Rolling Stone Report on 2004 Voting Irregularities

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State . . . U.S. Const. amend. XV, Section 1.

Rolling Stone has released an investigative report on Republican vote stealing in the 2004 election by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Greg Palast. It's findings:

Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted - enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.

How it happened and what it meant:

“The new registrations thrown out, the existing registrations scrubbed, the spoiled ballots, the provisional ballots that were never counted - and what you have is millions of voters, more than enough to swing the presidential election, quietly being detached from the electorate by subterfuge.


"Jim Crow was laid to rest, but his cousins were not," says Donna Brazile. "We got rid of poll taxes and literacy tests but now have a second generation of schemes to deny our citizens their franchise." Come November, the most crucial demographic may prove to be Americans who have been denied the right to vote. If Democrats are to win the 2008 election, they must not simply beat John McCain at the polls - they must beat him by a margin that exceeds the level of GOP vote tampering.

More examples:

Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad3 never received their ballots — or received them too late to vote4 — after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations5. A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states6, was discovered shredding Democratic registrations7. In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes8, malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots9. Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment — roughly one for every 100 cast10.

There are always going to be some irregularities. What's different in this case, according to the authors, is:

But what is most anomalous about the irregularities in 2004 was their decidedly partisan bent: Almost without exception they hurt John Kerry and benefited George Bush. 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.

Ohio was a disaster:

"It was terrible," says Sen. Christopher Dodd, who helped craft reforms in 2002 that were supposed to prevent such electoral abuses. "People waiting in line for twelve hours to cast their ballots, people not being allowed to vote because they were in the wrong precinct — it was an outrage. In Ohio, you had a secretary of state who was determined to guarantee a Republican outcome. I'm terribly disheartened."

I've only scratched the first page of this 10 page report. Another 5 page article is here. I hope you all will read both and then come back and let us know what you think.

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    Too late (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by lentinel on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 06:03:10 AM EST
    We have had reason to believe this is true since the election of 2004.

    My question: Why didn't Kerry and the democratic party do something about it at the time? It seemed as if they just quietly folded their tents and split.

    Too timid (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by cal1942 on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 07:35:25 AM EST
    to make noise.

    Over the past few years Democrats have been afraid to appear as 'obstructionist.'

    Whether in legislation, appointments or investigations they've been all too reluctant to appear disruptive.  

    David Broder would lower the boom on them if they ever tried to set anything right. Not bi-partisan you know.

    So a useless, damaging war goes on, elections get fixed, the Constitution is ignored, extremist judges take over the courts, federal agencies are crippled, all because they don't want the reputation as obstructing the acts of a criminal element in American politics.

    The only thing they'd obstruct is the Republican party's power to assault the heart and soul of the nation. They don't seem to get that and they don't seem to get that by raising hell they'd win the respect of the American people.


    There's another problem, which Obama (none / 0) (#26)
    by ThatOneVoter on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 10:48:38 AM EST
    has addressed: the Democrats need to make noise BEFORE the elections, to lay a base for challenging tricks like this; otherwise, the politics of such a challenge are very bad.

    How? (none / 0) (#27)
    by lentinel on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 10:59:28 AM EST
    How did Obama address this issue?

    It doesn't sound like his style to confront these past abuses.


    He's warning about current and (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by ThatOneVoter on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 11:10:47 AM EST
    future problems NOW, before the election. Well, his adviser are doing it.

    Just words. We needed Dems' actions (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Cream City on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 11:45:18 AM EST
    as after all, they and we have been warning about this since 2000.  

    Oh really?! I don't recall Kerry saying (none / 0) (#35)
    by ThatOneVoter on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 01:20:35 PM EST
    one word about this before the 2004 elections.

    Quite a few of my lawyer friends (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by oculus on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 11:12:26 AM EST
    are going out of state to be poll watchers and be available to write pleadings, if needed, based on conditions at the polls.  They are doing this on behalf of the Obama campaign.  Many did the same thing on behalf of Kerry campaign.  

    Ken Blackwell ran for Governor in 2004 (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Fabian on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 07:17:06 AM EST
    I kept wanting Blackwell to "run on his record" because there were a lot of people waiting for an opportunity to bring up his record on the 2004 elections.  He never did for some reason.  Corrupt isn't the same as stupid.

    He did lose handily, though. (none / 0) (#13)
    by sallywally on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 09:20:06 AM EST
    People were disgusted with him.

