Tomorrow (Thursday, January 6) Congress will host an unprecedented Constitutional showdown over the future of American democracy.
It rises from a catalog of abuses that poisoned the November 2 presidential balloting in Ohio. Taken together, these attacks on the democratic process shifted Ohio's vote from John Kerry to George W. Bush, giving him the presidency.
Other states, most notably New Mexico and Florida, suffered similar problems, casting a dark shadow of doubt over the alleged 3.5 million-vote nationwide edge claimed by Bush.
By virtue of an 1887 law passed in response to the contested election of 1876, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-OH) and others will challenge the seating of Ohio's electors. If joined by a single Senator, Congress for the first time will debate the outcome of a presidential election as determined by the Electoral College.
The right-wing media assault on those who would mount this challenge has been withering. The Ohio Republican Party says Rep. Tubbs-Jones will "make a fool of herself" if she supports the effort. GOP functionaries have filled the major media with charges of "conspiracy theories" and "irresponsibility" among those who would question the vote.
But all Americans committed to real democracy must stand in awe of this challenge.
It's more than ironic that this unelected administration has portrayed itself as a defender of democracy in helping overturn an election in Ukraine based on discrepancies between exit polls and a fraudulent vote count. Doing the same here would deny George W. Bush the White House.
It's also ironic that an apparently defeated Republican candidate for governor in the state of Washington is now calling for a revote to overturn a recount. We support that demand, and ask the same for Ohio.
It's beyond tragic that this administration is now shedding untold quantities of blood in Iraq in the name of a democracy that is being denied here.
A far-ranging catalog of 2004 election abuses has been published over the months at www.freepress.org, and is available for reference there and at other web sites. It's a deeply disturbing indicator of a declining democracy that precious few mainstream media have covered even the fact that there is controversy over this election, let alone the substance of the record that defines it as perhaps the most corrupt in our history.
In breaking news, the freepress.org team now has in its possession an official Franklin County Board of Election document entitled "Machine Assignments for General Election 2004" showing the serial numbers of 76 machines, all in Democrat-rich Columbus, that were blacked out and kept in the warehouse or on trucks during the election, while thousands of inner city voters stood in the rain. Conversely, none of the machines designated for Republican-dominated suburbs were blacked out on the list and held back.
In our previous piece, we presented what we found to be ten of the largest vote-counting irregularities in the conduct of Ohio's election. Embodied in those ten irregularities are more than enough votes to have shifted the Ohio tally from George W. Bush to John Kerry.
Those and other crucial discrepancies will be discussed today at a 2pm press conference at the National Press Club in Washington. We have been told the conference will be covered by C-SPAN. We will catalog as much of the evidence presented there as possible in future articles, and in an upcoming book and documentary film.
The attorneys, statistical experts, investigators and others presenting at this conference will be accompanied by at least one busload of citizens who simply had their votes denied on November 2. Coming within hours of the Congress' historic vote, we present excerpts of the hundreds of sworn affidavits presented by these and other Ohio voters in the wake of the "Crime of November 2."
As we careen toward Congress' historic confrontation, we are reminded that above all this is a human tragedy, a moment in time where the world's oldest continuous democracy allowed millions of its citizens to proceed in good faith to its polling places, only to have that good faith cynically abused.
Those who have questioned, investigated, reported and challenged the Ohio vote continue to face facile criticism in exchange for their hard, selfless work. But despite pledges to the contrary, it wasn’t the Kerry campaign or the Democratic Party that convened public hearings after the election to create a record while memories were fresh. It was a coalition of activists, lawyers and independent journalists.
What follows are 45 Election Day problems, as described by more than 85 people who came to independently convened public hearings in Columbus on Nov. 13 and 15, and Cleveland on Nov 20, and filed affidavits on Election day. These are the voices of the election protection volunteers, poll workers and ordinary voters who testified under oath about the harm they personally experienced and the damage they saw done to their most fundamental civil right, the right to vote.
