put us out of a job
by Paddy Shaffer
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November 22, 2007
In an article in the November 21, online edition of the Columbus Dispatch (http://blog.dispatch.com/dailybriefing/2007/11/activists_want_2004_election_i.shtml#comments
) Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said "my biggest concern, however, is preparing the state for a successful presidential election next year, so that maybe I can put these folks out of a job.” Brunner spoke in reference to the Ohio Election Justice Campaign activists who held a press conference Wednesday to request that Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner "toss out these turkeys": the "turkeys" being the electronic voting machines used on Ohio and which are manufactured by Electronic Systems & Software, Premier Elections Systems (formerly Diebold) and Hart Intercivic.
We encourage Secretary of Brunner to put us out of a job, regarding Ohio's election issues. What would be required for this to happen so we could all happily go home and finally get some rest, woud be for real serious investigation to start. The follow up prosecution, and the voting machines would go away... we might then be voting on paper ballots, paid for with the refund money from product liability lawsuits which demand a refund for these easily hacked machines forced on us by now criminal prisoner Bob Ney and another criminal prisoner, Jack Abramoff. But since Secretary Brunner only seems to want to look ahead to 2008, which will now be here in 38 days, it seems we will be needing to keep up our work for the long haul. When Brunner and our Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann both refuse to look at the alleged election crimes of the past few years, we struggle to see how they call what they are doing as "moving forward."
Not enough has changed since J. Kenneth Blackwell left office for us to let down our quest for additional research, and our quest for justice.
The "Project Everest" testing of Ohio's voting machines is ongoing and due to be complete at the end of November. The Ohio Election Justice Campaign (OEJC) has requested multiple times in writing, and verbally on the telephone to the Ohio Secretary of State's office that she include citizen observers to view this 1.8 million dollar taxpayer-funded testing. I was told that the requests must go through Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Nance. Although the requests from the OEJC began early in the testing phase, now with only a week left, still nothing has been scheduled. We have learned that members of the Ohio Secretary of State's (SOS) Voting Rights Institute (VRI), who were offered a chance to go to the facility where the testing is ongoing, were asked to sign a non disclosure agreement. This would restrict them from discussing what they would see until the year 2017. That is ten years in the future. What if these people saw something that really concerned them, and it didn't show up in the SOS report on the testing of the Ohio voting machines. Why should these people be sworn to silence?
We have learned that the SOS office has requested silence from VRI members on other issues this year. Why? Open, Honest, Transparent Elections are something we all want, so why all the silence?
Another issue on this testing is in regards to the lobbyist, Aaron Ockerman who got to choose the Board of Election Members that are in a group of 12 to be involved in Project Everest.
According to the Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s answers to the State Controlling Board, which approved $1.8 million in Help America Vote (HAVA) funds to review Ohio’s elections systems, the final recommendations will be the "responsibility of the Secretary of State's Office working with a representative group of the state's election officials.”
Brunner’s letter to this same board, dated Sept. 20, 2007, states, “The list (of election officials) was compiled with Aaron Ockerman who met with me this morning and suggested the names of those to be involved."
Aaron Ockerman, of State Street Consultants, is a registered lobbyist for the Ohio Association of Election Officials (OAEO), a corporation that promotes the business interests of Ohio election officials. He was a registered lobbyist for Election Systems & Software (ES&S) in 2003.
Neil S. Clark and Paul Tipps, founders of State Street Consultants, were registered lobbyists for ES&S, 2002-04, and for Diebold, 2004 and 2005. Clark is currently a registered OAEO lobbyist.
Ockerman, also a registered lobbyist for ACS State and Local Solutions, Inc., formerly Lockheed Martin IMS. Additionally, he co-hosted a reception for the Ohio SOS and others during the winter 2007 OAEO conference.
Of the twelve election officials, nine come from BOEs that disposed of protected 2004 election records, four of the nine serving as BOE Director in 2004. Two of the nine disposed of their records before certification of the 2004 election; and another three have not submitted the requested explanation to the SOS for their missing records.
As of this date, six come from counties with various alleged recount irregularities, and one from a county with alleged voter suppression. Although Ohio does have many BOEs secure from these problems, only two are represented on the list.
The problems in Ohio's elections are too numerous to even count. But there is one thing I did my best to count this year. That was how many times the Ohio Directors and Deputy Directors of the 88 Boards of Elections (BOE) knew they must keep the 2004 presidential election records. According to my count, they knew 11 times prior to the end of the 22 month record retention schedule that they needed to keep the records that currently are protected by a court order from US. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley. The first of these would simply be the law which requires retention schedule of 22 months, and most of the 56 counties missing records did not abide by that law. Some claim to have their own version of a federal record retention schedule. This would differ from what all the other Election Officials in the whole country abide by... which is all federal election records must be maintained for 22 months, even the unused ballots (important if there is an audit).
Some BOE's claim to have destroyed records in 60 days. That would be January 1, 2005, and the flawed election was not even certified until January 6, 2005.
Stark County and Ashland County both destroyed records in 60 days, according to their letter of explanation submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State in April of 2007. Stark and Ashland Counties both have people involved in the Project Everest testing of Ohio's Voting Machines. So how do these people justify that, and how does our Secretary of State hold her head high and defend such behavior? The rule of law would dictate that there be some accountability.
A last thought on this would be... how safe will future records from 2008 be in the hands of the same folks that would throw multiple boxes of them in a dumpster simply because a coffee pot broke and the records got coffee and some broken glass spilled upon them? This same Director, Lisa Welch, told me that if it happened again, she would do the same thing, she would "throw the records out." Lisa is the director of the Holmes County Board of Elections. As far as I know at this time, Lisa is not part of Project Everest. Lisa's "the dog ate my homework" excuse is just one example of many which were returned to our own Secretary of State by her request. If these kinds of excuses are not found to be satisfactory to the public, why should they appear satisfactory to SoS Brunner? Perhaps that will be a question I include in my next records request to Mme Secretary. Our new Secretary of State is our great hope based on her campaign promises. The Ohio Election Justice Campaign has faith that she will make the wise and needed decisions going forward.
Director, The Ohio Election Justice Campaign