by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
September 9, 2008
1) ILLEGAL DESTRUCTION OF EVIDENCE SURROUNDING THE VOTE COUNT
In a federal court decision delivered in August, 2006, Judge Algernon Marbley ruled that all materials related to the 2004 presidential vote in Ohio must be preserved. Standing federal law required that these materials be protected for 22 months dating from November 4, 2004. In response to the King-Lincoln lawsuit, Marbley’s decision came in time to make it a federal offense to destroy any poll books, ballots and other records relating to the 2004 election in Ohio at any time.Around the time of the decision, GOP Secretary of State Blackwell, who also served as Ohio co-chair of the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, issued ambivalent orders to the state’s 88 county Boards of Elections about preserving these materials.Blackwell subsequently lost his 2006 campaign for governor of Ohio, and was replaced by Brunner as secretary of state. Brunner publicly announced that she would establish a repository in Columbus for all 2004 election materials. In accordance with the King-Lincoln lawsuit, a definitive recount would then establish what actually happened during the Bush re-election.But in August of 2007, Ohio Attorney-General Mark Dann informed the King-Lincoln attorneys that 56 of the 88 county Boards of Elections had illegally destroyed all or some of their records and ballots from 2004. No repository has been established for what remains, and no definitive recount is now possible.Ironically, Florida Governor Jeb Bush did preserve materials from the 2000 election there from all but one of the counties in that state. The materials are being held in a repository in Tallahassee. But no such resource—and no definitive recount—will be possible in Ohio.There have been no state or federal prosecutions for the illegal destruction of these materials. Nor does there seem to be any guarantee similar destruction will not follow the 2008 election.