These voices - excerpted from transcripts and affidavits - have not been published before. They the voices of people who expect more from American democracy. Listen to what these people have to say about the 2004 presidential election in Ohio. Then ask, Was this a free and fair election? Why should the certified results be trusted and believed?
Until those questions can be answered, Congress should not certify the 2004 Electoral College.
ELECTION DAY PROBLEMS
Republican-majority districts did not have voting problems
1. No waiting, plenty of voting machines in GOP strongholds.
Joseph Kuspan, affidavit, 11/15/04 (Bexley, near Columbus)
“No problems. I was a runner in Bexley precincts 1A, 1B, 1C. There were no lines in my visits to these precincts three times. I will point out that 1B is perhaps the wealthiest precinct in Franklin County – including the Governor, OSU (Ohio State University) President, etc.”
Julie Jacobson, affidavit, 11/13/04 (Columbus)
“I was a volunteer all day on Nov. 2 and noticed a big discrepancy in the number of voting machines. Where I vote, in an affluent neighborhood, a voting machine had been added (total of five machines). In the lower-income neighborhoods, there were two-three machines and people waiting over three hours to vote!”
Robin Smith, testimony, 11/15 hearing (Columbus)
“The only conclusion I can draw from this is there was an intentional effort to usher Republican voters through relatively short lines while creating excessively long lines in Democratic areas to suppress their right to vote by ensuring some people would leave without voting, because they were incapable of standing in lines for three or four hours or they had to get to work.”
2. Plenty of voting machines at GOP-leaning university, but not nearby liberal school.
Mike Swinford, testimony, 11/13 hearing (Mt. Vernon)
“You had a previous person talk about Kenyon College…. Knox County has two colleges. The one that has been profiled is Democratic, had long lines, that has already been testified to. The other one, Mt. Vernon Nazarene University, that has been profiled as a Republican. That one did not have any problem as to waiting lines.”
Voter Registration and Absentee Ballot Snafus
3. New registrations not properly processed, voters told not on rolls at poll.
Alessondra Hernandez, affidavit, 11/13/04 (Toledo)
“A young African-American woman had been denied her right to vote at Glenwood Elementary School. I was told she was one of many from earlier that day.”
4. Voters with multi-year residences told not on rolls, given provisional ballot.
Patricia Jackson, testimony, 11/20 hearing, Cleveland
“I had a lot of people in my precinct who vote religiously and some of them, their names were not in the poll books.
Gorman Paul Gregory, affidavit, 11/13/04, (Columbus hearing)
“My friend, Kathy Janosksi, attempted to vote in our precinct 73F, but she was not on the rolls. I saw her being given the punch card to vote provisionally.. Ms. Janoski and I have resided together at the above address since 2001. Between 2001 and 2004, I personally saw communications from the Board of Elections to her address.”
5. College student vote suppressed, 2004 voter registrations not processed.
Kyle Gebhart, statement, (Bowling Green)
“I am a student at Bowling Green State University and moved from on-campus housing to an off-campus apartment over the summer… By mid-October, I had still not received my voter registration card.. They then told me that they never received my registration form and I would have to come down and fill out a change of address form… I went to my polling place… they looked on their printed voter rolls and my name was not on it.”
6. Absentee ballot requests not properly processed in timely manner.
Max M. Lachman, affidavit, 11/15 (Cincinnati)
“I never received the absentee ballot for the Nov. 2004 election. I went in person to the Hamilton County BOE on Oct. 29 to cast an early ballot and was informed there that they had mailed me an absentee ballot earlier that week… The BoE informed me on Nov. 15… that somebody else was able to register a counted vote with my absentee ballot.”
Harvey Wasserman, testimony, 11/13 hearing (Columbus)
“I filled out my form with the same address I have lived at since 1986, and I checked my registration as a Democrat, which I decided to do this year, and a few days later I received in the mail a rejection of my application for the absentee ballot stating that I had filled in the wrong address. But it came to the right address…”
7. Voters bringing absentee ballots to polls told to go to county offices.
Natalie Dobie, affidavit, 11/13/2004 (Cincinnati)
“I was a poll worker… my group witnessed numerous people who received absentee ballots but had not mailed them in. When these voters tried to vote in their precincts, they were not allowed to cast regular ballots or their absentee ballots at their precincts. Instead they were told that in order to vote they had to bring their absentee ballots downtown and cast them at the Board of Election office.”
