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Talk about a conspiracy theory!
How about the corporate media's "theory"
that the irregularities in Ohio's election
aren't newsworthy?

On Oct. 18, 2004, the New York Times (NY Times-10/18/04 HEADLINE: As Election Nears, Parties Begin Another Round of Legal Battles-By JAMES DAO) acknowledged Republican Secretary of State’s “rulings on obscure issues like provisional ballots, voting notices to parolees and the weight of registration forms.”  They go on to give the Democrats’ opinion of his actions, followed by the Republican view. 

As the secretary of state of Ohio, J. Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican who is unabashed about his ambition to be governor, has issued a series of rulings on obscure issues like provisional ballots, voting notices to parolees and the weight of registration forms.

 

To Democrats, who say he has repeatedly tried to disenfranchise Democratic voters with those rulings, Mr. Blackwell is reminiscent of Katherine Harris, the Florida secretary of state who made her name in the chaotic election of 2000. On Friday they challenged him again, filing suit to block a directive they say will require election workers to reject thousands of registrations by first-time Democratic voters.

But Mr. Blackwell's aides say he has been scrupulously evenhanded in his efforts to guard the integrity of voting in this crucial swing state. Each of his directives has followed
Ohio law, they say, and most have been guided by one unassailable goal: to prevent fraud. The charges against him, they say, are baseless and political.

 

Those, not surprisingly are the opposite of each other and it’s important for the media to cover both sides of the story, however, what is becoming increasingly disturbing, especially in their election coverage,  is the medias’ consistent ignorance of the reality that they also have a duty to provide the public with the facts involved with issues they cover.   Will Blackwell’s rulings actually disenfranchise Democratic voters?  Or will they prevent fraud?  Who’s right?  Blackwell’s aides say he has followed Ohio low.  Did he?  And if he did, isn’t it worth noting that, on numerous occasions, he has changed the law in order for his actions to be legal.  Being a Republican, let alone head of the Bush campaign in Ohio, having the ability to change election law must have some value.  The media should find out the facts about things like that and report it to the public.  How about a list of election laws that he had changed and whether they affected voters in a positive or negative, as well as partisan way?  Is that so much to ask for in the state that decided the 2004 Presidential election?

Columbus, Ohio on Election Day
columbusohiorunningabouttwohours.jpg
The wait to cast your vote: 2-5 hours.

On October 23, 2004,  the NY Times (Big G.O.P. Bid to Challenge Voters at Polls in Key State By Michael Moss) wrote:

 

Republican Party officials in Ohio took formal steps yesterday to place thousands of recruits inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots.

Party officials say their effort is necessary to guard against fraud arising from aggressive moves by the Democrats to register tens of thousands of new voters in
Ohio, seen as one of the most pivotal battlegrounds in the Nov. 2 elections.

 

Ohio election officials said they had never seen so large a drive to prepare for Election Day challenges. They said they were scrambling yesterday to be ready for disruptions in the voting process as well as alarm and complaints among voters. Some officials said they worried that the challenges could discourage or even frighten others waiting to vote.

 

Okay, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see any harm in “aggressive moves” to register new voters.  Given that the United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts among developed countries worldwide, that seems like a good idea.  Additionally, the article goes on to say, and this isn’t surprising; both parties have waged huge campaigns in the battleground states to register millions of new voters, and the developments in Ohio provided an early glimpse of how those efforts may play out on Election Day. 

 

This is one issue that the New York Times did have some facts about, in addition to the partisan spin from both sides.  These next few lines are very important.

 

Republicans said they had enlisted 3,600 (challengers) by the deadline, many in heavily Democratic urban neighborhoods of Cleveland, Dayton and other cities. Each recruit was to be paid $100.  The Democrats, who tend to benefit more than Republicans from large turnouts, said they had registered more than 2,000 recruits to try to protect legitimate voters rather than weed out ineligible ones.

