Monday, December 13, 2004

Obstruction in Ohio? House Judiciary Committee Calls Hearing for Monday

This shouldn't be so difficult.

President Bush, on election night, was given a 136,000-vote advantage in Ohio. Even after counting provisional and absentee ballots, the lead only dimished to 118,000.

By Ohio law, a recount can be called by anyone willing to pay the necessary fees. A coalition led by the Green and Libertarian parties have coughed up the money to do so, and the recount is to begin this week.

Yet, news came on Friday that Ohio Secretary of State (and Bush state campaign official) Ken Blackwell had withdrawn access to two election observers auditing voting records in Greene County, Ohio. (Greene County Director of Elections Carole Garman claimed that she had withdrawn access to the voting records at the direction of Secretary Blackwell.)

That has led John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), ranking member of House Judiciary Committee to request one of the auditors, Joan Quinn, to testify at a hearing scheduled for Monday in Columbus, Ohio. Quinn has agreed to do so, and will present sworn statements from corroborating witnesses.

"Regardless of who ordered the denial of this access, such an action appears to violate Ohio law," Conyers wrote in a memo released to the media. "We have now repeatedly seen election officials obstruct and stonewall this search for the truth. I am beginning to wonder what it is they are trying to hide."

***

It's a good question. Too bad our media has, for the most part, turned a deaf ear to our democratic process.

While the Bush administration prepares for a second term, and delegations prepare to cast votes for the electoral college -- also scheduled for Monday -- there are questions that remain unanswered in Ohio.

And while many people believe that ultimately, Bush will serve his second term and John Kerry will return to life as a Massachusetts senator, it's disturbing to see Blackwell try to abort the Democratic process. His actions -- both before and after the election -- only raise doubt in the minds of Democratic Party (and other) voters, and add to conspiracy rumors and other fears that the presidential election may have been somehow rigged.

***

What are the complaints? David Lytel, founder of ReDefeatBush.com, and a former Clinton official in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wrote the following Thursday in the Baltimore Sun:

In Franklin County, Ohio, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a Bush campaign official, distributed voting machines so that Republicans could vote efficiently while ensuring that Democrats had to give up hours of their time waiting in line because of a shortage of voting machines in their districts, thus reintroducing a poll tax that the Constitution forbids. Mr. Blackwell did the same elsewhere. One polling place in Howard County, Ohio, that was under court order to permit everyone in line to cast their vote sent them all home at midnight because the order applied only to Election Day itself.

Warren County, Ohio, closed the vote count to outside observers on the advice of the Department of Homeland Security. This county in suburban Cincinnati is of no interest to al-Qaida but it is the single most important county in the nation to Mr. Bush's re-election, having produced nearly one-third of his statewide margin. Democratic registration improved by one-third from four years ago, while Republican registration dropped by 10 percent. Mr. Bush's performance statewide dropped, too, but despite all the arrows in the other direction, Mr. Bush's vote totals mysteriously increased.

***

Yes, questions remain. I'll be honest, I'd like to see the process wrap up, because our president needs to have the confidence of all of the American people. And if one-third of the voting public -- as some have estimated -- believe fraud may have occurred in Ohio and elsewhere, then confidence will remain lacking.

If the President legitimately won in Ohio, so be it. But the more Blackwell pulls strings for his party's leader, the harder it is to believe that fraud didn't occur.

And while our media -- with the notable exception of Keith Olbermann -- snooze at the wheel, and discuss why moral values re-elected Bush (or was it Hispanic voters, or the Florida elderly?), and while Sean Hannity says the president has a mandate and the Democrats shouldn't be such out-of-touch sore losers, while Ann Coulter says liberals are racists for not approving of Condoleeza Rice and Michael Savage says that liberals just hate America, maybe, just maybe something went very wrong in Ohio, and is now that wrong result is being forced through by the GOP. Maybe.

And wouldn't it be nice if our nation's media leaders were to devote as much time investigating this mystery as the right-wingers spent 11 years ago searching for "bimbo eruptions" in Arkansas? It just seems like the Democratic process deserves that much time and effort.

