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Investigation into the 2004 US Election: Ohio

 
  

Project: Investigation into the 2004 US Election

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August 2001

       In Summit County, Ohio, congressional redistricting prompted by the 2000 census is accompanied by a 19 percent reduction in the number of voting precincts—from 624 to 507. Republicans support the move claiming that the cuts will save taxpayers an estimated $45,000 for each countywide election. [Akron Beacon Journal, 12/11/2004] Further reductions in 2003 (See 2003) will reduce the number of precincts to 475. Overall, most of the reductions occur in the city of Akron where there is a significant Democratic majority. As a result of the cuts, the Akron precincts will experience long lines in the 2004 elections (See November 2, 2004), “especially in the city's predominantly African-American wards.”
          

2003

       Ohio's Summit County Board of Elections eliminates 32 more voting precincts. [Akron Beacon Journal, 12/11/2004] This follows a previous reduction, which occurred in 2001 (See August 2001). Since the 2000 elections, the total number of precincts in the county has dropped from 624 to 475, or a countywide decrease of 24 percent. Most of the cuts have occurred in the city of Akron where there is a significant Democratic majority. Akron has lost 81 of its 234 precincts, or more than a third. [Akron Beacon Journal, 12/11/2004] Other counties in Ohio do not feel the need to consolidate precincts. More than half of Ohio's 88 counties either increase or make no changes in the number of precincts. [Akron Beacon Journal, 12/11/2004] As a result of the cuts, the Akron precincts experiences long lines in the 2004 elections (See November 2, 2004), “especially in the city's predominantly African-American wards.”
          

(October 2004)

       According to Ohio's voter registration database, the level of registered voters in Perry County is a remarkably high 91 percent. A substantial number of these voters, however, appear never to have voted and “have no signatures on file.” The database also indicates that 3,100 voters registered on the exact same day, November 8, 1977—despite there being no federal elections during that year. [Source: Letter from US House Judiciary Democrats to Kenneth Blackwell, 12/2/2004]
          

(October 2004)

       In Franklin County, Ohio, a Holiday Inn employee reportedly observes 25 people from the “Texas Strike Force” using payphones to call likely voters, targeting people recently in the prison system. According to the hotel worker's account, one of the callers threatens someone with being reported to the FBI and returning to jail if he shows up at the polls to vote. When another hotel worker calls the police to report the crime, the police come to the hotel, but do nothing. [The Free Press, 12/13/2004] Though the members of the “Texas Strike Force” paid their way to Ohio [Human Events, 12/1/2004] , their hotel bill is reportedly paid by the Ohio Republican Party, whose headquarters is located across the street. [The Free Press, 12/13/2004]
          

October 12, 2004

       Thieves break into Lucas County Democratic headquarters in Toledo, Ohio and remove computers that contain sensitive campaign information like candidates' schedules; financial information; phone numbers of party members, candidates, donors, and volunteers; and emails from the party's office manager discussing campaign strategy. Computers belonging to Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak and to a Texas attorney—who has been working with the Kerry/Edwards presidential campaign to ensure election security—are also stolen. Commenting on the impact of the break-in, party spokesman Jerry Chabler tells the Toledo Blade: “This puts us behind the eight ball. This can affect our entire get-out-the-vote operation.” Chabler also tells the newspaper that it was apparent the burglars “knew what they wanted.” The burglars left two other computers containing less sensitive information and ignored other items that would have likely been taken if the burglary had been driven my monetary interest. Ohio Democratic spokesperson Dan Trevas says that the political importance of Lucas County cannot be overstated. “It's a major Democratic county in a swing area, surrounded by Republican and moderates,” he explains. “A lot of votes come out of northwest Ohio.” For some reason the building's alarm system did not detect the break-in. [Toledo Blade, 10/13/2004]
          

October 22, 2004

       In Ohio, Republican Party officials submit a list of 35,427 registered voters in 65 different counties whose mailing addresses, they say, are questionable to county election boards. 17,717 names on the list are of newly registered voters from Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, a Democratic stronghold. [Columbian Dispatch, 10/23/2004; New York Times, 10/23/2004]
          

