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VoterGate BART Altert! Support Recount in Ohio

Thursday, November 18, 2004
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
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A presidential recount will happen in Ohio, as Green candidate David Cobb and Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik have formally requested it and have raised the money to pay the bill, though fundraising for the second phase continues ( They are calling for thousands of volunteers from Ohio and nationwide to assist as election observers in the 88 counties. Nader is doing the same in selected precincts in New Hampshire. The results of this recount and investigations of voter suppression and the questions that arise in the absence of a “voter-verified paper ballot” ( go way beyond whatever might happen to Bush or Kerry - it goes to how and whether votes are counted in the United States.

Although the recount is good news, what kind of recount can we expect? Especially when led by the likes of Secretary of State (and Bush-Cheney state chair) J. Kenneth Blackwell and election county heads like ex-Republican Party director Matt Damschroder?


Ohio has been the center of voter suppression tactics, with Columbus and the surrounding county of Franklin as “ground zero”. Bob Fithrakis of the Columbus Free Press reports that the Republican board of elections director held back voting machines and dispersed many of the other machines to affluent suburbs in Franklin County. The number of dispersed machines remains unclear as of this writing, but not the pattern:“Matt Damschroder is the Franklin County Board of Elections Director, and the former Executive Director of the Franklin County Republican Party...Prior to Election Day, the Republican Party in Ohio planned to utilize an archaic Ohio election law to place Republican poll challengers in every polling site. The strategy, according to Republican insiders, was to clog the voting lines in predominantly black Democratic wards in urban areas, so voters would turn away in frustration.
When that plan came under heavy media scrutiny, federal courts in Ohio ruled against it, and a massive Election Protection Coalition operation was put in place to monitor the polling sites, Republican Central Committee sources say that Damschroder instituted Plan B.” – the dispersal of the machines.

Local public hearings are being held in Columbus on voter suppression and fraud - the first hearing was held on the 13th, the other for the evening of the 15th. The Nov. 14 Columbus Dispatch reports that the first hearing ran hours over schedule, with testimony about cars being towed from a Driving Park polling site, standing in line for several hours, and too few machines.

“Carol Shelton was the presiding judge at the Linden library precinct, with three machines for 1,500 registered voters. At her home precinct in Clintonville, she said there were three machines for 730 voters.”

"I called to get more machines and got connected to Matt Damschroder, and after lots of hassle he sent a fourth machine," she said. "It did not put a dent in the long lines. This was a clear case of voter suppression."

Similar tales of vote suppression have occurred in the Hispanic community in Cuyahoga County and elsewhere, such as left-wing student enclaves such as Kenyon College.


The key evidence on possible voter fraud means that we must force the networks to release what they own - the state and county exit polls

These public hearings were held at the New Life Church, the location of the polling station in the Republican suburb of Gahanna where a faulty electronic voting machine cartridge counted 4,258 votes for George W. Bush in a precinct where only 638 people had voted. These miscounted 4000 votes will reduce the current 136,000 Bush margin of victory.

How many similar errors have occurred, in Ohio or eleswhere? The race is on to find out, especially in counties with electronic voting machines that have no paper trails. Ralph Nader is conducting a recount of 11 New Hampshire precincts that used optical scanners of Diebold or Sequoia Voting Systems. Although Kerry won the state, voting anomalies for Bush have resulted in numbers 5-15% higher than normal.

Bev Harris at is conducting a fraud audit in Ohio, Florida and several other states. The discovery of 4500 lost e-votes in Carteret County, North Carolina is forcing a second election that could encompass the entire state. Bev Harris did a demonstration on national TV during election night how to hack into “the central tabulator” for voting machines, which “is just a PC”. In the words of those in the trenches at “Electronic miscounts of votes are no longer a theory - it’s a fact.” David Dill, a Stanford University computer scientist, has obtained the signatures of more than a thousand other computer scientists on a petition
warning federal authorities that voting systems lacking paper records are "inherently subject to programming error, equipment malfunction, and malicious tampering."

A comparison of the exit polls of the swing states with the actual results reveals that the odds of Bush making an average gain of 4.15 per cent in every one of the 16 states included in the media’s 4 p.m. exit polling is 1 in 50,000, or .002 percent. (See the comparison at the end of this article; and for the basis of these numbers, go to http:// href=""> and

Look at the discrepancies for the three key swing states Ohio: 4.5% (before recount); Florida: 7%; Pennsylvania: 4.8%. Prof. Steve Freeman at UPenn calculates the odds of this anomaly in a well-written paper at 250 million to one. And with New Hampshire at 8.6% statewide, it’s no wonder Nader wants to take a second look at chosen precincts.

Former MIT mathematics professor David Anick (, Nov. 8) has found the odds of Bush making an average gain of 4.15 percent among all 16 states included in the media’s 4 p.m. exit polling is 1 in 50,000, or .002 percent. (See the poll at the end of this article).

Anick reasons that there are four possible causes of the “Bush gains.” (1) Significantly greater lying or refusal to speak to pollsters in Bush voters versus Kerry voters; (2) Consistent/systematic errors in weighting demographic groups; (3) A surge of Bush voters after 4 p.m., in all states; (4) Systematic tampering/hacking of reported vote totals, in Bush’s favor.

Activists are calling for the release of the full exit polling for all states by county, as the swing state data is the only data that has been made public by the networks. Their proprietary interest in the data should yield to the immediate public interest. No real conclusion can be drawn without all the data, and county by county exit polling would be the best means for examining claims of fraud.

Like Florida, 70% of Ohio’s votes are by “punch cards”, which historically disenfranchise African Americans and people of color

The amazing thing about the recount, as attorney and commentator Jonathan Turley pointed out on MSNBC on Nov. 9 that 70% of Ohio’s votes were done with punch cards with the infamous “chads”. As Florida proved in 2000, a lot of those punch cards “turn over” in a recount.

