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Ohio Recount Rigging Case Goes to Court 224

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the counting-down-the-hits dept.

The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that the trial of the three election workers accused of rigging the 2004 presidential election recount in Cuyahoga County is finally underway. As you may recall, this was the case where poll workers 'randomly' selected the precincts to recount by first eliminating from consideration precincts where the number of ballots handed out on Election Day failed to match the number of ballots cast and, then opening the ballot boxes in private and pre-counting until they found cases which would match up. What is interesting here is that they have already admitted doing this and that it was clearly counter to the letter and the spirit of the law, but still insist it wasn't really 'wrong,' presumably since they only did it to avoid having to go to the bother of a full recount as required by law.

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Ohio Recount Rigging Case Goes to Court

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  • Away with them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by forand (530402) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @11:22AM (#17694554) Homepage
    I can only hope that their excuse of "it was too hard to keep our democracy" falls on deaf ears and they are punished for their actions. That said I don't even know how this could be considered a reasonable argument since they had to count the boxes twice if I understand thing correctly.
    • by MarkusQ (450076) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @12:35PM (#17695076) Journal
      That said I don't even know how this could be considered a reasonable argument since they had to count the boxes twice if I understand thing correctly.

      The law says they have to manually recount a randomly selected 3%, and if that comes out close enough they can do the rest of the recount by running it through the machine again. Otherwise they would have had to manually recount them all.

      So they did a quick search for precincts that might match (e.g., skip the ones where the total number of votes was way off or that otherwise looked fishy), counted some of them until the had 3% that would pass muster, and that became their "random sample" for the public recount.

      What is amazing is that they (&, IIRC, the voting machine tech that helped them) admitted this to the people doing the recount.

      --MarkusQ

  • by Original Replica (908688) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @11:26AM (#17694584) Journal
    ... and not CNN. I suppose if we had a respectable voter turn out, then big media might think we would find election fraud newsworthy. I guess the president just isn't as important as "American Idol".
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Did you RTFA?

      Prosecutors do not allege vote fraud or that the mishandling of the recount affected the outcome of the presidential election.

      That's why it's not a big deal. But it doesn't stop you or the editors from making a mountain out of a molehill.

      • Sure, no big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MarkusQ (450076) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @01:10PM (#17695362) Journal

        Did you RTFA?

        Prosecutors do not allege vote fraud or that the mishandling of the recount affected the outcome of the presidential election.

        That's why it's not a big deal. But it doesn't stop you or the editors from making a mountain out of a molehill.

        Sure, sure, just like it's no big deal if somebody opens fire in a shopping mall, so long as they don't hit anybody. Or like the way it's OK to swipe people's credit cards, as long as you don't buy anything with them.

        --MarkusQ

        • "The evidence will show that this recount was rigged, maybe not for political reasons, but rigged nonetheless," Prosecutor Kevin Baxter said. http://www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=2 8 06718 [go.com]

          The potential problems caused by a thorough investigation into the ramifications of our broken election system might be a bit more than the prosecution wants to take on. That doesn't mean the election system isn't seriously flawed. My OP point was that we need to take off the blinders and deal with the flaws, a
          • by dpilot (134227)
            But that wouldn't be Patriotic!

            The terrorists WANT us to get mired in this recount morass!

            (If you can't detect satire, never mind.)
      • by erroneus (253617)
        Yes, they are going WAY out of their way to avoid indicating that this set of wrong-doings don't lead to a much larger conspiracy. Yet even on the surface, it clearly leads to a much larger conspircy.

        I'm hopeful that it doesn't stop just there and that this will lead to some much larger indictments and convictions.
      • by Gregg M (2076) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @02:38PM (#17695928) Homepage
        Did you RTFA? Prosecutors do not allege vote fraud or that the mishandling of the recount affected the outcome of the presidential election.

        That's why it's not a big deal. But it doesn't stop you or the editors from making a mountain out of a molehill.

        Did you RTFA? They said they didn't think it would change the out come of the election, because they weren't able to do a full recount. The recount they did was rigged. They said they were only following standard procedure. If that's not going to effect the outcome I don't know what is. The flawed recount still gave Kerry more votes. If this was done in every county in Ohio it could have swung the election.

        • by ageoffri (723674)
          Did you RTFA? They said they didn't think it would change the out come of the election, because they weren't able to do a full recount. The recount they did was rigged. They said they were only following standard procedure. If that's not going to effect the outcome I don't know what is. The flawed recount still gave Kerry more votes. If this was done in every county in Ohio it could have swung the election.

          Obviously you did not RTFA. A full machine recount was done according to the article. The worke

      • by whoever57 (658626) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @02:58PM (#17696052) Journal
        Prosecutors do not allege vote fraud or that the mishandling of the recount affected the outcome of the presidential election.

