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WHY WE MUST NOT “GET OVER IT”

Part One: A Stolen Election?  Hard Facts.  The Media Dismisses the Critics.

Click Here for the Complete Essay
 

Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor
"The Crisis Papers."

November 24, 2004
 

This first part of a two-part essay presents the undisputed facts about "direct-recording electronic" (DRE) voting machines, and then explores some implications of these paperless "touch-screen" devices.  Concerns about the reliability of these machines have been discounted and even ridiculed by the mainstream media, despite clear indication that they may have caused fraudulent congressional and gubernatorial election victories in 2002.  Part Two examines indications of DRE fraud in the 2004 presidential election, and argues that the fate of American democracy may rest upon whether or not the public and the media keep the issue of ballot integrity alive and demand investigation of the validity of the 2004 election.



Hand over the tin foil hat: I’m a believer!

I strongly suspect that if everyone who went to the polls on November 2 voted, and if all the votes were tallied as the voters intended, then John Kerry would now be the President-Elect – by a landslide. Even if we disregard the intended votes of the discouraged voters who were unwilling or unable to remain in line at the polls or whose registration was “lost,” Kerry still would have won.

Notice that I said “suspect.” I am less than fully convinced.

New evidence of electoral fraud is coming in each day, so I will not attempt to cover even the most prominent new indicators that there has been a horrendous crime against our republic and its citizens. Instead, I would like to offer a fresh perspective on some of the evidence at hand.

Serious consideration of the possibility that George Bush may, for the second time, have acquired his office through fraud and manipulation, has been effectively banished from the mainstream media. The issue has been kept alive by the progressive internet and, occasionally, the foreign press. When, in rare instances, the charge of election fraud is mentioned by the media, it is routinely dismissed with contempt and ridicule.

The “rebuttal argument”? “Shut up!.” “Get over it!” “Conspiracy nuts.” “Not worthy of serious consideration.” “Move along folks, nothing to see here.” This dismissive headline from the New York Times is typical: “Vote Fraud Theories, Spread by Blogs, are Quickly Buried.” (See also the Washington Post and the Boston Globe).  In fact, prominent among the debunkers are such liberal supporters of John Kerry as Al Franken, Arianna Huffington, and Farad Manjoo (Salon.com).

To be sure, there are reputable scholarly studies that defend the legitimacy of the 2004 Presidential election. Prominent among these are the analyses of the Florida election by Jasjeet Sekhon and Walter Mebane, and by the CalTech-MIT Voting Technology Project  (This study is criticized by Peter Caithamer of the University of Indiana).

Soon to follow, however, were disturbing statistical analyses by Steven Freeman of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California-Berkeley’s Quantitative Research Team.

Freeman examined the discrepancies between the exit polls and the final tallies in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania. He concluded that “The odds against all three occurring together are 662,000-to-one. As much as we can say in social science that something is impossible, it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote counts in the three critical battleground states of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error.”

The UC-Berkeley team concluded that “irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000-260,000 or more excess votes to President George W. Bush in Florida in the 2004 presidential election.”

Critics of the UC-Berkeley study have pointed out that even if the study were correct, these “excesses” were not sufficient to alter the outcome of the Florida election. However, these were not the only anomalies in Florida. In view of additional irregularities such as “lost” absentee and provisional ballots, an “honest” Florida election might well have gone to John Kerry, and with it the Presidency. As in 2000, the Florida exit polls indicated a victory for the Democrat.


SOME UNDISPUTED FACTS:

The following essential facts about direct-recording electronic (DRE) “touch-screen” voting machines are acknowledged by both sides of the dispute:

  • The machines produce no paper or other independently auditable record of the votes.
     

  • The software that records the votes is “proprietary” – i.e., secret.
     

  • It follows that there are no direct and independent means for a citizen or a government agency to verify that a vote has been correctly counted and recorded. As the UC-Berkeley group pointed out, statistical analysis is “the sole method available to monitor the accuracy of e- voting.” Accordingly, the only possible answer that a company official can give to a demand for verification is “trust us.”
     

