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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, July 28, 2014
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Describes Himself as 'Advocate of Voter Rights' But Not as Bush/Cheney '04 General Counsel!
By Brad Friedman on 3/24/2005 4:58pm PT  

Monday's testimony to a U.S. House Committee by Mark F. (Thor) Hearne, the leader of the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) --- who also happens to be the National Counsel for Bush/Cheney '04, Inc. --- has just been added to the website of the "non-partisan", tax-exempt, one-week old "Voting Rights" group.

In his testimony, Hearne failed to mention to the U.S. House members, either his connection to Bush/Cheney or his long roots in the Republican party going back to the Reagan Administration. The testimony was given last Monday to the U.S. House Administration Committee at hearings held on the Ohio Election problems. The hearings to which Hearne was invited were held just 3 business days after the ACVR suddenly appeared for the first time on the Internet...or anywhere else that we've been able to find. More on that here.

In Hearne's testimony, as seen via the page posted today on the ACVR's website [UPDATE 2007: the testimony may now be found here in the Interenet archives, since ACVR has deleted their site], he describes himself as a "a longtime advocate of voter rights and an attorney experience in election law". No mention of his long-term pedigree as a high-level GOP operative...

Testimony of Mark F. (Thor) Hearne, II
Committee On Administration
Columbus, Ohio --- April 21, 2005 [ed note: Misdated on the website]
Chairman Ney, Members of the House Administration Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today.

My name is Thor Hearne. I am a principle in the law firm of Lathrop & Gage and a longtime advocate of voter rights and an attorney experienced in election law. I was appointed a member of the Missouri HAVA advisory committee advising the Missouri Secretary of State on Missouri's implementation of HAVA and suggesting appropriate amendments to Missouri election law.

Today I am here in my capacity as counsel to the American Center for Voting Rights. The ACVR is a non-partisan watchdog ? voting rights legal defense and education center committed to defending the rights of voters and working to increase public confidence in the fairness of the outcome of elections. I am joined in this endeavor by the almost a dozen Ohio lawyers from several of this states' prestigious law firms that have submitted a report detailing concerns that have come to our attention in connection with the Ohio 2004 general election...

The rest of his testimony is available at the ACVR website. [UPDATE 2007: ACVR's website has been removed from the Internet, browse their old site here via the Internet Archives.]

Here again is a photo of Hearne taken a few weeks ago at a Republican National Lawyers Association reception in Ohio:

We've learned more about both the mysterious outta-nowhere election experts at the ACVR and Mr. Hearne's "non-partisan" activities which we hope to report later this evening as we've got to do a couple of radio interviews for the next several hours, beginning in just a few minutes.

So check back shortly, and for now...we'll just say...DEVELOPING...

UPDATE: The ACVR National Headquarters! Uncovered! BRAD BLOG has the exclusive photographs!

For more information on the "non-partisan" tax-exempt ACVR scam and the snakeoil salesmen who invented it, Bush/Cheney '04 National General Counsel Mark F. "Thor" Hearne and RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke, please see BRAD BLOG's full Special Coverage of the "American Center for Voting Rights" at http://www.BradBlog.com/ACVR.
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Um...Sort of.
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2005 5:43pm PT  

Today we attempted to get some more information about the "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR), a group who suddenly appeared on the Internet last Thursday. On Monday, they gave testimony to U.S. Congressman Bob Ney's (R-OH) House Administrative Committee during hearings held in Columbus, OH on the 2004 Election mess in the state.

(Please see this previous BRAD BLOG article for the emerging background on this supposedly "non-partisan" tax-exempt organization which was the only such "Voting Rights" group invited to give testimony at the hearings. And, oh yes, every single name attached to this group so far seems to also be attached to Bush/Cheney '04 Inc. and/or the Republican National Committee and/or the Ohio Republican party.)

Mark F. (Thor) Hearne, II --- the National General Counsel for Bush/Cheney '04 Inc. --- gave testimony for the group and is listed on the U.S. House Administrative Committee website as simply "National Counsel, American Center for Voting Rights". No mention of his current high-level connections to Bush/Cheney and his long history of working with other powerful Republican officials all the way back to his time working for the Reagan Administration.

We called him this morning to see if we could ask him a few questions about the ACVR, his involvement as their apparent-organizer and his role as lead contributor for the 31-Page report [PDF] on the Ohio Election produced by the ACVR in time for Monday's hearings.

Hearne's response, "Not right now...Send me some information about who you're involved with and I'll give you a call back."

We persisted nonetheless, and asked if he could describe any of the "voter education and outreach" programs which the "About Us" page at the ACVR website describes as one of their activities. Or if he could tell us about any of the "symposiums and conferences" the group claims to be sponsoring as also mentioned on the site.

His response, "We certainly anticipate those. You keep an eye on our website."

We pressed on...

BRAD BLOG: How is it that you guys were invited to testify for a U.S. House Committee hearing after just forming so recently?

MARK F. (THOR) HEARNE, II: You'd have to ask the [House] committee...

BB: But to be invited as the only such organization so quickly after being formed? How did that happen?

