by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Like many Americans, I spent the evening of the 2004 election watching the returns on television and wondering how the exit polls, which predicted an overwhelming victory for John Kerry, had gotten it so wrong. By , the official tallies showed a decisive lead for George Bush -- and the next day, lacking enough legal evidence to contest the results, Kerry conceded. Republicans derided anyone who expressed doubts about Bush's victory as nut cases in ''tinfoil hats,'' while the national media, with few exceptions, did little to question the validity of the election. The Washington Post immediately dismissed allegations of fraud as ''conspiracy theories,''(1) and The New York Times declared that ''there is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale.''(2)
But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad(3) never received their ballots -- or received them too late to vote(4) -- after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations.(5) A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states,(6) was discovered shredding Democratic registrations.(7) In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes,(8) malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots.(9) Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment -- roughly one for every 100 cast.(10)
were especially disturbing in
of course, will have anomalies.
But what is most anomalous about the irregularities in 2004 was their decidedly partisan bent: Almost without exception they hurt John Kerry and benefitted George Bush. After carefully examining the evidence, I've become convinced that the president's party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004. Across the country, Republican election officials and party stalwarts employed a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to fix the election. A review of the available data reveals that in Ohio alone, at least 357,000 voters, the overwhelming majority of them Democratic, were prevented from casting ballots or did not have their votes counted in 2004(12) -- more than enough to shift the results of an election decided by 118,601 votes.(13) (See Ohio's Missing Votes) In what may be the single most astounding fact from the election, one in every four Ohio citizens who registered to vote in 2004 showed up at the polls only to discover that they were not listed on the rolls, thanks to GOP efforts to stem the unprecedented flood of Democrats eager to cast ballots.(14) And that doesn?t even take into account the troubling evidence of outright fraud, which indicates that upwards of 80,000 votes for Kerry were counted instead for Bush. That alone is a swing of more than 160,000 votes -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.(15)
terrible,'' says Sen. Christopher Dodd, who helped craft reforms in 2002 that
were supposed to prevent such electoral abuses. ''People waiting in line for
twelve hours to cast their ballots, people not being allowed to vote because
they were in the wrong precinct -- it was an outrage. In
extent of the GOP's effort to rig the vote shocked even the most experienced
observers of American elections. ''
I. The Exit Polls
The first indication that something was gravely amiss on
Over the past
decades, exit polling has evolved into an exact science. Indeed, among
pollsters and statisticians, such surveys are thought to be the most reliable.
Unlike pre-election polls, in which voters are asked to predict their own
behavior at some point in the future, exit polls ask voters leaving the voting
booth to report an action they just executed. The results are exquisitely
accurate: Exit polls in
But that same
month, when exit polls revealed disturbing disparities in the
''The people who ran the exit polling, and all those of us who were their clients, recognized that it was deeply flawed,'' says Tom Brokaw, who served as anchor for NBC News during the 2004 election. ''They were really screwed up -- the old models just don't work anymore. I would not go on the air with them again.''
In fact, the exit poll created for the 2004 election was designed to be the most reliable voter survey in history. The six news organizations -- running the ideological gamut from CBS to Fox News -- retained Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International,(22) whose principal, Warren Mitofsky, pioneered the exit poll for CBS in 1967(23) and is widely credited with assuring the credibility of Mexico's elections in 1994.(24) For its nationwide poll, Edison/Mitofsky selected a random subsample of 12,219 voters(25) -- approximately six times larger than those normally used in national polls(26) -- driving the margin of error down to approximately plus or minus one percent.(27)
On the evening of the vote, reporters at each of the major networks were briefed by pollsters at 7:54 p.m. Kerry, they were informed, had an insurmountable lead and would win by a rout: at least 309 electoral votes to Bush's 174, with fifty-five too close to call.(28) In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair went to bed contemplating his relationship with President-elect Kerry.(29)
As the last polling stations closed on the West Coast, exit polls showed Kerry ahead in ten of eleven battleground states -- including commanding leads in Ohio and Florida -- and winning by a million and a half votes nationally. The exit polls even showed Kerry breathing down Bush's neck in supposed GOP strongholds Virginia and North Carolina.(30) Against these numbers, the statistical likelihood of Bush winning was less than one in 450,000.(31) ''Either the exit polls, by and large, are completely wrong,'' a Fox News analyst declared, ''or George Bush loses.''(32)
But as the
evening progressed, official tallies began to show implausible disparities --
as much as 9.5 percent -- with the exit polls. In ten of the eleven
battleground states, the tallied margins departed from what the polls had
predicted. In every case, the shift favored Bush. Based on exit polls, CNN had
predicted Kerry defeating Bush in
Steven F. Freeman, a visiting scholar at the
Puzzled by the discrepancies, Freeman laboriously examined the raw polling data released by Edison/Mitofsky in January 2005. ''I'm not even political -- I despise the Democrats,'' he says. ''I'm a survey expert. I got into this because I was mystified about how the exit polls could have been so wrong.'' In his forthcoming book, Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count, Freeman lays out a statistical analysis of the polls that is deeply troubling.
In its official postmortem report issued two months after the election, Edison/Mitofsky was unable to identify any flaw in its methodology -- so the pollsters, in essence, invented one for the electorate. According to Mitofsky, Bush partisans were simply disinclined to talk to exit pollsters on November 2nd(34) -- displaying a heretofore unknown and undocumented aversion that skewed the polls in Kerry's favor by a margin of 6.5 percent nationwide.(35)
Industry peers didn't buy it. John Zogby, one of the nation's leading pollsters, told me that Mitofsky's ''reluctant responder'' hypothesis is ''preposterous.''(36) Even Mitofsky, in his official report, underscored the hollowness of his theory: ''It is difficult to pinpoint precisely the reasons that, in general, Kerry voters were more likely to participate in the exit polls than Bush voters.''(37)
Now, thanks to careful examination of Mitofsky's own data by Freeman and a team of eight researchers, we can say conclusively that the theory is dead wrong. In fact it was Democrats, not Republicans, who were more disinclined to answer pollsters' questions on Election Day. In Bush strongholds, Freeman and the other researchers found that fifty-six percent of voters completed the exit survey -- compared to only fifty-three percent in Kerry strongholds.(38) ''The data presented to support the claim not only fails to substantiate it,'' observes Freeman, ''but actually contradicts it.''
