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Collins: Stealing Ohio 2004 – The Case Heats Up

Stealing Ohio 2004 – The Case Heats Up

Ohio citizen sending a message right after 2004 election Image

"Letters from the Edge" Part 2

Michael Collins
"Scoop" Independent News
Washington, DC (Part 1)

April, 2007. Columbus, Ohio. 56 of 88 Ohio counties defied a federal court order and failed to return some or all of the 2004 presidential ballots that they were ordered to retain indefinitely. Over 1.5 million ballots were destroyed or lost, key evidence for major federal law suit charging election fraud and voter suppression in the 2004 presidential contest. For example: "fraudulent votes … cast for George W. Bush; inflating of vote tabulations in areas that tended to vote for George Bush."

What impact will the massive destruction of evidence by Ohio counties have on the federal case charging criminal election fraud in the 2004 presidential election? Some, but the case is still viable. Devastating findings by researchers for the plaintiffs are reviewed and a motive the destruction is provided. But first here are two more outstanding "Letters from the Edge" courtesy of Ohio elections officials trying to explain the mishandling and destruction of evidence.

Chaos and Outright Defiance after Losing and Destroying Evidence

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Montgomery County Ohio was the scene of numerous election problems in 2004. The home of Dayton, this county was positively defiant when it reported deliberate destruction of all 2004 ballots. Why?

Election records were requested by the Secretary of State on April 9, 2007. Elections director Steven Harsman took until May 15, 2007 to produce this letter (Page 172)

"…we contacted our county prosecutor for further authorization.

In addition, we experienced an extra ordinary situation having 4 elections during a 90 day period. We literally ran out of space to prepare, stage, and retain material for those elections. It was imperative we process the 2004 materials for destruction under the guidelines of the 22 month retention.

Therefore, all materials were properly destroyed in a timely manner and we are unable to comply due to those circumstances.

We did not receive formal notice from the courts prior to preparing the certificate of destruction."

How often does a county executives contact the DA to get approval for shredding?

A prosperous county with a $750 million budget and an "A1" Moody's credit rating couldn't rent some storage space for vital records? Harsman should have used Google to find storage in Dayton.

Why is space even an issue if Montgomery was in full compliance with the law, as Haisman and the DA say they were?

But the last sentence takes the prize. The county didn't get "formal notice" before "preparing the certificate of destruction." The county was sent a fax from plaintiff's attorney Arnebeck's office eight days before the destruction certificate. It contained the federal court order and a clear explanation. Wasn't this formal enough?

Montgomery County did a lot of shredding and it was deliberate.

Along with the rest of Ohio, Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) was under court order to retain all 1.1 million records from the 2004 presidential election. Newly appointed acting elections director Jane Platten walked into a mess left by her predecessors.

Platten complied within just days of the April 9, 2007 request for ballots and other records. It was hard to tell if the April 17 shipment contained only the 700,000 voted ballots or if it included Cuyahoga's 1.1 million ballots of all types (voted, unvoted, provisional, and soiled).

Then the county sent a second shipment after a revealing discovery.

This is a detail from the May 1, 2007 form that accompanied the second shipment of ballots from Cuyahoga County. It reported that the vital unvoted ballot evidence was "found hidden" in a warehouse (line 4). (Page 58)

On May 1st, Platten sent 400,000 additional unvoted ballots to the state capitol following the instructions in the federal court order. These ballots are critical evidence to determine if unvoted ballots were marked and substituted for voted ballots. These "ballots had been found hidden in Cuyahoga's Canal Street warehouse," she wrote. She goes on, "It was thought that they were delivered on April 17th." Why was hidden crossed out? Why was it there in the first place?

Were the ballots "hidden" evidence that Ms. Platten "found" because she had to look? If so, why hadn't her predecessor's secured this notable amount of evidence?

In the past, the county stalled those requesting the legal right to review unvoted ballots. Patten's predecessor, Michael Vu, "resigned" in controversy during February, 2007. Bob Bennett chairman of the county board of elections was asked to resign by the new Secretary of State a few weeks later. In 2004, he was both chairman of the elections board and head of state Republican Party. Bennett is a named defendant in the suit charging election fraud. Maybe one or both of them can explain why these ballots were hidden.

