Was the "fix" in on Election Day in Ohio? The questions surrounding Election Day activities in Ohio and Karl Rove's now-infamous meltdown on Fox TV election night are causing a buzz in the election integrity movement.
Of course we do not know for sure what happened in Ohio – but we do know the circumstances were eerily similar to election tampering techniques the Free Press discovered after the 2004 election.
One major similarity was Rove's insistence to his colleagues on Fox News that the media consortium's exit polls were wrong in Ohio. This is the same claim he made in 2004 concerning Ohio and 2000 in Florida.
Curiously, the Ohio Secretary of State's vote tabulation website went down at 11:13pm, as reported by Free Press election protection website monitors, and mentioned by Rove on the news. This was one minute earlier than the time on election night 2004 -- when Ohio votes were outsourced to Chattanooga, Tennessee -- and then the vote flipped for Bush. This isn't just a Free Press claim, but is well-documented by Vanity Fair Contributing Editor Craig Unger in his book Boss Rove.
This time, the Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) vote tabulation site went down as on election night as well.
In his rant on Fox, Rove argued that Fox News should not confirm Ohio for Obama until votes came in from the southwest Ohio GOP strongholds of Delaware, Butler and Warren counties and suburban Cincinnati. It was after the crash of the secretary of state's site in 2004 that improbable vote totals came in from Republican counties in southwest Ohio – particularly Butler, Clermont, and Warren counties. These three counties provided more than Bush's entire Ohio victory margin of 119,000.
Earlier in the day, I filed suit in both federal and state courts seeking to remove uncertified and untested "experimental" software patches from county vote tabulators in at least 25 Ohio counties. Election Systems & Software (ES&S) installed the last minute software on county tabulators linked to the secretary of state's office. Coincidentally, Warren and Cuyahoga counties were two of the counties targeted with the software patch.
When the Free Press investigated Bush's implausible 2004 victory in Ohio, we discovered ES&S and Triad technicians had placed similar last-minute unauthorized patches on tabulators in an estimated 44 Ohio counties.
All the counties that Rove mentioned on Fox News had irregularities and funny numbers in 2004.
This time, the Fox exit poll number crunchers simply refused to listen to Rove, and well they should not have. While Rove was claiming that the outstanding vote in Hamilton County (Cincinnati), which went to Obama in 2008, should break 60%-40% for Romney –- the exit polls showed 55% for Obama. Obama actually gained 5% of the vote in Hamilton County after Rove made his absurd prediction. The outstanding vote was not in the white suburban areas which had voted early and without long lines, but rather in the African American urban districts where lines were long.
As Rove raved on the air about the races being separated by only "911 votes" or "991" votes, Fox News put the stats up on a split screen next to him showing Obama up by 30,000 votes. Much like the famed anti-Communist demagogue of the Cold War era, Joe McCarthy, who couldn't keep his numbers straight regarding how many secret Communists had infiltrated the State Department, Rove's numbers seemed equally absurd.
As Rove babbled with improbable and impossible vote total numbers predicting a Romney comeback, Fox News split the screen and showed "Race Called" for Obama. The Fox News anchor repeatedly told Rove his numbers were not what the exit polls reflected. You expected her next line to be "At long last, Mr. Rove, have you no decency, sir?
So why didn't Rove's guy Romney win Ohio as Bush did in '04? All the voter suppression tactics and usual dirty tricks seemed to be in place. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted was the new Blackwell and Romney the new Bush, but Rove proved to be the same old Rove –- operating from his 2004 election theft playbook.
This time, after Columbus Free Press articles appeared about voting machines tied to Romney and scurrilous software patches installed on Ohio tabulators, 60,000 people emailed the U.S. Department of Justice with a change.org petition requesting an investigation of Ohio. Justice Department personnel as well as FBI agents were on the ground on Election Day in Ohio looking not only for voter suppression but also for electronic election tampering.
Election protection activists blanketed the state with a visible Video the Vote project that was based out of Columbus and also included Cleveland and Cincinnati.
Although the judges in the software patch cases denied the temporary restraining orders, the cases are still open. However, the story of the Free Press lawsuit was announced the day before Election Day, was picked up by the Associated Press, and appeared in more than 500 newspapers. Just prior to Election Day, the best reporting in Ohio was ironically coming from Channel 19 -- Fox News in Cincinnati. Also, at 12:23am on Election Day morning, Forbes.com posted one of the greatest anti-vote tampering deterrent articles in U.S. history. Essentially, they outlined the shaky electronic voting technology and how it might be used to tamper with votes in the United States' foremost swing state. On the page, linked above, Forbes links to the Channel 19 Fox News report.
Under the glare of intense light activated from law enforcement, media and election protection activists, no one seemed willing to tamper this time with Ohio's vote totals – despite the unrelenting magical numerology of Rove. This time, reality and fact-based numbers prevailed.