Tulsa World on Oklahoma Vote Totals: We Have No Idea
On November 3, the Tulsa World reported that Sen. John Kerry was winning in 57 Oklahoma counties with 70% of the vote
counted. But, by the time the rest of the votes were added in (or subtracted out, as the case may be), George W. Bush
carried every county in Oklahoma, one of only two states where he managed that feat. It was a simple case of the Bible
Belt voting for yet another Republican Presidential candidate, just as we have every year since 1980 (maybe longer, but
you get the point). Or was it?
Why then did the Tulsa World report that Kerry was leading in 57 counties, and why then did Kerry actually lose in
every one of those counties when the final vote was tallied? Because when the final votes were tallied, Kerry actually
LOST votes in all 57 counties, 37,9982 to be exact, while Bush GAINED an incredible 393,825 votes in the same counties.
That's right, as the Oklahoma Independent Media Center put it, "Voting Machines Count Backwards in Okla". http://okimc.org/newswire.php?story_id=344
For example, with 70% of the total vote counted in Bryan County, the Tulsa World had Kerry leading Bush by a whopping
4,016 votes, with 6,864 votes to Bush's 2,848. But, after the official vote was tallied, Bush had 8,615 votes (a gain of
5,767 votes), while Kerry ended up with 5,745 votes (a LOSS of 1,119 votes). In Carter County, Kerry led by 2,947 votes
with 70% counted, 7,955 to 5,008, but once again, when the "official" vote was finalized, Bush won with 8,615 votes (a
gain of 5,767 votes), while Kerry ended up with only 5,745 votes (again, a LOSS of 2,210 votes). It truly appears as if
the voting machines counted backwards....but only for Kerry. This pattern is repeated in all 57 counties. Kerry lost
votes, while Bush gained massive amounts of votes.
Now, truthfully, I'm as skeptical as the next guy (provided the next guy isn't a neocon) about our current system of
voting, especially when the votes are tallied by EE Corp, who have clear ties to numerous ultra-right individuals and organizations, and have already been implicated in
several other voter fraud investigations. But let's be honest about this - why would anyone waste their time rigging the
election in a state that Kerry didn't even bother to campaign in, and that Oklahoma Democratic Party officials conceded
to Bush without even a semblance of a fight?
There had to be a simple explanation. A phone call to the Tulsa World would clear this right up. On Sunday night, I
spoke to reporter Mike Decker, who sounded a bit surprised by the vote total discrepancy. It seemed like a simple
question: "What was the source of the information that you printed in your newspaper....in other words, where did you
get your numbers?" He had no idea.
Could I call back on Monday and speak to Randy Krehbiel, who handles their election reporting? I could. According to
Krehbiel, "On election night, things get very hectic. My recollection is that we used AP results, because it's faster
than State Election Board numbers." Except, umm, Krehbiel had the night off, so he wasn't around when the story was
printed, so he really didn't know where they got their vote totals from.
I really needed to speak to Executive Editor Joe Worley, who was just walking out the door. Could I call and leave a
message for him, and he'd call me back Monday afternoon? No problem. I left a message Monday morning.....and waited. I
left another message Monday afternoon....and waited some more. Then, on Tuesday morning, I left another message....and
waited again. And yet one more on Tuesday afternoon.
While I was "busy" waiting, I called the Oklahoma State Election Board, and spoke with Vada Holstein, who had a simple
explanation for all the fuss. "Apparently, the Tulsa World inadvertently added the straight party vote total to the
numbers that they got from the State Election Board, who had already included the straight party vote totals in their
figures, which inflated both candidates vote totals." In other words, the straight party votes were added in twice. It
made perfect sense, except for one thing. If they added the straight party totals to both candidates' totals, why then
did Kerry's vote total actually drop by over 37 thousand votes, while Bush's vote total gained 393 thousand votes. I did
the math on a handful of the counties, using the numbers provided on the State Election Board website. It didn't add up.
She was wrong.
Then, finally, on Tuesday afternoon (actually Tuesday evening), Worley called me back. Now we would put an end to this
mini-voter fraud scandal once and for all. Simple question: "What was the source of the information that you printed in
your newspaper....in other words, where did you get your vote totals from?"
"Actually, we've spent a good part of our day looking into that very issue. We subscribe to the AP wire service, and
that's where those numbers usually come from, where they're supposed to come from. However, as of right now, we have no
idea where we got our numbers from. When we do find out, we'll make a statement in the Tulsa World newspaper, and I'll
answer any other questions at that time."
Wait a second here.....let me get this straight. The Tulsa World printed the election totals from what many considered
the most important Presidential election of the last forty years, and they don't know where those numbers come from?
They had Kerry leading in 57 counties with numbers that actually went in reverse from their published figures, and after
two days of looking, they still can't figure out who gave them those numbers?
In the end, the "voting scandal" in Oklahoma might turn out to be nothing, but that's not the real issue here. The real
issue is the pattern of deceit, confusion, and misinformation that this election has spawned, not just in Oklahoma, but
nationwide. Unless we demand a full and thorough accounting of all the votes that have been miscounted, lost, stolen, or
simply misplaced, we can never be certain whether our most important right as an American, our right to vote, is still
intact. In Oklahoma, we still have our paper ballots, and they don't have "hanging chads". We can, and should, demand a
full recount. Unfortunately, many states don't have that luxury, if we allow our entire voting system to be taken over
by an electronic voting system controlled by a few questionable companies, our vote won't matter, and our elections will
become nothing more than another commodity to be bought and sold by those in power.
To see the Tulsa World vote totals published on Nov. 3, go to:
And compare them to the Oklahoma State Election Board totals at: