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Elections: The Ohio Vote Debacle

By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman  Posted by Joan Brunwasser (about the submitter)     Permalink
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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 second term.

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 are verified.

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 error."

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 counting.

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.
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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 Republican Party.

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 federal elections.
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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 decades.

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.

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