8/15/2005

The Sideshow: Fixing the vote

it is a fact that Diebold makes ATMs and that the voting machines were actually based on those ATMs with the paper-trail facility removed. Republicans throughout the US have acted deliberately to thwart voter demands that the printing facility be returned to the machines. Why is that? What is the harm in making sure that the legitimacy of the votes can be verified? Who would benefit from that?

Fixing the vote

Project Censored has a good article up on 2004 election fraud, summarizing the facts and the arguments that have been advanced on this subject - and pointing out once again that the idea that the exit polls were wrong is far less believable than that there was widespread election fraud.

(I have a quibble, though. Point #18 makes the same error I often see that, "exit polls were wrong only in precincts where there was no paper ballot to check against the electronic totals and right everywhere there was a paper trail." This isn't true: All types of machines showed unusual discrepancies, including optical-scan machines, which in fact do have a paper trail. What's important here is that without actually hand-counting those ballots, no one is looking at the paper trail, and in most of these cases the final tallies were not close enough to require a hand-count. This is extraordinary given that both pre-election polls and exit polls in many of those races showed either a very close race or a Kerry win, and yet Bush "won" with a wide enough margin that no recounts were triggered. The point is that machines can report false results, and if you want to get away with doing so, you must have a result outside of that recount margin. The minute a recount is allowed, you get caught - so you have to fix it so that you don't get caught. If the tallies were fraudulent, they had to be jacked up high enough to prevent a recount, so factor that into your equations, folks.)

I want to emphasize yet again that there has never been a single piece of evidence to demonstrate that the exit polls were wrong - not one, save for the fact that the machine tally reports said Bush won - while there is plenty of evidence that the Republican Party and its supporters went out of their way to make election fraud not only possible but difficult to monitor.

For example, it is a fact that Diebold makes ATMs and that the voting machines were actually based on those ATMs with the paper-trail facility removed. Republicans throughout the US have acted deliberately to thwart voter demands that the printing facility be returned to the machines. Why is that? What is the harm in making sure that the legitimacy of the votes can be verified? Who would benefit from that?

"Reasons" for the unprecedented discrepancy between the reported results and the exit polls have never been proven, and in fact have in some cases been specifically disproven. We are offered theories on why it could have happened, but no evidence supports those theories. For example:

* A poll question asking voters for the principle reason for the way they voted received an answer related to moral values 22% of the time. This was widely touted as explaining a hypothetical surge in moral-right voters. However, the particular poll had never offered "moral values" as a choice before, so there is no way to know whether this represented a rise or fall in the number of people who voted on "moral values". Moreover, it is not clear whether people who gave such an answer therefore voted for Bush rather than Kerry. In fact, another poll which has used this choice in the past found that (a) fewer people gave "moral values" as their answer in the 2004 election, and that (b) the percentage of people giving "moral values" as an answer who voted Democratic has risen.

* Edison-Mitofsky attempted an investigation into how the exit polls were wrong - the possibility that they were not wasn't even considered. Again, the report's "results" provide only a hypothesis as to the cause of the alleged failure, and make no comparisons to other elections. They noted that younger people made up a disproportionate number of the poll-takers and stipulated that older people were therefore less likely to answer them fully or truthfully. However, there is no evidence that the age of poll-takers had a distorting effect on the result, nor any evidence that the proportion of young people doing the exit-polling had been any different in any other election. Similarly, they said that poll-takers were hindered by being required to maintain a physical distance from the polling place, although this has always been true in elections.

* Because the final results changed so dramatically toward the very end of the day, it has been postulated that there was a very late surge of right-wing voters. The problem with this is that no one saw such a late surge. The only report I've seen of anyone having looked for such a surge found only a few stragglers - and they were Kerry voters.

* A historical "explanation" is also dragged out: that there were problems "with the exit polls" in 2000, and therefore the 2004 discrepancies are "nothing new". But the problem was new in 2000, which is why the broadcast networks kept changing their calls throughout the night of that election. The explanation for this at the time was apparently that blacks and Jews in Florida were unusually stupid. The idea that this problem had suddenly and magically spread from Florida to a number of other battleground states should surely have raised significant questions, but our media and leaders seemed unwilling to ask them. (Another problem in Florida was the sudden disappearance of thousands of Gore votes in Volusia County. At the time, it was claimed that the machine had erroneously recorded those thousands of Gore votes and that the sudden drop in his numbers had been a "correction". That was never explained, either. There is some evidence that someone came in and "fixed" an error that no one had reported, and that that is why Gore's numbers suddenly dropped.)

Does anyone remember Matt Bai's Who Lost Ohio? in the NYT last November?

What gnawed at Bouchard was that nowhere we went in Franklin County, a vigorously contested swing county, did we see any hint of a strong Republican presence -- no signs, no door-knockers, no Bush supporters handing out leaflets at the polls. This seemed only to increase Lindenfeld's confidence. He didn't believe in the Republican turnout plan. "What they talked about is a dream," he told me at one point. "We've got the reality. They're wishing they had what we've got." For Bouchard, however, the silence was unsettling. How could there be such a thing as a stealth get-out-the-vote drive?

Bouchard decided that he wanted to drive to an outlying Republican area to see if turnout there was keeping pace with the city. Maybe the Bush campaign was waging a more visible effort in nonurban precincts. Obliging him, Lindenfeld punched a few keys on his in-dash navigation system and set a course for Delaware County, a fast-growing exurban tract north of Columbus where Republicans dominate.
[...]
As night fell, we reached the city of Delaware and found a polling place at a recreation center. The only people in the parking lot were a drenched couple holding Kerry-Edwards signs. Inside, the polling place was empty. "Look at this," Lindenfeld said to me triumphantly. "Does this look like a busy polling place? Look around. There's no one here." He repeated this several times, making the point that turnout in the outlying areas was tailing off, while voters were lined up around the block back in Columbus. "Do you see any Republicans?" he asked me, motioning around the parking lot.

Voters were lined-up around the block in Democratic areas, and there were no late voters to be seen in Republican neighborhoods. And yet, we were told, Bush-supporters had turned out at the last minute to upset the early polls. Not only a stealth get-out-the-vote drive, but invisible voters.

Some of them, in fact, were so invisible that they weren't even enrolled to vote. How many precincts, some of them with only a few hundred registered voters, reported several thousand votes for Bush? And how, in the meantime, did some Democratic-leaning precincts have an unprecedentedly low turnout with percentages in the single digits?

It's instructive to read the Bai article from start to finish, because Bai goes through one piece of evidence after the other showing that Kerry was winning, Kerry should have won. But because he began with the presumption that Bush did win, he treats all that evidence as an illusion; the absence of a Republican voter drive or of late Republican voters, even the long, long lines of Democrats, and of course the tiny problem of the exit polls - it was all meaningless, because Bush won.

Having begun with the premise that Bush really did win the election, it was not possible to accept the evidence that he had lost, no matter how comprehensive it was. Every single indicator said Kerry had won, but faced with the question of whether to believe their own eyes or to believe the completely partisan and corrupt Republicans, the media and even the Democratic establishment chose the latter. They have yet to explain why.


The Sideshow August 2005 Archive

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