Gar Smith / The-Edge.org – 2006-11-23 23:43:29
“There has been a rush by some to celebrate 2006 as a fair election, but a Democratic victory does not equate with a fair election. It’s wishful thinking, at best, to believe that the danger of massive election rigging is somehow past.”
— Jonathan Simon, Election Defense Alliance
In the weeks before the November 7 midterm elections, Republican scandals (both sexual and fiduciary) combined with the bloodletting in Iraq to cast a long shadow over the GOP’s hopes of maintaining control over Congress. Yet, despite this perfect storm of bad news, The Washington Post reported that “amid the widespread panic in the Republican establishment about the coming midterm elections,” George W. Bush and Karl Rove seemed “inexplicably upbeat.”
The Post reported that Bush had made “no plans” for dealing with a likely loss of the House and, possibly, the Senate. Asked about his pre-November nonchalance, presidential fixer Karl Rove replied confidently that the GOP would win because, “I have done the math.”
It was a mystifying response, given that every major polling organization had concluded that the math clearly favored the opposition party. Millions of people went to the polls fearing that the election — like the previous three elections — would be tainted by ballot theft, electronic voting irregularities and dirty tricks directed against traditionally Democratic voting precincts.
History now records that the Democrats staged one of the greatest political comebacks in the annals of US campaigning. The millions of wary Americans who trooped to the polls dreading another humiliating defeat, awoke on November 8 with renewed hope. But while there is cause for celebration, the fact that the Democrats won control of both houses of Congress should not obscure one inescapable fact:
The election was rigged.
‘Flipping’ the Vote
In September, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. looked at the math — and the aftermath — of America’s past elections in a Rolling Stone cover story entitled “Will the Next Election Be Hacked?” Kennedy noted that 80% of the 2006 midterm election ballots cast in America’s 180,000 precincts would be counted by electronic boxes that leave no paper trail. Worse, three of the four companies that provide these machines — Deibold, Election Systems & Software (ES&S) and Hart InterCivic — have ties to Republican Party interests.
According to author and election watchdog Lynn Landes, in early voting in Texas, Arkansas, Florida and Missouri, “touch-screen machines are reportedly flipping votes from Democratic candidates to Republicans.” Vote-flipping was first noted when the machines were used in the 2000 presidential election, Landes says, “and it always appears to favor Republicans over Democrats.”
After the 2002 elections, it was discovered that Diebold officials installed an unauthorized patch on the memory cards of 5,000 machines in Georgia’s two strongest Democratic precincts. A Diebold consultant told Kennedy that the patch would have made it possible to rig the election by putting a select candidate “ahead by three or four percent.” In addition, the patches could “include a built-in ‘delete’ that erases itself after it’s done.”
Six days before the election, Democratic incumbent Max Cleland, a decorated veteran who lost both legs in Vietnam, was leading his Republican challenger by five percentage points. On Election Day, Cleland’s challenger was declared the winner by 53% of the vote.
On October 30, 2006, the Miami Herald reported on the e-voting problems encountered by Gary Rudolf, the head of the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center: “[Rudolf] touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist.” It took Rudolf three tries to correctly register a vote for the Democrat.
The Herald also heard from Jean Marek, a 60-year-old Democrat from Hollywood, Florida who “was also stunned to see Charlie Crist on her ballot review page after voting.” And when Miami resident Mauricio Raponi tried to vote a straight Democratic ticket, the Herald reported, “each time he hit the button next to the candidate, the Republican choice showed up.”
Election supervisors told the Herald that the electronic screens frequently “slip out of sync.” Nonetheless, when the machines fail, they are not taken out of service: they are “recalibrated” using a 15-step procedure outlined in a poll-workers manual. Broward County Elections spokeswoman Mary Cooney told the Herald that it was “not uncommon” for the machines to miscount votes but she blithely insisted that she was “not aware of any serious problems.”