4:00pm October 22, 2004

       The Republican Party provides Ohio election officials with lists of the people they have recruited to work as “challengers” on election day. According to a 1953 Ohio state law—which critics says is rooted in a blatantly racist 1886 statute that emerged after the Civil War—“challengers” are permitted to challenge the qualifications of voters who they suspect are not eligible to vote. [Associated Press, 11/1/2004; New York Times, 10/23/2004] Before a challenger can ask a poll worker to question a voter, it must first be shown that there is “reasonable” justification for doubting a voter's qualifications. All eligible voters must be citizens, at least 18, a resident of the county and must have lived in Ohio for the previous 30 days. The Republicans' list includes 3,600 challengers, many of whom will be working in the heavily Democratic urban neighborhoods of Cleveland, Dayton and other cities. For example 1,436 of the Republican challengers will be stationed in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, a Democratic stronghold. The Republicans claim that using challengers is necessary because the Democrats may have fraudulently registered thousands of ineligible voters. The Democrats enlist more than 2,000 recruits as challengers who they hope will protect legitimate voters from being denied their rights by their Republican counterparts. But in some of the most critical counties the Democrats will be grossly outnumbered. For Cuyahoga County, the Democrats will only have 300 challengers. [New York Times, 10/23/2004] Election officials are concerned about the huge number of challenges that are expected at the polls. “I'm not sure how we're going to accomplish this,” says John Williams, deputy elections director in Hamilton County. “We've never had anything like this before.” Some fear that the challengers intend to reduce voter turnout. “Some observers worry the parties will indiscriminately challenge voters in heavily Democratic or Republican precincts as a strategy to discourage people from voting,” The Columbus Dispatch reports. [The Columbus Dispatch, 10/23/2004]
          

Between October 22, 2004 and October 29, 2004

       The GOP withdraws about 5,000 challenges (See October 22, 2004) in Hamilton County after discovering errors. [Cleveland Enquirer, 10/30/2004]
          

October 23, 2004-October 29, 2004

       County election boards in Ohio hold hearings to verify the voting addresses of roughly 30,000 recently registered voters whose eligibility to vote has been challenged by the Republican Party (See October 22, 2004). [WTOV, 10/27/2004; New York Times, 10/29/2004] According to Democratic officials, Republicans challenging voters at the hearings have little or no evidence to support their claims, other than that the voter's registration card was returned “undeliverable” (See Between September 2004 and mid-October 2004). In Summit County, elections officials reject all 976 challenges after the challengers fail to provide evidence. Similarly, in Warren County, officials throw out every one of the county's 23 challenges. [Cleveland Enquirer, 10/30/2004]
          

October 28, 2004

       In Ohio, the Lake County Board of Elections issues a notice warning that some of the county's newly registered voters have received phony letters claiming that the recipients may have been registered illegally and consequently may not be eligible to vote in the November 2004 elections. The unsigned fake letter, dated October 22 and printed on stationary that looks similar to that of the board, reads: “[I]ndependent efforts by the NAACP, America Coming Together, John Kerry for President and the Capri Cafaro for Congress campaigns have been illegally registering people to vote and apply for absentee ballots.... If you have been registered by any of these entities then you may run the risk of being illegally registered to vote. Please be advised that if you were registered in this capacity, that you will not be able to vote until the next election.” [source: Phony Lake County Board of Elections Letters, 10/22/2004; The Washington Post, 10/31/2004; News 5 [Ohio], 10/28/2004]
          

October 28, 2004

       In Lebanon, Ohio, Warren County officials decide behind closed doors that they will close the county administration building to the public on election night (See After 7:30pm, November 2, 2004). [Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/5/2004] Email memos dated October 25 and October 26 indicate that detailed discussion about the proposed measure began earlier. [Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/16/2004] The decision follows a recommendation by Warren County Emergency Services Director Frank Young based on information allegedly received from the US Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation during recent weeks. However officials from both those agencies later say they are unaware of any specific information relating to Warren County that would have caused the lockdown (See November 9, 2004). The public will not be informed of the decision to close the administration building until election night, after the polls close. [Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/5/2004]
          