        That's why it's not a big deal. But it doesn't stop you or the editors from making a mountain out of a molehill.
        Just because prosecutors do not allege it does not remove the possibility that the election result would have been different if a proper recount had been held.

        They are prosecuting these people and probably feel that any allegations about changes to the election result would only confuse the issue. Furthermore, they probably don't have admissable evidence to support such an allegation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Snarfangel (203258)
      ... and not CNN. I suppose if we had a respectable voter turn out, then big media might think we would find election fraud newsworthy. I guess the president just isn't as important as "American Idol".

      ABC News [go.com] also has the story, along with a picture of the defendents. I can't put my finger on it, but they don't appear to be stereotypical Bush operatives.
    • Of course CNN is not reporting on it. They failed to cover the large raids for illegal immigrants on the packing plants of a major U.S. meatpacker last month, instead reporting on an elderly couple that died in an automobile accident in North Carolina. If you're getting your news only from CNN, you'll get an EXTREMELY BIASED view of american news.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Legion303 (97901)
        "If you're getting your news only from $NEWS_CONGLOMERATE, you'll get an EXTREMELY BIASED view of american news."

        I fixed that for you.
  • by Quilted Porcupine (995935) <quiltedporcupine@gmail.com> on Saturday January 20, 2007 @11:28AM (#17694598)
    On when they would do a full hand-count, if needed: "Our plan was to regroup after Christmas and just work through it." That quote strikes me as awfully suspicious itself. If the election results were in dispute, waiting a couple months to actually start counting all the ballots by hand seems incredibly lax, at best.
  • Uhhh (Score:5, Funny)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @11:28AM (#17694608)
    What is interesting here is that they have already admitted doing this and that it was clearly counter to the letter and the spirit of the law, but still insist it wasn't really 'wrong,' presumably since they only did it to avoid having to go to the bother of a full recount as required by law.

    Laziness is a great excuse for election fraud.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Socguy (933973)
      The biggest problem in a case like this is the time it takes to respond. In the time it's going to take this to wind its way through the legal system, multiple elections are going to have come and gone. If the goal really was to commit election fraud, their candidate would have been in office for (potentially) multiple terms before anything is done - assuming that anything would be done anyway!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        If the goal really was to commit election fraud, their candidate would have been in office for (potentially) multiple terms before anything is done - assuming that anything would be done anyway!

        Hypothetical: We find out that John Kerry actually won Ohio... so BushCo. gets evicted and Kerry gets to be President for two weeks before Hillary gets sworn in.

        What does he do?

        (think of this as a very unscientific poll)
        • by Deagol (323173)
          Hypothetical: We find out that John Kerry actually won Ohio... so BushCo. gets evicted and Kerry gets to be President for two weeks before Hillary gets sworn in.

          What does he do?

          He pays Madonna a million bucks to sit on his...

          Oh wait! Wrong poll question.

          • He pays Madonna a million bucks to sit on his...

            Lap??? Face??? Chihuahua???? What? :)
            • by macshit (157376)
              Hey if I had a million bucks and a Chihuahua, I'd pay Madonna to sit on it. Boy it must be fun to be rich!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak (669689)
      Laziness is a great excuse for election fraud.
      Think of it as an affirmative defense.
      Otherwise, the only excuse is maliciousness...
      And admitting to that would really aggravate the charges against them
  • by Black-Man (198831) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @11:47AM (#17694734)
    Please... you have a better chance of finding a do-do bird in Cuyahoga County. These workers were just too lazy to do their job.

    • Actually ... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by willtsmith (466546)

      Actually, it's just the opposite. Lazy folks don't do preparation work and end up with even MORE work later. No, these folks were VERY dilligent VERY early making darn sure that they could eliminate any scent of voting irregularities.

      A lazy Republican operative would have let someone choose precincts at random, counted just the three and then found out that they then had to recount every single ballot.

    • A Republican in Cuyahoga County??

      Please... you have a better chance of finding a do-do bird in Cuyahoga County.

      You aren't the only one to have that reaction. The fact that such a large proportion of them apparently voted for Bush started some people [jqjacobs.net] wondering if the votes had been counted correctly.

      Thus the 3rd party call for a recount, which the poll workers botched.

      It's the very fact that the county is so heavily Democratic that got people wondering in the first place.

      --MarkusQ

    • No offense, but I find it hilarious that a user named "Black-Man" is telling us what it's like in Cuyahoga Falls. If you're local, you know that it's usualy called Caucasian Falls for a reason.

      For the rest of the Slashdot crowd, the Falls is still one of those places where you can get a ticket for driving while black. Or poor. I got pulled over once for simply having a crappy car. The cops there work very hard to keep "that element" out of their neighborhood, if you know what I mean.

