Thursday, January 25, 2007

More Good News?

Gingrich's '24' scenario: US, Israel face potential 'second Holocaust' which could lead to 'greater dictatorial societies'
Ron Brynaert

Fayetteville Peace Rally
March 17, 2007

9/11 Accountability:Strategies and Solutions Conference
Crown Plaza San MarcosChandler, Arizona - February 23-25, 2007

2 election workers convicted of rigging
'04 presidential recount
1/24/2007, 5:30 p.m. ET
By M.R. KROPKO The Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP) — Two election workers in the state's most populous county were convicted Wednesday of illegally rigging the 2004 presidential election recount so they could avoid a more thorough review of the votes.
A third employee who had been charged was acquitted on all counts.
Jacqueline Maiden, the elections' coordinator who was the board's third-highest ranking employee when she was indicted last March, and ballot manager Kathleen Dreamer each were convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct of an elections employee.
Maiden and Dreamer also were convicted of one misdemeanor count each of failure of elections employees to perform their duty. Both were acquitted of five other charges.
Rosie Grier, assistant manager of the Cuyahoga County Elections Board's ballot department, was acquitted of all seven counts of various election misconduct or interference charges.
The felony conviction carries a possible sentence of six to 18 months.
There was a gasp in the courtroom gallery, which included some relatives and friends of the defendants, when a "not guilty" verdict was announced on the first charge. The courtroom went silent when a "guilty" verdict was returned.
The defendants sat near each other silently as the 21 verdicts were read.
Ohio gave Bush the electoral votes he needed to defeat Democratic Sen. John Kerry in the close election and hold on to the White House in 2004.
Special prosecutor Kevin Baxter, who was brought in from Erie County to handle the case, did not claim the workers' actions affected the outcome of the election — Kerry gained 17 votes and Bush lost six in the county's recount.
But Baxter insisted the employees broke the law when they worked behind closed doors three days before the public Dec. 16, 2004, recount to pick ballots they knew would not cause discrepancies when checked by hand so they could avoid a lengthier, more expensive hand recount of all votes.
Ohio law states that during a recount each county is supposed to randomly count at least 3 percent of its ballots by hand and by machine. If there are not discrepancies in those counts, the rest of the votes can be recounted by machine. A full hand-count is ordered if two random samples result in differences.
Grier, the worker who was acquitted, was the only defendant who commented following the verdicts.
"It has all been very stressful," said Grier, 54. "Yes, I'm very relieved. But, none of us should have been in this courtroom today. These charges should not have been brought against any of us."
Defense lawyer Roger Synenberg said in his closing argument that the 2004 presidential election was the most publicly observed ever in Cuyahoga County and the workers were simply following procedures as they understood them.
Baxter said he intends to speak with Maiden and Dreamer before their scheduled sentencing on Feb. 26 to see if they wish to make any statements that might influence the sentence.
"We'd like to listen to them if they had anything to say, if anyone else was involved with this. We still haven't been able to determine that," he said.
A message was left Wednesday with elections board director Michael Vu.
The board released a statement saying the convictions highlight the importance of changes it has made since 2004 "and the critical need to aggressively pursue additional reforms."
"The board's goal is to fully restore the public's confidence in the election process in Cuyahoga County," the statement said.
Maiden's attorney, Robert Rotatori, said he expects appeals will be filed for his client and Dreamer.
The case comes as elections have fallen under greater scrutiny since the 2000 presidential election. That's when recounts of paper ballots in Florida dragged on for weeks and the U.S. Supreme Court became involved. Cuyahoga also has been under the microscope following numerous problems with elections in bellwether Ohio.
Cuyahoga County is a Democratic stronghold where about 600,000 ballots were cast in 2004.
Statewide, Bush won by about 118,000 votes out of 5.5 million cast. Green Party candidate David Cobb and Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik sought the recount and complained about its procedure.

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