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Questions about "Ohio Vote Fraud" story - Input Urgently Needed!

Everyone with an interest in the Ohio election results has heard by now about Cuyahoga County, where in 29 precincts the number of votes appears to exceed the number of voters by some 93,000. The story is circulating like wildfire and is even being used as ammunition by at least one (non-Republican) candidate for a future Congressional seat.
It's being stated that the 93,000 "ghost votes" went to George W. Bush, thereby seemingly cancelling out most of Bush's 133,000 vote plurality in Ohio (a representative article detailing the Cuyahoga anomalies is provided below for reference).

But do the numbers really support the claim that in the 29 Cuyahoga precincts the vote was rigged in Bush's favor? And do they establish (as the article states) that "The Republicans are SO busted"? I'd like nothing better than to think they do, but a visit to Cuyahoga's Board of Elections website raised a lot of questions in my mind and threw up some bright red warning flags as well. Here's what I discovered:

1. Voters in Cuyahoga County supported KERRY by an overwhelming margin of more than 2 to 1 (Kerry received 66.41% of the vote, Bush got only 33.04%).

2. The 29 precincts in question comprise less than 2% of Cuyahoga's 1,458 election precincts.

3. Cuyahoga County's published results DO NOT INDICATE the number of votes cast for presidential candidates - they show only the countywide percentage breakdown.

4. The results by precinct show the percentage breakdowns for everything BUT the presidential race. There is thus no apparent way to ascertain from the published results if the "ghost votes" in the 29 precincts in fact went to Bush, whether they counted at all toward the final percentages, or whether they're simply mangled numbers that are irreconcilable but statistically meaningless.

I'm not an election wonk and I readily admit I don't know WHAT to make of all this, but with life experience and recent events shaping my thinking I'm beginning to wonder if the Cuyahoga story might not be a clever trap - something akin to the probably-genuine but "unverifiable" documents that discredited the story about Bush's National Guard service, damaged CBS, and put an absolute end to further questions on the subject.

We live unfortunately in an age where public perception is the only reality. If the "93,000 fraudulent votes for Bush" story gains broad traction and is then similarly "debunked" it would be a humiliating PR disaster that could spell the end of ongoing attempts to find out what really happened in the 2004 election. It's therefore of crucial importance that we get to the bottom of this and find out what the Cuyahoga numbers really mean. If the apparent "ghost votes" turn out to be statistically significant, fine. However, if they're a red herring or clearly irrelevant to the larger questions of vote fraud, we should act immediately to make this widely known before the trap - if indeed it is a trap - can be sprung.

COMMENTS AND INPUT PLEASE!!!

Here's the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections website (with links to additional data):

 http://boe.cuyahogacounty.us/BOE/results/currentresults1.htm

(Note that the Cuyahoga results are "unofficial" until certified, and do not include overseas and provisional ballots. However, these would not change the existing votes versus voters disparity.)


Here's the "Ohio Vote Fraud" article:

****************

Ohio Vote Fraud: More Bush "Voters" Than Residents
by TEED ROCKWELL

In Ohio, the Republicans adhere strictly to the infamous vote fraud motto: Vote Early and Vote Often.

Cuyahooga county is only one of 48 counties connected with voter fraud in Ohio and Florida.

You may have seen the associated press story about the precinct in Cuyahoga county that had less than 1,000 voters, and gave Bush almost 4,000 extra votes.

But that turns out to be only the tip of a very ugly iceberg. The evidence discovered by some remarkably careful sleuthing would convince any reasonable court to invalidate the entire Ohio election.

In last Tuesday's election, 29 precincts in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, reported votes cast IN EXCESS of the number of registered voters - at least 93,136 extra votes total. And the numbers are right there on the official Cuyahoga County Board of Elections website:

