LINK - ...stay tuned for the latest disaster from Ohio.
For 40 years, the Dayton Daily News reports this morning, Shirley Wightman has worked at polling places on election days. Two weeks ago, she says, turnout was high - 611 voters - and she and her colleagues paid careful attention to their punch-card, chad-filled, voting stations in Washington Township, Ohio.
"We checked the machines periodically," Ms. Wightman told the paper, "and I could see nothing wrong with them."
Yet when the votes were tallied, 168 of the 611 voters had made no choice for president. Unless these were the famed undecideds we heard so much about in the closing weeks of the campaigns, something went terribly wrong. 27 and a half percent of the voters in that "Washington X" precinct in Montgomery County officially didn't have a presidential preference.
This was the high point of the Daily News' investigative analysis of the still-unofficial voting results in its county - or more properly, perhaps, the low point. The paper discovered that of the 284,650 votes in Montgomery, a total of 5,693 registered no valid vote for president. And the percentages were significantly higher in the 231 precincts that wound up voting for Kerry (2.8%) than did the 354 that wound up voting for Bush (1.6%).
Besides Washington X, a second County precinct exceeded 27% 'undercount,' as the election professionals, such as they are, call it. Washington X, Kettering 3-A, and five of the other top ten 'undercount' precincts by percentage wound up supporting Bush.
Since, as the papers note, political scientists suggested that the poor and the lesser-educated are presumed to have more trouble with punch card voting, there are several logical disconnects here. Given the outcomes in those two precincts, Washington X and Kettering 3-A, were those mostly Bush voters who managed to blank out more than a quarter of their own ballots, or did the precincts wind up voting for Bush because more than a quarter of the ballots had no valid presidential vote?
What happened in the voting precincts in Moraine, Ohio? 2,557 votes were cast at seven sites there. The President won the city by 2%. The number of ballots without a valid presidential vote was 5.6%.
What do the state undercounts in Ohio look like? Did they reduce Bush's margin of victory? Did they eliminate votes for Kerry? What the hell happened?
As the Ohio recount nears, the number of hotspots continues to multiply. You are aware of the remarkable late night voting lines throughout the state, and the mysterious Glitch of Youngstown which initially registered negative 25,000,000 votes. There is the Gahanna machine which gave one presidential candidate 4,000 extra votes in a community of 600. And the farcical "walling off" of the vote counting in Warren County, because the county head of security was told face-to-face of an FBI terrorism warning there - except the FBI says it didn't issue any terrorism warnings there.
The Associated Press today carries a report of 2,600 ballots in nine precincts around Sandusky, Ohio that were counted twice - as that paper puts it - "likely because of worker error." The Clyde precinct showed a voter turnout of 131%, to the dismay of the head of the elections board, Barb Tuckerman.
Ms. Tuckerman, in one of the great quotes of the election, told the News-Messenger of Fremont, Ohio: "I knew there was something amiss."
Tell me about it, Barb.
Thursday, November 18
Keith Olbermann Stays With The Story
Posted by Howard Hoffman at 3:52 PM