What's more, Freeman found, the greatest disparities between exit polls and the official vote count came in Republican strongholds. In precincts where Bush received at least eighty percent of the vote, the exit polls were off by an average of ten percent. By contrast, in precincts where Kerry dominated by eighty percent or more, the exit polls were accurate to within three tenths of one percent -- a pattern that suggests Republican election officials stuffed the ballot box in Bush country.(39)
''When you look at the numbers, there is a tremendous amount of data that supports the supposition of election fraud,'' concludes Freeman. ''The discrepancies are higher in battleground states, higher where there were Republican governors, higher in states with greater proportions of African-American communities and higher in states where there were the most Election Day complaints. All these are strong indicators of fraud -- and yet this supposition has been utterly ignored by the press and, oddly, by the Democratic Party.''
is especially strong in
according to the archive, provide ''virtually irrefutable evidence of vote
miscount.'' The discrepancies, the experts add, ''are
consistent with the hypothesis that Kerry would have won
II. The Partisan Official
No state was more important in the 2004 election than
But in the
battle for Ohio, Republicans had a distinct advantage: The man in charge of the
counting was Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of President Bush's re-election
committee.(43) As Ohio's secretary of state, Blackwell had broad powers to
interpret and implement state and federal election laws -- setting standards
for everything from the processing of voter registration to the conduct of
official recounts.(44) And as Bush's re-election chair in Ohio, he had a
powerful motivation to rig the rules for his candidate. Blackwell, in fact,
served as the ''principal electoral system adviser'' for Bush during the 2000
now the Republican candidate for governor of
secretary of state is supposed to administer elections -- not throw them,''
says Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from
The most extensive investigation of what happened in Ohio was conducted by Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.(52) Frustrated by his party's failure to follow up on the widespread evidence of voter intimidation and fraud, Conyers and the committee's minority staff held public hearings in Ohio, where they looked into more than 50,000 complaints from voters.(53) In January 2005, Conyers issued a detailed report that outlined ''massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio.'' The problems, the report concludes, were ''caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell.''(54)
made Katherine Harris look like a cupcake,'' Conyers told me. ''He saw his role
as limiting the participation of Democratic voters. We had hearings in
STONE confronted Blackwell about his overtly partisan attempts to subvert the
election, he dismissed any such claim as ''silly on its face.''
There were legitimate reasons to clean up voting lists: Many of the names undoubtedly belonged to people who had moved or died. But thousands more were duly registered voters who were deprived of their constitutional right to vote -- often without any notification -- simply because they had decided not to go to the polls in prior elections.(57) In Cleveland's precinct 6C, where more than half the voters on the rolls were deleted,(58) turnout was only 7.1 percent(59) -- the lowest in the state.
According to the Conyers report, improper purging ''likely disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters statewide.''(60) If only one in ten of the 300,000 purged voters showed up on Election Day -- a conservative estimate, according to election scholars -- that is 30,000 citizens who were unfairly denied the opportunity to cast ballots.
III. The Strike Force
In the months leading up to the election,
To stem the tide of new registrations, the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party attempted to knock tens of thousands of predominantly minority and urban voters off the rolls through illegal mailings known in electioneering jargon as ''caging.'' During the Eighties, after the GOP used such mailings to disenfranchise nearly 76,000 black voters in New Jersey and Louisiana, it was forced to sign two separate court orders agreeing to abstain from caging.(63) But during the summer of 2004, the GOP targeted minority voters in Ohio by zip code, sending registered letters to more than 200,000 newly registered voters(64) in sixty-five counties.(65) On October 22nd, a mere eleven days before the election, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett -- who also chairs the board of elections in Cuyahoga County -- sought to invalidate the registrations of 35,427 voters who had refused to sign for the letters or whose mail came back as undeliverable.(66) Almost half of the challenged voters were from Democratic strongholds in and around Cleveland.(67)
There were plenty of valid reasons that voters had failed to respond to the mailings: The list included people who couldn't sign for the letters because they were serving in the U.S. military, college students whose school and home addresses differed,(68) and more than 1,000 homeless people who had no permanent mailing address.(69) But the undeliverable mail, Bennett claimed, proved the new registrations were fraudulent.
By law, each voter was supposed to receive a hearing before being stricken from the rolls.(70) Instead, in the week before the election, kangaroo courts were rapidly set up across the state at Blackwell's direction that would inevitably disenfranchise thousands of voters at a time(71) -- a process that one Democratic election official in Toledo likened to an ''inquisition.''(72) Not that anyone was given a chance to actually show up and defend their right to vote: Notices to challenged voters were not only sent out impossibly late in the process, they were mailed to the very addresses that the Republicans contended were faulty.(73) Adding to the atmosphere of intimidation, sheriff's detectives in Sandusky County were dispatched to the homes of challenged voters to investigate the GOP's claims of fraud.(74)
''I'm afraid this is going to scare these people half to death, and they are never going to show up on Election Day,'' Barb Tuckerman, director of the Sandusky Board of Elections, told local reporters. ''Many of them are young people who have registered for the first time. I've called some of these people, and they are perfectly legitimate.''(75)
27th, ruling that the effort likely violated both the ''constitutional right to
due process and constitutional right to vote,'' U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott
put a halt to the GOP challenge(76) -- but not before tens of thousands of new
voters received notices claiming they were improperly registered. Some election
officials in the state illegally ignored Dlott's ruling, stripping hundreds of
voters from the rolls.(77) In
29th, a federal judge found that the Republican Party had violated the court
orders from the Eighties that barred it from caging. ''The return of mail does
not implicate fraud,'' the court affirmed,(78) and the
disenfranchisement effort illegally targeted ''precincts where minority voters
predominate, interfering with and discouraging voters from voting in those
districts.''(79) Nor were such caging efforts limited to
This was no
freelance operation. The Strike Force -- an offshoot of the Republican National
Committee(85) -- was part of a team of more than 1,500
Barriers to Registration
To further monkey-wrench the process he was bound by law to safeguard, Blackwell cited an arcane elections regulation to make it harder to register new voters. In a now-infamous decree, Blackwell announced on September 7th -- less than a month before the filing deadline -- that election officials would process registration forms only if they were printed on eighty-pound unwaxed white paper stock, similar to a typical postcard. Justifying his decision to ROLLING STONE, Blackwell portrayed it as an attempt to protect voters: ''The postal service had recommended to us that we establish a heavy enough paper-weight standard that we not disenfranchise voters by having their registration form damaged by postal equipment.'' Yet Blackwell's order also applied to registrations delivered in person to election offices. He further specified that any valid registration cards printed on lesser paper stock that miraculously survived the shredding gauntlet at the post office were not to be processed; instead, they were to be treated as applications for a registration form, requiring election boards to send out a brand-new card.(90)
