Monday, December 13, 2004

There is nothing more fundamental than the right to vote

Startling new revelations about Ohio's presidential vote have been uncovered as Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee joined Rev. Jesse Jackson in Columbus, today, to hold a rare field hearing into election malfeasance and manipulation in the 2004 vote. The Congressional delegation included Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones.

"Taken together, the revelations show Republicans – in state and county government, and in the Ohio Republican Party – were determined to undermine and suppress Democratic turnout by a wide variety of methods.

On Sunday, John Kerry spoke with Rev. Jesse Jackson and urged him to take a more active role in investigating the irregularities and ensuring a fair and impartial recount. Kerry said there were three areas of inquiry that should be addressed: 92,000 ballots that recorded no vote for president; qualifying and counting provisional ballots; and supported an independent analysis of the software and set-up of the optical scan voting machines.”

Then there were amazing revelations from Green Party Presidential Candidate, David Cobb. He stated that a Triad Systems representative tampered with voting equipment in Columbus, Ohio, changing out parts and attempting to alter the machine count with false data. Conyers was quite interested in this tale and asked for a follow-up meeting with Cobb.

Cobb cited an --as yet anonymous-- informant, that a Triad GSI employee had told staff at the Columbus County Board of Elections office to inconspicuously note a prepared recount result, then report this data irrespective of the actual recount.

’This is going on, all over the state,’ Cobb told the hearing.”

"John Bonifaz [acting for Cliff Arnebeck, and the Alliance for Democracy] also requested Rep. Conyers to formally object to any declaration of a winner of the electoral college vote on January 6th, 2005 --if a recount was still underway or a different set of electors had been nominated for Ohio.

'The nation is at a crossroads,' Bonifaz told the forum.

'We can stand by while our democracy erodes around us, or we can stand up and fight,' he said.

'For the dignity of our nation; and for the dignity of ourselves; and for the memory of those who struggled before us, we must choose to fight.'"

Meanwhile, the Ohio delegation to the Electoral College cast their ballots, ignoring the statewide recount and the brewing tempest. This is clearly a criminal act, given the overwhelming evidence of malfeasance and the current ongoing discovery.

A careful review of the absentee vote in one Ohio county revealed that many more absentee votes were cast than there were absentee voters identified.

"If this pattern of overcounting absentee votes is a statewide one, then tens of thousands of phoney absentee votes were up for grabs in Ohio. Who grabbed them and how they got them should be a subject of an immediate congressional investigation."

Remember the story about Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell blocking access to voter logs on Friday. He claims he did this because a bi-partisan group must be present during these activities, and the records needed to be under lock and key until this group was convened.

The volunteers, who came back the following morning in an effort to complete their work, found the doors unlocked and a light on that was not on the night before. When they went to investigate, they found the ballots sitting unprotected in open boxes, along with challenge letters and the logbooks that were confiscated the day before. It appears very likely that tampering occurred overnight. Read Keith Olbermann's take on this drama.

There is one piece of great news in the Seattle Governor’s race. It turns out that 561 ballots were mistakenly rejected in heavily Democratic King County, where signatures on absentee ballots appeared not to match those found on registration forms. In reality, the ballots signatures were not checked against the original records, and they now appear to be valid. The elections director will seek to have them counted in a hearing on Wednesday. Only 42 votes out of 2.9 million separated the candidates prior to the currently ongoing hand recount.

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