8. Longtime voters not receiving absentee ballots, given provisional ballots.
Barry McPeek, affidavit, 11/15/04 (Reynoldsburg)
“I was sent a provisional ballot card forwarded by the post office due to a permanent change of address. I have been a resident at this address since 1980 - January to be exact.”
Voting Machines Shorted In Minority Districts
9. Polls in urban precincts assigned too few machines.
Ted Dyrdek, Jr., affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“I waited in line for 1 hour 45 minutes. A friend of mine left after voting. At this time I was standing where he was when I came in. I have a 1 hour 45 minute wait until I get to vote. Total three and one-half hours. My voting place had three voting machines and appears to be 90 percent black voters.”
Gorman Paul Gregory, affidavit, 11/13/04 (Columbus)
“11:30 am. I visited the Columbus Precinct 25C, where 1275 voters had voted. I observed three voting machines only… 4:30 pm. I visited the 25C precinct again. The lines were longer, well past the inside front door. I personally observed at least 175 voters in line, plus babies and children. The building was hot and uncomfortable. Almost all people in line were black. Less than 20 were white.”
Kay Kranz, 11/15/04, affidavit, (Columbus)
“Our register went from 300 odd voters to 825 and we still had only three machines to process our votes.”
Jason Parry, testimony, 11/15 hearing, Columbus
“I live in Franklin County and was a poll monitor at Columbus 12A the whole day… My concern is that they knew – the Franklin County Board of Election knew the voter registration was double what it was in previous elections and they made absolutely no efforts to account or make any availability of (machines for) these people to vote.”
10. Voters recall more voting machines at same polling place in past elections.
Marcia Woods, 11/2/04, affidavit, (Columbus)
“I arrived at 1:45 and left at 4:20 pm in order to vote. Most time when I vote there were six booths. Today the most important election in 75 years there were only three booths in my voting area. That is unfair to the people.”
Loretta Ingram, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“Long line, a wait of two and one-half to three hours. That’s too long. Help. Recalled in the past there were five voting machines.”
11. Too few machines assigned to liberal college campuses, suppressing vote.
Mathew Segal, testimony, 11/13 hearing, Columbus
“I am here to represent Kenyon College… Kenyon students and residents of Gambier had to stand in lines up to 10 to 12 hours in the rain, through a hot gym, and crowded narrow lines, making it extremely uncomfortable.”
Penny Maroldo, statement, (Oberlin)
“Right next door in Oberlin, where the Board of Election knew well that there was a huge increase in voter registration at Oberlin College (up from 600-700 students to over 2,100 this year!). The two polling places where students voted had lines that snaked around blocks for hours, and the students were forced to stand in the rain for up to 5-6 hours.”
12. Broken machines delivered to democratic precincts.
Angela Greene, affidavit, 11/13/04 (Whitehall)
“Usually, we have five-to-six voting booths, but there were only three on this day. One of the three machines was not working and had not been since 6:30 am.. At 9:45 am people arrived to fix the machine. The repairmen reported that the machine had been sent without a cartridge. Whitehall is a racially diverse with a significant youth and African-American voting population.”
Sandra L. Francesconi, affidavit, 11/13/04 (Akron)
“A larger than normal turnout – out the door! Which is great except there were too few voting machines (though plenty of booths) and one of them broken.”
13. Voters turned away because of broken machines.
Eliza Jane Synder, testimony, 11/13 hearing, Columbus
“What I witnessed was at Columbia Alternative High School, during the hours of 6:30 am to 8:30 am. Everyone was turned away due to broken machines… They started turning people away because they did not have any working machines.”
14. Calls by poll workers to get more machines mostly unanswered.
Margaret Thomas, 11/2/04, affidavit, (Columbus)
We were busy all day. Voters waiting 2-3 hours. We had an overflow all day. No breakfast. No lunch snack. I called several times to get more machines. The lines were always busy. I then called 462-4100. No luck. No answer. They refused to send any more machines.”
