How the Republicans Stole the 2004 Election in Ohio

Fact-esque‘s eRobin has called eVoting “the story of the century so far”, and she’s probably right. Greg Palast, an American investigative journalist who works for the British newspaper, The Observer because US papers aren’t much interested in investigating anything any more, more-or-less single-handedly proved that the 2000 election was stolen from Gore and handed to Bush by Jeb and Katherine Harris.

A lot of us suspected that the 2004 election was stolen as well, this time in Ohio by Ken Blackwell, Ohio’s Sec of State and a GOP operative. Turns out we may have been right: the Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that Cuyahoga County prosecutors are charging that three county election workers “conspired to avoid a more thorough recount of ballots in the 2004 presidential election”. (Link via The Raw Story)

Baxter said testimony will show that the three workers secretly chose sample precincts for the December 2004 recount that did not have questionable results to ensure the tally from the sample matched a previous vote count. Sample precincts [are supposed] to be selected randomly before witnesses.

When the results matched, the workers were allowed to recount the rest of the county’s ballots by machine, avoiding a full hand recount that would have been more lengthy and expensive, he said.

“This was a very hush operation,” Baxter said.

Of course it was. By the simple expedient of picking sample counties the electors knew would match up, they avoided the county-wide handcount that would have forced them to pay attention to discrepancies that have been picked up since – reports by voters that machines counted Gore votes as Bush votes; machine totals that were wildly different from the exit polls; boxes of paper ballots vanishing into thin air only to be found later in the trunk of an election official’s car.

Baker was blunt about the effect but gave them the benefit of the doubt about their motivation.

“The evidence will show that this recount was rigged, maybe not for political reasons, but rigged nonetheless,” Prosecutor Kevin Baxter said. “They did this so they could spend a day rather than weeks or months” on the recount, he said.

Maybe, but here’s my problem:

We have been hearing the same stories every election since the ’01 debacle. We’ve been hearing them about Senate and House races, not just the presidential race. Saxby Chambliss “beat” Max Cleland in Georgia despite exit polling that had Cleland ahead by a comfortable margin all night. And they’ve been coming from states as disparate as Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Georgia, and, most recently, North Carolina (link via Fact-esque).

The Election Contest filed by Democrat Christine Jennings and her attorney Kendall Coffey creates complications that could blow the electronic voting world to pieces. In the simplest terms, the Jennings Florida 13th Congressional district case requires a review of the Kissell loss in North Carolina’s 8th Congressional district. And that spells disaster for e-voting.

Why? Because both the Florida and North Carolina districts used iVotronics touch screen voting machines. These voting machines produced very similar levels of counting errors. The errors cost both Democrats thousands of votes. Ultimately, both Democratic candidates were denied a victory by less than 400 votes. (emphasis added)

There have been, literally, dozens and dozens of these stories from all over the country, and in every case but one that I’m aware of, the skewed machines and suspect votes were tilted toward the Republican candidates.

  • Item: The Diebold CEO wrote a letter to the RNC in which he promised to “do everything possible” to ensure Bush’s election in 2001. His machines, which dominated eVoting across the country, were reported to be switching Gore votes to Bush votes in many key precincts.
  • Item: Black Box Voting discovered that there was a simple two-stroke command buried inside Diebold’s programming that was a back door into Diebold’s computers which would allow someone to switch whole vote totals from one side to the other.
  • Item: It was Republican officials in Florida – Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris – who ordered ChoicePoint NOT to correct their highly inaccurate felon list, a list that prevented hundreds of African-Americans – a heavily Democratic voting bloc – from voting at all.
  • Item: It was Republican election officials in Ohio in ’04 who put thousands of paper ballots into the back of a station wagon and drove off with them so they couldn’t be counted, ballots that later turned out to be from heavily Democratic districts.

And those are only a few examples. That’s a lot of co-incidence to swallow. If it’s a mechanical failure or an electronic glitch, why is it always the Republicans who benefit? If the election officials and/or poll workers are simply making mistakes or being lazy, why do they only seem to get that way in Democratic districts run by Republican officials? I’m sorry but I have a background as an investigator and I can’t accept that level of one-sidedness as pure chance. Cuyahoga County is heavily Democratic and some 600,000 votes were cast (most of them on electronic machines that don’t have paper trails) and yet George Bush won by a slim margin despite exit polls that said he didn’t? That raises huge Red Flags – or ought to.

Yet we go on pretending that our elections are basically fair. In terms of numbers, that’s probably true but it misses the point. As Cuyahoga County (and North Carolina and many other examples) show quite clearly, you don’t need to embezzle every vote to win. You only need to control a few key counties in a few key states to steal a national election, and less than that in a state race.

