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Smear campaign about delivering Ohio to GOP

Dispatch smear campaign against Brunner is about delivering Ohio to the GOP


by Bob Fitrakis

The Columbus Dispatch is in the middle of its most blatant editorial propaganda campaign since the questioning of the late Columbus School Board member Bill Moss' sanity in a front page article.

Their new target is Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. The capitol city's daily monopoly and political bludgeon for the multimillionaire Wolfe family's real agenda is ensuring that the Republican Party control Ohio's Apportionment Board after the 2010 census. The party that controls apportionment gerrymanders the state.

The Wolfe family has not allowed a Democrat to be endorsed for President since the re-election of Woodrow Wilson in 1916. In that campaign, the Wolfe's pro-German sentiments won out over their time-honored role as Republican operatives.

The Republican Party believes that Brunner is the most politically vulnerable of the five-member Apportionment Board. The Secretary of State serves along with the Governor, the State Auditor and two members of the state legislature – one from each party by law. Do the math. Brunner's a Dem, so is Governor Strickland. Mary Taylor, the Auditor, is a Republican. It's now 3-2 for the Dems.

If the Dispatch and the other Republican editorial boards around the state can whip up an anti-Brunner frenzy, then the Republicans, despite their recent erosion of support in the Buckeye State, can cling to power.

Dispatch editorials on Brunner are most notable for simply denying well-established facts on e-voting. They disdain fact-based reality. It matters little what computer scientists at Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Princeton, Penn State, and other institutions conclude from in-depth scholarly studies. The Dispatch ignores them. Warnings from the bi-partisan Carter-Baker Commission on the problems with proprietary computer vendors – nary a word. An extensive study by the General Accountability Office pointing out that massive vote-shifting could be done with a touch of a button – won't see the light of day in the Wolfe family newsletter.

Each carefully crafted fairy tale is backed by a Mark Niquette "news article." Niquette became chief political writer after the Dispatch removed the even-handed Jon Craig following the 2004 Ohio election fiasco. Niquette is the paper's new political hatchet man, in the tradition of Bob Ruth and Mike Curtin. The Dispatch uses the same sources over and over again like Dan Takaji of OSU Law School. Takaji, an election law expert, professes no formal training in statistics or computers. Yet, he has emerged as the Dispatch's favorite "expert" and denialist on subjects from exit polling to computer voting. Never has someone who knows so little been quoted so much.

In February, Progress Ohio released the emails between Republican Franklin County Election Director Matt Damschroder and the Dispatch. Damschroder, who is openly positioning himself to run for Secretary of State, is most famous for being suspended for a month without pay after he took a $10,000 check from a Diebold voting machine company representative payable to the Franklin County GOP on the day bidding began for Ohio's e-voting contract.

Before Brunner's recent Everest Study that assessed the security of e-voting machines, Damschroder was emailing his pal Glenn Sheller, the Dispatch's editorial page director, with his premature opinions: "I am convinced that the SOS [Secretary of State] wants to use the voting machine test as justification to decertify touchscreen voting machines (a la California) and bring in paper for 2008."

Recall that this is the same Damschroder who conducted the 2004 election with half the machines needed in Franklin County, and left in the warehouse 125 machines that should have been put out in the inner city neighborhoods of Columbus. The resulting 3-7 hour long lines in the city of Columbus cost Kerry 40,000 or so votes.

So, the man who wants to replace Brunner and shift the Apportionment Board to the Republican Party is conspiring with the state's leading Republican newspaper.

In a September 13 Dispatch editorial, Damschroder, the former Franklin County Republican Party Chair, attacked the scholarly experts in the Everest Study as having "an inherent bias." In the Dispatch editorial world, all academics and scholars are "biased" and Matt Damschroder is second only to Lady Justice in his blind objectivity.

Any reader who wants the real facts behind e-voting machines should begin with the 1000-page Everest Study or the easier to digest 86-page Executive Report. Here's the conclusion: "Unfortunately, the findings in this study indicate that the computer-based voting systems in use in Ohio do not meet computer industry security standards and are susceptible to breaches of security that may jeopardize the integrity of the voting process. Such safeguards were neither required by federal regulatory authorities, nor voluntarily applied to their systems by voting machine companies, as these products were certified for use in federal and state elections."

While Brunner has moved slower than she should have and fails to stress vulnerabilities associated with the optical scan system, her mistakes are minor when compared to the open contempt for the democratic process and the blatant criminality of her predecessor, J. Kenneth Blackwell.

One has to wonder why a newspaper would ignore well established facts about the obvious problems with computer voting machines. The Free Press can only conclude that it's the fact that most of the e-voting machine companies have direct ties to Republican Party partisans. The Dispatch's smear campaign against Brunner is simply their way of delivering the vote and the state of Ohio to their pals in the Republican Party. Much like former e-voting machine manufacturer Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell pledged to do for George W. Bush in 2004.

*************

Bob Fitrakis has a Ph.D. in political science and was an election observer in the Ohio 2004 general election and Ohio's 2008 primary. Originally published by The Free Press at http://freepress.org.

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