You may be bored by hearing about this issue. You may have been convinced that it's over.
Even in a representational democracy, every vote must be counted (or at least a Good Faith effort made to do so), when elections or votes are held.
This has not been the case in this year's Presidential election, in at least Ohio (and frankly, I think that's just the most high profile investigation of the moment).
The message below came from a mailing list I'm on, and I trust the poster to be fairly impartial about the information they present (as they've debunked some reports, even as they've put forth such as the following).
Date: Fri, 24 Dec 2004 20:52:31 -0500
I grabbed the latest update at dailykos:
Happy Holidays, all.
- Recount Update
Ohio has been recounting its votes by taking 3% of the ballots in each county, hand count, and if the number doesn't match the previous totals, they conduct a hand recount of all the entire county.
There has been some controversy as to how that 3% is to be counted. They are supposed to take all the votes in the county, and see how much 3% is. Then they are supposed to randomly select a precinct or precincts that add up to that number.
The results of the recount, with almost all the counties in, is a net gain of Kerry of a couple hundred votes. <http://www.onnnews.com/Global/story.asp?S=2723624&nav=LQlCUSkB>
Ah, but there is more, so much more....
- Recount Thwarted
A quick point about the "Random" selection of precincts mentioned above. Read here <http://votecobb.org/recount/ohio_reports/counties/vinton.php> and here <http://votecobb.org/recount/ohio_reports/counties/morrow.php> about how "random" some of the precinct selection were.
Moving on. Ohio law requires that if the voting machine recount doesn't match the hand recount, you have to recount the whole county.
But who needs to go through that legally-required formality? If the hand count doesn't match, just change the machine: <http://www.lancastereaglegazette.com/news/stories/20041222/localnews/1774145.html>Nicolia said when they did the hand count and compared that to the voting machine's count, they didn't match.Rewrite Ohio election law, eh? Well, it looks pretty black and white to me:
"But we had a back up tabulator (voting machine counter)," Nicolia said.
When they tried that one, it didn't work either.
With nothing else to do, Nicolia said the tabulator room was locked until a technician from the company could come.
"The earliest they could send someone was Saturday," Nicolia said.
The technician brought in a new tabulator and worked on the old one.
"We decided to use the new one he had brought in," Nicolia said.
They tested the machine and test batch matched the hand count.
"We were in touch with the Secretary of State's Office all the time," Nicolia said.
James Lee, spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's Office, said everything appeared to have been done correctly.
"Mechanical devices break down from time to time," Lee said. "The Board of Elections followed proper procedures as far as we know. Unfortunately there are people with political agendas from outside Ohio that trying to rewrite Ohio election laws and that's unfortunate for everyone.""The board must randomly select whole precincts whose total equals at least 3% of the total vote, and must conduct a manual count."I don't see anything in there saying "If the tabulator count doesn't match the hand count, order a new machine."
"If the tabulator count does not match the hand count, and after rechecking the manual count the results are still not equal, all ballots must be hand counted. If the results of the tabulator count and the hand counted ballots are equal, the remainder of the ballots may be processed through the tabulator (for optical scan and punchcards)."
(Section 3515 of the Ohio Revised Code)
This is not an isolated incident. When the machine count didn't match the hand recount, counties just changed the machines, instead of following through with a complete hand recount of the county.
Why? Well, because the machines are always right. At least that's what Mr. Barbian, employee of Triad (the vote tabulating company) thinks: "The machine is always right." <http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/triad_letter.pdf>
- About those machines....
I won't take up the space here, but if you want to convince your family that there is something seriously wrong with US elections, print out 20 Amazing facts About Elections in the U.S. <http://www.yuricareport.com/2004%20Election%20Fraud/20AmazingFactsAboutElections.html>
In Ohio, we have not only Diebold to deal with, but Triad, a vote tabulating company. Read wanderindiana's dairy on the Triad family trifecta here <http://bureaucratbyday.dailykos.com/story/2004/12/14/53613/440>. Here is a map of Triad's influence on Ohio elections:
How much do we trust Triad? Let me count the ways...
