As pointed out in the online newspaper American Free Press, “Together, the computerized ballot scanners and touch-screen voting machines systems made by ES&S and Diebold recorded some 80 percent of all votes cast in the recent U.S. presidential election.”
The Center for Responsive Politics reveals large contributions from Diebold, almost all to Republican candidates, including $15,000 in 2000 to the Republican National Committee, $100,000 in soft money to the GOP in 2000 and another $100,965 in 2002. The insider touch got a bit disconcerting in August, when CBS News reported on a letter from Diebold's CEO, Wally Odell, who was also a Republican fundraiser. In an invitation to a Bush fundraising benefit, Odell wrote that "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president." After the news item, Odell announced that he was getting out of politics.
This year the election was followed by so many complaints about vote fraud, vote suppression and other anomalies that on Dec. 8, Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) hosted a forum (aired on C-Span) to highlight some of the problems. Last weekend, demonstrations protested vote problems in Ohio, where the Secretary of State, J. Kenneth Blackwell, was also Ohio’s Bush-Cheney state chairman. Blackwell certified Ohio election results this week. Jesse Jackson called on Blackwell to recuse himself from the election process, saying his objectivity is compromised by his position in the Bush-Cheney campaign. Conyers, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee and dean of the Black Congressional Caucus, has also written to Blackwell, requesting his answer to questions that would have made headlines under any previous administration:
Conyers has promised that Committee Democrats will review vote problems, and the Government Accountability Office (formerly the General Accounting Office) is also launching a review of the 2004 election. Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee, has been quoted as saying he will hold hearings on the election, in 2005.
Meanwhile, a federal court ruled that Delaware County will have to participate in the Ohio recount, and the Kerry-Edwards team has decided to support a legal challenge by third-party candidates in Ohio who think it’s funny how many votes they got in proportion to the Dem. The Ohio Democratic Party is also looking for a few good volunteers to monitor the vote counting.
Note: For anyone doing holiday gift shopping, author and elections activist Bev Harris’ book Black Box Voting sounds like a terrific recommendation. I don’t have the book (yet) myself but have read some of Harris’ material online, and if there were a Nobel Elections Peace Prize she would deserve it. She has worked dedicatedly since 2000 to warn the electorate about factors undermining the integrity of the vote, one of the most fundamental threats a working democracy can face.
Margie Burns writes freelance in Maryland. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2004 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
This story was published on December 9, 2004.
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