RFK Jr’s Rolling Stone article is out now — all about the shenanigans of the Presidential Elections in 2004 in the State of Ohio.
It’s a lengthy and heavily sourced article, and one that — hopefully — will get some notice outside the blogosphere. Want an idea of the kinds of things that went on? Here’s some frightening excerpts (sources omitted and replaced with numbers):
According to the Conyers report, a team of twenty-five GOP volunteers calling themselves the Mighty Texas Strike Force holed up at the Holiday Inn in Columbus a day before the election, around the corner from the headquarters of the Ohio Republican Party — which paid for their hotel rooms. The men were overheard by a hotel worker ”using pay phones to make intimidating calls to likely voters” and threatening former convicts with jail time if they tried to cast ballots.(84)
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)
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)
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 Clermont County, where optical scanners were used to tabulate votes, sworn affidavits by election observers given to the House Judiciary Committee describe ballots on which marks for Kerry were covered up with white stickers, while marks for Bush were filled in to replace them.
In Miami County, after 100 percent of precincts had already reported their official results, an additional 18,615 votes were inexplicably added to the final tally. The last-minute alteration awarded 12,000 of the votes to Bush, boosting his margin of victory in the county by nearly 6,000.
The most transparently crooked incident took place in Warren County. In the leadup to the election, Blackwell [Ken Blackwell — the man in charge of the counting Ohio ballots, who was also the co-chair of President Bush’s re-election committee] had illegally sought to keep reporters and election observers at least 100 feet away from the polls. (190) The Sixth Circuit, ruling that the decree represented an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, noted ominously that ”democracies die behind closed doors.” But the decision didn’t stop officials in Warren County from devising a way to count the vote in secret. Immediately after the polls closed on Election Day, GOP officials — citing the FBI — declared that the county was facing a terrorist threat that ranked ten on a scale of one to ten. The county administration building was hastily locked down, allowing election officials to tabulate the results without any reporters present.
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)
In Hocking County, deputy elections director Sherole Eaton caught an employee of Triad — which provided the software used to count punch-card ballots in nearly half of Ohio’s counties (197) — making unauthorized modifications to the tabulating computer before the recount. Eaton told the Conyers committee that the same employee also provided county officials with a ”cheat sheet” so that ”the count would come out perfect and we wouldn’t have to do a full hand-recount of the county.” (198) After Eaton blew the whistle on the illegal tampering, she was fired.
RFK Jr. has tons more — everything from phony voting registration, to turning away voters, and many odd discrepencies and anamolies in the ballot counting.
I’ve never paid much attention to the whole Election 2004 allegations of fraud, but this is a real eye-opener.