Ohio Post-Mortem: Glitz, Gimmicks, Sleight-of-Hand, and Witnessing Fraud

I feel like I've been dumped. Monday my phone was ringing constantly, my mailbox was full, and everyone was talking about me, wanting to know what I thought and felt and what would please me. Wednesday, my phone is silent, my mailbox is empty, and I’ve got that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. While to the rest of the world Ohio has returned to being an obscure flyover state, those of us who remain in the dreary November weather are left with a lot of questions about exactly what happened here on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney lost Ohio by 107,241 votes. That’s a smaller margin than John McCain lost the state by in 2008 (262,224), but surprisingly, 93,200 more Ohioans voted for John McCain than for Romney. One fascinating result (HT: Rob Walgate, American Policy Roundtable) is that Republican House races garnered 66,000 more votes across the state than Romney did. Republicans won 12/16 of these races, all of them by +50 margins -- even the heavily contested OH-16 between incumbents Jim Renacci (R) and Betty Sutton (D). There was clearly a Romney problem in the state for voters to consciously choose Jim Jordan and Bill Johnson and either not vote for a presidential candidate or switch parties. Matt Mayer, director of Opportunity Ohio,  suggests the reason:

In 2012, Senator Santorum lost the primary but won 69 of Ohio’s 88 counties. The 69 counties he won are the most conservative in Ohio -- the voters there are the Republican base. That Santorum won so many of them indicated that Romney had an issue with the base. ... No matter how you look at it, it seems clear that the base in Ohio did not show up as it needed to do for Romney to win Ohio.

Conservative senate candidate Josh Mandel lost to liberal Sherrod Brown by 5.31% after a blistering campaign. Brown, the Democrats, the special interest groups, and the Ohio media spent the better part of a year smearing Mandel and convincing voters that he was a serial liar. That steady drip, along with an independent in the race who sucked up 4.5% of the vote, cleared the way for Brown to retain his seat in the Senate.

After my 16-hour day as a poll worker Tuesday, I watched the returns on TV with my husband and 18-year-old son, while monitoring the returns on the Ohio Secretary of State (SOS) website. When Fox News called Ohio for President Obama and declared that he would be our president for the next four years, I yelled at the TV. Not only did I not want to believe it was true, I also didn’t believe it was true. After what I witnessed at the polling place on Tuesday and what I have seen in Ohio the past few weeks, I am not convinced that Obama’s 100,000 vote margin represents the will of the Ohio electorate. Though he “won” enough votes to propel him to collect Ohio’s 18 electoral votes, it was a cheap victory, won through glitz, gimmicks, sleight of hand, and, possibly, through voter fraud.

Tuesday, my confidence in our Ohio voting system was undermined in a way that I never expected. I saw a voting machine change votes from Romney to Obama. When reports first surfaced last week of machines switching votes in Ohio, I was mildly concerned, but thought perhaps it was a fluke or even a conspiracy theory.

But then I personally witnessed a TSX voting machine changing votes from Romney (and other Republican candidates) to Obama (and other Democrats) right before my eyes. The first time it happened, the voter loudly announced it to everyone in the precinct. When there is a problem with a voting machine, two poll workers (from opposite parties) must investigate. We saw that his screen had recorded that he had voted for Obama.