While Democratic Party supporters celebrate their success in
Ohio, where their statewide candidates won four out of five executive offices
and they now control both the U.S. House and Senate, they are ignoring massive
and verifiable irregularities in the 2006 election. Similar irregularities --
including missing votes, undervotes and overvotes -- may come back to haunt the
Democrats in the 2008 general election.
The only statewide partisan loss for the Democrats was also
the closest contest. Republican Mary Taylor defeated Democrat Barbara Sykes for
State Auditor by an official vote of 50.64 percent to 49.36 percent. Taylor
prevailed by 48,826 votes. The Columbus Dispatch's final poll, usually the most
accurate in the state for candidate races, predicted Sykes would win by 10
An analysis by the Free Press documents massive
discrepancies between the unofficial turnout reported by Ohio Secretary of
State J. Kenneth Blackwell immediately following the election and the official
general election turnout numbers reported in December 2006. These discrepancies
may help explain Sykes' unexpected loss.
In Cuyahoga County, which contains the Democratic stronghold
of Cleveland, immediately following the election 562,498 votes were reported
cast with 30,791 listed as absentee or provisional ballots. The official
results show 468,056 counted in Cuyahoga. This means that 94,442 ballots cast
in the unofficial total disappeared in the official tallies. This represents a
shocking 16.8 percent of all the votes cast in Cuyahoga.
Sykes won 62 percent of the vote in Cuyahoga County.
Cuyahoga County uses the controversial Diebold touchscreen
voting machines. These machines suffered a notorious meltdown in the 2006
primary where many machines malfunctioned and an Election Science Institute
(ESI) report documented significant differences between votes actually cast on
the machines as opposed to counted.
Similarly in Lucas County, another Democratic stronghold,
17,351 votes disappeared (10.6 percent of the total vote) between the
unofficial and official turnout numbers. An analysis by Dr. Richard Hayes
Phillips indicates that Taylor, a first-time statewide office seeker, ran
significantly ahead of Republican incumbent candidates Mike Dewine and Betty
Montgomery, in the Senate and attorney general races respectively.
Other counties with significant and unexplained loss of
votes include: Auglaize (15.7 percent), Coshocton (14.1 percent), Jackson (11.3
percent), Licking (14.1 percent), Morrow (17.4 percent), and Tuscarawas (11.7
percent). In these less populated counties, Democratic gubernatorial candidate
Ted Strickland won in five out of six and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate
Sherrod won in four out of the six.
Normally, the official total vote tally increases as
provisional ballots are added to the unofficial total. For example, Franklin
County had 342,958 votes unofficially with 46,458 provisionals and a few late
overseas absentee ballots. The official Franklin County result was 385,863
votes cast, a pickup of 42,905 ballots once the provisionals were counted.
Eleven of Ohio's 88 counties reported this anomaly of fewer votes in the
official total than the unofficial total.
Other election anomalies that bear further investigation are
six counties with improbable undervote percentages in the U.S. Senate race. On
average in Ohio, 3.9 percent of the ballots contained an "undervote,"
meaning no vote was cast in the Senate race. But, in the Senate race there were
significant undervote totals: Adams County had 14.1 percent; Darke County had
13.5 percent; Highland had 13.8 percent; Mercer had 11.2 percent; Montgomery
had 13.8 percent; and Perry had 16.3 percent. The city of Dayton is in
Montgomery County where more than 30,000 ballots recorded no vote for Senate,
Brown won 53 percent of the vote in Montgomery County.
In comparison with the undervote in the well-known District
13 race in Sarasota, Florida, the undervote was 18,382.
In the Sykes race, the undervote for auditor in Cuyahoga
County was 10.7 percent. Undervotes were 8.3 percent of the total vote in Lucas
County. Skyes' undervote total in these Democratic havens should have been
examined along with the bizarre unofficial vs. official vote totals in these
The state auditor's office in Ohio has enormous power to
investigate and root out official corruption involving public funds. Many
critics of Republican Party scandals in Ohio have pointed to the GOP's control
of the state auditor's office as the key to delaying and minimizing public
Franklin County and the Squire challenge
Although the election numbers are stranger in Cuyahoga and
Lucas counties for the Democrats, an election contest complaint filed in the
Franklin County Court of Appeals by Judge Carol Squire documents in great
detail the problem with electronic voting machines based on the results of her
2006 race. Incumbent Squire filed the action on December 22 after losing by
13,064 votes to Chris Geer for a seat on the County Court of Common Pleas.
The action seeks to "declare invalid and set
aside" Squire's loss. The complaint requests a full evidentiary hearing.