17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed completely. The irregularities in Ohio are too difficult to ignore. Some 10,000 voters and election officials signed affidavits of many many problems in Ohio, many having to do with the shortage of voting machines. The House Judiciary Committee is investigating. As David pointed out, Blackwell, a Bush campaign official, orchestrates questionable activities before and after the election. Why he hasn't been forced to recuse himself should have alone warranted an attack from the media!
Blackwell's rebuttal to the problem alone raises questions. He refused to address specific instances and instead makes general statements like "There were problems in Ohio, but no more than in other states." Or "We have systems in check to restore the impartiality of the vote."
I got an idea. Let's ship Blackwell and his entire staff on a two month vacation to Ukraine to sit out the entire recount process.
Seriously now, the largely Republican-controlled big media sits on its hands. We must not stand for this.
I think based on all the evidences it should be looked into whether Republicans/Blackwell in Ohio "fixed" the election through suppressing Democratic votes through short-changing of machines. It should also be investigated whether Diebold machines had intentionally malfunctioned to hand over thousands of Kerry votes to Bush.
The only legitimate argument that I personally can come up with for ignoring the problem in Ohio is that Bushies could counter with an investigation in a state like Wisconsin where Kerry won by an even slighter margin than Bush reaped in Ohio. Where would it end?
Whatever comes out of Ohio, federal laws should be pursued immediately demanding a paper trail for all electronic voting machines. And a constitutional amendment must immediately pass that NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER AGAIN should a top campaign official of either party be allowed to jointly act as Secretary of State.
The people must have faith in the Democratic process, most represented by the vote, or our Democracy means nothing. To address irregularities in Ohio in an impartial manner is the first step in the right direction.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they should investigate what happened if for no other reason than to fix possible problems going forward. but that is the only reason. the republican run media (i actually laugh when i type that) isnt running the story because far less people care about the issue of fixing problems than they do about creating some form of ridiculous revolution against bush. trust me, if it were even conceivable that the election could be overturned, the newshounds would be on this like white on rice. it just isnt huge news.

the election system just sucks, simple as that. put it plainly--it should be federalized, with the same machines operating in all places (like an atm with a paper trail of sorts.). if that doesnt happen, there will always be some mistakes, fraud to a degree etc. however, unless you feel like recounting every state that is marginally close by hand, you basically go with the system that got you there and then try to fix it for the next one.

being realistic, liberals will whine fraud in any close election they lose as would the republican far right in the reverse situation.

seems to me we still have the best system, flaws and all. president bush is just that-the president. investigate to prevent future problems yes. that is the only news here.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have to comment on these idiots who eat up time on the radio and tv these days. i cant decide who i cant stand more---michael moore and his crying bunch of antiamerican babies or people like ann coulter, sean hannity, rush limbaugh all of whom dont seem to be able to see past their own spin and untruths. Ann coulter is the absolute worst--she is just one annoying liar who outyells everyone. She has little to say that you cannot predict in advance as it appeals to the lowest common denominator only. At least rush limbuagh is humorous at times.

Actually, news itself these days appeals to the lowest common denominator only. As a centrist left person who has in recent years begun to lean right....i cannot stand it. i listen to air america because it is amusing to me much in the same way that hannity & colmes sometimes is. yet both are dangerous to those who actually may believe the crap spewed on both.

I listen to them like i would a saturday night live sketch. In fact, as i think about it, i can think of very few shows that even attempt to tell the truth. I can even live with the truth with a particular bent (especially if you know which way it is)

the shows that are pathetic include hannity & colmes, crossfire, everything on air america, rush limbaugh, scarboro country, dennis miller, mclaughlin group

the shows that have decent moments are meet the press, hardball, brit humes roundtable group

the best shows are daily show and bill mahers show, which shows how pathetic news truly is.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with the above Blogger who asserts, without incorporating the facts or knowing the conclusions of the ongoing probes and legal challenges, that it is not "even conceivable this election could be overturned." Baloney.
The rampart allegations of irregularities if not outright fraud in Ohio could very well show Kerry actually won more votes than Bush. Let's say the investigation -- if the powers that be allow it to happen -- reveals that Blackwell's people indeed worked to place less voting machines in Democratic districts, resulting in the loss of votes for thousands of Kerry votes. Let's say the Diebold machines were found to have switched substantial numbers of votes for Kerry to Bush etc. Let's say orchestrated campaigns are exposed to turn away Democratic voters from the polls, i.e. towing cars, confusing voters on where to go, manipulated provisional ballots, etc. etc.
There are convincing evidences to support all of the above theories.
I would like to say it is a more than remote possibility that Kerry might actually be found to have won Ohio. But I won't say this because I am troubled by the widespread claims of irregularities. I am troubled by Blackwell's response and attempts to quell a investigation that smell of coverup.
Until an investigation conducted in a bipartison manner issues its conclusions or until someone can provide a reasonable explanation for the many problems in Ohio, I will not accept the argument "it's just a conspiracy theory by a bunch of whining Liberals." or "It's unconceivable Kerry could be shown to have won." At this point, I find no reason to jump to such a conclusion.
I believe are other reasons the mainstream media has chosen to ignore the story other than what the above blogger has offered. If a court or prominent authority finds the allegations indeed have a basis in fact, then it would become a bigger story.