Blackwell's directive clearly violated the Voting Rights Act, which stipulates that no one may be denied the right to vote because of a registration error that ''is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under state law to vote.''(91) The decision immediately threw registration efforts into chaos. Local newspapers that had printed registration forms in their pages saw their efforts invalidated.(92) Delaware County posted a notice online saying it could no longer accept its own registration forms.(93) Even Blackwell couldn't follow the protocol: The Columbus Dispatch reported that his own staff distributed registration forms on lighter-weight paper that was illegal under his rule. Under the threat of court action, Blackwell ultimately revoked his order on September 28th -- six days before the registration deadline.(94)
But by then, the damage was done. Election boards across the state, already understaffed and backlogged with registration forms, were unable to process them all in time. According to a statistical analysis conducted in May by the nonpartisan Greater Cleveland Voter Coalition, 16,000 voters in and around the city were disenfranchised because of data-entry errors by election officials,(95) and another 15,000 lost the right to vote due to largely inconsequential omissions on their registration cards.(96) Statewide, the study concludes, a total of 72,000 voters were disenfranchised through avoidable registration errors -- one percent of all voters in an election decided by barely two percent.(97)
Despite the widespread problems, Blackwell authorized only one investigation of registration errors after the election -- in Toledo -- but the report by his own inspectors offers a disturbing snapshot of the malfeasance and incompetence that plagued the entire state.(98) The top elections official in Toledo was a partisan in the Blackwell mold: Bernadette Noe, who chaired both the county board of elections and the county Republican Party.(99) The GOP post was previously held by her husband, Tom Noe,(100) who currently faces felony charges for embezzling state funds and illegally laundering $45,400 of his own money through intermediaries to the Bush campaign.(101)
inspectors who investigated the elections operation in
The most troubling incident uncovered by the investigation was Noe's decision to allow Republican partisans behind the counter in the board of elections office to make photocopies of postcards sent to confirm voter registrations(108) -- records that could have been used in the GOP's caging efforts. On their second day in the office, the operatives were caught by an elections official tampering with the documents.(109) Investigators slammed the elections board for ''a series of egregious blunders'' that caused ''the destruction, mutilation and damage of public records.''(110)
On Election Day, Noe sent a team of Republican volunteers to the county warehouse where blank ballots were kept out in the open, ''with no security measures in place.''(111) The state's assistant director of elections, who just happened to be observing the ballot distribution, demanded they leave. The GOP operatives refused and ultimately had to be turned away by police.(112)
In April 2005,
Noe and the entire Board of Elections were forced to resign. But once again,
the damage was done. At a ''Victory 2004'' rally held in
''The Wrong Pew''
In one of his most effective maneuvers, Blackwell prevented thousands of voters from receiving provisional ballots on Election Day. The fail-safe ballots were mandated in 2002, when Congress passed a package of reforms called the Help America Vote Act. This would prevent a repeat of the most egregious injustice in the 2000 election, when officials in
''Provisional ballots were supposed to be this great movement forward,'' says Tova Andrea Wang, an elections expert who served with ex-presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford on the commission that laid the groundwork for the Help America Vote Act. ''But then different states erected barriers, and this new right became totally eviscerated.''
But instead of complying with the judge's order to expand provisional balloting, Blackwell insisted that Carr was usurping his power as secretary of state and made a speech in which he compared himself to Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and the apostle Paul -- saying that he'd rather go to jail than follow federal law.(117) The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Carr's ruling on October 23rd -- but the confusion over the issue still caused untold numbers of voters across the state to be illegally turned away at the polls on Election Day without being offered provisional ballots.(118) A federal judge also invalidated a decree by Blackwell that denied provisional ballots to absentee voters who were never sent their ballots in the mail. But that ruling did not come down until after 3 p.m. on the day of the election, and likely failed to filter down to the precinct level at all -- denying the franchise to even more eligible voters.(119)
We will never
know for certain how many voters in
Blackwell insists that his decision kept the election clean. ''If we had allowed this notion of ?voters without borders' to exist,'' he says, ''it would have opened the door to massive fraud.'' But even Republicans were shocked by the move. DeForest Soaries, the GOP chairman of the Election Assistance Commission -- the federal agency set up to implement the Help America Vote Act -- upbraided Blackwell, saying that the commission disagreed with his decision to deny ballots to voters who showed up at the wrong precinct. ''The purpose of provisional ballots is to not turn anyone away from the polls,'' Soaries explained. ''We want as many votes to count as possible.''(124)
The decision left hundreds of thousands of voters in predominantly Democratic counties to navigate the state's bewildering array of 11,366 precincts, whose boundaries had been redrawn just prior to the election.(125) To further compound their confusion, the new precinct lines were misidentified on the secretary of state's own Web site, which was months out of date on Election Day. Many voters, out of habit, reported to polling locations that were no longer theirs. Some were mistakenly assured by poll workers on the grounds that they were entitled to cast a provisional ballot at that precinct. Instead, thanks to Blackwell's ruling, at least 10,000 provisional votes were tossed out after Election Day simply because citizens wound up in the wrong line.(126)
All told, the deliberate chaos that resulted from Blackwell's registration barriers did the trick. Black voters in the state -- who went overwhelmingly for Kerry -- were twenty percent more likely than whites to be forced to cast a provisional ballot.(129) In the end, nearly three percent of all voters in Ohio were forced to vote provisionally(130) -- and more than 35,000 of their ballots were ultimately rejected.(131)
When Election Day dawned on November 2nd, tens of thousands of Ohio voters who had managed to overcome all the obstacles to registration erected by Blackwell discovered that it didn't matter whether they were properly listed on the voting rolls -- because long lines at their precincts prevented them from ever making it to the ballot box. Would-be voters in
A five-month analysis of the Ohio vote conducted by the Democratic National Committee concluded in June 2005 that three percent of all Ohio voters who showed up to vote on Election Day were forced to leave without casting a ballot.(133) That's more than 174,000 voters. ''The vast majority of this lost vote,'' concluded the Conyers report, ''was concentrated in urban, minority and Democratic-leaning areas.''(134) Statewide, African-Americans waited an average of fifty-two minutes to vote, compared to only eighteen minutes for whites.(135)
The long lines
were not only foreseeable -- they were actually created by GOP efforts. Republicans in the state legislature, citing new electronic voting
machines that were supposed to speed voting, authorized local election boards
to reduce the number of precincts across
officials also created long lines by failing to distribute enough voting
machines to inner-city precincts. After the
''No one has ever accused our secretary of state of lacking in ability,'' says Rep. Kucinich. ''He's a rather bright fellow, and he's involved in the most minute details of his office. There's no doubt that he knew the effect of not having enough voting machines in some areas.''
