Friday, December 03, 2004

What Happened in Ohio?

The Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have sent a letter to J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Ohio Secretary of State, about election irregularities. You can read the whole letter here as a pdf file, and it is highly recommended that you do so.

The letter begins by making two allegations: First, that there were substantial irregularities in the vote tallies in Ohio. Second, that a series of actions by government and non-governmental officials may have been used to reduce the number of Democratic and minority voters in the state. Some of these actions were Blackwell's own directives.

This is heavy stuff. Although I had already read about most of the incidents that are cited in the letter, seeing them all together in one place reveals the wide scale of the problems.

I trust that you will read the original letter, but just to give you the flavor of what it contains consider the counting irregularities in Ohio:

1. The Warren County lockdown: On election night, the Warren county administration building was locked down and reporters were barred from observing the vote counting. The County officials claimed that this odd action was necessary because of information received from an FBI agent. Yet the FBI says that it never contacted the Warren County, that there was no threat and evidence suggests that the lockdown was under preparation as early as October 25.

The letter also notes that Al Gore received 28% of votes in Warren County in 2000, after withdrawing his resources from the state weeks before the election. John Kerry received the very same 28% of votes after a fierce campaign in Ohio. And there was no Ralph Nader to filter out Democratic voices this year.

2. Perry County Discrepancies: Several precincts in this county show extremely odd results. The Reading S precinct, for example, lists a total of 399 voters. Yet a total of 489 votes were cast.
In the precinct W Lexington G AB, 350 voters cast a total of 434 votes. These votes were later corrected due to "computer error which caused some votes to be counted twice". As the final corrected votes implied only 244 votes cast, it seems that the error had practically everybody's vote counted twice.

Perry County voter registrations are also very exotic. The level of voter registration is 91%, but many of these voters have never voted and do not have a signature on file. Moreover, for some reason many of them decided to register to vote in 1977 (a year with no elections), and, surprisingly, 3,100 decided to register on November 8, 1977.

3. Butler County Peculiarity: This refers to the finding that while John Kerry received 54,185 votes in Butler County, the Democratic Candidate for State Supreme Court, C. Ellen Connally, received 59,532 votes. At the same time, the winning Republican Candidate for the State Supreme Court received approximately 40,000 fewer votes than George Bush. Connally got more votes than Kerry in at least fifteen other counties.

While this peculiarity may have an innocent explanation, it should be noted that Ms. Connally ran a very low-profile, low-fund campaign and that her Republican opponent ran a highly-funded campaign.

4. Unusual Results in Cuyahoga County: Several precincts in Cleveland appear to show an unusually high number of votes for third party candidates. For example, the 4th Ward cast 290 votes for Kerry, 21 for Bush, and 215 for Constitution Party candidate Michael Peroutka. In 2000, the same precinct cast less than eight votes for all third party candidates combined. The same pattern prevails in at least ten Democratic precincts in Cleveland.

The letter contains many similar examples, as well as examples of possible voter suppression through misallocation of voting machines and the use of Blackwell's own administrative orders which in some cases amounted to disqualifying a provisional vote because the voter was in the right building but not at the right table. If you are interested in transparent elections do read the original letter.