October 29, 2004

       In Cincinnati, Donald and Marian Spencer, elderly African American civil rights activists, go to federal district court to challenge the 1953 Ohio law that permits poll watchers to challenge voters (See 4:00pm October 22, 2004). Critics of the law say it is rooted in a blatantly racist 1886 statute that emerged after the Civil War. The couple is supported in their case by the Democrats. The couple complains that most of the Republican challengers will be deployed in the heavily black precincts in the Cincinnati area in order to suppress minority voters. [Los Angeles Times, 11/2/2004; Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/1/2004] David Maume, a sociologist from the University of Cincinnati, testifies that demographic data show a disproportionate number of Republican challengers would be sent to precincts that are predominantly Africa-American. Maume further explains that perhaps as many as 77 percent of black voters would encounter a challenger on Election Day, compared with 25 percent of white voters. There is “a clear correlation between a voting population that is black and the placement of Republican challengers,” Maume concludes. [Cleveland Enquirer, 10/30/2004] The court resumes hearing on the case Sunday evening (See Evening, October 31, 2004). [Los Angeles Times, 11/2/2004]
          

1:24 am November 1, 2004

       In Cincinnati, US District Judge Susan J. Dlott rules on a case brought by Donald and Marian Spencer (See Evening, October 31, 2004), in which the couple challenged the GOP's plan to deploy challengers to polling sites in Hamilton County (See 4:00pm October 22, 2004). Dlott, appointed by Clinton in 1994, rules against the Republican plan, noting that there is no need to have challengers since Ohio already requires the presence of election judges at precincts in order to avoid voter fraud. “Under Ohio law, each polling place is staffed by four election judges, no more than two of whom can be from a single party,” the Los Angeles Times explains. “One of the four is appointed by each county election board to be the presiding judge, who can rule on challenges to a voter's qualifications.” Dlott warns in her 18-page decision that the Republican plan, if permitted, could cause “chaos, delay, intimidation and pandemonium inside the polls and in the lines outside the door.” She notes “that 14 percent of new voters in a majority white location will face a challenger ... but 97 percent of new voters in a majority African American voting location will see such a challenger.” Dlott says also that the law permitting challengers does not sufficiently protect citizens' fundamental right to vote. [Los Angeles Times, 11/2/2004; Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/2/2004; Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/1/2004; Columbus Dispatch, 11/1/2004] Dlott ruling is very similar to another one that is delivered a few hours later in a similar case in Akron (See Early morning, November 1, 2004). Commenting on the two rulings, two election law experts, professor Edward Foley of Ohio State University Law School in Columbus and Richard L. Hasen of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, both tell the Los Angeles Times that they consider it significant that the two judges have provided similar rationales for their rulings. “It is quite striking that the reasoning of both judges is the same and they echo one another,” Foley says. [Los Angeles Times, 11/2/2004]
          

November 1, 2004

       In Franklin County, electronic voting machines are delivered to polling places in Columbus and its suburbs. But they are unevenly distributed, with more machines being placed per registered voter in the higher-income areas than lower-income areas. [The Free Press, 12/16/2004] According to the Columbus Dispatch, the manager of election operations, a Democrat, recommended the placement of machines. [Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/2004] At the end of the day, County Elections Director Matthew Damschroder, a Republican, reportedly orders workers to deliver another 99 voting machines, which were held in reserve in case there was a serious accident or a problem with a truckload, to the inner city precincts where long lines are expected. But only 44 of the reserve machines are delivered. Four machines are delivered the next day (See (Morning) November 2, 2004), 29 machines are “are delivered by the close of polls,” and 22 are left in a warehouse (See Morning-early afternoon, November 2, 2004). [Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/2004]
Uneven distribution - In past elections, the county has aimed to have one machine for every 100 voters, with the maximum being 125 voters per machine. This formula assumes that the average voter will take roughly 5 minutes to cast his or her ballot. 200 voters per machine is considered the absolute maximum. [The Free Press, 12/16/2004; Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/2004]
After the elections, statistics will reveal that the voter-to-machine ratio was higher in Columbus than in its surrounding suburbs where the income level is higher. (See Morning-early afternoon, November 2, 2004)
Analysis by Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips - According to a signed affidavit by Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips, who holds a PhD in geomorphology from the University of Oregon, the uneven distribution of machines “cost[s] John Kerry 17,000 votes.” His conclusion is based on statistical analysis of Franklin County's election results which shows that wards with greater than 300 registered voters per machine had a lower voter turnout than wards with fewer than 300 registered voters per machine. Since areas with a lower density of machine placement were predominantly in Democratic Columbus inner-city precincts and since these precincts experienced lower than usual voter turnout, the implication is that many voters who would have voted for Kerry did not vote because of long lines. [Source: Affidavit, Richard Phillips, 12/10/2004]