 

Ohio election officials said that by state law, the parties' challengers would have to show ''reasonable'' justification for doubting the qualifications of a voter before asking a poll worker to question that person. And, the officials said, challenges could be made on four main grounds: whether the voter is a citizen, is at least 18, is a resident of the county and has lived in Ohio for the previous 30 days.

Elections officials in
Ohio
said they hoped the criteria would minimize the potential for disruption. But Democrats worry that the challenges will inevitably delay the process and frustrate the voters.

''Our concern is Republicans will be challenging in large numbers for the purpose of slowing down voting, because challenging takes a long time,'' said David Sullivan, the voter protection coordinator for the national Democratic Party in Ohio. ''And creating long lines causes our people to leave without voting.''

 

The preparations for widespread challenging this year have alarmed some election officials.

''This creates chaos and confusion in the polling site,'' said R. Doug Lewis, executive director of the
Election Center, an international association of election officials. But, he said, ''most courts say it's permissible by state law and therefore can't be denied.''

In
Ohio, Republicans sought to play down any concern that their challenging would be disruptive.

 

Democrats said they were racing to match the Republicans, precinct by precinct. In some cities, like Dayton, they registered more challengers than the Republicans, election officials said. But in Cuyahoga County, where the Republicans said they had registered 1,436 people to challenge voters, or one in every precinct, Democrats said they had signed up only about 300.

 

So to summarize the important things noted in this article:

  • Republican took formal steps to place thousands of recruits inside polling places in heavily Democratic neighborhoods on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters.
  • Election officials were scrambling to be ready for disruptions in the voting process as well as alarm and complaints among voters.
  • Some officials said they worried that the challenges could discourage or even frighten others waiting to vote.
  • Having challengers at the precincts creates chaos and confusion in the polling site.
  • Democrats tend to benefit more than Republicans from large turnouts.

 

Also noted in article:

Nader Loses Ohio Ballot Bid
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 22 (AP) -- The Ohio Supreme Court on Friday rejected an effort by Ralph Nader to get his name on the ballot, most likely ending his chances in the state for the Nov. 2 election.  Mr. Nader wanted the court to force election boards to review their voter registration lists, a process he said could have led to the validation of petitions to place him on the ballot. The court ruled 6-1 against him.

11/05/04  The Columbus Dispatch

FRANKLIN COUNTY VOTING

Suburbs were busiest, even with more machines

As seasoned voters in many of Columbuspredominantly black neighborhoods waited in long lines Tuesday, they quickly recognized that the crush of new voters wasn’t the sole cause of congestion. There also were fewer voting machines. 

Many voters complained of poor planning by elections officials — or worse. In fact, many polling places in inner-city neighborhoods had fewer voting machines than during the last presidential election.  Even so, the busiest places to vote — as measured by the number of ballots cast per machine — were overwhelmingly in suburban areas, according to an analysis by The Dispatch.

Nearly half of Franklin County’s 146 wards had fewer machines than four years ago.

There appeared to be little geographic pattern to the imbalances in voting-machine activity, except that most of the busiest machines were scattered around the Outerbelt and in suburban areas. All precincts use electronic voting machines.

In Summit County, which includes Akron, voting machines averaged 86 ballots — about half the volume as in Franklin County. In Cuyahoga County, an average of 68 ballots were cast per machine. Both counties use punch-card ballots.

Franklin County voters waited up to five hours to vote in some precincts.

As the line stalled in the Livingston Elementary School library, 50-year-old Darlene Harris couldn’t help but notice one fewer voting machine. "They knew four years ago we were going to vote. They should have been prepared," she said.

Franklin County isn’t slated for new machines until 2005 or 2006.

"It took at least twice as long to vote on a provisional ballot."

Many frustrated, would-be voters "walked away without voting. I don’t think we’ll ever know how many there were."

Dorothy Stewart, 69, who has degenerative arthritis in the spine and hips, was among them. On Election Day, she missed voting for the first time in almost 50 years because she could not stand in the long line at her North Side precinct.