HEARNE: I couldn't tell you. We're out here doing what we're doing and we accepted the offer.

He was, indeed, rather terse in the answers to our attempted questions, and so we wondered why he didn't wish to be more forthcoming about his "non-partisan" group.

"Sounds to me like your coming from the Left," he told us.

We informed him that --- though we think didn't think any of our questions were particularly partisan or Left-like --- he might well say that we are indeed coming from the Left. Nonetheless, we consider free and fair elections to be a non-partisan issue. As his website claims to be a non-partisan organization, we figured he wouldn't mind answering some questions about it.

Mr. Hearne told us to "Email me some information on who you are and I'll get back to you."

We have done so and look forward to his call and a report here on his answers to some of our many concerns.

Next we tried a call to Jim Dyke who is listed as the "contact" in a press release issued Monday by AVCR.

Dyke, we have subsequently learned, also happened to have been the Communications Director for the Republican National Committee during the 2004 Election.

Perhaps he would be more open with us about this nascient group and their seemingly newfound concern for "Voting Rights" in America. Indeed, Dyke was much more willing than was Hearne to speak at length with us...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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6-Day Old Tax-Exempt Group Run by High Level GOP Operatives!
(GOPUSA/Talon News, Anyone?)
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2005 7:01pm PT  

Republicans seem to have a new found interest in the Electoral Reform movement. An article today from the extremist rightwing web publication WorldNetDaily attacks Sen. Hillary Clinton's election reform bill with quotes from several critics, but none from either Clinton or other supporters of the bill.

In Ohio, state Republican legislators are attempting to raise the cost for candidates seeking a recount after an election. While in Georgia, Republican legislators are trying to pass laws requiring voters to produce Photo ID at the polls.

And yesterday, Ohio Republican Congressman, Bob Ney, chairman of the U.S. House Administrative Committee held hearings in Columbus on the massive reported problems during the 2004 Presidential Election in the Buckeye state.

Perhaps something is suddenly causing Republicans to try and get on the offensive when it comes to the drumbeat of Election Reform now surging across America.

But it's a brand-spanking new, outta-nowhere, just-in-time-for-yesterday's-hearings, Talon News-like "Voting Rights" organization that has caught our eye for the moment.

As reported here earlier today, the U.S. House Administrative Committee hearings yesterday in Columbus featured testimony from St. Louis attorney, Mark F. (Thor) Hearne, II of the "non-partisan" American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR).

According to Internic records, the ACVR was established on the web just last Thursday and early investigation into this group would seem to indicate that it is little more than a front group for Republican operatives with little or no interest in actual "Voting Rights" at all.

While Hearne is listed as a witness for yesterday's hearings on the U.S. Committee for House Administration website as "National Counsel, American Center for Voting Rights", there is no mention of his affiliation or extensive work for Bush/Cheney '00, '04 and other Republicans.

Hearne, a former Reagan Administration official, is the National Election Counsel to Bush-Cheney '04 Inc. and was Missouri counsel to Bush-Cheney ?00 Inc. As well, he was General Counsel to Republican Missouri Governor Blunt.

He is pictured, at a March 5, 2005 Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) reception in Ohio, at the bottom of this article. The RNLA is an off-shoot of the national Republican Party.

But Hearne is not the only high-level Republican operative working for the tax-exempt "non-partisan" 501(c)3 organization...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Director of 4-Day Old Group Called as Expert Witness along with Blackwell in U.S. House Hearings Yesterday.
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2005 12:50pm PT  

Yesterday, in Columbus, OH, the U.S. House Committee on House Administration held a hearing on the mess otherwise known as the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio.

Unlike the previous hearings last December in Columbus run by Democratic members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, this committeee, led by Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Ney was given a hearing room in Ohio's State Capitol building. (The Judiciary Committee member's hearings last year had been originally scheduled to take place in the statehouse, until "someone" decided they were not welcome there. But we digress.)

Ney has been a big supporter of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), and has shown an interest on the CHA website in doing everything possible to leave the flawed Help America Vote Act (HAVA), hastily passed in the wake of the 2000 election debacle, in place and unchanged so that things like mandatory paper ballots with every vote cast cannot be amended to the law. HAVA sets asides millions of federal dollars for the purchase of new electronic voting machines from a few select private companies.

Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, tasked with running a free and fair election in the Buckeye state last November --even while he was tasked with being the OH Co-Chair for the Bush/Cheney Re-Elect Committee --- finally decided to show up and take some questions yesterday.

As well, a Republican operative by the name of Mark F. (Thor) Hearne was also called as a "Witness" to discuss Election Reform issues despite fronting an organization, the so-called "American Center for Voting Rights" which suddenly appeared out of nowhere on the web just last Thursday.

Last month, Blackwell had succeeding in displeasing even his theoretical Ohio Republican ally, Ney, by refusing to attend the committee's first such hearings in D.C. Even though Blackwell was already in town.

