The Free Press
Mon Nov 29 2004
Jesse Jackson demands Ohio presidential recount, blasts GOP election
officials, and says Kerry supports the process
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
November 29, 2004
COLUMBUS--Preaching to a packed, wildly cheering central Ohio
citizen congregation, Rev. Jesse Jackson blasted the presidential
election back into the national headlines Sunday. Jackson said new
findings cast serious doubt on the idea that George W. Bush beat John
Kerry in Ohio November 2. A GOP "pattern of intentionality"
was behind a suspect outcome, he said. At stake is "the integrity
of the vote" for which "too many have died." "We
can live with losing an election," he said. "We cannot live
with fraud and stealing."
Jackson is the first major national figure to come here
challenging the idea that Ohio has given George W. Bush a second term
in the White House. Jackson emphasized that the vote "has not yet
been certified" and demanded the removal of Ohio Secretary of
State Kenneth Blackwell from supervising the recount, which Jackson
termed a case of "the fox guarding the chicken house."
Blackwell co-chaired the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio and has been
widely criticized for a series of partisan decisions that have thus
far indicated Bush carried the state. Exit polls by Zogby and CNN
showed Ohio going for Kerry with 53% and 51% respectively, which would
win him presidency in the Electoral College.
Blackwell says a complex series of rules allows him to limit a
recount to just a few days. He says he may certify the Ohio vote
between December 3d and 6th, with any recount due to be completed
December 13, when Ohio's electors are scheduled to meet.
Jackson has demanded Blackwell recuse himself, saying "the
owner of the team can't also be the referee." A broad-based legal
team--now including Jackson's PUSH/Rainbow Coalition as Plaintiff--is
preparing to file an election challenge asking the election results be
overturned. Jackson says computer forensic experts must be given full
access to electronic voting machines that have provided no paper
trail, but which could be electronically analyzed from within. Jackson
said he has spoken with Democratic candidate John Kerry, who indicated
his support for the recount process.
New findings indicate that Kerry's margins in 37 (of 88) Ohio
counties are suspiciously low when compared to those garnered by Judge
Ellen Connally, an unsuccessful Democratic Supreme Court candidate.
The calculations focus on standardized county-wide ratios between
bottom-of-the-ticket tallies won by Judge Connally versus those won by
Kerry in heavily Republican, rural counties. According to a wide range
of experts, there appears to be a systematic removal of Kerry votes by
hackers who overlooked the Connally votes, which now clearly infers
something went wrong. "It's simply not credible that a vastly
underfunded African-American female candidate at the bottom of the
ticket could outpoll John Kerry in Butler County," said Cliff
Arneback, a lead attorney for the challenging legal team. Jackson said
the situation "does not pass the smell test."
Before some 500 supporters, Jackson preached a litany of doubt
surrounding the Ohio outcome, prompting at least 50 congregants to
file affidavits documenting their own experiences trying to vote
November 2. Several hundred such documents have been filed at a series
of hearings in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.
According to the sworn testimony, a systematic denial of voting
machines to inner city precincts resulted in waits of three, five and
even eleven hours for thousands of voters, many of whom left in
frustration without casting their ballots. Charges of intimidation,
misinformation, faulty registration lists and denial of provisional
ballots are listed. So are serious questions about the integrity of
touch screen machines, many of which were widely reported to have
turned Kerry votes into Bush votes. In Warren County, Homeland
Security was inexplicably invoked to bar independent observers and the
media, leaving the vote count under control of Republicans. In the
Franklin County precinct of Gahanna, 4258 votes were registered for
Bush where only 628 people voted. In another county, a GOP election
official took voting results to his private home for final,
"We need federal supervision of federal elections,"
said Jackson. "Right now we have 50 separate but unequal ways to
vote. There can be no safe harbor for a flawed process that leaves
"You can't have public elections on privately-owned
machines, especially where one of the owners has vowed to deliver the
state for George Bush," Jackson added, referring to Wally O'Dell,
a major Bush supporter and CEO of Diebold, a leading Ohio-based
supplier of electronic voting machines and voting software.
"You can hack these machines," Jackson said. "The
playing field is uneven. These numbers will not go away. We as
Americans should not be begging a Secretary of State for a fair vote
count. We cannot be the home of the thief and the land of the
"This is not about John Kerry versus George Bush,"
said Jackson. "This is about Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer
and Viola Liuzzo. About Goodman, Cheney and Schwerner, and
twenty-seven years in prison for Nelson Mandela," he said,
referring to heroes of the movements for equal rights. "It's
about a will to dignity. It's not too much to ask for our vote to
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of the upcoming
ANOTHER STOLEN ELECTION: VOICES OF THE DISENFRANCHISED, 2004
(freepress.org). Fitrakis is publisher and Wasserman is
senior editor of freepress.org. Fitrakis is co-counsel for the Alliance
For Democracy which has announced that it will file a lawsuit to
ensure a fair recount of the votes in Ohio.