Republican "November Surprise" to steal the 2004 election is in full force here
in Ohio. With polls showing a dead heat, the GOP is staging an all-out attack
on a fair vote count in the Buckeye State.
Here are a dozen ways they're
- Under an archaic Ohio law, both the Republican and Democratic
Parties, or any slate of five candidates, may embed official election challengers
inside polling places. The New York Times reported on Oct. 23 that the Republican
Party intends to place thousands of lawyers and other GOP faithfuls inside the
polls to challenge voters. Republican insiders confide here that the key goal
is to jam lines and frustrate new voters. The GOP apparently figures many voters
in key Democratic precincts won't wait in line more than 15 minutes to vote. This
is certain to be a major tactic in Cleveland's Cayahoga County and other Democratic
strongholds. The GOP is not planning to challenge voters in Republican districts.
- Republican party has sent letters challenging thousands
of Franklin County students who are registered to vote absentee. Franklin County
is home to Columbus, the state's largest city and its capitol. Though it is also
home to Ohio State University, thousands of local students go to schools outside
the county or state. The GOP apparently does not want their votes counted. This
unprecedented mass challenge has prompted the Franklin County Board of Elections,
whose director is a conservative Republican, to reserve the large Veterans Memorial
Auditorium downtown to process the challenges this Thursday, as John Kerry comes
to town with Bruce Springsteen. The County has told thousands of students that
if they don't appear in Columbus to answer the GOP challenges, they may lose their
right to vote.
- The Franklin County Board of Elections
has called or written an undetermined number of voters who obtained absentee ballots,
challenging their addresses. In at least one case, after a series of angry phone
calls, the Board admitted there was nothing wrong with the address in question
and re-instated voting rights. The voter in question was a registered Democrat.
His wife, an independent at the same address, was not challenged. It is unclear
how many others have been wrongly knocked out.
- Even if
they are counted, Franklin County's absentee ballot forms are rigged in ways strikingly
reminiscent of those in Florida 2000. On many absentee forms, Kerry is listed
third on the list of presidential candidates. But the actual number you punch
for Kerry is "4." If you punch "3" you've just voted for Bush. Sound familiar?
- Franklin County's right wing Elections Director is insisting
on e-voting machines which have malfunctioned in at least two Congressional elections,
and which have nopaper trail. The November issues of Popular Science and Popular
Mechanics Magazines ran the following headlines on their covers, respectively:
"E-vote emergency: And you thought dimpled chads were bad'" and "Could hackers
tilt the election?" Vigorous protests against the paperless machines have been
staged here, but many will be used, rendering a meaningful recount impossible.
- In four other Ohio counties, the notorious Diebold company,
whose CEO Wally O'Dell has pledged to deliver Ohio's votes to Bush, will provide
the e-voting machines to count votes without any paper trail while using proprietary
"secret" software. O'Dell lives in the wealthy Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington
and is a major Bush donor.
- Twenty GOP-dominated Ohio
counties have given wrong information to former felons about their voter eligibility.
In Hamilton County, home of Cincinnati and the Republican Taft family, officials
told numerous former felons that a judge had to sign off before they could vote,
which is blatantly false.
- Franklin County, which normally
cancels 2-300 registered voters a year for felony convictions, has sent at least
3500 cancellation letters to both current felons and ex-felons whose convictions
date back to 1998. The list includes numerous citizens who were charged with felonies
but convicted only of misdemeanors.
- Republican Secretary
of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has reversed a long-standing Ohio practice and is
barring voters from casting provisional ballots within their county if they are
registered to vote but there's been a mistake about where they are expected to
cast their ballot. In this year's spring primaries, Blackwell allowed voters to
cast provisional ballots by county, even if they were in the wrong precinct. But
this fall, such voters will have to leave the wrong precinct and find their way
to the right one. Blackwell hopes to succeed Republican Bob Taft as governor,
and has labored hard to install e-voting machines with no paper trail, to give
the statewide contract to Diebold, and to take a long series of steps apparently
designed to help hand Ohio to George W. Bush. Blackwell is being widely compared
to the infamous Katherine Harris, who handed Florida to George W. Bush in 2000
and was rewarded with a safe Congressional seat.
Columbus Dispatch (which has endorsed Bush) and WVKO Radio have both documented
phone calls from people impersonating Board of Elections workers and directing
registered voters to different and incorrect polling sites. One individual was
falsely told not to vote at the polling station across the street from his house,
but at a "new" site, four miles away. Under Blackwell's new rules, such a vote
would not be counted.
- In Cincinnati, some 150,000 voters
were moved from active to inactive status within the last four years for not voting
in the last two federal elections. This is not required under Ohio law, but is
an option allowed and exercised by the Republican-dominated Hamilton County Board
- Secretary of State Blackwell ruled that
any voter registration form on other than 80-pound weight bond paper would not
be accepted. This is an old law left over from pre-scanning days. Many voters
who had registered on lighter paper, had their registration returned, even though
the forms had been officially sanctioned by local election boards.
No Republican has ever won the presidency without carrying Ohio. This year the
GOP seems determined to win it, no matter what they have do to the electoral process.
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of "George Bush
Versus the Superpower of Peace" and "Imprison George Bush", from
2004 The Columbus Free Press