Experts' Affidavits Filed on Ohio 2004 Lawsuit Say Republican Cyber Operatives Could Heist 2008 Election in Replay of 2004 Surprise
COLUMBUS, OHIO: Ohio attorneys pushing to convince a federal judge to lift the stay on a case alleging Republicans and Bush loyalists cyber-rigged the vote in certain Ohio counties in 2004, filed affidavits on Wednesday from two experts in the fields of data security and academic research on voting. The attorneys hope to convince the court to lift a stay on their case and allow them to issue subpoenas to Karl Rove, President Bush's political adviser and master Republican strategist and to Mike Connell, a long-time information technology handyman who worked in both Ohio and Florida. The attorneys say Connell can blow the whistle on how democracy was compromised in Ohio and other states, like Florida, where he was given the keys to the castle of cyber systems.2008 Elections Courting Trouble, Experts, Media Say
The filing that has the potential to open up a major can of nasty worms about whether Ohio's (or any state's) elections are really free, fair, open and honest, came on the same day the Washington Post ran an article titled "High Turnout, New Procedures May Mean an Election Day Mess." The Post article painted a picture of what problems lie ahead for American voters and the systems they use, as record-high registrations set the stage for "long lines, equipment failures and confusion over polling procedures that could cost thousands the chance to cast a ballot.
The crush of voters will strain a system already in the midst of transformation, with jurisdictions introducing new machines and rules to avoid the catastrophe of the deadlocked 2000 election and the lingering controversy over the 2004 outcome. Even within the past few months, cities and counties have revamped their processes: Nine million voters, including many in the battleground states of Ohio, Florida and Colorado, will use equipment that has changed since March.But the widespread changes meant to reassure the public have also increased the potential for trouble. [Washington Post]
The article includes a reference to Ohio, reminding readers that some voters, as happened in Franklin County, home of the state capital, waited in line more than five hours. The county in question, it said, has "added poll workers, increased the number of voting machines by 50 percent and commissioned a study on where the machines should go." Other Ohio jurisdictions are requiring more training of poll workers. In an effort to alleviate voting machines being tampered with while they were taken home by board of elections officials the night before an election as a cost saving measure, an accepted operational practice not given a second thought as to how it compromises the chain of custody, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, elected in 2006, issued a directive to ban the so-called "sleepovers" of the touch-screen machines she says are not trustworthy.
On Friday CNN reported that a new Government Accountability Office report on voting system testing finds that the Election Assistance Commission has not notified election officials across the country about electronic voting machine failures. CNN's article also said a new study by Common Cause and the Century Foundation finds that 10 very vital swing states have significant voting problems that have not been addressed since the last election. Those 10 states, according to Common Cause, are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
With a monumental election looming 46 days away, and with Ohio again the the cross hairs of the nation on issues related to voting and voting systems, the legal dust-ups between Brunner, the first woman to hold the office of elections chief in Ohio, and the Ohio GOP, who believes Brunner has made enough unforced errors in her first two years to unseat her in 2010 and continue its control of the state board that draws legislative districts, is troubling at least and potentially calamitous at worst. While everyone talks about voting rights and counting every vote, the reallity on the ground is that lawsuits and legal challenges that will come into play over the next month and one-half can only contribute to an environment where voters feel frustrated, become angry or confused and wonder if they will be allowed to vote and if their vote will be counted fairly. All good and genuine concerns.
One local view on whether Ohio voters have confidence in their voting system was seen in today's The Columbus Dispatch, which editorialized that election officials should take heart that "the vast majority of Ohioans believe elections are fair and that presidential ballots will be counted correctly on Nov. 4." The editorial used results of a recent Ohio Poll, conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati, to makes its declaration that "Ohio's bipartisan administration of elections is structured so that the system doesn't favor either Republicans or Democrats" and that "Post-mortems on Ohio's 2004 vote determined that bipartisan errors in planning resulted in too-few voting machines, causing long lines at many polling locations."