Yesterday, however, he finally showed up...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Same Models as Those Which Lost 4,400 Votes in NC!
Unusually High Rate of 'Undervotes' in both States on Same Machines.
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2005 7:11am PT  

After November 2nd, 2004, there were increasing reports from elections officials, small local papers, and, yes, bloggers who had bothered to studiously examine official election results, The New York Times published several articles labelling such concerns by Americans as "conspiracy theories".

So we sent them a list of "15 Unanswered Questions" --- all of them based on hard evidence --- that we'd hope they'd investigate and report on to the American people. That was on November 21st, 2004.

One of those questions concerned a single county in North Carolina which had used the UniLect voting machine and, as we reported on November 4th, 2004, had completely lost a full 4,438 votes. Those lost votes later spawned a Special Election in Cartaret County, NC to re-vote some of the local issues because of it.

We had asked suggested to The Times that such hard facts were hardly "conspiracy theories" and we had hoped they'd be able to investigate and report on which other states and counties had been using the identical UniLect machines which --- company officials admitted --- had contained memory chips that stored fewer votes than they had told state officials.

Since UniLect machines were also in use in Ohio, we thought it was a particularly germane point. But apparently The Times didn't agree. They neither investigated, nor reported on the matter to our knowledge.

And now, months after the election, and days after the inaugural, The Charlotte Observer reports this morning that the same model of UniLect machines used in North Carolina were also in use in Pennsylvania and seem to have lost votes there as well [emphasis added]:

Local and state officials in Pennsylvania are examining malfunctions and questions with voting machines in three counties --- the same model machine that lost more than 4,400 votes in North Carolina.

"We continue to be uncertain about these machines," said Michael Coulter, who heads an independent committee examining voting machine mishaps in Mercer County, Pa., where he said machines in 13 precincts erased some voters' choices.

Mercer County, as well as Beaver and Greene counties, along the Ohio border, use the Unilect Patriot voting machine, an electronic mechanism that does not produce a paper ballot and is the same model that lost 4,438 votes in Carteret County, along the N.C. coast.

As well as lost and erased votes, there was also an unusually high rate of "undervotes" on the Presidential ballot where those machines were in use [emphasis again added] ...

All three of the western Pennsylvania counties recorded a high percentage of "undervotes" for president, which is when a voter doesn't vote in that race. Mercer County's undervote was 7.8 percent, four times higher than in 2000, when they used old, lever machines.

In North Carolina, state lawmakers are scrutinizing why more than 10 percent of Burke County voters were recorded as not making a choice in the presidential race, an "undervote" rate that is four to five times as high as nearly all the other counties in the state. Burke and Carteret are the only N.C. counties that use Unilect machines.
...
[M]achines in 13 of Mercer's 100 precincts would let a voter select candidates in the races on several pages of the ballot and highlight the choice, but when the voter reached the sixth page the highlighting disappeared and all the candidates were unselected. The voter's choices had vanished.

"The voter's choices had vanished."

And we remind you again, The New York Times didn't find it necessary to look into which counties in Ohio used these same machines, if there were any lost votes or an unusually high rate of "undervotes" on them, presumably because such notions were simply the "conspiracy theories" of "leftist bloggers" as they had described them at the time.

That despite just 60,000 or so of 5.5 million in a single state (Ohio) which would have completely flipped a United States Presidential Election.

Repeating: Election officials and the voting machine manufacturer admit that 4,438 votes were entirely lost in just one North Carolina county where UniLect machines were used.

Repeating: UniLect machines were also in use in Ohio.

We will continue to press both the Mainstream Media, the States and the Voting Machine Companies to better serve the American Public whom they are failing to adequately serve at this time. But just in case you wonder why --- on January 23rd, 2005 --- this information is finally being reported by The Observer at all, it is because of inquiries in Pennsylvania that were demanded by the voters who spoke up, made noise, and created a petition to force their elected officials into taking action:

Their inquiry was prompted not by Election Day glitches, but by a petition sent by voters in Beaver County who suggested the machines were susceptible to fraud and tampering.

Your voice does matter. When you speak up.

We've set up VelvetRevolution.us to help you do that. Please visit and sign-up (it's free!), so you can speak up, make noise and take part in some upcoming actions that will be announced there in the coming weeks.

Count on no one but yourselves to make a difference.

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Letter just sent to Republican Majority Chairman!
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2005 1:31pm PT  

Nine Democratic House Judiciary Committee members (Conyers, Nadler, Scott, Lofgren, Jackson Lee, Meehan, Waters, Wexler, Schiff) have just requested that the committee "hold hearings and investigate the vital issue of protecting our citizens right to vote".

The text of their letter (without footnotes) to the Republican chair of the committee is as follows...

January 19, 2004

The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We write to you at the very outset of the 109th Congress, to request that our committee hold hearings and investigate the vital issue of protecting our citizens right to vote. The right to vote is the very foundation of our Democracy and is at the core of our Committee's jurisdiction, and we can think of no more important or urgent issue before us than protecting our democratic rights. While the election is settled, however, our job as legislators on the Judiciary Committee to make sure that the constitutional right to vote is protected is just beginning.

