By Indy Media
Mar 18, 2008
By Egan Orion. From TheInquirer.net
Alerted by Ohio's Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, Franklin County election officials have ordered the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation to seize as an official crime scene some 15 touch-screen voting machines that had produced improbable results in a state-wide 2006 election.
In addition, a bogus Homeland Security Alert that led to 2004 general election vote counting shenanigans in a key southwestern Ohio county is under renewed investigation. It is well documented and widely believed that numerous election "irregularities" orchestrated by J. Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's former Secretary of State, succeeded in stealing Ohio's 20 electoral votes for George W. Bush in 2004, delivering to him an undeserved, catastrophic second term as President ['allegedly', adds our legal department].
When Brunner voted in 2006, she noticed that the voting machine displayed " candidate withdrawn" where the name of Jay Perez, a candidate for Franklin County Municipal Judge, might have appeared. Her husband, voting nearby, told her that Perez's name did appear on the voting machine that he had used.
Perez had withdrawn because he didn't want to become a spoiler for a fellow Democratic candidate, but the fact that his name did appear on some voting machines might have helped the Republican David Tyack prevail. Some of the touch-screen voting machines manufactured by Election Systems & Software (ES&S) apparently left Perez's name in the race while other machines did not.
Ohio Attorney General Mark Dann is conducting an investigation of the seized ES&S voting machines, but Brunner fears that the state might never find out what happened. In an interview, she told the Columbus Dispatch, "This is a huge problem. There is great concern that not every voter has the same ballot."
Brunner has said that she is banning poll workers from taking easily hacked, programmable touch-screen voting machines home with them overnight prior to election day, a practice quaintly termed "sleepovers" by election personnel.
The ES&S touch-screen voting machines have been mishandled in other ways.
Franklin County elections staff failed to perform mandated tests on each voting machine in 2006, instead testing just one machine at random in each precinct.
Also, a Board of Elections programmer had turned off the audit logs on the seized voting machines in April 2007, thus preventing state investigators from reconstructing software changes. Dennis White, new Franklin County Board of Elections Director, said that an ES&S employee told the Board programmer how to disable the audit logs, supposedly to speed programming. Brunner said that other voting machine vendors told her that "You're never supposed to tell [a client] how to do that."
A Democrat who succeeded Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell as Secretary of State, Brunner has also promised to move the entire state to voting on paper ballots, a change that many Republican dominated Boards of Elections are stubbornly resisting. She has so far succeeded in forcing Boards of Elections chairs to resign in Cleveland and Columbus, two of the state's largest cities.
Franklin County Board of Elections Director Matt Damschroder was removed prior to Ohio's 2008 primary election. He had previously been suspended for a month without pay for accepting a $10,000 Republican campaign contribution check from a voting machine salesman at his office.
The check was delivered on the day Ohio's electronic voting machine contracts were opened for bidding. Damschroder had been the chair of the Franklin County Republican Party and was the state's leading opponent of paper balloting until he was forced out.
If Brunner is successful in shifting Ohio to paper ballot voting, she realises that poll workers will need additional training. When she requested a paper ballot to vote in the March 4 primary, an inadequately trained poll worker handed her a provisional ballot instead. Two of her staff were also given the wrong ballots.
Elsewhere, a suspiciously convenient and phony Homeland Security Alert during the 2004 election is coming under renewed scrutiny in Warren County.
The Cincinnati Enquirer has reported that a so-called "casual conversation" between a "friendly" FBI agent and the county emergency services director might have led to the phony Homeland Security Alert that gave the Warren County Board of Elections an excuse to lock down its counting of votes, out of sight of the public and the media, during the 2004 election.
The Board declared the emergency and then moved the county's ballots from the publicly designated vote tabulation centre to a unauthorised warehouse nearby where it barred the public and media from observing the vote counting.
Warren County outside Cincinnati delivered 72 per cent of the official vote count to Bush, far beyond expectations. Along with the neighbouring Butler and Clermont counties, Warren County handed George W. Bush a combined lead of 140,000 popular votes.
That was more than the 119,000 vote margin by which Bush allegedly won the Ohio election, its 20 electoral votes and another term in the White House.