Defending its long held position that no hanky panky took place in 2000 or 2004, Ohio's Greatest Home Newspaper said "Some activists tried to weave the problems into a tapestry of conspiracy, but their accusations didn't fly with most Ohioans."
What most Ohioans really know about their election system, how it's constructed, how it works, and how partisan, malicious interlopers of the variety Karl Rove has at his disposal could insert themselves in the system without anyone knowing it, puts their beliefs on the safety and security of voting sytems on ice.
The attorneys hope to finally find the evidence that will fly with most Ohioans, as well as the mainstream state newspapers who choose to put their head in the sand rather than call for the kind of investigation that would either confirm or debunk the theories of election fraud they stubbornly refuse to acknowledge. The decison of Federal District Court Judge Algernon Marbley in response to the request to lift the court stay can help shed light, or maybe produce some fire, that will show how bad Ohio got burnt in the past, is key to preventing another 2004 election fiasco this year.
The plaintiff attorneys, Cliff Arnebeck, Bob Fitrakis and Dennis Eckart, all of Columbus, Ohio, filed a lawsuit --Lincln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association vs. Jennifer Brunner -- alleging voter suppression in the 2004 election, giving President Bush a narrow win by 188,601 votes, Ohio's 20 Electoral College votes and a second term in the White House. The filing Wednesday from the plaintiff attorneys was a response to a motion filed by Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, who with the help of the Ohio Attorney General asked that the stay on further discovery not be lifted becaused it would interfere with state and local officials preparing for what they have forcasted will be the largest turnout in state history on November 4th, Election Day. Ohio is again center stage, as it was in 2004, as the key battleground state that will determine who the next president will be, Barack Obama, a Democrat, or John McCain, a Republican.
Ohio leaders and election officials are still smarting from the black eye the nation and the media bestowed on them for the many irregularities -- some say intentional, others chalk them up to miscues -- that took place in 2004 but have yet to be investigated in any way despite the full-throated protestations from plaintiff attorneys and other activivists and advocates on election law and voting matters. These impassioned voting rights advocates say evidence for the cyber-rigging can be found if only this court would agree to have key players, like Mike Connel, Karl Rove and others with responsibility for varaious Ohio county boards of election, speak under oath about what they did, what they saw and who they believe was behind the long list of events or incidents. Had these incidents happened in the world of banking, one plaintiff expert testified would have triggered an immediate lock down of the system and detailed investigation of what caused such system blips to occur in the first place.
The filing was labeled a "Tale of Two Witnesses," because the sworn affidavits were from Stephen Spoonamore, a cyber-data expert, and Richard Hayes Phillips, a self-described fact and expert witness based on his gathering and examination of some 30,000 digital images of records from the 2004 election, and his background in academic research.
As someone who knows Mike Connell, described as "uniquely preeminent in his field of Internet and data processing systems design," Stephen Spoonamore -- an Ohioan and cyber security expert now serving as an expert witness for Arnebeck and crew-- reinforces plaintiff attorneys' argument that Connell -- the man who "handles informaton technology for the George W. Bush White House; some of the most important congressonal committees, including House Judiciary and House Intelligence; sensitive agencies such as the Department of Justice and Energy and currently fo rthe McCain presidential campaign" -- should be brought in to testify to what he knows about past elections, both 2000 and 2004, and whether those systems and the people who run them can pull off another victory for McCain in Ohio even if Obama wins the popular vote.
Spoonamore affidavit asserts that the election computer setup used by Ken Blackwell in 2004 provided the means and opportunity for the manipulation of the election results.
"The vote tabulation and reporting system, as modified at the direction of Mr. Blackwell, allowed the introduction of a single computer in the middle of the pathway. This computer located at a company principally managing IT Systems for GOP campaign and political operations (Computer C) received all information from each county computer (Computer A) BEFORE it was sent onward to Computer B.