The Department of Homeland Security’s computer safety team has recently warned that Diebold’s black boxes contain “an undocumented backdoor account” that could allow “a malicious user [to] modify votes.”
Theft Takes a Holiday?
“Did the fraudsters take a substantial vacation?” election analyst David Griscom wondered in the wake of the Republican loss. His conclusion: the GOP vote-twisting machinery was, in fact, very busy on November 7.
“I keep coming back to the exit polls,” Griscom wrote. “I believe that statistical analyses of exit polls can tell us the way people really voted. In Germany where all ballots are 100% hand counted, the exit polls agree with the hand counts within 0.26%.” In the 2004 election, exit polls were giving John Kerry a 2.6% lead. After the polls closed, Bush was declared to have won by a 2.8% margin. Statistically, the probability of such an outcome occurring was determined to be less than 1-in-959,000.
“Although the news services still commission a national exit poll,” Griscom says, “only a few reporters (locked in a room without cell phones or Palm Pilots) are allowed to see the raw data coming in. Then at 5 PM they make one report, after which the polls are ‘corrected’ to agree with the official count.”
On November 8, the Washington Post quoted a Fox News Senior Vice President, who confided: “We looked at the exit polls and noted what we thought was a pattern — a 6 to 8 percent skew to Democratic candidates.”
This, according to Griscom, demonstrated that “hacking of both voting-machine memory cards and the Diebold GEMS central tabulators was once again being exploited — this time flipping votes in the range of 6-8% nationally, as contrasted with the ‘mere’ 5.4% flipping of the presidential vote in 2004.”
An analysis of parallel elections run at four Ohio precincts found evidence that 12 to 18% of each Democratic candidate’s votes had been shifted the Republican candidate. (Fortunately, the races weren’t close.)
“So this brings me to my theory of why George Allen conceded to Jim Webb in Virginia without even demanding a recount,” Griscom concludes. “A recount would have revealed the vote theft that is presently being covered up by suppression of the exit polls. So the perpetrators decided that accepting a Democratic majority in Congress for a couple years was a tolerable price to pay for concealing their power to steal [the 2008] presidential election.”
Rove’s 3-Point Plan to Steal the Midterm Election
Two days before the November ballot, London Guardian reporter Greg Palast (author of the New York Times bestseller, “Armed Madhouse”) revealed how the GOP planned to steal the election. “It won’t be stolen by jerking with the touch-screen machines (though they’ll do their nasty part),” Palast warned. “While progressives panic over the viral spread of suspect computer black boxes, the Karl Rove-bots have been tunneling into the vote vaults through entirely different means.”
Palast, an American who works for the British media, has spent the last six years investigating US election irregularites for BBC TV and the Guardian. Based on previous ballot shenanigans, Palast predicted that the GOP would “shoplift” 4.5 million votes by using three time-tested ploys.
• Theft #1: Registrations Gone with the Wind
On January 1, 2006, a new federal law obliterated 1.9 million votes, predominantly those of African-Americans and Hispanics. “The vote-snatching statute is a cankerous codicil slipped into the 2002 Help America Vote Act,” Palast explained. It was “strategically timed to go into effect in this mid-term year. It requires every state to reject new would-be voters whose identity can’t be verified against a state verification database.”
In an average year, 24.3 million Americans attempt to register or re-register to vote. Under the new GOP election law, Republican Secretaries of State have been able to block about one-in-three new voters. First, the Social Security Administration has failed to verify 47% of registrants. Despite appeals and new attempts to register, the US Elections Assistance Agency expected that nearly 2 million would-be voters would find themselves unable to vote on November 7.
But, as Palast pointed out, “It’s not the number of voters rejected, it’s their color. For example, California’s Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson figured out how to block 40% of registrants, mostly Hispanics. In a rare counter-move, Los Angeles, with a Hispanic mayor, contacted these citizens, “verified” them and got almost every single one back on the rolls.”
