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Congressional Letter to Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell
by Joseph Lopisi
Email: j.lopisi (nospam) comcast.net
07 Dec 2004
Congressional Investigation into the numerous voting irregularities in Ohio -- Hearing scheduled for Wednesday, December 8 at 10 a.m.
Just so we are all clear about this, CNN is no less in the pocket of the Bush administration then Fox News is. Anderson Cooper interviewed Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell late last week and did not ask one question that is being asked by the United States Congress in the attached letter below. Instead Anderson Cooper laughingly just said that some states have Democratic secretaries of state so why should Democrats complain that Secretary of State Blackwell is a Republican and at the same time Chairman of the reelection committee for George Bush.
Very few journalists, if any, on mainstream media can be trusted to be"fair and balanced".
One Hundred Eighth Congress
Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington DC 20515-6216
December 2, 2004
The Honorable J. Kenneth Blackwell
Ohio Secretary of State
180 East Broad Street, 16th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Dear Secretary Blackwell:
We write to request your assistance with our ongoing investigation
of election irregularities in the 2004 Presidential election. As you
may be aware, the Government Accountability Office has agreed to
undertake a systematic and comprehensive review of election irregularities
throughout the nation. As a separate matter, we have requested that the
House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff undertake a thorough review of
each and every specific allegation of election irregularities received
by our offices.
Collectively, we are concerned that these complaints constitute a
troubled portrait of a one-two punch that may well have altered and
suppressed votes, particularly minority and Democratic votes. First, it
appears there were substantial irregularities in vote tallies. It is
unclear whether these apparent errors were the result of machine
malfunctions or fraud.
Second, it appears that a series of actions of government and
non-government officials may have worked to frustrate minority voters.
Consistent and widespread reports indicate a lack of voting machines in
urban, minority and Democratic areas, and a surplus of such machines in
Republican, white and rural areas. As a result, minority voters were
discouraged from voting by lines that were in excess of eight hours long.
Many of these voters were also apparently victims of a campaign of
deception, where flyers and calls would direct them to the wrong polling
place. Once at that polling place, after waiting for hours in line, many of
these voters were provided provisional ballots after learning they were
at the wrong location. These ballots were not counted in many
jurisdictions because of a directive issued by some election officials, such as
We are sure you agree with us that regardless of the outcome of the
election, it is imperative that we examine any and all factors that may
have led to voting irregularities and any failure of votes to be
properly counted. Toward that end, we ask you to respond to the following
I. Counting Irregularities
A. Warren County Lockdown – On election night, Warren County locked
down its administration building and barred reporters from observing the
counting. When that decision was questioned, County officials claimed
they were responding to a terrorist threat that ranked a “10" on a scale
of 1 to 10, and that this information was received from an FBI agent.
Despite repeated requests, County officials have declined to name that
agent, however, and the FBI has stated that they had no information
about a terror threat in Warren County. Your office has stated that it does
not know of any other county that took these drastic measures.
In addition to these contradictions, Warren County officials have
given conflicting accounts of when the decision was made to lock down
the building. While the County Commissioner has stated that the decision
to lockdown the building was made during an October 28 closed-door
meeting, emailed memos – dated October 25 and 26 – indicate that
preparations for the lockdown were already underway.
This lockdown must be viewed in the context of the aberrational
results in Warren County. In the 2000 Presidential election, the
Democratic Presidential candidate, Al Gore, stopped running television
commercials and pulled resources out of Ohio weeks before the election. He won
28% of the vote in Warren County. In 2004, the Democratic Presidential
candidate, John Kerry, fiercely contested Ohio and independent groups
put considerable resources into getting out the Democratic vote.
Moreover, unlike in 2000, independent candidate Ralph Nader was not on the Ohio
ballot in 2004. Yet, the tallies reflect John Kerry receiving exactly
the same percentage in Warren County as Gore received, 28%.