In Columbus, which had registered 125,000 new voters(141) -- more than half of them black(142) -- the board of elections estimated that it would need 5,000 machines to handle the huge surge.(143) ''On Election Day, the county experienced an unprecedented turnout that could only be compared to a 500-year flood,'' says Matt Damschroder,(144) chairman of the Franklin County Board of Elections and the former head of the Republican Party in Columbus.(145) But instead of buying more equipment, the Conyers investigation found, Damschroder decided to ''make do'' with 2,741 machines.(146) And to make matters worse, he favored his own party in distributing the equipment. According to The Columbus Dispatch, precincts that had gone seventy percent or more for Al Gore in 2000 were allocated seventeen fewer machines in 2004, while strong GOP precincts received eight additional machines.(147) An analysis by voter advocates found that all but three of the thirty wards with the best voter-to-machine ratios were in Bush strongholds; all but one of the seven with the worst ratios were in Kerry country.(148)
The result was utterly predictable. According to an investigation by the Columbus Free Press, white Republican suburbanites, blessed with a surplus of machines, averaged waits of only twenty-two minutes; black urban Democrats averaged three hours and fifteen minutes.(149) ''The allocation of voting machines in Franklin County was clearly biased against voters in precincts with high proportions of African-Americans,'' concluded Walter Mebane Jr., a government professor at Cornell University who conducted a statistical analysis of the vote in and around Columbus.(150)
By midmorning, when it became clear that voters were dropping out of line rather than braving the wait, precincts appealed for the right to distribute paper ballots to speed the process. Blackwell denied the request, saying it was an invitation to fraud.(151) A lawsuit ensued, and the handwritten affidavits submitted by voters and election officials offer a heart-rending snapshot of an electoral catastrophe in the offing:(152)
''There are three voting machines at this precinct. I have been informed that in prior elections there were normally four voting machines. At there are approximately eighty-five voters in line. At this time, the line to vote is approximately three hours long. This precinct is largely African-American. I have personally witnessed voters leaving the polling place without voting due to the length of the line.''
''I am serving as a presiding judge, a position I have held for some 15+ years in precinct 40. In all my years of service, the lines are by far the longest I have seen, with some waiting as long as four to five hours. I expect the situation to only worsen as the early evening heavy turnout approaches. I have requested additional machines since and no assistance has been offered.''
''I observed a broken voting machine that was not in use for approximately two hours. The precinct judge was very diligent but could not get through to the BOE.''
''At the average wait time is about 4.5 hours and continuing to increase?. Voters are continuing to leave without voting.''
As day stretched into evening, U.S. District Judge Algernon Marbley issued a temporary restraining order requiring that voters be offered paper ballots.(153) But it was too late: According to bipartisan estimates published in The Washington Post, as many as 15,000 voters in Columbus had already given up and gone home.(154) When closing time came at the polls, according to the Conyers report, some precinct workers illegally dismissed citizens who had waited for hours in the rain -- in direct violation of Ohio law, which stipulates that those in line at closing time are allowed to remain and vote.(155)
disenfranchised by long lines were overwhelmingly Democrats. Because of the
unequal distribution of voting equipment, the median turnout in
move certain to add to the traffic jam at the polls, the GOP deployed 3,600
operatives on Election Day to challenge voters in thirty-one counties -- most
of them in predominantly black and urban areas.(157)
Although it was billed as a means to ''ensure that voters are not
disenfranchised by fraud,''(158) Republicans knew that the challengers would
inevitably create delays for eligible voters. Even Mark Weaver, the GOP's
The day before the election, Judge Dlott attempted to halt the challengers, ruling that ''there exists an enormous risk of chaos, delay, intimidation and pandemonium inside the polls and in the lines out the doors.'' Dlott was also troubled by the placement of Republican challengers: In Hamilton County, fourteen percent of new voters in white areas would be confronted at the polls, compared to ninety-seven percent of new voters in black areas.(160) But when the case was appealed to the Supreme Court on Election Day, Justice John Paul Stevens allowed the challenges to go forward. ''I have faith,'' he ruled, ''that the elected officials and numerous election volunteers on the ground will carry out their responsibilities in a way that will enable qualified voters to cast their ballots.''(161)
In fact, Blackwell gave Republican challengers unprecedented access to polling stations, where they intimidated voters, worsening delays in Democratic precincts. By the end of the day, thanks to a whirlwind of legal wrangling, the GOP had even gotten permission to use the discredited list of 35,000 names from its illegal caging effort to challenge would-be voters.(162) According to the survey by the DNC, nearly 5,000 voters across the state were turned away at the polls because of registration challenges -- even though federal law required that they be provided with provisional ballots.(163)
Voters who managed to make it past the array of hurdles erected by Republican officials found themselves confronted by voting machines that didn't work. Only 800,000 out of the 5.6 million votes in Ohio were cast on electronic voting machines, but they were plagued with errors.(164) In heavily Democratic areas around Youngstown, where nearly 100 voters reported entering ''Kerry'' on the touch screen and watching ''Bush'' light up, at least twenty machines had to be recalibrated in the middle of the voting process for chronically flipping Kerry votes to Bush.(165) (Similar ''vote hopping'' from Kerry to Bush was reported by voters and election officials in other states.)(166) Elsewhere, voters complained in sworn affidavits that they touched Kerry's name on the screen and it lit up, but that the light had gone out by the time they finished their ballot; the Kerry vote faded away.(167) In the state's most notorious incident, an electronic machine at a fundamentalist church in the town of Gahanna recorded a total of 4,258 votes for Bush and 260 votes for Kerry.(168) In that precinct, however, there were only 800 registered voters, of whom 638 showed up.(169) (The error, which was later blamed on a glitchy memory card, was corrected before the certified vote count.)
