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Ken Blackwell Outsources Ohio Election Results to GOP Internet Operatives, Again


Contributors to this story: luaptifer, intranets, txj, sawcielackey, kfred, wanderindiana, bronxdem, zan, GreyHawk, susie dow, indyjones48, ricardo4, silence, Biblio, Cho, standingup, avahome, DEFuning, harmonyguy, sluggojd

[UPDATE: For a followup on what actually happened in Ohio on Election Night 2006, read intranets' Ohio's election website still sent real-time results to GOP mirror server.]

[UPDATE2 - In case you are disappointed they pulled the plug on the TN server, Google has a copy - http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3A64.203.98.137 ]

Mid-term ballots are likely to hand over at least one chamber to Democrats on Tuesday in elections overcast by a storm of GOP scandal. The vortex threatens Ken Blackwell, Ohio's Secretary of State (SOS), who aspires to be Governor while dancing at the eyewall's edge. In Ohio, even lobbyists are gagging on the pervasive sleaze of pay-to-play government and Blackwell mistakenly invests in Diebold shares. Voters have become fed up with corruption in government and their renewed fondness for ethical politics that has been missing for so long may shine too bright a light to allow Blackwell the confidence of their votes .

As the last ballots are cast tonight, Ohioans will confidently track realtime results using voting equipment and Internet reporting systems that Ken Blackwell built to replace the horrors of hanging chads. Will the electorate choke to find that the architect of Ohio's Election Night Results Dashboard is an RNC technology strategist and the political intimate of the Bush Dynasty since the 80s? Will a Strickland voter simply resolve to swallow harder on discovering that his realtime election returns may be shipped to his desktop from the GOP Internet operations center in Chattanooga rather than the Ohio OARnet IT servers in Columbus?

When Brutus Buckeye clicks on Blackwell's Election Night results link, will he recall that his tax dollars were among hundreds of thousands spent by Blackwell on the consulting firm that created the live election returns system was the very same consulting firm behind Bush-Cheney 2004?! Will anyone recognize that Dashboard clicks will be making a roundtrip through Tennessee when SOS J. Kenneth Blackwell throws the right switch on the Internets?

Commentary :: ::

The takeaway message is this:

The State of Ohio's real-time, streaming election results are first diverted through Chattanooga, TN, to a GOP-only web firm and the servers currently hosting georgewbush.com, as well as other key Republican web sites.

Since early this decade, top Internet "gurus" in Ohio have been coordinating web services with their GOP counterparts in Chattanooga, wiring up a major hub that in 2004, first served as a conduit for Ohio's live election night results. And presumably, if Ken Blackwell miraculously defies his dismal poll numbers, this OH-TN collaboration will continue to push the technology envelope for the new Governor of Ohio, given his well-documented "pay-to-play," win at all cost policies.

Ohio website for live Election Night Dashboard moves from State of Ohio to SMARTechcorp.net IP address managed by the Republican National Committee

Netcraft Site report for election.sos.state.oh.us

Site http://election.sos.state.oh.us Last reboot unknown         Uptime graph
Domain state.oh.us Netblock owner OARnet
IP address Site rank 9302398
Country  US Nameserver NS1.state.oh.us
Date first seen January 2005 DNS admin Hostmaster@state.oh.us
Domain Registry nic.us Reverse DNS unknown
Organisation Vince Corroto, 1320 Arthur E. Adams Dr. Suite 303, Columbus, 43221, US Nameserver Organisation Vince Corroto, 1320 Arthur E. Adams Dr. Suite 303, Columbus, 43221, US


Netcraft Hosting History for election.sos.state.oh.us

Netblock Owner IP address OS Web Server Last changed

OARnet1224 Kinnear Road Columbus Columbus OH US unknown NS_3.0 9-Aug-2006
OARnet 1224 Kinnear Road Columbus Columbus OH US unknown NS_3.0 27-Apr-2006
SMARTECH CORPORATION PO BOX 11181 Chattanooga TN US 37401 Windows 2000 Microsoft-IIS/5.0 22-Apr-2006
OARnet 1224 Kinnear Road Columbus Columbus OH US unknown NS_3.0 2-Feb-2006
OARnet 1224 Kinnear RoadColumbus Columbus OH US unknown Microsoft-IIS/5.0 20-Aug-2005
OARnet 1224 Kinnear Road Columbus Columbus OH US NetWare Microsoft-IIS/5.0 5-Nov-2004
SMARTECH CORPORATION PO BOX 11181 Chattanooga TN US 37401 Windows 2000 Microsoft-IIS/5.0 3-Nov-2004