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was so utterly predictable, it could have been written in 2001. Republicans can only win when they engage in voter intimidation, supression, manipulation, Diebold, and on and on and on.

This righteous indignation displayed is only evident when their side loses. No mention is made of the dirty tactics employed by their side - vandalism of Republican offices, shooting out windows at campaign offices, slashing tires, etc ...

Sure, the process is less than perfect, but as another pointed out, it is the best that we have. This election was more closely scrutinized than any election in history, and to date, all that has been shown are various vague and unsubstantiated charges.

As for Sec. of State's not being allowed to be active members of their political party, in order to resolve this matter, one would have to eliminate the office as a whole from the state electoral process. I have to assume that you were intentionally exaggerating Blackwell's national role in the Bush campaign, as practically every statewide elected official from both parties were campaign officials for each candidate.

Best of luck in 2008. And please, please, please elect Dean as DNC chairman.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to above, Blackwell official title was co-chairman of the elect Bush campaign in Ohio. Under that title alone, which reeks of partisonship, I need not exaggerate Blackwell's role in the election. It is not an exaggeration to state the fact that he has the ultimate say over the election process in Ohio.
I would not characterize evidences including 10,000 signed affidavits of irregularities from voters and campaign officials alike and expressed concerns of prominent government officials as "vauge."
What hard evidences do you have that these claims are vauge?
The evidences were enough to launch a judiciary committee investigation, and so what if it is Democrats.
Allegations of improprieties of Republicans outnumber those of Democrats about 10-to-one in the past election. Quite frankly, I am not personally aware of more than a few instances across the country where Reps had been accused of suppressing the vote. I have heard of, but not seen any evidences in Ohio, of widespread problems in Republican districts anywhere near the level alleged in Democratic ones.
As for the comment that the Dems think the Reps cannot win without some kind of fraud, it is a sweeping unsubstanable claim. I don't look to bloated opinionated biases. I look to facts. The facts in Ohio strongly support something going wrong with the Nov. 2 election in that state. They suggest that Kerry might have gotten substantially more votes than was recorded.
I don't classify it as a partison issue. It is one that should be of concern to both parties.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess it could be said that some Dems still cry fraud over losing Florida in 2000. Might it be for good reason?
The Republicans turn their heads when someone points out that under the statewide recount Gore actually indeed won Florida and the election. Under the counties Gore wanted recounted, however, Bush would have still won.
I would have to review my history to see whether the court ultimately acted on just Gore's request or that of others demanding an entire state-wide recount.
Nevertheless, the Dems may be justified in still feeling pain over an election THEY HAD RIGHTFULLY WON.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is the Republicans who unjustifiably cry fraud.
Recall their reaction to Gore when he fought for a recount. Gore did what ANY candidate would have done under the circumstances of losing by a mere 537 votes.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is the Republicans who unjustifiably cry fraud.
Recall their reaction to Gore when he fought for a recount. Gore did what ANY candidate would have done under the circumstances of losing by a mere 537 votes.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, a lot of posts. I will reiterate what i said above. This is the system we have and there is nothing wrong with investigating problems in the hopes of fixing them for the next election. However, unless this process is agreed to by both parties and federalized, rather than left up to each state, the complaints will continue in every close election (and even those which arent). And, the losing party will always complain more-lets be realistic.

As far as the sec of state, if he is shown to have intentionally thrown votes in favor of bush, then he should be villified and that would be news. What has occurred thus far is not big news and it has not been treated as such for that reason-not because republicans control the media. ENough already--look at all the bad press Rumsfeld, Bush and everyone get from the media. Absurd that the media would intentionally ignore this if it were big. Time will tell.

2000 vote: someone post the details (incontrovertible by a reputable source) that Gore won the statewide recount and the election. I want to see that because it is counter to what i read back then. I know i saw this in Michael Moore's movie but I also saw the matrix and am not jumping off rooftops just yet either.