In addition to
problems with electronic machines,
Most of the
uncounted ballots occurred in
In addition to spoiling ballots, the punch-card machines also created bizarre miscounts known as ''ballot crawl.'' In Cleveland Precinct 4F, a heavily African-American precinct, Constitution Party candidate Michael Peroutka was credited with an impressive forty-one percent of the vote. In Precinct 4N, where Al Gore won ninety-eight percent of the vote in 2000, Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik was credited with thirty-three percent of the vote. Badnarik and Peroutka also picked up a sizable portion of the vote in precincts across Cleveland -- 11M, 3B, 8G, 8I, 3I.(178) ''It appears that hundreds, if not thousands, of votes intended to be cast for Senator Kerry were recorded as being for a third-party candidate,'' the Conyers report concludes.(179)
But it's not
just third-party candidates: Ballot crawl in
Despite the well-documented effort that prevented hundreds of thousands of voters in urban and minority precincts from casting ballots, the worst theft in
Take the case of Ellen Connally, a Democrat who lost her race for chief justice of the state Supreme Court. When the ballots were counted, Kerry should have drawn far more votes than Connally -- a liberal black judge who supports gay rights and campaigned on a shoestring budget. And that's exactly what happened statewide: Kerry tallied 667,000 more votes for president than Connally did for chief justice, outpolling her by a margin of thirty-two percent. Yet in these twelve off-the-radar counties, Connally somehow managed to outperform the best-funded Democrat in history, thumping Kerry by a grand total of 19,621 votes -- a margin of ten percent.(181) The Conyers report -- recognizing that thousands of rural Bush voters were unlikely to have backed a gay-friendly black judge roundly rejected in Democratic precincts -- suggests that ''thousands of votes for Senator Kerry were lost.''(182)
Kucinich, a veteran of elections in the state, puts it even more bluntly. ''Down-ticket candidates shouldn't outperform presidential candidates like that,'' he says. ''That just doesn't happen. The question is: Where did the votes for Kerry go?''
They certainly weren't invalidated by faulty voting equipment: a trifling one percent of presidential ballots in the twelve suspect counties were spoiled. The more likely explanation is that they were fraudulently shifted to Bush. Statewide, the president outpolled Thomas Moyer, the Republican judge who defeated Connally, by twenty-one percent. Yet in the twelve questionable counties, Bush's margin over Moyer was fifty percent -- a strong indication that the president's certified vote total was inflated. If Kerry had maintained his statewide margin over Connally in the twelve suspect counties, as he almost assuredly would have done in a clean election, he would have bested her by 81,260 ballots. That's a swing of 162,520 votes from Kerry to Bush -- more than enough to alter the outcome. (183)
''This is very
strong evidence that the count is off in those counties,'' says Freeman, the
poll analyst. ''By itself, without anything else, what happened in these twelve
How might this
fraud have been carried out? One way to steal votes is to tamper with
individual ballots -- and there is evidence that Republicans did just that. In
In addition to
altering individual ballots, evidence suggests that Republicans tampered with
the software used to tabulate votes. In
transparently crooked incident took place in
In fact, there was no terrorist threat. The FBI declared that it had issued no such warning, and an investigation by The Cincinnati Enquirer unearthed e-mails showing that the Republican plan to declare a terrorist alert had been in the works for eight days prior to the election. Officials had even refined the plot down to the language they used on signs notifying the public of a lockdown. (When ROLLING STONE requested copies of the same e-mails from the county, officials responded that the documents have been destroyed.) (191)
Nor does the
electoral tampering appear to have been isolated to these dozen counties.
Rigging the Recount
After Kerry conceded the election, his campaign helped the Libertarian and Green parties pay for a recount of all eighty-eight counties in
''If it didn't
balance, they excluded those precincts,'' said the prosecutor, Kevin Baxter,
who has filed felony indictments against three election workers in
machines were also tinkered with prior to the recount. In
(199) The same Triad employee was dispatched to do the same work in at least five other counties. (200) Company president Tod Rapp -- who contributed to Bush's campaign (201) -- has confirmed that Triad routinely makes such tabulator adjustments to help election officials avoid hand recounts. In the end, every county serviced by Triad failed to conduct full recounts by hand. (202)
Even more troubling,
in at least two counties, Fulton and Henry, Triad was able to connect to
tabulating computers remotely via a dial-up connection, and reprogram them to
recount only the presidential ballots. (203) If that kind of remote tabulator
modification is possible for the purposes of the recount, it's no great leap to
wonder if such modifications might have helped skew the original vote count.
But the window for settling such questions is closing rapidly: On November 2nd
of this year, on the second anniversary of the election, state officials will
be permitted under
What's At Stake
The mounting evidence that Republicans employed broad, methodical and illegal tactics in the 2004 election should raise serious alarms among news organizations. But instead of investigating allegations of wrongdoing, the press has simply accepted the result as valid. ''We're in a terrible fix,'' Rep. Conyers told me. ''We've got a media that uses its bullhorn in reverse -- to turn down the volume on this outrage rather than turning it up. That's why our citizens are not up in arms.''
The lone news
anchor who seriously questioned the integrity of the 2004 election was Keith
Olbermann of MSNBC. I asked him why he stood against the tide. ''I was a sports
reporter, so I was used to dealing with numbers,'' he said. ''And the numbers
made no sense. Kerry had an insurmountable lead in the exit polls on Election
Night -- and then everything flipped.'' Olbermann believes that his journalistic
colleagues fell down on the job. ''I was stunned by the lack of interest by
investigative reporters,'' he said. ''The Republicans shut down
Olbermann attributes the lack of coverage to self-censorship by journalists. ''You can rock the boat, but you can never say that the entire ocean is in trouble,'' he said. ''You cannot say: By the way, there's something wrong with our electoral system.''
Federal officials charged with safeguarding the vote have also failed to contest the election. ''Congress hasn't investigated this at all,'' says Kucinich. ''There has been no oversight over our nation's most basic right: the right to vote. How can we call ourselves a beacon of democracy abroad when the right to vote hasn't been secured in free and fair elections at home?''