They'll Get Away with It Right?

Wrong, at least not if the law is enforced. The destruction of evidence, while not currently pursued at the state level, has a remedy in the federal court system. It's called contempt of court. In addition, the federal district judge, Algenon Marbley, can refer the case to a federal prosecutor.

But there's no reason to give up on the most significant election fraud trial in modern history: King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association (KLBNA) v. Blackwell et al. Among others, the suit charges the following individuals with election fraud and voter suppression in the following capacities during the 2004 election: Kenneth Blackwell, Secretary of State and Ohio Bush campaign chairman; Bob Bennett, both a senior state Republican party official and also chairman of the Cuyahoga County board of elections; and a technician from Election Systems and Software (ES&S).

The case was filed on behalf of Ohio citizens by trial attorney for plaintiffs Clifford O. Arnebeck and Henry W. Eckhart, with Robert J. Fitrakis of counsel. The original and amended complaints were filed in federal district court, on August 31 and October 9, 2006 respectively. It continues in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Case 2:06-cv-00745-ALM-TPK).

These are highly significant election fraud and voter suppression charges. We're dealing with the election fraud and voter suppression that enabled the theft of the 2004 United States presidential election.

Specifically, the defendants:

have conspired to deprive Plaintiffs of their right to vote … by undermining the bipartisan supervision of elections prescribed by Ohio law and avoiding any election audit so as to permit the following: fraudulent votes to be cast for George W. Bush (“Bush”) (“election fraud”); the double-counting of absentee ballots (“vote dilution”); the suppression and/or spoiling of votes in areas that tended to vote for John Kerry (“Kerry”) and the inflating of vote tabulations in areas that tended to vote for George Bush (“vote suppression”); the failing to follow Ohio’s law for the proper recount of votes (“recount fraud”); and other violations of federal and state laws. KLBNA v Blackwell et al.

There are at least two factors that should allow this case to move forward. First, there's a legal doctrine called "spoliation." Defendants are denied a reward for destroying evidence that may point to their guilt or culpability in a pending law suit, either announced or anticipated. The destruction of evidence can be taken as a sign of guilt. Second, much of the evidence has been documented through the meticulous research of Richard Hayes Phillips, PhD.

Proving Election Fraud with Hard Evidence: The Declaration of Richard Hayes Phillips and the Federal Law Suit

Phillips has an intense involvement in documenting and analyzing election fraud with over 40 articles on the subject. He visited 9,343 of Ohio's 11,323 precincts conducting research for this case. The Declaration of Richard Hayes Phillips was the opening document filed in federal court. It is a powerful narrative of election fraud and voter suppression. (Summary of the declaration evidence)

When Phillips visited Deleware County to examine ballots and other evidence (his right under Ohio law), election officials must have been terribly upset. They called the police five times and the county prosecutor twice seeking to stop the legal request for ballot review. Why?

Hamilton County shredded all of its unvoted and soiled ballots making it difficult to determine if any of those unvoted ballots were marked and substituted for voted ballots. Then there's the practice of the illegal pre-punching ballots and the impact on election results in Cincinnati. The county offered an incomprehensible excuse which included "inadvertent" ballot shredding. "Inadvertent?"

Clermont County lost all of its unvoted ballots, every single one. Were any of those unvoted ballots marked and substituted for voted ballots? We may never know that or why Phillips found absentee ballots stuck under phone books; or why the county failed to segregate voted spoiled and unused ballots as required by law; or why Phillips' repeated requests to examine unused ballots were turned down. What else should we know about Clermont County?

Phillip's analysis uncovered the fact that Miami County's ballot count was off in each and every one of its 82 precincts. A return of soiled ballots might have helped sort this out but they were destroyed. Why?

Three counties, Stark, Summit, and Warren, failed to return any unvoted ballots making it difficult to determine if unvoted ballots were marked and substituted for voted ballots. Stark and Warren said it was standard procedure to destroy unvoted ballots 60 days after an election. Summit didn't bother to offer an explanation.

