Marionumber1 Oct 18th, 2019 85 Never
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- Though many states had highly suspect elections in 2004, nothing compares to Ohio under the reign of Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. It was an immediate red flag that Blackwell was a co-chair of the Bush/Cheney reelection campaign in Ohio while also serving as the allegedly impartial supervisor of that election.
- Even before the election, Blackwell worked to stack the deck, applying an absurdly strict interpretation of state law that rejected voter registration forms unless they were printed on a very specific type of paper; a different type from the one that local election boards and Blackwell's own office were handing out. Thus many new voters, who by most accounts largely would have gone against Bush, were not even allowed to register.
- For the election results reporting technology, Blackwell brought in partisan IT contractors GovTech, run by Mike Connell, and SmarTech, run by Jeff Averbeck, both men with strong ties to the religious right (as was the case with Blackwell himself). These contractors established a man-in-the-middle where, late on election night, election returns from individual counties stopped going directly to the Secretary of State's office and instead passed through SmarTech servers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the votes could have been altered at will. Blackwell's own IT specialist was sent home at 9 PM to allow these private partisan firms to take over the election reporting infrastructure. Numerous counties that reported their results after the SmarTech takeover had severe anomalies in their results and sometimes technical anomalies on the vote tabulators themselves.
- With the Green and Libertarian parties jointly requesting a recount that the Democratic Party itself had no interest in, there was another scramble to cover up the ugly reality of how Ohio's votes had been counted. Ohio law calls for a random selection of precincts to be counted by hand and compared to the electronic machine totals. In county after county, election officials broke the law by selecting the precincts to use in advance, carefully avoiding ones where the hand count would have exposed a skewed electronic count. What would bring all of these disparate and bipartisan election boards on the same page for a cover-up? Back in October, Blackwell threatened to remove any election board officials who didn't comply with his orders, essentially putting local election offices under his control. In cases where hand counts still didn't match the official counts, Blackwell urged local officials to ignore the issues or sent in a widely-distrusted private voting machine technician to fiddle with the machines until they did match.
- As a final parting gift, when Blackwell was sued in 2006 for his election misconduct, over half of the county election boards began destroying ballots, in violation of federal law and a court order.
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