Sen. John Kerry -- in a wide-ranging discussion of ROLLING STONE's investigation -- expressed concern about Republican tactics in 2004, but stopped short of saying the election was stolen. ''Can I draw a conclusion that they played tough games and clearly had an intent to reduce the level of our vote? Yes, absolutely. Can I tell you to a certainty that it made the difference in the election? I can't. There's no way for me to do that. If I could have done that, then obviously I would have found some legal recourse.''
conceded, however, that the widespread irregularities make it impossible to
know for certain that the outcome reflected the will of the voters. ''I think
there are clearly states where it is questionable whether everybody's vote is
being counted, whether everybody is being given the opportunity to register and
to vote,'' he said. ''There are clearly barriers in too many places to the
ability of people to exercise their full franchise. For that to be happening in
comments were echoed by Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National
Committee. ''I'm not confident that the election in
To help prevent a repeat of 2004, Kerry has co-sponsored a package of election reforms called the Count Every Vote Act. The measure would increase turnout by allowing voters to register at the polls on Election Day, provide provisional ballots to voters who inadvertently show up at the wrong precinct, require electronic voting machines to produce paper receipts verified by voters, and force election officials like Blackwell to step down if they want to join a campaign. (205) But Kerry says his fellow Democrats have been reluctant to push the reforms, fearing that Republicans would use their majority in Congress to create even more obstacles to voting. ''The real reason there is no appetite up here is that people are afraid the Republicans will amend HAVA and shove something far worse down our throats,'' he told me.
On May 24th,
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried unsuccessfully to amend the immigration bill
to bar anyone who lacks a government-issued photo ID from voting (206) -- a
rule that would disenfranchise at least six percent of Americans, the majority
of them urban and poor, who lack such identification. (207) The GOP-controlled
state legislature in
those kinds of hurdles unless you're afraid of voters?'' asks Ralph Neas,
director of People for the
The issue of
what happened in 2004 is not an academic one. For the second election in a row,
the president of the
American history is littered with vote fraud -- but rather than learning from our shameful past and cleaning up the system, we have allowed the problem to grow even worse. If the last two elections have taught us anything, it is this: The single greatest threat to our democracy is the insecurity of our voting system. If people lose faith that their votes are accurately and faithfully recorded, they will abandon the ballot box. Nothing less is at stake here than the entire idea of a government by the people.
Voting, as Thomas Paine said, ''is the right upon which all other rights depend.'' Unless we ensure that right, everything else we hold dear is in jeopardy.
For more, see exclusive documents, sources, charts and commentary.
1) Manual Roig-Franzia and Dan Keating, ''Latest Conspiracy Theory -- Kerry Won -- Hits the Ether,'' The
2) The New
York Times Editorial Desk, ''About Those Election Results,'' The New York Times,
States Department of Defense, ''Defense Department Special Briefing on Federal
Voting Assistance Program,''
Vote Foundation, ''2004 Post Election Survey Results,'' June 2005, page 11.
Joan Lee, ''Pentagon Blocks Site for Voters Outside
Landers, ''Librarian Bares Possible Voter Registration Dodge,'' Mail Tribune (
Brunswick and Pat Doyle, ''Voter Registration; 3 former workers: Firm paid
pro-Bush bonuses; One said he was told his job was to bring back cards for GOP
voters,'' Star Tribune (
8) Federal Election Commission, Federal Elections 2004: Election Results for the U.S. President. http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2004/2004pres.pdf
Theisen and Warren Stewart, Summary Report on
Bronsan, ''In 2004,
11) Facts mentioned in this paragraph are subsequently cited throughout the story.
12) See ''
13) Federal Election Commission, Federal Elections 2004: Election Results for the U.S. President. http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2004/2004pres.pdf
National Committee, Voting Rights Institute, "Democracy at Risk: The 2004
15) See ''VIII. Rural Counties.''
16) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004 prepared by Edison Media Research and Mitofksy International for the National Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 3 http://www.exit-poll.net/election-night/EvaluationJan192005.pdf
17) This refers to data for German national elections in 1994, 1998 and 2002, previously cited by Steven F. Freeman.
Morris, "Those Faulty Exit Polls Were Sabotage," The Hill,
Martin Plissner, "Exit Polls to Protect the Vote," The New York Times,
Kelley, "U.S. Money has Helped Opposition in
Williams, "Court Rejects
21) Steve Freeman and Joel Bleifuss, "Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count," Seven Stories Press, July 2006, Page 102.
22) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004; prepared by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the National Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 3. http://www.exit-poll.net/election-night/EvaluationJan192005.pdf
23) Mitofsky International Web site. http://www.mitofskyinternational.com/company.htm
Golden, "Election Near, Mexicans Question the Questioners," The New York Times,
25) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004; prepared by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the National Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 59.
D. Simon, J.D., and Ron P. Baiman, Ph.D., "The 2004 Presidential Election:
Who Won the Popular Vote? An Examination of the Comparative
Validity of Exit Poll and Vote Count Data." FreePress.org,
27) Analysis by Steven F. Freeman.
28) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 134
Rutenberg, ''Report Says Problems Led to Skewing Survey Data,'' The New York Times,
30) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 134
of the 2004 Presidential Election Exit Poll Discrepancies. U.S. Count Votes.
Baiman R, et al.
32) Notes From Campaign Trail, Fox News Network, Live Event, ,
33) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 101-102
34) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004; prepared by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the National Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 4.
35) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 120.
36) Interview with John Zogby
37) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004; prepared by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the National Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 4.
38) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 128.
39) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 130.
Gun is Smoking: 2004
41) ''The Gun is Smoking,'' pg. 16.
McCarthy, "Nearly a Month Later,
44) Ohio Revised Code, 3501.04, Chief Election Officer http://onlinedocs.andersonpublishing.com/oh/lpExt.dll?f=templates&fn=main-h.htm&cp=PORC
Hallett, ''Blackwell Joins GOP?s Spin Team,'' The
Fineout, ''Records Indicate Harris on Defense,'' Ledger (
Hallett, ''Governor; Aggressive First Round Culminates Tuesday,''
Theis, ''Blackwell Accused of Breaking Law by Pushing Same-Sex Marriage Ban,'' Plain Dealer (
50) Raw Story, "Republican Ohio Secretary of State Boasts About Delivering Ohio to Bush." http://rawstory.rawprint.com/105/blackwell_campaign_letter2_105.php
51) In the
Democracy: What Went Wrong in
53) Preserving Democracy, pg. 8.
54) Preserving Democracy, pg. 4.
55) The board of elections in Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton counties.
56) Analysis by Richard Hayes Phillips, a voting rights advocate.
Wenzel, ''Purging of Rolls, Confusion Anger Voters; 41% of Nov. 2 Provisional
Ballots Axed in
58) Analysis by Hayes Phillips.
59) Cuyahoga County Board of Elections
60) Preserving Democracy, pg. 6.
Fessenden, ''A Big Increase of New Voters in Swing States,'' The New York Times,
62) Ralph Z.