We have had two national elections swiped from us and at least a dozen state elections by “irregularities” in the voting process that always seem to help only one side, some electronic and some human. Something can be done about the human factor but there’s nothing that can be done to correct mis-votes with electronic machines that have no paper trail. That makes this a democratic crisis.

Democracy is based on voting. Steal the votes and you steal the democracy. Every dictator, every authoritarian imperialist knows this. From the moment the election was stolen in Florida in 2001, we have ceased to live in a democratic nation, not because of that single election but because it turned out to be a pattern which was used again and again to embezzle votes. If we don’t break this pattern and correct the problem, we may never live in a democracy again.

4 responses to “How the Republicans Stole the 2004 Election in Ohio

  1. Thanks for writing this. I’m going to link to it b/c it’s the post I’ve been wanting to write for awhile and haven’t had time to do it.

    I’m at a national conference for a progressive group and I told someone tonight that the eVoting story has been essentially locked out of blogtopia. I said that the blogs who follow the story are Brad Freidman, Avedon Carol, Thomas Nephew and me. If I’m on the short list of top bloggers on this issue, that’s a good indication of how pathetic the coverage is. Now we can add you to the list! Welcome, my brother! It’s lonesome at the top ;)

  2. Oh, I should mention – there are places where the voting system may be favoring Dems – Philly for one. The point of voting rights groups is that we simply have no idea who really wins when the vote can’t be independently audited via a voter-verified paper ballot.

    In Bucks County, where I vote, the GOP incumbent congressman lost by something like a thousand votes. That’s an automatic recount in any previous year but since now we’re voting on unverifiable machines, that option isn’t available. And the GOP guy never even brought up the issue – I have my guesses why that’s the case but the bottom line is that the 2006 elections set the precedent that these machines should be trusted. That’s going to be the legacy of the 2006 elections, I’m afraid, not whatever the House of Reps can manage to get done and then have blocked by the Senate.

  3. I’m going to link to it b/c it’s the post I’ve been wanting to write for awhile and haven’t had time to do it.

    You didn’t have time because you’re out in the real world doing things. I just sit here and do this. It’s the only thing I’m good at.

    Now we can add you to the list!

    I hate to, um, correct you or anything, but I’ve been writing about this for years. The Annex had two whole pages – 30 or 40 posts – devoted to eVoting, half written by me and half by somebody I met on a BBS I used to inhabit. His name is Peter K Harrell, and he’s a very smart guy and an expert on voting laws. Some of this stuff probably still exists in the Omnium archives but it would be a bear to dig it out (Blogger’s search program SUCKS). Anyway, contrary to your belief, I’m not exactly new to this stuff. I suppose one of the reasons I haven’t been doing so much of it lately is because I spent so much time at it before and was ignored. After awhile you get tired of banging your head against a brick wall to get attention when everybody walks right on by and nobody even offers you a band-aid.

    That excuse out of the way, I’ll try to do more.

    Oh, I should mention – there are places where the voting system may be favoring Dems –

    I don’t doubt it. But are they taking advantage of it, is the question. My point was that, really, a lot of this has been deliberately set up by one side to favor itself. I don’t care if election officials make mistakes, I care if they’re making them on purpose to make sure their side wins. I don’t see much evidence of that from the Dems but acres of it from radical Pubs (Rove and Norquist especially) who believe Democrats are evil and anything they do to defeat them is for the “good of the country” and therefore justified.

    If the Dems start stealing elections, I suppose I’ll complain about that, too. Six years ago I would have. But now? After the Bush Gang? I’m not so sure. Screwing them really would be in the best interests of the country.

  4. I was all about the GOP being the evil force behind this. I still think that it was the GOP that figured out how to rig the game electronically- , they’re always, always, always ahead of the Dems when it comes to using available technology to win. I know but can’t prove that at some time during all that data mining that the RNC was so famous for in 2000, someone said, “If only we had access to the voter role databases, we’d be able to do some wonderful things …” and so Florida 2000 and the horrible (bi-partisan) HAVA were born. But in the years that I’ve been following this, I’ve seen Democrats ignore everything from the merely suspicious to the really hard evidence, all the opportunities to fix the problem and, most strangely, all the public opinion, which is wildly against unverifiable electronic voting, to allow this nightmare to deepen and cloud (thanks to 2006) to the point that we may not ever get this really fixed. If we’re going to talk abaout coincidences we don’t buy, the idea that the Dems aren’t all deep in this shit has to be on the top of my list.

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