|Numbers don't match reality in Wood County voter 'fraud'|
|Written by By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN/Sentinel County Editor|
|Monday, 19 November 2012 10:16|
Wood County is at the center of a conspiracy theory about the presidential election.
But there is one major flaw in the theory — the numbers posted on numerous ultra-conservative websites don’t match reality.
However, the facts haven’t kept the conspiracy theory from gaining steam and convincing more than 62,000 people to sign a “We the People” petition demanding an election recount.
Several right-wing websites are claiming that the number of people voting for President Barack Obama in Wood County exceeds the number of people qualified to vote here.
“The numbers are plain wrong,” said Terry Burton, the Republican director of the Wood County Board of Elections.
The blogs, email blasts and websites have created quite a stir — at least until people look at the numbers, Burton said.
“It’s made a splash in a small community” of people looking for any sign of a conspiracy, he said.
According to the right wing websites, Obama received 106,258 votes in Wood County, even though there are only 98,213 eligible voters.
The petition states, “It has become blatantly obvious the voter fraud that was committed during the 2012 Presidential elections. In one county alone in Ohio, which was a battleground state, President Obama received 106,258 votes ... but there were only 98,213 eligible voters. It’s not humanly possible to get 108 percent of the vote.”
Though becoming widely circulated, none of those numbers have any basis in reality, Burton said.
Wood County’s vote totals, which can be found on the board of election’s website, have Obama getting 31,596 votes in the county compared to Mitt Romney’s 28,997 votes.
Burton said the only thing he can figure is that Wood County became the focus of such scrutiny prior to the election when it was deemed a bellwether county in a bellwether state.
“I think we gained notoriety,” he said.
And somehow, conspiracy theorists twisted numbers to suit their cause.
“It’s kind of the tail wagging the dog,” Burton said.
From there, the artificial numbers took on a life of their own.
“It’s what the Internet does, it’s like the old telephone game,” he said.
To be fair, Burton said he does understand the reason for some confusion about Wood County’s voting numbers.
As of the Nov. 6 election, the county had 108,014 registered voters. But according to the latest U.S. Census, the county’s population is 126,355 — with many of those too young to cast ballots.
But Burton explained the combination of three factors make the registered voter number artificially inflated. First, the rural areas have a higher registration rate than some in the state. Second, the transient population at Bowling Green State University adds temporary voters to the rolls. And third, the rules for removing inactive voters from the rolls make purging the rolls a long process.
The state rules require that two federal general elections must pass after an inactive voter has been notified about the board of elections questioning their local voter registration.
“We have to wait,” Burton explained.
Burton estimated Wood County has 27,581 “inactive” voters who no longer reside and vote here.
When that explanation is presented to the general population, most understand there is no conspiracy, he said.
But meanwhile, the petition for a recount is gaining online signatures — with 62,609 as of this morning.
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