The Portage County TEA Party thinks there was voter fraud in Ohio because Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan lost the state. To prove its point, the group is planning to make an audit of 864 voters in Suffield Township in southwestern Portage County.
But it is not planning to tell voters who is doing the audit.
Officials at the Portage County Board of Elections said they had no complaints of voter irregularity at the polls, and no protests of election results were filed. They said this year's turnout was in line with past presidential elections.
The TEA Party's contention is that there must be fraud because some polls showed Romney leading prior to the election. That depends on which polls you believed. Many polls in the week before the election, such as CNN, Time, CBS News/Quinnipiac, showed Obama leading Romney. Others showed the race statistically tied. And all of that was very fluid as the election neared, with poll results changing almost daily.
The TEA Party plans to contact all the registered voters in the Suffield B precinct and ask them if they voted, and for whom they voted.
What the TEA Party does not plan to say is that they are members of the TEA Party. In the script provided by the group, volunteers are told to say they are "a volunteer for the Citizens for Fair Elections" doing a survey to "verify that all votes were counted correctly."
The script specifically tells volunteers: "Do not tell anyone you are with the TEA Party."
In an email to members, TEA Party leader Tom Zawistowski said "I do not believe the election results in Ohio or Portage County" because "surveys showed Romney leading between 2 percent and 5 percent and we lost by 5 percent."
The TEA Party selected Suffield because "Suffield is one of the smallest and strongest conservative townships in the county."
Any difference in the Board of Election's official tallies from the TEA Party's survey will be proof of fraud, the group believes.
"If fraud exists, we will have far more people who claim to have voted vs. what the Board of Elections reported. We will have people who said they voted that are not shown as voting by the BOE. We will have people who said they did not vote but the BOE has them recorded as voting. We will have significantly more people voting for Romney than the BOE reported or we will have significantly less people voting for Obama than the BOE reported."
If the person won't say for whom they voted, volunteers are to ask "which of the two major political parties you usually agree with."
If that doesn't get a response, they are to ask if the person voted by absentee ballot, by early voting at the elections board, or at the polls on Election Day. All registered voters in the house are to be questioned.
A political scientist at the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron said the TEA Party's audit is fraught with problems and will be statistically useless in proving anything. Dr. Stephen Brooks, the associate director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron said he would be more surprised if there was no difference in the results of the election and the results of the audit.
"Because there is a stigma in not voting, the public is notorious for not answering (post-election surveys) truthfully," Brooks said. He said many surveys over the years have scientifically demonstrated the difficulty of asking voters how they voted.
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