As The BRAD BLOG has been reporting for months, the recount of the 2004 Ohio Presidential Election was gamed by Ohio elections officials and voting machine company employees who violated state laws requiring a random recount of precincts in order to determine if a hand recount of entire counties would be necessary.
Reports that county officials and voting machine companies colluded to assure the hand recount would match with the initial machine recount have been reported for months and yesterday the first indictments were handed down.
Kathleen Dreamer, manager of the board's ballot department, and the assistant manager, Rosie Grier, were each charged with six counts of failing to follow Ohio laws that spell out how ballots are selected and reviewed during a recount.
The most serious charges carry a maximum of 18 months in prison.
Erie County Prosecutor Kevin J. Baxter conducted the investigation at the behest of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, who recused himself from the case because his office represents the elections board.
The charges stem from a complaint first raised last December by Toledo lawyer Richard Kerger, who watched over the recount on behalf of two third-party candidates.
Kerger charged that elections officials failed to randomly select precincts that were supposed to be counted by hand and compared against ballots tabulated by a machine; conduct test-runs before witnesses; and investigate discrepancies between vote totals.
Baxter would not offer details of his investigation but said he examined allegations that officials took "measures in order to all but assure that there would not be a countywide hand count."
Amongst the reports on this matter that The BRAD BLOG has carried since last November, is the case of Hocking County election board worker Sherole Eaton, who filed a sworn affidavit that an employee from voting machine company, Triad had offered a "cheat sheet" to her and other county officials on how the recount might be carried off to assure the entire county would not need to be recounted by hand. He also allegedly removed and restored a harddrive from the county's central tabulating machine prior to the recount, according to Eaton, also in violation of Ohio state law. Eaton is currently challenging her firing as improprer.
Ohio law calls for a random selection of 3% of a county's precincts to be carried out by hand. If that random recount doesn't match the initially reported count, a full recount of the county would then be necessary. Eaton was subsequently fired from the board after making her claim public (our BRAD SHOW interview with Eaton is here [mp3]).
As well, RAW STORY had reported last January that several recount witnesses had testified to stickers having been placed over Kerry/Edwards votes on ballots before they were fed into vote tabulators during the recount in that county. (Our BRAD SHOW interview with two of those witnesses, Stephen Spraley and Eric Gifford, is here [mp3]).
(Hat tip Ray Beckerman!)