Turner, of Grove City, said when the 2-hour wait started to strain her back, she persuaded other voters to let her go ahead of them.

"I wanted to wait with them because I don’t know if I will be here for the next presidential election," she said. "In my whole lifetime, I never saw anything like I did (Tuesday)."

Hmmmm......

ohiomap2.gif
The Columbus Dispatch

Channel 5 News Ohio
The rate missed the 73 percent turnout rate that Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell had predicted but it was higher than the 63.7 percent of Ohioans who voted in the 2000 race between President George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore and the 67.4 percent who voted in President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign.
 
Voter turnout was 3% less than Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell has anticipated??  And still 5 hour lines in some place??
 
 

ohiomap1.gif
The Columbus Dispatch

The Columbus Dispatch

Franklin County’s unofficial results gave Bush 4,258 votes to Democratic challenger John Kerry’s 260 votes in Precinct 1B, which votes at New Life Church on Stygler Road. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct.

Gahanna Precinct 1B has three voting machines. After the polling station closed, the cartridges were taken to a computerized reading station.

When one of the cartridges from the precinct was plugged into a reader, it generated the faulty number.

The reader also recorded zero votes in the race between Arlene Shoemaker and Paula Brooks for county commissioner.

Damschroder said the cartridge was retested yesterday and there were no problems. He couldn’t explain why the computer reader malfunctioned.

The Columbus Dispatch

Applying the tried-and-true formula for success, Democrats were scratching their heads yesterday, wondering how Sen. John Kerry lost Ohio to President Bush by 2 percentage points.

"We met every single one of our goals," said Brendon Cull, a Kerry Ohio campaign spokesman.

• He took giant Cuyahoga County by nearly 220,000 votes.

• He won second-biggest Franklin County by 8 percentage points.

• He kept Bush’s winning margin in GOP Hamilton County to 24,683 votes, well below the 60,000-vote standard.

Exit polls showed that deeply religious people — white evangelicals and self-identified born-again voters — comprised 25 percent of those who cast ballots in Ohio, and 76 percent of them voted for Bush.

And just out of curiosity, who did those exit polls show as the winner?

"Benefiting from the strong support of evangelical Christians, Bush maximized his vote in Ohio’s largely conservative rural and exurban counties," said Mark R. Weaver, a GOP strategist.

I'm sorry, but I find it extremely hard to believe that all of these deeply religious people are die-hard supporters of a guy who lied about WMD (thou shall not lie), not only did he illegally invade a country, but he illegally invaded and is currently destroying what many consider to be the holiest land on earth, the land where much of the bible took place!  Additionally, tens of thousands of innocent civilians have died in the process! (thou shall not commit murder) And he says he thinks God is on his side? (Thou shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God) and finally, "thou shall not steal"(elections)

gainsandlosses1.gif

WCPO News on cincinnati.com
 
While some voters waited in long lines to cast a ballot, the Franklin County elections board left 39 voting machines unused on Election Day.
 
This revelation seems pretty significant, especially coupled with the fact that Nearly half of Franklin County’s 146 wards had fewer machines than four years ago.  Gosh, I wonder how Franklin County usually votes?  Well I'll be darned!:
Kerry:   285,800  55%
Bush:    237,252  45%
 
So if Franklin County averaged 170 as I previously noted, that's over 6,500 votes that those machines could have been used for.