Pat Johnson, testimony, 11/15 hearing, Columbus
“I called downtown to the Board of Elections … and I asked how they allocated their voting machines. And he said you get approximately one to one and one-half machines for every 300 people… So I said, at 1,200, how many should you have? He said, “Well, you should have six, possibly, seven, maybe eight. There were four in this precinct. This is a highly Democratic precinct and there were four machines.”
Carol Shelton, testimony, 11/13 hearing, Columbus
“I was the presiding judge … I called to get more machines and ended up being connected to Matt Damschroder, the Director of the Board of Elections. After a real hassle – and someone here has it on videotape – he sent me a fourth machine which did not dent the length of the line.”
Patricia Jackson, testimony, 11/20 hearing, Cleveland
“I had a shortage of equipment. I called them about seven in the morning – I needed another booth. I had another apparatus to accommodate another poll booth, but I did get one at six in the evening.”
Catherine Cheney, affidavit, 11/13/04 (Columbus)
“My precinct, Perry Township Precinct A at Worthington Hills Elementary School had four voting machines. However, the poll workers told us that only two were working.. I saw someone come in and fix the machines… The voters I observed that day and in the past at my precinct are almost all white.”
15. Poll workers improvise solution, but votes may not be counted.
Sandra L. Francesconi, affidavit, 11/13/04 (Akron)
The director tried to alleviate my precinct’s wait by “borrowing” from the other precinct (where the line was much shorter). When I asked if this switching back and forth might damage the vote count, she assured me not.”
Poll Worker Snafus
16. Polls opened late, overwhelmed poll workers.
Donald D. Germany, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“When I arrived to vote at Livingston School at 6:30 am, the polls were not open. The machines were not up. The election officials who sign you in had not arrived. I left without voting, as did a number of other people. This is precinct 4-B.”
Jason D. Kimble, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“I arrived at my polling place (17B) ay 11:30 am. I voted at 3:25 pm. The polling place was very disorganized, not enough machines. The poll workers were rude and inefficient.
17. Long lines, people waiting for three-to-five hours, at times outside in rain.
Luther Greene, affidavit, 11/2/04
“I reside in Columbus… My race is black. I am, or believe I am, a registered voter in Columbus, OH. I have been registered for 40 years. On Nov. 2, 2004, I arrived at the polls at 9:45 am. I left at 1.15 pm. There were only three voting booths. I had to wait three and one-half hours to vote.”
Vincent Bomar, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“I had to wait in line for approximately four hours before I could actually vote.”
Christopher C. McQuoid, affidavit, 11/12 (Columbus)
“I got in line at 4:25 pm and voted at 9:33 pm… Luckily for me COLS 18-A line was indoors. However, COLS 18-C had to wait mainly outdoors in poor weather.”
18. Elderly and handicapped people not accommodated.
Mary Taylor, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“I requested curb-side voting at Wards 17A and B. A chair would single me out as disabled. This is an unacceptable accommodation. No curbside voting was provided… My disability is unable to stand for long periods of time. The wait is over three hours.”
Bertha Boatley, affidavit, 11/2/2004 (Columbus)
“I came to vote around 2 pm. I had to wait approximately two hours to cast my vote. I completed voting around 4 pm. I am 90 years old.”
Toi Crimley, affidavit, 11/2/2004 (Columbus)
“I had to wait a long time to vote. I was unable to vote until 3:15 pm. There were a lot of people waiting. There was a handicapped woman and they told her there was no one to help her.”
Werner Lange, affidavit, 11/13/04, (Newton Falls)
“(2) An with a wheelchair-bound voter pulled up to the voting site (Hillman Elementary School); The driver tried for one hour to gain access to the voting machines; He couldn’t, so he drove OFF with the disabled voter who did not cast his vote.
19. Once inside polls, people not told they were waiting in wrong lines.
Donna Adassa, affidavit, 11/13/04, (Columbus)
“There were two unidentified lines. It was not clear which line to stand in.”