- Triad had remote access to the voting machines during the elections. <http://rawstory.rawprint.com/1204/conyers_triadnew_122304.php>
- Triad left unofficial vote totals on PUBLIC SERVERS. <http://www.bluelemur.com/index.php?p=496>
- Triad is alleged to have came into Hocking County, put a "patch" <http://www.truthout.org/mm_01/5.121004.Robersondep.pdf> on a voting tabulator, and instruct the workers on how to put up a "cheat sheat" <http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/triad_letter.pdf> to ensure that the hand count matches the machine count.
- Triad is caught on tape <http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/122404X.shtml> admitting to the same.
And let's not forget Diebold:
- Its President, Walden Dell, stated in a GOP fundraising letter he was committed to "delivering Ohio's electoral votes to the President." <http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0828-08.htm>
- Not too close for comfort yet? How about the fact that Walden Dell is a member of President Bush's "Rangers and Pioneers," <http://www.whitehouseforsale.org/ContributorsAndPaybacks/pioneer_profile.cfm?pioneer_ID=967> an elite group of loyalists who have raised at least $100,000 each for the 2004 race? "I am one, and proud of it," Dell has proclaimed. <http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1206-01.htm>
- Diebold was sued by the State of California for election fraud, <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4874190> it lied to public officials, and had to pay out $2.6 million to the state.
- Diebold techs "reprogammed" the voting machines during the Ohio recount. <http://votecobb.org/recount/ohio_reports/counties/lucas.php>
Oh, and just yesterday, it was learned that there is a default setting on the voting machines <http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2004/1018> which was...you guessed it...Bush. Meaning if a voter didn't choose, or if someone reset to default with the easily hackable password of "1111", the vote went to Bush. This makes sense, considering the countless stories <http://abqjournal.com/elex/246845elex10-22-04.htm> of "vote hopping" <http://www.spectrumz.com/z/fair_use/2004/11_04.html>
- About the guy ordering the machines...
Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell has been referred to as the 'Katherine Harris' of the 2004 election. He was Chair of the Bush-Chenery 2004 Campaign in Ohio. Not at all a conflict of interest, right?
Let's take a closer look at Mr. Blackwell:
- His office maintained secret slush funds: <http://www.votecobb.org/newsclips/2004/dec/news2004-12-18a.php>Rhonda J. Frazier, a former employee of the Ohio Secretary of State's office, has confirmed in an affidavit taken by Cynthia Butler, working with freepress.org, that the Office had secret slush funds. Frazier says it also failed to comply with the requirements of "The Voting Reform Grant" that required all the voting machines in Ohio to be inventoried and tagged for security reasons.
"I was routinely told to violate the bidded contracts to order supplies from other companies for all 17 Secretary of State offices throughout the State which were cheaper vendors, leaving a cash surplus differential in the budget," Frazier states, "After complaining about the office's repeated practices of violating grants and contracts I was fired."
- It took him six weeks to certify the Ohio votes, which was necessary for the recount to begin. Six weeks. To put that into perspective, within the same time frame, Washinton state certified its vote, completed a state-wide recount, and started a second one.
- While the Green party was inspecting voting information from minority precincts, Blackwell issued a suprise order, <http://fairnessbybeckerman.blogspot.com/2004/12/blackwell-locks-out-recount-volunteers.html> calling for a "lockdown" on any and all materials related to the election, claiming they were not "public records" yet. According to Ohio law, these should have remained public:Ohio Revised Code Title XXXV Elections, Sec. 3503.26 that requires all election records to be made available for public inspection and copying. ORC Sec. 3599.161 makes it a crime for any employee of the Board of Elections to knowingly prevent or prohibit any person from inspecting the public records filed in the office of the Board of Elections. Finally, ORC Sec. 3599.42 clearly states: "A violation of any provision of Title XXXV (35) of the Revised Code constitutes a prima facie case of election fraud within the purview of such Title."
- Following in the footsteps of Bush, Cheney, and Rice, Blackwell has developed an allergic reaction to making statements under oath. He has labelled requests to have him testify under oath <http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2004/1015> as "harassment."
