This is not good for Democrats in Ohio. Voters there need to rally and
organize to countermand this grievous public injustice. All votes must be
counted and all votes must count.
That said, if Ohio Republicans have anything to do with it; the state will
reprise its ignominious stage role as the "New Florida" in the
much-awaited 2008 neocon sequel, "Rigged Election Part Two."
Now, I donít know about you, but Iím a movie aficionado, and to me, sequels
are greatly overrated.
It seems that the legend of J. Kenneth Blackwell,
Ohioís former secretary of state and graduate of the Karl Rove School of Dirty
Politics, lives on, bequeathed to other remaining Republicans in the state. In
fact, theyíve decided to block proposed tests to the stateís electronic voting
machines prior to the 2008 presidential primary.
By a vote of 4-3, Republicans on Ohioís State Controlling
Board blocked Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunnerís proposed $1.8 million
contract for voting machine testing. Brunner had already set aside the $1.8
million for the test. Her specific request to the Controlling Board was a
waiver for competitive bidding. Her office had hoped to complete all testing by
November 30, 2007.
Blackwellís successor, and a former judge, Brunner won election as a reform
candidate, vowing to guarantee the publicís access to the polls, and an
accurate vote count in 2008. But, it seems Brunner hasnít been quite as
aggressive as some of her Democratic counterparts like California Secretary of State Debra Bowen,
who recently completed an extensive array of testing on that stateís electronic
voting machines. Bowen decertified many of the machines and is on course to
rework how Americaís biggest state casts and counts its ballots. Itís too bad
Brunner isnít following her California counterpartís lead.
Free Press ran the story last Tuesday, Sept. 11:
When it was recently revealed
that 56 of 88 Ohio counties illegally destroyed protected materials from the
2004 election, Brunner showed little reaction. She has also stated publicly
doubts that the irregularities that defined the Ohio vote that year could have
affected the outcome or that the illegal destruction of more than 2000 ballots
could have been intentional.
But in attempting to carry out
her promise to test Ohio's electronic voting machines, Brunner has followed
through on public demands that the ability of Ohio's electronic machines to
deliver a fair and reliable vote count be proven. Tests and studies conducted
by the federal Government Accountability Office,
Princeton University, Johns Hopkins, the Brennan Center, the Carter-Baker Election Commission,
John Conyer's House Judiciary Committee
and others have all shown clearly that electronic voting machines are
unreliable and easily rigged.
The New York Times has now joined
that consensus, calling for an outright federal ban. "Electronic voting
has been an abysmal failure," the Times said. "Computer experts have
done study after study showing that electronic voting machines, which are often
shoddily made, can easily be hacked. With little effort, vote totals can be
changed and elections stolen."
Apparently, the Ohio GOP is not
anxious to have a state study add to such conclusions. At a Monday hearing,
Republican State Representative Matthew Dolan attempted to table Brunnerís
request before she was allowed to speak. Only the procedural intervention of
Controlling Board President Joe Secrest afforded Brunner the courtesy of
presenting her controversial proposal.
Compared to Bowenís tests in California, Brunnerís plan seems half-hearted
at best. It calls for contracts with testing companies preferred by voting
machine vendors like SysTest Labs and
computer security experts from various universities to inspect machines under
management of the Battelle
But, according to Ohio State Senator John Carey (R-Wellston), tests
conducted in California were the work of leftists and extremists. Carey and
Sen. Steve Stivers both questioned the independence and objectiveness of the
universities listed in Brunnerís plan, including Cleveland State, Penn State, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Cleveland State University Law
Professor Candace Hoke, who witnessed the California tests of e-voting machines
for hackability, told the Controlling Board that within ten seconds to two
minutes . . . they found many different ways to hack the machines.
Both Brunner and Hoke stressed
the lack of security measures now used at Ohioís polling places. The issues of
so-called sleepovers used in some Ohio counties, like Hocking, were cited. This
practice involves often untrained poll workers to take hackable voting machines
home with them the weekend before an Election Day.
Brunner repeatedly emphasized the
need to establish a chain of custody concerning both the access and memory
cards used in voting machines, the latter serving as an electronic ballot box.
In recent elections, memory cards have gone missing for hours on election
nights in both Toledo and Dayton.
State Senator Ray Miller
(D-Columbus) declared that election security is the most important issue thatís
come before the Controlling Board. He said, itís way beyond the building of
buildings. It goes to the core of our democracy.
Ohio Speaker of the House John Husted (R) initiated the attack on Brunnerís
plan on the morning of September 10 meeting of the Controlling Board by sending
Brunner a letter demanding she remove the requested contract proposal from the
Controlling Board agenda. Husted wrote: "At the present time, too many
outstanding questions remain regarding the scope of this request and the intent
of the study."
Brunnerís response: "... our testing process allows for parallel
independent testing of Ohioís voting systems by both corporate testing entities
and some of the nationís best computer security research scientists, allowing
them to collaborate as needed. I regret I cannot accede to your request to
delay, as I need information to prepare for the early March 4 primary election
so that Ohioís voters can trust that we have done all possible to ensure the
safety, reliability and trustworthiness of our voting systems in Ohio."
Early voting will begin in Ohio in late January. But the GOP clearly intends
to delay the testing in Ohio and conduct yet another election on eminently
hackable electronic voting machines.
I canít believe this is happening so close to the primaries. SoS Brunner has
to be a disappointment to Ohio voters, who sent a clarion message that
Blackwellís brand of Rovian electioneering wasnít welcome in their state.
Iím not saying it was under the same circumstances but we managed to get it
done in Florida, and that was with a Republican governor and secretary of
Hit the streets Ohioans! Youíre running out of time!
After all, we don't want a sequel.