26 July 2005

What Went Wrong in Ohio?

On July 21, 2005 Harper's Magazine hosted a forum on voter rights as they related to the 2004 federal election. The forum was held at the U.S. Capitol, and was moderated by Harper's Publisher Rick MacArthur. The panelists were John Conyers, Jr., Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Sherrod Brown, Eleanor Clift, and Mark Crispin Miller. Miller's piece “None Dare Call it Stolen” appears in the August 2005 issue of Harper's Magazine.

Download and listen to the audio from this forum HERE (32.6 Mb MP3 file)

About the Forum

The forum was held to discuss a fundamental aspect of the people's business—that of voting rights in the 2004 federal elections and the rather substantial evidence that these Constitutionally guaranteed rights were extensively violated in the state of Ohio—indeed, systematically violated and on a grand enough scale that the election may have been corruptly swung in favor of President Bush and against Senator John Kerry.

[...] The principal evidence for voting irregularities in Ohio is contained in the Conyers Report on the 2004 Presidential Election, prepared by the Democratic staff of the House Judiciary Committee, and now published as this book, also entitled What Went Wrong in Ohio. This investigation was initiated and supervised by Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary committee. The Republican majority on the Judiciary Committee declined to participate in the Conyers inquiry, so we do not have the benefit of their insights. This is unfortunate, given that one of the principal subjects of the Conyers investigation is an Ohio Republican, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who was also co-chairman of the Ohio Bush re-election campaign. Nevertheless, even lacking Republican input, the Conyers report is an altogether remarkable document. It is by far the best and most complete dossier on voter disenfranchisement and possible vote fraud in Ohio, and it has more than enough hard information to justify a public conversation.

There's a second question raised by the Conyers Report, albeit implicitly, which I hope we will have time to explore today. For as remarkable as the information in the Conyers report may be, the near total media silence that greeted it when it first appeared—as well as the scant coverage of the formal objection to the Ohio electoral vote count filed by Representative Stephanie Tubb Jones—is, to my mind, just as remarkable. So remarkable, in fact, that Harper's Magazine has devoted its August cover story to summarizing and explicating the Conyers report and to asking why it wasn't considered more newsworthy by the national media. Even though eight months have passed since the election, the material compiled here seems to us fresh and scandalous in large part because it has gone almost entirely unreported in the press. As William Raspberry wrote in the Washington Post, "political reporters, mainstream editors and most of Congress seemed utterly unalarmed" by the reports of election chicanery in Ohio. The Conyers report, orginally titled, "Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio," was released on January 5 of this year—and our search on Google and Lexis Nexis turned up very little in the way of coverage.

Given the stakes and given the well-reported disenfranchisement of African-American voters in Florida in the 2000 election, this seems to be a scandal every bit as important as the election irregularities in Ohio.

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