[Mb-civic] The Ohio Vote Debacle
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ean at sbcglobal.net
Sat Mar 4 21:40:31 PST 2006
The Ohio Vote Debacle
By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, AlterNet
Posted on March 3, 2006,
While life goes on during the Bush2 nightmare, so does the research
on what really happened in Ohio in 2004 to give George W. Bush a
Pundits throughout the state and nation -- many of them alleged
Democrats -- continue to tell those of us who question Bush's second
coming that we should "get over it," that the election is old news.
But things get curiouser and curiouser.
In our 2005 compendium "How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election
& Is Rigging 2008," we list more than a hundred different ways the
Republican Party denied the democratic process in the Buckeye State.
For a book of documents to be published Sept. 11 by the New Press
entitled "What Happened in Ohio," we are continuing to dig.
It turns out, we missed more than a few of the dirty tricks Karl Rove,
Ken Blackwell and their GOP used to get themselves four more years.
In an election won with death by a thousand cuts, some that are still
hidden go very deep. Over the next few weeks we will list them as they
One of them has just surfaced to the staggering tune of 175,000
purged voters in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), the traditional
stronghold of the Ohio Democratic Party. An additional 10,000 that
registered to vote there for the 2004 election were lost due to "clerical
As we reported more than a year ago, some 133,000 voters were
purged from the registration rolls in Hamilton County (Cincinnati) and
Lucas County (Toledo) between 2000 and 2004. The 105,000 from
Cincinnati and 28,000 from Toledo exceeded Bush's official alleged
margin of victory -- just under 119,000 votes out of some 5.6 million
the Republican Secretary of State. J. Kenneth Blackwell deemed worth
Exit polls flashed worldwide on CNN at 12:20 am Wednesday morning,
Nov. 3, showed John Kerry winning Ohio by 4.2 percent of the popular
vote, probably about 250,000 votes. We believe this is an accurate
reflection of what really happened here.
But by morning Bush was being handed the presidency, claiming a 2.5
percent Buckeye victory, as certified by Blackwell. In conjunction with
other exit polling, the lead switch from Kerry to Bush is a virtual
statistical impossibility. Yet John Kerry conceded with more than
250,000 ballots still uncounted, though Bush at the time was allegedly
ahead only by 138,000, a margin that later slipped to less than 119,000
in the official vote count.
At the time, very few people knew about those first 133,000 voters that
had been eliminated from the registration rolls in Cincinnati and
Toledo. County election boards purged the voting registration lists.
Though all Ohio election boards are allegedly bipartisan, in fact they
are all controlled by the Republican Party. Each has four seats, filled
by law with two Democrats and two Republicans.
But all tie votes are decided by the secretary of state, in this case
Blackwell, the extreme right-wing Republican now running for
governor. Blackwell served in 2004 not only as the man in charge of
the state's vote count, but also as co-chair of the Ohio Bush-Cheney
campaign. Many independent observers have deemed this to be a
conflict of interest. On election day, Blackwell met personally with
Bush, Karl Rove and Matt Damschroder, chair of the Franklin County
(Columbus) Board of Elections, formerly the chair of the county's
The Board of Elections in Toledo was chaired by Bernadette Noe, wife
of Tom Noe, northwestern Ohio's "Mr. Republican." A close personal
confidante of the Bush family, Noe raised more than $100,000 for the
GOP presidential campaign in 2004. He is currently under indictment
for three felony violations of federal election law, and 53 counts of
fraud, theft and other felonies in the "disappearance" of more than $13
million in state funds. Noe was entrusted with investing those funds by
Republican Gov. Robert Taft, who recently pled guilty to four
misdemeanor charges, making him the only convicted criminal ever to
serve as governor of Ohio.
The rationale given by Noe and the Republican-controlled BOE in
Lucas and Hamilton counties was that the voters should be eliminated
from the rolls because they had allegedly not voted in the previous two
There is no law that requires such voters be eliminated. And there is
no public verification that has been offered to confirm that these people
had not, in fact, voted in those elections.
