Monday, November 08, 2004

The Mysteries of Ohio 

Susan Madrak of Suburban Guerrilla did a quick scan of the official vote tally from Cuyahoga County, OH (which, by the way, does not yet include absentee or provisional ballots). You do the math:
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 (VIL): 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: 760 registered voters; 8,822 ballots cast
Independence: 5,735 registered voters; 6,226 ballots cast
Mayfield (VIL): 2,764 registered voters; 3,145 ballots cast
Middleburg Heights: 12,173 registered voters; 14,854 ballots cast
North Olmsted: 25,794 registered voters; 25,887 ballots cast
Oakwood (VIL): 2,746 registered voters; 7,099 ballots cast
Olmsted 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 (Ward 6): 2,292 registered voters; 4,300 ballots cast
South Euclid: 16,902 registered voters; 16,917 ballots cast
Strongsville (Ward 3): 7,806 registered voters; 12,108 ballots cast
University Heights: 10,072 registered voters; 11,982 ballots cast
Warrensville Heights: 10,562 registered voters; 15,039 ballots cast
Woodmere (VIL): 558 registered voters; 8,854 ballots cast
UPDATE (via Zemblan patriot K.Z.): Keith Olbermann is on the case, and how:
Here’s an interesting little sidebar of our system of government confirmed recently by the crack Countdown research staff: no Presidential candidate’s concession speech is legally binding. The only determinants of the outcome of election are the reports of the state returns boards and the vote of the Electoral College.

That’s right. Richard Nixon may have phoned John Kennedy in November, 1960, and congratulated him through clenched teeth. But if the FBI had burst into Kennedy headquarters in Chicago a week later and walked out with all the file cabinets and a bunch of employees with their raincoats drawn up over their heads, nothing Nixon had said would’ve prevented him, and not JFK, from taking the oath of office the following January.

This is mentioned because there is a small but blood-curdling set of news stories that right now exists somewhere between the world of investigative journalism, and the world of the Reynolds Wrap Hat. And while the group’s ultimate home remains unclear - so might our election of just a week ago.

Stories like these have filled the web since the tide turned against John Kerry late Tuesday night. But not until Friday did they begin to spill into the more conventional news media. That’s when the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that officials in Warren County, Ohio, had “locked down” its administration building to prevent anybody from observing the vote count there.

Suspicious enough on the face of it, the decision got more dubious still when County Commissioners confirmed that they were acting on the advice of their Emergency Services Director, Frank Young. Mr. Young had explained that he had been advised by the federal government to implement the measures for the sake of Homeland Security.

Gotcha. Tom Ridge thought Osama Bin Laden was planning to hit Caesar Creek State Park in Waynesville. During the vote count in Lebanon. Or maybe it was Kings Island Amusement Park that had gone Code-Orange without telling anybody. Al-Qaeda had selected Turtlecreek Township for its first foray into a Red State.

The State of Ohio confirms that of all of its 88 Counties, Warren alone decided such Homeland Security measures were necessary. Even in Butler County, reports the Enquirer, the media and others were permitted to watch through a window as ballot-checkers performed their duties. In Warren, the media was finally admitted to the lobby of the administration building, which may have been slightly less incommodious for the reporters, but which still managed to keep them two floors away from the venue of the actual count.
In a late-night update, Olbermann mentions the anomalous Florida optical-scan tallies and discusses reaction to his coverage of the Ohio count (1508 positive e-mails; 62 negative), with special reference to the inexplicable surplus of voters in Cuyahoga County. And then, of course, there's this:
And in the continuing saga of the secret vote count in Warren County, Ohio (outside Cincinnati), no protestor offered an explanation or even a reference, excepting one sympathetic writer who noted that there was a “beautiful Mosque” in or near Warren County, and that a warning from Homeland Security might have been predicated on that fact . . . .

“About three weeks prior to elections,” Ms. South stated, “our emergency services department had been receiving quite a few pieces of correspondence from the office of Homeland Security on the upcoming elections. These memos were sent out statewide, not just to Warren County and they included a lot of planning tools and resources to use for election day security.

“In a face to face meeting between the FBI and our director of Emergency Services, we were informed that on a scale from 1 to 10, the tri-state area of Southwest Ohio was ranked at a high 8 to a low 9 in terms of security risk. Warren County in particular, was rated at 10 (with 10 being the highest risk). Pursuant to the Ohio revised code, we followed the law to the letter that basically says that no one is allowed within a hundred feet of a polling place except for voters and that after the polls close the only people allowed in the board of elections area where votes are being counted are the board of election members, judges, clerks, poll challengers, police, and that no one other than those people can be there while tabulation is taking place.”

Ms. South said she admitted the media to the building’s lobby, and that they were provided with updates on the ballot-counting every half hour. Of course, the ballot-counting was being conducted on the third floor, and the idea that it would have probably looked better if Warren had done what Ohio’s other 87 counties did - at least let reporters look through windows as the tabulations proceeded - apparently didn’t occur to anybody . . . .

Having said all that - for crying out loud, all the data we used tonight on Countdown was on official government websites in Cleveland and Florida. We confirmed all of it - moved it right out of the Reynolds Wrap Hat zone - in about ten minutes.

Which offers one way bloggers can help guide the mainstream at times like this: source your stuff like crazy, and the stuffier the source the better.

Enough from the soapbox. We have heard the message on the Voting Angst and will continue to cover it with all prudent speed.

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