  • DRE machines can be easily “hacked” – vote totals changed, leaving no evidence of the tampering. This is not speculative. Several demonstration “hackings” have been performed.
     

  • The owners and senior officers of the three major companies that manufacture and program the machines are supporters of and contributors to the Republican Party and the Bush Campaign.

Observers abroad are astonished at the willingness of the American people to tolerate the privatization of their elections, and the use of non-auditable polling machines.  They should be astonished.  American elections are absurdly insecure, as they offer an open invitation for political allies of the DRE manufacturers (i.e., Republicans) to steal elections with little fear of discovery.

In the 2004 presidential election, about thirty percent of the votes were cast with “paperless” touch-screen voting machines, manufactured by Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia. (Diebold, the largest of these, also manufactures ATM machines and checkout scanners which, of course, print out paper receipts of all transactions).

Diebold and ES&S, both founded by Republican Bob Urosevich, are responsible for the central tallying of about 80% of all votes cast in the United States. (C. D. Sludge and Bob Fitrakis) Recall that Diebold CEO Wally O’Dell announced that he was committed "to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President."


THE “WARRENIZATION” OF THE FRAUD ISSUE.

In view of all this, why has there not been a public outcry and a demand for electoral reform?

Because the corporate media have succeeded in “Warrenizing” those who insist that this election may have been stolen by Bush and the Republicans.  The critics have been as effectively marginalized as were those who would not accept the "official version" Warren Report on the Kennedy assassination. To this date, critics of “the official version” of the election have had little impact upon the general public, not because their arguments are weak or the rebuttals conclusive, but, far worse for their case, because they are regarded as "unfashionable," and "out of the mainstream."

This is not the place to revive the Warren Report controversy, except to say that even believers, if they are honest and informed, must concede that the skeptics have a plausible case, even if the believers are unconvinced by the skeptics’ arguments.

Let the following suffice in behalf of the skeptics (which includes myself): Millions have seen with their own eyes clear evidence that, contrary to the Warren Report, the fatal shot came from the front. They have nonetheless been persuaded not to believe their "own lyin' eyes." Specifically, the Zapruder film clearly shows that one shot caused brains and blood from JFK's head to spew out behind the head. According to Newton's laws of motion, this could only be caused by a shot from the front. Those laws of motion, by the way, are implicitly known to anyone who has played a game of pool, punted a football, or driven an nail with a hammer. I.e., everybody.

To this day, polls show that a majority of the public doubts the Warren Report, nor have most of the public believed it since its publication in September, 1964. Still, it is the "official version," and those who publicly express skepticism (e.g., Oliver Stone) are promptly dismissed by the mainstream media. (Incidentally, if I had served on the jury depicted in Oliver Stone's JFK, I would have voted acquittal.  While Garrison/Costner effectively debunked the Warren Report, he failed to prove the guilt of the defendants -- a pathetic assortment of New Orleans freaks).

This might be the fate in store for those who insist that the presidential election of 2004 was stolen by the Bush campaign. Not that they don't have a compelling case, but rather that their accusations are "unfashionable," “out of the mainstream,” “grassy knoll conspiracy bunk.”

Nonetheless, however much the skeptics are dismissed by the media as “conspiracy nuts,” the evidence is what it is. “Fashion” and “the mainstream” have nothing to do with it.


“THEY WOULDN’T DARE!”

The crime of stealing a presidential election is so portentous – in effect, it is nothing less than treason – that the public appears unable to seriously consider the thought that Bush and his associates could contemplate, much less accomplish, such an offense against the body politic. “They wouldn’t dare!” we are told.

Oh, wouldn’t they?

Reflect for a moment: who would have imagined, four years ago, that the Bush administration would dare to implement the following:

  • For the first time in our history, an American president launched an aggressive war against a sovereign nation that posed no threat to the United States.  Moreover, the justifications for this war have all proven to be without foundation.  The war is illegal according to international law.
     