Nonetheless, tens of thousands of voters turned up in mostly
Democratic wards in Cincinnati and Toledo, only to find they had been
mysteriously removed from the voter rolls. In many cases, sworn
testimony and affidavits given at hearings after the election confirmed
that many of these citizens had in fact voted in the previous two federal
elections and had not moved from where they were registered. In
some cases, their stability at those addresses stretched back for
The problem was partially confirmed by a doubling of provisional
ballots cast during the 2004 election, as opposed to the number cast in
2000. Provisional ballots have been traditionally used in Ohio as a
stopgap for people whose voting procedures are somehow
compromised at the polls, but who are nonetheless valid registrants.
Prior to the 2004 election, Blackwell made a range of unilateral
pronouncements that threw the provisional balloting process into
chaos. Among other things, he demanded that voters casting
provisional ballots provide their birth dates, a requirement that was
often not mentioned by poll workers. Eyewitnesses testify that many
provisional ballots were merely tossed in the trash at Ohio polling
To this day, more than 16,000 provisional ballots (along with more than
90,000 machine-spoiled ballots) cast in Ohio remain uncounted. The
secretary of state refuses to explain why. A third attempt by the Green
and Libertarian parties to obtain a meaningful recount of the Ohio
presidential vote has again been denied by the courts, though the
parties are appealing.
Soon after the 2004 election, Damschroder announced that Franklin
County would eliminate another 170,000 citizens from the voter rolls in
Columbus. Furthermore, House Bill 3, recently passed by the GOP-
dominated legislature, has imposed a series of restrictions that will
make it much harder for citizens to restore their names to the voter
rolls, or to register in the first place.
All this, however, pales before a new revelation just released by the
board of elections in Cuyahoga County, the heavily Democratic county
Robert J. Bennett, the Republican chair of the Cuyahoga Board of
Elections, and the chair of the Ohio Republican Party, has confirmed
that prior to the 2004 election, his BOE eliminated -- with no public
notice -- a staggering 175,414 voters from the Cleveland-area
registration rolls. He has not explained why the revelation of this
massive registration purge has been kept secret for so long. Virtually
no Ohio or national media has bothered to report on this story.
Many of the affected precincts in Cuyahoga County went 90 percent
and more for John Kerry. The county overall went more than 60
percent for Kerry.
The eliminations have been given credence by repeated sworn
testimony and affidavits from long-time Cleveland voters that they
came to their usual polling stations only to be told that they were not
registered. When they could get them, many were forced to cast
provisional ballots which were highly likely to be pitched in the trash, or
which remain uncounted.
Ohio election history would indicate that the elimination of 175,000
voters in heavily Democratic Cleveland must almost certainly spell
doom for any state-wide Democratic campaign. These 175,000 pre-
2004 election eliminations must now be added to the 105,000 from
Cincinnati and the 28,000 from Toledo.
Therefore, to put it simply: at least 308,000 voters, most of them likely
Democrats, were eliminated from the registration rolls prior to an
election allegedly won by less than 119,000 votes, where more than
106,000 votes still remain uncounted, and where the GOP secretary of
state continues to successfully fight off a meaningful recount.
There are more than 80 other Ohio counties where additional pre-
November 2004 mass eliminations by GOP-controlled boards of
elections may have occurred. Further "anomalies" in the Ohio 2004
vote count continue to surface.
In addition, it seems evident that the Democratic Party will now enter
Ohio's 2006 gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, and its 2008
presidential contest, with close to a half-million voters having been
eliminated from the registration rolls, the vast majority of them from
traditional Democratic strongholds, and with serious legislative barriers
having been erected against new voter registration drives.
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of "How the GOP
Stole America's 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008," available via Free
Press. They are co-editors, with Steve Rosenfeld, of "What Happened
coming in September from The New Press.
© 2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/33006/
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