Hallow, ''Republicans Go ?Under the Radar? in Rural
63) Jo Becker,
''GOP Challenging Voter Registrations,'' The
Babin, ''Voter Registrations Challenged in
65) In the
Theis, "Fraud-Busters Busted; GOP?s Blanket
Challenge Backfires in a Big Way," Plain
67) Daniel Tokaji, "Early Returns on Election Reform," George Washington Law Review, Vol. 74, 2005, page 1235
Theis, "Fraud-Busters Busted; GOP?s Blanket
Challenge Backfires in a Big Way," Plain
Welsh-Huggins, ''Out of Country, Off Beaten Path; Reason for Voting Challenges
Vary,'' Plain Dealer (
No. 2004-44 from J. Kenneth
Wenzel, ''Challenges Filed Against 931
73) In the
Brown, ''Elections Board Plans Hearing For Challenges,'' The News Messenger,
Brown, ''Elections Board Plans Hearing For Challenges,'' The News Messenger,
76) Miller v. Blackwell, (S.D. Ohio), (6th Cir. 2004) http://news.corporatecounselcentre.ca/hdocs/docs/election2004/mlrblackwell102704ord.pdf
77) James Drew
and Steve Eder, ''Court Rejects GOP Voter Challenge; Some Counties Hold
Hearings Anyhow; 200 Voters Turned Away,''
78) United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Republican National Committee v. Democratic National Committee, No. 04-4186 http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw/litigation/documents/petitionforrehearingenbanc.pdf
79) United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Republican National Committee v. Democratic National Committee, No. 04-4186 http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw/litigation/documents/petitionforrehearingenbanc.pdf
Zernike and William Yardley, ''Charges of Dirty Tricks, Fraud and Voter
Suppression Already Flying in Several States,'' The New
Zernike and William Yardley, ''Charges of Dirty Tricks, Fraud and Voter
Suppression Already Flying in Several States,'' The New
82) Greg J.
Borowski, ''GOP Demands IDs of 37,000 in City,''
Disenfranchisement of the Re-Enfranchised; How Confusion Over Felon Voter
Note: Additional reporting contributed to this paragraph.
Selby, ''Hundreds of Texans Ride Bandwagons Around
U.S.; Volunteers Say Election is Too Important Not to Hit the Campaign Trail,''
San Antonio Express-News (
86) ''Down to
the Wire,'' Newsweek,
87) Lynda Gorov and Anne E. Kornblut, ''Gore to Challenge Results; No Plans to Concede; top Fla. Court refuses to order resumption of Miami-Dade County,'' The Boston Globe, November 24, 2000. http://graphics.boston.com/news/politics/campaign2000/news/Gore_to_challenge_results+.shtml
88) Al Kamen,
89) Al Kamen,
"Walking the Talk,"
of State Directive, No. 2004-31, Section II,
91) Tokaji, pg. 1227 and Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 1971(a)(2)(B) (2000).
Jim Bebbington and Laura Bischoff, ''Blackwell Rulings Rile Voting Advocates,''
Candisky, ''Secretary of State Lifts Order on Voting Forms; Lighter Paper Now
Deemed Acceptable for Registration,''
of Voter Disqualification,
96) Analyses of Voter Disqualification, page 5.
97) Analyses of Voter Disqualification, page. 1.
Confirm Investigation of GOP Campaign Contributor," The Associated
Naymik, ''Coin Dealer Raised Chunk of Change for Bush,'' Plain Dealer,
Christopher D. Kirkpatrick, "Noe Indicted for Laundering Money to Bush
and James Drew, "Grand Jury Charges Noe with 53 Felony Counts,"
105) Lucas County Report, pages 9-10.
109) Lucas County Report, pages 18-19.
111) Lucas County Report, pages 4, 6.
"Remarks by the President at Victory 2004 Rally," Seagate Convention
note: Bernadette and Tom Noe?s last name is incorrectly spelled "Noy" in the official White House transcript.
No. 2004-33 from J. Kenneth
116) In the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division, The Sandusky County Democratic Party v. J. Kenneth Blackwell, Case No. 3:04CV7582, Page 8. http://electionlawblog.org/archives/10-20%20Order.pdf
Korte and Jim Siegel, ''Defiant Blackwell Rips Judge; Secretary Says He?d go to Jail Before Rewriting Ballot Memo,'' Cincinnati Enquirer,
And Tokaji, pg. 1229
119)Tokaji, pg. 1231
Blackwell, Spar Over Provisional Ballots,'' The Associated Press,
David G. Savage, Richard B. Schmitt, "Bush Seeks Limit to Suits Over
123) Judge Julia
Judge John M. Rogers
Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton
Judge Deborah L. Cook
Rowland and Lee Leonard, "Federal Agency Distances Itself from Ohio
Official; Blackwell Says Their Provisional-Balloting Positions are the Same," Columbus Dispatch
David S. Bernstein, "Questioning
126) Norma Robbins, ''Facts to Ponder About the 2004 General Election,'' May 10, 2006. http://www.clevelandvotes.org/news/reports/Facts_to_Ponder.pdf
Wenzel, "Purging of Rolls, Confusion Anger Voters; 41% of November 2nd
Provisional Ballots Axed in
128) Interview with Stephanie Tubbs Jones
Democratic National Committee, Voting Rights Institute, "Democracy at
Risk: The 2004 Election in
130) Democracy at Risk, pg. 5.
Ohio Secretary of State Web site, Provisional Ballots; Official Tabulation,
Powell and Peter Slevin, "Several Factors Contributed to
?Lost? Voters in
analysis by Bob Fitrakis, editor of the
133) Democracy at Risk, pg. 3.
134) Preserving Democracy, pg. 29.
135) Democracy at Risk, pg. 5.
Bernstein, Providence Phoenix 137) U.S. Election
Assistance Comm'n, Funding for States, http://www.eac.gov/early_money.asp
and Tokaji, pg. 1222.
Paul Festa, ''States Scrutinize e-Voting as Primaries Near,'' CNET News.com,
139) Preserving Democracy, pg. 27.
140) Preserving Democracy, pg. 30.
141) Matt Damschroder, chairman of Franklin County Board of Elections.
142) Preserving Democracy, pg. 26.
Powell and Peter Slevin, "Several Factors Contributed to 'Lost' Voters in
144) Correspondence with Matt Damschroder.
Hoholik and Mark Ferenchik, "GOP Council Hopes Rising; Party expects
ruling on peititions will put its candidate on ballot," Columbus Dispatch,
146) Preserving Democracy, pg. 25.