Kris Usselman, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“I saw many people leave because of the long lines. I also saw people stand in the wrong lines for long periods of time and then have to get in other lines.”
Tanya Thivener, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“After I was directed into one line and waited for approximately one hour. I was told that we were changing lines and I had to wait an additional two hours and 20 minutes. This site was understaffed and not enough booths.”
Jackie Scott, affidavit, 11/2/2004 (Columbus)
“(1) I waited one hour and 45 minutes. Many people were in line for two hours. (2) The room was small and crowded and everybody was very confused. (3) There are different lines and it is not clear where people are supposed to go. (4) I was not given sufficient direction on where to go, what lines to be in, etc.”
20. Poll workers did not send people to proper polling place.
Steven Mason, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“My name was on voter list at precinct 26B but I was sent to precinct 56 and waited two hours, then called and got correct info and came back to vote.”
Margaret Downs, affidavit 11/2/04 (Cincinnati)
“Told I was not registered and unable to vote. Was not told there was another precinct around corner where I could vote.”
21. Voters were not adequately instructed how to use machines.
Frankie Hines, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“The lady at the booth explained to me that once I voted for each issue, I was to push the vote button. I was not told how to properly work the machine until after I cast my first vote, then the machine shut down and I was told it could not be restarted.”
22. Cops ticket illegally parked cars at poll, because of long wait.
Boyd Mitchell, testimony, 11/13 hearing, Columbus
“What I saw was voter intimidation in the form of city employees that were sent in to stop illegal parking. Now, in Driving Park Rec Center, there are less than 50 legal spots and there were literally 100s and 100s of voters there, and I estimate that at least 70 percent of the people were illegally parked in the grass around the perimeter.”
Michael Hayes, testimony, 11/13 hearing, Columbus
“Imagine the sight, in a Black neighborhood where a lot of young black voters are showing up for the first time, you have full police presence, even though they are sitting in cars…. You have six cars in the parking lot, and you have a well-known Republican businessman in the community asking people, ‘please disperse, please get into your cars.”
Long lines, People Waiting, People Leaving
23. People waiting in the rain for long time.
Joann Clark, affidavit, 12/12/04 (Franklin)
“Long lines. My vote would have been for Kerry. Not enough machines for people to vote. About 200 people in line ahead of me and it was pouring down the rain and freezing cold. I had worked all day and had the flu.”
John Wooden, Sr., affidavit, 11/14/04 (Columbus)
“I stood in the rain, then once on the building it took three and one-half before I could place my vote. The process was slow and relentless. It was like playing musical chairs… I was amazed to see only three voting booths - and all the people that were inside and outside waiting to place their vote.”
Issac Kinser, Jr., affidavit, 12/19/04 (Franklin)
“The line was long. It was raining and I had to wait in line for one and one-half hours. I believe the turnout was at least 80 to 85 percent.”
24. People left without voting, citing long wait.
Christopher J. Collins, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“I served as a volunteer for the Ohio Voter Protection Coalition outside the polling place for Precinct 6C, City of Columbus. At least 12 voters told me that they were leaving without voting because the line was so long.”
Harry R. Kelly, Sr., affidavit, 12/19/04 (Columbus)
“We had five machines, needed about 10 machines. People could not wait two to three hours to vote. They had to go to work, school, doctors, etc.
Danielle Speakman, affidavit, 12/12/04 (Columbus)
“The lines were three hours long. I have three children and no one to watch them for that long. I was not able to vote. However, I would have liked to have voted for John Kerry. I wish we could have the chance to vote again.”
Heather Shannon, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“I waited for one and one-half hours but heard that it was a three-hour wait. I had to leave because I didn’t have anyone else to watch my child. At the time I was there, only two machines were working.”
John Saler, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“I have to work!”
25. People returning to polls several times to try to vote.
Dawana Martin, affidavit, 11/2/04
“After arriving at about 12:45 pm, I waited on line outside of Shepard Branch Library. I finally voted at shortly before 4:00 pm, probably at 3:55 pm. I had attempted to vote twice earlier in the day, waiting 30 minutes for my first attempt and one-and-one-half hours the second time.”