In congressional forums many of us participated in Washington D.C. and Columbus, Ohio, we learned of significant voter irregularities in Ohio. These irregularities are included in a 100 page report Mr. Conyers issued, and include the following:

� The misallocation of voting machines led to lines of ten hours or more that disenfranchised scores if not hundreds of thousands of predominantly minority and Democratic voters. In Franklin County, 27 of the 30 wards with the most machines per registered voter showed majorities for Bush, while six of the seven wards with the fewest machines delivered large margins for Kerry.

� The Ohio Republican Party's decision to engage in preelection �caging� tactics, selectively targeting 35,000 predominantly minority voters for intimidation had a negative impact on voter turnout. The Third Circuit found these activities to be illegal and in direct violation of consent decrees barring the targeting minority voters for poll challenges.

� The Ohio Republican Party's decision to utilize thousands of partisan challengers concentrated in minority and Democratic areas disenfranchised numerous legal voters, who were not only intimidated, but became discouraged by the long lines in the adverse weather. Shockingly, these disruptions were publicly predicted by Republican officials: Mark Weaver, a lawyer for the Ohio Republican Party, admitted the challenges �can't help but create chaos, longer lines and frustration.�

� Numerous instances of intimidation and misinformation occurred across the state of Ohio that would appear to violate the Voting Rights Act. For example, the NAACP stated that it received over 200 calls regarding incidents of suspected voter intimidation or unusual election related activities, particularly actions taken by challengers who intimidated poll workers and voters. Other specific incidents involved a caller who reported that someone was going door-to-door telling people they were not registered to vote. A voter in Franklin County received information in the mail identified as being from the state that said he would have to vote by provisional ballot because he had moved; in fact, the voter had not moved and had lived at the address for 10-15 years. One polling place worker was reportedly only asking African American voters for their address.

� In Franklin County, a worker at the Holiday Inn observed a team of 25 people who called themselves the �Texas Strike Force� using payphones to make intimidating calls to likely voters, targeting people recently in the prison system. The �Texas Strike Force� members hotel accommodations were apparently paid for by the Ohio Republican Party, whose headquarters is across the street. The hotel worker heard one caller threaten a likely voter with being reported to the FBI and returning to jail if he voted. Another hotel worker called the police, who came but did nothing. There were also reports of phone calls incorrectly informing voters that their polling place had changed.

� The Cleveland Plain Dealer found that several Lake County residents received an official-looking letter on Board of Elections letterhead informing them that their polling place had changed or that they were not properly registered to vote. A fake voter bulletin from Franklin County Board of Elections was posted at polling locations, and fliers were distributed in the inner city, telling Republicans to vote on Tuesday and Democrats to vote on Wednesday due to unexpected heavy voter registration.

� In Cleveland, the Washington Post reported that unknown volunteers began showing up at voters' doors illegally offering to collect and deliver complete absentee ballots to the election office. The Election Protection Coalition testified that in Franklin County, voters received fliers informing them that they could cast a ballot on November 3. Also, in Franklin County there were reports that about a dozen voters were contacted by someone claiming to be from the county board of elections, telling them their voting location was changed, and �door-hangers� telling African-American voters to go to the wrong precinct were distributed.

In our view, this course of events is not consistent with the right to vote as we understand it. The fact that many of these instances appear to be focused particularly on minority voters is all the more disheartening, and triggers even more clearly our jurisdiction involving civil rights.

We look forward to full and open hearings concerning these instances of disenfranchisement in Ohio and around the Nation. We very much would like to work with you and your staff to insure that allegations of improprieties by both Democrats and Republicans are looked into and considered.

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Senator's Office Confirms use of Great Seal in Fundraising Letter Violates FEDERAL Law!
(His Ohio STATE Law Violation in Letter is Last Week's News)
By Brad Friedman on 1/12/2005 1:10am PT  

It appears that Ohio Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell (who served as both the state's Election chief and Co-Chair of the state's Bush/Cheney Re-Elect Committee) may not only have violated Ohio state law by asking for illegal corporate contributions in a recent fundraising letter for his gubernatorial bid, but it appears that he may have broken the federal Rule of Law as well!

Blackwell's use of a facsimile of The Great Seal of the United States in his constituent fundraising letterhead and on its envelope (both shown in the graphic at the bottom of this article) is in apparent violation of Title 18 of the U.S. Code which states, according to an official U.S. State Department publication [PDF] available on its website, that "all* uses of the Great Seal and the design...are official"

The State Dept. document discusses the Great Seal, its history, and is quite clear on its illegal uses according to United States Code:

Title 18 of the U.S. Code, as revised in January 1971, prohibits use of the likeness of the Great Seal or any facsimile in...any advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet, or other publication, play, motion picture, telecast, or other production...for the purpose of conveying a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the U.S. Government under threat of a fine of not more than $250 or imprisonment of not more than 6 months, or both.

Though the version of the seal used by Blackwell, is modified in the slightest of ways from the official version of the seal (there is a solid ring around the official version, instead of ring of stars for example), the use of its "likeness" or "facsimile" clearly seems intended to endow his fundraising letter with the appearance of an official notice.

