VOTING IN THE U.S.A.
My pal Johnny Wendell asked me to cite some specifics bolstering my claims that the Bush political machine stole the election in 2004. I'm attaching a couple acrticles that show examples of how they did it. It drives me crazy with Bush hypocritically lectures other countries on "democracy," as if anyone didn't know that his installation as "president" was the antithesis of Democracy. His regime's shallow understanding of what Democracy is let'sthem claim-- with relatively straight faces-- that "Democracy" has triumphed in Afghanistan and Iraq because people "voted."
If you don't want to read the whole long articles about voter fraud, please ponder this paragraph for a moment:
"In Florida's Dixie County, located on the Gulf Coast between Tallahassee and Tampa, 77.5 percent of the 4,988 registered voters are Democrats, 15 percent are Republicans. On Election Day, Bush carried the county with 4,433 votes vs. 1,959 for Kerry." Imagine for a moment that the majority of the Democrats in this largely African-American community decided they were thankful for the abolition of the "death tax" and the rejiggering of the tax system to benefit millionaires at the expense of the working poor, and that because of this they would vote for Bush. Unlikely? Of course but, theoretically possible. But what is NOT possible is that slightly under 5,000 registered voters produced over 6,000 votes. Is this democracy? Was Bush elected? No and no.
Published on Monday, November 15, 2004 by Zogby International
I Smell a Rat
by Colin Shea
I smell a rat. It has that distinctive and all-too-familiar odor of the species Republicanus floridius. We got a nasty bite from this pest four years ago and never quite recovered. Symptoms of a long-term infection are becoming distressingly apparent.
The first sign of the rat was on election night. The jubilation of early exit polling had given way to rising anxiety as states fell one by one to the Red Tide. It was getting late in the smoky cellar of a Prague sports bar where a crowd of expats had gathered. We had been hoping to go home to bed early, confident of victory. Those hopes had evaporated in a flurry of early precinct reports from Florida and Ohio.
By 3 AM, conversation had died and we were grimly sipping beers and watching as those two key states seemed to be slipping further and further to crimson. Suddenly, a friend who had left two hours earlier rushed in and handed us a printout.
"Zogby's calling it for Kerry." He smacked the sheet decisively. "Definitely. He's got both Florida and Ohio in the Kerry column. Kerry only needs one." Satisfied, we went to bed, confident we would wake with the world a better place. Victory was at hand.
The morning told a different story, of course. No Florida victory for Kerry--Bush had a decisive margin of nearly 400,000 votes. Ohio was not even close enough for Kerry to demand that all the votes be counted. The pollsters had been dead wrong, Bush had four more years and a powerful mandate. Onward Christian soldiers--next stop, Tehran.
Lies, damn lies, and statistics
I work with statistics and polling data every day. Something rubbed me the wrong way. I checked the exit polls for Florida--all wrong. CNN's results indicated a Kerry win: turnout matched voter registration, and independents had broken 59% to 41% for Kerry.
Polling is an imprecise science. Yet its very imprecision is itself quantifiable and follows regular patterns. Differences between actual results and those expected from polling data must be explainable by identifiable factors if the polling sample is robust enough. With almost 3.000 respondents in Florida alone, the CNN poll sample was pretty robust.
The first signs of the rat were identified by Kathy Dopp, who conducted a simple analysis of voter registrations by party in Florida and compared them to presidential vote results. Basically she multiplied the total votes cast in a county by the percentage of voters registered Republican: this gave an expected Republican vote. She then compared this to the actual result.
Her analysis is startling. Certain counties voted for Bush far in excess of what one would expect based on the share of Republican registrations in that county. They key phrase is "certain counties"--there is extraordinary variance between individual counties. Most counties fall more or less in line with what one would expect based on the share of Republican registrations, but some differ wildly.
How to explain this incredible variance? Dopp found one over-riding factor: whether the county used electronic touch-screen voting, or paper ballots which were optically scanned into a computer. All of those with touch-screen voting had results relatively in line with her expected results, while all of those with extreme variance were in counties with optical scanning.
The intimation, clearly, is fraud. Ballots are scanned; results are fed into precinct computers; these are sent to a county-wide database, whose results are fed into the statewide electoral totals. At any point after physical ballots become databases, the system is vulnerable to external hackers.
It seemed too easy, and Dopp's method seemed simplistic. I re-ran the results using CNN's exit polling data. In each county, I took the number of registrations and assigned correctional factors based on the CNN poll to predict turnout among Republicans, Democrats, and independents. I then used the vote shares from the polls to predict a likely number of Republican votes per county. I compared this ‘expected' Republican vote to the actual Republican vote.
The results are shocking. Overall, Bush received 2% fewer votes in counties with electronic touch-screen voting than expected. In counties with optical scanning, he received 16% more. This 16% would not be strange if it were spread across counties more or less evenly. It is not. In 11 different counties, the ‘actual' Bush vote was at least twice higher than the expected vote. 13 counties had Bush vote tallies 50--100% higher than expected. In one county where 88% of voters are registered Democrats, Bush got nearly two thirds of the vote--three times more than predicted by my model.