Jeff Szczygiel, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“I cannot wait three hours to vote. I have to pick up my children. This is the third time today I have been here today – I cannot wait in excess of one hour. I would be willing to return after 7:30 pm.”
26. Time taken to vote took undue personal toll.
Marion Brown, affidavit, 11/14/04, (Columbus)
“I’m here on behalf of a friend. Evelyn Nesbitt Fox. She came to my home saying she will never vote again as long as she lives. While she stood four hours voting, her husband passed away. Mr. Larry Fox, his funeral was on 11/13/04.”
Stacy G. Hunt, affidavit, 12/1/04 (Columbus)
“There are only three voting booths!!! I have been here for hours, standing in the rain, waiting to vote. People are leaving without voting due to work policies. My husband (age 77) fell from fatigue while waiting. It is now 2:07 and I have not been able to vote. This is wrong.”
Carlos Pace, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Columbus)
“I took 3 hr. vacation time to vote. Now I have to try and get 3 hours more of vacation.”
Voters Challenged; Given Provisional Ballots; Provisionals Not Handled Properly
27. College students challenged, given high number of provisional ballots.
Ian MacConnell, testimony, 11/13 hearing, Columbus
“My name is Ian McConnell and I voted at precinct 16 B, which is on the Ohio State University campus, I attempted to vote in the same place that I voted in the primaries and was told that my name was not in the rolls. I was then told that I needed to vote provisional, was very disturbed about that, because I didn’t know exactly what they meant. I said, ‘Will my vote be counted?’ They said, ‘Yes, it would.’”
28. Minorities, youth in urban areas targeted, challenged, some given provisional ballots.
Sherri Suarez, affidavit, 11/15, (Reynoldsburg)
“I was told that I was being challenged. Asked for ID and told “Sorry I would be unable to vote today.” I refused to take this and then I was asked for a utility bill. I looked in my car – nothing. I called and had a bill faxed to my polling location. Walked in with a bill, ID, and registration from Internet, again told no. I demanded representation from Democratic Party and attorney and I was told no. Then offered provisional ballot.”
Susan Husami, testimony, 11/13 hearing, Columbus
“I received a letter from the Lucas County Board of Elections containing both the challenge of (my) right to vote and correction of registration list, as well as a notice of hearing. The challenge of my right to vote was filed by Daphne Sims, with an address included here. I never met Ms. Sims, and I have reason to believe Ms. Sims does not know who I am..”
Don Brezine, affidavit, 11/13/04 (Xenia)
“There were about 1,600-1,800 ballots at the four precincts, of which 90 were provisional. My observation was about 10 percent of the voters were black. About 40-50 percent of the provisionals were black. Other than that disparity, things went rather smoothly. No Republican challenger was present.”
29. Minority youth incorrectly challenged by alleging they had felony record.
Renee Smith, affidavit, 11/13/04 (Columbus)
“(1) Ward 48, Precinct D – excessive long line. (2) Ward 48, Precinct D – inadequate no. voting machine. (3) Witnessed a young black youth – first time voter – who was initially told he was not allowed to vote because he had a felony. When they made a call and determined he had no record, he was allowed to vote.”
30. Ex-felons targeted by disinformation campaign saying they cannot vote.
Catherine Buchanan, affidavit, 11/12/04 (Toledo)
“I met numerous ex-felons who absolutely believed they had no right to vote. The ones I had approached prior to Oct. 4th I was able to convince to register. The ones I had encountered after Oct. 4th still honestly believed they had no right to vote.”
31. Longtime voters challenged, poll workers incorrectly cite address changes.
Richard M. Smith, Sr., affidavit, 11/15/04 (Columbus)
“My wife received a notice on Nov. 2 challenging her right to vote. She was to appear before the Franklin County Board of Elections for a hearing (Oct. 28th, 9 am). The challenge was in Ward 68 (2003). Her current address is Ward 55 (2004). Her voting record is current: 40-plus years.”
