Joel Mowbray

In the crucial bellwether state of Ohio, the Democratic governor has created a heavily partisan committee that may be able to tip the scales on the upcoming 2010 census.

What makes this situation particularly worrisome is that the man tapped to run the committee is current state Treasurer Kevin Boyce, who has an alarming history of playing fast and loose with ethics, from giving large donors lucrative state contracts to burning through taxpayer money for self-promotion.  And that’s just in the one year since he took office.

Given that Ohio is a classic swing state, the implications in an evenly divided nation could be huge.  If census counts are over-inflated in strongly Democratic areas, then a rigged census could result in Ohio losing one fewer Congressional seat—as well as tipping as many as three or four other swing seats from the GOP to the Democratic column, using the doctored census figures to boost the power of gerrymandering.

Of course, if the Obama Administration is strictly non-partisan and actively combats any attempts from state and local Democratic officials in over-counting the number of residents in Democratic strongholds, then there is no risk of funny business.

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But with so much on the line and the presence of a number of cutthroat Obama advisors, that’s a big “if.”

In order to ensure that all Americans are counted in the 2010 census, every state was encouraged to form a “complete count committee.”  The idea is simple enough, with a stated goal of maximizing the response rate for census forms, which would minimize the need for home visits by census workers and theoretically achieve a more accurate count.

So far, so good.

Census forms, however, operate largely on the honor system.  Whatever number of residents a head of household writes down, in other words, becomes the number entered into the massive census database.  Absurd numbers would likely raise red flags for follow-ups, but what happens if even, say, 10% of homes in a particular neighborhood tell the government that the household has one or two residents above the actual figure?

Despite assurances from U.S. Census Bureau spokesperson Michael Cook that there are “checks and balances” to thwart any fraud, none of those measures was detailed or explained, per bureau policies.  With only undefined safeguards, the integrity of the system itself is crucial for a national headcount that can be trusted.

That’s why Ohio is so troubling.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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