You won't be able to find the realtime election results on the Ohio SOS website (www.sos.state.oh.us) until the switch is thrown, but you can get a quick preview by clicking


Ohio's election results were delivered to Americans at Internet speed in 2004, reflecting Ken Blackwell's deliberate contrast to Florida's chaos of four years earlier. The Secretary of State had met the enemy of timely results when in Florida where he was sent to join Ohio's special team helping the Bush effort. A variety of chad deformations left voters' intent uncertain and started the weeks-long debacle that deepened with partisan challenges in often unprecedented legal terrain.

Blackwell decided that Ohio would have none of this if he could help it. Two weeks before Florida's election decision was made final, on December 1, 2000, the first step of his plan to reduce or eliminate uncertainty of Ohio's election process was announced: Ohio would explore replacing punchcards with electronic balloting . Following his return home, SOS Blackwell put into motion other measures that ranged from legislation of legal procedure to creating technology that would deliver Ohio's voting returns in realtime to the voter's desktop.

Ken Blackwell's successful effort proved itself in the wee hours of November 3, 2004, when John Kerry felt no recourse but to concede defeat.

The Winter 2005 issue of Blackwell's internal publication, The Spirit of Citizenship and Democracy, recapped Ohio's successful election. Self-congratulations were in order for the man who bore the double burden of Secretary of State and Bush-Cheney committee co-chair through that long year:

The electoral system in Ohio worked well on November 2. Every eligible voter who wanted to vote had the opportunity to vote. There was no widespread fraud, and there was no disenfranchisement. A half million more Ohioans voted than ever before with fewer errors than four years ago, a sure sign of success by any measure.

Despite the more than 30 separate lawsuits, hordes of special-interest group "swat teams" descending on polling places, and a circus of Michael Moore-inspired camera crews, our bipartisan election system — and the order, integrity and transparency integral to it — prevailed...


As predicted, all eyes were on Ohio by late evening and into the early morning hours of November 3rd as our state played the determining role in the presidential race labeled ?too-close-to-call? before Election Day by statisticians and pundits alike....

We took out the guesswork that plagued Florida's administration of the 2000 election by implementing clear standards, policies and procedures.


According to Blackwell, the Election Night website first rolled out in 2003 (eg., archive.org cache). But it was the 2004 Presidential election that put Ohio in the position of swinging 20 electoral votes during a tight race so that everyone knew Ohio would be examined through a microscope using Florida.2000 as a lens. The SOS retained service providers who could develop, host, test, and manage the systems able to handle at least 29 million visitors to election.sos.state.oh.us on Election Night 2004.

The content of the site was just as important as traffic capacity. The main drawing card — live returns — were pulled straight from the Secretary of State’s election-returns database.

Remarkably, The Spirit only seems to have referred generically and once to involvement of outside firms in the 12 page review of Ohio's Election. There was no mention of Diebold in context of the Election Night Project. On the other hand, Alan Dillman (of Government Consulting Resources, Ltd. and evangelist Cedarville University) spoke at length as a consultant of the project mentioning Blackwell's frequent, prominent use of its realtime data to establish authoritative results for television audiences. Interestingly, Dillman conflated timeliness with the accuracy of Ohio's returns.

Mr. Blackwell took center stage many times that evening on major news networks, and each time he was able to report the most current and accurate results of the Ohio election," explained Dillman. "Mr. Blackwell`s goal of a fair, honest, and accurate vote in Ohio was achieved through, arguably, his management of the best-run election in U.S. history, and thanks, in part, to the efforts of the faculty, staff, and students of Cedarville University.

