Something's rotten in the state of Denmark

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Shuster shoots back

MSNBC's David Shuster responds to Keith Olbermann's recent coverage of the irregularities:

I've been inspired today by the courageous reporting of my MSNBC colleague Keith Olbermann. So, I've decided to jump into the controversy swirling around the election results in Florida and Ohio.  For the last several hours, your favorite Hardball correspondent has been pouring through vote tabulations county by county. 

As I've stated before on this blog, I'm going to let the chips fall where they may. And here's how they are falling right now:

Florida:  Out of the sunshine state's 67 counties, 52 tallied their vote using paper ballots that were optically scanned by machines produced by the Diebold Corporation, the Sequoia Company, or Election Systems and Software. 

In 5 counties where Democrats comprise at least 70% of the registered voters (Baker,Holmes, Dixie, Lafayette, and Liberty) President Bush won the county's raw vote total by a landslide.  At first glance, the numbers seem awfully strange. But take a look at the 2004 numbers compared to 2000. 

Baker County '00:     Bush 5,610  Gore 2,392 
Baker County '04:     Bush 7,738  Kerry 2,180

Holmes County  '00:  Bush 5,011  Gore 2,177
Holmes County '04:   Bush 6, 410  Kerry 1,810

Dixie County  '00:      Bush 2,697  Gore 1,826
Dixie County '04:       Bush 4,433  Kerry 1,959

Lafayette County '00: Bush 1,670 Gore 789
Lafayette County '04: Bush 2,460 Kerry 845

Liberty County '00:    Bush 1,317  Gore 1,017
Liberty County '04:    Bush 1,927  Kerry 1,070

Each of these counties is in northern Florida where there are large numbers of "Dixiecrats." In other words, the voters have a lengthy tradition of being registered as Democrats but voting for Republicans in national elections.

Fine -- but as Olbermann and others have pointed out, while some of the counties with disparities between party registrations and votes are Dixiecrat states, many of them aren't. Shuster continues:
What about other Florida counties?  Across the state, the election results from '04 are not that different from '00. And political strategists on both sides say the Bush-Cheney campaign had an unprecedented Get Out The Vote effort this time around.  That ground operation focused heavily on evangelical Christians concerned about "gay marriage."  Yes, gay marriage was on the ballot in Florida...  and it attracted a huge number of Evangelicals to the polls who stayed home four years ago.  In my view, it's not unreasonable to think the Bush-Cheney campaign would have increased their Florida vote total by the number's I've examined.  However, I acknowledge that some of you may be saying, "well, the optical scanning machines in these counties must have been rigged 4 years ago." 

Nice of him to source the "election results are not that different from '00 line. So Shuster is skeptical about skepticism about Florida. But when he digs into Ohio, it seems that he agrees that some explaining is in order:
Regarding Ohio: 70% of the state used a punch card ballot system similar to the chad producing method used by much of Florida in 2000.  Ohio's Secretary of State reports that more than 92,000 votes did not count. Some ballots were cast improperly (over votes or under votes) and other ballots were counted incorrectly. Furthermore, in Cuyahoga County (greater Cleveland) there were more votes cast than registered voters.  The margin was not small... 93,000 more ballots cast than registered voters. As Keith Olbermann reported last night, in Fairview Park (west of Cleveland) there were 13,342 voters registered... but 18,472 votes were cast.  And last week, Ohio officials acknowledged that in the town of Gahanna (just outside of Columbus) in one district with only 800 voters, a voting machine added 3,893 votes for President Bush.

Shuster says that "In Ohio, there are definitely more questions than answers tonight.  In Florida, I'm not so sure." But he does say his review will continue.

Meanwhile, Keith Olbermann has a new post. It's clear that he's not letting go of this story.

Secondly, we will indeed be resuming our coverage of the voting irregularities in Ohio and Florida -- and elsewhere -- on this evening's edition of Countdown {8:00 p.m. ET}. The two scheduled guests are Jonathan Turley, an excellent professor of law at George Washington University, and MSNBC analyst and Congressional Quarterly senior columnist Craig Crawford.

For Jonathan, the questions are obvious: the process and implications of voting reviews, especially after a candidate has conceded, even after a President has been re-elected. For Craig, the questions are equally obvious: did John Kerry's concession indeed neuter mainstream media attention to the questions about voting and especially electronic voting, and what is the political state of play on the investigations and the protests.
Countdown is also rebroadcast at 12 midnight Eastern, 9 pm Pacific.