The seal, in its proper and legal use, is meant to convey the authority of the President of the United States, a fact which may raise the eyebrows of those who have suggested that alleged malfeasance in the Ohio elections by Blackwell was done in favor of his candidate and President, George W. Bush.

However, the official State Dept. document states, "The seal can be affixed only by an officer of the Department of State, under the authority of its custodian, the Secretary of State."

We will presume that refers to the United States Secretary of State, as opposed to the one from Ohio.

Further the State Department document discusses requests for uses of the seal for nonofficial business (which would seem to exclude candidates seeking funds for quixotic gubernatorial bids):

Requests To Use the Great Seal and Coat of Arms

All of these uses of the Great Seal die and the design, or coat of arms, are official. Often private, nonofficial requests to use one or the other come to the Department of State. The Great Seal can be affixed only as provided by law [P.L. 91-651, Title 18 USC], and impressions of the seal cannot be made for display purposes or in response to requests for souvenirs or samples. This position has been applied not only to impressions made from the present die but also to impressions from earlier dies still in existence.

The sorts of documents on which the seal may be used by the U.S. Secretary of State after countersigning along with the President of the United States include:

  • Instruments of ratification of treaties and other international agreements;
  • Proclamations of treaties and other international instruments;
  • Appointment commissions of ambassadors, Foreign Service officers, Cabinet officers, and all other civil officers appointed by the President whose commissions are not required by law to issue under another seal; and
  • Assignment commissions for consular officers.
  • Our work load of late has kept us from being able to contact Blackwell's office for comment on this second apparent disregard for the Rule of Law in a single fundraising letter. We hope, however, that other media outlets may be able to do so shortly, and The BRAD BLOG will report on any explanation Blackwell's office may have when and if they do.

    It should be noted that it was AP who originally reported on the letter's illegal request for corporate funds in violation of Ohio state law. Blackwell's campaign office attributed the illegal request to "a printers mistake." In that same article, Blackwell is quoted as saying, "I have an obligation to follow the law."

    It was, however, the Internet-only RAW STORY who exposed the letter originally even though AP failed to give them credit for their exclusive.

    An original scan of the controversial Blackwell letter, composed while the Ohio recount was still underway, can be seen at RAW STORY with both uses of the Great Seal facsimile.

    A text-only version of the full letter can be read in our earlier story on the matter.

    Ken Blackwell's conscience and regard for the Rule of Law are still elusive at this time.

    UPDATE: Confirming our report, Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ) office says use of Great Seal in campaign letter is illegal. RAW STORY has the story. Natch. Also, Stephen Koff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer seems to have been working on the same issue concurrently as The BRAD BLOG and they published their story on it this morning, which was in turn picked up by the Subscription-Only newsletter National Journal.

    A Blackwell representative is quoted in the reports as explaining that the seal is "official-enough looking to grab the letter recipient's attention" but "different enough to be legal."

    The Dept. of Justice would seem to disagree with that since they gave warnings about using the seal in this way to several Democrats and Republicans as many as 21 years ago according to the above reports. We'd urge you to read them both.

    As well, The BRAD BLOG has learned that that DoJ warning doesn't seem to have stopped the campaigns and PACS of J.C. Watts, Bob Barr and several others from using the fake seal recently on their own fundraising letters.

    One reporter with whom we spoke about this issue, when asked about the triviality of this apparently breach of Federal law has told us, "I have three words for you: 80-Pound Paper."

    UPDATE 1/14/05: HOUSE DEMS REQUEST DOJ CRIMINAL PROBE OF BLACKWELL! Requesting Special Prosecutor for Illegal Use of Great Seal as Originally Reported by BRAD BLOG! Click here for details!

    ReddIt this story!



    ...And other weekend points of note...
    By Brad Friedman on 12/11/2004 4:06pm PT  

    As you've likely imagined, I'm currently working on a number of items related to the Curtis/Feeney/Yang affair. Some small items I'll pop here shortly this evening, some larger fairly breathtaking items will be coming tomorrow or Monday. As well, I'm trying to get the original BradBlog.com moved over to a new server that can better handle the traffic so we can resume reporting back at home sweet home in the not too distant future.

    Because of all of that, I have been unable to give the proper attention to the affairs on the ground relating to the recount in Ohio.

    There have been some notable, and some disturbing developments over the last day or so however, and to that end, I associate myself with the good Mr. Joseph Cannon's coverage of some of those troubling events seeping out of the Buckeye State...

    Another lockdown in Ohio. The Ohio recount effort quickly ran into an obstacle, and his name is Ken Blackwell. From the Ohio Election Fraud site:

    On Friday December 10 two certified volunteers for the Ohio Recount team assigned to Greene County were in process recording voting information from minority precincts in Greene County, and were stopped mid-count by a surprise order from Secretary of State Blackwell's office. The Director Board of Elections stated that "all voter records for the state of Ohio were "locked-down," and now they are not considered public records."

    A voter record is not public? How can a recount take place without access to the data?

    A poll book, apparently, was physically yanked out of the hands of a recount volunteer.