SOS Blackwell also neglected to inform that he outsourced Election Night hosting services to the provider of Internet operations for the Republican National Committee, SMARTech Corp. It's clear that most of the IP address space allocated to Smartechcorp, if it has a domain name, is operated by the RNC or its functionaries and allies.

Is there significance to the fact that election.sos.state.oh.us, on Tuesday night, will correspond to the IP address that lies between Karl Rove's Votervault.com and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)? Just one arrangement of odd bedfellows in that example click the link to IP Block 64.203.98.xxx for other familiar examples such as Becki Donatelli-client, VetsForFreedom.com, or Ken Mehlman's 72hour.org.. They're all hot items right now with each aimed capture the reader's vote.

Attempting to surf to http://election.sos.state.oh.us will redirect the visitor to http://www.sos.state.oh.us. Following Election Results links leads to http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/ElectionsVoter/results2006.aspx (not the Election Night Dashboard at time of writing). On Tuesday, Nov. 7, databases of name servers should be refreshed to enable websurfers to clicking 'election.sos.state.oh.us' to arrive at

[UPDATE - They might have *fixed* the website, but don't worry guys, Google has a copy - http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3A64.203.98.137... Ken, it's harder to make stuff disappear on the internets, not as easy as disappearing $10,000 Diebold lobbyist checks...]

Ken Blackwell outsourced the design of the Election Night Project to Mike Connell who is a GOP operative and the principal of New Media Communications and GovTech Solutions. Their association may go back as far as the George H. W. Bush era. Connell's long-established association in the online political, campaign and fundraising arenas, in addition to his technological expertise, made him a shoe-in for government and non-government services where pay-to-play is the standard..

On April 7, 2000, Blackwell certified the woman-owned (Connell's wife, Heather), small business that Mike Connell spunoff of New Media Communications in order to provide government contracting service a 'non-partisan' face. When Blackwell stamped 'approval' on that incorporation, he'd previously approved the merger of DCI Group and NewMedia Communications.

Yes, that is the same DCI Group that later employed New Hampshire phone-jammer, James Tobin. So, including silent GovTech Solutions partner, Tom Synhorst, was as partisan a ploy as had Mike been partner rather than registered agent..

Why does all of this matter?

Consider Ken Blackwell as Governor, and choosing consultants for Ohio's elections:

Plain Dealer, October 24, 2004, NATIONAL; Pg. A1, "Ohio's man at the center of the national election storm"

Blackwell blames the sharp distinction made in America between church and state on a false interpretation of the Constitution, and pushes God-centered government regularly in his public speeches. He opposes abortion and gay marriage and sides with those who believe taxes are too high and government too big.

On Blackwell’s watch, the secretary of state’s office opened the Ohio Center for Civic Character, which elicits pledges of moral character from candidates for public office.

“He’s adored by the strong conservative, the right-wing faction of the party,” Bennett said. “There is no question that he is.”

Bob Rohm, vice president of Christian Ministries at Cedarville University, asked students to pray for Blackwell in the face of the personal attacks he faces this election season. He said he believes Blackwell “doesn’t plug his faith in, then unplug it, like some politicians.”

“I have reason to believe Ken is going to do everything right, period,” he said. “He’s a man of strong faith and personal conviction.

. . .

GRAPHIC: MIKE ELICSON SPECIAL TO THE PLAIN DEALER In a speech last week laced with biblical references, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell implored students at Cedarville University to bring God back into American democracy. A flier distributed in Columbus by some Democrats in the state Senate compares Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell to former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris and warns that Blackwell could make a mess out of the Nov. 2 presidential election.

Will pay-to-play cronyism enter the Governor's mansion?

Blackwell defends campaign donations, Sunday, April 16, 2006

"That's the way business is done in Columbus. Want a contract? Write a check," Redfern said.

Blackwell's opponent in the May 2 primary, Attorney General Jim Petro, has pledged that if elected, his first initiative would be to "end political favoritism" by calling for a ban on awarding state contracts to political contributors.

Blackwell doesn't support Petro's proposal. Blackwell said he wants to make campaign contributions and government contracts more transparent through online databases. He said that would let the public "follow the dollars and make determinations about whether or not there are misdoings."

