Jumping on Old Left-Wing Allegations of "Voting Irregularities" in Ohio

The Times fails to disclose the far-left ideology of the conspiracy theorists who claim voting irregularities in the presidential vote count in Ohio last election.

Did"voting irregularities" helpGeorge Bush steal the 2004 election in Ohio? Reporter Ian Urbina helps keep hope alive for conspiracists in Thursday's"Ohio, Facing Suit, to Delay Destroying Ballots From 2004 Election."

The text box: "A group of critics says it has found signs of widespread voting irregularities." The phrase "far-left critics" would have been more accurate, but there's not a single label to be found in Urbina's story.

"With paper ballots from the 2004 presidential election in Ohio scheduled to be destroyed next week, the secretary of state in Columbus, under pressure from critics, said yesterday that he would move to delay the destruction at least for several months.

"Since the election, questions have been raised about how votes were tallied in Ohio, a battleground state that helped deliver the election to President Bush over Senator John Kerry.

"The critics, including an independent candidate for governor and a team of statisticians and lawyers, say preliminary results from their ballot inspections show signs of more widespread irregularities than previously known.

"The critics say the ballots should be saved pending an investigation. They also say the secretary of state's proposal to delay the destruction does not go far enough, and they intend to sue to preserve the ballots."

Urbina allows this disingenuous comment: "The critics say their sole interest in the question is to improve the voting system.

"'This is not about Mr. Kerry or Mr. Bush or who should be president,'' said Bill Goodman, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York group that is part of the lawsuit. 'This is about figuring out what is not working in our election system and ensuring that every cast vote counts.'"

Really now? Check what CCR president Michael Ratner said in 2005: "Every American should be in political rebellion against the criminals now running this country."

Urbina runs down the players without going into their far-left backgrounds, treating them as interested citizens with no ideological axe to grind: "Steven Rosenfeld, a freelance reporter formerly with National Public Radio, said the investigative team analyzed three types of sources. They are poll books used by officials to record the names of voters casting ballots, signature books signed by voters and used to verify that signatures match registration records, and optical scan and punch card ballots, used by 85 percent of the voters in the state. The rest used touch-screen machines.

"'We're not claiming that what we found reveals a huge conspiracy,' Mr. Rosenfeld said. 'What we're claiming is that what we found at least reveals extremely shoddy handling of ballots, and there are some initial indications of local-level ballot stuffing.'

(Rosenfeld sounds a bit less objective here: "In fact, it was Jim Crow tactics, not computer hacking, which gave George W. Bush his Ohio victory in 2004.")

"In Miami County, Mr. Rosenfeld said, the team found discrepancies of 5 percent or more in some precincts between the people in the signature books and the certified results.

"In 10 southwestern counties, he said, the team found thousands of punch card ballots that lacked codes identifying the precinct where the ballot was cast. The codes are typically necessary for the machines processing the ballots to 'know' to record which candidate receives the votes.

"Mr. Rosenfeld is a co-author of a book that The New Press is to publish next month, 'What Happened in Ohio?: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election.' The other co-authors are Harvey Wasserman, an election rights advocate and an adjunct professor of history at Columbus State Community College, and Robert J. Fitrakis, a lawyer who is running for governor as an independent."

There's no mention of the far-left beliefs of Wasserman and Fitrakis.

There are also no Republican sources in Urbina's story to call bunk on the conspiracy. The only criticism comes near the end is from a Democrat: "Robert F. Bauer, a lawyer from Washington who represented Mr. Kerry and the Democratic National Committee on voting issues before the 2004 election, was skeptical about the critics' case.

"'The major discrepancies that they are identifying are not materially different than what has already been highlighted,' Mr. Bauer said."

The last two paragraphs puts the entire conspiracy-mongering angle into question:

"In March 2005, the Democratic National Committee issued a report that said 2 percent of the Ohio electorate, or 'approximately 129,543 voters,' had intended to vote but did not do so because of long lines and other problems at polling stations.

But the report said those and other frustrated voters 'would not have erased Bush's 118,000 vote margin in the state.'"

So if not even the Democrats are challenging the results, why is the Times trying to stir up a controversy of interest only to far-left conspiracists?