In a groundbreaking 1982 study, shortly after punch-card ballots became prevalent in Ohio, Ohio State poli-sci professor Herb Asher found that thousands of voters were disenfranchised because of punch-card ballots. More recently, Asher reviewed results from numerous urban precincts in the 2000 presidential election. In both instances, Asher found that proportionally more votes went uncounted in African American communities.
The original deadline set by the federal Help America Vote Act to replace the punch card voting machines was the Nov. 2 election, but Sec’y of State Blackwell received a waiver because of “security questions”. The ACLU filed a lawsuit to try to force the turnover by the 2004 election, but that suit has been stalled by shenanigans by the Republican attorney general.

Although the a recount of the punch cards could make things pretty wild with the 92,000 spoiled ballots and review of those already counted, a brand new article by Greg Palast ( explains why a full recount of the 155,000 provisional ballots will run into enormous difficulties. The right-wing Sec’y of State in charge of the vote, J. Kenneth Blackwell, is running to be the next governor of Ohio:

“...These ballots are counted only by the whimsy and rules of a state's top elections official; and in Ohio, that gives a virtually ballot veto to Bush-Cheney campaign co-chair, Blackwell.

“Mr. Blackwell has a few rules to make sure a large proportion of provisional ballots won't be counted. For the first time in memory, the Secretary of State has banned counting ballots cast in the "wrong" precinct, though all neighborhoods share the same President...The election-shifting bulge in provisional ballots (more than 3% of the electorate) was the direct result of the national Republican strategy that targeted African-American precincts for mass challenges on election day.

“This is the first time in four decades that a political party has systematically barred -- in this case successfully -- hundreds of thousands of Black voters from access to the voting booth. While investigating for BBC Television, we obtained three dozen of the Republican Party's confidential "caging" lists, their title for spreadsheets listing names and addresses of voters they intended to block on any pretext.

“We found that every single address of the thousands on these Republican hit lists was located in Black-majority precincts. You might find that nasty and racist. It may also be a crime.

“Blackwell has said he will count all the "valid" provisional ballots. However, his rigid regulations, like the new guess-your-precinct rule, are rigged to knock out enough voters to keep Bush's skinny lead alive. Other pre-election maneuvers by Republican officials -- late and improbably large purges of voter rolls, rejection of registrations -- maximized the use of provisional ballots which will never be counted. For example, a voter wrongly tagged an ineligible "felon" voter (and there's plenty in that category, mostly African-Americans), will lose their ballot even though they are wrongly identified.”

“...To count the ballots, (one would) have to demand a hand reading of the punch cards. Blackwell, armed with the Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore diktat, would undoubtedly pull a "Kate Harris" by halting or restricting a hand count. Most daunting, (one) would also, as one state attorney general pointed out to me, have to litigate each and every rejected provisional ballot in court. This would entail locating up to a hundred thousand voters to testify to their right to the vote, with Blackwell challenging each with a holster full of regulations from the old Jim Crow handbook.”

Blackwell gave orders as recently as Nov. 9 to not count any provisional ballots from Cuyahoga County where the voter did not provide a date of birth, even though the
“Provisional Verification Procedure” of the county clearly states “Date of birth is not mandatory and should not reject a provisional ballot.”
The word is that Blackwell backed off a couple days ago - but if the election is “over”, why the fuss?

Blackwell’s other stunts have included an attempt to destroy thousands of new voter registrations because he claimed they were not printed on the “proper” 80-pound card stock. Registration forms had been photocopied on regular paper and even printed in local newspapers. For a dozen different ways the Ohio vote was manipulated, see is now on the case. Mainstream groups such as People for the American Way have changed their tune about the election being fundamentally fair. But we have to raise the volume.

The national shout-out should be clear:

Due to his conflict of interest, Blackwell should be “recused” - that is, barred - from having anything to do with the recount.

We must end the historic pattern of vote suppression in African American, Latino and student communities, all of which has manifested in this election.

Until voting machines are free from “hacking” and leave a verifiable receipt for the voter, the legitimacy of this and all future elections will always remain in question.

Join the “BART Alert!” to Investigate Votergate in San Francisco, at Powell and Market, Thursday, November 18, at 5 pm. We will sponsor a speak-out at the plaza by witnesses to voter suppression and fraud - we will document the evidence to be presented to election protection activists - we will march through the city to make our voices heard that THE ONLY MANDATE IS TO STOP VOTER SUPPRESSION.

Bill Simpich (
Democracy Defense Committee

Exit Polling Reported Vote
State Kerry Bush Diff. Kerry Bush Diff. Bush Gain
AR 45 54 -9 45 54 -9.8 0.8
CO 49 50 -1 47 52 -5.6 4.6
FL 51 49 2 47 52 -5.0 7.0
IA 50 49 1 49 50 -0.9 1.9
MI 52 46 6 51 48 3.4 2.6
MN 52 46 6 51 48 3.5 2.5
MO 47 52 -5 46 53 -7.3 2.3
NH 54 44 10 50 49 1.4 8.6
NJ 54 44 10 53 46 6.2 3.8
NM 50 48 2 49 50 -1.1 3.1
NV 49 48 1 48 50 -2.6 3.6
NY 62 36 26 58 40 17.3 8.7
OH 51 49 2 49 51 -2.5 4.5
PA 53 46 7 51 49 2.2 4.8
WI 51 48 3 50 49 0.4 2.6
WV 45 54 -9 43 56 -13.0 4.0
Added to the calendar on Wed, Nov 17, 2004 4:38PM
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