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
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
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 people disenfranchised.
"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 slave."
"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