said.
"It's a major
Democratic county in a swing area, surrounded by Republican and
moderates," Mr. Trevas said. "A lot of votes come out of
Both President Bush
and Sen. John Kerry have campaigned throughout the region
repeatedly. With a saturation of television ads by both parties in
the local market, it has become one of the most contested regions in
Barbara Koonce, the
office manager, said information on her computer had not been backed
up since August. "I try to do it at least once a month, but
we've been so extremely busy here, it's not the first thing on our
minds," she said.
Beyond the missing
data, the break-in also might have lasting "collateral
damage" because 25 to 50 volunteers come to the headquarters to
make phone calls, send out campaign information, and "do the
necessary grunt work," in any campaign, Mr. Chabler said.
Toledo police took
fingerprints at the scene with the hopes, in part, that they may be
identified or matched to unidentified prints at other crime scenes.
Neither Chief Mike
Navarre nor other investigators would elaborate on the details of
the case, although lead investigator Jim Dec confirmed, "We
collected valuable physical evidence."
headquarters, officials stopped short of publicly blaming partisan
politics, but at the same time, they all but ruled out
Two other computers,
holding less sensitive information, were untouched, as were a petty
cash box that usually holds $80 to $100, televisions, portable
radios, and other electronics. Moreover, other offices inside the
building, 1817 Madison Ave., were not entered. Files, papers, and
pamphlets remained in neat piles, and campaign signs leaned,
apparently undisturbed, against a wall.
"They knew what
they wanted," Mr. Chabler said, calling the incident a
'third-rate burglary,' " a not-so-subtle reference to the
break-in at National Democratic Committee offices in 1972 that began
the Watergate scandal that eventually led to the President Nixon's
GOP Dirty Tricks in Ohio
Chamberlain writes in Salon.com about GOP dirty tricks in
Ohio. Highlights from the article are below, but let us see what the
GOP Secretary of State in Ohio has already been up to in trying to
neutralize the large
number of new Democratic voters in the state:
Voting rights suppression
- Demanding that new voter registrations be re-submitted (barely days
before the deadline) using
80-pound stock paper - even though this
triviality violates the Civil Rights Act [also see Dailykos
for an update].
- Trying to suppress provisional ballots by saying that "provisional ballots should not be issued if
voters are in the wrong polling location"
- Allowing 21 counties to wrongly inform ex-felons that they do not
have a right to vote.
Doing little to reduce error rates with punch card voting
are some snippets from Chamberlain's article [bold text is my
On Monday, the
final day of voter registration in Ohio, the Board of Elections in
Cleveland had a line out the door. "I've never seen anything like
this in my life," said John Ryan, head of the Cleveland AFL-CIO.
"We did a voter registration drive four years ago. We turned in
14,399 new registration forms, and we were pleased with that. This
time, there are about 100,000 newly registered voters. That blows my
mind. This is not Arizona with a growing population. People are
leaving this area, not coming in."
With the registration deadline
past, the focus for the numerous groups in Ohio that are working to
mobilize voters has now shifted to making sure those voters get to the
polls and, once they get there, are able to vote. Conventional wisdom
has always held that the hard part is getting people signed up and to
the polls. But with millions of dollars being spent by groups such as
America Coming Together, MoveOn PAC, 21st Century Democrats and others
on such efforts, a more important problem may be getting those votes
counted -- a fear given definite shape thanks in no small part to
Ohio's obstructionist Republican secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell.
While there had been
a lot of hand-wringing among elected officials, voting rights groups
and the public over electronic voting, Ohio passed a law in May
requiring that all new machines have a paper receipt by 2006. This,
of course, won't occur until after the 2004 presidential election,
but the change has had a deterrent effect on a switch to electronic
voting machines. According to Petee Talley, who is chairing the Ohio
Voter Protection Coalition, made up of labor, civil rights, voting
rights, retiree and community organizations: "Ninety-five
percent of Ohio's voters will be voting on the same equipment they
did the last time."
So, befitting the
state's anachronistic Rust Belt economy, tactics have turned to good
old-fashioned voter suppression and intimidation rather than
high-tech tampering. In a recent campaign stop in Cleveland, Sen.
John Kerry suggested that such intimidation was already underway.
His comments came on the heels of Blackwell's backpedaling on his
decision to enforce an archaic law requiring that all new
registrations be on postcard-weight paper [more on this here
But it seems Blackwell may have several more tricks up his sleeve.
happening in Ohio," says Talley, "is that the secretary of
state has issued a statement saying that provisional ballots should
not be issued if voters are in the wrong polling location."
With tens of thousands of newly registered voters, confusion about
where to go is likely. Withholding provisional ballots -- which the
Help America Vote Act, passed in 2002 in the wake of the 2000
election debacle, specifically mentions as an alternative voting
method when valid registration is in doubt -- will result in many
people simply not voting.