New Media Communications and its spin-off, Govtech Solutions, have received about $465,000 from the secretary of state's office, and New Media received $30,335 for its work on the Blackwell campaign.

It seems that Ken Blackwell would make his campaign contributions information as transparent as the relationships he has with the people who'd be putting those transaction databases online.

Who might that be? Mike Connell, of NewMedia Communications, is one good bet.

Of recognition for his company's Innovation Mike Connell writes,

Every candidate/client New Media served emerged from the 2004 election victorious. Among them were Bush-Cheney '04, Senators John Thune, David Vitter and George Voinovich, seven congressional candidates and a number of state ballot initiatives. Innovative campaign strategies and solid program execution clearly impacted these outcomes.

New Media created the first interactive political ad for the Bush 2000 campaign. The ad was unveiled on the candidate’s website – a technique that was quickly copied by other candidates. By 2004, interactive web videos became a common component in all presidential campaigns.

Connell's executive summary of Who We Are defines NewMedia's Our People in crystal-clear political terms:

He continues to be a driving force for his clients and for the industry -- bringing emerging technologies and fresh ideas into the political arena, through every campaign cycle.

In the realm of campaign politics, Connell has provided Internet strategy to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaigns of 2000 and 2004. He has served as Internet consultant to scores of prominent senators, governors and Members of Congress, as well as the Republican National Committee and four Republican National Conventions.

New Media’s client list reads like a "Who's Who" of Republican politics

(Complete NewMedia-selected client hall of fame) National Cable & Telecommunications Association
Bush-Brogan 1998/2002 National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action
Bush-Cheney 2000/2004 New York City 2004 RNC Host Committee
Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition Ohioans for Blackwell 2002/2006
Center for the Study of Popular Culture (David Horowitz) Ohio Republican Party
Citizens for Tax Repeal (J. Kenneth Blackwell) Republican Governors Association
Citizens for the Protection of Marriage Republican National Committee
Florida Executive Office of the Governor Rick Santorum for Senate 2000/2006
Florida Republican Party Bob Taft for Governor 1998/2002
Microsoft Wyoming Republican Party

So, the Internet strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 Campaign was simultaneously paid by Ohio's Secretary of State, who was also Bush-Cheney 2004 Campaign co-chairman, in order to ensure that the Ohio Election Night Dashboard serving (realtime winner/loser results to Ohio voters) from IP space under the control of Bush-Cheney 2004 would be operating in time to assure the opposing candidate had no idea other than to concede? And this machinery was geared up for this year's primary?!

It's been live this week, are Ohio voters ready?

If it was not a careful consideration he made, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell certainly should have thought again before plugging the Bush-Cheney Internet strategist directly into Ohio's election-results database to code and program the realtime reporting system used to establish John Kerry's loss in 2004.

If it had been carefully considered, perhaps the voters of Ohio should question J. Kenneth Blackwell's potential judgement as Governor. After all, it's not even by Nov. 7, 2006, that Ken Blackwell cared to inform the electorate that he's running their electrons around the Internet before delivering the Results to their home.


Chattanooga anyone?



[EDIT: added Whois lookup for Republican National Committtee.]

ARIN Whois: Republican National Committee

Output from ARIN WHOIS ! NET-64-203-98-0-1
  • CustName: Republican National Committee
  • Address: 310 First Street SE
  • City: Washington
  • StateProv: DC
  • PostalCode: 20003
  • Country: US
  • RegDate: 2005-03-14
  • Updated: 2005-03-14
  • NetRange: -
  • CIDR:
  • NetName: GOP-64-203-98-0-127
  • NetHandle: NET-64-203-98-0-1
  • Parent: NET-64-203-96-0-1
  • OrgTechHandle: AG865-ARIN
  • OrgTechName: Garrison, Alvin
  • OrgTechPhone: +1-423-664-7678
  • OrgTechEmail: noc@smartechcorp.net
Output from ARIN WHOIS Search results for: AG865-ARIN
  • Name: Garrison, Alvin
  • Handle: AG865-ARIN
  • Company:
  • Address: 801 BROAD ST STE 120 B
  • StateProv: TN
  • PostalCode: 37402
  • Country: US
  • Comment:
  • RegDate: 2002-08-20
  • Updated: 2002-08-20
  • Phone: +1-423-664-7678 (Office)
  • Email: noc@smartechcorp.net


