Thursday, September 01, 2005

Ever since the election, mainstream media has discounted notions of voter tampering and steadfastly assured the public exit polls showing Kerry leading in both Ohio and Florida were simply dead wrong.

It was quite simple: Females were overcounted; Dixiecrats from Florida were not considered; most late voters were Republicans; youth votes never materialized; and the nanny goat actually ate the electronic ballots.

Well as the gods of rigged election would have it, two Cuyahoga County election officials were indicted on Tuesday, giving proof that all was not as copacetic as initially reported.

According to The Plain Dealer in Ohio, Kathleen Dreamer and Rosie Orier, two supervisors with the board of election from Cuyahoga County, were charged with six-count indictments for not following Ohio recount laws.

The article reports criminal charges followed an initial investigation started by a formal complaint from Ohio attorney Richard Kerger of Toledo, who represented Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik and Green Party candidate David Cobb.

Kerger had charged in his motion that “election officials failed to randomly select precincts that were supposed to be counted by hand and compared against ballots tabulated by machine; conduct test-runs before witnesses; and investigate discrepancies.”

After an in-depth investigation, Erie County prosecutor Kevin J. Baxter agreed accusations were justified by facts and indicted the two employees.

Interestingly, The Plain Dealer had been one of the first leading papers to try to dispel conspiracy theories about the election.

During last year’s contest, a little known Democratic black candidate for the Ohio Supreme Court had amassed more votes than her party’s presidential candidate: “10,000 net votes or more in five Ohio counties and 5,000 or more in ten others.”In one county alone, she received 45,000 more votes.

But any discrepancy was rationalized by the big elephant in the living room, or as it were, Republican talking points.

The Plain Dealer duly recited official party line that “ballots cast” had not exceed registered voters in Cuyahoga County. Something about tally pages displaying numbers from other “municipalities” or something equally insoluble.

Anne Applebaum, columnist from the Washington Post, weighed in with reassurances that electronic voting was as safe as banking online or using an ATM machine.

Why request a receipt, she asked, when the exercise was not worth the bother…? Demands for paper trails were only for conspiracy theorists of the tin-foil crowd.

But Anne get your gun; your money from the ATM machine may be gone!

Baxter told reporters that Ohio “officials [had taken] ‘measures in order to all but assure that there would not be a countywide hand count.’” And thus no way to track whether voting had been on the up and up or not.

With the indictments, Baxter notes the investigation will now close.

But inquiring minds are still left to wonder whether any high-level officials such as, I dunno...the director or deputy director might've had more than a little something to do with this episode.

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