Who Really Won?

Friday, December 31, 2004

Re-Vote Ohio

Dino Rossi thinks Washington State should re-vote their close election? Why not do the same in Ohio? Ted Glick:

"Our next governor should enter office without any doubt about the legitimacy of his or her office. The people of Washington deserve to know that their governor was elected fair and square. Unfortunately, the events of the past few weeks now make it impossible for you or me to take office on January 12 without being shrouded in suspicion."

-Dino Rossi, Republican candidate for Governor of Washington, in open letter to Democratic candidate Christine Gregoire

Rossi's argument is equally applicable to the Presidential election. Following an extremely flawed and probably illegal "recount" in Ohio, no one can say for sure who won that state's 20 Electoral College votes, and these 20 votes are necessary for either George Bush or John Kerry to claim a victory in the 2004 election. Following the example of the people of the Ukraine, we should demand that Ohio's 5.5 million voters be given a chance to vote for president again in a fair and transparent process.

What Happened in Ohio?

Many thousands of duly-registered African American voters did their civic duty and went to the polls in Ohio on Election Day. Many stood for three, four or even eight hours in the cold and rain with tired, hungry children and sick or elderly relatives. These people, whose children are disproportionately represented in the U.S. military and the Iraq war, suffered disproportionately from misallocation of voting machines, biased application of voting standards, outright harassment, and the ultimate indignity for a voter: unbeknownst to them, many of their votes were not even counted.

Concerns that the votes of African Americans and other Ohio voters were not fairly counted were one of the main reasons that David Cobb of the Green Party and Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian Party demanded a recount of the votes in Ohio. Now that the recount is finished, the picture is a lot worse than any of us thought. Not only were African Americans in huge numbers denied the right to vote on Election Day, but something even more shocking was discovered: we have no idea who won the presidential vote in Ohio. And because we have no idea who won the vote on November 2, we must immediately raise the call for an Ohio re-vote.

The vote totals we are seeing in the newspapers assume that there has been no tampering with the vote totals. While no one has as yet proven definitively that there was vote tampering, any impartial observer can say with certainty that it would be impossible to say that there was NO tampering.

How can we say this so unequivocally? Private company technicians from Triad and possibly Diebold had unsupervised access to ballots and vote counting machines after the initial vote counting and before the recount. In some counties, ballots were not locked up in ways that would preserve their integrity. In almost all counties, the recounts did not comply with the dictates of Ohio election law that the precincts re-counted must be "randomly" selected. Whether in the interest of hiding something, or merely in the interest of wanting to go home for the Christmas holiday, pre-selecting the precincts to be re-counted could lead to re-counting precincts without problems instead of those where machines failed, ballots were soiled, or other problems occurred.

Thankfully, the Ohio recount fulfilled its purpose. It helped us to see the extent of the problems in Ohio's voting processes. It reminded us that many Ohio state and local elections officers should either be fired for incompetence or criminally indicted for allowing voters to be disenfranchised on Election Day. It provided a way to keep the reform process in public view so that changes can be made in time for the 2006 election season. Most importantly, however, the Ohio recount has led us to a conclusion that should be obvious to fair-minded people of any political party: no one can claim victory in a contest when the score-keeping system was broken.

Rest here.