Sunday, July 31, 2005

None dare call it stolen - Ohio, the election, and America's servile press

by Mark Crispin Miller, summarized by Mary Anne Saucier, Columbus, Ohio
July 24, 2005

While commentators, prompted by Republicans, claimed Bush won the 2004 election through the votes of a silent majority concerned with “family values,” Mark Crispin Miller writes that when voters were asked to state, “in their own words the most important factor in their vote,”only 14 percent named “moral values.” He details how the press (except for Keith Olbermann on MSNBC) ignored “the strange details of the election—except, that is, to ridicule all efforts to discuss them…It was as if they were reporting from inside a forest fire without acknowledging the fire, except to keep insisting that there was no fire.”

Then he lists the copious evidence pointing to a stolen election, easily available on the web or in paperback, from Michigan Representative John Conyers’ report, Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio. More than dirty tricks, it covers “the run-up to the election, the election itself, and the post-election cover-up,” listing “specific violations of the U.S. and Ohio constitutions, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the National Voter Registration Act, and the Help America Vote Act.”

The Conyers report details the disenfranchisement of Democrats through “intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio.”


There was unequal placement of voting machines.

County boards of elections were ordered to reject all Ohio voter-registration forms not printed on white, uncoated paper of not less than 80 lb. text weight.

Access was limited to provisional ballots.

“Caging”was used to challenge 35,000 individuals who did not sign for registered letters sent to new voters.

There was restriction of media from covering the election and conducting exit polls.

There was a prearranged FBI terrorist attack warning in Warren County which kept reporters from observing a post-election ballot-counting.

There was restriction of foreign monitors from “watching the opening of the polling places, the counting of the ballots, and, in some cases, the election itself.

Numerous statistical anomalies all deducted votes from Kerry.

In Cuyahoga and Franklin Counties, “the arrows on the absentee ballots were not properly aligned with their respective punch holes, so that countless votes were miscast.”

In Mercer County, 4000 votes were mysteriously not in the final count.

In Lucas County a polling place never opened because no one had the key.

In Hamilton County, many absentee voters could not vote for Kerry because his name was not on the ballot.

In Mahoning County 25 electronic machines changed Kerry votes to Bush.

Dirty tricks told voters to go to false polling places; that Democrats were to vote on November 3; volunteers offered to take absentee ballots to the election office; voters were challenged to prove eligibility to vote. The “Texas Strike Force” (25 people registered at a Franklin County Holiday Inn, paid by the Republican Party) threatened targeted people from a pay phone, if they voted.

Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell created rules for the Ohio recount (requested by the Green and Libertarian Parties) which would prevent “countywide hand recounts by any means necessary.” The end result was “the Ohio vote was never properly recounted, as required by Ohio law.”

On December 13, 2004, it was reported by Deputy Director of Hocking County Elections Sherole Eaton, that a Triad GSI employee had changed the computer that operated the tabulating machine, and had “advised election officials how to manipulate voting machinery to ensure that [the] preliminary hand recount matched the machine count.” This same Triad employee said he worked on machines in Lorain, Muskingum, Clark, Harrison, and Guernsey counties.

“Based on the above, including actual admissions and statements by Triad employees, it strongly appears that Triad and its employees engaged in a course of behavior to provide “cheat sheets” to those counting the ballots. The cheat sheets told them how many votes they should find for each candidate, and how many over and under votes they should calculate to match the machine count. In that way, they could avoid doing a full county-wide hand recount mandated by state law. If true, this would frustrate the entire purpose of the recount law—to randomly ascertain if the vote counting apparatus is operating fairly and effectively, and if not to conduct a full hand recount.”



In Union County, Triad replaced the hard drive on one tabulator.

In Monroe County, “after the 3 percent hand count had twice failed to match the machine count, a Triad employee brought in a new machine and took away the old one. (That machine’s count matched the hand count.)”

Green and Libertarian volunteers reported that in Allen, Clermont, Cuyahoga, Morrow, Hocking, Vinton, Summit, and Medina counties, “the precincts for the 3 percent hand recount were preselected, not picked at random, as the law requires.”

Even though the 3 percent hand recount in Fairfield County was different than the machine count, there was no hand count as required.

“In Washington and Lucas counties, ballots were marked or altered, apparently to ensure that the hand recount would equal the machine count.”

“In Ashland, Portage, and Coshocton counties, ballots were improperly unsealed or stored.”

At great cost, Belmont County had an independent programmer change the counting machines so they would only count votes for President.

“..Democratic and/or Green observers were denied access to absentee, and /or provisional ballots, or were not allowed to monitor the recount process, in Summit, Huron, Putnam, Allen, Holmes, Mahoning, Licking, Stark, Medina, Warren, and Morgan counties.

Miller writes about the January 6, 2005 Electoral challenge from Ohio Representative Stephonie Tubbs-Jones and California Senator Barbara Boxer. He decries its rejection by the Congress and the press, with the Republicans calling the Democrats “troublemakers and cynical manipulators”, etc., etc.

