Thursday, December 30, 2004

Is Rerecount Really a Word?

What do you do when the you get no additional votes in the first recount?

If you're Green Party candidate David Cobb or Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik, you request another.
Two third-party presidential candidates asked a federal court Thursday to force a second recount of the Ohio vote, alleging county election boards altered votes and didn't follow proper procedures in the recount that ended this week...

The two candidates, who received less than 0.3 percent of the Ohio vote, paid $113,600 for a statewide recount after the vote was certified earlier this month by the secretary of state. They have said they don't expect to change the election results, but want to make sure that every vote is proply counted.
Seems to me like there's a couple other places where the next $1.5M would be better spent. Come on folks, can't we keep things in perspective?

The Other Poll: Jerry Springer Leads in Gubernatorial Poll

Jesse Jackson gets interviewed in Newsweek online, but just as credible as any of the information he mentions are the results of this unscientific poll from The Other Paper, a free entertainment weekly distributed throughout the Columbus area.

Poll results were tallied from ballots readers faxed in from the previous week. Hey, at least they solved the problems with the long lines.

After making the important determination that only 19% of the respondents think it's OK to strike up a conversation with the person in the stall next to you while in a public restroom, it goes on to reveal these here-to-fore unanswered questions about political leanings of us Columbus natives.

Which did you get more emotionally caught up in this year?

The presidential election: 79%
The Michigan game: 21%

Gasp! That's almost sacrilege in this football crazy city.

Is it rude to ask your acquaintances how they voted?

Yes: 53%
No: 47%

But is it rude to ask how long they stood in line? No, in fact in a couple years we'll be talking about how we walked uphill in the snow and stood in line for two days to cast our vote.

Who's more trustworthy?

Ohio State professor Roger Blackwell: 68%
Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell: 32%

Who's Roger Blackwell? Don't know. And neither did anyone else who answered this question.

Which of these two candidates would get your vote in the 2006 governor's race?

Democrat Jerry Springer: 75%
Republican Larry Householder: 25%

You heard it here first. And don't let that little word unscientific get in the way. Jackson never would.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Ohio Supreme Court: Challengers' Documents "woefully inadequate"

In a stinging rebuke to a lawsuit challenging the outcome of the Ohio election, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Moyer rejected a request for a speedy hearing and refused to order Ohio election officials to preserve "evidence" from the recount.

As reported by the Akron Beacon Journal/AP:

The voters and their attorneys filed poorly documented affidavits that contain hearsay, don't indicate who the people making statements are and don't explain what their statements have to do with the election, Moyer said.

The challengers have provided "nothing suggesting that Ohio election officials are engaging, or will engage, in illegal conduct," said Moyer, who called their documents "woefully inadequate."

Hearsay and unnamed sources. Key ingredients for any conspiracy.

Excuse Who?

Warning, this is going to be a rant on one of my pet peeves.

OK, here it is. It's a big one. OK, maybe not. But it still irks me.

Since when did it become OK for someone to bump into you and say "excuse you" instead of "excuse me?"

This is a trend I've noticed sporadically over the last several years. Primarily with younger kids. And it has always bothered me. It doesn't seem too much to ask someone to say excuse me.

In fact, I think I'd rather be ignored than to have someone tell me "excuse you". It sounds a lot like "watch it bud" or even "get the f* out of the way" to me. Even if I'm in your way, "excuse me" is just a polite way to let me know.

Anyway, the latest example came this weekend when I was in the local Kroger picking up some last minute items for Christmas dinner. Twice when I was walking down the aisles a high school kid jumped in front of me with a quick "excuse you" to grab what they needed. I quietly decried the demise of the current generation and noted how I would never have done such a thing 20 years ago. Boy I can't wait until I get old and have an excuse to be a crusty old man!

And then came the kicker. As I waited in line at the registers, a 40-ish housewife in the line next to me came up, reached over my cart with a quick "excuse you", grabbed the latest National Enquirer, and proceeded to read about Britney's latest marraige problems as I looked at her in stunned silence.

"Merry Christmas," said the teenage cashier smiling broadly, "Did you find everything alright today?"

Ah, my faith in mankind was restored once again.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Recount Reaction

It hasn't taken long for the reaction from the Ohio recount to hit the blogosphere as a search of Technorati demonstrates.

From Blogs for Bush:
And how does the AP headline this story? "Ohio Recount Ends, Shows Vote Closer" The 285 vote pickup represents a whopping .24% of Bush's final margin of victory...that's less than one quarter of one percent.
From The Original Musings:
The Ohio recount is now complete. The votes have been counted, and Kerry picked up nearly 300 more votes. That means Bush still won by a six-figure margin. How many more recounts do we have to have before the whiners shut up and accept the fact that Bush won?
From Bookwork Room:
After all the hoo-ha, it turns out that there was only a 300 vote difference after the Ohio recount (that Kerry said he wouldn't support before he changed his mind and supported) -- and the news is that President Bush still won by a wide margin
From Michael the ArchAngel:
Come on democrats in Ohio, learn your lesson from Washington State, force another recount. If that one doesn't work, then ask for another recount. You 'find' some more votes, in the trash can, behind the desk, or where ever, and you add those in
From Reality Hammer:
This expensive, unnecessary recount will certainly benefit Republicans in coming elections as taxpaying voters remember which parties candidates had little concern for taxpayer money, even to the point of admitting that the recount was a useless waste of taxpayer money.
From California Patriot:
We won’t allow Mickey Mouse and his friend to be disenfranchised! So yea, George Bush is still the president, the earth is still spinning, and Jesse Jackson still finds ways to maneuver himself into anyone’s backyard. All in all, not really news.
This is the first time a search of 'ohio recount' found something other than baseless accusations and Jesse Jackson quotes in weeks.

Hoffheimer Backpedals

Earlier this week I noted the following quote from Daniel Hoffheimer, counsel to John Kerry's Ohio campaign
This [the Ohio recount] has fundamentally shocked people's sense of whether any election can be accurately counted," said Daniel Hoffheimer, counsel to John Kerry's Ohio campaign.
and called on Kerry to publicly state that nothing was found to call the outcome of the election into question.

Keith Olbermann reported yesterday that Hoffheimer "changed his tone"
I would caution the media not to read more into what the Kerry-Edwards campaign has said," Mr. Hoffheimer advised us by e-mail, "than what you hear in the plain meaning of our comments. There are many conspiracy theorists opining these days. There are many allegations of fraud. But this presidential election is over. The Bush-Cheney ticket has won. The Kerry-Edwards campaign has found no conspiracy and no fraud in Ohio, though there have been many irregularities that cry out to be fixed for future elections. Senator Kerry and we in Ohio intend to fix them. When all of the problems in Ohio are added together, however bad they are, they do not add up to a victory for Kerry-Edwards. Senator Kerry's fully-informed and extremely careful assessment the day after the election and before he conceded remains accurate today, notwithstanding all the details we have since learned."
Now it's time for Kerry himself to make the same unambiguous statement.

UPDATE: Here is a video of a segment on Olbermann's show yesterday covering the topic.

Kerry Loses Again - But By Only 118,457 Votes This Time

It's over. The Ohio recount, not the whining that is.

ABC News is now reporting that the final tally shaved 318 votes from Bush's margin of victory. With the cost of the recount estimated at $1.5M, that comes to over $4,500 per vote. What a great way to spend taxpayer money.
Witnesses who watched workers count ballots by hand and machine said the effort provided assurance that boards were accurately counting ballots.
Of course that doesn't satisfy the like of Jesse Jackson and Bill Moss, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed with the Ohio Supreme Court contesting the outcome.