          

Early morning, November 1, 2004

       In Akron, Ohio, US District Judge John R. Adams rules on a case brought by local residents (See Late October 2004), challenging the Republicans' plan to station challengers at polling sites in 65 Ohio counties (See 4:00pm October 22, 2004). Adams, appointed by Bush in 2002, rules against the GOP plan. In his decision he notes that Ohio already requires the presence of election judges at precincts in order to avoid voter fraud and that there is therefore no need to place challengers at the polls. “Under Ohio law, each polling place is staffed by four election judges, no more than two of whom can be from a single party,” the Los Angeles Times explains. “One of the four is appointed by each county election board to be the presiding judge, who can rule on challenges to a voter's qualifications.” Judge Adams also expresses concern that “random challenges or challenges without cause advanced by members of any political party ... could result in retaliatory ‘tit for tat’ challenges at the polling places.” Furthermore, he argues, “If challenges are made with any frequency, the resultant distraction and delay could give rise to chaos and a level of voter frustration that would turn qualified electors away from the polls” Finally, Adams also says that the law permitting challengers does not adequately protect a citizen's fundamental right to vote. [Los Angeles Times, 11/2/2004] Adams ruling is very similar to another one that was delivered just a few hours ago in a similar case in Cleveland (See 1:24 am November 1, 2004). Commenting on the two rulings, two election law experts, professor Edward Foley of Ohio State University Law School in Columbus and Richard L. Hasen of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, both tell the Los Angeles Times that they consider it significant that the two judges have provided similar rationales for their rulings. “It is quite striking that the reasoning of both judges is the same and they echo one another,” Foley says. [Los Angeles Times, 11/2/2004]
          

November 2, 2004

       Voters in 68 of Ohio's 88 counties, or roughly 73 percent of the electorate, use punch-card ballots to cast their votes. In the counties that use electronic voting systems, 0.8 percent of the votes cast do not register a vote for president whereas in counties that use punch-card ballots, the figure is 1.9 percent, or 76,068 ballots. [Dayton Daily News, 11/21/2004] According to some groups who later dispute the election results, the punch-card ballots that fail to register a vote for the president do register votes for the other offices. [Guardian, 12/1/2004]
          

November 2, 2004

       In Ohio, Gambier residents and Kenyon college students and faculty wait in extremely long lines to vote—many of them in the rain. There are only two electronic voting machines for the 1,170 people that will eventually cast their vote by 4 am when the polling place finally closes. [Mount Vernon News, 11/2/2004; Beacon Journal, 11/4/2004; News 5 (Ohio), 11/4/2004; November 17, 2004] Kenyon College student Maggie Hill says during an appearance on the “Today Show” that her and hundreds of other students and Gambier residents had to wait up to 10 hours to cast their votes. [News 5 (Ohio), 11/4/2004]
          

November 2, 2004

       A dozen precincts in the southwest part of Merced County, Ohio experience problems with electronic voting machines that were purchased in 2001 from UniLect Corp. Machine malfunctions in these precincts are compounded by problems with the paper ballots that are used as a back-up. [Vindicator, 11/3/2004; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/9/2004] All of the precincts experiencing these problems have a Democratic majority. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/9/2004] Some of the problems that voters experience include:
20 to 30 of the machines need to be recalibrated when votes intended for one candidate are instead counted for another. [Vindicator, 11/3/2004]

About twelve machines freeze up and have to be restarted. [Vindicator, 11/3/2004]