Squire hired Dr. Rebecca Mercuri, president and chief
technical officer of Notable Software, Inc. as an expert witness and
investigator. The former Bryn Mawr computer science professor holds a Ph.D. in
computer and informational science from the School of Engineering and Applied
Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Mercuri's sworn affidavit contains
detailed criticisms of the Franklin County Board of Elections (BOE) and its
conduct of the 2006 election. Her sworn statements include the following:
precincts were unable to close "due to problems with printers, machine
malfunctions, infrared readers, PEBs [personal electronic ballots]. . . ."
Squire paid for a recount of these 35 precincts but the BOE used the real
time audit log (RTAL) paper tapes to recount only two of the 35 precincts.
The RTALs are the only way to accurately assess how people really voted on
the Election Day.
- In the
BOE warehouse "hundreds of RTAL paper rolls were sitting out on
various tables . . . It had been my understanding that sealed containers
holding the rolls would be open only in the presence of observers, but
this apparently had already been done, and the rolls extracted, prior to
the observers' arrival."
of the rolls" lacked "tamper-proof" tape, which seals the
RTALs at the end of Election Day in case of a recount. Instead, they had
stickers which could be easily tampered with.
of the [RTAL] rolls did not have a sticker" leaving them open for
tampering or accidental destruction.
. . . Others [RTALs] had a sticker with handwritten initials on it"
indicating that the roll "was replaced by a service person during the
Election Day." This raises questions concerning chain of custody of
the rolls, the functionality of the machines, and identity and background
of the technicians who initialed the stickers.
. . . A considerable number of the rolls were incomplete, possibly because
the paper roll had run out or been changed, although for some, it was
evident that the end of the paper roll had been damaged or ripped."
. . . between five and ten percent of the machines had either not printed
an end tally," or "it was missing."
- In one
case, when Mercuri requested the information at the beginning of the RTAL
roll be read aloud during the recount, the phrases "password
override" and "PEB failure" were read from the audit log.
Mercuri concludes that " . . . this might have indicated a
pre-election breach of security or protocol for that equipment."
was observed that some of the equipment problem report pages had been
previously removed from the pollbooks."
warehouse facility appeared to be shared by other agencies,
as there was a
large SWAT team truck behind some of the rows of voting machines. . . ."
Mercuri's 16-page affidavit concludes that Squire was denied
"an appropriate recount" from a voter-verified paper trail using the
RTAL rolls and also points out that the "voting system was inappropriately
configured and improperly used during the election." The Franklin County
BOE used different versions of hardware that were not certified prior to the
"The use of mismatched components violates
certification requirements and also runs the risk of exposure to programming
errors (bugs) or security vulnerabilities that could compromise the integrity
of the election and result in the loss or mistabulation of votes," Mercuri
In late November the National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST), one of the federal government's premier research centers,
condemned electronic voting machines noting that as presently configured, they
"cannot be made secure."
In an audit of 25 percent of Franklin County's precinct
pollbooks and signature books, Squire's elections investigator Rady Ananda
found massive problems with over reporting of votes. Only 29 out of 216
precincts matched the number of signatures to the number of votes cast. Eight
precincts reported more than 100 more votes cast than signatures in the
A similar problem of fewer votes being recorded than voter
signatures also occurred with one precinct having 100 fewer votes on the
machine than signatures. In all, 136 precincts fell into this category.
Columbus Ward 66 Precinct G was missing 123 votes. An audit of Miami County by
a Free Press investigation team following the 2004 presidential election found
a similar problem of optiscan precinct totals not matching signature books. In
the spring 2006 primary election, the ESI audit of Cuyahoga County found
Cuyahoga's problems reappeared in the 2006 general election.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that, "Nearly 12,000 people in
Cuyahoga County cast votes illegally on Election Day without signing the
election books, or likely, showing identification as required by a new state
"An analysis showed that 533 of the 570 Cuyhoga County
voting precincts reported more votes than voters signed in." The Plain
Dealer found that: "With some polling places, the numbers were off by more
Beverly Campbell, a 2006 Democratic candidate for the Ohio
Statehouse, lost by 368 votes in Franklin County. She told the Columbus Dispatch
that "her campaign has questions similar to Squire's about vote and
signature totals." In a meeting with the Free Press, she supplied a
worksheet from her own investigation of 98 precincts where there were problems
in 88 of them, either with more votes cast than signatures or more signatures
than votes cast. In all, she found 483 more votes than signatures and 300
Squire's complaint also asserts that "over 2,500
provisional ballots were discarded with no opportunity for observers to obtain
the basis or justification for rejection."
The voting irregularities in the 2006 election appear to be
greater than in 2004, but many Ohio Democrats have chosen to ignore that
reality. But one who hasn't taken that position is newly-elected Secretary of State
Jennifer Brunner, who has pledged a complete review of the electronic voting
machines. The facts remain that not every vote is counted or accounted for in
the Buckeye State and this could be the key factor in deciding the next
president of the United States.Bob
Fitrakis is the co-author of "What
Happened in Ohio: A documentary record of theft and fraud in the 2004 election" published by the New Press.