    Ohio Revised Code Title XXXV Elections, Sec. 3503.26 that requires all election records to be made available for public inspection and copying. ORC Sec. 3599.161 makes it a crime for any employee of the Board of Elections to knowingly prevent or prohibit any person from inspecting the public records filed in the office of the Board of Elections. Finally, ORC Sec. 3599.42 clearly states: "A violation of any provision of Title XXXV (35) of the Revised Code constitutes a prima facie case of election fraud within the purview of such Title."

    Blackwell's outrageous attempt to impede a legal recount not only makes him a candidate for what used to be called "the big house," he has also created further grounds for a revote. The law is there; only the political will to enforce it remains missing.

    Alas, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro seems to be a Republican ideologue; don't expect anything from an elephant except elephant crap. Perhaps we will get better results from the lawsuit Democrats filed against Blackwell.

    It gets worse: A recount volunteer named Katrina Sumner told a writer at Democratic Underground that the Board of Elections offices were kept unlocked during last night's "lockdown." Someone must have made his way into the place, because in the morning she found that a light was on that had not been on the night before.

    A janitor? Maybe. Even so, we can't rest easily knowing that anyone could have walked in and tampered with the evidence.

    Check back for more soon...

    [Originally published at BRAD BLOG TOO while The BRAD BLOG server was down.
    Comments left by readers on the original article can be read at the above link.]
    ReddIt this story!



    By Brad Friedman on 11/23/2004 1:37pm PT  

    Predictably, the promised "Did E-Voting Work?" coverage from CNN's Judy Woodruff didn't add much to what we've already covered here. The only notable issue is that she discussed the GAO investigation reported in the previous item here and other concerns about E-Voting, as well as giving a mention to the up-coming Ohio Recount and the quarrels about thereof. Reporting on those items at all on CNN is a step up at least! So we'll take that as a luke-warmish good sign. (CNN's report on the GAO Investigation is now online. Woodruff's report on video is here.)

    In the meantime, real reporter Erica Solvig of the Cincinnati Enquirer slightly advances the Mysterious Goings-On in Warren County where you'll recall, unlike any other county in all of Ohio, all media were locked out from witnessing the vote tallying on Election Night. Warren County was amongst the last to report their results and one of the top Bush counties in Ohio. The reason given by Election Officials for the lockout was due to "terror warnings" they were said to have received from FBI/Homeland Security officials. It turns out the FBI has denied giving any such warnings to anybody in Ohio.

    In today's Enquirer Solvig reports that the lockout was planned in advance:

    County Commissioner Pat South has said the decision to lock the doors election night was made during an Oct. 28 closed-door meeting (the Thursday before Election Day). But in e-mailed memos dated Oct. 25 and Oct. 26 - released Monday after an Enquirer public records request - other county officials were already detailing the security measures, down to the wording of signs that would be posted on the locked doors.

    Not sure what we learn from that, other than the plan to lock-out reports was made in advance and Election Officials have been inaccurate about even that. Still no word on why it was all done at all, but hopefully Solvang will keep digging!

    ReddIt this story!



    Need $113,000 to pay for it!
    Paging Mr. Soros...Paging Mr. Soros...
    By Brad Friedman on 11/11/2004 4:10pm PT  

    In a bit of exciting news (which also tends on personal-level to give me some confidence that I I voted correctly), Green Party presidential candidate, David Cobb --- who was on the ballot in all 50 states, I'm sure you're surprised to learn --- and Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik will likely be calling for a full recount in the state of Ohio!

    KPFK (90.7 FM in Los Angeles) broke the news yesterday in an interview with Mr. Cobb...

    Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb declared that in all likelihood he would demand a recount of all the votes in the Presidential election in the state of Ohio. Since David Cobb's name appeared on the Ohio ballot, it is his legal right to ask for a statewide recount.
    ...
    In order for a statewide recount to proceed in Ohio, candidate Cobb will have to raise approximately $113,000; or ten dollars per precinct. The deadline to demand a recount occurs after the State's results are deemed official by Ohio's Secretary of State, which won't take place for a few days.

    The full radio interview can be heard here...

    They have issued a Press Release on the matter this morning with further details.

    Well, this could be it folks! As a presidential candidates in Ohio, Cobb and Badnark are within their rights to demand a recount! And I'd hope that there's enough folks with a few dollars left in their pockets to cover those costs for the Ohio recount!

    This is big (and very encouraging) news for a number of reasons, the least of which will be the ability to give all of the many punch-card ballots in the state a fresh look.

    One of the stories I haven't covered here, while many others have, is Greg Palast's "Kerry Won..." article. Palast discussed the sizeable number of potentially "spoiled" ballots that were not counted for Kerry in Ohio during the initial count. A recount, and I don't know yet if that means it'll be a "manual" recount or not, may likely shake out as many as 93,000 possible new Kerry votes (by Palasts reckoning anyway). It's unlikely that all of the spoiled ballots would go for Kerry, of course, many are likely for Bush, or have no vote or more than one vote on them and "spoiled" for good reason. But the idea of a carefully monitored recount is good news by any definition.

    (Perhaps we'll even get to figure out what the hell went on in Warren County on Election Night!)