The completion of the recount will not bring an end to questions surrounding the vote in Ohio.

A group of voters citing fraud have challenged the election results with the Ohio Supreme Court. The voters, supported by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, have cited irregularities including long lines, a shortage of voting machines in minority precincts and problems with computer equipment.

Now it's time for John Kerry to publicly state his confidence in the results and end this nonsense.

Monday, December 27, 2004

So Who Is Bill Moss?

I don't know how I missed it before today, but I just learned that Columbus's own Bill Moss and his wife are the lead plaintiffs in the suit filed challenging the Ohio election results.

I'm sure many of you outside Ohio are interested in learning more about Mr. Moss.

Mr. Moss was a "colorful" 5-term member of the Columbus School Board before he lost in the 2003 election. Of course he lost because Columbus Democrats and Republicans worked together to endorse a team of 4 candidates (2 Republicans, 2 Democrats) designed specifically to get him off the board. Who says we Ohioans can't work together for a common cause?

To get a better picture of some of Mr. Moss's exploits, take a look at these blurbs pulled from the archives of the Columbus Dispatch using the search term "bill moss school board".

From Aug 4, 1999

He has boycotted special meetings -- even shunned a retreat designed to smooth over disagreements among the Columbus Board of Education members -- but now board member Bill Moss' absences are hitting him in the wallet.

Moss protested at a board meeting last night that his $260 monthly board check was withheld by interim Treasurer Jerry Buccilla's office.

From Dec 16, 1999

Bill Moss came out of the race for Columbus Board of Education a winner -- and apparently so did his car.

Moss charged his campaign $2,740 for what appears to be a thorough overhaul of his 1979 Buick LeSabre, according to campaign disclosures on file with the Franklin County Board of Elections.

From Dec 22, 1999
The topic of docked pay proved disruptive, yet familiar, to board President Mary Jo Kilroy, whose eight-year tenure ended with the expected well-wishes, presents and a plaque, as well as a shouting match with board member Bill Moss.

From July 18, 2001

As the Columbus Board of Education signed its new superintendent to a four-year contract last night, camouflage-clad Bill Moss continued the commando-type political assault that has kept him entrenched in the familiar role of lone dissenter.

From Feb 7, 2003

Disrupting a public meeting likely will get a person tossed out of the room. But what happens when that troublemaker is one of the elected officials?

Columbus Board of Education member Bill Moss effectively shut down a school board meeting on Tuesday by pounding a shoe on the table and shouting for about 25 minutes.

From Feb 9, 2003

Columbus' version of the mad shoe-bomber -- the mad shoe-banger -- struck Tuesday.

Bill Moss' technique varied -- one hand, both hands. But give the senior member of the Columbus Board of Education credit for strong arms and good lungs.

From Oct 13, 2003

Attacking a political newcomer with racially charged comments, Columbus Board of Education member Bill Moss said Terry Boyd is "the great black hope'' and a tool of the white "plantation owners.''

"They've got to come out and find a black man who could be used as a tool,'' Moss said in an interview. "Whenever the establishment -- the plantation bosses -- want to get rid of Bill Moss, they always get together.''

From Oct. 22, 2003

Bill Moss doesn't apologize for being Bill Moss.

Whether he's thoughtfully asking Superintendent Gene Harris about the qualifications of district math teachers or pounding a shoe on the board table while chanting "Look at the criminals!'' Moss says he always has the interests of taxpayers in mind.

From Nov 5, 2003

Thanks to the determined leadership of Board President Stephanie Hightower, Terry Boyd defeated Bill Moss, whose outrageous sideshows over the years have done major damage to the district's credibility and contributed to flight from the system by the very types of families the district needs to retain
From May 4, 2004:

Though the court ordered him several times to pay nearly $12,000 to a retiring teacher, former Columbus Board of Education member Bill Moss said yesterday that he should not have to pay.

Moss said time he spent in a Franklin County jail cell for contempt of court in 1993 should be enough to pay a civil judgment against him by now-retired Judge Tommy L. Thompson in 1990.

I'm sure there are more, but this gives you an idea of the man behind the lawsuit.

"Stop the Nonsense" Gets Another Newspaper Endorsement

For those keeping track, another Ohio newspaper has now lost it's patience with the "hard-headed individuals that still want to count votes". This time it's the News-Herald, a regional paper in northeast Ohio.

It is time for Jackson to stop talking about vote-stealing, time for the Green and Libertarian parties to understand that their combined three-tenths of one percent of the vote is a fly speck and not deserving of a recount, and time for MoveOn to move on.

The election is over. If you really care about the process, do yourselves a favor - start getting ready for the next one.

I'm still looking for a mainstream Ohio newspaper supporting a continued investigation. I will report it as soon as I find one, or one is pointed out to me.

Meanwhile, another recount witness reports a pleasant, professional experience.

In the end [Gloria] Hershey, a native of Morrow County, felt pride that the recount showed an honest count of the ballots. She is confident the recount proves that every vote counted in Morrow County.

"The count reflected the will of the people," Hershey concluded. "People demanded a recount and this shows the system works. It's something everyone should care about."

It's All Just to Fix the Election...

So what does an Ohio election official do once they have completed their recount? OK, almost completed. We're still waiting for the official announcement that it's complete.

Fulfill hundreds of Open Records requests of course.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer gave some examples in this article.

Everybody wants a piece of Cuyahoga County's presidential election.

High school students and college professors. Civil rights lawyers and self-appointed election activists. Politicians and Average Joes. Reporters from community newspapers to the Los Angeles Times.

Since Nov. 2, hundreds of requests to review, copy, inspect and even manipulate records related to the election have flooded the board's offices. Many of the requests are testing Ohio's open records law, the patience of elections officials and the will of the people submitting them.

Some, coming from high schools students for a class project, sound interesting. But others aren't so knowledgeable.
But some requests are off-target, such as those seeking information about electronic voting machines; Cuyahoga County uses paper-ballot machines.
Thanks for doing your homework before making that request!

And thank God others come from trustworthy liberal organizations, because if they came from the right, I'd have to suspect vote tampering...
Working on behalf of the progressive political group Alliance for Democracy, [Harvey] Wasserman mailed his request to the state's 88 election boards. It includes an unusual appeal: permission to hook up his computer to the boards' computers and copy records.
According to the PD, Cuyahoga county officials have named Vicki Lovegren, a mathematics professor at Case Western Reserve University, "among the most persistent - and exhausting - voter advocates."
Lovegren's detailed requests and addendums forced elections officials to use a computer spreadsheet to track her requests.
This included holding a special evening training session for her - after she refused to believe that the vote tabulation machines couldn't produce the detailed reports she wanted. If you think that she would be grateful for this, well, you'd be wrong...

Lovegren's frequent e-mails and calls suggest that she's suspicious of election officials.

"If I don't get these items tomorrow, I have to conclude that the board is hiding something," she wrote in one e-mail.

But of course, it's all in the interest of improving the process.
"We are not here to overturn an election," Said Steve Hertzberg, project manager of Votewatch. "We want to find out where the flaws are so we can fix these things."

But Steve, of all of the states and all of the counties, why would you pick one that already has plans in place to replace their current voting technology (punch cards) - instead of somewhere else where they would actually benefit from your observations.

Oh wait a second - I get it. When you used the term "fix", you meant it in the same way that the King County election officials in Washington did when they "fixed" their election too. It's all so clear now.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

How is this Good for America?

