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Monday, June 12, 2006

Ohio's 2004 & 2005 Elections Were Stolen - Wanna Make a Bet about 2006?

(Keywords: , , , why don't 's care that their are meaningless?)

Raw Story tells us the New York Times columnist Bob Herbert thinks it's 'almost certain' that the 2004 presidential election was stolen in Ohio.

Republicans, and even a surprising number of Democrats, have been anxious to leave the 2004 Ohio election debacle behind. But [Robert] Kennedy [,jr.], in his long, heavily footnoted [Rolling Stone] article ("Was the 2004 Election Stolen?"), leaves no doubt that the democratic process was trampled and left for dead in the Buckeye State. Kerry almost certainly would have won Ohio if all of his votes had been counted, and if all of the eligible voters who tried to vote for him had been allowed to cast their ballots.


No one has been able to prove that the election in Ohio was hijacked. But whenever it is closely scrutinized, the range of problems and dirty tricks that come to light is shocking. What's not shocking, of course, is that every glitch and every foul-up in Ohio, every arbitrary new rule and regulation, somehow favored Bush.

Most damning, in my mind, is the exit polling. The State Department uses exit polling to judge the fairness of foreign elections, but when the exit polling Ohio failed in the administration's favor, we were told that polls are often wrong - this isn't true, polls are rarely wrong. And this wasn't the only time that polling in Ohio didn't reflect the election results.

In 2005, the first test of Ohio's election system since the presidential election were a series of referenda. The Free Press tells us, "The polling used by the [Columbus] Dispatch had wrapped up the Thursday before the Tuesday election. Its precision on Issue One was consistent with the Dispatch's historic polling abilities, which have been uncannily accurate for decades. This poll was based on 1872 registered Ohio voters, with a margin of error at plus/minus 2.5 percentage points and a 95% confidence interval. The Issue One outcome would appear to confirm the Dispatch polling operation as the state's gold standard.

"But Issues 2-5 are another story." Issues 2-5 dealt with election reform.

The November 6 Dispatch poll showed Issue Two passing by a vote of 59% to 33%, with about 8% undecided, an even broader margin than that predicted for Issue One.

But on November 8, the official vote count showed Issue Two going down to defeat by the astonishing margin of 63.5% against, with just 36.5% in favor. To say the outcome is a virtual statistical impossibility is to understate the case. For the official vote count to square with the pre-vote Dispatch poll, support for the Issue had to drop more than 22 points, with virtually all the undecideds apparently going into the "no" column.


ssue Three involved campaign finance reform. In a lame duck session at the end of 2004, Ohio's Republican legislature raised the limits for individual donations to $10,000 per candidate per person for anyone over the age of six. Thus a family of four could donate $40,000 to a single candidate. The law also opened the door for direct campaign donations from corporations, something banned by federal law since the administration of Theodore Roosevelt.

The GOP measure sparked howls of public outrage. Though again opposed by the Christian Right, Issue Three drew an extremely broad range of support from moderate bi-partisan citizen groups and newspapers throughout the state. The Sunday Dispatch poll showed it winning in a landslide, with 61% in favor and just 25% opposed.

Tuesday's official results showed Issue Three going down to defeat in perhaps the most astonishing reversal in Ohio history, claiming just 33% of the vote, with 67% opposed. For this to have happened, Issue Three's polled support had to drop 28 points, again with an apparent 100% opposition from the previously undecideds.

In other words, not only was the advance polling wrong, it was almost perfectly wrong. The results were almost the opposite, in terms of percentage, of the polling numbers. "Diebold's controversial CEO Walden O'Dell, a major GOP donor," The Free Press reported, "Made national headlines in 2003 with a fundraising letter pledging to deliver Ohio's 2004 electoral votes to Bush. " Forty-one counties had added Diebold touch screen voting machines for the election.

Associated Press reported on June 10, 2006, that Diebold's lobbyist had donated $10,000 to Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. As the SoS, Blackwell's duties include overseeing elections. Blackwell's actions during the '04 elections were positively reprehensible. A few highlights; when he learned that Democrats had sent photocopied absentee ballots to voters, he cited an obsolete election rule that called for absentee ballots to be on a specific weight of paper. The rule was meant to facilitate counting and sorting by a machine Ohio no longer used. National outrage forced him to back off. He made sure that heavily Republican districts had plenty of voting machines, so republican voters had an easy time voting quickly. Heavily democratic districts, however, were shortchanged and Democrats stood in the rain for hours waiting to vote. Undoubtedly, a lot of them got sick of waiting and bailed. There's more - a lot more - and that's why Bobbie Kennedy's article is so long.

What gets me about all of this, is that Republicans in Ohio seem to be fine with it. But, if elections in Ohio are rigged, then nobody's vote counts - Republican or Democrat. I can't understand why they're happy that their votes are meaningless.