Tall in the Middle and Round on Both Ends

From Holden:

The Greens and the Libertarians are demanding a recount in Ohio. They need to raise $110,000 to file for a recount. The Kerry Campaign has plenty of cash squirreled away for a recount, hopefully they will help the independents out.

There are numerous examples of voting irregularities in Ohio, but one problem that has been overlooked: long lines in Democratic strongholds on election day:

Franklin County is a good microcosm for understanding what happened in Ohio. In 2000, Al Gore beat George Bush there by 4,156 votes. In 2004, Bush beat Kerry there by 41,341 votes, according to the unofficial results on the Ohio secretary of state’s website. Bush’s lead in the county was almost a third of his statewide margin against Kerry, even though, as of last March, according to the state statistics, there were 54,040 new voters in the county. Some of those new voters were Republican. But still, what happened?

“There were widespread anecdotal reports that inner city voters were leaving the polls because of 2-hour plus wait times, ” [Brian Clark, site coordinator for SierraClubVotes.org in Franklin County] said. “Granted, there were also waits in suburban areas. But the impact on final voter turnout was clearly very different—a lawyer can be late and keep her job, a grocery store clerk can’t.”

And then there’s the question of how and where voting machines were distributed. Even though Franklin County election officials have their ready defense to deflect charges of intentional voting rights violations, Democratic field organizers said the placement of too-few voting machines at inner city precincts came amid a broader campaign of voter intimidation aimed at Democrats.

Protecting the right to vote is the heart of the federal Voting Rights Act. If fewer voting machines were put in African-American precincts, on a per capita basis, than were placed in the county’s whiter suburbs—and that prevented African-Americans from voting—that would violate the Voting Rights Act.

“If this was planned and systematic and not accidental, it would be a violation,” Gerety said. “If this was a means of disenfranchising African-American voters, it’s a clear violation.”


“It’s interesting to note that the inner-city precincts where we spent most of our time working, turnout was about 50 percent higher than it was in 2000,” Clark said. “Yet the Franklin County Board of Elections moved voting machines from the inner city precincts out to the suburbs. It was pretty dispiriting to know that we spent months trying to get new voters to the polls and they didn’t even have machines to go to once they got there.”