In the precincts of Hermitage, Farrell, Wheatland, West Middlesex, Shenango Township and Sharon, some machines never operate or offer only black screens while others display the ballot backwards, requiring the voter to start with the last page of the ballot and work towards the beginning. [Vindicator, 11/3/2004]

In polling places where the machines are inoperable, election officials have to provide a back-up supply of paper ballots. But the county only has an emergency stock of 2,000 paper ballots, and as a result they have to print “a couple thousand more.” [Vindicator, 11/3/2004]
But this creates new problems. Some of the paper ballots are missing candidates' names and in some precincts there are complaints that poll workers require people to sign their paper ballots. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/9/2004] Additionally, critics later note that the failure to have had enough paper ballots on hand may have disenfranchised voters. Some people who left the polls when voting was not possible may not have returned to vote when the new supply of paper ballots arrived. [Vindicator, 11/6/2004]
At the Farrell municipal building, where 289 people are known to have voted, the voting machines record only 51 votes for president—48 votes for John Kerry and 3 for George W. Bush. Missing presidential votes are a problem in other precincts as well, as the county reports a few days later that 51,818 people cast ballots but only 47,768 of those included a vote for president. [Vindicator, 11/6/2004]
About a month later, the total undervote in Mercer County is determined to have been 7.29 percent. Typically, candidates will challenge results when the undervote exceeds 2 percent . [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/9/2004]
For some races machines tabulated negative 25 million votes. [Vindicator, 11/3/2004]

Finally, there is at least one incident involving the harassment of voters. Challengers from both the Democratic and Republican parties assigned to Warren 2E are ordered to leave the polling station after precinct judges say they are being disruptive. [Vindicator, 11/3/2004]

          

November 2, 2004

       Polls in Akron, Ohio experience long lines, “especially in the city's predominantly African-American wards.” The county elections director, Bryan C. Williams, tells the Akron Beacon Journal, “We had lines and waits everywhere in the morning, mainly between 6:30am and 9am.” He says the longest wait reported to him was 95 minutes. [Akron Beacon Journal, 12/11/2004] The long lines might have been avoided had there not been major cuts to the number of precincts in Summit County in 2001 (See August 2001) and 2003 (See 2003). Most of those reductions took place in Akron where there is a significant Democratic majority. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, the city's importance to Democrats is significant—“Enough to change Summit County from blue to red.” The paper explains: “John Kerry won Summit County by 38,000 votes, according to official returns. Take Akron's votes out of the totals, and President Bush would have won the county by 423 votes.” [Akron Beacon Journal, 12/11/2004]
          

November 2, 2004

       In several Ohio counties, Democratic candidate for State Supreme Court C. Ellen Connally receives more votes than Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (Auglaize County, Connally - 7,312, Kerry - 5,729; Brown County, Connally - 7,407, Kerry - 7,058; Clermont County, Connally - 29,464, Kerry - 25,318; Dark County, Connally - 8,817, Kerry - 6,683; Highland County, Connally - 6,119, Kerry - 6,012; Mercer County, Connally - 6,607, Kerry - 4,924; Butler County, Connally - 59,532, Kerry - 54,185; Miami County, Connally - 17,206, Kerry - 17,039). As the US House Judiciary Democrats note in a December 2 letter to Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, these results “run counter to the established principle that downballot party candidates receive far less votes than the presidential candidate of the same party.” The totals also deviate significantly from the statewide trend in Ohio, where Kerry receives 48.5 percent of the vote and Connally receives 46.6 percent. Even more striking about the figures is that fact that Connally's campaign was not very well funded. The same letter, referring to the results of Butler County, comments: “[I]t appears to be wildly implausible that 5,000 voters waited in line to case a vote for an underfunded Democratic Supreme Court candidate and then declined to cast a vote for the most well-funded Democratic Presidential campaign in history.” In addition to the bizarre voter numbers of the Connally and Kerry campaigns in Butler County, the results of the Republican side of those races are also hard to explain. The winning Republican candidate for the State Supreme Court receives 40,000 less votes than presidential candidate George Bush. [Source: Letter from US House Judiciary Democrats to Kenneth Blackwell, 12/2/2004]
          

