Something's rotten in the state of Denmark

Monday, November 29, 2004

Cuyahoga at 66%

The Plain Dealer reports that the People for the American Way Foundation filed suit Friday in the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals in Cleveland against Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Why? Because while most counties in Ohio threw out about 10-15% of their provisional ballots, in Democratic stronghold Cuyahoga, 8,099 ballots out of 24,472 provisional ballots were thrown out -- invalidated. That was, by far, the largest single body of controversial ballots in any of Ohio's 88 counties.

The suit, a mandamus action, asks the court to compel a public official to perform a duty. Blackwell, the suit says, failed to provide clear instructions to poll workers and precinct judges about how to handle the provisional ballots.

"People for the American Way wants the court to order Blackwell and the county elections board to check electronic voter-registration rolls against paper registration records, to notify each voter who cast an invalidated ballot why it was rejected, and to give that person a way to contest the invalidation.

The suit also wants ballots counted if voters cast them in the wrong places and officials failed to send them to the right polling places."

Before the GOP whines again about "activist judges," blah blah blargie doh doh, remind them that they weren't making such complaints on November 2 when they sued to have their pollwatchers present in voting places, despite the seemingly redundant presence of non-partisan pollwatchers in such locations.

Whether he was intentionally perpetuating fraud or not, it's clear that Kenneth Blackwell has done everything in his power to discourage and suppress turnout in key urban precincts.

The Secretary of State of Ohio has one big job: make elections run smoothly. Just as it shouldn't have been a surprise that there was going to be huge voter turn-out, and Blackwell's office inadequately equipped urban precincts with enough voting machines, it shouldn't have been a surprise that there were going to be tons of provisional ballots.

And it shouldn't have been a novel concept that there should have been standards and instructions for all of Ohio's counties in how to count and consider them.

Blackwell already attempted -- after the election! -- to after-the-fact require these ballots to have a date-of-birth listed on them, even though people filling out the ballots weren't told that information was required when they filled them out.

Thankfully, that attempt was blocked. But after the fact, Blackwell succeeded in maintaining that provisional ballots that were submitted in precincts that weren't the voter's original precinct should be thrown out. That's ridiculous. It's easy enough to check and see with the voting records if someone had voted elsewhere, and avoid any double voting shenanigans within one's state.

I said in a post yesterday that I think it's mathematically unlikely that if all the totals we have now are legitimate, John Kerry will find enough votes in provisional ballots and the undercount to win Ohio.

But I think there are far too many questions at this point over the legitimacy of totals to not proceed with a recount.