The Republican Party has -- barely -- snatched another election in Ohio. And once
again there are telltale symptoms of the kind of vote theft that put George W.
Bush in the White House in 2000 and then kept him there in 2004.
This time an outspoken Iraqi War vet named Paul Hackett led the charge for
a Cincinnati-area Congressional seat, earning 48% of the vote. The spot was
open because Bush appointed his pal Rep. Rob Portman to be a trade representative.
Hackett is a rarity among today's Democrats---a blunt, hard-driving truth talker
who blasted Bush's attack on Iraq. Hackett labeled W. "a chicken hawk."
He's the first Iraqi war vet to run for Congress. He made no bones about the
incompetence and cynicism that define the GOP strategy there. In particular
Hackett attacked Bush's attacks on veterans benefits while claiming patriotic
support of the war.
In return, GOP candidate Jean Schmidt lied about Hackett's war record. Unlike
John Kerry, Hackett fought back immediately.
The Ohio GOP is now being thoroughly roasted by a Coingate scandal in which
Republican high roller Tom Noe seems to have walked off with at least $4 million
in state funds, and possibly $16.5 million in theft and unauthorized administrative
charges from a $50 million rare coin investment fund. Noe is a Bush Pioneer/Ranger
level donor, and a supporter of Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell,
the point man in Bush's theft of Ohio's 20 electoral votes and thus the presidency
As his friends and supporters flee him, Noe's role as long-time chair of the
Lucas County (Toledo) Board of Elections has come under intense scrutiny. Noe
turned the seat over to his wife, Bernadette, in time for a 2004 election rife
with disenfranchisement and fraud. Long lines, computer breakdowns, intimidation,
harassment and hacked vote counts were the defining characteristics of the election
the Noe's administered in the Toledo area last November.
In one instance, an entire precinct was shut down because the voting machines
were locked in the office of a school principal, who called in sick. Someone
also placed the wrong type of ballot scan markers in heavily Democratic Toledo
precincts, causing a high rate of uncounted, machine-rejected votes without
the voters knowing it.
Overall, experts estimate more than 7,000 votes were stolen outright from John
Kerry under the Noe's supervision in Lucas County 2004.
Whether similar theft defeated Paul Hackett remains to be seen. Hackett ran
extremely well in a district thoroughly gerrymandered as a permanent Republican
safe seat. Democrats are now crowing about how well Hackett did in "serving
notice" that the GOP may be in trouble. But the bottom line is that the
Republicans still won the election.
As of 1 am this past Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, Hackett was within 3600
votes---about four percent---of Schmidt.
But election officials announced a mysterious "computer glitch" that
delayed reports from Clermont County, which accounted for roughly a quarter
of all the ballots cast in the district.
When things finally settled out, Clermont gave Schmidt 58%, and a 5,000 vote
margin there. And thus the election.
Earlier in the evening---around 9pm---Hackett and Schmidt had been in a virtual
dead heat, according to sources in the Cincinnati area (see among them http://billmon.org/archives/002073.html
A full 88% of the district's precincts had then reported, including more than
half those in Clermont. As in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, it looked like a cliffhanger.
Schmidt's lead was less than 900 votes.
Clermont's "technical malfunction" with optical scan readers was
blamed on the humidity. Election officials said the southern Ohio summer had
soaked into the ballots, making it hard to pass them through opti-scan machines.
Once the problem was "solved," Schmidt picked up more than enough
votes to guarantee victory. The percentages by which she won in the post-glitch
vote count were far higher than those by which she had been winning prior to
the glitch. Vote counts were also higher than expected in the strongest Schmidt
Clermont and neighboring Butler and Warren Counties gave George W. Bush a margin
in 2004 that exceeded his entire statewide margin over John Kerry. Warren County
became infamous on election night, when its supervisors suddenly declared a
"Homeland Emergency" and dismissed all media and Democrats from the
vote count. Bush then emerged with a huge, unexpected and unmonitored majority.
Clermont, Butler and Warren Counties' totals were also suspect because a Democratic
candidate for Ohio Supreme Court implausibly out-polled John Kerry. As would
be expected, Bush vastly out ran the Republican candidate for Supreme Court
Chief Justice in those three counties. But Democrat C. Ellen Connelly, a pro-choice,
pro-gay-marriage African-American from Cleveland somehow got a higher vote count
than Kerry in these conservative, predominantly white southern Ohio counties.
Richard Hayes Philips and other experts who have assessed that vote say it is
beyond implausible, indicating a high likelihood of fraud.
But along with Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, Paul Hackett has become
another Democratic candidate whose campaign went suddenly and mysteriously down
to defeat late in the evening of a close election. Amidst the obligatory computer
glitches, the GOP candidate was declared the winner before the vote count could
Did Clermont County do for Schmidt in 2005 what it did for Bush in 2004? Did
that "glitch" in the evening vote count give GOP dirty tricksters
time to once again hack the machines they needed to win?
Who in the Bush/Rove Justice Department or major media will even ask the question?