I'm certainly not sanctioning a policy where we bury our head in the sand. Ohio's election process is not perfect. No process involving millions of fallible human beings is going to be.

But it certainly isn't the mess the New York Times is presenting in this piece picked up by newspapers across the country.
From seven-hour lines that drove voters away, to malfunctioning machines, to poorly trained poll workers who directed people to the wrong polling places, to uneven policies about the use of provisional ballots, Ohio has become this year's poster state for every ailment in America's electoral process.
Please! I have yet to find any reputable Ohio-based newspaper that has even alleged any major problems, much less proven any. Sure, they all call for process improvements, but let's keep things in perspective. They were minor and didn't impact the outcome of the election.

Of course that's not the impression you get when you listen to John Kerry's counsel.
"This has fundamentally shocked people's sense of whether any election can be accurately counted," said Daniel Hoffheimer, counsel to John Kerry's Ohio campaign.
Shame on John Kerry. Once again he is trying to have it both ways. He allows comments like this to hit the mainstream media while trying to give the impression that he is above the fray.

To be spreading around this type of sound-bite nonsense is irresponsible. Losing the public's trust in our election system will do far more harm in the long run than anything that happened in Ohio.

Granted, these are Kerry's representatives that are making these comments, not Kerry himself. Kerry will have an opportunity to put this nonsense to rest when the recount is completed.

When that happens, he should come out and clearly state that although there were minor issues in Ohio, there is nothing that calls the outcome into question. To do anything else would be irresponsible.

UPDATE: It looks like I'm not the only one who has noticed Kerry heading toward another flip-flop...
Little Green Footballs and Riding Sun also weighed in on the matter. And so did Rob Bernard.

UPDATE 2: Keith Olbermann is now reporting that Hoffheimer has "changed his tone."

Maybe Mickey Should Have Requested a Recount

For the day after Christmas, I wanted a lighthearted article to keep that Christmas glow going for a couple more days. This article by M.J. Willow of the Columbus Free Press, in which she describes her experience as a witness for the Franklin county recount, gives insight into the whole recount process, but it was the write-in ballots that caught my attention.
Electronic voting machines (DRE's to you and me now) are equipped with a button that opens a little window where a voter can write anything they choose. Believe me, they do. Some choose not to write anything, others, I was told, go with the time tested obscenities. These are non-valid votes but must be noted. Working from an abstract generated by the machines' report that the little window opened, the officials have forms, red ones, that are filled out at the captain of each polling place. If the abstract says the window in Precinct X opened, then the red form should have info about that vote.

Mickey Mouse, Martin Sheen and Lewis Fahrakhan tied with 2 non-valid votes. Jessie the Body Ventura received 2 votes proving there are still hardcore WWF fans out there. Butch Davis won 2 votes so if you know him, let him know. There's always next time, Butch. A couple of people wanted a Clinton back in the White House but only one bothered to specify Bill. I'm stunned Mickey Mouse got one more vote than Kermit the Frog! C'mon people! It ain't easy being green but he doesn't give up! Just like David Cobb who, by my very UNofficial count received 20 write-in votes as a valid write-in candidate. Ralph Nader captured the hearts of 96 faithfuls. (Again, my numbers here are very UNofficial.)
I don't know, but it seems to me that anyone who voted for Fahrakhan ought to have their votes counted twice just for being able to spell it correctly.

Uh oh. Better not give anyone any ideas.

Friday, December 24, 2004

"And the angel said unto them...

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10
May the peace and joy of the season bless you and your loved ones during this holiday season.

Additional posts will continue on the 26th.

A Christmas Present for You - Try Firefox

It's not often that I can give a Christmas present to every person who visits this blog, but here's something for the majority of you.

In reviewing my visitor statistics yesterday, I noticed that approximately two-thirds of you are still using Internet Explorer. I just wanted to take the time to recommend that you try the free download of Mozilla's Firefox Browser. You will be glad you did.

I also want to send a special thanks out to several sites that have linked to me as I started this blog. Your comments and feedback and been very much appreciated. It's been great to see my traffic grow thanks to your kind words and referrals.

Although listed on my blogroll, here are some sites that have been especially kind to the newbie. If you haven't already, you should check them out.
Daisy Cuttter
The Blog of Earl
The World According to Nick

Jackson: Kerry Conceded Much Too Quickly

Can one of you other states please take Jesse Jackson for a while...

Claiming Ohio's 2004 election results were more troubling than Florida's four years ago, the Rev. Jesse Jackson on Thursday said Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry called it quits too soon.

"Kerry conceded much too quickly, before the facts were in," Jackson said in a conference call with reporters to discuss an ongoing challenge to Ohio's election results.

Somewhere along the line, I must have missed when the word "facts" got redefined into "unproven allegations".
Since then, a Jackson-led group claims to have uncovered a wide range of voting irregularities in the Buckeye State, including tabulations that contradicted early exit polls pointing to a Kerry victory, voting machine errors, absentee ballot counting errors, and inaccurate directions given to voters trying to get to polling places.
These are the same baseless charges that have circulating for the last month. The most amazing thing to me is how Jackson can hold a press conference, have the story - and I do mean story - hit the wire services and get picked up nationally by dozens of news outlets across the country.

This recount is turning into a study of media manipulation.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

GMAC Bowl: Bowling Green 52, Memphis 35

Bowling Green State University won their second consecutive bowl game yesterday, beating Memphis 52-35.

This marks quite a turnaround in the football program from when I went to school there. In comparison, they won two games the entire season my junior year. Urban Meyer and now Gregg Brandon have done a remarkable job in turning the program around.

Keep your eye on sophomore QB Omar Jacobs over the next couple of years. He joined QB's Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich as the MAC's only 4,000+ yard passers. In a league gaining a reputation for the quality of it's QB's, that's pretty good company to be in.

In related news, former BG quarterback Josh Harris has now joined the Cleveland Browns.

And with that, I'll stop my Browns comments before I start, lest this post digress and I lose my Christmas cheer.

More Kerry Votes Found?

With the Washington governor race now showing Democrat Christine Gregoire leading by 10 votes, King county election officials have announced that they have now miraculously found 120,000 votes for Kerry that Ohio election officials apparently misplaced.

OK, maybe it hasn't come to that, but with the first Ohio recount is all but complete, the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting the Kerry campaign is ready for round 2:

John Kerry's presidential campaign criticized the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Wednesday night for its handling of the presidential recount and said some parts of that recount should be conducted again.

This, coming from a campaign that conceded and didn't even request the initial recount. All we need is an "I was actually against the recount before I was for it" quote and this election will come full circle.

On a positive note, the same PD article makes it clear that no additional recount will occur.

Ohio Digs Out

After a day and night of snow, sleet, and freezing rain that knock out electricity - or cable and Internet access in my case - for over 300,000 homes, Ohio is starting to dig out before the next wave hits.

Dayton got a hit with over a foot of snow as these pictures show, while here in Columbus we had a heavy snowfall yesterday, which turned into freezing rain during the night and snow again this morning.

After spending 2 1/2 hours trying to clear the snow-slush-snow combo off the driveway, I think I would have opted for the 16 inches of snow.

