John Kerry supports a “full investigation” into voting irregularities in Ohio, Rev. Jesse Jackson said Saturday, during a teleconference with media regarding a recount and legal challenge of the Nov. 2 vote.
“John Kerry supports a full investigation,” Jackson said. He recently spoke with the Democratic presidential nominee and reported that Kerry said he conceded the race on the morning after Election Day because “originally, he was inclined to believe what he was told” about the results. On Wednesday, Nov. 3, Kerry said there was little chance he could close George W. Bush’s 130,000-vote lead with the uncounted provisional and absentee ballots.
Jackson’s brief remarks may be the first that shed some light on Kerry’s fast concession – a decision many supporters felt was too hasty. Jackson will be in Ohio today, Sunday, Nov. 28, to declare his support for a recount of the Ohio vote and for a broader investigation into voting patterns that he said were “suspicious” and could have given votes to Bush that he did not earn.
“We want to look at the exit polls,” Jackson said, referring to at least two non-partisan Election Day polls, by Zogby and CNN, which gave Kerry 53 percent and 51 percent of the vote, respectively. “We don’t want to be presumptuous, but these numbers in the Butler, Clarmont, Warren and Hamilton counties are suspicious.”
By suspicious, Jackson is referring to the latest analysis of the Nov. 2 vote by a coalition of Ohio voting rights activists. In analyzing the still-unofficial results, the totals reveal that C. Ellen Connally, an African-American Democratic candidate from Cleveland for Ohio Chief Justice, received 257,000 more votes than Kerry. [Editor's note: Rev. Jackson was referring to Connally's margin of votes as a benchmark, not actual more votes. In Butler County, Connally the Democrat received 59,532 running against Republican Chief Justice Moyer who received 66,625 votes. Connally received 5347 more votes than Kerry. For example, in Butler County, the difference between Connally and Moyers's votes was 7093. Bush received 106,735 votes and Kerry received 54,185 votes, with a difference of 52,550. Subtracting 7093 from 52,550 equals 45,457. Statistically the margin is significant only as a place to look for votes that could have been electronically shifted from Kerry to Bush. The 52,550 difference in Butler County between Bush and Kerry, when contrasted with the 7093 vote difference between Moyer and Connally provides a place to investigate and recount. The Connally race should be seen as a Democratic benchmark in Republican counties with the sample ballot, since she is endorsed by pro-choice and civil rights groups. While the vote totals for Bush and Kerry should be higher than for Connally and Moyer, the percentage by which they won should not be so different. Moyer wins over Connally with 52.8% eliminating minimal third party votes, Bush won over Kerry with 66%. See below for details.*]
The reason these vote counts are suspect is because Connelly, a retired African-American judge, was vastly outspent in her race, and did not have the visibility of the presidential race.
“This looks like a computer glitch or a computer fix,” said Bob Fitrakis, a lawyer, political scientist and Editor of the Columbus Free Press (http://freepres.org) who has written about election irregularities since Bush was declared the winner. Fitrakis is among the team of lawyers who announced they would soon file an election challenge in the state’s Supreme Court.
“Statistically, Kerry, as the Democratic presidential candidate, should have more votes than Connally. In a presidential election, most voters have the priority of casting a vote for president and the votes for president are almost always much higher than those of candidates farther down the ticket. When voters vote for Democratic candidates farther down the ticket, it is usually being driven by a sample ballot from the Party, starting at the top with president. Many voters simply don’t vote for Supreme Court justices. It is highly improbable that Connally’s vote totals would be so much higher than Kerry’s,” Fitrakis said.
The fact that Warren County has such odd vote counts is no surprise to Fitrakis. “The Republican-dominated county threw out all the media and independent vote watchers when votes were being counted at the end of Election Day, claiming ‘homeland security’ issues. This would have easily allowed for the wholesale shifting of a large amount of votes from Kerry to Bush. If you’re behind closed doors, it is easy enough to do. The November issues of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines show how easy it is to hack the vote and steal an election. The articles are called ‘E-vote emergency: And you thought dimpled chads were bad’ and ‘Could hackers tilt the election?’ I think they did,” explained Fitrakis.
There were 15 Ohio counties where Connally’s margin was 5,000 votes or more better than Kerry’s unofficial results. In five counties, Connally had a 10,000-vote margin or better. These counties used punch card, optical scan, and touch screen voting machines – with most using punch card systems.
This analysis is merely the latest that has been uncovered about how Ohio’s Nov. 2 vote was tilted toward Bush. Immediately after the election, there were reports that the number of voting machines brought to the state’s urban, Democratic-leaning precincts was deliberately shorted. There were numerous sworn statements from voters in urban areas that the voter rolls were old and out-of-date, forcing voters, many registered for years, to use provisional ballots – which get counted last or do not get counted at all unless the voter was in the right precinct. Voters also testified under oath about machines malfunctioning and recording votes for Bush when people believed they had selected Kerry.
All of these trends – plus the fact that the Bush victory did not jibe with at least two non-partisan exit polls taken on Election Day in Ohio – are behind Jesse Jackson’s trip to the state today, Sunday, Nov. 28.
Jackson will visit Columbus and Cincinnati to meet with voters, civil rights activists, ministers and others who are working for a full accounting of the Ohio presidential vote. Jackson said he hoped to coordinate these activities and his organization, Rainbow-PUSH, would join litigation seeking to challenge Bush’s alleged victory at the state Supreme Court.
Jackson also joined the call by many, from Common Cause to the Green and Libertarian Parties, for Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to recuse himself from tallying the state’s presidential election result, because he was co-chair of the Bush-Cheney re-election team in Ohio.
“We need to investigate, coordinate, litigate, recount and recuse," he said, referring to the legitimacy of the Ohio vote. “Mr. Blackwell cannot be both the owner of the team and the umpire.”
*Chart of the measurement of margin between Connally and Kerry race
A negative sign immediately below means that the margin for Kerry (in his race) was less than the margin for Connally (in her race) by the indicated amount. All counties where Connally's margin exceeded Kerry's by 2,000 votes or more should be on this list. There are 37 such counties.
In counties listed above, the total margin for Connally (in her race) exceeded the margin for Kerry (in his race) by 257,546 votes.
If the selection criterion is a Connally margin 5,000 better than Kerry's, there are 15 such counties where, collectively, Connally's margin exceeded Kerry's by 190,437 votes.
If the selection criterion is a Connally margin 10,000 better than Kerry's, there are 5 such counties where, collectively, Connally's margin exceeded Kerry's by 119,960.
The seven (7) counties with some type of DRE voting machine are: Auglaize, Franklin, Knox, Lake, Mahoning, Pickaway, Ross. Two (2) of these counties (Auglaize and Pickaway) appear on the list above of counties in which Connally's margin exceeded Kerry's.
The thirteen (13) counties with some type of optical scan machine (not punch card) are: Allen, Ashland, Clermont, Coshocton, Erie, Geauga, Hancock, Hardin, Lucas, Miami, Ottawa, Sandusky, and Washington. Six (6) of these counties (Allen, Clermont, Geauga, Hancock, Miami, and Washington) appear on the list above of counties in which Connally's margin exceeded Kerry's.
Steven Rosenfeld is senior producer of The Laura Flanders Show on Air America Radio.
Editor's note: This article has been updated in order to provide additional information about county voter margins and to correct an earlier misstatement.