    People were disgusted with the GOP (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Fabian on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 10:25:16 AM EST
    which had some high profile corruption and fraud convictions - some of which cost the taxpayers and business owners dearly.

    I'll believe in post partisan politics when both parties make a point of kicking out the bad apples.  I was disappointed in Mark Dann, but glad that there was no foot dragging in dealing with him.  Heave the bad actors out.  It's both good for the party not to have to defend corrupt members and it's good for the state as well.


    Yes, good points. n/t (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by sallywally on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 09:31:35 PM EST
    You need better sourcing (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 08:22:52 AM EST
    Kennedy and Palast are not credible observers and when they mix the REAL problem - voter suppression (particularly in the registration process) with ridiculously over the top language as they do - they become HARMFUL to the cause.

    John Kerry definitely lost the election in 2004, in Ohio too. Only fools doubt that now.

    I would rather not see people tying their fates to the likes of Kennedy and Palast.

    voter suppresion (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by popsnorkle on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 09:21:59 AM EST
    Are you saying that not enough people were prevented from voting to change the outcome?  I didn't think it was that clear.

    I think it clearly was (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 09:41:19 AM EST
    sourcing (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jlvngstn on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 08:26:08 AM EST
    I felt exactly the same about the McCain article they wrote.  Too many unnamed sources in that one and credibility of the sources always makes or breaks a story....

    And the credibility of Donna Brazile (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Cream City on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 09:32:24 AM EST
    being one quoted discredits the story right there.  It's about much more than race, too, but that's where she goes again.  Jeez, Donna, just once -- read a book about it, learn something, and speak beyond your narrow frame of your worldview.

    OK, another substantial source!!! (none / 0) (#17)
    by wurman on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 09:38:35 AM EST
    James Q. Jacobs:

    The simple expedient, by GOP operatives, of taking punchcards from one precinct & counting them in another precinct in which the numbered locations for the presidential candidates were reversed is documented at this website.

    Cross-voting can occur in several ways. Wrong-precinct voting occurs if voters inadvertently punch their ballot with another precinct's voting machine. With multiple ballot orders at a location, cross-voting can result. Cross-voting also occurs when, anytime after voting and before counting, ballots are switched to a precinct with a different ballot order. This study addresses the evidence for cross-voting without distinguishing or quantifying causes. Significant chain of custody concerns exists with ballot transport to central tabulators as well as with ballots at precincts. Wrong-precinct voting, innocent or directed, and ballot switching, whether fraudulently stuffing ballot boxes or by inadvertence, all have the same effect and their specific causes are not readily distinguished in vote results. Herein cross-voting and vote-switching refers to the process, the change of the vote count, without distinguishing a motive or reason.

    The other technique of offering voters the "wrong" card for the machine at their precinct is even more clever.



    When Palast talks.... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 09:26:06 AM EST
    I listen...one of the only investigative journalists in the game.

    I tend to agree about Palast.. (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by sallywally on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 09:50:21 AM EST
    and it was obvious in the runup to the election that Blackwell was working hard to suppress the vote here in Ohio. He was even rather in your face about it - very cocky and snarky, not to mention revoltingly arrogant.

    I believe Kerry might well have won without the efforts of the GOP to suppress and invalidate voters and votes in Ohio.

    Kerry should have fought it, and I believe Edwards wanted to do that.

    So we will probably never know for sure, but the indications are that the Repubs stole the election in Ohio in 2004.

    Even now, though, it's clear that lots of Dems still buy the "conspiracy theory" about this election.

    Maybe now not so much about Florida in 2000, but that was also dismissed as a conspiracy theory at the time and well afterward.

    It's clear the GOP is working hard to set up conditions to do the same in the 2008 election. They are trying to invalidate 200,000 newly registered voters here in Ohio and more new voters across the country.

    If Obama wins, they will litigate loudly and intensely.

    This time, the Dems need to fight, tooth and nail. And if we get a filibuster-proof majority, we need to get serious - and absolutely consistent nationwide - voting reform into place.


    They lost the fight in Ohio last week (none / 0) (#21)
    by Cream City on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 10:08:33 AM EST
    didn't they?  So it was reported here and everywhere.  Is there a new lawsuit now?  What are its grounds for standing, since the Supreme Court knocked out that?  What can they get done with only two weeks left?  Please update the reason for continued concern, after the Supreme Court ruling.