  • In retaliation for the Joseph Wilson's offense of truth-telling, Wilson’s wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame, was “outed” by a still-unidentified and unindicted official in Bush Administration. Plame was coordinating counter-terrorist activities.
     

  • American citizens Yassir Hamdi and Jose Padilla were incarcerated indefinitely, without charge, without access to legal counsel, without trial, all this in violation of four articles of the Bill of Rights.
     

  • Torture of prisoners took place at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo in violation of the Geneva Conventions, which have the force of United States law. Attorney-General designate Alberto Gonzales drew up a memo sanctioning torture, and describing the Geneva Conventions against torture as “quaint.”
     

  • "Tax reforms” benefited the wealthiest two percent of the population at the expense of the middle class and the poor, while support of public institutions such as research, education, infrastructure and health care was severely curtailed. The federal deficit has put severe financial burdens upon future generations.

There is much more, of course, but this much makes the point: George Bush and his associates have perpetrated offenses against the American people, the Constitution, and the world community that were scarcely imaginable when they took office four years ago.

In addition, the public has learned of numerous instances of GOP ballot manipulation and voter suppression, including “lost” absentee and provisional ballots, purge lists that disenfranchised tens of thousands of qualified voters (Florida 2000),  the closing and unannounced relocation of polling precincts, insufficient numbers of voting machines in heavily Democratic districts (Ohio, 2004). Why then is it such a “stretch” to suspect that, given the opportunity and little chance of discovery, the same political operatives might not engage in direct alteration of voting totals via software in the voting machines and the vote compiling centers?

Not only might the GOP “fix” an election with paperless e-voting machines, there is compelling statistical evidence that e-voting manipulation and fraud were at work in the 2002 mid-term elections. Within days of the 2002 election, the New Zealand website Scoop published a comparison of the final polls with the actual results of 19 contests (five Governor, four House, ten Senate). The results:

  • “14 races showed a post opinion poll swing towards the Republican Party (by between 3 and 16 points)
     

  • “2 races showed a post opinion poll swing towards the Democratic Party (by 2 and 4 points)
     

  • “In three races the pollsters were close to correct
     

  • “The largest post opinion poll vote swings occurred in Minnesota and Georgia...
     

  • “All the post polling swings in favour of the democratic party were within the margin of error.
     

  • “Several of the post polling swings in favour of the republican party were well outside the margin of error.”

The Georgia races are particularly interesting, not only because they had the largest post-poll swings, but also because most of the state used paperless Diebold DRE machines. In the senate race, Max Cleland led Saxby Chamblis by 2 to 5 points in the polls. Cleland lost, by 7 points – a swing of 9 to 12 points. In the Gubernatorial race, Democrat Roy Barnes led Republican Sunny Perdue by nine points, only to lose by seven points – an incredible shift of 16 points.

In the interval between the final polling and the election, there were no startling events that could explain these discrepancies. That being the case, the statistical probability of a random deviation of nine to twelve points (Cleland/Chamblis) and sixteen points (Barnes/Perdue) ranges from less than two percent (Senate) to one in several hundred thousands (Governor). (I will spare you the statistical analysis here. But if you insist upon taking the punishment, the statistical argument may be found in my blog).

Can the state of Georgia validate their e-voting returns? They cannot. There is no independent audit trail. They can only refer one to the manufacturers and programmers of the DRE equipment – the Diebold Corporation. Diebold’s only available answer: “Trust us!”

Was Georgia (and presumably several other states) a trial run for a fraudulent 2004 Presidential election?  If so, it was a stunning success. Not only did the Republicans “turn” at least two senate seats (thus winning control of the Senate), but in addition the media took no great notice of these upsets, and the Democrats meekly accepted the results without protest. To this date, three weeks after the 2004 election, that pattern appears to be repeating.

Part Two of this essay examines indications of DRE fraud in the 2004 presidential election, and argues that the fate of American democracy may rest upon whether or not the public and the media keep the issue of ballot integrity alive and demand an investigation of the validity of the 2004 election.  Follow this link for the complete essay.

 

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