’04 Election Apologists Still Unmoved By Mountain Of Evidence: Columbus Dispatch Ignores Facts

by Bob Fitrakis

Columbus Dispatch articles explaining the 2004 election irregularities
all embrace the same formula: ignore the more than 1000 signed
affidavits and sworn testimonies of disenfranchised voters; rely only
on the word of OSU Law Professor Dan Tokaji who has no background in
statistical analysis and who always tells the Dispatch whatever they
want to hear; and then apologize for former Ohio Secretary of State J.
Kenneth Blackwell and fail to mention what is routinely reported in
every other major newspaper in the state of Ohio.

In the Sunday, August 10 Dispatch front page story, the paper
conveniently avoids reporting on Blackwell’s well-documented
activities. There’s no mention of: Blackwell’s directive that returned
voter registration applications that weren’t on “80-bond paper weight”;
Blackwell’s refusal to count the votes for the first time in modern
Ohio history if voters were at the right polling place but the wrong
precinct table; the fact that Blackwell outsourced Ohio’s official vote
count tabulation to Michael Connell, a Bush family partisan who sent
the vote tally to a Republican server site in Chattanooga, Tennessee
tied to the White House; or of his full-court blitz on TV trying to get
Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry to concede with 250,000
uncounted votes

The Dispatch claims “there’s no direct proof of widespread fraud.” This
may be true. But, in an election where the exit polls showed Kerry
winning by 3 percentage points, all you need is a “little bit of” fraud
to flip the numbers. And that’s exactly what the exit polls showed.
That instead of Kerry winning 52% to 48%, Bush wins 51% to 48.5%.

So biased was the Dispatch reporting that they either engaged in
deliberate propaganda or made errors so simple that they would have
flunked Intro to Politics 101 at any college. Tokaji, who admitted to
having no training in exit polling, told the AP, and hence the world,
that the unexplainable discrepancy between the exit poll numbers and
the actual vote count was not a problem.

For example, they report without embarrassment that the official
response for the highly accurate exit polls being wrong in Ohio – and
so outside the margin of error that it would only happen in one in
959,000 presidential elections – was that “…exit polls are based only
on responses from voters who agree to participate.”

The Dispatch’s own polls, that they brag about as being highly
accurate, are based on only those who agree to participate. Also,
methodology requires only randomization, not that every single voter
exiting the polls agrees to respond. This means that every voter has
equal chance at inclusion. If the pollsters are asking every 10th voter
and one refuses, they go on to the next 10th voter.

In a telephone survey, if a particular person who is randomly called
isn’t home, or refuses to answer the questions, it doesn’t negate the
scientific validity of the survey if it is randomized and
representative. All of this is taken into consideration in the polls’

The Dispatch formula invokes the “c” word – conspiracy – whenever
possible. The paper’s fundamental premise is that the statistically
impossible results of the election and the highly improbably nature of
all the irregularities going in Bush’s favor and against John Kerry are
just a coincidence. The Dispatch’s brand of reporting is a monument to
coincidence theory.

From the paper’s perspective: 308,000 voters purged from voting
registration rolls in the urban centers of Cleveland, Cincinnati, and
Toledo, are not deliberate, even though 80% or so would have likely
voted for Kerry; dozens of sworn statements from voters saying that
they touched the computer screen for Kerry and saw their vote flip to
Bush is only an accident; and that Kerry’s votes ran significantly
behind an underfunded retired African American municipal judge from
Cleveland on the ticket – only in 14 Republican counties – is simply

On Friday, July 25, the Dispatch ran the headline: “’04 Ohio election
was fair, Blackwell says.” In the course of the story, they quote the
ubiquitous Tokaji who states without facts or political science
qualifications that Bush’s margin “was sufficient to overcome any legal
challenge that might have arisen from provisional ballots that were
uncounted ambiguously marked punch-card ballots and long lines that may
have discouraged many citizens from voting.”