    Fight in Ohio continuing (none / 0) (#30)
    by BackFromOhio on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 11:11:19 AM EST
    I understand the Repubs lost fight in Ohio last week on narrow ruling related to Republican Party's lack of standing.  The suit has been refiled in Ohio by other plaintiff; the Ohio Supreme Court has 100% Republican membership, I believe.  My guess is that the plaintiffs will eventually win this one.  In 2006, the only progressive on the court stepped down, and despite a Dem sweep of most/all other offices, Dems lost the vote on the court position.  Brennan Center has report on ad spending on the court race in Ohio and who funded the ads.



    Eventually. Any indication that within 2 weeks (none / 0) (#33)
    by Cream City on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 11:46:45 AM EST
    the Ohio GOP high court can come down with a ruling that would have impact now?  Not from what I've read, which is why I'm asking what is new.

    If 2004 is any indication (none / 0) (#34)
    by BackFromOhio on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 12:51:00 PM EST
    WHen I was on the ground in Ohio in 2004 doing voter protection, there were several suits brought at the last minute, and all were given expedited treatment, albeit most were brought in Federal court.  I do not know who is representing the Ohio Secretary of State or what tactics they have at their disposal.  Will post if I find out.



    Thanks. (none / 0) (#37)
    by Cream City on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 01:26:51 PM EST
    In my state with a suit pending, election board instructions already went out last week(making the suit essentially moot).  So it's interesting that Ohio apparently, a bigger state with more polling places, still hasn't sent out instructions to the counties.  That alone could suggest problems to come.

    Instructions may have gone out (none / 0) (#40)
    by BackFromOhio on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 03:52:21 PM EST
    but in 2004, for example, there were so many lawsuits decided at the last second, that instructions were probably modified quite late; I say "probably" because in many instances Blackwell instructions were upheld, so presumably no changes had to be made. Example: A lawsuit brought over rights of challengers. Ohio has an interesting system whereby each voting ward has 2 Dem-nominated & 2 Repub-nominated "judges"; in addition, each party is permitted to send in a challenger -- who can challenge the right to vote of those who shows up to vote. After hotly contested suits, appeals, etc. that upheld challenger rights, the Repubs failed to send challengers into many wards on election day. There was also a suit brought the afternoon (or evening) of election day to require that the polls remain open beyond regular hours because of the long lines of voters who would otherwise have been disenfranchised; this suit was successful. I have not this year ventured over to the Ohio Secy of State website to see what instructions have been sent out or what rulings have been issued, but I did read an article some weeks ago reporting that Brunner had issued instructions banning the practice of taking voting machines home overnight prior to the election.  

    Interesting Notice (none / 0) (#41)
    by BackFromOhio on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 04:01:20 PM EST
    at Ohio Secretary of State website:

    October 20, 2008 - Columbus, Ohio - Due to security concerns experienced by the Secretary of State's website, full functionality of the website has been suspended to protect the integrity of state records and data. Full functionality will be restored when we are assured that all data has been protected and restored to acceptable levels of security. If you have questions please contact Secretary of State's office at __

    Notice should (none / 0) (#42)
    by BackFromOhio on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 04:02:27 PM EST
    be in quotation marks. I'm still hit and miss on this posting stuff. Sorry

    I actually welcome those challenges. (none / 0) (#24)
    by Fabian on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 10:29:21 AM EST
    Let's get this all out in the open, litigated, appealed and sent to the highest courts in the land.

    It's a PITA, to be sure.  It sucks resources as well.  But if it leads to clear rules, well regulated electoral processes and a national consensus then I'm all for it.  


    How come these reports alwas come (none / 0) (#3)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 07:32:31 AM EST
    out too late to affect the coming election and too far ahead of the next after to actually effect change?

    How many people have been registered by GOP firms this election season and had their registrations shredded?  Seriously.

    I didn't register to vote through a third-party organization.  I never trusted them on either side of the political divide to make sure my registration - which I take seriously - was done properly.  If we are going to continue this practice of allowing people to sit in front of grocery stores etc. and offer to register voters, we need to set up some system of confirmation for the prospective voter and accountability for the registrants.

    Or we could set up a system of addresses like the 911 system where people could send in a request for registration to a generic address called "Vote - Citizenship 101" provide their address and zip and have it automatically sorted by the Postal Service and delivered to the correct registrar's office - it would be a nationwide standard.  Of course, online registration also would be a more and more important component as time goes on too.  Just thinking out loud...

