Posted in it's entirety on Democratic Underground First Fitrakis sets the stage:
In Farhad Manjoo's "Was the 2004 Election Stolen? No" he claims Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s article in Rolling Stone contains "numerous errors of interpretation and his deliberate omission of key bits of data." As an Election Protection legal observer in Columbus and one of the four attorneys who challenged the Ohio election results, I was struck by Manjoo's own numerous errors of fact and deliberate omissions of widely-known studies and data.
And now with the bona fides out of the way - he gets to the meat... over the flip.
Crossposted on Truth 2 Power
In his first claim that the Ellen Connally anomaly, where an under-funded retired municipal judge from Cleveland ran ahead of Kerry in rural southwestern counties fails to indicate vote-shifting from Kerry to Bush, Manjoo deliberately omits several well-known facts. The obvious fact on record is that Democratic nominee Al Gore pulled his campaign out of the state six weeks prior to the 2000 election while Kerry and his 527 organization supporters spent the largest amount of money in Ohio history. So to compare the non-Gore campaign in 2000 to the massive Democratic effort in 2004 seems disingenuous. Moreover, Manjoo conveniently ignores the fact that sample ballots were everywhere in the state of Ohio and voters in these rural counties were repeatedly mailed and handed both party's sample ballots. There were large and active campaigns in the key counties in question - Butler, Clermont, and Warren - passing out Republican and Democratic sample ballots. This is a major omission. Also, Manjoo might actually want to do some research on the amount of money Eric Fingerhut spent vs. John Kerry. Fingerhut's major effort was walking across the state of Ohio because he didn't have any funds. Hardly Kerry's problem.
Just how easy is it to switch votes around using punched cards (or "inka-vote" for that matter)? Pretty darn easy.
By the way, it is easy to shift votes on punchcard machines due to the ballot rotation law in Ohio. For instance, the hole to punch for Kerry would be "4" in one precinct and the hole to punch for Bush would be "4" in the next precinct. Public records reveal that in key southwest Ohio counties, ballots were counted at the county level, not the precinct level, to save money on counting machines. Thus, all one has to do is shift Kerry cards to a Bush tabulating machine to get a shift. There was more than enough time to do this, when votes came in during the wee hours of the morning. In fact, when we finally got to look at the ballots from four precincts in Warren County, we were surprised to discover that two the pink "header" cards used to separate precinct ballots had holes punched for Bush.
On Kos the discussion of Ohio election law grew quite heated - and Fitrakis seems to feel that Manjoo was quite lacking in this area.
It appears Manjoo knows very little about Ohio election law. As a licensed attorney in the state and involved in the practice of election law, I'm stunned by the obvious errors that Manjoo makes. The purges in
Ohio were, in fact, deliberate, and they occurred in Democratic strongholds. Cuyahoga County records indicate 24.93% of all voters in Cleveland were purged between the 2000 and 2004 election. Census data indicates that most of the people who move in urban areas move within the county, which would make them still eligible to vote under Ohio law, and not be purged. What Manjoo leaves out is the standard practice by counties, which would have moved these individuals to "inactive" status before purging them. Additionally, numerous surveys as well as reports by the Toledo Blade and other newspapers reveal that many of these people had voted in local elections or had contacted their county board of elections, which under voting directives indicates activity. This activity would prevent them from being purged.
This also addresses a question that came to my mind as a poll worker for the last several elections - some of the purges in Democratic districts appear to have been at best borderline legal under the "inactive voter" rules -- but where similar purges also done in non-Democratic areas? The end result of these purges, legal or not, wouldn't have been that someone couldn't vote it would caused them to vote provisionally, and for their vote to possibly be counted only if it could be verified that they didn't try to vote twice, and that they were in fact a legitimate voter. With Democratic districts specifically targeted for purging this additional provision ballot step, which also tends to slow down the entire voting process and contribute to longer lines, wouldn't have been required as frequently in rural/Republican areas. Democrats who hadn't moved out of the county, were wrongly purged without first being placed in "Inactive" status or who had voted in the last four years but hadn't been removed from "Inactive" status would have lost votes both to unverified provisional ballots and to increased wait time in those precincts.
But again, we return to the question - were Democratic areas targeted for purging while Republican areas were ignored?
Yes, there was the deliberate purging in the Democratic strongholds indeed. The Toledo Blade reports 28,000 voters purged from the Democratic stronghold of Toledo in late August 2004. Perhaps Manjoo should make it a practice to do a Lexus Nexus search prior to attacking people for omitting data. The key here is that it is standard for counties to purge in odd-number years, 2001, 2003, etc. Manjoo also ignores the fact that 95.12% of all the provisional voters in Hamilton County came from the Democratic city of Cincinnati, where only 32% of the county's voters resided. Less than 5% of the provisional ballots were handed out in the lily-white suburbs. Perhaps Manjoo has a hard time imagining a man of Karl Rove's high standards targeting black and poor voters.
For those of you keeping score - more provisional ballots mean more people who tried to vote, but weren't listed in the official roster. Me thinks we've found validation for the problem, and the deliberate targeting of Democrats.
Speaking of the long lines...
Manjoo's claim that the missing voting machines did not impact the African American communities is bizarre and laughable. As an election observer who witnessed lines at 9 inner-city African American precincts, I counted an average of 80 voters leaving per hour without voting in precinct after precinct. I have my logs from that day, if Manjoo would care to see them. I find Manjoo's comments both preposterous and possibly racist. The reality is, Franklin County needed 5000 machines. They went into the election with 2886, but they only put out 2741 on Election Day. I have in my possession a document that shows 125 machines that had been previously allocated, but were blackout out and held back on Election Day - all 125 from the Democratic stronghold of Columbus. Forty-two percent of the African American wards had machines held back at the last second. This constitutes 74% of all the majority African American wards in Franklin County.
It's at this point that Bob start to the serious smack-down.
Perhaps if Manjoo had actually called and asked for the documents, he may have had a better perspective. Mark Crispin Miller, Rolling Stone and Bobby Kennedy all verified their facts before they wrote their pieces. Election Protection volunteers, attorneys and eyewitnesses have yet to hear from Mr. Manjoo. Perhaps this is a new style of investigative reporting. As an award-winning investigative reporter, I'm also quite interested in how salon.com fact checks their writers.
And lastly, on the issue of whether the Democratic and African-American Chair of the Franklin County Election Board is at fault for the failure to allocate the proper amount of voting machines.
While Manjoo's errors are legion and will clearly pass into infamy, one of his most absurd is pretending that Bill Anthony, the Franklin County Board of Elections Chair, had anything to do with the actual allocation of the machines. The allocation of voting machines was drawn up by Matt Damschroder, the Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections. Manjoo actually, in a major error, refers to Damschroder, as the Chair of the Election Board. Manjoo incorrectly cites both Anthony and Damschroder as chairs of the Franklin County Board of Elections. Under Ohio law, there's only one Chair and Damschroder has never been chair. I'm surprised that Manjoo would make an error of this magnitude. Anthony is the Chair. The Board he chairs deals with general policy matters. Damschroder is the Director who deals with the nuts and bolts of Election Day activity.
Oops...As I had predicted last week the impending Swiftboating of RKF Jr. is well under way, and we have to fight back with every tool available. Tonight RFK Jr. is scheduled to appear on Colbert, and we should be well ready and factually armed.