We hope you agree that transparent election procedures are vital to
public confidence in electoral results. Moreover, such aberrant
procedures only create suspicion and doubt that the counting of votes was
manipulated. As part of your decision to certify the election, we hope you
have investigated these concerns and found them without merit. To
assist us in reaching a similar conclusion, we ask the following:
1. Have you, in fact, conducted an investigation of the lockdown?
What procedures have you or would you recommend be put into place to
avoid a recurrence of this situation?
2. Have you ascertained whether County officials were advised of
terrorist activity by an FBI agent and, if so, the identity of that
3. If County officials were not advised of terrorist activity by an
FBI agent, have you inquired as to why they misrepresented this fact?
If the lockdown was not as a response to a terrorist threat, why did it
take place? Did any manipulation of vote tallies occur?
B. Perry County Election Counting Discrepancies – The House Judiciary
Committee Democratic staff has received information indicating
discrepancies in vote tabulations in Perry County. For example, the sign-in book
for the Reading S precinct indicates that approximately 360 voters cast
ballots in that precinct. In the same precinct, the sign-in book
indicates that there were 33 absentee votes cast. In sum, this would appear
to mean that fewer than 400 total votes were cast in that precinct. Yet,
the precinct’s official tallies indicate that 489 votes were cast. In
addition, some voters’ names have two ballot stub numbers listed next to
their entries creating the appearance that voters were allowed to cast
more than one ballot.
In another precinct, W Lexington G AB, 350 voters are registered
according to the County’s initial tallies. Yet, 434 voters cast ballots.
As the tallies indicate, this would be an impossible 124% voter
turnout. The breakdown on election night was initially reported to be 174
votes for Bush, and 246 votes for Kerry. We are advised that the Perry
County Board of Elections has since issued a correction claiming that, due
to a computer error, some votes were counted twice. We are advised that
the new tallies state that only 224 people voted, and the tally is 90
votes for Bush and 127 votes for Kerry. This would make it appear that
virtually every ballot was counted twice, which seems improbable.
In Monroe Township, Precinct AAV, we are advised that 266 voters
signed in to vote on election day, yet the Perry County Board of
Elections is reporting that 393 votes were cast in that precinct, a difference
of 133 votes.
4. Why does it appear that there are more votes than voters in the
Reading S precinct of Perry County?
5. What is the explanation for the fluctuating results in the W
Lexington AB precinct?
6. Why does it appear that there are more votes than voters in the
Monroe Township precinct AAV?
C. Perry County Registration Peculiarities
In Perry County, there appears to be an extraordinarily high level
voter registration, 91%; yet a substantial number of these voters have
never voted and have no signature on file. Of the voters that are
registered in Perry County an extraordinarily large number of voters are
listed as having registered in 1977, a year in which there were no federal
elections. Of these an exceptional number are listed as having
registered on the exact same day: in total, 3,100 voters apparently registered
in Perry County on November 8, 1977.
7. Please explain why there is such a high percentage of voters in
this County who have never voted and do not have signatures on file.
Also, please help us understand why such a high number of voters in this
County are shown as having registered on the same day in 1977.
D. Unusual Results in Butler County
In Butler County, a Democratic Candidate for State Supreme Court,
C. Ellen Connally received 59,532 votes. In contrast, the Kerry-Edwards
ticket received only 54,185 votes, 5,000 less than the State Supreme
Court candidate. Additionally, the victorious Republican candidate for
State Supreme Court received approximately 40,000 less votes than the
Bush-Cheney ticket. Further, Connally received 10,000 or more votes in
excess of Kerry’s total number of votes in five counties, and 5,000 more
votes in excess of Kerry’s total in ten others.
