Backtalk

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. Votes were not counted in secret thanks to a nonexistent terrorist threat, 19,000 votes were not added after all precincts closed in Miami County, 98.5 percent voter turnouts were recorded but officials soon corrected the error. Like others upset by my article, Rep. Conyers is silent about these and other holes in the skeptics’ case. As for Triad, I called Conyers’ office twice to request an interview and a copy of the tape he mentions; I got no reply until a week later, after the article had gone to press. Excerpts quoted in his report do not prove that Triad manipulated the vote; its technician admitted only that he tried to help counties avoid a recount. Triad’s actions may or may not be as sinister as skeptics say, which is one reason I advocated further, subpoena-power investigation into what happened in Ohio.

MARK HERTSGAARD
San Francisco, California

 

Hackett vs. Party Hacks

Paul Hackett’s campaign (“The Ohio Insurgency”) didn’t get much coverage in my Republican-dominated Ohio county. From the follow-up article on your website, I learned he wasn’t treated much better by Democratic Party insiders, who are not spending enough time with their grassroots and “netroots.” Hackett tells voters that it’s not their parents’ Republican Party anymore, but the same is true of the Democrats.

CONNIE RUBIN
North Canton, Ohio

 

Say It, Don’t Spray It

I have a personal interest in your article “Respectable Reefer.” I purchased stock in GW Pharmaceuticals shortly after it was issued. At the time I thought that the company’s product, Sativex, had a great future. I have since sold the stock at a loss and have a dim view of its future.

A spray absorbed through the mucous membranes, Sativex is much more expensive than marijuana grown by patients, which California state law allows. When medical marijuana is legalized, the price discrepancy will be even greater.

Sativex is offered in a single formula, whereas a typical marijuana dispensary carries many varieties of marijuana, all differing in their effects thanks to the myriad combinations of cannabinoids. Efficacy also varies with medical condition. Inhalation provides fastest relief for nausea, while edibles are often preferred for chronic pain.

There’s lots of room for cannabis pharmaceuticals, but for most, the herb will remain the preferred medicine.

ED ROSENTHAL
Oakland, California

 

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