So what took place on election day in Ohio obviously wasn't something that was being brushed under the rug by locals, or local residents.  Knowing that and also considering the hundreds and likely thousands of emails the New York Times received regarding the issue, I think it's safe to assume that not reporting on it was a consious decision made by the newspaper and was known by their writers.  So days go by and then finally, on November 12th the New York Times prints an article on it.  And not just any article, but one on the front page!(11/12/04  Vote Fraud Theories, Spread By Blogs, Are Quickly Buried  By Tom Zeller Jr.) titled:

Theories?? If I'm not mistaken, at least a dozen Ohio newspapers reported on what didn't seem to be theoretical, along with numerous websites and yes, blogs.  Why that apparently seems odd to the New York Times, I don't know.  I don't recall seeing any blogs entitled "WMD Theories, Spread By The Corporate Media, Quickly Put On The Back Burner". Blogs are becoming an increasingly popular and reliable source of news for people turned off by the selective reporting done by the corporate media.  While some may have a partisan tone to them, I know there are popular blogs for Republicans and Democrats that take accuracy in their content very seriously and often or even usually have links to what are cosidered to be "honest" news sources to many people.  Back to the front page article, "quickly buried"?  I hadn't heard any explanation of anything.  What did they know?  Let's see(excerpts):

They sure didn't hesitate in making clear what their theme would be.  As if the headline wasn't bad enough, the first sentence is The e-mail messages and Web postings had all the twitchy cloak-and-dagger thrust of a Hollywood blockbuster..........In the space of seven days, an online market of dark ideas surrounding last week's presidential election took root and multiplied. 

Be sure to note the consistent attempt to label all irregularities things brewed up by people who think they live next door to Elvis or across the street from ET or something.

But while the widely read universe of Web logs was often blamed for the swift propagation of faulty analyses(e.g.the Dan Rather story which led to his resignation), the blogosphere, as it has come to be known, spread the rumors so fast that experts were soon able to debunk them, rather than allowing them to linger and feed conspiracy theories. Within days of the first rumors of a stolen election, in fact, the most popular theories were being proved wrong - though many were still reluctant to let them go.

Much of the controversy, called Votergate 2004 by some, involved real voting anomalies in Florida and Ohio, the two states on which victory hinged. But ground zero in the online rumor mill, it seems, was Utah.

--SNIP--

The day after the election, Ms. Dopp posted to her Web site, www.ustogether.org, a table comparing party registrations in each of Florida's 67 counties, the method of voting used and the number of votes cast for each presidential candidate. Ms. Dopp, along with other statisticians contributing to the site, suggested a "surprising pattern" in Florida's results showing inexplicable gains for President Bush in Democratic counties that used optical-scan voting systems.

--SNIP--

Within one day, the number of visits to Ms. Dopp's site jumped from 50 to more than 500, according to site logs. On Nov. 4, that number tipped 17,000. Her findings were noted on popular left-leaning Web logs like DailyKos.com and FreePress.org. Last Friday, three Democratic members of Congress - John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, Jerrold Nadler of New York and Robert Wexler of Florida - sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office seeking an investigation of voting machines. A link to Ms. Dopp's site was included in the letter. 

But rebuttals to the Florida fraud hypothesis were just as quick. Three political scientists, from Cornell, Harvard and Stanford, pointed out, in an e-mail message to a Web site that carried the news of Ms. Dopp's findings, that many of those Democratic counties in Florida have a long tradition of voting Republican in presidential elections. And while Ms. Dopp says that she and dozens of other researchers will continue to analyze the Florida vote, the suggestion of a link between certain types of voting machines and the vote split in Florida has, at least for now, little concrete support.

Many of those counties?  Democratic counties?  Apparently these guys didn't read Ms. Dopps analysis very closely.  The unusual pattern was not in the results of Democratic counties, though some were included, it was in the type of voting machine used.  And it noted unusual swings in counties that used op-scan that ALL favored Mr. Bush.  So the "Dixiecrat" theory really doesn't pretain to Ms. Dopps analysis and has yet to be explained.

Still, as visitors to Ms. Dopp's site approached 70,000 early this week, other election anomalies were gaining traction on the Internet. The elections department in Cleveland, for instance, set off a round of Web log hysteria when it posted turnout figures on its site that seemed to show more votes being cast in some communities than there were registered voters. That turned out to be an error in how the votes were reported by the department, not in the counting.

