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The Voice Of 40-Something Cynical Optimism!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Joseph Stalin- election pundit

"It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything."

Which bring us to the Grinning Chimp's victory at the last US Presidential Election...

Please send as far and wide as possible.

Robert Sterling
Editor, The Konformist
Elections & Voting
Ohio's Diebold debacle: New machines call election results into
question By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
Online Journal Guest Writers
Nov 25, 2005

Massive Election Day irregularities are emerging in reports from all
over Ohio after the introduction of Diebold's electronic voting in
nearly half of the Buckeye State's counties. A recently released
report by the non-partisan General Accountability Office warned of
such problems with electronic voting machines.

E-voting Machine Disasters

Prior to the 2005 election, electronic voting machines from Diebold
and other Republican voting machine manufacturers were newly
installed in 41 of Ohio's 88 counties. The Dayton Daily News
reported that in Montgomery County, for example, "Some machines
began registering votes for the wrong item when voters touched the
screen correctly. Those machines had lost their calibration during
shipping or installation and had to be recalibrated. . . ."

Steve Harsman, the drector of the Montgomery County Board of
Elections (BOE), told the Daily News that the recalibration could be
done on site, but poll workers had never performed the task before.

The city of Carlisle, Ohio, announced on November 22 that it is
contesting the results of the November 8 general election as a
result of Montgomery County vote counting problems. Carlisle Mayor
Jerry Ellender told the Middletown Journal that the count on the
city's continuing $3.8 million replacement fire levy is
invalid "since they are not sure if Carlisle voters received the
right ballots on the new electronic voting machines."

Harsman, according to the Journal, said, "poll workers incorrectly
encoded voter cards that are used to bring up the ballots on the
electronic machines in precincts in Germantown and Carlisle."

At least 225 votes were registered for the fire levy in precincts
with only 148 registered voters, according to the Journal. In
addition, 187 voting machine memory cards were lost for most of
election night in Montgomery County, according to the Dayton Daily

In Lucas County, election results appeared more than 13 hours after
the close of polls. The Toledo Blade cited "'frightened' poll
workers," intimidated by the new "touch-screen voting machines."

The Blade found that despite an $87,568 federal grant to the Lucas
County Board of Elections for "voter education and poll worker
training . . ." only $1,718.65 was spent from the grant.

The Blade also reported that 10 days after the 2005
election, "Fourteen touch-screen voting machines have sat unattended
in the central hallway at the University of Toledo Scott Park
Campus." The GAO report warned that touch-screen machines are easily
hacked and should be kept secure at all times.

In Miami County, the Board of Elections fired the deputy director,
Diane Miley, following a 20-minute closed-door session reviewing the
November 8, 2005, general election.

The Free Press had reported that in the 2004 presidential election,
Miami County was cited in the seminal Moss v. Bush election
challenge case. The county was specifically cited for an early
morning influx of 19,000 additional votes, mostly for Bush, after
100 percent of the vote had been reported.

The AP reported additional irregularities in the 2005 election in
Ohio. In Wood County, election results were not posted until 6:23
a.m., after poll workers at four polling places accidentally
selected the wrong option on voting machines preventing the machine
memory cards from being automatically uploaded, according to the
Board of Elections Deputy Director Debbie Hazard.

In five counties -- Brown, Crawford, Jackson, Jefferson and Marion --
using Diebold machines, there were problems with the counting of
absentee ballots as a result of "the width of the ballot," the AP

In Scioto County, the vote count was not finished until 4:30 a.m.
Board of Elections Director Steve Mowery informed the Portsmouth
Daily Times that, as a result of machines undergoing insufficient
testing and absentee problems, things went "poorly."

Many counties used "roving employees" assigned to pick up memory
cards from voting machines. In Lucas County, these "rovers"
traveled "to multiple locations before delivering the cards to the
election office at Governmental Center." The polls closed at 7:30
p.m. but, "The final memory cards were delivered to the Board of
Elections office just before midnight," according to WTOL Channel 11
News, Toledo.

Toledo's WTOL Channel 11 News posed the simple question: "Did the
delay in returning memory cards to the election office open the door
to possible vote fraud?"

Amidst these massive glitches, Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth
Blackwell, who personally negotiated the deal for the Diebold
machines that he called the "best in the nation," insisted through
his spokesperson Carlo LaParo that "The new touch-screen systems
went well."

Odd Results for Election Reform Initiatives

The Reform Ohio Now (RON) campaign saw polls throughout the state
showing two of its four election reform issues to be passing easily.
Both the Columbus Dispatch and University of Akron Bliss Institute
polls predicted victories for Issue 2 and Issue 3, only to see them
go down to sudden and statistically unexplainable defeat. Issue 2
allowed for early voting in Ohio and Issue 3 reduced the amount of
money an individual can give a candidate from $10,000 to $2,000.
Both were predicted to pass with 59 percent and 61 percent of the
vote, respectively.

