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News :: Politics
Half The Story about Election Is Worse Than No Story At All
22 Dec 2004
The Advocate presents, below, an article in three parts -- representing the three opportunities the mainstream media had to break open the Votergate story in the last twenty-four hours, all of which chances were squandered due to the incompetence of the respective newspapers' writers and editors.
News: Election 2004: N.Y. Times, Washington Post, and Cincinnati Enquirer Almost Break Votergate Wide Open; Stopped Only By Their Own Incompetence

[The Advocate presents, below, an article in three parts -- representing the three opportunities the mainstream media had to break open the Votergate story in the last twenty-four hours, all of which chances were squandered due to the incompetence of the respective newspapers' writers and editors].

Half The Story Is Worse Than No Story At All: The New York Times Negligently Under-reports the Biggest Scandal Since the Election

Imagine, for a moment, that an article by Tom Zeller, Jr. was published today, December 15th, 2004, in the New York Times, and that the article -- a news article, no less, not an editorial! -- recounted an accusation by Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb and Hocking County (OH) Deputy Director of Elections Sherole Eaton that representatives of Triad Governmental Systems (TGS, an electronic voting machine developer) intentionally tampered with Ohio voting machines after the 2004 election.

Well, imagine no further -- that's exactly what happened this morning.

You might also assume, however, that in the unlikely event such a story was reported by The New York Times, it would be reported in its entirety -- that is, The Times would report that not only was the machine tampered with in full view of several elections officials (only two of whom, interestingly, appear to have leaked the information) but the tamperer followed up his tampering with an instruction to Hocking County elections officials on how to defraud any recount effort.

If you assumed The Times would find this evidence pertinent, you'd be wrong. Instead, The Times reported only that the mysterious tamperer "made several adjustments to the Hocking County tabulator." This incomplete accusation allowed TGS to, in a public statement made today, proffer a complete defense: that the employee was merely "preparing the machines for a recount," and that doing so "was standard procedure and was done in all 41 counties [in Ohio]."

The problem, of course, is that The Times reported only the least interesting -- and most patently "legal" -- portion of the story. In fact, Mr. Cobb also told House Judiciary Committee Democrats that, after asking Hocking County elections representatives which machine would be used in a recount, and then engaging in some miscellaneous "repairs" of the machine,

[t]he Triad Systems representative [then] suggested that since the hand count had to match the machine count exactly, and since it would be hard to memorize the several numbers which would be needed to get the count to come out exactly right, that they should post [a] series of numbers on the wall where they would not be noticed by observers. He suggested making them look like employee information or something similar. The people doing the hand count could then just report these numbers no matter what the actual count of the ballots revealed. This would then 'match' the tabulator report for this precinct exactly. The numbers were apparently the final certified counts for the selected precinct.

Would TGS have been able to present the same defense to The Times, had the newspaper accurately reported its own story?

No Math Skills Required: The Washington Post Finds John Kerry's Missing 200,000 Votes, Then Divides By Ten and Issues a Report

If any additional evidence was needed for the proposition that elementary mathematics and professional-grade journalism simply don't mix, The Washington Post has provided it -- by uncovering the single statistic which constitutes the secret of George W. Bush's victory in Ohio, and then failing to report accurately on same because of a dearth of basic mathematical skills.

Consider the following sentence, written in the English language and published in a newspaper with millions of readers:

Electoral problems prevented many thousands of Ohioans from voting on Nov. 2. In Columbus, bipartisan estimates say that 5,000 to 15,000 frustrated voters turned away without casting ballots [because of long lines at voting precincts].

If those millions of readers were to know -- as those with access to the internet either already know or could readily uncover -- that A) Columbus is in Franklin County; B) Franklin County had 525,796 voters on election day; C) Ohio had 5,625,281 voters on election day; D) Franklin County therefore was home to only 9.35% of Ohio's electorate on election day; E) a "bi-partisan estimate[] say[s] that 5,000 to 15,000 frustrated voters turned away" from Columbus voting precincts because of long lines; then, therefore, if most or all other Ohio counties had similarly long lines (as Republican operatives in the state have been asserting), somewhere between 54,000 (low estimate), 107,000 (average estimate), and 160,000 voters (high estimate) turned away from Ohio polls on election day because of long lines.

