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How the Democrats Have Lost Ohio and the Presidency

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It is now highly unlikely that any Democrat will be elected to significant statewide office in the state of Ohio for the foreseeable future.

The likelihood of another Democrat being elected to the White House has also become virtually nil in 2012. Since World War II, no Democrat (except John Kennedy) has won the White House without carrying the Buckeye State, which is now an essential impossibility.

The reason is simple: Ohio's nontransparent computerized voter registration books and voting machines are solely controlled by partisan, private vendors. Ohio's 88 counties operate under a "bipartisan" system in which the secretary of state controls the deciding vote in all circumstances. The only conceivable countervailing force is Ohio's Secretary of State, who will be a conservative Republican in 2011. Former Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell proved in the 2004 election that a devious secretary of state can easily manipulate the outcome of any relatively close statewide election.

Between the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, 1.25 million largely Democratic voters were purged from the voting rolls in the Buckeye State. Such eliminations cannot be effectively appealed. But they could be repeated and expanded upon by the new Secretary of State.

The Free Press obtained public records regarding voting hardware and software utilized in Ohio's 2010 election by the state's 88 boards of elections. All but three counties used Diebold or Elections Systems and Software (ES&S) technology. Fifty-five of 88 counties used the notoriously partisan Triad company to maintain their voter registration poll books.

The trilogy of Triad, ES&S and Diebold is one strongly tied to the Republican Party.

Election watchers with various election integrity projects have uncovered what they refer to as a "red shift adjustment" by exit pollsters. Instead of trusting the validity of their usually highly accurate methodology, exit pollsters are now putting more trust in election results provided by the partisan Republican-connected voting equipment companies.

Unadjusted exit polls are the gold standard in uncovering election fraud. Ohio's 2010 unadjusted election exit poll results showed incumbent Governor Strickland defeating John Kasich by 50.1% to 47.4% of the vote. However, when Kasich won the actual vote on the voting machines provided and serviced by private Republican-connected vendors, then the exit pollsters adjusted the exit poll numbers to match the machine vote count.

Overwhelmingly, the adjustments are red, or Republican, in terms of a beneficial shift in what voters are saying when they exit the polls and what the Republican-connected voting equipment company machines are reporting.

Despite public pressure for universal automatic voter registration and hand-counted paper ballots, the unverifiable electronic voting system remains intact in Ohio and proliferates throughout the nation.

The source code for these machines is not available for public scrutiny. Nor is there a reliable paper trail provided individual voters or independent monitors.

Diebold voting machines malfunctioned during the Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) 2008 primary election. Diebold equipment purportedly failed to count votes when its memory cards were uploaded to computer servers. Cuyahoga County election officials accused Diebold of breach of contract, negligence and fraud and refused to pay the company. Diebold filed a suit against Cuyahoga County in May 2008 seeking payment for services rendered and claiming it had satisfied its contractual obligations in providing touchscreen voting machines.

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner intervened on behalf of Cuyahoga County with a counter claim and went further, alleging that Diebold's voting equipment had "dropped votes in at least 11 counties."

Ironically, Brunner's efforts to rein in the proliferation of inaccurate computerized machines in Ohio instead resulted in Diebold machines rapidly spreading like a cancer across the state.
In August 2010, Brunner settled a lawsuit with Premier (Diebold) election company. The settlement affected 47 Ohio counties offering less than half a million dollars in payments, but more surprisingly, the settlement required Diebold to provide its allegedly malfunctioning and inaccurate voting equipment for free to each county Board of Elections.

Diebold agreed to give away some 3000 free voting machines in Ohio, up to 15% of a county's total. Diebold is also discounting its maintenance fee for computer voting machines by 50% if the counties continue to have the Diebold company service their equipment. If the counties no longer trust the Diebold touchscreen voting machines, the company is offering a 50% discount on its computerized optiscan machines.

In 2004, only one Ohio county used Diebold machines -- in 2010 there were Diebold machines in 61 counties.

In the decade since the stolen election of 2000, centered around punchcard voting machines in Florida, the Democratic Party has done nothing to reform the electoral process.

In 2004, Blackwell used the election night period between midnight and 2am to shift the outcome from John Kerry to George W. Bush, thus giving Bush a second term in the White House. Private contractors hired by Blackwell outsourced Ohio's election results to a private company, SMARTech, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The computer specialist who constructed the system that made that possible was Michael Connell, the long-term computer guru for the Bush family, and a close associate of Karl Rove. Connell was deposed under oath in a federal proceeding about his role in Ohio's 2004 election the day before the 2008 election. He died in a mysterious plane crash a month later.

Connell's IT apparatus with its fabled interfaces are still in place. Democrats controlled the governor's mansion and Secretary of State's office from 2007 until now, but no significant reforms have been put in place. The new Secretary of State will inherit essentially the same sets of controls used by Blackwell in 2004.

After reporting the widespread irregularities before, during and after the 2004 election, John Kerry's legal team refused to investigate allegations of wrongdoing in Ohio.

Kerry spent more energy and money attacking those who investigated the irregularities than he did protecting the electorate from fraud and intimidation, or investigating what actually happened to the 2004 vote count. Kerry's lead attorney in Ohio was from the Republican Taft family law firm.

Ohio Democrats continue to denounce the notion that anyone would tamper with the state's vote count, while privately leaking information to the contrary.

The only reform capable of changing this situation would be a federal mandate requiring all elections be conducted on hand-counted paper ballots, with universal automatic registration as citizens turn 18 years old.

But calls for electoral reform have been ignored, despite four years of Democratic control of the Buckeye State and two of Democratic control of the White House and Congress. Today more unmonitorable electronic voting machines are in place in Ohio and around the United States than there were in 2004.

Exit polls from the 2010 midterm elections in Ohio showed both Strickland and Democratic Attorney General Richard Cordray winning re-election. But their final official vote totals were uncontested by the Democratic Party, which ignored widespread irregularities and made no systematic attempt to monitor electronic voting outcomes.

In at least one instance in central Ohio, a certified election observer from the Green Party and a member of Brunner's Voting Rights Institute was illegally ejected by police after talking to voters forced to vote provisionally at a polling site. Numerous other reports around the state indicated excessively high provisional ballots cast in inner-city wards, unexplained dropping of registered voters' names from electronic pollbooks, and pollworkers incorrectly applying election laws and denying voters their right to vote.

In January, former Congressman John Kasich will be inaugurated as governor. The conservative Republican has presidential ambitions. A longtime Fox TV commentator, Kasich benefited from a $1 million check from Rupert Murdoch for his gubernatorial campaign.

Like Blackwell, Kasich is openly contemptuous of those who disagree with him.

In 2012 he will be governing the state around which, once again, the presidential election will almost certainly pivot. In that year, Ohio's Secretary of State with trinity-of-evil vendors will, once again, have the electronic power to decide the outcome with a few strokes of a computer keyboard.

With control of the White House at stake, who among you thinks it would not be done?

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection at www.freepress.org, where the Fitrakis Files also reside. Harvey Wasserman's History of the United States and Solartopia! are at www.harveywasserman.com. This article originally appeared in the 40th anniversary issue of the Columbus Free Press.

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