32. Longtime voters incorrectly were given provisional ballots.
Micheal Sowiski, statement (Cuyohoga County)
“Too many provisional ballots were cast as opposed to real ballots. Voters who had been voting for years at the same location weren’t on lists, and so had to cast provisionals ballots.”
Michael Greenman, testimony, 11/15 hearing, Columbus
“I voted there in elections for the last five years… I came in and looked at the list and my name was not on the list. It was a computerized list. My wife’s name was on the list. I asked them how could this be? They had no explanation. They were very cooperative, gave me a provisional ballot… But I cannot imagine my name could have been removed from the list without some active action.”
Martha Parge, affidavit, 11/13/04 (Lebanon)
“Precinct 16, City of Lebanon, Warren County. Two voters – not related, had “I.D. Required” next to their names on the voter roll. They presented valid I.D., then were told they needed to fill out a “HAVA Provisional Voter Statement of Affirmation.” They voted and their ballots were put in a “provisional” envelope. I questioned why..”
33. Poll workers not familiar with provisional ballots, improperly recorded.
Daniel G. Johnson, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Mt. Gilead)
“I was transporting voters to polling place at 2355 Middlehurst Ave. and South Mifflin School. I found that the polling place had no provisional ballot booklets – resulting in that no one has been allowed to vote provisionally the whole day.”
Daniel Lotz, testimony, 11/20 hearing, Cleveland
“I was a Democratic Party poll challenger at Election Day Ward 13, precinct K… Nearly 50 percent of the provisional ballots were not completely properly filled out.. I’m concerned that the counting might not be a standard inclusive approach.”
Patricia Blochowiak, testimony, 11/20 hearing, Cleveland
“None of the election officials at the polls knew how to deal with the provisional ballot issue, and we were forever trying to go back to the rules and clarify them. But no-one seemed to have received training about how to deal with provisional ballots. When we had problems, we were unable in many cases to reach either of the two phone numbers we had for the board of elections.”
34. Precinct judges not familiar with provisional ballots, ballots not offered to voters.
Kay Kranz, 11/15/04, affidavit, (Columbus)
“When setting up for voters, we asked for paperwork to deal with provisional voters… At the end of voting while closing up, the Presiding judge mysteriously found the information needed to guide provisional voters. We were not able to guide voters to the correct precinct and they were made to vote provisionally.”
Voting Machinery Flawed
35. Ballot layout and design confusing, leading to mistaken votes.
James R. Hanson, statement, 11/26/04 (Columbus)
“Both my wife and I wee slowed down in our voting because the layout of the presidential race confused us… I couldn’t get over the feeling that I was looking at a botched ballot.. The feeling I got was that I was being tricked, but passed the test.”
36. Voters given punch card ballots with presidential choices already punched.
Lisa Casini, affidavit, 12/28/04, (Independence, Cuyohoga County)
“I was handed a ballot in the usual sleeve. I took it out of the sleeve and was ready to put it in the voting apparatus, when I noticed that the bottom third of the ballot had already been punched out.”
Micheal Sowiski, statement (Cuyohoga County)
“Ballots with holes already punched in them when voters received them.”
37. Punch-card machine not working properly.
Patricia Blochowiak, testimony, 11/20 hearing, Cleveland
“I was a Democratic challenger… We had a machine malfunction. It was off-set. We don’t know if those votes were counted accurately or not.”
38. Electronic machine malfunction, no flashing lights for presidential vote choice.
Sarah Locke, affidavit, 11/13/04 (Columbus)
“Once in the voting machine, I was puzzled that the lights were flashing for candidates for all the offices except the presidential office. I wondered why these didn’t flash so I just looked for Kerry’s name and pressed the rectangle and the red light came on.”
Gorman Paul Gregory, affidavit, 11/13/04 (Westerville)
“When I went in my voting booth, the red blinking light was not on in the presidential race. I voted for president and then told the presiding judge of the problem. He then told me that he could not do anything. I finished my other voting selections. No one checked the machine after I was done voting.”