Niquette, "GOP Strongholds Saw Increase in Voting Machines,"
Powell and Peter Slevin, "Several Factors Contributed to 'Lost' Voters in
"Voting Machine Allocation in
151) Tokaji, pg. 1238.
155) Preserving Democracy, pg. 25.
of Richard Hayes Phillips,
Niquette, "Finally, It's Time to Vote;
158) In the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division, Marian A. Spencer, et. al., v. J. Kenneth Blackwell, Case no. C-1-04-738, page 3. http://www.ohsd.uscourts.gov/pdf/Spencer.65.ord.pdf
Dao, "The 2004 Campaign:
160) Marian A.
Spencer, et. al., v. J. Kenneth Blackwell;
Dan Horn, Howard Wilkinson, and Cindi Andrews, "Supreme Court Justice
162) Tokaji, pages 1237-1238.
163) Democracy at Risk, pg. 20.
"Errors Plague Voting Process in
166) Voters Unite catalogues news reports from around the country that give examples of dysfunctional voting machines, among other election stories. http://www.votersunite.org/electionproblems.asp?sort=date&selectstate=ALL&selectproblemtype=Machine+malfunction
Woods, "In One Precinct, Bush's Tally was Supersized by a Computer
Glitch," Columbus Dispatch (
169) Hitchens, Vanity Fair.
from J. Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio Secretary of State, to Doug White, President,
171) Sixty-eight counties used punch card ballots. Thirteen used optical scan machines. Seven used touch-screen technology.
Rulon, "Congressman Calls For FBI Investigation
173) Tokaji, Page 1221.
Konkoly, ''Volunteers Complete Local Recount,'' Coshocton
175) New York Times, "Voting Problems in
McCall and Jim Bebbington, ''Two Precincts had High Undercounts, Analysis
Shows,''Dayton Daily News,
177) Lisa A.
Abraham, "Punch-Card Voting is Illegal," Akron
178) Analysis by Hayes Phillips.
179) Preserving Democracy, pg. 57.
180) Analysis by Hayes Phillips.
Analysis completed by using official tallies on the Ohio Secretary of State Web
Official tallies for Kerry:
tallies for Connally:
182) Preserving Democracy, pg. 55.
183. Analysis conducted through official vote tallies posted on Ohio Secretary of State Web site.
184. Letter from Rep. John Conyers to Chris Swecker, assistant director of the Criminal Investigative Division at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. See attached affidavits.
186. Confirmed by Bob Fitrakis of the Free Press
187. Analysis conducted through official vote tallies posted on Ohio Secretary of State Web site.
188. Erin Miller, "Board Awaits State Follow Up," The Evening Leader.
189. "Preserving Democracy," pages 58-59.
Associated Press, "News Groups Sue Ohio Elections Chief Over Poll
Access," Associated Press,
Mark Crispin Miller, "None Dare Call It Stolen," Harper's, August 2005.
"No Changes in Final Warren Co. Vote Count; E-mails Released Monday Show
and Dan Horn, "Warren Co. Defends Lockdown Decision; FBI denies warning
officials of any special threat," Cincinnati Enquirer,
"Warren Co. Recount Goes Public; After Election Night lockdown, security
eases up," Cincinnati Enquirer,
193. Analysis conducted through official vote tallies posted on the Ohio Secretary of State Web site.
194. "Preserving Democracy," pg. 52.
195. Analysis conducted through official vote tallies posted on the Ohio Secretary of State Web site.
Mazzolini, "Workers Accused of Fudging '04 Recount; Prosecutor Says
Cuyahoga Skirted Rules," The Plain Dealer,
Rulon, "Congressman Calls for FBI Investigation Into
Ohio election," The Associated Press,
Jon Craig, "'04 Election in
200. "Preserving Democracy," pg. 81.
202. "Preserving Democracy," pg. 82.
203. "Preserving Democracy," pg. 83.
204. Ohio Secretary of State's press office.
205. Count Every Vote Act of 2005
Bunis, "Senate Limits Immigration Debate," The
blog, Election Law at Moritz, "McConnell's Voter ID Amendment,"
States District Court Northern District of Georgia,
© Copyright 2006 Rolling Stone
Editorial: A Call for Investigation
Electronic voting machines pose a grave threat to democracy
For more, see exclusive documents, sources, charts and commentary.
Election officials across the country are currently scrambling to install electronic voting machines in time for the midterm elections this fall. The touch-screen technology, they insist, will make voting as easy and secure as withdrawing cash from an ATM. ''This technology has been used effectively for ten to fifteen years,'' says David Bear, a spokesman for Diebold, a leading manufacturer of electronic voting machines.
certainly good reasons to modernize the nation's
ridiculously outdated voting equipment; it was
Vote Rigging Repeated studies have shown that touch-screen machines, which provide voters with no paper record of their ballots, are highly susceptible to tampering. According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, the leading federal watchdog agency, the machines are ''eminently hackable.'' It takes only a few minutes to open the machines and insert a PC card containing malicious code that will switch votes from one candidate to another. In a demonstration conducted last year before the Board of Elections in Leon County, Florida, computer security expert Herbert Thompson cracked into an electronic machine in under sixty seconds, altering the internal code and changing the vote count.
of election has staff members with the technological ability to fix the
election,'' says Ion Sancho, supervisor of the election board in
Avi Rubin, a
computer-science professor at
Influence After the
now been convicted of bribing Ney -- but Americans will be paying for the
results of Diebold's influence for years. As part of the Help America Vote Act,
every precinct in
influence extends to
Diebold deny the transactions ever took place. But in April of last year, after
engaging in secret negotiations with the company, Blackwell emerged with the triumphant
announcement that he'd reached a deal to equip Ohio with Diebold machines at a
cut-rate price. He didn't bother to mention that he had just bought nearly
$10,000 in Diebold stock -- a ''mistake'' he now blames on his financial
manager. He also neglected to reveal that as part of the deal -- as revealed in
a company e-mail to Blackwell -- Diebold insisted he use his influence as
secretary of state in a way that would guarantee the company a state monopoly.
Blackwell complied by setting such an early cutoff date for counties to select
their new machines that other manufacturers would be unable to get their
equipment certified in time. A lawsuit filed by a Diebold competitor and
thirty-two counties in
Enough. Only a
complete investigation by federal authorities can determine the full extent of
any bribery and vote rigging that has taken place. The public must be assured
that the power to count the votes -- and to recount them, if necessary -- will
not be ceded to for-profit corporations with a vested interest in superseding
the will of the people.