    On this blog, I've mainly been focusing on the many computer-related counting errors and/or possible cases of fraud, since those are the issues that I find most haunting as the country moves towards its mandated 2006 deadline for all-electronic voting. So, I've not bothered to point out the more speculative nature of reports like Palast's until now, because until a re-count possibility came into play, his theory was mostly unprovable speculation. That may all now be changing...

    DONATIONS can be made for the recount to either of the following sites. They're working together...Can you imagine that?!:

  • David Cobb's website: www.votecobb.org
  • Michael Badnarik's website: www.badnarik.org
  • Third parties are good for America...don't ya think?

    UPDATE: 11/15/04 Recount fundraising goal has been met! Now seeking funds for "mobilization" costs and also volunteers to serve as "recount witnesses"! Click here for more info...

    ReddIt this story!



    The Higher the Vote Turnout, the Fewer Votes for Kerry!
    Go figure!
    By Brad Friedman on 11/10/2004 4:54pm PT  

    There's been much talk about the 97,489 more votes than voters cast in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. A plausible explanation for the huge difference between votes and actual voters, as reported via the Cuyahoga County website), is being attributed by County Officials to the strange method they have for including absentee ballots into the vote counts separately from the Election Day voters. Or something.

    So setting that oddity aside for the moment, take a look at this interesting graph. I have not been able to confirm the specific numbers it shows, so I can't testify to it's accuracy, but I'm posting it here because, if accurate, this seems worth getting out to the world for further scrutiny.

    Though it's difficult to read this small, the trend-lines are all that really matter here (The full sized graph is here).

    If correct, this graph would seem to show that precinct-by-precinct in Cuyahoga County, Ohio --- where Cleveland is, and thus it's a heavily Democratic county --- the larger the turnout in each precinct, the smaller the percentage of the vote for Kerry!

    The GREEN trend line is the size of voter turnout in each precinct, and the BLUE trend line is the percentage of votes for Kerry.

    While conventional wisdom is often wrong, if the above numbers are accurate, it does seem a bit odd to say the least that the higher the turnout in a strongly Democratic county (Kerry won Cuyahoga 63%-33% if I recall correctly), would result in a smaller percentage of votes for the Democrat!

    I don't know what to make of it, or how to explain it, but it seems worth putting out there for the armchair investigators.

    UPDATE: I was asked what the balloting/counting methods are in Cuyahoga County. Apparently punch card, as counted by machines made by our old friends at ...Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S). Source

    ReddIt this story!



    By Brad Friedman on 11/10/2004 4:25pm PT  

    Apparently this story appeared last Friday, but I missed it. I'm trying to keep all of these stories straight, report them only once, and attempt to confirm them before passing them on.

    In this case, as many as 22,000 miscounted votes were caught in time to reverse the results of two different races in state races in North Carolina according to the Charlotte Observer.

    Agriculture, education races change as counties fix vote-tally errors

    The Guilford totals didn't change President Bush's win in the state, but did shift the vote total by 22,000.

    Please remember the announced margin of "victory" for Bush in Ohio was about 135,000 in a state of 5.5 million. How many of these types of errors went undetected and/or unreported in Ohio?

    How many more of these types of articles do you we need, folks? The system is a disaster, and Congress is sitting on their hands waiting for the Electoral College deadline to pass.

    Sign this online letter now if you haven't already! And this one too!

    ReddIt this story!



    Apparently, it's up to us to find the answers.
    (Sshhh...Don't wake media.)
    By Brad Friedman on 11/9/2004 9:25pm PT  

    Excellent and cogent analysis and action items concerning Florida and the Exit Polls from Ian Welsch over at BOP. Please give it a look and see if you can help.

    I would add one further question/action item to Ian's list. It would be useful to learn what type of counting machine was in use in Broward County when it began subtracting votes from the tally, due to a bug in the software, and what other counties in Florida and/or the rest of the country used the same machine and software. 70,000 votes were "found" in that incident, and a local initiative overturned with the discovery of them.

    The code used in these machines is not written separately for each individual machine that I know of. If the error occurred once in Broward (and was reportedly noticed), where else did it also occur and not get noticed?

    Ditto for the UniElect machine in North Carolina that entirely lost at least 7,000 votes in a single county because it's memory chip only held 3005 votes instead of the 10,000 that manufacturer UniLect had promised. Where else was the same type of computer in use? I know Ohio used UniLect machines, and they reported unfixable problems with them on Election Day, but I haven't been able to tell if they were the same type as those in North Carolina.

    (It must be up to us to figure this crap out, because the MSM is enjoying their well-deserved nap.)

    ReddIt this story!



    All Media Locked out of Counting due to
    Warren County Bush Vote Nearly Highest in State!
    By Brad Friedman on 11/8/2004 9:36pm PT  

    Citing "homeland security concerns", Warren County, OH was alone in locking out media from their counting of ballots on Election Night. They were amongst the last to report their tallies that night, and according to Ohio's Election Night website Warren County ended up having the highest percentage of Bush votes amongst all of Ohio counties that had a total vote turnout greater than 22,500.