Trumbull County claimed to have returned all of its ballots. This contradicts a report that Phillips received during his field work indicating that Trumbull's unused ballots were destroyed. Who would you believe?

Montgomery County failed to return one single ballot from 2004, including more than 290,000 voted ballots from 2004. That was most unfortunate since Montgomery County was responsible for a disproportionate number of the 1.5 million destroyed or lost ballots.

Phillips documented reports that technicians from voting equipment vendor ES&S visited county election divisions, in some cases programming vote tabulators. ES&S technician Sam Hogsett is a named defendant in the federal law suit. He stands accused (p. 21) of "adjusting computer software in tabulators and by other means to officially count more votes for Bush in predominantly Republican suburban and rural counties than were in fact cast for Bush in those counties in the 2004 general election in Ohio." The Free Press reported Secretary of State Blackwell dispatched Hogsett by name to help with the 2004 Fairfield County recount. Why?

A critical theme that runs throughout the evidence gathered is the attack on minority citizens, specifically those who chose to vote. Successful suppression of the Democratic vote requires a concerted attack on the voting rights black citizens. The evidence gathered and documented lends credence to the immoral and unconstitutional practice in Ohio.

Of the 11 counties in the Phillip's declaration, 10 reported that some or all destroyed or lost Election Day 2004 ballots. Not one of these counties indicated any regret for the loss. Not one of them took any responsibility for failure to obey the law on secure storage of election materials. And several either lost or destroyed ballot evidence while Phillips was conducting his research. Why?

Due to the evidence gathered by Phillips and associates, the amended filing for KLBNA v. Blackwell et al documents even more instances of election fraud and voter suppression. Of 27 counties where election fraud and voter suppression took place according to the suit, 19 failed to return all or some of the ballots and other evidence that they were ordered to produce. Why? (See summary of the KLBNA v. Blackwell et al evidence)

Maybe this was just a series of coincidences. It happens all the time. Right? Defendants routinely destroy evidence while they wait for trial. There's nothing to see here. Move along.

What were they hiding and why?

The destroyed and lost ballots, hidden forever, were key elements in the KLBNA v Blackwell suit claiming election fraud in Ohio

The specific evidence examined by Phillips was presented in September, 2006. It was a road map to the case that seeks to prove criminal acts of election fraud and voter suppression. It was also a road map of another sort, one that offered the path to undermine charges and potentially end the case in a definitive and final way.

Given all this, what's one logical response if you're guilty? Destroy the specific evidence supporting Phillips' claims and more. Destroy, lose, and hide as much evidence as possible, let's say about 1.5 million pieces of ballot evidence. They'll never prove anything without the ballots. We'll cry 'sour grapes,' 'sore loser,' and our favorite, 'conspiracy theory.' The media won't even carry the story.

Yet the case proceeds in federal court. Despite the destroyed evidence, there are still extensive records of voting patterns and election practices that denied Kerry supporters their right to vote and have their vote counted. There remains the meticulous record in the form of data, analyses, photographs and video tapes. The people of Ohio and the United States demand a rational process to examine our flawed election system. It's time for the truth about Ohio's 2004 presidential election. No subsequent election can have meaning and legitimacy without that truth.


Useful links:

Table of contents and collection of county filing and letters concerning the federal law suit and the Phillips declaration.

Graphic summary of the Declaration of Richard Hayes Phillips evidence

Graphic summary of the KLBNA v. Blackwell et al evidence


Defendants in KLNBA v. Blackwell et al

"Defendant Blackwell and those acting in concert with him under the color of law, including but not limited to

• the Ohio Republican Party;
• Robert T. Bennett, Chair, Cuyahoga County Board of Elections and State Chair, Republican State Central and Executive Committee of Ohio;
• Matthew M. Damschroder, Director, Franklin County Board of Elections;
• Samuel Hogsett, Technician for Election Systems & Software; and
• Daniel Bare, former Director, Clermont County Board of Elections, have conspired to deprive Plaintiffs of their right to vote…"


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