    The real problem isn't (none / 0) (#5)
    by cal1942 on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 07:40:30 AM EST
    getting people registered or even to the polls to vote, it's what goes on in the back room before and during an election.

    Well, I think it is all three. (5.00 / 4) (#11)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 09:11:34 AM EST
    People need access to and accurate information about how to become a registered voter in order to allow qualified voters to participate in our elections.  I've seen nothing on my television regarding specific registration and voting rules to my area.  I know those things appear in newspapers and that as a registered voter I receive notifications of elections, but I don't know if everyone in the city gets a mailer explaining how to participate.  We are all registered from birth or naturalization to pay taxes, but not to vote - that seems out of wack to me.

    Agreed (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by eric on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 10:22:57 AM EST
    pre-registration should be for convenience only.  Many places seem to have this almighty "registered to vote" threshold that doesn't make any sense.  They cut off people's ability to vote 30 days before the election.  Why?

    Here in Minnesota, and in several other states, we have same day voter registration, aka election day registration.  It really takes a lot of the politics out of the purging of the rolls and misinforming people about how and when they can vote.  Are you a citizen?  You can vote.  No barriers.  And more people do vote.

    It is simple here.  You register and show up.  No ID, just sign in.  If you aren't registered, show up with the proper ID, register right there, and then vote.  If you don't have the appropriate ID, bring a neighbor that is registered in the same precinct, and they can vouch for you.  Then, you vote.  It is especially helpful for those that move around a lot and don't get registered in their new home.

    I found a nice little brochure about election day registration, if anyone is interested.  LINK


    Well, same day voter registration has (none / 0) (#38)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:00:56 PM EST
    been abused.  Baghwan Shree Rajneesh's crowd bused homeless people from Portland, Seattle and San Franciscon in order to swing a local election in a small Oregon town years ago.  They all claimed to live at their Ranch.  So that has its problems.  But I don't understand why we can't come up with some sort of basic standard that assures access.  Part of that standard would be to make sure that everyone who shows up gets to vote and that they have some way of dealing with a challenge right there on the spot.

    How did all of these people (none / 0) (#39)
    by eric on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 02:37:30 PM EST
    get to vote?  Did they have fake ID's or did they have some soon-to-be-in-jail-for-the-rest-of-his-life guy vouch for their residence?

    The vouch for your neighbor is the weakest part of registration, I'll admit, but the penalties for lying are significant.


    At the time - this was years ago - (none / 0) (#47)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 10:46:03 AM EST
    Oregon had same day registration and you didn't have to live in the state very long before you could vote - maybe three days - they did it by the book as I reacall.  In fact, I don't think they actually broke any laws until some idiot at the ranch decided to contaminate the town water supply to reduce voter turn out which is when the whole place fell apart - to be clear - the story was that they weren't trying to kill anyone - just trying to produce the effects of mild food poisoning - whether or not they could have killed someone is an entirely different story though.  It is a crazy story.  The whole saga of the ranch could have made a fairly interesting movie.

    The report is horrifying (none / 0) (#6)
    by Peter G on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 07:42:47 AM EST
    (although not completely surprising) -- and I don't mean to diminish that fact at all, by pointing out that your lead quote from the Fifteenth Amendment has been truncated to change its meaning.  You omitted the immediately following words "...on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."  Perhaps these democracy-stealers have misunderstood a different provision of the Constitution, the part of Article IV, section 4, which states: "The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government ...."

    You should keep in mind that (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 09:16:23 AM EST
    there is a fairly significant portion of the leadership in the GOP who don't believe in the Amendments to the Constitution - not even the first ten listed in the Bill of Rights - they give lipservice to the 2nd in order to keep a base of support around - but things like the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act indicate to me that they aren't all that serious about protecting gun ownership unless you procribe to their radical ideas of what this country should be.

    "report" (none / 0) (#9)
    by andgarden on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 08:55:16 AM EST
    No further comment from me.

    Ugh - wish they hadn't quoted (none / 0) (#10)
    by Lena on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 08:59:00 AM EST
    Donna Brazille.

    Though her quote may be accurate, the source is compromised.

    I'll say it again, (none / 0) (#28)
    by Radix on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 11:09:57 AM EST
    why create a system of accounting, which is what vote counting machines do, which can not be audited?

    It's time to open your eyes (none / 0) (#44)
    by Lora on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 08:18:32 PM EST
    The emperor has no clothes.