We "sent a
letter to the secretary of state saying that it's a violation of the
Help America Vote Act," says Talley. Not getting an adequate
response, the Ohio Voter Protection Coalition filed a lawsuit on
Tuesday. The Ohio Democratic Party has already sued on this issue,
and a judge is expected to issue a ruling on that suit by Oct. 15. [eRiposte:
see update on this below]
might seem like small potatoes in the scheme of things. But one
professor at Case Western Reserve University -- site of the recent
vice presidential debate
in Cleveland -- has crunched some numbers and he's not at all
convinced this issue is of little consequence.
Using data from
the 2000 election, the professor, Norman Robbins, calculates
conservatively that as many as 13,000 Clevelanders will have to use
a provisional ballot as a result of clerical and other errors. The
typical discard rate for provisional ballots means that nearly 2,300
of those will be invalidated. But this doesn't include all the
people who show up at the wrong polling place and don't get a
provisional ballot at all. Multiply this by the eight urban
areas around Ohio and the potential for disenfranchisement is high.
Considering that Al Gore lost Ohio by 165,000 votes and Ralph Nader
(who will not be on the ballot) took 117,857 votes, it could impact
the election not just in Ohio, but affect the outcome of the
"Who does this
provisional ruling affect most?" asks Robbins. "People who
move. Census data shows that low-income people are 90 percent more
likely to move. If you're poor, you're twice as likely to have to vote
provisionally. On top of that, when they get a provisional ballot,
they're likely to encounter [poll workers] who give them unclear
information on a complex form. That's already difficult.
Note, as this
Houston Chronicle article states, that "More than 100,000
provisional votes were cast [in Ohio] in the 2000 election.".
to Chamberlain's article:
of state was also sued because 21 counties were wrongly informing
ex-felons that they had no right to vote. According to Robbins, the
secretary of state's office agreed to inform all ex-felons of their
voting rights in time for the registration deadline, but then backed
out based on a "distorted" interpretation of the law.
And then there is
the specter of hanging chads if the race in Ohio is close enough
to trigger a recount. Sixty-eight counties in Ohio (out of 88) will
vote using punch card ballots. (In fact, it was little noted at the
time, but Cleveland also had its very own butterfly ballot in 2000,
and it was as poorly designed as Theresa
LePore's in Palm Beach County, Fla.). Again using the 2000
election as a guidepost, Robbins says punch card ballots have nearly
a 4 percent error rate. With some 300,000 voters in Cleveland,
that's nearly 8,000 lost votes, factoring in the turnout rate. He is
critical of Blackwell for doing very little to educate voters about
how to use punch card machines, and points to Los Angeles as having
undertaken a model educational campaign that greatly reduced the
"In 2002, the
Federal Election Commission said that these error rates were
unacceptable," says Robbins. Blackwell "knew the majority
of counties would be using punch cards, and he'd done nothing to
improve that situation until a week ago. What they're doing now is
good, but it's very late in the day and he had to be badgered into
defended himself and his office by saying that these criticisms did
not surface until recently. But Robbins says the voter coalition
he's been working with sent letters to Blackwell on July 29 and
again on Sept. 2, pointing out the problems and making suggestions.
has more on the provisional ballot directive.
Also, on the ex-felon voting issue, here's
an update from Votelaw:
claim Ohio reneging on promise to notify released felons of right to
Advocates who contend that Ohio elections officials haven't properly
informed released felons about their right to vote said Thursday
that the state has backed away from a promise that led to the
settlement of a lawsuit.
denied the claim by the Prison Reform Advocacy Center, which had
filed the lawsuit in August in an effort to inform ex-convicts that
they can register to vote in the Nov. 2 presidential election. State
spokesmen said Ohio had not made any commitment or reached any
settlement of the lawsuit against Secretary of State Kenneth
Blackwell and 21 county boards of election. ...
The Ohio Department
of Rehabilitation and Correction did not reach a settlement because
it was not named as a defendant in the suit, department spokeswoman
JoEllen Culp said.
But the Prison Reform
Advocacy Center said it dismissed its lawsuit against Blackwell this
month based on a promise by a lawyer who spoke for the Ohio
Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The prisoners' advocacy
organization released a court transcript in which a state attorney
told a federal judge on Sept. 3 that the state prisons department
could help by having parole officers give written notice to
ex-convicts saying that state law allows them to vote after being
released. -- Advocates:
Ohio backing away from vow to tell released felons of voting rights
(AP via Ohio News Now)
Via reader CC, here's an update on the
provisional ballot lawsuit in the Los
TOLEDO, Ohio — A
federal judge ruled Thursday that Ohio voters who showed up at the
wrong polling place on election day could still cast ballots as long
as they were in the county where they were registered.