It must also be noted that Republican judicial candidates were
reportedly “awash in cash,” with more than $1.4 million and were also
supported by independent expenditures by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
While you may have found an explanation for these bizarre results,
it appears to be wildly implausible that 5,000 voters waited in line to
cast a vote for an underfunded Democratic Supreme Court candidate and
then declined to cast a vote for the most well-funded Democratic
Presidential campaign in history. We would appreciate an answer to the
8. Have you examined how an underfunded Democratic State Supreme
Court candidate could receive so many more votes in Butler County than
the Kerry-Edwards ticket? If so, could you provide us with the results of
your examination? Is there any precedent in Ohio for a downballot
candidate receiving on a percentage or absolute basis so many more votes
than the Presidential candidate of the same party in this or any other
presidential election? Please let us know if any other County in Ohio
registered such a disparity on a percentage or absolute basis.
E. Unusual Results in Cuyahoga County
Precincts in Cleveland have reported an incredibly high number of
votes for third party candidates who have historically received only a
handful of votes from these urban areas. For example, precinct 4F in the
4th Ward cast 290 votes for Kerry, 21 for Bush, and 215 for
Constitution Party candidate Michael Peroutka. In 2000, the same precinct cast
less than 8 votes for all third party candidates combined.
This pattern is found in at least 10 precincts through throughout
Cleveland in 2004, awarding hundreds of unlikely votes to the third
party candidate. Notably, these precincts share more than a strong
Democratic history: the use of a punch card ballot. In light of these highly
unlikely results, we would like to know the following:
9. Have you investigated whether the punch card system used in
Cuyahoga County led to voters accidentally voting for third party
candidates instead of the Democratic candidate they intended? If so, what were
the results? Has a third party candidate ever received such a high
percentage of votes in these precincts.
10. Have you found similar problems in other counties? Have you
found similar problems with other voting methods?
F. Spoiled Ballots
According to post election canvassing, many ballots were cast
without any valid selection for president. For example, two precincts in
Montgomery County had an undervote rate of over 25% each – accounting for
nearly 6,000 voters who stood in line to vote, but purportedly declined
to vote for president. This is in stark contrast to the 2% of
undervoting county-wide. Disturbingly, predominantly Democratic precincts had
75% more undervotes than those that were predominantly Republican. It is
inconceivable to us that such a large number of people supposedly did
not have a preference for president in such a controversial and highly
Considering that an estimated 93,000 ballots were spoiled across
Ohio, we would like to know the following:
11. How many of those spoiled ballots were of the punch card or
optical scan format and could therefore be examined in a recount?
12. Of those votes that have a paper trail, how many votes for
president were undercounted, or showed no preference for president? How
many were overcounted, or selected more than one candidate for president?
How many other ballots had an indeterminate preference?
13. Of the total 93,000 spoiled ballots, how many were from
predominantly Democratic precincts? How many were from minority-majority
14. Are you taking steps to ensure that there will be a paper trail
for all votes before the 2006 elections so that spoiled ballots can be
G. Franklin County Overvote – On election day, a computerized voting
machine in ward 1B in the Gahanna precinct of Franklin County recorded a
total of 4,258 votes for President Bush and 260 votes for Democratic
challenger, John Kerry. However, there are only 800 registered voters in
that Gahanna precinct, and only 638 people cast votes at the New Life
Church polling site. It was since discovered that a computer glitch
resulted in the recording of 3,893 extra votes for President George W.
Fortunately, this glitch was caught and the numbers were adjusted
to show President Bush’s true vote count at 365 votes to Senator Kerry’s
260 votes. However, many questions remain as to whether this kind of
malfunction happened in other areas of Ohio. To help us clarify this
issue, we request that you answer the following:
15. How was it discovered that this computer glitch occurred?
16. What procedures were employed to alert other counties upon the
discovery of the malfunction?
17. Can you be absolutely certain that this particular malfunction
did not occur in other counties in Ohio during the 2004 Presidential
18. What is being done to ensure that this type of malfunction does
not happen again in the future?
