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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.
  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by greenhollow (63021) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @11:24AM (#17694564)
    More clearly:
    When the party in power in the state or county wins it is the will of the people.

    When the other party wins, it was stolen.
  • 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:Hypocrisy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qzukk (229616) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @11:28AM (#17694596) Journal
    LOL recounts.

    Republicans "asked county auditors statewide to reconsider ballots that were rejected on Election Day." [msn.com] Because apparently when Democrats can't punch out a hole right, they're stupid idiots, but when Republicans can't fill out a ballot, their voice deserves to be heard.

    If you're going to point fingers and call hypocrisy, stand on less shaky ground next time. It also helps when you're not trying to defend people that explicitly broke the law.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 20, 2007 @11:39AM (#17694678)
    "Nyah nyah nyah, Democrats this... Republicans that..."

    It isn't about who won the election. It's about them violating the law and compromising the electoral process that they swore to uphold.

    But I know that in the bottom-feeding Republican mind, it's all about tit-for-tat.
  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by PhilipMarlowe9000 (1035214) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @11:40AM (#17694692)
    I'm shocked-- the Republican party quite possibly did something illegal and unethical. I mean, it's not like they lied about an entire war, or kept a child molester from prosecution, or took bribes, or had drunken stripper parties in the Watergate with lobbyists!
  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by janeowit (909913) * on Saturday January 20, 2007 @12:00PM (#17694826) Journal
    Less clearly:
    When the party you affiliate yourself with wins, it is the will of the people.

    When the other party wins, it was stolen.
  • 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.

  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by udderly (890305) * on Saturday January 20, 2007 @12:22PM (#17694986)

    In reference to your assertion of cranial-rectal immersion, the Republicants (spelling error mine) happened to have the power, and thus the ability to be ruthless with it, which they undeniably did. As for the Democrats, it's difficult to abuse power that you don't have. But now that the Democrats have the power, they are already [com.com] moving [senate.gov] to abuse [broadcastnewsroom.com] it.

    In other words, don't be a shill for a particular party. They both suck and neither cares about your rights.

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

    by willtsmith (466546) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @12:33PM (#17695064) Journal

    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.

  • Ahhhh, yes. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aussersterne (212916) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @12:38PM (#17695108) Homepage
    "Me"

    The American Way. Our values do persist in these troubled times! Hurrah!
  • Re:Nicely done. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pnewhook (788591) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @12:41PM (#17695134)
    I always get a kick out of how blindly everyone around here thrashes conservatives and praises liberals. I'm a liberal myself, but I don't pretend for one second that the liberal politicians or groups are any "better" or "worse" than their conservative counterparts; even independents have their problems.

    Yes they are all corrupt or unethical in some manner.

    The difference as I see it is republicans screw over the entire US population and selective populations of other countries that happen to have something they want, while Democrats just screw interns.

  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jonadab (583620) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @12:51PM (#17695234) Homepage Journal
    > When the party in power in the state or county wins it is the
    > will of the people.

    I don't think there's any question about the outcome in this case. From TFA:

    # Candidates for president from the Green and Libertarian parties requested
    # the Ohio recount. State laws and regulations specify how a recount works.

    In other words, the Democrats, who lost by a narrow margin, did not request the recount. If there'd been any real question about the outcome, they would have done so. So that's not what's at stake.

    What *is* at stake is that we CANNOT have election officials violating election laws and getting away with it. They acted to avoid a painful and expensive recount process that would not change anything, but they did not have the authority to do that, and we cannot let them off with a stern lecture and a slap on the wrist, because if we do, it'll happen again, and again, and again, and at some point it'll happen when it matters. I hope the courts rake them over the coals but *good*. Make an example out of them: we will not tolerate election law violations.

    The 2004 election isn't what's at stake here. The 2008 and 2012 and 2016 elections, and every one that follows, are what's at stake.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 20, 2007 @12:57PM (#17695280)
    The excuse doesn't hold water. If the election were fair, statistically it would be very unlikely for the selected boxes to require the recount. And these workers are all paid for their time. (Btw, they are on paid leave as I write this.) The only reason that really makes sense is these poll workers were involved in or had knowledge of the rigging of the election proper (and not just the small recount). And because of this, they knew it was immensely important to rig the small recount in hopes of covering up.

    This should disturb anyone who read the article:

    There were allegations in several counties of similar presorting of ballots for the recounts that state law says are to be random.

    And this:

    They just were doing it the way they were always doing it," [defense attorney Roger] Synenberg said.

    Btw, isn't Ohio where a politician just got sent to prison for 30 months for defrauding the public trust?
  • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @01:10PM (#17695358) Homepage

    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.

  • 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

  • Re:Treason? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by skymt (968075) <skymt0@gmail.com> on Saturday January 20, 2007 @01:59PM (#17695672)

    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 border all immigrants and visitors from Muslim Countries, and even those who have recently visited such "terrorist territories." Illegal immigrants from these countries would receive the death penalty with only a token trial. The Democrats believe this plan would cause much more harm than good, and fight it. The polls are close, but the Republicans have a slight edge.

