So, Ken Hackwell is taking credit for the high voter turnout in the 2004 presidential election in Ohio. Today’s Columbus Dispatch reported that the Hackwell campaign states “The facts of the record show that Secretary Blackwell’s leadership resulted in record-setting voter turnout and voter registration drives in which one million more Ohioans gained the opportunity to vote.” It’s about time that he fessed up and took credit for his crimes. I have no doubt that Hackwell was responsible for the 131% voter turnout in Clyde, Ohio, initially reported. Also, I think he was behind the 124% and 120% turnout in two precinct in Perry County. And surely, a man of Hackwell’s religious faith was responsible for the glorious miracle of the loaves and fishes precinct in Gahanna Ward 1B, where 638 people voted, and 4258 votes were delivered unto the prodigal son, George W. Bush. And he’s no doubt responsible for that 98.55% turnout in that one precinct in Miami County. Indeed, wherever far-right white evangelicals surge to the polls, unseen to naked eye, at the last second, Hackwell should rightfully claim that cybervote.
Likewise, he should admit to massively repressing the votes of the least of our brethren, in Cleveland and other urban centers. Hackwell did everything he could, as co-chair of the Bush-Cheney Re-election Committee to make sure that black and poor voters were disenfranchised. Hackwell likes to compare himself to Gandhi and King – what he forgets is that these two giants Enfranchised people, they did not disenfranchise people.
Below is a piece I wrote right after the election that reflected his attack on black voters in Ohio’s inner cities. Hackwell’s “let every white Republican to vote twice campaign” should be placed alongside of Hackwell’s Jim Crow thuggery. Fewer people voted in the city of Cleveland in 2004 than in 2000, despite the “record turnout.”
In Cleveland, where a public hearing was held on Saturday, November 20, there was a different pattern of voting irregularities. These include heavily Democratic wards with abnormally low reported rates of voter turnout, three under 20%. In Precinct 6-C where Kerry beat Bush 45 votes to one, allegedly only 7.1% of the registered voters cast ballots. In precinct 13-D where Kerry received 83.8% of the vote, only 13.05% reportedly voted. In precinct 13-F where Kerry received 97.5%, the turnout was reported to be only 19.6%.
One explanation comes from Irma Olmedo, who provided the Free Press with a written statement of her activities in the heavily Hispanic ward 13, which contained the three low voter turnout precincts.
“Ohio does not have bilingual ballots and this disenfranchises many Latino voters who are not totally fluent in English . . . there were 13 poll workers at the school and none knew Spanish. Some could not even find the names of the people on the list because they couldn’t understand well when people said their names. . . . Some people put their punch card ballots in backwards when they voted and discovered that they couldn’t punch out the holes. They had not read the instructions which were in English, that they had to turn the card around in order to vote,” Olmedo stated.
Olmedo translated at precinct 13-O, where 90% of the votes were for Kerry and only 53 votes were counted. The turnout of 21% was due to the lack of Spanish instructions and the misspelling of names: “I noticed that one named Nieves was misspelled as Nieues and the pollworkers were not able to find his name, these people were told to complete a provisional ballot because their names were not on the list.”
In Cuyahoga County, according to the Secretary of State’s website there are 24,788 provisional ballots, most of them from the city of Cleveland, not its surrounding suburbs. Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell served as Co-Chair of the Bush/Cheney Ohio reelection committee.
There also seems to be an abnormally high vote count for third party candidates who received less than one-half of one percent of the statewide vote total combined. For example, in precinct 4-F, the right-wing Constitutional Law candidate Peroutka received 215 votes to Bush’s 21 and Kerry’s 290. In this precinct, Kerry received 55% of the vote where Gore received 91% of the vote in the year 2000. These numbers suggest that Kerry’s votes were inadvertently or intentionally shifted to Peroutka.