H. Miami County Vote Discrepancy – In Miami County, with 100% of the
precincts reporting on Wednesday, November 3, 2004, President Bush had
received 20,807 votes, or 65.80% of the vote, and Senator Kerry had
received 10,724 votes, or 33.92% of the vote. Miami reported 31,620 voters.
Inexplicably, nearly 19,000 new ballots were added after all precincts
reported, boosting President Bush’s vote count to 33,039, or 65.77%,
while Senator Kerry’s vote percentage stayed exactly the same to three
one-hundredths of a percentage point at 33.92%.
Roger Kearney of Rhombus Technologies, Ltd., the reporting company
responsible for vote results of Miami County, has stated that the
problem was not with his reporting and that the additional 19,000 votes came
before 100% of the precincts were in. However, this does not explain
how the vote count could change for President Bush, but not for Senator
Kerry, after 19,000 new votes were added to the roster. To help us
better understand this anomaly, we request that you answer the following:
19. What is your explanation as to the statistical anomaly that
showed virtually identical ratios after the final 20-40% of the vote came
in? In your judgment, how could the vote count in this County have
changed for President Bush, but not for Senator Kerry, after 19,000 new
votes were added to the roster?
20. Are you aware of any pending investigations into this matter?
I. Mahoning County Machine Problems – In Mahoning County, numerous
voters reported that when they attempted to vote for John Kerry, the vote
showed up as a vote for George Bush. This was reported by numerous
voters and continued despite numerous attempts to correct their vote.
21. Please let us know if you have conducted any investigation or
inquiry of machine voting problems in the state, including the above
described problems in Mahoning County, and the results of this
investigation or inquiry.
II. Procedural Irregularities
A. Machine Shortages
Throughout predominately Democratic areas in Ohio on election day,
there were reports of long lines caused by inadequate numbers of voting
machines. Evidence introduced in public hearings indicates that 68
machines in Franklin County were never deployed for voters, despite long
lines for voters at that county, with some voters waiting from two to
seven hours to cast their vote. The Franklin County Board of Elections
reported that 68 voting machines were never placed on election day, and
Franklin County BOE Director Matt Damschroder admitted on November 19,
2004 that 77 machines malfunctioned on Election Day. It has come to our
attention that a county purchasing official who was on the line with
Ward Moving and Storage Company, documented only 2,741 voting machines
delivered through the November 2 election day. However, Franklin County’s
records reveal that they had 2,866 “machines available” on election
day. This would mean that amid the two to seven hour waits in the inner
of Columbus, at least 125 machines remained unused on Election Day.
Franklin County’s machine allocation report clearly states the
number of machines that were placed “By Close of Polls.” However, questions
remain as to where these machines were placed and who had access to
them throughout the day. Therefore, what matters is not how many voting
machines were operating at the end of the day, but rather how many were
there to service the people during the morning and noon rush hours.
An analysis revealed a pattern of providing fewer machines to the
Democratic city of Columbus, and more machines to the primarily
Republican suburbs. At seven out of eight polling places, observers counted
only three voting machines per location. According to the presiding judge
at one polling site located at the Columbus Model Neighborhood facility
at 1393 E. Broad St., there had been five machines during the 2004
primary. Moreover, at Douglas Elementary School, there had been four
machines during the spring primary. In one Ohio voting precinct serving
students from Kenyon College, some voters were required to wait more than
eight hours to vote. There were reportedly only two voting machines at
that precinct. The House Judiciary Committee staff has received first
hand information confirming these reports.
Additionally, it appears that in a number of locations, polling
places were moved from large locations, such as gyms, where voters could
comfortably wait inside to vote to smaller locations where voters were
required to wait in the rain. We would appreciate answers to the
22. How much funding did Ohio receive from the federal government
for voting machines?
23. What criteria were used to distribute those new machines?
24. Were counties given estimates or assurances as to how many new
voting machines they would receive? How does this number compare to how
many machines were actually received?