39. Electronic machine malfunction, voters chooses Kerry; machine selects Bush.
Jeanne Smith White, affidavit, 11/15/04, (Youngstown)
“I pushed the button besides John Kerry’s name and my vote jumped up to George Bush. I began complaining about them cheating again this year. The attendant ran over to my booth and announced “just push the button again, that’s been happening a lot.” I then pushed the button again. It remained on John Kerry. Many others in different precincts experienced the same problem.”
Josephine Hulett, affidavit, 11/19/04 (Youngstown)
“When I press Kerry I get Bush. I press it three times, then I get Kerry. I speak to the presiding judge. I had them call the Board of Election. They show up about 11:30 am.”
40. Electronic machine malfunction, screen goes black or registers no vote.
Esther Hampton, affidavit, 11/13/2004 (Columbus)
“The electronic voting machine would not take my vote although I tried repeatedly by pressing the “vote” button. Election officials tried to help, then finally the screen (front of machine) went black and I was told I had voted.” I felt that I had been blocked from voting. Multiple calls resulted in no help.”
Thom Pintello, affidavit, 11/15/04. (Columbus)
“A problem with the voting machine. It would negate my vote for John Kerry by returning to “no-vote” status.”
Vote Counting Problems
41. Homeland Security Threat, banning press from observing Warren County count.
Elizabeth Kent, affidavit, 11/2/04 (Lebanon)
“Problems I saw in Warren County during Election Day. They claimed level 10 Homeland Security threat to bar all media out of the BOE (Board of Election) during the vote count. They did not warn the citizens of Warren County through the color code system. They did not warn the Board of Election of the threat level.
42. Secretary of State orders Election records sealed until after vote is certified.
Victoria Lovegren, testimony, 11/13 hearing, (Columbus)
“The other thing that I have seen is they are not letting us look at the records. They are not letting us go to the Board of Elections and look at the records. Blackwell, again, made phone calls to counties, telling them that we are not to see those records, and this is public information. The Ohio Open Records Act says so.”
Werner Lange, affidavit, 11/13/04, (Newton Falls)
“On Nov. 12, I went to the Trumbull Board of Elections and asked to see precinct logs; This was denied and the BOE official said I could not see them until after the official vote was given.”
43. Secretary of State’s last-minute provisional rule change disenfranchises voters.
Victoria Lovegren, testimony, 11/13 hearing, Columbus
“I was also concerned about the directive or whatever you want to call the rules or the laws that Blackwell comes up with… The date of birth has to be on the envelope of the provisional ballot for it to be acceptable, and this is a change in the rules.”
44. Reports of spoiled ballots – or no votes for president – don’t make sense.
Sarah Taylor, testimony, 11/20 hearing, Cleveland
“Look at the ballots cast for president, in practically all cases, there’s a discrepancy… In the case of my precinct, where I was at, 16A, you’ll see there’s a discrepancy of about 18 people. That means 18 people voted but are not reported as voting for president. That means 5 percent of the people who voted did not have their votes counted for president. It’s unlikely that 5 percent of the people who showed up on Election Day and stood in line for an hour or so, actually didn’t want to vote for president.”
45. Reported turnout numbers did not match what people at polls saw.
Cyrus Taylor, testimony, 11/20 hearing, Cleveland
“It was quite a day… I was in some sense heartened by the long lines; figuring this meant that we’d had an incredible turnout. So when the next day –when the first canvass report was posted, I was astounded to see that in my precinct, that according to the official numbers, we actually had fewer people vote than voted in 2000. When there was essentially no campaign at all…”
Tragically, there is still much more to report. The election of 2004 is not over.
Bob Fitrakis, Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of OHIO'S STOLEN ELECTION: VOICES OF THE DISENFRANCHISED, 2004, forthcoming from www.freepress.org. Contributions are welcome via www.freepress.org or at the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism, 1240 Bryden Road, Columbus, OH 43205.
RELEASED TODAY: New Status Report of the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff: Download it now.
Also, download Appendix A - Video the Vote A Film by Linda Byrket and Text of Fundraising Letter from Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.