Did Republicans give Hillary her victory in Ohio?
By Bob Fitrakis
& Harvey Wasserman
Online Journal Guest Writers
Mar 11, 2008, 00:44
Hilary Clinton's larger-than-expected victory in Ohio may
have been won with votes from Republicans, and from independents who usually
Much has been made of Rush Limbaugh�s and other far-right
commentators� pleas to Republicans to cast their ballots for her in open
primary states like Ohio and Texas. Part of the strategy is to slow down Barack
Obama, who analysts argue will be harder for John McCain to beat this fall.
Others, like Ann Coulter, have gone so far as to say they actually PREFER
Clinton to McCain. Such voters would certainly also prefer the former first
lady to Obama.
Whatever the case, there is concrete evidence in Ohio that
Republican cross-over voters did, in fact, play a significant role in
delivering the Buckeye primary votes to the Senator from New York.
Ohio has a classic open primary. Party affiliation can be
whatever a voter states upon entering the polls. Both of this article�s
writers, who usually vote Democratic or independent, chose to vote Republican
in the 2006 primary, essentially because of a desire to oppose J. Kenneth
Blackwell, the sitting secretary of state, because of his role in his voter
suppression during the 2004 election. In 2006, though our previous party
affiliations were Democratic, each writer merely informed poll workers that we
wished to cast a Republican ballot. Raised eyebrows notwithstanding, there were
no problems getting them. The same opportunity allowed voters to cross-over
There is clear statistical evidence that many Republican
voters did cross over. The Democratic Party �won at least 141,785 new voters in
the four-county region� of Warren, Clermont, Hamilton, and Butler counties,
according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner
told the New York Times that in Clermont and Summit counties,
paper ballots ran out mostly due to a large number of independent and Republican
voters crossing over to vote in the Democratic primary.
In Warren and Clermont counties, in southwestern Ohio, the
number of votes cast in the Democratic primary are telling. The Cincinnati
Enquirer reported that in Warren County, for example, there were 12,440
registered Democrats (9.49 percent) and 41,377 registered Republicans (31.57
percent) and 77,237 nonpartisan voters (58.94 percent). In Tuesday�s primary,
27,855 voters (48.53 percent) asked for Democratic ballots, representing 223.91
percent of the registered Democrats in that county.
Warren County is notorious for a �homeland security� alert
called by county officials on Election Day 2004, causing the ballots to be
diverted to and counted in a restricted unauthorized warehouse.
In Clermont County, there were 14,496 are registered
Democrats and 37,714 registered Republicans, as reported by the Enquirer. In
the primary, 26,279 people voted Democratic. One Clermont County presiding
judge reported running out of Democratic ballots and turning away at least 30
people, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Election observers on 2004 claimed that 100 or so ballots in
Clermont County has stickers over John Kerry�s name, that would have caused the
vote scanner not to register a marked Kerry vote.
In 2004, Warren, Clermont and nearby Butler County gave Bush
some 140,000 more votes than Kerry. Bush�s entire margin of victory in Ohio was
less than 119,000 votes.
Dr. Richard Gunther, professor of political science at Ohio
State University, suggests that other factors are in play in Ohio. He sees a
likely shift of independent voters, similar to the elections of 1930, 1932 and
1934. In those elections, spurred by the Great Depression, independent and
Republican voters shifted their loyalties to the Democratic Party and Franklin
Roosevelt�s New Deal, causing a fundamental realignment in politics that lasted
for fifty or so years.
There were some technical issues with voting machines in
Tuesday�s election. The Enquirer reported on power outages in Darke and Hamilton
counties and reports of electronic touch-screen voting machines problems in
Montgomery County. Voters at one precinct in Lucas County (Toledo) voted on
paper ballots after the electronic voting machines failed, according to the
Secretary of State Brunner has made significant strides
toward guaranteeing freer, fairer and more transparent elections. In the wake
of massive irregularities under Former Secretary of State Blackwell in the 2004
election, Brunner has committed the state to paper ballots. In Cuyahoga County
(Cleveland), she forced the resignation of Republican Board of Elections (BOE)
Chair Bob Bennett, along with the rest of the board. Bennett forced the county
to spend $20 million on electronic touch-screen voting machines, which
proceeded to crash in the 2005 primary. Among other things, they registered a
14 percent vote count error, according to a BOE study.
This winter, Brunner ditched the machines in Cuyahoga County
in favor of paper ballots. Ironically, the county ran out of the Democratic
ballots, indicating a higher than expected turnout of voters for the Democratic
primary. In response, a federal judge ordered several Cleveland polling
stations to stay open until 9 p.m. so everyone could vote.
In Franklin County (Columbus) a survey by the 16-member
election protection team from the Columbus Institute for Contemporary
Journalism showed that it took an average of 15 minutes to vote in inner city
precincts such as ward #5 and #55. These two precincts had lines between three
to seven hours long in 2004.
Restrictions on absentee and early voting were not present
in this year's voting as they had been in 2004. Co-author Harvey Wasserman got
his absentee ballot in the mail without incident this year, whereas it took
four phone calls in 2004. The Franklin County Board of Elections opened with
extended hours on the Monday before the primary to give voters greater
Two days before primary election day, Brunner forced the
resignation of Franklin County BOE Chair Matt Damschroder. Election officials
told the Free Press that Damschroder met with Bush, Blackwell and Karl Rove on
election day 2004. Misallocation of voting machines and other irregularities
caused inner city residents to wait up to five hours to vote in his bailiwick.
Prior to that election, in his BOE office, Damschroder accepted a $10,000 check
for the Franklin County Republican Party from a representative of the Diebold
voting machine company. Inexplicably, after Damschroder resigned, the Franklin
County BOE, including two Democrats, voted to retain him as a
"consultant" at over $11,000 per month salary.
Anecdotal evidence from Texas, where Clinton won the popular
vote in the Democratic primary, also indicates Republican and
Republican-leaning independent cross-over voting may have had an impact. While
losing the popular vote by a narrow margin, Obama won that state's caucuses,
and emerged from Texas with more Democratic delegates than did Clinton.
Evidence in general would suggest that the intrusion of normally
Republican voters into the Democratic primary may signify what statisticians
call an �asymmetrical entrance� of new voters. Such a phenomenon could signal
malicious cross-over voters or signs of a Democratic realignment, or both. This
would also cause errors in pre-election polls. The post-election exit polls may
have been affected by the so-called "Bradley Effect," in which white
voters casting ballots in an election where a white candidate is running
against a black one tend to mislead exit pollsters about how they cast their
This fall it is virtually certain that Ohio will once again
play a key role in choosing the next president. Except for John Kennedy in
1960, no candidate has won the presidency without carrying the Buckeye State
since the 1840s.
This winter, the Buckeye State has also played a critical
part in the race for the Democratic nomination. And it would appear that Ohio
Republicans and independents who generally vote Republican were key in handing
the state to Hillary Clinton.
Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA'S 2004
ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008 (www.freepress.org). With Steve Rosenfeld they
co-wrote WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO? from the New Press. This article was originally
published by freepress.org.
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