Maybe this will teach my mother-in-law who came up from Florida to watch what she wishes for when she hopes for a white Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Ohio Voter Exclusive: Kerry Mathematically Eliminated in Ohio

As Power Line reminds Jim Garaghty of Kerry Spot that the election is over, Ohio Voter can now confirm that John Kerry has been mathematically eliminated from winning Ohio. The Akron Beacon Journal is now reporting that 86 of 88 counties have completed their recount:
With recount results reported in 86 of 88 counties Tuesday, President Bush picked up 438 votes and Sen. John Kerry got an extra 680, narrowing Bush's 119,000-vote lead by 242 votes, according to an Associated Press survey of the counties. Both sides agreed last month that the recount wouldn't change the outcome.
While not being able to identify the specific two counties remaining, an exhaustive search of newspaper and web reports has allowed me to determine that all large and medium-sized counties (Trumbull was the last) have completed their recount.

With this analysis, I can state that even if every registered voter in the two remaining counties voted for John Kerry, he would still lose.

Expect the final two counties to report in tomorrow to make it official.

Merry Christmas everyone.



Monday, December 20, 2004

Ohio Recount Update: 12 Counties Remaining

The Akron Beacon Journal notes that another handful of counties have completed their recount.
With 76 of Ohio's 88 counties reporting final recounts to The Associated Press as of Monday, including the large urban counties of Cuyahoga, Hamilton and Franklin, Bush had gained 425 votes and Kerry has gained 570 votes.
Kerry has netted an additional 145 votes across the 76 counties that have completed their recount effort.

It should only be a couple more days before Kerry is mathematically eliminated - meaning the number of registered voters in the remaining counties is less than Bush's margin of victory.

No UFOs or Election-Snatchers in Lorain

The Lorain Morning Journal made it clear how they felt in a lively editorial from yesterday's edition:
Step back, Bigfoot. Fly away, UFOs. Let Elvis and JFK rest in peace. There's a whole new ''lunatic fringe'' lurching to life in America, and their feverish mission is to battle a fictional ''Invasion of the Election-Snatchers.''

They have met the enemy, but don't recognize that he is their imagination.
And then they really get in the groove:
No more flooding newsrooms with frantic, misinformed e-mails.
No more Jesse Jackson apparitions.
No more calls for FBI investigations; they've got real bad guys to chase.
And above all, no more recounts or re-recounts.
It's done. Stick a punchcard stylus in it.
Those, like Jesse Jackson and Rep. John ''call in the FBI'' Conyers (D-Michigan), who encourage unfounded conspiracy-itis for their own self-aggrandizement are contemptible. And those Democrats and demagogues who refuse to recognize reality, no matter how you count it, do America a disservice by wasting our tax money cutting away at the fabric of an election system that works fine.
Of course someone forgot to tell the NY Times, who had their own editorial today:
In Ohio, where a recount of the presidential election is under way, it is becoming clear that as important as recounts are, they are not enough to ensure the integrity of our elections. Representative John Conyers Jr., a Democrat from Michigan, has charged that an employee of a company that makes vote-counting software used across the state may have tampered with one county's vote tabulator after the election to make the recount come out right.
Less than 8 hours later, the Akron Beacon Journal reported Conyers had once again jumped the gun:

Prosecutors and local police found no evidence of election tampering when they watched Monday as a technician repeated a repair to a tallying computer that led a congressman to request an FBI investigation.

Observers including Green Party representatives who requested a presidential recount agreed the procedure did not alter the hard drive where data are stored, Hocking County Prosecutor Larry Beal said.

"Everybody felt better," he said.

And even if it did...
"The actual votes are stored on the punch-card ballots," [Brett] Rapp [president of Triad Governmental Systems] said. "The machine simply counts the votes. During this whole process, the ballots were locked up."
Michigan is considered a four letter word this close to the OSU campus, I'm guessing that Conyers is wearing out his welcome in other parts of the state too.

Moore Makes it Clear: No Conspiracy in Ohio

If Moore's opinion wasn't clear from my prior post, this interview in Rolling Stone makes his thoughts very clear:

Do you give any credence to these Internet conspiracy theories about the voting machines in Ohio?

Nah. And I don't have a double standard here. I've stressed since 2000 that Gore won the popular vote. Now, even if Kerry won Ohio, clearly more people across the country wanted Bush than Kerry. So there you go. Deal with it.

So for those of you who believe every word Moore says: There you go. Deal with it.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Lazy Day Reading

While researching more information related to the news that Diebold has reached a $2.6M settlement with California, I found several interesting sources of information.

Being in the IT profession, I've always been a proponent of voting machines that have have a voter verified paper trail and will be spending more time digging into this over the next week or so.

In the meantime, for anyone who is looking for some light reading in the lazy days before Christmas, these links might be of interest:

Avi Rubin's analysis of some of Diebold's source code that was released on the internet.
An E-Voting and News blog that has a lot of good links and technical details.
A link to information on the Guardian ELECTronic 1242 voting machine used in Franklin county.
A map showing that the vast majority of Ohio counties do not use electronic voting machines - they use punch card or optical scan devices.

Happy digging. I'll be pulling some of the more interesting information from these and other links over the next couple weeks but feel free to let me know if there are certain areas of interest.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Election Challenge Refiled

As predicted, an election challenge thrown out on a technicality earlier in the week was refiled with the Ohio Supreme Court on Friday.

It shouldn't take long to get a ruling.

Friday, December 17, 2004

London Ohio Couple Reveals Votes Under Oath

This is a story that's been disturbing me for a while, and now it's reached it's climax:

“Mr. France, you cast two ballots for the issue of the London City School District tax issue?” Terrance O’Donnell, attorney for the London City School District, asked Wilbur France in a petition hearing Thursday about the school district’s income tax.

“Yes, sir,” France responded.

“How did you vote each time?” queried O’Donnell.

“I voted for it,” France responded.

A quick gasp rose from the audience as O’Donnell paused.

“You voted for the levy both times?” O’Donnell asked.

“Yes, sir,” France confirmed.

How did we get to a point where Mr. and Mrs. Wilber France were forced to reveal their votes in a courtroom under oath? As you might expect, it's a long and troubling tale.

The married couple in their seventies voted via absentee ballot in October. That's when the problems started:

Rebecca France testified she and her husband voted twice because they were told absentee ballots they cast in October had been lost and therefore would not be counted. She said the board of election gave her no direction about how to proceed to make sure their votes were counted.

“What would you have done so close to poll closing time?” Rebecca France asked during testimony.

“Not wanting to be disenfranchised by some mishap at the election board office, we made the five-mile trip to our polling place, interrupting our dinner, after dark and in the rain.”

At the polls, a second mistake was made. Instead of giving the Frances a now-infamous provisional ballot, they were allowed to vote using the regular ballots. These ballots were then mixed in with all of the other ballots in their precinct.

That night, it was announced that the local school levy failed by one vote.

When the automatic recount was conducted, it was discovered that the original absentee ballots really were counted, as were the election day votes. Things got even more heated in the city of 9,000 - a typical Ohio city where everyone knows everyone else - when story was made public. Rebecca France was a known critic of the school levy, and the school supporters naturally assumed her and her husband's extra votes caused the levy to fail.

Fast forward past a grand jury decision not to indict the elderly couple (no intent to vote twice) and you arrive a hearing requested by the school board challenging the election results, where the Frances were offered immunity in return for their honest testimony.

Attorney Richard Dunkle, who represented the Frances, said that while he did not feel it was right to require his clients to reveal how they cast their ballots, he advised the Frances to accept the immunity agreement.

I think under the circumstances, everyone wanted to know how they voted,” Dunkle said. “When the prosecutor made that offer, to put this thing to rest for them, I advised them it was best to accept that.”

