Election 2004 - Aftermath
December 02, 2004
Video and Transcript of Keith Olbermann's Interview With Reverend Jesse Jackson

This is from the November 30, 2004 program of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann."

It's available in one big 18 MB file and two smaller files.

Report On Ohio Election and Interview with Jesse Jackson

This is the second of a series of programs covering the Jesse Jackson vs. Kenneth Blackwell developments. Kenneth Blackwell's interview available here.

This transcript is word for word and unabridged.

11-30-04 - Transcript

It is four weeks to the day since the general election here turned George W. Bush to the White House for a second term. Tomorrow will be four weeks since John Kerry conceded. Tomorrow could also be, although the odds may be approximated at a billion to one, the day an Ohio Supreme Court Justice could change all that.

As he concluded his trip through Ohio, Jesse Jackson said its Supreme Court should consider setting aside the outcome there. Tomorrow, a political advocacy group plans to make a similar request directly to that Supreme Court. The Boston-based Alliance For Democracy is planning to file a "Contest of Election" tomorrow. The request requires a single Ohio Supreme Court Justice to either let the election stand, declare another winner, or throw the whole thing out.

The loser of any such decision can appeal to the full court, which, in Ohio, consists of five Republicans and two Democrats.

The appeal and recount process in Ohio was going along without too many people noticing until Reverend Jesse Jackson arrived in Colombus on Sunday. He called for a Federal Investigation of the vote count. He used the word "fraud." Today, he wrote that the election was "marred by intolerable and often partisan irregularities and discrepancies." And last night he was blasted, on this program, by Ohio's Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who insulted him on eight separate occasions although I only asked Secretary Blackwell about Reverend Jackson once.

Reverend Jackson joins us now from Philadelphia.

Olbermann: Good evening sir. Thank you for your time.

Jackson: How are you?

Olbermann: Well, I'm interested in your answers to a series of questions on this subject. There had literally been no official response to the possibility of a recount from any major Republican organization until you went to Ohio. And then yesterday there's a press release calling you a professional publicity hound, and Secretary Blackwell on this show calling you a professional provocateur for hire. And you "ran around the block and tried to get in front of a parade that was already on the march." What exactly did you do in Ohio that stirred all this up?

Jackson: Well, this is November the 30th, and the election in Ohio has not been certified yet. Why has it not been certified? We know that even before the election started, Mr. Blackwell sought to nullify 30,000 votes, saying that they were on the wrong weight of paper. We know that last spring, people could vote in the state, a provisional vote, in their county. He changed that process to voting by precinct. In the middle of the..the balloting places changed and, at the time, it led to much confusion. So you have 155,000 provisional ballots that are in confusion. You have 92,000 votes that are yet to be counted. You have an interesting case in Warren, Ohio, (sp?) where they actually used Homeland Security to lock the press out and to lock independent observers out.

Another thing that also I found striking, was that Ellen Connally, an african-american running for Supreme Court in Cayahoga County, where Cleveland is, carried 120,000 more votes than she had down around Hamilton county and Claremont county (sp?) in the other part of Ohio, she had 190,000 more votes than Kerry in 15 counties.

And you had electronic machines where there are questions about their authenticity. We need a thorough, federal investigation, and then, if the information warrants it, we should then have a recount. And those who ran this election should be recused from managing their own investigation.

Olbermann: The Republicans did make seemingly one unanswerable point on this, and you and others may be critical of the Ohio count, but as the Baltimore Sun quoted John Kerry's chief election lawyer in Ohio as saying "Our eyes have been wide open, and, to this date, we have found no evidence of confirmed election fraud." If there has been fraud, where are the Democrats in response to it?

Jackson: Well, I'm amazed frankly at the silence, really, of Senator Kerry and the Democratic Party. They promised that we would stay in the fight until every vote was counted. They appear not to have been acting aggressively, demanding that real questions be answered. For example, electronic machines. In this case, we have private machines where there is no audit trail. We deserve an open, fair process. Why would we allow them to shift the rules in provisional balloting from county to precinct. The reality is that in Cayahoga county Cleveland and Cincinatti, they've eliminated almost a third of the voters on technicalities. Like 50,000 voters. The 130,000 vote margin of Mr. Bush over Mr. Kerry -- we need to know, through forensic computer analysts, in fact, was there tampering. We need to know. And right now, we do not know.

Olbermann: You said that last Friday night you spoke to John Kerry, and you quoted him as telling you that he was in favor of the investigations of the Ohio vote. Where is he? Why did he concede when he did? And why does the Democratic Party appear to be trying to fly under the radar in terms of Ohio?

Jackson: He conceded in my judgement much, much to quickly, because he conceded before a count was in. And now he says he has some lawyers on the ground, but his lawyers ought to be challenging. Were it not for the Green party and the Libertarians, we would not even have standing in the court of finding out what happened. You look how they have 155,000 provisional ballots uncounted. Look at 92,000 ballots unprocessed. Look at what happened in Warren, Ohio. You look at the electronic voting process where there may have been tampering. We do not know. These numbers are beginning to move real fast. Again, I repeat, when I begin to think about Ellen Connally, and the gap where Kerry got 120,000 more votes than she got in Cayahoga county, then in 15 other counties, she got 190,000 votes less. To me, that's very suggestive. It deserves a thorough investigation.

Olbermann: There are degrees of what could have caused that and the other irregularities that you refer to. On one end of the spectrum, as Secretary Blackwell put it last night, "It's a free and fair election" without significant problems. In the middle, a lot of human and technical mistakes, but they are mostly errors of omission, not errors of comission. At the other end, would be out and out electoral fraud. Where do you stand on that spectrum? Which one of those things do you think happened?

Jackson: It's interesting that Mr. Blackwell is the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign, yet he is the chief person in charge of the process. Now, it seems to me to be unfair for the man who owns the team to also be the chief umpire at game seven of the world series. That somehow that taints the process.
But this matter has not been approached. This Mr. Blackwell in Ohio. Katherine Harris in Florida -- those who run the process should not in fact be an advocate for one party or the other. Which raises another question: We really do need a constitutionally federally protected right to vote. We should in fact have federal supervision over federal elections. We do not have, although people think we have, the constitutional federally protected right to vote. We deserve to move beyond just states rights on national elections.

Olbermann: Well let me see if I can pin you down now on just that part of the question. Do you think there was fraud in Ohio?

Jackson: Well I think so. But we will only know if there is a thorough investigation. There are some huge number gaps here. Why is it that 28 days after the election it has not yet been certified? That's a long time to wait.

Olbermann: Reverend Jesse Jackson, Founder and President of the Rainbow Push Coalition, twice candidate for the Democratic nomination for President. Thanks for your time tonight sir. We appreciate it.

Jackson: Thank you sir.

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