by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
November 7, 2006
GOP trashes exit polls & builds barricades as election day proceeds
Watch out for the stop sign when you go to vote today. Not the one on the street, the one in the pollbook next to your name.
The new voting requirements under Ohio's HB 3 may lead to unexpected upsets by the GOP in the ongoing election. The Republican Statehouse rushed through a bill earlier this year that is causing the "flagging" of up to 1.2 million Buckeye voters.
Free Press reporters have observed a "Stop Sign" icon next to the name of between 20-40% of the voters in inner city precincts in Columbus. The stop sign is outlined on page 50 of the Franklin County Board of Elections "Precinct Elections Training Manual." The stop sign is the result of a "60-day election notice" sent to voters, but being returned as "undeliverable." Voters with stop signs next to their names throughout the inner city are being allowed to vote provisionally at the poll. These votes are being electronically recorded as provisional, according to the Training Manual and many are likely to go uncounted because the voter is in the wrong precinct.
Ken Blackwell, the Secretary of State and co-chair of the Bush-Cheney Re-election Campaign in 2004 issued a directive following the 2004 presidential primary ordering that voters voting in the wrong precinct would not have their votes counted at all. Historically, votes were counted from the county level on up to president, if you were registered in the county.
Pollworkers are programming electronic voting machines to designate provisional votes. The Free Press observed numerous cases of flagged voters being directed to vote provisionally in the wrong precinct. The visible paper trail in the ES&S machines records the vote as provisional with a four-digit code. These votes will most likely not be counted and may lead to epic upsets in Ohio.
An election observer with the Five Candidates Election Observer Project 2006 reported today that 1000 complaints an hour were coming into the Franklin County Board of Elections. So many complaints had come in during the first hours of the day that the phone lines set up for the precinct workers failed. The phones for the public had to be diverted to answer the deluge of questions from pollworkers.
As election day proceeds, the Republican Party is desperately throwing as many barriers as it can to protect itself from a fair and accurate outcome.
Atop the list is exit polling, which the GOP has delegated to the trash heap. Exit polls have evolved into an exact science, and have served to protect the democratic process and to overturn stolen elections throughout the world.
In Germany, exit polls accompany and monitor every election to within 0.1 percent accuracy. In Ukraine, just prior to the 2004 US presidential election, exit polls showed a presidential election had been stolen. The resulting uproar led to a new election and a different outcome. In Mexico, the Philippines, former Soviet Georgia and elsewhere, exit polling has become the indispensible check and balance against election theft.
Which is exactly the purpose it served in the United States in 2004. A consortium of the major networks and Associated Press paid millions to the Edison/Mitofsky organization to provide exit polls that would be within 1.0% accuracy. The findings were clear: John Kerry won the national vote count by a substantial majority, and carried nine of the eleven key swing states, giving him a very significant victory in the electoral college.
But the official vote count said otherwise. After winning in the exit polls at around 12:30am election night, Kerry somehow became the loser nine hours later. Against odds in the 200 million-plus range, in ten of eleven swing states, the exit poll margin went to an official vote count for Bush with a swing well outside the margin of error. Four of those states---Ohio, Iowa, Nevada and New Mexico---left the Kerry and went to Bush, giving Bush the presidency.
Had this happened in a third world country, the world community would have demanded a new election. Some might even have sent troops.
But the reaction of the GOP has been to decimate the exit polls. This year, for the first time, exit poll results will not be published, or made accessible to the general media. Instead, exit poll data will be held in locked vaults. Access by the media will be strictly limited. There will be no publication of the exit polls until they are "adjusted" to match the official vote counts.
No other country in the world is doing this. But the GOP has made it clear to the corporate media that it will not tolerate another "fiasco" like 2004, where the exit polls showed clearly that John Kerry was the rightful winner not only in Ohio, but nationwide.
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO , just published by the New Press. They are of counsel and plaintiff in the King Lincoln lawsuit challenging the administration of elections in Ohio. Fitrakis is an independent candidate for governor of Ohio, endorsed by the Green Party. Wasserman is author of SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH, A.D. 2030, available at www.solartopia.org. Read more of their work at http://freepress.org.