In Ohio, the GOP’s candidate for governor also happened to be the man responsible for running the election. Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell’s central role in Ohio’s disputed 2004 presidential elections may well make him the target of Congressional investigations once the Democrats assume power in January.
Blackwell, whom Palast describes as the “voter-rejection champ” continues to insist that his guidelines for rejecting votes remain a state secret. (Democrats turned out en masse and defeated Blackwell.)
• Theft #2: Turned Away — the ID Game
Legions of GOP volunteers armed with lists of new voters were tasked to challenge citizens in heavily Black and Hispanic (i.e. Democratic) precincts, demanding to see “proper” photo ID. New and complex ID requirements in states like New Mexico allowed the GOP to triple the number of presumed opposition voters turned away from the polls. The GOP openly admitted to using these voter-suppression tactics, claiming that they were merely “protecting the integrity of the vote.”
In 2004, Palast obtained 50 confidential memos from the Republican National Committee that contained strange spreadsheets identified as “caging lists.” “They were lists (70,000 for Florida alone) of new Black and Jewish voters — a very Democratic demographic — to challenge on Election Day. The GOP did so with a vengeance: In 2004, for the first time in half a century, more than 3.5 million voters were challenged on Election Day. Worse, nearly half lost their vote: 300,000 were turned away for wrong ID; 1.1 million were allowed a ‘provisional’ ballot — which was then simply tossed out.”
One of the people to run afoul of the new ID hurdle on November 7 was Rep. Steve Chabot. The congressman was turned away from the polls because the address on his driver’s license was not up-to-date. And in Missouri, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan was improperly hassled over her photo ID.
Combined with a dozen new state ID laws, the new federal voter-ID requirements may have allowed the GOP to block nearly one million votes.
• Theft #3: Votes Spoiled Rotten
“The nasty little secret of US elections is that three million ballots are cast in national elections but not counted,” Palast discovered. According to the US Elections Commission, in 2004, 3,600,380 ballots went uncounted. These included votes that were lost because of punch-card errors, voting machine malfunctions or confusing marks that voided paper ballots.
“Officials call it ‘spoilage.’ I call it, ‘inaugurating Republicans,'” Palast quips. “When we do the arithmetic, we find that well over half of all votes spoiled or ‘blank’ are cast by voters of color. On balance, this spoilage game produces a million-vote edge for the GOP.” The US Civil Rights Commission has reported that the chance your vote will “spoil” this way is 900% higher for African-American voters and 500% higher for Hispanics.
As for the Black Boxes, Palast advised: “Forget about Karl Rove messing with the software to change your vote. Rather, the big losses occur when computers crash, fail to start or simply don’t respond to your touch. They are the new spoilage machines of choice.” Coincidentally, these new-fangled machines seem to show “the same racial bias as the old vote-snatching lever machines.”
In addition to the 4 million votes expected to be lost to election-roll “purges,” identity challenges, and spoilage, Palast noted that another one million “provisional” ballots — cast primarily by minority voters — would never get counted.
And there’s one more group of votes that won’t be counted: absentee ballots that are challenged and discarded. The US Elections Assistance Agency predicted that a half million of these absentee ballots would be ignored.
“Add it all up — all those Democratic-leaning votes rejected, barred and spoiled — and the Republican Party begins Election Day with a 4.5 million-vote thumb on the vote-tally scale.”
This isn’t your forefathers’ democracy, Palast concludes. The harsh fact is that, in Bush/Rove America, “you can’t win with 51% of the vote anymore.”
But there was one slim hope, Palast noted. “The regime’s sneak attack via vote suppression will only net them 4.5 million votes — about 5% of the total. You should be able to beat that blindfolded. If you can’t get 55%, then you’re just a bunch of crybaby pussycats who don’t deserve to win back America.”
On November 7, despite massive vote-rigging by the GOP, millions of Americans surged to the polls and took back their country.