      Ohio can be a pr

  • oblig (Score:4, Funny)

    by mastershake_phd (1050150) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @11:58AM (#17694816) Homepage
    Trying is the first step towards failure.

    -- Homer Simpson
  • by iamthefryguy (1053838) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @12:03PM (#17694854)
    WELCOME our new human overlords...
  • by Experiment 626 (698257) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @12:04PM (#17694866)

    While it's good to scrutinize problems with our electoral system, I think there's too much of an obsession with Ohio. It wasn't the narrowest race, nor was it the one with the most irregularities, but it's where all the hindsight gets focused. It's easy to see why... Ohio was the state that came closest to swinging the election the other way, and thus becomes the center of all the "OMG Bush stoled teh election AGAIN!" rhetoric. However, this emphasis exclusively on Ohio (and Florida in the previous election) overlooks the issues everywhere else. It effectively says, who cares if there were problems in Michigan (or wherever), Kerry won that state so let's not worry about the election there. Electoral problems should be scrutinized and fixed based on their severity and merits, not how well they play into some "what if the other guy had won?" scenario.

    • by fishbowl (7759) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @12:23PM (#17694996)
      >I think there's too much of an obsession with Ohio

      Ohio was the state that the chairman of Diebold said would be delivered to the president.
    • by hxnwix (652290)

      It wasn't the narrowest race, nor was it the one with the most irregularities

      Would you care to elaborate on that? It sounds as if egregious fraud may have occured - thus, the trial.

      Electoral problems should be scrutinized and fixed based on their severity and merits, not how well they play into some "what if the other guy had won?" scenario.

      Pardon me, but I voted for Kerry because I wanted to see him win. If these people had a hand in throwing the election, I want them in jail.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chandon Seldon (43083)

        Pardon me, but I voted for Kerry because I wanted to see him win. If these people had a hand in throwing the election, I want them in jail.

        Yea, and I voted for Badnarik because he was the only candidate left after eliminating all the obvious douchebags on the ballot. That doesn't mean I'd be OK with people committing election fraud if it had favored him - the whole concept of voting becomes utterly worthless (even more than it already is) if people can mess with the votes and get away with it.

        • by hxnwix (652290)
          May I add that wanting to see your enemy punished for doing wrong does not necessarily mean that you would also commit his crime?
        • by nomadic (141991)
          ea, and I voted for Badnarik because he was the only candidate left after eliminating all the obvious douchebags on the ballot.

          I voted for Kerrey because he was the only candidate that I think could do a passable job. And that includes Badnarik.

          I never understood why so many slashdotters supported a man so unsuitable for the job as Badnarik.
          • I never understood why so many slashdotters supported a man so unsuitable for the job as Badnarik.

            It's his platform. Since he had no chance of actually winning, it doesn't matter how well he would do the job. If enough people vote for any third party candidate, maybe the major parties will embrace more of that candidate's platform in the next election.

            Plus, it feels really good to not vote for the lesser of two evils.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by nomadic (141991)
              But Badnarik's platform was horrible; he was an anti-libertarian, an authoritarian whose platform consisted of him forcing people he didn't agree with to follow his lead at gunpoint. Let me paste a summary I wrote of his platform on Usenet a few years ago (I won't get offended if nobody reads it, I just always wanted to paste it to Slashdot but there aren't that many Badnarik stories lately):

              No real political experience, no real management experience, no college degree (and I'm not saying a candidate n
      • Sure, I can elaborate on that.

        On the first claim, that other races were narrower, I refer you to Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico, and New Hampshire.

        As for the most irregularities, there were, sadly, problems all over the country. Long lines in urban areas, lost absentee ballots, a nasty tire-slashing incident perpetrated by workers for one of the campaigns, voting machine problems, provisional ballots that were tossed that should have been counted, ones that should have been tossed but were counted (I recal

        • by hxnwix (652290)
          Don't let me stop you. Call me a pessimist, but I'm glad to see more judicial scrutiny. You worry me because you seem to suggest that unless we can completely solve the entire problem all at once, nobody should do anything.
          • by Sancho (17056) *
            This is a common argument that you see narrow-minded people make. You see it ALL THE TIME on here and other web communities:

            "Well I'm glad we've fixed erectile dysfunction. Now maybe we can work on curing cancer."

            "Maybe we should fix the problems in our own country before we start trying to fix the problems in other countries."

            "How can we devote tax dollars to X when Y is still going on all over the country?"

            Of course, Ohio is important here for a number of reasons. These people admitted to failing to ra
    • I 100% agree (Score:3, Informative)

      by MarkusQ (450076)

      Electoral problems should be scrutinized and fixed based on their severity and merits, not how well they play into some "what if the other guy had won?" scenario.