  • Warren 92,251 votes - Bush: 72.1% Kerry: 27.53%
  • There were only four counties with a higher percentage vote for Bush, and they all had 22,279 voters or less:

  • Mercer 20,058 votes - Bush: 74.89% Kerry: 24.55%
  • Putnam 18,631 votes - Bush: 76.20% Kerry: 23.34%
  • Holmes 10,976 votes - Bush: 75.61% Kerry: 23.89%
  • Auglaize 22,279 votes - Bush: 73.78% Kerry: 25.71%
  • So what happened that night in Warren County when all of America was waiting for the counting to finish in Ohio to decide the election? Why was it the only county in all of Ohio where media was not allowed to witness the counting?

    The Cincinnati Enquirer explained it this way:

    Citing concerns about potential terrorism, Warren County officials locked down the county administration building on election night and blocked anyone from observing the vote count as the nation awaited Ohio's returns.

    County officials say they took the action Tuesday night for homeland security, although state elections officials said they didn't know of any other Ohio county that closed off its elections board. Media organizations protested, saying it violated the law and the public's rights. The Warren results, delayed for hours because of long lines that extended voting past the scheduled close of polls, were part of the last tallies that helped clinch President Bush's re-election.

    "The media should have been permitted into the area where there was counting," Enquirer attorney Jack Greiner said. "This is a process that should be done in complete transparency and it wasn't."

    Warren County Emergency Services Director Frank Young said he had recommended increased security based on information received from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in recent weeks.

    Commissioners made the security decisions in a closed-door meeting last week, but didn't publicize the restrictions that were made until after polls closed.
    ...
    Typically, the Warren County commissioners' room is set up as a gathering place for people to watch the votes come in. But that wasn't done this year.
    ...
    A representative of The Associated Press, which had stringers at every Ohio board of elections site, said no such election-night access problems were reported outside of Warren County.

    It's ashame both Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are apparently now dead, isn't it?

    UPDATE: MSNBC is reporting that "the federal government" was involved in the lock-down!:

    the decision got more dubious still when County Commissioners confirmed that they were acting on the advice of their Emergency Services Director, Frank Young. Mr. Young had explained that he had been advised by the federal government to implement the measures for the sake of Homeland Security.

    Connect. The. Dots. People.

    UPDATE: 11/10/04 5:5pm PT Keith Olbermann of MSNBC's Countdown --- virtually the only major media organization giving this story the coverage it deserves --- has just reported that both the FBI and the Homeland Security Dept. have denied giving warnings in Ohio to anybody about anything. That would be contrary to the claims made in this report which quotes a letter from the President of the Elections Board in Warren explaining that the lockdown was due to warnings they'd recieved from the FBI. The letter says in part:

    In a face to face meeting between the FBI and our director of Emergency Services, we were informed that on a scale from 1 to 10, the tri-state area of Southwest Ohio was ranked at a high 8 to a low 9 in terms of security risk. Warren County in particular, was rated at 10 (with 10 being the highest risk).

    Okay. So now who's telling the truth? And why did they lock down Warren County and, unlike every other county in Ohio, disallow reporters from witnessing the vote tallying?

    UPDATE: 11/23/04 Cincinnati Enquirer, the paper which broke the Warren County Lockdown story originally, reports that the county had been planning the action for at least a week prior to the election. Details...

    ReddIt this story!



    Troubling Evidence is Beginning to Mount!
    By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2004 5:38pm PT  

    Folks are beginning to pay attention, guys!

    Wired Magazine is now reporting that three Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee are now calling for an investigation of the troubling incidents that we've been reporting concerning irregularities in Tuesday's vote counting!:

    Three congressmen sent a letter to the General Accounting Office on Friday requesting an investigation into irregularities with voting machines used in Tuesday's elections.

    The congressmen, Democratic members of the House of Representatives from Florida, New York and Michigan, cited a number of incidents that came to light in the days after the election. One was a glitch in Ohio that caused a memory card reader made by Danaher Controls to give George W. Bush 3,893 more votes than he should have received. Another was a problem with memory cards in North Carolina that caused machines made by UniLect to lose 4,500 votes cast on e-voting machines. The votes were lost when the number of votes cast on the machines exceeded the capacity of the memory cards.

    There were also problems with machines that counted absentee ballots in Florida. Software made by Election Systems & Software began subtracting votes when totals surpassed 32,000. Officials said the problem affected only certain countywide races on one of the last pages of the ballot. Elections officials knew about the problem two years ago, but the company failed to fix the software before the election this year.

    Reports from voters in Florida and Ohio also indicated that some of them had problems voting for the candidate of their choice. When they tried to vote for John Kerry, they said, the machine either wouldn't register the vote at all or would indicate on the review page that the vote was cast for Bush instead.

    Click for complete story...

    Keep up the noise, guys! They're starting to listen! I've had other unconfirmed reports about both Dems and the Kerry campaign beginning to take notice of all of this as well!

    UPDATE: House Judiciary Committee Letter to GAO, as mentioned above, available here in PDF format. (Hat tip "Shari H-D" for the link!)

    ReddIt this story!



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