U.S. District Judge James Carr blocked a directive from Ohio Secretary
of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican, who recently announced
that poll workers must send voters to their correct precinct.
Blackwell filed an
The judge said voters who showed up at the wrong polling place after
moving without notifying the elections board, and those whose names
could not be found on the registration rolls, should be able to cast
provisional ballots there.
Denying any voter the right to a provisional vote will erode
confidence in the election and lessen the incentive to vote, the judge
"Lessened participation at the polls diminishes the vitality of
our democracy," Carr said.
The decision is a victory for the Ohio Democratic Party and a
coalition of labor and voter rights groups, which said Blackwell's
order discriminated against the poor and minorities.
"We expect the secretary of state to issue a new set of
guidelines that will allow voters to participate in the election
process," state party Chairman Dennis White said.
Foes of the directive also argued that a federal law passed in 2002
allows voters to cast provisional ballots at any polling place in
their home county.
Blackwell called Carr's decision a misinterpretation of the federal
"The law specifically leaves the issuing and counting of those
ballots to states in accordance with state law," which requires
that voters cast ballots at the correct polling place, Blackwell said.
Provisional ballots are not counted until after the election. They are
set aside and inspected by Democratic and Republican election board
employees to establish their validity.
Interestingly, Tim Russo at Ohio
suppression is a national strategy. There has to be a memo somewhere
to prove it.
Exhibit A. Jeb Bush's appearance on This Week with George
Stephanopolous tipped the Republicans' hand on their national voter
suppression strategy. Stephanopolous pressed Jeb on the impression
that Florida's vote will be flawed, and in the classic Bush petulance
we all know and hate, he alleged all sorts of things have been done to
insure a fair vote. Including, (he said this almost under his breath)
allowing "provisional voting for voters not on the list but in
the right precinct."
It just so happens that Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has hung
his voter suppression hat on exactly the same thing...allowing only
provisional voting for voters who aren't on the list and can prove
they live in the precinct covered by the polling place.
Most people don't know which House district they live in, let alone
which precinct. New voters showing up and not being on the list (i.e.
without having been sent a voter registration card confirming their
polling place and precinct...a regular occurance) are highly unlikely
to be turning up in their correct precicnt. Under Jeb's and
Blackwell's strategy, they don't get to vote.
This strategy was struck down by a federal court in Toledo. Blackwell
is appealling to federal circuit court.
Also, people forget....Ken Blackwell was the black face of
Florida 2000. He was on the air constantly as the only black
person willing to defend the inevitable march of electoral fraud in
Florida in 2000. He is not some innocent attempting to enforce fair
Via reader radtimes, here's an article
in the Washington
Post with bad news for voting rights:
A federal appeals
court ruled Saturday that the provisional ballots Ohio voters cast
outside their precincts should not be counted, throwing out a
lower-court decision that said such ballots are valid as long as
they are cast in the correct county.
The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit supports
an order issued by Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.
Democrats contend that the Republican official's rules are too
restrictive and allege that they are intended to suppress the vote.
Ohio Democrats late
Saturday decided not to file an appeal in the case, one of the first
major tests of how such ballots will be handled in a close election.
Polls show that the race between President Bush and Democratic
challenger John F. Kerry is too close to call in the key swing
Federal judges in several states have issued varying rulings on the
issue of provisional ballots, which are intended to be backups for
eligible voters whose names do not appear on the rolls. Saturday's
ruling was the first time a federal appeals court has weighed in.
MyDD points out:
ramifications of Bush appointees are being felt now, look at the
Circuit Court, which hears appeals from federal cases in
Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The 6th started
Bush's term with 16 judges, and six vacancies, two for Ohio-based
judges and four for Michigan. Republicans had refused for the past 3
years of Clinton's term to make appointments to the 6th.
Bush has made 4
appointees to the 6th, ultra-wingers Jeffrey Sutton and Deborah Cook
were appointed in 2003, giving the majority to Republican
week, the 6th reversed the ruling that allowed a provisional
vote to be counted, if the vote was was not made in the correct
precinct within Ohio. And just yesterday, the 6th issued
a stay on provisional votes being counted in Michigan if they
were cast in the wrong precinct -- but in the right city, village or
Secretary of State officials, Terri Land of Michigan, and Ken
Blackwell of Ohio, are in the act of manipulating a victory for
Bush. The followup to thier shenanigans is for precients to be
changed on election day, in heavily Democratic areas, thus resulting
in votes not being counted, even if they are made in the correct
city, village, or township.
Also see this
article (via What
Via reader CS, here's an extract from a
piece in The
- 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
- 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.