According to Miller, “all this commentary was simply wrong” and “went unnoticed and/or unreported;” and with Bush’s re-inauguration “all inquiries were apparently concluded, and the story was officially kaput.” Miller emphasizes that, even after the National Election Data Archive Project, on March 31, 2005, “released its study demonstrating that the exit polls had probably been right, it made news only in the Akron Beacon-Journal,” while “the thesis that the exit polls were flawed had been reported by the Associated Press, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Columbus Dispatch, CNN.com, MSNBC, and ABC..”

In conclusion, Mark Crispin Miller does not expect to reverse the 2004 election, but to make it possible for us to move on, and achieve real electoral reform.

…The point of our revisiting the last election.. is to see exactly what the damage was so that the people can demand appropriate reforms… for there has never been a great reform that was not driven by some major scandal.

...In this nation’s epic struggle on behalf of freedom, reason, and democracy, the press has unilaterally disarmed—and therefore many good Americans, both liberal and conservative, have lost faith in the promise of self-government. That vast surrender is demoralizing, certainly, but if we face it, and endeavor to reverse it, it will not prove fatal. This democracy can survive a plot to hijack an election. What it cannot survive is our indifference to, or unawareness of, the evidence that such a plot has succeeded.

The piece on which this summary is based was originally published in Harper's (http://harpers.org). Mark Crispin Miller is a professor at New York University, a political/media commentator, and author of his latest book, Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the Election of 2004, and Why They Will Keep Doing It Unless We StopThem, which will be published by Basic Books this October.

Friday, July 22, 2005

BUSH'S SUPREME COURT NOMINEE

Confirmation Path May Run Through Florida
Roberts' low-profile role as an advisor to Republicans during the 2000 presidential recount fight is likely to be closely scrutinized.

By Peter Wallsten, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — As the 2000 presidential recount battle raged in Florida, a Washington lawyer named John G. Roberts Jr. traveled to Tallahassee, the state capital, to dispense legal advice.

He operated in the shadows at least some of those 37 days, never signing a legal brief and rarely making an appearance at the makeshift headquarters for George W. Bush's legal team.

But now Roberts has been selected for the very Supreme Court that put Bush into office by settling the recount, chosen by the president to replace the swing vote in that 5-4 decision. And his work in Florida during that time is coming into focus, giving critics some ammunition to paint a respected jurist with an apparently unblemished legal career as an ideological partisan.

Republican lawyers who worked on the recount said Wednesday that Roberts advised Gov. Jeb Bush on the role that the governor and the Florida Legislature might play in the recount battle. At the time, when GOP officials feared that Democrat Al Gore might win a recount battle in court, Republican state lawmakers were devising a plan to use their constitutional power to assign the state's electoral votes to George W. Bush — a proposal criticized by Democrats.

Responding to questions Wednesday about Roberts' role in Florida, a spokesman for Gov. Bush's office said that Roberts had been recommended to the governor, although the spokesman gave no further specifics, and that the two had not known each other until the recount. Miami trial lawyer Dean Colson, who met Roberts when both were law clerks for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and who was best man at Roberts' wedding, is also close personally with Gov. Bush.

"Mr. Roberts, one of the preeminent constitutional attorneys in the country, came to Florida in 2000 at his own expense and met with Gov. Bush to share what he believed the governor's responsibilities were under federal law after a presidential election and a presidential election under dispute," said the spokesman, Jacob DiPietre. "Judge Roberts was one of several experts who came to Florida to share their ideas. The governor appreciated his willingness to serve and valued his counsel."

DiPietre went on to call Roberts "a man of integrity" who "personifies the qualities of an outstanding jurist with his even temper and respectful demeanor."

Critics, though, were quick to say that Roberts' role in the 2000 election, however minor, suggested that he was not merely the bookish legal scholar described by his supporters.

"What's interesting is that only now is it coming to the fore that John Roberts was part of that," said Ralph G. Neas, president of the liberal group People for the American Way. "He always created an impression of being above the political fray, being part of the Washington legal establishment, but not of partisan politics."

Neas said Roberts' involvement in the recount was not necessarily a reason for senators to oppose his nomination, because many well-known legal scholars on both sides were called into service during the Bush-Gore fight.

And Roberts had only a bit part, compared with higher-profile players such as Florida's then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who was subsequently elected to Congress, and Gov. Bush, the Republican presidential candidate's younger brother.

But, Neas added, coupled with Roberts' past work in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, the recount could become a factor.

"This is a legitimate area of inquiry: How partisan is he?" Neas asked.

It is not clear how much time Roberts spent in Tallahassee or what exactly he told the governor. Lawyers and others who worked on the Bush campaign's behalf said Wednesday that they had little, if any, recollection of Roberts from that period.

U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), then speaker of Florida's House of Representatives, said his legal team originated the idea of having the Legislature vote on assigning the state's presidential electors. The rationale was a constitutional provision that lets state lawmakers decide how electors are chosen, but Feeney said he had no memory of Roberts. He said the House was advised by in-house lawyers and scholars from UC Berkeley and Harvard University.

"I have no recollection of meeting Judge Roberts, either before or after" the recount, Feeney said. "Despite the common mythology that Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush and myself were in some secret room every night making plans, a House attorney came up with the idea within 24 hours of the election. It was us who started that whole deal, in the House."