- Several Ohio senators have been calling on Blackwell to resign. <http://www.thelantern.com/news/2004/10/06/Campus/Senators.Blackwell.Must.Resign-743562.shtml> <http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/10/7/10500/5202>
- Right before the election, Blackwell was blasted by U.S. District Judge James G. Carr in Toledo, who suggested that Blackwell risked denying large numbers of Ohioans the right to vote on Nov. 2 and "apparently seeks to accomplish the same result in Ohio in 2004 that occurred in Florida in 2000." <http://www.dispatch.com/election/election-local.php?story=dispatch/2004/10/21/20041021-A1-00.html> The judge also conluded : "I cannot be confident . . . that Blackwell will, indeed, fulfill his obligation to this court, Ohio's election officials, and Ohio's voters".
- Lawsuits galore
Dozens of lawsuits have been filed in Ohio. The central one at this point is that filed Arnebeck, claiming that irregularities/ suppression occured, and that without these, Kerry would have won Ohio, and the Presidency.
Arnebeck's lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice on a technicality; he filed two election contests (the presidential election and the election for Supreme Court justice) in the same complaint. So the complaint was split up, and Arnebeck refiled the presidential election objection. Deposition requestes were also sent to Blackwell, Bush, Rove, & Co.
Chief Justice Moyers denied the Green's motion to expedite and impound evidence, <http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/newpdf/0/2004/2004-ohio-6995.pdf> finding that "the interests of justice do not warrant consideration of contestors' motion prior to expiration of time for contestees to appear in opposition." Next, he asked that Arnebeck explain to him why the issue isn't moot, since the electors are already approved for Bush, and since (since he denied the motion to expedite, I might add), all of this won't be completed by January 6th, when Congress approves the electors.
If you every wanted a brilliant lawyer, now is when you need them the most. Arnebeck has just a few days to file his brief as to why the case should not be thrown out alltogether. Read a lawyer's interpretation of what Arnebeck is up against over at DU. <http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=203&topic_id=187592&mesg_id=187592>
Up against the clock, it seems that Blackwell's delay six week delay in certifying the vote may have worked...although Arnebeck does have a strong argument in his interpretation of the law.
Kerryites around the nation rejoiced yesterday as Kerry announced he will be filing a motion to expedite in Federal District Court. <http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/122404Y.shtml> Previously, Kerry just wrote letters <http://www.breakfornews.com/articles/KerryLetterToOhioCounties.htm>, and more letters. <http://rawstory.com/exclusives/kerry_1216.php> Filing of the motion was delayed until today or possibly Monday due to inclement weather in Ohio (courthouse was closed...does Blackwell control the weather? hmmm).
- Must Reads,
- Ohio electoral fight becomes 'biggest deal since Selma' <http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2004/1015> as GOP stonewalls
- NYT: Voting Problems in Ohio Spur Call for Overhall <http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/24/national/24vote.html?oref=login>
- Must see: videos of voter suppression <http://www.thefreespeechzone.net/> and the Fritakis article on suppression here. <http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/111704Fitrakis/111704fitrakis.html>
- Things to Do.
- It's the holidays! Relax. Open up gifts and pretend you like them.
- Remember that Democracy doesn't take a day off. Between basting the ham and icing the cookies, take 5 minutes and watch <http://www.electionfraud2004.org/> this slideshow on the elections. Forward it to all your friends.
- Use this nifty site <http://capwiz.com/pdamerica/dbq/officials/> to find your elected officials, or perhaps some Ohio officials, and shot them email, telling them Happy Holidays and all you want for Christmas is a paper trail.
Update [2004-12-24 13:12:24 by georgia10]::
Silly me, I forgot to update the elector sitation. Jesse Jackson says that Kerry conceeded too soon.. <http://www.timesleader.com/mld/timesleader/news/nation/10487723.htm> Do anyone in Congress think so too?
Senator Boxer from CA is apparently being swayed by the thousands and thousands of people petitioning her to object. But word is she wants the Ohio Reps. to back her up. Contact the OH Congresspeople:
P.O. Box 141
Lorain, OH 44052
Feel free to conduct your own investigation to verify or debunk the claims above -- and please let me know what you learn -- but most importantly, please contact your own governmental representation and ask them to do the same.
They may find that all the troublesome activities were not enough to affect the final outcome of this election -- and that would be personally disheartening, but acceptable, if the investigation also leads to reform of the process that permitted such activities.
Fraudulent vote counts, failure to follow explicit laws governing voting, tallying, and other procedures, and the rest -- none of these are tolerable in a nation where the Government is supposed to be Of, By, and For the People.
Be seeing you,