Tokaji’s assessment runs contrary to dozens of social and political
science texts on the subject. He has refused to appear on panels with
political scientists who offer different views. Nor has Tokaji
indicated that he’s actually gone into the boards of elections’
warehouses and looked at hundreds of thousands of actual ballots, as
his critics do in preparing their analyses.

In a previous article, the Dispatch officially reported without
blushing that Franklin County Board of Elections Executive Director
Denny L. White retired last month. Members of the Franklin County
Democratic Party Central Committee are openly telling reporters that
White was forced out for echoing the Dispatch line that there were no
significant problems with the 2004 election. White, the former chair of
the Ohio Democratic Party, announces his retirement in July of a
presidential election year and is replaced by the 28-year-old Michael
Stinziano, and the Dispatch reports as fact the fantasy spun by the
Party’s PR people.

To put things in perspective, they quote Tokaji who states the obvious:
“There are lots of land mines out there, and someone who is not
experienced in running local elections must very quickly educate
themselves as to where those land mines are.” The Dispatch might have
asked some Party insiders why the highly experienced Denny White was
retiring just prior to the election. It’s difficult to avoid this
question when the Dispatch headline read: “New director will face first
ballot in 3 months.”

Four days prior to the Dispatch’s August 10 article that smeared the
election integrity movement, they were forced to report that Ohio
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner had sued the former Diebold
Election Systems, now Premier Election Solutions, for providing the
state “defective” computerized voting machines.

Brunner told the Dispatch that an investigation by her office
documented that the Diebold machines “dropped” votes in “at least 11

Conveniently missing from the Dispatch article is the fact that
Blackwell personally negotiated the unbid contract that brought Diebold
machines into prominence in Ohio. At the same time, Blackwell held
Diebold stock. The article also fails to report that Diebold’s CEO
Walden O’Dell, a major contributor to the Bush-Cheney Re-election
Campaign, sent out a letter pledging to deliver Ohio’s electoral votes
to Bush in 2004.

But the key reason the Dispatch is attacking the election integrity
movement and lead litigator Cliff Arnebeck, of the King Lincoln
Bronzeville case that seeks to protect the civil rights of voters in
the 2008 election, is because of the revelations concerning Bush family
loyalist Michael Connell and the allegations that the vote can easily
be stolen with the flip of a switch in the computerized vote tabulation

The Dispatch avoids dealing with the revelations by highly respected
Republican IT man and McCain supporter Steve Spoonamore at a Columbus
press conference on July 17. With Dispatch reporter Mark Niquette in
attendance, Spoonamore stated in no uncertain terms that he felt the
evidence suggested fraud in the 2004 election. The Dispatch is also not
telling its readers that Spoonamore’s analysis as an expert witness was
offered to the Ohio Attorney General’s office.

Spoonamore, who has worked for the Secret Service and major
corporations on credit card fraud, stated that the IT system designed
by Mike Connell for Blackwell is vulnerable to election rigging. In the
Dispatch version of reality, little-qualified Party appointees and
untrained volunteer election workers stand as a bipartisan impenetrable
fortress against election tampering. The ultimate thesis is always
based on the tenuous fact that there’s a bipartisan system of Democrats
and Republicans at county boards of elections, therefore election
rigging is “impossible.”

Spoonamore’s point is the exact opposite of the Dispatch’s. As long as
all the Ohio election results are compiled at county central tabulators
and fed officially to sites in Ohio and Tennessee, overseen partisan IT
companies using proprietary secret software, then our elections are
vulnerable to manipulation. All the well-intentioned “bipartisan”
grandmothers, grandfathers and political operatives working the polling
places and boards of elections watching the flashy touchscreens and
shiny county central tabulators have no idea what’s really going on
inside the black box and what happens when the
digital vote count heads off into cyberspace.

Bob Fitrakis holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and a J.D. from the OSU
Moritz College of Law, is a Political Science Professor at Columbus
State Community College, and is an award-winning investigative