Surprise--Ohio cheated on the 2004 vote recount

Thursday, April 06, 2006 at 05:53 PM

As most WTW people have long suspected, the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that Ohio cheated in doing its recount after the 2004 presidential election.

The paper reports that:
After the 2004 presidential election, Cuyahoga County election workers secretly skirted rules designed to make sure all votes were counted correctly, a special prosecutor charges.

While there is no evidence of vote fraud, the prosecutor said their efforts were aimed at avoiding an expensive - and very public - hand recount of all votes cast. Three top county elections officials have been indicted, and Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter says more indictments are possible.
Baxter's prosecution centers on Ohio's safeguards for ensuring that every vote is counted.

Baxter charges that Cuyahoga election workers - mindful of the monthlong Florida recount in 2000 - not only ignored the safeguards but worked to defeat them during Ohio's 2004 recount.
Election workers in each county are supposed to count 3 percent of the ballots by hand and by machine, randomly choosing precincts for that count.

If the hand and machine counts match, the other 97 percent of the votes are recounted by machine. If the numbers don't match, workers repeat the effort. If they still don't match exactly, the workers must complete the recount by hand, a tedious process that could take weeks and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But the fix was in at the Cuyahoga elections board, Baxter charges.

Days before the Dec. 16 recount, workers opened the ballots and hand-counted enough votes to identify precincts where the machine count matched.

"If it didn't balance, they excluded those precincts," Baxter said.

"The preselection process was done outside of any witnesses, without anyone's knowledge except for [people at] the Board of Elections."

On the official recount day, employees pretended to pick precincts randomly, Baxter says. Dozens of Cuyahoga County election workers sat at 20 folding tables in front of dozens of witnesses and reporters.

They did the hand and machine count of 3 percent of the votes 34 of the 1,436 precincts and when the totals matched, the recount was completed by machines.

Isn't that just terrific?  We send election observers to other countries to guaranty valid elections, while the folks in Ohio are busy

But get ready for the Bush apologists to make a big deal out of the fact that the cheating only involved determining whether a machine recount or hand recount would be performed, rather than actual vote stealing.  We'll likely be reduced to touting the type of fraud as a sign of something good.

That's like being happy that a CPA fixed a corporation's cooked books to make them look kosher, in order to prevent the need for a re-audit.  If there were games played with the vote totals, and those games involved manipulation of the machines, then a hand count was the only way to identify that fraud.  The corruption of the recount system prevented any opportunity to discover it.

As for the indictment of three top county election officials--why hasn't that been front page news everywhere in this country?  It was a presidential election, folks; the results affected all of us, not just Ohioans.