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Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:53:14 AM EST
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%3A126.96.36.199 ]
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:
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:
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 States 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
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 http://188.8.131.52//Results/Dashboard.aspx.
[UPDATE - They might have *fixed* the website, but don't worry guys, Google has a copy - http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3A184.108.40.206... 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"
Will pay-to-play cronyism enter the Governor's mansion?
Blackwell defends campaign donations, Sunday, April 16, 2006
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,
Connell's executive summary of Who We Are defines NewMedia's Our People in crystal-clear political terms:
New Medias client list reads like a "Who's Who" of Republican politics
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.
[EDIT: added Whois lookup for Republican National Committtee.]
[EDIT: added SMARTech table that had previously been a sidebar - (64.203.98.XXX)]
Ken Blackwell Outsources Ohio Election Results to GOP Internet Operatives, Again | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden)
Ken Blackwell Outsources Ohio Election Results to GOP Internet Operatives, Again | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden)
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