Of course, even those numbers are woefully low, according to the logical analysis allowed for by The Post's own statistics, if not its own analysis. In fact, The Post was only talking about voters in the city of Columbus itself -- a city with a population of 711,470. Columbus had a turnout of approximately 53% on election day, according to Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips (see link, below). This means, of course, that Columbus had approximately 377,000 voters on November 2nd -- only 71.70% of Franklin County's total votes. The Washington Post numbers suggest, therefore, that the actual number of votes "lost" in Ohio due to long lines breaks down as follows:

Low Estimate: 75,000
Avg. Estimate: 149,000
High Estimate: 223,000

Given that numerous doctoral studies have already shown that (contrary to Republican claims) the longest lines in Ohio on election day were in heavily-Democratic urban centers and mid-sized, Democratic-leaning college campuses, one presumes the above voters would have broken substantially, perhaps even dramatically, for Kerry.

The Advocate notes that both the "average" estimate and the "high" estimate are much, much higher than Bush's current margin of 118,775 votes in Ohio.

In light of the above, one might expect The Post to follow up the sentence, "in Columbus, bipartisan estimates say that 5,000 to 15,000 frustrated voters turned away without casting ballots," with the sentence, "'lost' votes of this sort may have cost John Kerry the presidential election."

Instead, The Post concluded that "It is unlikely that such 'lost' votes would have changed the election result[s]..."

To compound the injury, The Concord (NH) Monitor quickly picked up The Washington Post story, titling it gravely (yet erroneously), "Lost Votes Don't Tip Election."

Warren County Lockdown Was a Deliberate Fraud; Cincinnati Enquirer Satisfied Officials Are Really Sorry and Will Try Harder Not to De-Fraud Ohioans and the Nation Next Time

The man who engineered the now-infamous election-day terrorism lock-down in Warren County, Emergency Services Director Frank Young, is strangely silent these days on the topic of whether or not the Federal Bureau of Investigation told him, or any Warren County official, that on a scale of 1-to-10, the international terrorism threat against Warren County was a "10" -- the most dire threat imaginable under the now much-vaunted, though never-used-by-the-FBI "1-to-10 scale."

Young's silence is best termed an "awkward silence." Awkward, because parents of the 752 children at the Donovan Elementary School -- across the street from the Warren County Elections Administration Building -- were never notified that the area was considered Al-Qaeda's number-one terror target on election day.

Awkward, too, because Lebanon Schools Superintendent Bill Sears, in charge of Donovan Elementary School, recently told reporters, "I wish somebody would have warned us, too, because we would have certainly taken precautions."

Then again, maybe Young's silence is so awkward because the FBI's consistent position on the scandal seems to be that Young was and is a liar.

If The Cincinnati Enquirer is to be believed, Young is a liar -- and awkwardly silent -- no more. The reason Republican elections officials in Warren County were alone in a locked building with thousands of ballots on election day is because, according to Young, "I...just [wanted] to control the flow of people into that building that night" -- which, of course, is exactly what Democratic observers and fair-elections activists were afraid he would say. Young went on to admit that there was "no specific, 100% threat" to Warren County on election night, and that the lockdown he ordered was based on "months of information" -- information The Advocate assumes Mr. Young gathered himself, via as-yet uncertain channels of international espionage, as the FBI seems to know nothing of the "months of information" about threats to Warren County, either.

Young told the Enquirer that the scandal was "overblown" and "misconstrued."

The Enquirer apparently was mollified, however, not by Young's dismissal of nationwide concerns about his actions, but rather by these poignant words of contrition from Warren County Sheriff Tom Ariss: "[The Sheriff's Department] had no input on that decision....[but] everyone's learned from it."

See Related Stories:

("Lawmaker Seeks Inquiry Into Ohio Vote," The New York Times, Tom Zeller, Jr., 12/15/04)


("Several Factors Contributed to 'Lost' Votes in Ohio," The Washington Post, Michael Powell and Peter Slevin, 12/15/04)


("Lost Votes Don't Tip Election," The Concord Monitor [Courtesy of The Washington Post], Michael Powell and Peter Slevin, 12/16/04)


("Warren County Recount Goes Public," Cincinnati Enquirer, Erica Solvig, 12/15/04)


specs everywhere
("Proof of Ohio Election Fraud Exposed," International Labor Communications Association, William Rivers Pitt [Appearing Courtesy of], 12/15/04)


("Stealing Votes in Columbus," Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips, 11/23/04)

right to it

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