Bay Village - 13,710 registered voters / 18,663 ballots cast
Beachwood - 9,943 registered voters / 13,939 ballots cast
Bedford - 9,942 registered voters / 14,465 ballots cast
Bedford Heights - 8,142 registered voters / 13,512 ballots cast
Brooklyn - 8,016 registered voters / 12,303 ballots cast
Brooklyn Heights - 1,144 registered voters / 1,869 ballots cast
Chagrin Falls Village - 3,557 registered voters / 4,860 ballots cast
Cuyahoga Heights - 570 registered voters / 1,382 ballots cast
Fairview Park - 13,342 registered voters / 18,472 ballots cast
Highland Hills Village - 760 registered voters / 8,822 ballots cast
Independence - 5,735 registered voters / 6,226 ballots cast
Mayfield Village - 2,764 registered voters / 3,145 ballots cast
Middleburg Heights - 12,173 registered voters / 14,854 ballots cast
Moreland Hills Village - 2,990 registered voters / 4,616 ballots cast
North Olmstead - 25,794 registered voters / 25,887 ballots cast
Olmstead Falls - 6,538 registered voters / 7,328 ballots cast
Pepper Pike - 5,131 registered voters / 6,479 ballots cast
Rocky River - 16,600 registered voters / 20,070 ballots cast
Solon (WD6) - 2,292 registered voters / 4,300 ballots cast
South Euclid - 16,902 registered voters / 16,917 ballots cast
Strongsville (WD3) - 7,806 registered voters / 12,108 ballots cast
University Heights - 10,072 registered voters / 11,982 ballots cast
Valley View Village - 1,787 registered voters / 3,409 ballots cast
Warrensville Heights - 10,562 registered voters / 15,039 ballots cast
Woodmere Village - 558 registered voters / 8,854 ballots cast
Bedford (CSD) - 22,777 registered voters / 27,856 ballots cast
Independence (LSD) - 5,735 registered voters / 6,226 ballots cast
Orange (CSD) - 11,640 registered voters / 22,931 ballots cast
Warrensville (CSD) - 12,218 registered voters / 15,822 ballots cast

The Republicans are so BUSTED.
well duh, don't overanalyze 17.Nov.2004 13:37

another me

Obviously, if there are more votes cast everywhere than upward bound limits of registered voters, you have a problem here.

explanations 17.Nov.2004 17:23

a person

The "official" explanation I got when I sent an email to an election official there is that the overvotes are because they tabulate their absentee ballots by legislative district rather than by precinct. Makes sense, but one must know a bit more before being able to conclude that things are clean or dirty here. It should be investigated, and it'd be good to know how it went in past elections to see if the official explanation is true or not.

explanations, or simply rationalizations? 17.Nov.2004 18:58

hope to see them in court

Did you get their name perchance? Or record that conversation? I would suggest that in the future.

besides, there is no way in hell all random "splays" all favored one candidate anyway: this is a good article about Ohio
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/11/303676.shtml

I don't think you got this right 17.Nov.2004 19:42

Angry Patriot

Do a little homework, look at the figures for Bay Village:

BALLOTS CAST BAY VILLAGE 18663
BALLOTS CAST BYVL WD1 2233
BALLOTS CAST BYVL WD2 2164
BALLOTS CAST BYVL WD3 2030
BALLOTS CAST BYVL WD4 2288

VOTER REGISTRATIONS
BAY VILLAGE WARD 1 3602
BAY VILLAGE WARD 2 3381
BAY VILLAGE WARD 3 3122
BAY VILLAGE WARD 4 3605
BAY VILLAGE CITY 13710

The figures show a tally of votes that exceed the number of registered voters.

It's just that plain and simple.

thanks folks for your passion 18.Nov.2004 15:58

a person

hope to see them: yes, of course I got the name. It was an email! Send one to any old Ohio voting official and see what you get back. I must agree VERY STRONGLY with you that Bush has benefitted just a little too much from these "random" splays. Check out the UC Berkely study of FL that just came out where they said it was pretty much impossible for Bush to have fared as well as he did.

Angry Patriot: Just relax a little, ok? Of course you're pissed off that Democracy is being dismantled. But be a bit more polite when addressing somebody who's on your side--unless you want to be part of the problem. As it happens, I have done homework and lots of it, and just because you happen to posess a data set that I don't is no reason to get snippy. I did mis-speak when I said by precinct rather than "by town". So your numbers don't really prove fraud. On the other hand, you can count on cheaters to try to make the results seem plausible.

Now here's a form letter part of that email I got...

Adding to the confusion, however, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections
posted voter-turnout numbers on its Web site that appeared to show at least
22 Cleveland-area communities where more people cast ballots than were
registered.

The discrepancies quickly made their way through emails and onto Web sites
alleging voter fraud in Ohio, said Kimberly Bartlett, the board's community
outreach specialist. Many attributed the problems to electronic voting even
though Cuyahoga County still uses punch cards.

The discrepancy was caused, though, when the board's computer attributed
absentee ballots, which are printed and sorted by legislative districts, to
several towns within those districts when calculating voter turnout. They
were counted only once in election results, Bartlett said, meaning Kerry's
217,638-vote victory in Cuyahoga County is unchanged.

Those calling seem to be looking for hope that Kerry actually won Ohio, she
said.

"They want to believe it, but there isn't any fraud here," Bartlett said.
"People desperately want to believe, and I try to set them straight. It
takes about three times before it clicks."