    What would a Democratic election official do in this situation? Commit vote fraud and damage one part of American freedom, or do nothing and allow the Republicans to damage another?

    There's nothing like that in current American politics, but we're in no way lacking in charged political issues. Would a Democrat commit vote fraud to stop the Iraq war sooner and save the lives of a few troops? Would a Republican commit vote fraud to get a pro-life candidate into office and save the lives of a few babies?

    Please note that I am neither approving vote fraud or condemning Republicans (I try to be party neutral, but someone had to take the fall to make my example work). I'm just trying to work out the motivations of those who do defraud the voters.

  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drooling-dog (189103) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @02:29PM (#17695860)
    Can't say I disagree with a word you said. I lament our two (one and a half?) party system almost every day, and if the Dems win the trifecta in 2008, I'll be on their case on a daily basis as well.

    But that being said, I still don't think they hold a candle to the Repugnicans (I prefer that mispelling) when it comes to ruthlessness, corruption, and contempt for constitutional limits. They will at least pay lip service to the notion of a public interest, and while they'll surely have their own scandals w.r.t. lobbyists and such, I doubt that they'll set up the same kind of brazen one-stop-shopping monopoly on corruption that the GOP did with their K Street Project.

    And don't even get me started about who's benefitting from our middle east entanglements and who's not, and how that might affect their willingness to (ever) get off the Gravy Train...
  • 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.
  • by Solandri (704621) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @03:32PM (#17696262)
    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 another fires an RPG into the dark. The fact that it later turns out the pointed stick killed a person while the RPG hit an empty field is purely a consequence of luck. The person firing the RPG committed the greater crime because he had the intent to cause more damage. The person waving the stick just ends up getting more scrutiny because he pisses off more people who might be interested in prosecuting him. We do the country a great disservice if we concentrate on a small threat like that while allowing the guy with the RPG get off free to fire again in the next election.

  • This is why... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jd (1658) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Saturday January 20, 2007 @04:54PM (#17696774) Homepage Journal
    ...it is vitally important to replace the existing system with something that works. The problem is, nobody really understands what would work - the quality of research is worse than the quality of the elections.

    Ultimately, you want a system where true recounts aren't needed (but would be guaranteed, in full, if called for). This requires a system that is essentially non-partisan. There would be no quango (govt. appointee) in charge of running the elections or counting the votes. The separation of powers should ensure that a person cannot be elected by the same people they selected.

    Some would argue that this is a case for secure electronic voting, provided the code was formally designed and thoroughly audited, and provided the votes cast were retained in some form (electronically or on paper), not merely tallied. Others would argue that it should require paper ballots but where each ballot box is under supervision so can't "go missing" (as often happens) and where each and every ballot is counted by three or more people - no statistical sampling, no "it fell under the table" and no "oh, I didn't think those mattered".

    (In all cases, postal ballots should absolutely NEVER be handed to a politically aligned group for forwarding. In fact, if we're going to go with electronic ballots, postal ballots should not exist - you should be able to vote totally securely and totally anonymously - say via a tor-like setup - from any Internet-capable location. What we should not have is political parties able to dump ballots they don't like, which has happened and which will no doubt happen again.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 20, 2007 @05:13PM (#17696928)
    Asking about a private sexual encounter in the White House of the later '90s was so very crucial to the investigation of the Whitewater realestate transactions of the mid '80s.

    Sigh.
  • Hypocrisy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mark_MF-WN (678030) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @09:33PM (#17698364)
    Congratulations -- you get the "illiterate dumbass who didn't read the fucking article" award for the day.

    There was a recount in this case because STATE LAW DICTATED THAT IT BE SO. Are you seriously suggsting that Ohio does not have the right to perform recounts, just because it offends your political sensibilities? Ohio should tolerate election fraud just because other states may have abused the recount process? No offense (just kidding, offense is totally intended), but fuck you. Fuck you right in the ear. Recounts are awesome. I'll take a hundred recounts, if the alternative is the selection of the head of state by a council of presidential appointees. If it requires a hundred recounts and total openness about the results of every single ballot, well then good. It's about time.

    These traitors have already admitted that they broke the law, and rigged the recount. It doesn't matter who won -- they rigged the recount and broke the law. The interfered with the democratic process. They need to hang. It's as simple as that.

    I know you're bitter that America is turning against the politics of cowardice, torture, paranoid delusions, and perpetual warfare -- but that's just progress, and you've got to learn to accept with it. The world described in 1984 was supposed to be a dire warning of things to come, not a proposal for the utopian society.

  • Re:Treason? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by laird (2705) <<lairdp> <at> <gmail.com>> 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 Legion303 (97901) on Sunday January 21, 2007 @10:36AM (#17701802) Homepage
    "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.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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