Questioned first, Mrs. France revealed that she did indeed vote against the levy - twice. This set up her husband's testimony, in which he revealed he voted for the levy - also twice - effectively cancelling out his wife's two votes.
“We don’t discuss political issues,” Rebecca France said.
The judge reduced the vote results by one on both sides and the levy still failed.

I don't know what bothers me more.

The mistakes made that created the whole mess in the first place.
The fact that the couple was at risk of prosecution by the grand jury.
A local school board that felt they needed to take a couple in their seventies to court.
Or a judge that would allow them to feel like they had to reveal their vote in court.

Or maybe I should just find humor in the fact that - like many couples I suspect - they "don't discuss political issues"

Kerry Nets 140 Votes with Half of Ohio Recount Completed

The AP is reporting that with over half of Ohio's county's reporting, Kerry has a net gain of 140 votes in the Ohio recount:
With 45 of Ohio's 88 counties reporting final recounts to The Associated Press Friday, including the large urban counties of Cuyahoga, Hamilton and Franklin, Bush has gained 303 votes and Kerry has gained 443 votes.
Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin and Power Line report that things aren't going nearly as smoothly in Washington.

UPDATE: For those who are wondering how things are going, ABC News is now reporting a 159 vote net increase for Kerry after 65 of 88 counties completed their recount.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The recount isn't even over yet...

and already the excuses are starting:
"The recount can show that the machines are working. I think it still leaves questions as to what happened on Election Day," said Kerry-Edwards witness Stephen Milder, who traveled from Massachusetts for the recount. "There are problems that a recount isn't going to necessarily fix."
Thanks for coming to Ohio, Mr. Milder. And for anyone who thinks this will settle anything, Pat Blochowiak sets the record straight
Kerry-Edwards witness Pat Blochowiak, who believes there are enough uncounted votes in Ohio for Kerry to win, said there are many more challenges that should be made and that the recount is only the beginning.

"If this isn't enough, then there's the lawsuit, there's the uncounted provisional ballots, there's the investigation of the absentee ballots," she said.
Isn't enough for what? I thought the purpose was to count every vote. Not change the outcome...

Example of Ohio's Dedicated County Election Officials

As you read through the many stories that are circling around the media these days about the alleged corruption and incompetence of Ohio's election officials, I thought it would be good to take a look back at what was spent and done to prepare for the elections in various counties across the state. Keep in mind this article was written before the recount.

In Allen county...
Many employees put in several 90-hour weeks before the election, [election board Executive Director Keith] Cunningham said. Some of that overtime will become comp time and some will be paid out.
In Cuyahoga county...
In Cuyahoga County, commissioners approved additional spending of $1.5 million to pay for election board overtime and other expenses.
In Coshocton county...
In Coshocton County, the board’s two full-time employees might have to go without pay in December because some bills have to be paid first.
In Putnam county...
“This year we hired four extra part-time helpers. We stayed after and came in early. Whatever the job needed, we just did it,” [election board Executive Direction Ginger] Price said. “Our part-time person works two days a week. This year they went to five days a week six weeks before the election. Between us and all the paperwork, we ran out of room and worked in the hall.”
It's always easy to scream of fraud and other problems against a faceless government entity. It's important to keep in mind that these people are our neighbors, our friends, and our family. And they many of them made a significant sacrifice to make things go a smoothly as possible last month.

Ohio Recount Updates

The Ohio recount is underway with 60 of Ohio 88 counties having started their recount. The Franklin County Board of Elections - which use electronic voting machines - finished their recount yesterday with both Bush and Kerry picking up one additional vote.

There is no indication that any numbers are changing significantly.

Meanwhile, the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, Thomas Moyer, threw out a challenge to the election results based on a technicality. Expect a refiling soon.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

MSM Bias Out in Full Force

LGF points to an MSNBC article but that's just a tip of the iceberg. Here's a sampling...

From the AP...

In a scene reminiscent of Florida circa 2000, two teams of Republican and Democratic election workers held punch-card ballots up to the light Wednesday and whispered back and forth as they tried to divine the voters' intent from a few hanging chads.

Wrong. Ohio law does not allow election workers to divine the voter's intent. Ohio law specifically states that if two or more corners of a punch card are punched, the vote counts. Otherwise it doesn't.

From the New York Times...

The ranking Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, plans to ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a county prosecutor in Ohio today to explore "inappropriate and likely illegal election tampering" in at least one and perhaps several Ohio counties.

The request for an investigation, made in a letter that was also provided to The New York Times, includes accounts from at least two county employees, but is based largely on a sworn affidavit provided by the Hocking County deputy director of elections, Sherole Eaton.

Among other things, Ms. Eaton says in her affidavit that a representative of Triad Governmental Systems, the Ohio firm that created and maintains the vote-counting software in dozens of Ohio counties, made several adjustments to the Hocking County tabulator last Friday, in advance of the state's recount, which is taking place this week.

Misleading. They fail to report - as this Columbus Dispatch article does in it's last sentence - that Eaton, a Democrat, said she doesn't suspect fraud:

Cobb has called the incident "a shocking event," but Eaton said yesterday that she doesn’t suspect fraud.

And then of course, the MSNBC article, which has so much misleading information that I'd be up all night if I wanted to respond to all of them. Among the more blatent:

Tanya Thivener's is a tale of two voting precincts in Franklin County. In her city neighborhood, which is vastly Democratic and majority black, the 38-year-old mortgage broker found a line snaking out of the precinct door.

She stood in line for four hours -- one hour in the rain -- and watched dozens of potential voters mutter in disgust and walk away without casting a ballot. Afterward, Thivener hopped in her car and drove to her mother's house, in the vastly Republican and majority white suburb of Harrisburg. How long, she asked, did it take her to vote?

Fifteen minutes, her mother replied.

Very misleading. Calling Harrisburg a "suburb" of Columbus and comparing it to a city precinct is ridiculous. Harrisburg is a 10 mile drive through farmland once you get past Columbus's outerbelt. When you get to Harrisburg, a township with 0.1 square miles of land mass and a total population of 332, you better not blink or you will miss it.

And it goes on...

Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, who was co-chairman of the Bush campaign in Ohio, decided to strictly interpret a state law governing provisional ballots. He ruled that voters must cast provisional ballots not merely in the county but in the precise precinct where they reside.

A ruling upheld in the US District court, as it was in several other states.

And finally...

Earlier this year, state officials also decided to delay the purchase of touch-screen machines, citing worries about the security of the vote. That left many Ohio counties with too few machines.

Their choices were to buy touch-screen machines that didn't have a paper trail, optical scan machines which Jesse Jackson has called "high-tech fraud", or punch card machines. Do you really think any of these options would have quieted these people?

Actually, there are plenty of other examples as well, but you get the idea.

Michael Moore: "We lost a very close election"

Moore posted a new letter on his web site yesterday. I can't say I paid too much attention to it.

Basically what I got out of it was "whine, whine, whine... We lost a very close election... blah, blah, blah..."

Here's the exact excert:
The days of trying to move the Democratic Party to the right are over. We lost a very close election (a one-state difference) by running the #1 liberal in the Senate. Not bad. The country is shifting in our direction, not to the right.
No "stolen election", no "voter suppressed election", no "fraud-filled election". I'm not sure if it was a Freudian slip or if Moore finally uttered six words I agree with.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Just Trust Me...

The Guardian gives details on Jesse Jackson's attempt to stop the Ohio electors from casting their vote for Bush today by filing a request with the Ohio Supreme Court.
The challengers allege unlawful ballots were added to the total and legally cast ballots were altered. Without listing specific evidence, the complaint alleges 130,656 votes for Kerry and John Edwards in 36 counties were somehow switched to count for the Bush-Cheney ticket.
For some reason, the court didn't act on their request.

