Steal This Election

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Over 100,000 voters were possibly affected by [Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell]’s ‘Paperweight Directive’… Approximately 93,000 spoiled ballots occurred in which there was either no presidential vote recorded or multiple presidential votes recorded, and therefor ignored… the NAACP estimates that at least 10,000 voters were disenfranchised… 174,000 people were unable to vote because of the long lines in the minority communities and the urban areas… at least 102,000 voters were disenfranchised by avoidable registration errors… and finally 66,000 had ballots invalidated by faulty machines… Total: a possible 357,000 votes or more…

Rep. John Conyers
ohio elections

A two-hour wait to vote in Columbus. [Bryce Glass / Flickr]

Consensus seems to be that the 2004 presidential election, especially in the key swing state Ohio, was rife with problems and “irregularities” – endless polling lines in select areas, wildly inaccurate exit polls, shifty processing of voter registration cards etc. But do irregularities add up to fraud? Do problems in our piecemeal, locally-based presidential voting system add up to a stolen election?

A new Rolling Stone piece by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. goes over what we think we know about the last election and alleges as much. Drawing upon new reporting, interviews with high level pollsters and existing memos such as The Conyers Report, Kennedy doesn’t pull his punches.

After carefully examining the evidence, I’ve become convinced that the president’s party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004. Across the country, Republican election officials and party stalwarts employed a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to fix the election.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in Rolling Stone Magazine, 6/06

We’re going to talk about this story and its implications. Did Republicans really steal the presidential election in 2004? Or do the irregularities that have been well-documented amount only to faulty organization and some crossed wires?

Is the real conversation about the need for a national voting system, voting reform, and greater national oversight? Is the real story about the lack of consistent media attention to this story (i.e., is a lack of mainstream attention to these accusations analogous to the media’s initial disinterest in the Downing Street Memo?)

We’d especially like to hear from all of you Ohioans. Did you vote in the 2004 elections? Did you experience anything when you registered or went to vote that led you to doubt the validity of the Ohio result? What did you hear from family and friends or in the local press? Is this a story that Ohioans are still talking about or feel strongly about? With the governor’s race already upon us, are we already too late?

Thanks to hurley and Potter for sending this suggestion our way.

Rep. John Conyers

Congressman, 14th Congressional District of Michigan

Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee

Sponsored and help author Protecting Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio (The Conyers Report)

Dan Tokaji

Assistant Professor of Law, Ohio State University

Associate Director, Election Law at Moritz

Blogger, Equal Vote Blog

Mark Crispin Miller

Professor of culture and communications, New York University.

Author, Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them)

Bill Todd

Attorney at Squire, Sanders, & Dempsy in Columbus, Ohio

Council to the Ohio Republican Party and the Bush-Cheney Campaign during the ’04 elections

Extra Credit Reading

We’ve collated the articles we’ve been reading and the ones you’ve suggested on the comment thread. Here’s a start:

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Was the 2004 election stolen?, Rolling Stone, June 1, 2006.

Farhad Manjoo responds to Kennedy:

Farhad Manjoo, Was the 2004 election stolen? No., Salon, June 3, 2006.

…and Kennedy responds to Manjoo:

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Was the 2004 election stolen?, Salon, June 6, 2006.

(Thanks, allison)

House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, Jr., Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio, truthout, January 5, 2005.

New York Times Editorial, Block the Vote, Ohio Remix, The New York Times, June 7, 2006.

Dan Tokaji, Back to Ohio: The Rolling Stone Piece, Equal Vote Blog, June 2, 2006.

Mark Blumenthal, Is RFK Jr. Right About Exit Polls? – Part I, Mystery Pollster, June 5, 2006. (Check out Part II and Part III, too)

(Thanks, Jon_Garfunkel)

Steven D, Most Important Thing About RFK Jr.’s Election Fraud Story, Daily Kos, June 2, 2006.

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