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Still Recounting Ohio

It is noteworthy that in "Recounting Ohio" Mark Hertsgaard specifically points to the lack of major media coverage of stolen election charges then goes on to rebut charges that have never seen the light of day in major media or in Mother Jones.

Hertsgaard is content that having found a couple of noises in the night that he believes were nothing, then the rest of those noises needn't be a bother. It is an apologia for a very flawed system that, even if it worked perfectly, contains at the heart of elections a piece of secret vote-counting software that even elections officials are not allowed to know about.

PAUL R. LEHTO

Everett, Washington

What I find most suspicious about the 2004 election is that as far as I can tell every questionable vote count and discrepancy was in Bush's favor. Were there discrepancies that favored Kerry?

It would not have taken-as Hertsgaard maintains-a conspiracy by the entire Republican Party to steal the election. A tweaking of the result by a rogue election director here or a board there, on top of acknowledged ploys such as the shortage of voting machines in Democratic districts, would have sufficed.

JERRY RICHARD

Seattle, Washington

Hertsgaard expresses skepticism about the evidence uncovered by my House Judiciary Committee staff and others regarding the deliberate disenfranchisement of voters in Ohio, while expressing disdain for the "know-it-all" tone of skeptics. However, on the involvement of Triad GSI in the manipulation of recount results, he appears to have fallen victim to the same tone.

Hertsgaard correctly recounts that a central charge in the report was the posting of a "cheat sheet" that would be referred to to alter hand-count totals so that they matched Election Day totals and to thereby avoid a full hand count. He pronounces that this fact is "news to Triad." It shouldn't be. As the report notes, I have a videotape and transcript of a public hearing and interview in which the Triad employee casually admits that he produced the document. Specifically, when asked whether he was altering the tabulating software because he was "...trying to help [Hocking County voting officials] so that they wouldn't have to do a full recount," the Triad employee answered, "Right." When asked whether any of the counties that he visited had to do a full recount after the software was altered, the employee's response was, "Not that I'm aware of."

The importance of looking into what went wrong in Ohio is not to change or complain about the outcome, but to use what we have learned to restore trust in our election system. Certainly, self-interested companies will deny their own complicity in election irregularities. However, I would have hoped that Mother Jones would not have taken those companies at their word but examined documentary evidence to the contrary.

REP. JOHN CONYERS JR.

Detroit, Michigan

As I wrote in my article, some of the skeptics' key charges about Ohio 2004 are well founded, but many did not check out. …

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