Thursday, December 02, 2004
Ohio Voter Turn Out Turned Off?
By most accounts, this was the election to end all elections. An election in which 117,897,556 Americans directly participated in our democracy by voting for their favored candidate.
Twenty years ago, only 92,653,233 Americans voted. That was a different race, though. Nearly everyone agrees that the 2004 election may have been one of the most important elections that this country has ever held.
To the rapidly-increasing-number-of people who are questioning the results of this past still-not-really-over election, Ohio's Cuyahoga County has become the center of attention. According to the census of 2000, 27.4% of the population of Cuyahoga County is black or African-American (Wikipedia.org), out of a total population count of 1,393,978 people. While most Americans were able to cast their vote in the time it would take them to eat on their lunch break, many voters in Cuyahoga County waited on line for up to ten hours. There are many reports that there were less polling machines in Cuyahoga County then there were in the last presidential election, even though 2004 was supposed to be the "mother of all elections."
There were 651,633 votes for president recorded in Cuyahoga County (http://serform.sos.state.oh.us/sos//results/). Not in 2004, but in 1984. A year when 25,2144,323 less votes were cast nationwide in the general election.
In 2004, there were 665,334 votes for President in Cuyahoga County.
Do you see what I'm getting at? Only 4,547,619 voted in the 1984 general election in Ohio, compared to 5,574,476 in 2004. Shouldn't the number of voters in Cuyahoga County this past election be on par with the increase in state and national votes?
How many voters stayed home because of the tremendously long lines?
There was a total of 1,005,807 voters in Cuyahoga County registered for this election. The percentage of votes cast for the county is pegged at 66.15%, compared to a state percentage of 69.86%. Hamilton County recorded a percentage of 72.87%. Bush beat Kerry in Hamilton County with 215,639 votes to 190,956. As of the 2000 census, Hamilton County's population of 845,303 people consists of 23.43% black or African-Americans.
If Cuyahoga County recorded a percentage of 72.87%, another - roughly - 70,000 people would have voted.
Another interesting thing about the two counties. While Hamilton County recorded an increase of over 12,000 registered voters, Cuyahoga's number decreased by nearly 5,000.
This is the voter turnout in Cuyahoga County for the presidential elections in between 1984 and 2004: in 1988, 601,117 votes; in 1992, 640,241 votes; in 1996, 580,030 votes; in 2000, 586,914 votes. Do you notice how low those last two numbers are? Maybe that has to do something with the Secretary of State.
According to Ohio's Secretary of State Website, "[a]s Ohio's chief election officer, Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell oversees the elections process and appoints the members of boards of elections in each of Ohio's 88 counties."
In 1998, J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Republican candidate, won a three man race for Secretary of State against two Democratic candidates who split the vote, though Mr. Blackwell received less votes than the two Democrats added together. Before Blackwell, Bob Taft - also a Republican - served for two terms (eight years). The last Republican Secretary of State in Ohio, before Mr. Taft, was in 1974.
I'm not suggesting that all the Republican Secretary of States suppressed the vote in Ohio. I am suggesting that, at least, J. Kenneth Blackwell has. If you are one of those people who think Kerry really won Ohio in 2004, you should also assume that Gore won Ohio in 2000. It's all about the turn out.