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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Watching From Ohio: Machine Malfunction, Fraud Charges Marring Iowa Straw Poll

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Some Republicans are questioning the reliability of voting machines, the accuracy of vote-count results and the honesty of the GOP-managed presidential straw poll in Iowa where nearly half the attendees reportedly didn't cast ballots. Fraud in polling places has been a staple of the left since 2000, when Bush edged Gore in Florida, and 2004, when the president received more votes in Ohio than John Kerry. Now the right seems to be growing suspicious as well.

Iowa's semi-official state Republican Party blog is carrying comments today implying that the Aug. 11, 2007 Iowa Straw Poll won by 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney was rigged. Anonymous skeptics have been commenting on Cyclone Conservatives, noting that a voting machine failed. The blog is operated by Dan McDonald, chair of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans.

[UPDATE: Sunday, Aug. 12, 3:08 PM -- Here is more from Iowa about the ballot counting flap. It does look like the Ron Paul camp is stirring the pot, but nobody has come back with a hay maker to knock down their complaints. This may be the Hawkeye State's first taste of what happens after a disputed election.]

[UPDATE 2: Sunday, Aug. 12, 5:49 PM -- David Duke -- yes, that David Duke -- has a Website, where the the Iowa straw polls results are being analyzed. Apparently, the far, far, far right fringe thinks Paul was the big winner. Is Ron Paul a front for the KKK crowd? This is a twist: Paul as the Fuerher's favorite son. Soon, the conspiracy theorists will be at full throttle.]

Apparently, some 1.500 votes were hand counted when a voting machine misfired, triggering comments like this:

"Only half those buying tickets voted? They paid 35 bucks to not vote? Right! There was massive voting fraud here. Four years ago twice as many votes were cast. Are we to believe there was less interest this year? Or did the voting fraud start four years ago."

Another in the same vein:

"I find this process very suspicious. They used Diebold voting machines, which have been shown time and time again to be security nightmares. They had 'machine troubles' which delayed the tally. On top of all this, only about half the attendees voted? Let me guess, no paper trail? Some people got robbed."

MSM blogger Charlotte Eby didn't pick up on the fraud complaints but reported from Ames Saturday that some 1,500 ballots had to be hand counted. Eby said a machine conked out, but offered no specifics.

On Friday, Ron Paul's supporters lost a federal lawsuit challenging the use of voting machines at the straw poll. The argument: The machines could not be trusted.

Now, it looks like the GOP has the beginnings of a mess on its hands. Romney's win will be under a cloud. Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, who both passed up the straw poll, can minimize its import and point to the flap about the event's reliability. Paul's supporters will fan the flames that it was a crooked election.

Bottomline: Iowa was meaningless except as another example that Americans are becoming more suspicious of election results, and many may be losing faith in the accuracy of vote counts.

There was also a report that three voting machine protesters were arrested Saturday in Ames on trespassing charges. That only adds to the mess.

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