2004 Ohio Irregularities - Details

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Ohio 2004 Elections
Elections: US Senate,
Irregularities: Details, Provisional Ballots, Recount, Spoiled Ballots, Chances of Winning


  • The House Judiciary Democrats have sent a letter to Blackwell challenging him about several of the practices in Ohio. 15-page pdf.
  • The provisionals and absentee totals were reported together. Every county should be asked for the breakdown, because there was opportunity for nonstandard judging procedures on both absentee and provisional ballots.
  • Officials in all 88 counties have been contacted and requested to review for errors similar to the one in Franklin County's Gahanna precinct.
  • No Ohio County used Diebold Electronic Voting Machines. Ohio did not use modern touchscreen voting machines in this election. Six counties use an older form of electronic voting. The state Democratic party is under the impression that all six counties have a way to verify their counts, but we've had conflicting reports, such as in Knox county. The state Democratic party has been informed, and they passed the news on to their lawyers. In 69 Ohio counties, punch card ballots were used.
  • It is unclear what kind of tabulation computers Ohio uses - they may be the Dieboldesque sort that run off of Microsoft Access (and the infamous GEMS software). However, this submitter's impression is that GEMS can only be abused by changing a precinct total at the county level, which should be easily verified by checking the precinct total (if available), or by double-checking during the recount. Can someone confirm?
  • Evidently many precincts were combined together in anticipation of buying newer, faster, more modern (touchscreen) voting machines... but then the voting machines were not used due to questions about Diebold... but then Blackwell did not split apart the precincts again, which is what led to the long lines. Can someone supply a source?
  • Wasn't there something about long lines that would last past midnight... but then Blackwell telling people as of midnight that they couldn't vote anymore since it was November 3rd... so they got some sort of paper ballots and were told to leave... and now all these voters are still out there with paper ballots with no idea how to turn them in... and with Blackwell not accepting them...? I could swear I read something about this. And there's a lawsuit about it on equal protection grounds.
  • A Berkeley study on exit polls that found statistical variance in Florida between counties with touchscreen machines and those with optiscan machines found no such variance in Ohio.
  • This diary has some notes on a hearing about irregularities statewide. It sounds really awful. The diary made the top of the recommended list. There is a video and transcript of the hearings.
  • This diary has a link to a Boston Globe article that estimates reduced precincts and long lines cost Kerry at least 45,000 votes.
  • Michael Moore's filming projects has footage from Cleveland. See Video The Vote.
  • The League of Women Voters has called for investigation.
  • Several first-hand accounts written about in an article a clevescene.com.
  • The AP has a report about several planned lawsuits, and the high degree of activity of activists doing research.
  • One report of lines lasting 10-12 hours, and a diary with more details on lines being longer in Dem locations than Rep locations.
  • Several counties have much lower provisional validity rates than other counties.