(1:00am) November 2, 2004

       The US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns a ruling made by a federal district court the previous day (See Evening, October 31, 2004) which had barred Republicans from challenging voters at the polls (See 4:00pm October 22, 2004). The appeals court is presided by three judges, two of which were appointed by Republican presidents—Judge John M. Rogers, who was appointed by President Bush in 2002, and Senior Judge James L. Ryan, who was appointed by President Reagan in 1985. Judge Rogers writes in the court's decision: “Longer lines may, of course, result from delays and confusion when one side in a political controversy employs” challenges “more vigorously than in previous elections,” but “such a possibility does not amount to the severe burden upon the right to vote” that would justify a court order. Appeals Court Judge R. Guy Cole Jr., a 1995 appointee of President Clinton, disagrees. In his dissenting opinion, he says that under the Republican plan, “partisan challengers for the first time since the civil rights era seek to target precincts that have a majority African American population and without any legal standards or restrictions, challenge the voter qualifications of people as they stand waiting to exercise their fundamental right to vote.” He adds: “In this case, we anticipate the arrival of hundreds of Republican lawyers to challenge voter registration at the polls. Behind them will be hundreds of Democrat lawyers to challenge these challengers' challenges. This is a recipe for confusion and chaos.” [Los Angeles Times, 11/2/2004]
          

Morning-early afternoon, November 2, 2004

       In some heavily democratic Columbus, Ohio precincts, people wait 2-7 hours in long lines to cast their votes because of a shortage of voting machines. Machines delivered the previous day were distributed unevenly throughout the county, with a greater concentration (machine to registered voter) being placed in the higher-income suburbs (See November 1, 2004). 51 machines remain in a warehouse (See Afternoon November 2, 2004). [Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/2004; The Free Press, 12/16/2004] After the elections, statistics show that the voter-to-machine ratio was higher in Columbus than in its surrounding suburbs where income levels are higher. In the affluent Republican stronghold of Upper Arlington not one of its 34 precincts had a voting machine which cast more than 200 votes. Only one machine, in ward 6F, came close to the maximum. It was used by 194 voters. However, in the Democratic city of Columbus, there were 34 polling machines which logged on more than 200 votes per machine and 42 machines that were over 190 votes per machine. In another words, in Columbus, 17 percent of the city's machines were operating at 90-100 percent over the optimum capacity while in Upper Arlington the figure was 3 percent. The high voter ratios in Columbus were due to a combination of increased voter participation and fewer voting machines. In Columbus, despite increased voter registration in the city, 139, or 29 percent, of the 472 precincts had fewer machines than in the 2000 presidential election. In some precincts, the number of machines was reduced by as many as five. This contrasted sharply with Upper Arlington, where only two precincts had fewer machines. In one of those precincts, voter registration had declined by 25 percent. [Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/2004; The Free Press, 12/16/2004]
          

After 7:30pm, November 2, 2004

       In Lebanon, Ohio, Warren County officials close the county administration building to the public where the vote is being tallied. The lockdown—the only one to occur in the state—is a result of a decision that was made during a closed-door meeting the previous week (See October 28, 2004). Warren County Emergency Services Director Frank Young had recommended the increased security because of information received from the US Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. [Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/5/2004] An FBI agent reportedly said that Warren County ranked a “10” on a terrorism scale of 1 to 10. The threat was said to be of domestic origins. [Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/10/2004] But these claims are later challenged when officials from the FBI and DHS say that they were not aware of any such threats. Media organizations protest the lockdown, arguing that the officials are violating the law and the public's rights. “The media should have been permitted into the area where there was counting,” Enquirer attorney Jack Greiner complains. “This is a process that should be done in complete transparency and it wasn't.” In other Ohio counties, such as Butler County, people are permitted to observe ballot checkers through a window. In past elections, the Warren County commissioners' room was open to the public so they could observe the process. [Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/5/2004; Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/3/2004] The news director at WCPO-TV, Bob Morford, says he's suspicious of the decision to close the building to the public. I've “never seen anything like it,” he says. “Frankly, we consider that a red herring.... That's something that's put up when you don't know what else to put up to keep us out.” [Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/5/2004] Additionally, election officials fail to set up an area with telephones for the media as they were supposed to. When reporters attempt to enter the building, they are refused, although they are later permitted into the building's lobby located two floors below the elections office. The Associated Press, which has reporters at every Ohio board of elections site, says that Warren County is the only county to implement such tight restrictions. County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel claims that having reporters and photographers around could interfere with the vote count. [Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/5/2004] It is later explained that these restrictions were also due to homeland security concerns. [Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/10/2004]
          