The Bliss Institute of Applied Politics' survey was completed on
October 20 at the University of Akron Survey Research Center, and
found that Issue 2 seemed likely to win approval with more than
three-fifths of likely voters.

The Dispatch mail-in poll was completed on Thursday Nov. 3, just
prior to Election Day. The Dispatch poll is so accurate, that at
least two academic studies have been published about it in the
Public Opinion Quarterly (POQ). The first paper documents that the
Dispatch poll between 1980-1984 was far more accurate than telephone
polling. The study showed the Dispatch error rate at only 1.6
percentage points versus phone error rates of 5 percent. A companion
study published in POQ in 2000 dealt specifically with the question
of statewide referenda. A quote from the study: "The average error
for the Dispatch forecast of these referenda was 5.4 percentage
points, compared to 7.2 percentage points for the telephone surveys."

The academic study concluded that the Dispatch's mail survey
outperformed telephone surveys for both referenda and candidate's

The fact that the Dispatch was nearly 30 points off in predicting
the "YES" vote on Issue 3 should raise concerns.

Dispatch Associate Publisher Mike Curtin shrugged off the worst
polling performance since the infamous Literary Digest predicted
that Alf Landon would beat FDR in 1936. In an email obtained by the
Free Press, Curtin told California voting rights activist Sheri
Myers, "There is no evidence of any irregularities in Ohio's 2005
voting results." Curtin, according to election attorney Cliff
Arnebeck, had also dismissed anyone who raises issues about Ohio's
2004 presidential election results as "conspiracy theorists."

Curtin co-authored the scholarly papers on the Dispatch's legendary
polling accuracy. Editorially, the Dispatch has not endorsed a
Democratic presidential candidate since Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

Curtin pleaded with the voting rights activists, "Please don't buy
into the conspiracy theories without any shred of evidence." Curtin
did not deal with the specifics about how the polling, which he was
so proud of, was up to 40 points off on certain issues for the first
time ever. In another email explaining the unprecedented Dispatch
polling debacle, Dispatch Editor Darrel Rowland told a Tribune Media
Services columnist that, "I also can't imagine voting technology is
to blame, when both Democrats and Republicans are involved in every
crucial step of the way."

Under oath testimony at public hearings sponsored by the Free Press
after the 2004 presidential election revealed that election workers
admit that they have little or no knowledge of how e-voting
technology works and are totally reliant on private vendors for vote
counting inside the "black box." Ohio's other major newspapers
routinely suggest what Rowland "can't imagine."

Rowland did note that despite the Dispatch's recent embracing of its
unprecedented incompetence at polling that, "Over the years we have
found that the people who return our mail poll are likely voters --
the holy grail in political polls. Our track record in gauging
public opinion in this state regarded as a national political
bellwether is unparalleled.

Don McTigue, the attorney for RON, told the Free Press that
Blackwell had issued a ruling barring RON volunteers from the county
vote counting rooms on election eve. McTigue and the RON volunteers
had filled out a request form to view the counting 11 days prior to
Election Day, but Blackwell had added a new form to verify which
group was representing the issues. This new form was not filled out,
McTigue admits.

Matt Damschroder, the Franklin County Board of Elections director,
allowed the RON observers in anyway, despite their being barred from
the vote counting rooms in other counties.

This is the second straight election in which the polling
organizations were spectacularly wrong in Ohio. In the 2004
election, the media consortium exit polls, as well as the Harris and
Zogby polls, all declared Kerry the winner on Election Day.

Democracy in Jeopardy

One of the first times electronic voting machines were used, in the
1988 New Hampshire presidential primary, former CIA director George
Herbert Walker Bush pulled off a stunning and unpredicted upset. The
last poll before that primary showed Senator Bob Dole winning with 8
percentage points. Bush won by 9 points, a startling 17-point shift.
Bush's e-voting victory allowed him to claim the White House and
paved the way for his son to become the United States' chief

Diebold electronic voting machines use non-transparent, proprietary
software to count the votes. Diebold's CEO Wally O'Dell is one of
President Bush's major donors and fundraisers.

Election Day news coverage from the 41 counties that adopted Diebold
touch-screen machines makes it clear that poll worker ignorance
about how to use the high-tech equipment and machine glitches were
widespread problems in 2005. Diebold technicians in many areas were
key in producing the final vote results.

Use of e-voting machines has resulted in two elections with
improbable results in Ohio, with potentially catastrophic outcomes
for American democracy -- especially if they are ignored.

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of HOW THE GOP
STOLE AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, available at, and, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO, to be published this spring by The New Press.


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