Saturday, September 25, 2004


The King strikes again

"King" Mark Niquette strikes again here with a piece on one of Blackwell's more obvious attempts to undercut Democratic voters. (By the way Mark, I beat you by nearly a day on this story).

God help me, I am going to have a brain aneurysm if I read more crap written/edited like this:

"Critics argue that on a busy Election Day with potentially long lines, harried poll workers may not follow through or voters may not have the time or transportation to go elsewhere.

"Critics also worry that with tens of thousands of new voters registering for this fall’s election — and precinct boundaries and polling locations have changed since past elections — many voters won’t know or be told their correct polling place."

"Critics argue . . ."?

"Critics also worry . . "?

Are you shitting me, Mark? Even the Blackwell apologists don't argue over these points. They are what are known as statements of "truth" that cannot be refuted. Are you that f'ing scared of these guys?

Serious thinking is being done about how to tilt the Ohio election in Bush's favor. Rove and company only play one game and its hard ball. How about some hard reporting for a change?


A nifty little "before" picture . .

. . . Kevin Drum has it here. You don't need a map for the "after" version.

Friday, September 24, 2004


So much for tax fairness

If the following doesn't make every middle-class Bush-Cheney supporter gasp, nothing will.

Policy Matters Ohio has just released the following information from a report by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. In brief, the report shows that many of the country’s biggest corporations are once again paying little or nothing in federal income taxes, including 46 that paid no taxes in 2003. According the PMO release:

"These forty-six “no-tax corporations” in 2003 include two Ohio-based firms, NCR and Timken. NCR made $103 million in pretax U.S. profits in 2003—and got a tax rebate of $39 million, for a tax rate of negative 38 percent. Timken made $52 million in pretax U.S. profits, and got a tax rebate of $1 million."

[. . . ]

" In each of the last two years, the overall effective tax rate for the 275 profitable corporations in the study was less than half the statutory 35 percent tax rate. Ohio-based companies paying less than half the 35 percent rate at least once during the three-year period include American Financial Group, Cardinal Health, Cinergy, Kroger, NCR, Timken, Eaton, Fifth Third, Key Corp, Nationwide, and Parker Hannifin."

Say, aren't these the same "go-to" companies whenever the RNC and Bob Bennett need more money?


Will absentee ballot fraud get same attention as voter registration fraud?

Everyone, with good reason, expects all the stops (legal, sorta-legal and not so sorta-legal) to be pulled out between now and Nov. 2.

My emperical experience is that there is surprisingly a lot more interest in reporters coverage of voter registration fraud, like this, than absentee ballot fraud. As a matter of fact, I haven't come across any serious discussion of absentee ballot fraud investigations in Ohio.

Is this a problem? I think so.
First, the registration fraud is relatively easy to detect. For example, when a stack of registration forms arrive with the same misspelling of a street name, alarm bells start going off. Also, a phony registration or one that was at least done with excessive help, doesn't necessarily yield a phony vote. Finally, both campaigns are committing serious resources to watch over the polls on election day.

But, as the New York Times pointed out several weeks ago, officials expect that as many as one quarter of all votes will be cast by absentee ballot this year. And the ease with which one could wrongly improperly influence an absentee vote virtually nullifies the rules that bar campaigners from being in normal voting locations.

Ohio makes it very easy to cast a fraudulant ballot.

Here, according to the NYT is the deal for Ohio:
Is excuse required to vote absentee? -- Yes [but little or no proof is required]
Is witness required? -- No [a witness is a protection, verifying that the person actually voted their own ballot]
Are political operatives -- partisans -- barred from distributing or collecting applications? -- May distribute only
Are political operatives barred from collecting ballots? -- Yes [but this is difficult to enforce - just gather and mail separately]
Date absentee voting begins -- Sept. 28
Special conditions, if any, for political operative to help voter -- Helper must be identified [again, difficult to enforce].

But will absentee ballot fraud be committed? Actually, there is history of it already. The NYT reports that,"In another case, a Republican election worker in Ohio was charged with switching the votes of nursing-home residents in the 2000 presidential race."

