House Judiciary Ohio Forum Hears of Recount Fraud Plans
The House Judiciary Cmte., meeting in Columbus, Ohio to investigate presidential election vote irregularities in the state, has heard evidence that preparations to conduct a fraudulent recount are underway statewide.
In early testimony, chairman of the forum, Rep. John Conyers heard from Green party presidential candidate, David Cobb that employees of punch card vendor, Triad Governmental Systems, Inc. (Triad GSI) are attempting to orchestrate a fraudulent recount of the 3 percent of precincts likely to be included in the first phase of the recount process.
Cobb cited one case detailed by an --as yet anonymous-- informant, that a Triad GSI employee had told staff at the Columbus County Board of Elections office to inconspicuously note a prepared recount result, then report this data irrespective of the actual recount. The Triad GSI representative had also tampered with Triad voting equipment in the offices.
"This is going on, all over the state," Cobb told the hearing.
OHIO SUPREME COURT CHALLENGE
Earlier, lawyer John Bonifaz, acting for Cliff Arnebeck, and the "Alliance for Democracy" on behalf of a group of 40 voters, filed a suit ( http://www.onnnews.com/Global/story.asp?S=2684905 ) asking the Ohio Supreme Court review the election outcome.
Backing the suit, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said George W. Bush received higher votes where optical-scan voting machines were used. He questioned whether the machines were calibrated to record votes for Bush.
David Cobb told the forum that the Ohio presidential electors were meeting "under a cloud of suspicion" in Ohio.
"Today the presidential electors will cast their votes, he said. "Yet here in Ohio over 100,000 of the so-called spoiled and provisional ballots remain uncounted."
John Bonifaz, the general counsel of the non-partisan National Voting Institute, who filed the Ohio Supreme Court suit, described the Ohio presidential election as a crime against democracy, the right to vote, and the U.S. Constitution.
He critized the varying recount procedures applying across Ohio and maintained that recent federal court judgements meant that counties not conducting recounts in accordance with the constitution could be ordered to repeat the recounts.
RECORDS LOCKED DOWN
The forum also heard evidence that over the weekend, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell directed election staff to interrupt a public inspection ( http://blog.radioleft.com/blog/_archives/2004/12/11/202779.html) of minority precincts in Greene County, and remove election poll books from two certified volunteers for the Ohio Recount team who were checking them.
Joan Quinn, a retired attorney said she was hand-copying voter discrepancies from precinct voting books when officials in direct contact with Mr. Blackwells' office were instructed to "lock down" the records.
Eve Robertson, a retired election official from California corroborated that account and gave testimony that her interrupted inspection was showing that minority students --who seemed to have voted overwhelmingly for John Kerry-- comprised the bulk of the provisional votes.
She also described what she called a "serious breach" of election count procedure on Saturday 11 December, when she was able to enter the unstaffed count center through an unlocked door.
"There were ballots there. They looked like they were in boxes," she told the hearing.
Robertson called for a revote, not a recount --to cheers from the attendees. Other speakers also made the same call.
NATION AT A CROSSROADS
John Bonifaz also requested Rep. Conyers to formally object to any declaration of a winner of the electoral college vote on January 6th, 2005 --if a recount was still underway or a different set of electors had been nominated for Ohio.
"The nation is at a crossroads," Bonifaz told the forum.
"We can stand by while our democracy erodes around us, or we can stand up and fight," he said.
"For the dignity of our nation; and for the dignity of ourselves; and for the memory of those who struggled before us, we must choose to fight."
Earlier, responding to news of the Ohio Supreme Court challenge, Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, said the suit implied that Ohio election officials of both parties would have had to conspire to throw the election.
"That's simply a ridiculous assertion," he said.
Rep. John Conyers vowed that this was not the last such meeting. He said Judiciary Cmte. staffers would in coming days be meeting with witnesses and accepting depositions.
The hearing is continuing.
Fintan Dunne, Editor
13 Dec. 2005 @ 1pmET
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