November 3, 2004

       In Ohio's Cuyahoga County, some Cleveland precincts with large African-American populations, report an extraordinarily high number of votes for third party candidates even though few voters in these precincts have voted for these candidates in the past. For instance, in precinct 4F in the 4th Ward, where voting took place at Benedictine High School, there are 290 votes for Kerry, 21 for Bush, and 215 for Constitution Party candidate Michael Peroutka. And in precinct 4N, where voting occurred at the same location, the tally was 318 for Kerry, 21 for Bush, and 163 for Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik. Yet in the previous presidential election, a total of only 8 votes were cast by those two precincts for all independent candidates combined. City Councilman Kenneth Johnson, who has represented the 4th Ward since 1980, tells Juan Gonzales of the New York Daily News: “That's terrible, I can't believe it. It's obviously a malfunction with the machines.” Similar results appear in other Cleveland precincts, including the 8th Ward's G and I precinct at Cory United Methodist Church. In G, there were 51 votes for Badnarik and in I, there were 27 votes cast for Peroutka. However in 2000, third party candidates received only 9 votes from these precincts. [Source: Letter from US House Judiciary Democrats to Kenneth Blackwell, 12/2/2004; New York Daily News , 11/30/2004] It is later suggested that the problems were caused by voters in one precinct using machines intended for another. According to Katie Daley, an observer for the Democratic Party, voters waited in a single line between adjacent precincts and entered the voting booths as they became available, without regard to precinct assignment. [Associated Press, 12/10/2004] Reporter Juan Gonzales suggests that the votes cast for the third party candidates may have been meant for John Kerry: “In virtually all those precincts, Kerry's vote was lower than Al Gore's in 2000, even though there was a record turnout in the black community this time, and even though blacks voted overwhelmingly for Kerry.” [New York Daily News , 11/30/2004]
          

November 3, 2004

       In Montgomery County, two precincts—one in Kettering and another in Washington Twp.—report extraordinarily high numbers of ballots cast with no presidential vote. The two precincts, both of which used punch-card ballots, had undercounts of more than 25 percent, far exceeding the county's overall undercount of 2 percent. Undercount rates were 75 percent higher in the precincts that voted for John Kerry. Of the 231 precincts that went to Kerry, 2.8 percent of the ballots cast lacked a vote for the president. In the 354 precincts that supported President Bush, the figure was 1.6 percent. (But there were some exceptions. In fact, seven of the 10 precincts with the highest rate of undercounted presidential ballots went to Bush. For example, the highest undercount rate in Montgomery County occurred in precinct Washington X, a Bush stronghold, with 27.5 percent of the 611 ballots cast lacking a vote for president.) Larry J. Sabato, a political scientist from the University of Virginia, tells the Dayton Daily News that the extremely high rate of undercounts indicates that something went wrong. “It is very difficult to believe that a quarter of the people would not vote for president, especially in a year like this,” he says. “If I were the election officers in those areas I would be doing some very extensive checks of those machines.” But the presiding judge of Washington X, Shirley Wightman, tells the Dayton Daily News that her precinct reported no problems. [Dayton Daily News, 11/18/2004]
          

November 5, 2004

       In Ohio, Matthew Damschroder, director of Franklin County Board of Elections, reports that an error with its electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in Precinct 1B in Gahanna where only 638 voters were known to have cast ballots. The actual tally of Bush votes was 365. [Associated Press, 11/05/2004; Associated Press, 11/06/2004; The Columbus Dispatch, 11/5/2004] Franklin is the only Ohio county where the older-style touchscreen voting system manufactured by Danaher Controls Inc.'s ELECTronic 1242 is used. [Associated Press, 11/05/2004]
          


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