County-Specific Matters

  • Cuyahoga:
    • Much has been written about its municipalities having different numbers than townships. This issue seems to have been settled, with the explanation being that absentee ballots were reported as part of precinct totals, resulting in more votes being reported than actually voted at the precinct. The "ward summary" entries were not added into the county vote totals, so whatever their purpose for allocating absentee ballots across multiple municipal jurisdictions, they had no impact on the county returns. This can be proven by adding up the precinct-level votes and the votes recorded from absentee ballots, resulting in an exact match with the 'official' county totals. This diary has a good examination of per-precinct turnout in Cuyahoga.
    • More seriously, only 2/3 of Cuyahoga's provisionals are being considered valid so far. Cuyahoga has a Republican in the chair position of their board of elections. How do we fight this?
    • A watchdog group has filed a lawsuit challenging the number of invalid provisionals in Cuyahoga County.
    • An excellent graph correlating voting problems to Cuyahoga precincts with a high percentage of black voters. Also: scatter plot comparing Kerry support to spoilage for precincts
    • This diary refers to this report by Juan Gonzales at the NY Daily News that shows very strange spikes for third party candidates in some Cuyahoga precincts, the theory being that they were votes intended for Kerry. It is unclear if this happened statewide or in just these particular precincts.
    • This diary uncovers the practice of some precincts being given the wrong instructions of how candidates matched up to ballot placement. So a candidate would be following the instructions to vote for Kerry, but would actually be voting for Peroutka or Badnarik.
  • Franklin:
    • Election officials have acknowledged the 3,893-vote Gahanna precinct error and promised to correct it. That error was found by comparing the unofficial abstract of votes casts by precinct to votes for each candidate. It will be applied to the margin later, before certification.
      • Official voting abstract corrected this precinct and removed the extra 3,893 Bush votes, along with 87 write-in votes.
      • Precinct Columbus 58F was modified and 215 new votes added (1 BADNARIK, 100 BUSH, 110 KERRY, 2 PETROUKA, 2 NO VOTE)
    • No official acknowledgment of the double entry -- and double tabulation -- of the absentee ballots (in unofficial abstract). Neither the Franklin Co BOE site nor the OH SoS site have yet been updated to reflect these corrections. See Ohio Franklin County Absentees.
      • Official Abstract now has 3 lines for Absentee precincts.
      • Presumedly, the original 2 precincts were created to split the absentee pile in half, for some unknown reason.
      • The updated absentee results contain 5,753 new absentee votes split amoung "ABSENTEE 1" and "ABSENTEE 2".
      • A new precinct was created called "ABSENTEE 3" which contains 12,124 votes (61% of these are for Kerry). This new precinct category is probably the accepted provisional ballots.
    • This diary from Renee features an article that shows Democratic precincts here had far more voters per voting machine than Republican precints - leading to slower voting, and more malfunctions. Here are three excellent scatterplots showing this graphically.
    • Another graph correlating voting problems to Franklin precincts with a high percentage of black voters.
    • This diary refers to a report by Richard Hayes Phillips which details evidence of voting machines being deliberately relocated from black precincts to affluent suburb precincts, and implicates Franklin County Board of Elections Director Matt Damschroder. The estimate is that it cost Kerry 17,000 votes in Franklin County.
    • The AP has finally picked up on the missing voting machine story. The article which appeared in the Columbus Dispatch cites 39 voting machines sitting unused out of a total of 2,840 machines. Damschroder's email claimed 88 machines were unused out of a total of 2,866.
    • Using the exact same DRE voting machines in 2000 and 2004, the undervotes (no president picked) in 2000, averaged around 0.55% of the votes in a precinct. In 2004, the number of undervotes averaged 1.10% of the total precinct votes. If the undervote percentage was identical (same machines used), this would result in a difference of 2,500 ballots that were not under-counted in 2004.
  • Knox: a rural county, has had a few reports - according to one report, some of their machines didn't have paper trails. According to another, a democratic precinct had only one voting machine and the last vote was cast at 3 AM.
  • Lucas:
    • Unlike most other counties, over half of their provisionals were judged invalid, which needs to be protested. The remaining ballots went to Kerry by a very large margin, one of the largest margins in the state. There could be one or two thousand lost Kerry votes here.
    • It had tabulation errors in 4 precincts regarding a school-levy issue. There was also a 10-vote discrepancy in Badnarik's total; and one precinct -- Toledo 2-C -- had the pres candidates listed in a different order than all other precincts, but looks like an artifact of the report and has no effect on the vote count.
  • Miami: This article raises a question about how it reported its results (about halfway down the page).
  • Sandusky: According to the AP, it double-counted 2600 ballots due to worker error. These were re-examined as part of the provisional counting process, and with provisionals added in, Kerry gained about 375 in voting margin.
  • Warren: The Cincinnati Enquirer broke the story on the vote count, where reporters and some offical observers were locked out of the county building and not permitted to observe. County officials stated that the lockout was due to Homeland Security concerns relayed to them in a face-to-face meeting with an FBI agent. They further stated that the FBI told them Lebanon, Ohio rated a "10" for terrorist threats. On November 10, the Enquirer published a follow-up article in which FBI and state security officals said no such warnings had been issued. (Democracy Now interview with Enquirer reporter Erica Solvig)
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