[EDIT: added SMARTech table that had previously been a sidebar - (64.203.98.XXX)]


NOTE: RNC registered NetRange is - so websites at IP addresses numerically greater than are located in SMARTechcorp.net range. et-cha-core1-6-cust98-1 (gophawaii.com) (nevadagop.org) (iowagop.org) (ksgop.org) (massgop.com) mailer1.gop.com
(georgewbush.com) mailer2.gop.com
(georgewbush.com) mailer3.gop.com
(georgewbush.com) mailer4.gop.com
(ctgop.org) (mainegop.com)
>>>) bounces1.gop.com
(tracking.republicanvictoryteam.org) bounces2.gop.com
(tracking.republicanvictoryteam.org) bounces3.gop.com
(tracking.republicanvictoryteam.org) (gopnm.org) (edavote.com)
(wextranet.com) (72hour.net)
(preservingsocialsecurity.com) (dev.gop.com) (azgop.org) sm1.republicanvictoryteam.org sm2.republicanvictoryteam.org sm3.republicanvictoryteam.org (okgop.com) (vtgop.org) (arkansasgop.org) (algop.org) (wsrp.org) et-cha-core1-6-cust98-65 (2004nycgop.com)
(youthforbush.com) (votervault.com) (home away from home of Election.SOS.State.OH.US - Ohio Election Results) (bobehrlich.com)
(swannmatthews.com) corp.bcorker.com (bobcorkerforsenate.com) (chandlerawards.com)
(tshmpr.com) (ddngroup.com) (bayhealth.org) (hamiltonhealth.com)
(hamiltonhealth.org) (bradleymemorial.com) (siskinrehab.org) et-cha-core1-3-cust98-193 campsol1.smartechcorp.net (achio.org)
>>>) (abcpac.com)
>>>) et-cha-core1-6-cust98-225 wirelessmail.rnc.org et-cha-core1-6-cust98-241 mail2.smartechcorp.net dnscache2.smartechcorp.net mailscan2.smartechcorp.net mx2.smartechcorp.net
Uprate this story at digg and/or reddit.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
by wanderindiana on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 01:02:33 PM EST
You did it, luapt!  You gave birth to a full-fledged adult documentary!

Yay - team!

by kfred on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 02:23:20 PM EST

Our first mistake is to think that elections are about democracy when they are clearly about domination in these people's hands.  I agree, this would make a killer documentary.  Great work--even if it will give me nightmares.

by DEFuning on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 04:25:34 PM EST
Yes, this investigation is a thing of beauty.  But, if this is the tip of the iceberg, it's not clear I am ready for the lurking beneath the surface part.

Great job, luapt

by polydactyl on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 04:38:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I'm so happy! This is great work!

Such a complicated story, and you managed to lay it out in an organized way.


by bronxdem on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 04:28:39 PM EST

...and, like a mother giving birth, it apparently took a lot out of you.  ;)

Good job.

by GreyHawk on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 06:24:44 PM EST

you forget about all the pain after giving birth......bunch of hooey!  Savor the pain and remember!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kudos......job well done.........NO FEAR!

by avahome on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 07:02:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]

it took to make a small part of this story happen.  so many folks were involved i'm afraid we might've missed a few.  

To everyone!

by luaptifer on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:00:22 PM EST

I'm so proud of luapt! We actually stopped Blackwell from flipping the switch tonight. He had to host the results on his regular old Ohio IT webpage.. (Which by the way, didn't collapse from all the hits) Anyways, thats a million for help Ohio's election at little.

by intranets on Wed Nov 08, 2006 at 07:09:31 PM EST
I'm glad you guys were brave enough and persistent enough to investigate and publish this!

Pat yourselves on the back, this was A class work!

by lawnorder on Sat Nov 11, 2006 at 04:47:01 PM EST


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