That doesn't even pass for an erroneous explanation, is simply a lie and it's well documented by Ohio election officials that while they did notice the anomoly and correct the final results, they have no explanation as to why the memory card originally gave Mr. Bush several thousand extra votes.  Luckily it occurred in a precinct that didn't account for more than a few hundred votes, or it may have gone noticed.  Knowing that though, it kind of makes one wonder if maybe some others did go unnoticed?  We would know if Ohio counted more than 3% of the ballots in their recount, but unfortunately that didn't and likely never will happen.

 

Akron Beacon Journal

Since the 2000 presidential election, the Summit County Board of Elections has eliminated 149 of its precincts -- more than any other Ohio county.

Several election watchdog groups reported longer delays -- as long as three hours -- in Akron, especially in the city's predominantly African-American wards. The reduction in precincts hit Akron harder than the rest of the county, with the city losing 81 of 234 precincts -- more than a third.

"I think that caused us a lot of problems in this election,"

Four years ago, Summit County had an average of 568 registered voters per precinct. Today, the countywide average is 777. In Akron, the average ballooned higher -- to 855 voters per precinct.  "That's way too high,'' Jones said. ``I did not want to go over 600 because of the lines that it would cause."

But both Jones and Pry said they understood that the county had no choice but to reduce precincts. ``We were under a mandate from the secretary of state to consolidate,'' Pry said.

The average number of ballots cast per precinct increased 89 percent compared with four years ago. In four of the city's 10 wards -- 2, 3, 5 and 9 -- the number of voters per precinct more than doubled.

John Kerry won Summit County by 38,000 votes, according to official returns. Take Akron's votes out of the totals, and President Bush would have won the county by 423 votes.

Last year, a second round of cuts reduced the number of precincts to 475, after the elections board raised the bar for the number of registered voters per precinct from 650 to 800.

Forty-five of the city's 153 precincts have more than 900 registered voters, and 10 top 1,000.  Thirty-three other precincts in the county also top 900. 

While Summit was eliminating precincts, other Ohio counties held off. More than half of the state's 88 counties either added precincts or kept the same number compared with four years ago, according to Ohio secretary of state records.

A mandate!?  By the Secretary of State, to reduce the number of precincts in counties that obviously account for a significant portion of Democratic voter turnout!?  Golly, it almost seems like its intentional?  Well, it's not like the Sec. of State is also the the head of the Bush campaign in Ohio or somethi-wait, HE IS!

And the early Election Day polls, conducted for a consortium of television networks and The Associated Press, which proved largely inaccurate in showing Mr. Kerry leading in Florida and Ohio, continued to be offered as evidence that the Bush team somehow cheated.

Hold on a second....the exit polls were proven to be largely inaccurate?  When was this?  I'd certainly like to hear the explanation.  All I've heard was the one about the one about women being represented disproportionally, but that was "quickly debunked" when on Nov. 3, ironically, the New York Times wrote: An official with the National Election Pool, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it did appear that women -- who tend to prefer Democrats -- were overrepresented in the national poll. But, this official said, the same problem did not appear in the state polls, which were far more important and indicated Mr. Kerry was ahead. And producers at three major news organizations said they had come to the same conclusion.   And the only other explanation, which oddly seems to be the "official" one throughout the corporate media and was, yes, once again, printed in the New York Times on Nov. 3rd, was that of the Bush camp: Bush campaign officials gathered producers who were huddled at their Virginia headquarters and hit the phones and BlackBerries with a message: ''The early exit models undercounted Republicans.''

Well of course!  Silly me, I should have known......."undercounted Republicans"?????  Talk about a conspiracy theory!  That one's right up there with "exit polls are never right".

But while authorities acknowledge that there were real problems on Election Day, including troubles with some electronic machines and intolerably long lines in some places, few have suggested that any of these could have changed the outcome.

"There are real problems to be addressed," said Doug Chapin of Electionline.org, a clearinghouse of election reform information, "and I'd hate for them to get lost in second-guessing of the result."

