Wednesday, December 29, 2004

TRUTH LEFT OUT: Only a Non-Random 3% of The Votes Were Re-counted in Ohio

Picking Ballots
Well, it has been almost 2 months now since Ohio voters first punched out their chads and trusted a computer program to count their ballots and now we have verification that George W. Bush clearly won the state by a significant margin. Democracy is alive and well in America.


However, that's how the New York Times and the Washington Post are covering it:
Ohio Recount Gives a Smaller Margin to Bush

Published: December 29, 2004

CINCINNATI, Dec. 28 - A recount of the presidential election in Ohio that was finished on Tuesday showed that President Bush won the election here by about 300 fewer votes than initially recorded.

The recount of Ohio's 88 counties showed that Senator John Kerry gained 734 votes, with Mr. Bush picking up 449 after elections officials allowed more than 1,100 previously disqualified ballots to be counted in the second tally...
Here's the AP story posted in the Washington Post:
...Kerry gained 734 more votes in the recount, and Bush picked up 449, mostly from disqualified ballots that were counted in the second tally because hanging chads had come loose when ballots were handled again or rerun through counting machines. That put Kerry 285 votes closer to Bush. The president's victory margin declined by about three dozen more votes when some counties adjusted their certified vote totals...
Again, there's just one wee little teency-weency bit of information left out of these two reports.


According to Ohio State law, if 3% of the votes counted by hand -- selected from random precincts -- match the machine counts, then that county does not have to recount the remaining ballots.

Guess what?

In Fairfield and Monroe counties, the machine / hand recount did not match. Did they do a automatic full recount (according to state law?). No. They suspended the recount and brought in another machine a few days later.

Furthermore, the votes were NOT recounted from RANDOM precincts. 86 out of the 88 counties did not select their ballots randomly.
...nearly all of the 88 Ohio counties may be in violation of the Ohio recount law because they did not choose the precincts to be manually recounted in a random manner. For example, in Vinton County, a unilateral decision was made to pick a county for the 3% manual recount test simply because its vote total was closest to 3% of the county total. In Morrow County, a decision as to what is “random” was made without input from recount observers after a county election official called Secretary of State Blackwell’s office and was told that her interpretation of “random” was the correct one, despite Green recount observer protests.

Ohio Election Law is very clear on this point. Section 3515 of the Ohio Revised Code says:

The board must randomly select whole precincts whose total equals at least 3% of the total vote, and must conduct a manual count.

If the tabulator count does not match the hand count, and after rechecking the manual count the results are still not equal, all ballots must be hand counted. If the results of the tabulator count and the hand counted ballots are equal, the remainder of the ballots may be processed through the tabulator (for optical scan and punchcards).

Lack of random samples threatens to undermine the entire recount process, as it does in other situations where random sampling is critical. Would you, for example, be willing to play a hand of poker if the cards were already dealt when you got to the table?
Relating this back to the recount procedures, when you read in the newspapers that recounts were done and no discrepancies were found, it could be because the election officials chose to do test recounts on precincts where there were no problems. There may still be problems or there may not be, but no one can know for sure. What we do know is that lack of random recounts does not follow either the spirit or letter of the law, and may necessitate further action, including a second statewide recount...
(from ICLA Online, December 23, 2004)
The Ohio recount process was rife with irregularites. As Newsclip Autopsy has reported in the last month, there were counties that had ballots already sorted before the recount(Cuyahoga county); A Triad technician was found accessing a computer (unsupervised by any experts) which tabulates votes. He admitted to doing the same at other counties as well. The Secretary of State has (illegally, some would say) prevented observers from looking at the poll registration books until well after the the electoral votes are counted on January 6th, officially pronoucing George W. Bush the winner of the 2004 election.

The list goes on.

However, the mainstream press fail to go into much detail about all of these significant developments which have occurred over the past 2 months. Instead, we get a weak generalized summary, which can only evoke a big yawn from most of its pablum addicted readers. Observe:
Daniel Trevas, a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, said Democrats supported the recount but found that county elections officials sometimes ignored requests by recount observers to see rejected absentee and provisional ballots, and were not informed about procedures used to recount and reject ballots.

"Some of these boards did not give us full access during the recount," Mr. Trevas said.

He said that in one county, Clermont County, in southwest Ohio, numerous complaints were filed by Democrats and the two independent parties when access to recount procedures was ignored.
Wow! That's the best the New York Times could come up with? Here's the quote that ends the piece:
"We have to continue to be more persistent so we bring satisfaction to the voters of Ohio," Mr. Trevas said.
Uninformed reader: "Yawn!"
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