And a Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby recently reported how he manipulated the system in three states, including Ohio:

"It is illegal to register to vote simultaneously in different jurisdictions, but scofflaws have little to worry about. As the Daily News noted, "efforts to prevent people from registering and voting in more than one state rely mostly on the honor system." Those who break the law rarely face prosecution or serious punishment. It's easy -- and painless -- to cheat.

"I learned this firsthand in 1996, when I registered my wife's cat as a voter in Cook County, Ill., Norfolk County, Mass., and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and then requested absentee ballots from all three venues. My purpose wasn't to cast illegal multiple votes but to demonstrate how vulnerable to manipulation America's election system has become."

So, why has the reporting so far in Ohio just been on voter registration fraud. I suspect that it's equal parts of being suckers for Republican spin and laziness, or both. Republicans want everyones attention to be focused on voter registration where the Dems have been doing serious work in urban areas, students and other pockets of supporters. Likewise, its relatively easy for county election boards, the Sect. of State and reporters to identify registration problems.

So, Ohio journalists, how about not always reaching for the low-hanging fruit and take a serious look at absentee ballot issues.


More reasons to worry about Ohio's ballots

The Beacon-Journal says, "Essentially, Ohio voting is right where it was four years ago."

Actually, its worse. But some of their concerns are well taken, such as Sect. of State Ken Blackwell's edict restricting the use of provisional ballots. These "PBs" are supposed to let voters mark a ballot if there is some registration error or question (e.g., whether they are registered or not, are they on the registered voters list in the correct precinct, if the voter goes to the wrong precinct, etc.). The PBs are then researched to determine if the ballot should be considered valid.

Unfortunately, Blackwell has ruled that a provisional ballot will only be issued to voters who go the correct precinct but aren't on the list.

The ABJ also raises worries over the high demand for absentee ballots, and the new guidelines for voting by felons.

Blackwell is somewhat of a rebel, but he is still a loyal Republican insider. The Florida debacle didn't hurt Katherine Harris's career, and Blackwell loves to be the center of attention.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


ARG poll on Ohio shows dead heat (and nationally)

ARG has released their most recent data on all 50 states. This poll was done of 600 Likely Voters Sept. 17-20
Bush 48
Kerry 46%
Nader 1%
MoE 4%
Please note that ARG shows 5% undecided in Ohio, versus the unlikely low 1% in the Ohio Poll (see post below).

ARG's national numbers show the race to be Bush 47%, Kerry 46%.


Battling polls

Bush still appears to be ahead of Kerry in Ohio, but is it a small margine or a large one?

On one hand, we have as Exhibit A, the new Zogby poll done Sept. 13-17 that shows:
Bush 50.1%
Kerry 46.8%
Nader 0.3%
MoE 2.4%

The Zogby trend shows the two campaigns approaching a dead heat again. Zogby has somewhat of an unusual methodology in that it conducts online polls (for the Wall Street Journal) twice a month. This covered 1,718 Ohio respondent and demographic info submitted by respondents is cross checked for accuracy.

On the other hand, Exhibit B is the new Ohio Poll from the Univ. of Cincinnati of 456 Likely Voters conducted Sept. 12-18:
Bush 54%
Kerry 43%
Nader 2%
MoE 4.6%

The previous Ohio Poll (August) had the race as a dead heat. It appears that the Swift Boat ads and the RNC had and effect. Bush’s net favorability rating is 11 percentage points higher while Kerry’s net favorability rating fell from a positive rating (+5%) negative rating (-7%).

The accuracy of the Ohio Poll has been way off in some elections. I also don't think their focus on Likely Voters adds accuracy. I also find it odd that they did it over 7 days. That's an awfully long time in the polling world. Also I find it odd that they only polled 456 since they contacted 812 in August. Regardless of the stated MoE, that small number has the potential for introducing a lot of other error sources. For example, that means that they had roughly 5 respondents per county. The chances of each of those sets of 5 being representative of the county as a whole is not desireably high.

Another major warning about potential methology problems is that the poll shows undecideds at 1%. That, in itself, is absurd.

More polls are due in the next few days.

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