      I agree 100%. As I have said many times, I wouldn't be all that interested in having Kerry as President, though I don't like Bush either. But if we're going to have an election between two worthless shills I'd still insist on having an honest election between them.

      Further, we should be (and, thankfully, some of us are) looking at the recent

    • by radtea (464814)
      Electoral problems should be scrutinized and fixed based on their severity and merits, not how well they play into some "what if the other guy had won?" scenario.

      But surely the effect on the outcome of the election is the best measure of "severity". If I wave a pointed stick around in a crowded room and kill someone, that is more severe than someone firing an RPG into an empty field.

      Both acts, mind you, are serious crimes, but of two crimes commited with the same intent, the one that has the worst outcome
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Solandri (704621)

        But surely the effect on the outcome of the election is the best measure of "severity". If I wave a pointed stick around in a crowded room and kill someone, that is more severe than someone firing an RPG into an empty field.

        The key aspect you're missing is that we know Ohio was the swing state in hindsight. Until the ballots were counted, it was unknown (aside from statistical guesswork) where fraud could be most influencial. The corrected analogy is one person waving a pointed stick in the dark, while

    • by JimBobJoe (2758)
      I think there's too much of an obsession with Ohio.

      I don't agree or disagree. Now for one thing, there's no doubt in my mind, as an Ohioan, that on the day of the 04 election, the state swung more in favor of Bush than Kerry.

      In that regard, it's easy to say that there is too much obsession. On the other hand, a lot of the focus remains because there is always the ability for Ohio to create even closer election results (whereas Florida has become less unstable in that regard.)

      Ohio's election system, arguably
  • OK (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @12:12PM (#17694922)
    Does this mean we'll be seeing criminal charges against others who subvert the voting process, say by shipping machines with different software than they submitted for certification, or trying to obstruct voting on election day?
    • by hxnwix (652290)
      I hope you aren't implying that until every single person who may or may not have been involved in election fraud is arraigned, it would be improper to single anyone out for arraignment.

      Because that would be extremely retarded.
    • by Cheapy (809643)
      Of course not. Why would that thought even be in your head?
  • Treason? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rhakka (224319) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @12:19PM (#17694956)
    Am I the only person that thinks that willfully subverting the electoral process, on which every thing in our country's governance hinges, should be tried as NOTHING LESS than treason?

    I don't care if you're running for dog catcher... the democratic process should be defended with the most uncompromising principles possible, should it not?

    • To a Democratic society, elections are our most sacred ritual. Desecrating elections should be one of our highest crimes. We should treat those who murder democracy at least as harshly as those who murder people. I'd say a proof solid election fraud case should be a 10-20 years in prison. A further insult would be putting these individuals' jailhouse photos on the election training materials so that everyone KNOWS what happens to those who subvert democracy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by skymt (968075)

      It seems very possible that in the minds of those committing vote fraud, their actions are patriotic. Republicans are Republicans and Democrats are Democrats because each believes their party has the best plan for America.

      Let's imagine a (hopefully) rather extreme example. It's 2016 and America has suffered several tragic terror attacks, including one just a few months before the election. The Republicans play off the natural xenophobia the attacks have developed by announcing a plan to reject at the bord

      • Re:Treason? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by laird (2705) <lairdp@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Saturday January 20, 2007 @11:37PM (#17699088) Journal
        You make an interesting ethical point, but in a properly designed voting system the outcome of the election does not depend on the honesty or integrity of any of the participants. Specifically, the system should work even if EVERY participant in the process is a partisan that is highly motivated to steal the election, because the process should be designed to assume that and still ensure the integrity of the result. That's why, for example, there should always be multiple witnesses for every step of the process representing all interested parties, each of whom is highly motivated to keep the other participants from getting away with anything.

        Unfortunately, many states give quite a bit of power in determining how elections are run to a Secretary of State that is elected based on party affiliation, which undermines the system significantly. Combining that with the deployment of voting systems (DRE's) that are designed to be impossible to audit, it's hard to have faith in the integrity of the election process, because you have good reasons not to trust the people adminstering the process, and no way to verify the results independently.
  • by Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @12:46PM (#17695182) Homepage
    Aren't they?

    Plus, it's a heavily Democratic county.
  • Of course, if you were looking at this from an engineering perspective, you would realize there is going to be a certain amount of voter fraud in any election, and develop a system where the outcome would not change based on say a 5% or a 10% miscount of votes (or somewhere around the max voter fraud you can do without it being blatently obvious that the election has been rigged). You make the system fault tolerant.

    Any system that pretends that there is no voting fraud, and depends on there being no voter f
    • by eluusive (642298)
      There's more to this than network protocols mr smartypants. It is _required_ that voters cannot prove to anyone that they voted one way or another. How do you build in checks and balances to that?

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