On a side note, somehow all 20 of the Ohio electors managed to cast their vote correctly today..

Must Have Been a Hanging Chad...

From Minnesota:
One of Minnesota's 10 presidential electors broke from the pack and cast a vote Monday for John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential running mate for John Kerry.

The other nine Minnesota members of the Electoral College voted for Kerry, who won the state's popular vote in November.

After the state's Electoral College ceremony concluded, no one stepped foward as the Edwards voter. Most electors chalked the vote up as a mistake rather than a purposeful political statement.

'I'm sure somebody made a mistake,' said elector Michael Meuers of Bemidji. 'I'm certainly glad that the Electoral College is not separated by one vote.'
So many comments, so little time...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

No Recount Needed Here

Congratulations to Ohio's Chris Daugherty, winner of Survivor Vanuatu. Daugherty, originally from a suburb of Columbus, won the final vote 5-2.

Nice to finally get a vote where no recount is needed.

Enter Today - The Official Ohio Recount Pool

Might was well as do something to get my money's worth out of the Ohio recount, right. Here it is, the Official Ohio Recount Pool. Everyone is welcome to play. In fact, the more diverse the predictions are, the more fun when the final results are announced.

The certified Ohio results showed Bush with a 118,775 vote victory. The recount starts on Monday and all entries before the official results are announced will be accepted.

The person who comes closest to predicting the final margin of victory (with the correct candidate of course) wins an "I Won the Official Ohio Recount Pool" certificate that can be displayed proudly on your home or office and of course, bragging rights until 2008.

Post your prediction in the comments section. I'll get things started.

Conspiracy Theories Everywhere...

Just for fun, I thought I'd do a quick search for blogs on Technorati for posts on the Ohio Recount. The results weren't surprising.

Of the first 20 that showed up, 19 were spouting various conspiracy theories and other misinformation.

On the other hand, I did find a couple others including Doc Miller's America, PoliBlog, InTheBullpen, and Daisy Cutter that restored my faith in the America.

Of course everyone is welcome to join the Official Ohio Recount Pool.

I'll update this post as I find more.

The Conspiracy Theories Hurt All of Us

If the left wing conspiracy nuts complaining about fraud in Ohio were only hurting themselves, I wouldn't mind so much. But in reality, their misinformation and misleading stories are causing others to think they were unfairly treated when they weren't.

Look at the first couple paragraphs of this Columbus Dispatch article for an example:

At first, Eric Davies didn’t mind waiting more than four hours to vote on Nov. 2. It was encouraging to see such strong voter turnout, he says.

But later, the Democrat was frustrated to learn that his Columbus precinct had one fewer voting machine than in 2000, while some precincts in the suburbs and elsewhere got more.

"I’m not someone who necessarily jumps on the conspiracy bandwagon, but it certainly shows some favoritism to one community over another," said Davies, 37.

In reality, as my previous posts of demonstrated, it didn't show favoritism. There was a reasonable explanation (turnout ratios, population growth) to explain the redistribution.

I remember feeling the same way Eric did on Nov. 2. The long linese were very encouraging and it felt good to have voted. I told several folks at work that it didn't really matter who won because I was convinced whoever did, it was what the people of Ohio wanted.

I still believe that. It's just a shame that misleading information is causing others to doubt it. And in the end, that hurts all of us.

Columbus Dispatch - The truth bears repeating: Bush won because more Ohioans voted for him than for Sen. John Kerry

In an editorial today, the Columbus Dispatch again reiterates that the conspiracy theories surrounding Ohio are baseless and without merit. It's notable that it takes this stance even after publishing stories over the last two days which the predominently out-of-state theorists will point to as proving their point.
Those who claim that Ohio’s vote was rigged have produced nothing that approaches credible evidence. Nor have they explained how a conspiracy could be carried out successfully in a decentralized system involving 88 separate, bipartisan county election boards.

Such a conspiracy would have to involve scores, if not hundreds, of Democratic election-board members actively working against their own party and presidential candidate.

Remember, this is coming from a paper who the conspiracy theorists point to as having published credible evidence for their case.

The idea that Democratic election officials disenfranchised voters in minority and Democratic precincts offends William A. Anthony Jr., chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Party and of the Franklin County Election Board, who was at the center of planning for the Nov. 2 election.

He was particularly incensed after the Rev. Jesse Jackson recently repeated the allegations and called for an investigation of the Ohio election.

"I am a black man," Anthony said. "Why would I sit there and disenfranchise voters in my own community? I feel like they’re accusing me of suppressing the black vote. I’ve fought my whole life for people’s right to vote."

I don't think anything more needs to be said.

Republican Precincts in Columbus were the Busiest

The Columbus Dispatch has another article today entitled GOP strongholds saw increase in voting machines.

The general gist of the article was that based on past voter turnout patterns and suburban growth rates, Franklin county election officials added 8 machines across 43 Replican leaning precincts and removed 17 machines across 110 Democratic leaning precincts to best support what turned out to be over 100,000 additional voters in 2004.

They must have done something right because despite the all sorts of calculations of registered voters per machine, when all was said and done, the number of actual votes per machine was relatively close.
Despite the reduced number of machines and larger number of active voters per machine in the Democratic precincts, the busiest precincts — as measured by ballots cast per machine — overwhelmingly were in the suburbs (as The Dispatch reported last month). There were 161 ballots cast per machine in the Democratic areas versus 165 in the GOP areas.
The primary reason for this is that turnout in the Democratic precincts has traditionally been around 50%, while turnout in the Republican precincts has been around 65%. This chart provides the 2000 numbers which demonstrate this. With a 15% difference in voter turnout across the precincts, of course you are going to want a different voter-to-machine ratio.

That's the problem with any voter suppression argument based on registered-voter-to-machine ratios, it assumes a consistent turnout ratio across all precincts, and that historically has not been the case.

Based on the actual ballots cast, it looks like Democrat William A. Anthony Jr. did a pretty good job of anticipating voter turnout and distributing machines appropriately. Maybe he shorted the Republican leaning precincts a little, but I think they'll give him the benefit of the doubt instead of screaming suppression. His fellow Democrats seem to be doing that just fine on their own.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Ballot Confusion Makes No Difference In The End

The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a story explaining how it appears that a small number of votes (estimated at ~942) in 17 of 1,458 Cuyahoga county precincts appear to have been counted for an unintended candidate. This happened because voters used a punch card ballot meant for one precinct in a punch card voting machine for another precinct.

Because the order of the names listed on the ballot vary by precinct, this causes votes to be tallied for the wrong person. The problem was noticed because a larger than expected percentage of votes were cast for the candidates of the Constitution and Libertarian parties in 17 precincts.

Clearly a problem, and clearly something that needs to be addressed in the future. But would it have made a difference in the Ohio results? Absolutely not.

Even if every single vote for these two candidates in every single county in Ohio were added to Kerry's total, he still would have lost by over 92,000 votes. Throw in the votes for the 6 other candidates also on the ballot and we now have a tight race - with Kerry closing the gap to only 91,825.

I guess that's what happens when you win with more than 50% of the total votes cast, a concept the Democrats just aren't used to.

More Voting Machines Distributed to Columbus Inner-City Precincts Than Previously Reported?

Of course that isn't what you're going to be hearing from those screaming election fraud in Ohio.