25. What procedures were in place to ensure that the voting
machines were properly allocated throughout Franklin and other counties? What
changes would you recommend be made to insure there is a more equitable
allocation of machines in the future?
B. Invalidated Provisional Ballots
As you know, just weeks before the 2004 Presidential election, you
issued a directive to county election officials saying they are allowed
to count provisional ballots only from voters who go to the correct
precinct for their home address. At the same time, it has been reported
that fraudulent flyers were being circulated on official-looking
letterhead telling voters the wrong place to vote, phone calls were placed
incorrectly informing voters that their polling place had changed,
“door-hangers” telling African-American voters to go to the wrong precinct, and
election workers sent voters to the wrong precinct. In other areas,
precinct workers refused to give any voter a provisional ballot. And in at
least one precinct, election judges told voters that they may validly
cast their ballot in any precinct, leading to any number of disqualified
In Hamilton County, officials have carried this problematic and
controversial directive to a ludicrous extreme: they are refusing to count
provisional ballots cast at the correct polling place if they were cast
at the wrong table in that polling place. It seems that some polling
places contained multiple precincts which were located at different
tables. Now, 400 such voters in Hamilton county alone will be
disenfranchised as a result of your directive.
26. Have you directed Hamilton County and all other counties not to
disqualify provisional ballots cast at the correct polling place simply
because they were cast at the wrong precinct table?
27. While many election workers received your directive that voters
may cast ballots only in their own precincts, some did not. How did you
inform your workers, and the public, that their vote would not be
counted if cast in the wrong precinct? How many votes were lost due to
election workers telling voters they may vote at any precinct, in direct
violation of your ruling?
28. Your directive was exploited by those who intentionally misled
voters about their correct polling place, and multiplied the number of
provisional ballots found invalid. What steps have you or other
officials in Ohio taken to investigate these criminal acts? Has anyone been
referred for prosecution? If so, what is the status of their cases?
29. How many provisional ballots were filed in the presidential
election in Ohio? How many were ultimately found to be valid and counted?
What were the various reasons that these ballots were not counted, and
how many ballots fall into each of these categories? Please break down
the foregoing by County if possible.
C. Directive to Reject Voter Registration Forms Not Printed on White,
Uncoated Paper of Not Less Than 80 lb Text Weight
On September 7, you issued a directive to county boards of
elections commanding such boards to reject voter registration forms not
“printed on white, uncoated paper of not less than 80 lb. text weight.”
Instead, the county boards were to follow a confusing procedure where the
voter registration form would be treated as an application for a form and
a new blank form would be sent to the voter. While you reversed this
directive, you did not do so until September 28. In the interim, a number
of counties followed this directive and rejected otherwise valid voter
registration forms. There appears to be some further confusion about
the revision of this order which resulted in some counties being advised
of the change by the news media.
30. How did you notify county boards of elections of your initial
September 7 directive?
31. How did you notify county boards of elections of your September
28 decision to revise that directive?
32. Have you conducted an investigation to determine how many
registration forms were rejected as a result of your September 7 directive?
If so, how many?
33. Have you conducted an investigation to determine how many
voters who had their otherwise valid forms rejected as a result of your
September 7 directive subsequently failed to re-register? If so, how many?
34. Have you conducted an investigation to determine how many of
those voters showed up who had their otherwise valid forms rejected to
vote on election day and were turned away? If so, how many?
We await your prompt reply. To the extent any questions relate to
information not available to you, please pass on such questions to the
appropriate election board or other official. Please respond to 2142
Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 by December 10. If you
need more time to investigate and respond to some of these inquiries,
we would welcome a partial response by that date and a complete response
within a reasonable period of time thereafter. If you have any
questions about this inquiry, please contact Perry Apelbaum or Ted Kalo of the
House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff at (202) 225-6504.
Rep. John Conyers, Jr.
Rep. Melvin Watt
Rep. Jerrold Nadler
Rep. Tammy Baldwin
This work is in the public domain