Now, to this year's election results: Kerry will not win Ohio when it is all said and done. Statistically it is virtually impossible (and even if true to some, impossible to prove). I do not blame Gore for investigating the results in Florida in 2000 because it was very very close. Anyone would. This was different and the results will not change. I would bet my annual salary on it.

2008: Dems either have to wake up and change or have to hope Bush does incredibly poorly and that everything goes wrong during the next four years, especially the war and economy. I say this because all signs point to another liberal (woman) candidate and this is scary. The dems just will not learn the lesson and get a centrist in there. And Dean as the chair--geez. Of course, for this result, it means the country has to go through hell the next four years. I know some will root for that (Michael Moore for example) but I hope most would not.

I truly hope the dems can turn things around-after all, the republicans are doing everything possible wrong in my opinion. And the economy and war are not going well so far. A long time to wait but it gives the dems time to reinvent themselves.....which they need to do. At least to get my vote. Dems, go centrist! The country needs it.

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Farenheit 9/11 actually shows the article from the New York Times, or you can go to dailyhowler.com, I believe. There are other sites on the Internet.

Long story short, there was a consortium of newspapers that in 2001 did a Freedom of Informaton Act request for all the votes cast in Florida. They did recounts using seven different methodologies, including a full recount of the state, a recount of just the counties that Gore asked for, a recount including the hanging chads only, the dimpled (or pregnant) chads only, etc.

Gore would have won five of the seven recount methods. If you look at the NY Times article about this, in spite of a headline that misleadingly suggests Bush would have won (it is specifically referencing the recoung Gore requested, which, ironically, he would have lost), there is a chart that shows the different recount methodologies and the results.

Had all the votes been recounted, Gore would have won.

This is not trickery. This is not some liberal hoax or myth. It's all there, on the record, if you go look for it.

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enough already - Gore lost the election in 2000, and everything he has done and said since have made us feel a great sense of relief. Varying and subjective standards being changed after the fact to reflect the "will of the voter" were utilized in the aforementioned recount scenarios, which was a core issue into the problems of the recount as requested by Gore. Apparently, he may have had a better chance, both legally and by vote count, had he asked for a statewide recount with uniform standars, but unfortunately for you, the tobacco farming oil investor only requested the recounts in areas that he believed would be most beneficial to himself.

As for Sec. of State Blackwell. Of course he is partisan. He is an elected official who is a member of a political party. Under the JABBS standard, no Sec. of State could be qualified to fufill his statutory duties because they are affiliated with a political party. I do not have the numbers handy, but it is an entirely safe assumption that every Republican Sec. of State in the country had some prominent role in the Bush campaign at the state level, just as every Democratic Sec. of State had an equally prominent role in Sen. Kerry's campaign. Membership in a party does not preclude one from carrying out one's duties in office. Where there were questions about decisons made, it appears that a good number of lawsuits were filed, some of which sided with Blackwell, and others against, necessitating a change in procedure.

To claim that more people voted for Kerry than were counted is a perfect example of the nebulous and unsubstantiated charges previously referred to. Apparently JABBS and Olberman has insight and wisdom that has not yet been bestowed on people like Sen. Kerry, Sen. Edwards, the DNC, and other people who are often less than rational.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At what point did JABBS say that Kerry won in Ohio?

The question is why is Blackwell slowing the process to a crawl, doing everything he can to get in the way of a recount that is allowed by state law? Why is he directing county officials to not abide by state law?

It seems to me that JABBS is saying that if Blackwell would only help the process along, then the country could move along, with full support of this president -- or at least a full acknowledgment that Bush was rightfully elected.

Would you prefer to have 20% or 30% of the country falsely accusing Bush of rigging the Ohio vote? I know I wouldn't.

C'mon -- support the legal recount. The U.S. can't afford to be polarized for another four years. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you have to be in favor of a fair and free election process, and against fraud -- no matter it's source. Simply saying that fraud happens, the system is broken but it's the best we have, etc., isn't good enough. If the law allows a process of events to occur to satisfy the will of the people, then that process should be allowed unimpeded.

For Blackwell to get in the way is not only unfair but unjust. Bush supporters should remove their blinders and recognize that much.

12:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

20-30% of the country would feel this election was illegitimate, regardless of where there were recount questions. Additionally, as shown by Florida, given the subjective standards that were attempted to be implemented after the fact, and Bush's subsequent victory, 20-30% of the country still feel it was illegitimate, so this is a dog that does not hunt. Rabidly partisan Democrats will continue to maintain that Bush stole Florida, and they will believe that Bush stole Ohio.

How about some evidence that Bush "rigged" the vote in Ohio? According to the standards provided on here, simply doing better than he had previously done, or increasing his vote total more than the new registration totals is enough for suspicion, however, that is far from proof of "rigging" the election.

Since the left considers Bush to be such a dunce, how is it that he is smart enough to manipulate the results of two pivotal states in two consecutive elections to ensure his victory?

And, I will agree that I have a problem with a delay, if there is justification for moving forward. However, under jabbs standards applied to Sec. Blackwell, I do not think that Rep. Conyers is sufficiently non-partisan. Apparently, the Judiciary Committee (was it the actual Judiciary Committee or just the Dems?) is not the proper authority to be adjudicating this matter, and as such, feel Blackwell acted appropriately.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think some bloggers here misinterpret the arguments raised above, and then reinterpret them in their own way in order to suit their own purposes.
This practice wrongfully and fraudulently discredits the substantiated arguments of the participants in the blog. It is a gross disservice to the people who comment here.
It tells me that some commentators here are no better than the right-wing media spinners and liers that this blog was formed to rally against.
For one, noone here said Bush "rigged" the election, it has been said evidences suggest there may have been some sort of orchestrated movement among BUSH SUPPORTERS in Ohio to take away votes from Democratic jurisdictions.
No one is implying in the least that Bush himself was responsible.
And no one said Kerry has without a doubt won in Ohio. They have said that evidences of irregularities in Ohio suggest that there's A POSSIBILITY Kerry may have won, or at least gained substantial more votes than he did in the state.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" ... as shown by Florida, given the subjective standards that were attempted to be implemented after the fact ..."

What kind of hooey is this? The standards that the Democrats wanted implemented were the established Florida state law, which said that ANY election decided by less than 0.5% forced an automatic recount. This is what the state Supreme Court upheld after the election, and what the U.S. Supreme Court overturned, although their reasoning was suspect (which is why they made their decision affect only this one case, rather than set a broader precedent.)

James Baker kept saying "how many times are we going to recount the votes?" The Democrats (rabid or otherwise) would have been happy if they had been recounted once.

The Ohio situation doesn't have to be portrayed as sinister. If Blackwell would just allow the democratic process to proceed unfettered, as JABBS has suggested, this would probably blow over quickly. Because he has impeded the process, he has given critics a reason to continue feeling disenfranchised.

Is the Conyers-led committee partisan? Aren't there more Republicans on the committee than Democrats?

If an independent bipartisan council could be formed to quickly review all of this -- I suppose as appointed by the President -- that would be fine with Democrats. But that's not going to happen, and you know it. It's not in the GOP's best interest to help a process that has even a miniscule chance of overturning the Ohio resuls.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I resent the comment above that "everything Gore has done and said" since the 2000 election makes us relieved he did not end up in the White House.
This is a claim manufactured by Bush sympathizers, which I believe will evaporate in increasing numbers in upcoming months as the Iraq War continues to escalate -- or should I say disintegrate - into another debilitating Vietnam.
Gore would have made a fine president.
I apologize for going off subject.
But I am now reminded of an hour long interview Edwards gave on the Charlie Rose show last night. Edwards offered in plain talk endless specific common-sense examples on how to combat terrorism, reduce the deficit, narrow the divide between the rich and poor.
Edwards provided specifics on how the deficit, which is continuing to mount under Bush administration policies, will greatly weigh down future generations. He showed a genuine care and concern about everyday people, who live not only in America but in countries abroad. He recognizes the U.S. cannot survive in a world where he ignore or alienate foreign interests.
He relayed his experiences in politics and as a trial lawyer that demonstrated his real only motivation in life is to place people above himself.
Then the interview ended and I became really depressed. The interview really reflected the overwhelming disappointment of the last election.
America needs somebody like Edwards in the White House, but what do we have? We have Bush!
We have the architect of U.S. children living in poverty, the deficit mountain and the endless mess in Iraq.
I think if Edwards had come across during the campaign like he did on Charlie Rose, instead of having borrowed the Kerry campaign script, we would have a radically different administration in the White House right now for the better.
But again what do we have instead. Everybody now. We have Bush!

3:07 PM  

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