R. Kennedy Jr.'s Open Letter on 2004 Presidential Election Fraud

(Posted 6/4/2006) - Some believe there were RNC conspirators in Ohio who planned and executed election fraud in the 2004 presidential race. Others argue that the election results while showing a flawed process were clearly not the result of a GOP plan.

I link to the two side's arguments and their references. Then of course I add my two-cents!

I followed the DNC and RNC strategies targeting election processes in the 2004 presidential race, and can say unequivocabally that the Ohio outcome was dramatically affected by both party's machinations. With regard to the charges of election fraud which are discussed here I expect readers will apply their own prejudices and perspectives.

My prejudice is the belief that in US elections the most effective partisan tampering is done before the ballots are cast, vis a vis gerrymandering of precincts and selective interpretation and enforcement of voter registration protocols.

I also admit the possibility that during and after balloting tampering may be accomplished by controlling accessibility to polling places, selectively enforcing rules for accepting provisional ballots, and by subjectively applying regulations that define irregular ballots.

Some folks believe the above are fair-game for political operatives; a sort of rough and tumble competition that both sides play. Your reactions to much of the point and counter point in the following links will depend on where you stand with regard to how the election game should be played.

Having said all that, let us move to the main event: the recent open letter by Robert Kennedy Jr. charges the RNC with election fraud in Ohio during the 2004 presidential campaign. Does he make a viable case based on the facts to warrant criminal investigation? We also present a counter-argument from Salon.com's Farhad Manjoo which attempts to refute Kennedy's main points.

Rather than regurgitate the open letter, I will link to it. Its a long four-page read with about 70 citations. Here's Robert Kennedy Jr.'s open-letter.

Having waded through that, let's next read the rebuttal by a staff writer at Salon.com who I believe has been following this since right after the 2004 election. Heres' Farhad Manjoo's rebuttal.

Once you've read each of these points of view you'll be asking yourself some big questions (and probably coming down on one side or the other on the topic of election fraud). Here are my thoughts.

Election fraud is a criminal activity as defined by law. Part of proving fraud is to identify perpitrators and build a case against them that is admissible in court. Based on Kennedy's assertions and references I'd assume he would try to make a case against Ken Blackwell (Ohio's Sec. of State at the time of the elections, and supernumery for all things related to Ohio's electoral processes). I would also expect him to include Bernadette Noe an Ohio county elections chairperson in any indightment.

As we all know making a criminal case requires more than circumstantial evidence. To make a criminal case we need material evidence: memos, emails, witnesses to criminal activities, etc. We also need to link the circumstantial evidence and material evidence to motive and opportunity; that is to show intent and capability. These are not explored in Kennedy's letter.

His letter is more of a civil brief -- through anecdote and circumstance he builds a case that something odd (let's say it, shoddy and perhaps shady) was going on. But who was responsible, and what evidential trail leads to someone's doorstep?

In fact, the DNC commissioned a very professional, analytical study to determine not criminal liability, but what was wrong with the Ohio election process. It is profoundly unsettling to read -- but doesn't imply criminal intent / activity; just an incredibly entrenched and unresponsive command and control structure in the Ohio government. The study's executive summary is included (a quick read). It is referenced by both sides in the original letter and rebuttal and is entitled appropriately DNC Study Democracy at Risk: The 2004 Election in Ohio

To those who's tolerance for tricksy-politics is high, the Ohio results fell in the realm of a high stakes polital play off in which the GOP played a better game due to their entrenched position. They would not be seen as cheating or breaking any laws of consequence.

Another view is that of the New Mexico League of Women Voters, who published a position paper which they hope will be a model for elections reform. It is linked Here and is entitled American Democracy at Risk: Agenda for Renewal and Repair.

I close by saying that I believe this country is too big to continue to suffer from small-town partisan politics played on a national stage. Unless we increase the quality of our political selection process we will likely suffer a gradual degradation and move to the back of the global bus. The one very bright light that I hold out is that our constitution and our expectations are such that we may yet move away from the disfunctional political gamesmanship that served us when we were a quarter of our present size.