The Columbus Dispatch has a story today which will clearly start making the rounds on the Internet voter conspiracy sites quickly. In an article headlined 39 voting machines unused: 17 never activated at inner-city precincts, it certainly screams of voter surpression on the surface.

If you look below the surface, you find that is not the case. The machines in question were some of the 99 machines that are kept in reserve for emergencies. It was originally reported that only 31 of these 99 machines were distributed to precincts that needed them. Further investigation concluding last week now shows that 77 machines were distributed, including 29 to inner-city precincts. The cause of the initial discrepency is not yet known.

The problem is that for some yet-to-be determined reason, 17 of these machines were not used by the precincts once they were delivered. Speculation is that the polls may have been closed by the time the machines were delivered, or that poll workers said they could get along with the machines they had. Conspiracy theorists will obviously speculate far more nefarious reasons.
Based on interviews with both Democratic and Republican election officials, the Dispatch put together the following summary:

Franklin County kept 99 voting machines in reserve when the other machines were delivered before the election, in case there was a serious accident or a problem with a truckload.

After all of the machines were safely delivered Nov. 1, Damschroder said he instructed staff members to send out all of the reserve machines.

Clearly that didn't happen and there are investigations to look into the cause of the confusion. Even so, 77 of the 99 machines were distributed.

A Democrat, the manager of election operations, makes the recommendations about where to place machines based on voter-registration totals, past voter turnout and sites where long lines are expected...

Workers then programmed counting cartridges for the 29 electronic machines to be sent to inner-city precincts. But 17 of those cartridges never were activated, meaning they were never used by voters, he said.
In other words, 12 more voting machines were used in the inner-city precincts than originally planned. It's not clear if these 12 additional machines were included in the initial voting machine numbers provided by Franklin County Elections Director Matthew Damschroder, or if they represent an increase over the numbers he originally reported for those inner-city precincts.

In any case, it's important to recognize that this story is not saying that any precinct was shorted their original allotment of machines. Some just didn't get or use the additional emergency ones that were available. It also clearly states that all votes on all machines were counted.

Clearly there were problems with the process used to distribute the emergency voting machines, but even Thomas Rosenberg, a lawyer for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Franklin County said it's too soon to jump to conclusions.
"We hope that it is nothing more than human beings made errors of judgment for which all we can do is take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again," he said.
I'd just like to add that in Ohio, every precinct has both a Republican and Democratic poll worker, and any suppression would require collaboration between the two of them.

Quick Actions Saves Lives at the Alrosa

I've held off commenting on the shooting at the Alrosa Villa for a couple days now as I try to find something reasonable to say about it. Somethings there just isn't anything reasonable to say about unreasonable acts.

The Alrosa was a dark, grungy, loud club that has a history of bringing up-and-coming bands to a small club.

Today's Dispatch has an article on the officer who shot the suspect and how procedural changes made after Columbine probably save many lives.

Before the shootings at Columbine, in which students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 other students and one teacher before killing themselves, police were taught to wait for their tactical teams and hostage negotiators before entering.

In the chaos of that day, teacher David Sanders bled to death while police outside waited for the command to go in...

Because of it, police philosophy has changed. "You have to go save lives," Wood said.

Niggemeyer and his fellow officers had a couple of seconds to ask concert fans who were running out of the building any basic questions: Where’s the shooter? What’s he look like? What’s he wearing? What kind of gun does he have? And once inside, they had to listen for shots and look for blood and the shooter.

Looking for cover is not part of the program. "The training is to go directly to the bad guy and stop him from killing people," Wood said. "You have bullets, you have a bulletproof vest and you have a guy killing people."

"It’s a scary thought, but when you’re training to save people’s lives, you have to do that."

Officer Niggemeyer was on the scene within 2 minutes of the 911 calls and immediately went inside the building to confront the shooter. Who knows how many others would have been shot without his quick selfless actions.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Jerry Springer Radio Show

How to run for governor in Ohio...

1. Get elected to Cincinnati City Council.
2. Get caught paying for a hooker by check.
2. Get elected to mayor of Cincinnati.
3. Start your own TV show specializing cheating transvestite siblings.
4. Get named Democrat of the Year by the Ohio Democratic Party.
5. Sign a one year talk radio deal ending just in time to run for governor in 2006.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Comparison of 2000 and 2004 Ohio Results

In an earlier post, I explained how the breadth of Bush's support throughout most of Ohio made up for the huge numbers of Kerry voters in urban and college-based counties. It was analysis similar to this that allowed me to predict Ohio for Bush on LGF before the networks called it.

The following analysis comparing 2000 and 2004 results by county explains why the Kerry camp was optimistic about Ohio early in the day but how Bush ultimately won.

In comparing the 2004 results to 2000, it's important to remember that Bush beat Gore by 165,019 votes in 2000. That meant that for Kerry to win in 2004, he would need to net an additional 165,020 votes from somewhere. In looking at the results, it's clear that the Kerry campaign focused on increasing turnout in urban and college-based counties to get these votes.

The Kerry team was very successful at this. They actually netted more votes than Gore in 22 of Ohio's 88 counties. This included urban counties such as Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Franklin (Columbus), Hamilton (Cincinnatti), Summit (Akron), Lucas (Toledo), and Stark (Canton). Another commonality among the list of counties where Kerry improved over Gore's 2000 performance was the existence of a large or medium-sized university. In addition to all of the counties above which have colleges, he also improved over Gore's 2000 performance in Wood (Bowling Green State University) and Athens (Ohio University) counties.

In reality this explanation makes Kerry improved performance seem far wider than it really was. As the graph below illustrates, almost two thirds of Kerry's net gains came from two counties (Cuyahoga and Franklin). Interestingly, Kerry's third largest net gain came in Hamilton county which still went to Bush, but by 19,000 less votes than it did in 2000.

When looking at only these 22 counties, Kerry had a net gain of 182,500 votes. If the rest of Ohio performed exactly as it did in 2000, Kerry would have won by a little over 17,000 votes. Clearly the Kerry campaign was focused on these counties and saw these results as a good sign.

The problem for Kerry was that while he was doing extremely well in a few counties, Bush was showing small consistent improvements across the rest of the state. In the end, Bush had an average net gain of a little over 2,000 votes in 66 different counties for a total net increase of 136,256 votes across these 66 counties. That easily made up for Kerry's improvements described above.

The graph below illustrates how Bush had relatively small net gains across the 66 remaining Ohio counties. His largest net gains came in Butler, Warren, and Clarmont counties - all suburbs of Cincinnatti.

I think these graphs also demonstrate why the allegations of voter fraud and suppression are baseless. As these graphs indicate, if anyone was trying to surpress the vote in Cuyahoga or Franklin county, they failed miserably. Bush won despite the increased turnout in these areas.

It also demonstrates that if there was fraud involved in generating additional Bush votes, it would have had to have been spread across 66 different Ohio counties. Throw in the fact that most of these Bush counties use punch cards and you can't even blame the electronic voting machines.

In the end, Bush won Ohio the same way he won the rest of the country - offsetting large Kerry gains in urban areas with small consistent victories everywhere else.

Ohio Certifies Results, Let the Recount Begin...

Now that Ohio has certified it's results giving Bush a 18,775 vote victory, the $1.5M recount begins.

Rich Lowry shoots down several conspiracy theories including voting machine errors (caught and corrected as part of the normal process), provisional ballots (similar percentage as in 2000), and spoiled punch cards (less spoiled in 2004 than in 2000), but my favorite is the following:
William A. Anthony Jr. is an unlikely candidate to help steal an election for President Bush. But that is what he's essentially being accused of by a band of left-wing conspiracy theorists who can't accept the idea that John Kerry lost the state of Ohio -- and the election -- fair and square.