Yes, it would be such a tragedy if all of the votes got counted, or even worse, if everybody who wanted to vote was able to do so in a reasonable abount of time.  God forbid!  And we certainly wouldn't want to look into the possibility of the long lines in Ohio being deliberately in heavily Democratic precincts, as it seems to have been.  And since the NYT thinks that the opinion of a man whose only two statements contradict eachother is worth printing, they might be interested in some of the findings of his analysis of the election, oddly titled "2004 Election: "Exceeded The Margin Of Litigation"".  One of the problems included in his unusually short list of problems in Ohio was Franklin County recorded an extra 3,893 votes for President Bush due to an error on an electronic voting machine. Franklin County cast a total of about 600 votes, which is an anomoly identical to the one "debunked" ealier in this article? The reported: A Kenyon College student waited in line for 10 hours in order to vote on Election Day. At her precinct, there were only two voting machines for 1,300 voters. Each machine was designed to handle 20 voters per hour.  I wonder how many left?

It is that second-guessing, however, that has largely characterized the blog-to-e-mail-to-blog continuum. Some election officials have become frustrated by the rumor mill.

"It becomes a snowball of hearsay," said Matthew Damschroder, the director of elections in Columbus, Ohio, where an electronic voting machine malfunctioned in one precinct and allotted some 4,000 votes to President Bush, kicking off its own flurry of Web speculation. That particular problem was unusual and remains unexplained, but it was caught and corrected, Mr. Damschroder said.

My God!  First the NY Times quotes a guy whose report disagrees contradicts something in this article.  Now they just go ahead and print it themselves!  And maybe a lot of this is "hearsay", but it's pretty damn logical hearsay that is entirely based on documented facts! If the claims being made are incorrect, they would certainly be easy to "debunk".  Apparently, that's not the case.....

Clay Shirky, an adjunct professor in the interactive telecommunications program at New York University, suggests that the online fact-finding machine has come unmoored, and that some bloggers simply "can't imagine any universe in which a fair count of the votes would result in George Bush being re-elected president."

Well after witnessing the 2000 election, which he won despite receiving less votes and now after seeing what he's done to our country after four years, no, I cannot imagine any universe in which a fair count of the votes would result in George Bush's re-election.  I would imagine there are some logically thinking Republicans who would agree with me.  

Jake White, the owner of the Web log primordium.org, argues that he and other election-monitoring Web posters are not motivated solely by partisan politics. "While there are no doubt large segments of this movement that are being driven by that," he said in an e-mail message, "I prefer to think of it as discontent over the way the election was held."

Mr. White also quickly withdrew his own analysis of voting systems in Ohio when he realized the data he had used was inaccurate.

Well that's unfortunate Mr. White had to withdraw his own analysis of voting systems in Ohio.  Is that included in the article just to embarass him for using inaccurate data, or is there actually a point?  He ought to get online and go to some blogs.  Every single blog I've seen has only used numbers released by the Secretary of State of the state they are analyzing.  I think that's consistently the case.

For its part, the Kerry campaign has been trying to tamp down the conspiracy theories and to tell supporters that their mission now is to ensure that every vote is counted, not that the election be overturned.

Well I'm pretty sure that the so called "conspiracy theories" would be "tamped down" completely if we could actually count every vote!  That's kind of one of the main points....why does that seem to be impossible?

A preliminary study produced by the Voting Technology Project, a cooperative effort between the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, came to a similar conclusion. Its study found "no particular patterns" relating to voting systems and the final results of the election.

Another main point of the "conspiracy theorists" is that there wouldn't be any patterns!  Electronic vote fraud is usually undetectable!  So unfortunately the MIT/CIT report really doesn't answer any questions.

"I'd give my right arm for Internet rumors of a stolen election to be true," said David Wade, a spokesman for the Kerry campaign, "but blogging it doesn't make it so. We can change the future; we can't rewrite the past."

But we can recount the past, in order to insure that it was written accurately, something the New York Times apparently ought to consider doing with it's articles.