One Republican lawyer who worked on the case in Florida said he recalled seeing Roberts only once during the recount, not at one of the bars or restaurants that were mobbed every night with lawyers and journalists, but in the legal team's office at state GOP headquarters a few blocks from the Capitol.

The lawyer said that although Roberts was not a part of the official Bush-Cheney team, it was not surprising to see him in Tallahassee.

"Every great constitutional scholar in America on both sides wanted to play a role," said the lawyer, who requested anonymity, citing the sensitivity of Roberts' pending confirmation hearings. "And we tried to get everybody to play a role."

Three years later, President Bush nominated Roberts to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. His position on that court, often a steppingstone to the Supreme Court, paved the way for Tuesday's announcement, the culmination of Roberts' legal career.

Feeney, a conservative, speculated that Senate Democrats might well ask Roberts for his view of the Bush-Gore recount outcome. But he advised Roberts to duck.

"I don't know that there is any political benefit to answering that question," Feeney said.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

UIC Prof's Statistical Analysis Casts Doubt on '04 Election Result

Chicago, IL 60607 July 4, 2005

By Gigi Wasz
Gazette news magazine, Chicago

A University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) professor recently issued a report calling into question the results of the 2004 presidential election.

In the 30-plus page report, Ron Baiman, PhD, of UIC's Institute of Government and Public Affairs, along with eleven other colleagues from other prestigious universities, applied quantitative data to explain the discrepancy between exit poll projections and votes actually recorded in the November election and to understand the analysis given by Edison Media Research & Mitofsky International (E/M), the pollster of record for the national election.

E/M's poll projections predicted a win for Democrat John Kerry by 3%, however, when votes were tallied, Republican President George W. Bush was given the win by 2.5%-the largest discrepancy in the poll's history. In its post-election analysis and report, E/M discredited its own poll projections, claiming the official vote was not corrupted and that "Kerry voters were more amenable to completing the poll questionnaire than Bush voters."

"Using their (E/M's) data tables, we demonstrated that their hypothesis of outspoken Kerry supporters is implausible," explained Baiman. "If the polls were faulty because Bush voters were shy in the presence of Kerry voters and less likely to cooperate with pollsters, the polls should be the most accurate in the precincts where Bush voters were in the overwhelming majority and where exit poll participation was also at its maximum. What we find is just the opposite. In fact, the mean exit poll discrepancy was dramatically higher in Bush strongholds than in Kerry strongholds."

Baiman and his research team then set out to explain the discrepancy between the national exit poll and the official vote. They initially targeted random chance or exit poll errors. Said Baiman, "There have been several methods to estimate the probability that the national exit polls would be as different as they were from the national popular vote by random chance. These estimates range from one in 1,240 to one in 16.5 million. No matter how one calculates it, the discrepancy cannot be attributed to chance."

National research shows "exit polling is a well developed science, informed by half a century of experience and continually improving methodology," Baiman explained. For example, E/M samples voters not only for the nationwide exit poll but for each state's exit poll. Furthermore, the research team found that the same exit polls accurately projected U.S. Senate races; both the Presidential and Senate poll results are derived from the exact same responders.

"If Bush supporters were refusing to fill out the survey as hypothesized, the accuracy of the exit polls should have been just as poor in the Senate races as it was in the Presidential race," the research team charged in its report.

According to Baiman, by ruling out random chance and exit poll errors, the only other logical explanation would be that the official vote was corrupted. In its executive summary, the group's report states, "the many anecdotal reports of voting irregularities create a context in which the possibility that the overall vote count was substantially corrupted must be taken seriously." The report concludes by calling for a thorough investigation and a "careful, exhaustive recount in key states."

"Our goal is to raise awareness of the exit poll problems and to highlight the need for broad election reform," commented Baiman. "The fact that Edison/Mitofsky has not released its raw data, which would facilitate independent corroboration of its analysis, is problematic. The biggest problem is not what Edison/Mitofsky has concluded, but the fact that it is sitting on its substantive analysis and data and not allowing any other independent party to look at it. That this is allowed to continue is a national and media disgrace."

According to a website dedicated to investigating the 2004 Presidential election, www.bushoccupation.com, "To believe that Bush won the election, you must also believe: that the exit polls were wrong; that Zogby's [a traditionally accurate pollster] 5 p.m. election day calls for Kerry winning Ohio and Florida were wrong...; that incumbent rule #1-undecideds break for the challenger-was wrong; that the 50% rule-an incumbent doesn't do better than his final polling-was wrong; that the approval rating rule-an incumbent with less than 50% approval will most likely lose the election-was wrong; that it was just a coincidence that the exit polls were correct where there was a paper trail and incorrect (+5% for Bush) where there was no paper trail; that the surge in new young voters had no positive effect for Kerry; that Kerry did worse than (Al) Gore against an opponent who lost the support of scores of Republican newspapers who were for Bush in 2000...."

To learn more about the election analysis by Baiman and his team of professionals, contact Baiman at rbaiman@uic.edu.