The conspiracy theorists focus on Franklin County, home of the heavily Democratic city of Columbus. They allege, among other things, that long lines there on Election Day were a cagey tactic to keep blacks from voting. It just happens that Anthony is chairman of the Franklin County Board of Elections and also chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Party. "I am a black man," he told The Columbus Dispatch. "Why would I sit there and disenfranchise voters in my own community?" Good question.
If I were convinced that a $1.5M recount would convince everyone that the results were fair, it might even be worth it. The reality is, no one who is unconvinced now will be convinced even after the recount.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Why Kerry Lost

Steve Rosentha, CEO of ACT,l has a fairly decent article in the Washington Post exposing several myths about the Ohio results. These findings are the result of a post-election poll and feel better than any of the earlier explanations that were being reported. Unfortunately, he ends it with a swipe at the Republicans and us "exploitable" Ohioans.

Among the myths...

The first myth: Many more churchgoing voters flocked to the polls this year, driven by the Bush "moral values" and the gay marriage referendum.

Reality: In Ohio, the share of the electorate represented by frequent churchgoers actually declined from 45 percent in 2000 to 40 percent in 2004.

I agree. According to my own analysis, Bush netted an additional 1,000 or more votes (when compared to his 2000 performance) in 41 of Ohio's 88. There were another 19 counties where he had a net increase of between 400 and 999 votes. There may be sections of Ohio where the "moral values" issues drove turnout, but Ohio is too diverse and Bush's increases too broad to believe this drove the Bush voters to the polls in 60 counties at all ends of the state.

Second myth: The Bush campaign won by mobilizing GOP strongholds and suppressing turnout in Democratic areas.

Reality: Turnout in Democratic-leaning counties in Ohio was up 8.7 percent while turnout in Republican-leaning counties was up slightly less, at 6.3 percent.

I agree that election wasn't won by surpressing Democratic areas. The turnout percentages just don't reflect that.

I disagree slightly that the mobilization of the GOP strongholds didn't make a difference. Bush won Ohio in 2000 by 165,000 votes. In 2004, Kerry netted an additional 170,000 votes across 10 primarily urban and college-based counties. Without those extra Bush voters in the 60 other counties, Bush would have lost.

Third myth: A wave of newly registered Republican voters in fast-growing rural and exurban areas carried Bush to victory.

Reality: Among Ohio's rural and exurban voters, Bush beat Kerry by just five points among newly registered voters and by a mere two points among infrequent voters (those who did not vote in 2000).

Again, I agree. Bush's largest net gain over his 2000 results was an additional 13,000 votes in Butler county. He won Ohio by having an average net increase of just 2,000 votes over his 2000 results across 60 different counties in Ohio. Bush won not because of a large increase in support in any one particular area, but because of a slight increase across most of Ohio.

Compare that to Kerry who netted an additional 59,000 votes in Cuyahoga county and 44,000 votes in Franklin county. The problem for Kerry was his gains in the other counties dropped off sharply from those numbers. Looking at final results, I would guess that Kerry focused on turnout in Cleveland, Columbus, and college campuses. In the end, it wasn't enough to make up for Bush's small increases across the rest of Ohio.

Fourth myth: Republicans ran a superior, volunteer-driven mobilization effort.

Reality: When we asked new voters in rural and exurban areas who contacted them during this campaign, we learned that they were just as likely to hear from the Kerry campaign and its allies as from the Bush side.

Here, all I have is antedoctal evidence which suggests this is true. Friends and relatives from all parts of Ohio reported getting calls and offers to drive them to the polls from Kerry supporters. Clearly the phone calls and ride offers weren't enough to swing votes.

His conclusion...
The reason Kerry lost the election had much more to do with the war in Iraq and terrorism than the political ground war in Ohio. Terrorism trumped other issues at the polls -- including moral values -- and anxious voters tended to side with Bush...

The other major factor was our side's failure to win the economic debate. Despite an economy that was not delivering for many working people in Ohio, the exit poll results show that voters in Ohio did not see Kerry providing a clear alternative...

The GOP put on a strong mobilization effort, but that's not what tipped the Ohio election. They did not turn Gore voters into Bush voters by offering a ride to the polls. Instead, it was skillful exploitation of public concern over terrorism by the Bush team -- coupled with Democrats' inability to draw clear, powerful contrasts on the economy and health care -- that pushed Bush over the finish line.

I agree that terrorism trumped other issues in Ohio and Bush ran stronger on it than Kerry. I also agree that economic issues didn't play a big role, and even if they would have, Kerry didn't provide a clear vision of how he was different.

I just don't know why he had to end his article with a swipe at the Bush team and and a backhanded slap at us "exploitable" Ohioans. Hmmm, you think tranparent attitudes like that may have had any impact on the results? I'm thinking there might be approximately 2,000 voters in 60 different Ohio counties that think so.

The Columbus Dispatch Weighs in on the Ohio Recount

Benjamin Marrison, editor of the Columbus Dispatch, weighs in with thoughts on the upcoming Ohio recount in this article. Access to the full article requires registration and a subscription, but here are the main points.

Watching him [Kerry] concede the election to President Bush before he had to do so — while Ohio and the White House were technically up for grabs — I was impressed by his character.

The Massachusetts senator embodied the American spirit by attempting to reduce the rancor that divided our country leading up to the election.

Yet today, more than a month later, some of his supporters are still fighting, still campaigning.

Folks, it’s time to stop spending so much time debating the existence of a Republican conspiracy to deprive Democrats of the White House. It’s not there.

Marrison addresses the allegation that voting machines were purposely shorted in Democratic areas of Columbus.

For those who suggest (and there are many) that the allocation of voting machines unfairly crippled Franklin County Democrats, it’s simply not true. It’s clear that the Elections Board didn’t prepare well enough for the crush of voters it predicted, but it shorted voters in heavily Republican areas as well as in those that are heavily Democratic.

A Democratic supervisor at the county board recommended where to put the machines, and it’s unlikely that a Democrat would seek to disfranchise voters in areas that tend to vote for Democrats.

We examined voter turnout and found that the growth in new registrants nearly mirrored the percentage increase in voter turnout. That doesn’t mean everyone who left the polls without voting eventually returned, but it suggests that most did. I was one of them.
He goes on to suggest that focusing on voter improvements is what is needed, not a recount.

The best thing Democrats have going for them is that citizens appear ready to embrace improvements to the voting system. The people elected to run this state would have to be brain dead not to understand that they must do something.

The system needs changes to ease restrictions on absentee voting, reduce reliance on punchcard machines and guarantee that November’s lines won’t reappear.

Finally, he concludes by pointing out that in the last statewide recount in 1990, the recounted totals varied from the original totals by a grand total of 146 votes.

Our voting system [compared to Florida in 2000] has better safeguards, and the margin of victory is too great to merit the $1.5 million expense of a statewide recount.

Bush won Ohio by about 119,000 votes. The last time a statewide recount was conducted, in 1990, the office of attorney general was at stake. More than 3.3 million votes had been cast, and when the recount was done, only 146 votes changed.

If the Democrats who say ‘‘This isn’t about winning and losing" really mean it, they should skip the recount and push for reforms to our voting system.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer is supposed to be working on a fairly lengthy article on the various allegations that reaches the same conclusion.