Again, polling can be wrong. It is difficult to believe it can be that wrong. Fortunately, however, we can test how wrong it would have to be to give the ‘actual' result.
I tested two alternative scenarios to see how wrong CNN would have to have been to explain the election result. In the first, I assumed they had been wildly off the mark in the turnout figures--i.e. far more Republicans and independents had come out than Democrats. In the second I assumed the voting shares were completely wrong, and that the Republicans had been able to massively poach voters from the Democrat base.
In the first scenario, I assumed 90% of Republicans and independents voted, and the remaining ballots were cast by Democrats. This explains the result in counties with optical scanning to within 5%. However, in this scenario Democratic turnout would have been only 51% in the optical scanning counties--barely exceeding half of Republican turnout. It also does not solve the enormous problems in individual counties. 7 counties in this scenario still have actual vote tallies for Bush that are at least 100% higher than predicted by the model--an extremely unlikely result.
In the second scenario I assumed that Bush had actually got 100% of the vote from Republicans and 50% from independents (versus CNN polling results which were 93% and 41% respectively). If this gave enough votes for Bush to explain the county's results, I left the amount of Democratic registered voters ballots cast for Bush as they were predicted by CNN (14% voted for Bush). If this did not explain the result, I calculated how many Democrats would have to vote for Bush.
In 41 of 52 counties, this did not explain the result and Bush must have gotten more than CNN's predicted 14% of Democratic ballots--not an unreasonable assumption by itself. However, in 21 counties more than 50% of Democratic votes would have to have defected to Bush to account for the county result--in four counties, at least 70% would have been required. These results are absurdly unlikely.
The second rat
A previously undiscovered species of rat, Republicanus cuyahogus, has been found in Ohio. Before the election, I wrote snide letters to a state legislator for Cuyahoga county who, according to media reports, was preparing an army of enforcers to keep ‘suspect' (read: minority) voters away from the polls. One of his assistants wrote me back very pleasant mails to the effect that they had no intention of trying to suppress voter turnout, and in fact only wanted to encourage people to vote.
They did their job too well. According to the official statistics for Cuyahoga county, a number of precincts had voter turnout well above the national average: in fact, turnout was well over 100% of registered voters, and in several cases well above the total number of people who have lived in the precinct in the last century or so.
In 30 precincts, more ballots were cast than voters were registered in the county. According to county regulations, voters must cast their ballot in the precinct in which they are registered. Yet in these thirty precincts, nearly 100.000 more people voted than are registered to vote -- this out of a total of 251.946 registrations. These are not marginal differences--this is a 39% over-vote. In some precincts the over-vote was well over 100%. One precinct with 558 registered voters cast nearly 9,000 ballots. As one astute observer noted, it's the ballot-box equivalent of Jesus' miracle of the fishes. Bush being such a man of God, perhaps we should not be surprised.
What to do?
This is not an idle statistical exercise. Either the raw data from two critical battleground states is completely erroneous, or something has gone horribly awry in our electoral system--again. Like many Americans, I was dissatisfied with and suspicious of the way the Florida recount was resolved in 2000. But at the same time, I was convinced of one thing: we must let the system work, and accept its result, no matter how unjust it might appear.
With this acceptance, we placed our implicit faith in the Bush Administration that it would not abuse its position: that it would recognize its fragile mandate for what it was, respect the will of the majority of people who voted against them, and move to build consensus wherever possible and effect change cautiously when needed. Above all, we believed that both Democrats and Republicans would recognize the over-riding importance of revitalizing the integrity of the electoral system and healing the bruised faith of both constituencies.
This faith has been shattered. Bush has not led the nation to unity, but ruled through fear and division. Dishonesty and deceit in areas critical to the public interest have been the hallmark of his Administration. I state this not to throw gratuitous insults, but to place the Florida and Ohio electoral results in their proper context. For the GOP to claim now that we must take anything on faith, let alone astonishingly suspicious results in a hard-fought and extraordinarily bitter election, is pure fantasy. It does not even merit discussion.
The facts as I see them now defy all logical explanations save one--massive and systematic vote fraud. We cannot accept the result of the 2004 presidential election as legitimate until these discrepancies are rigorously and completely explained. From the Valerie Plame case to the horrors of Abu Ghraib, George Bush has been reluctant to seek answers and assign accountability when it does not suit his purposes. But this is one time when no American should accept not getting a straight answer. Until then, George Bush is still, and will remain, the ‘Accidental President' of 2000. One of his many enduring and shameful legacies will be that of seizing power through two illegitimate elections conducted on his brother's watch, and engineering a fundamental corruption at the very heart of the greatest democracy the world has known. We must not permit this to happen again.
Colin Shea is author of "The Freezer Box"
This one is a good one too:
Published on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 by United Press International
Election 2004: Lingering Suspicions
by Greg Guma
The Internet, that wonderful engine of democracy, is rife with messages purporting to demonstrate how the U.S. presidential election results were manipulated in ways benefiting the Republicans.
To start, voting analyses of selected Florida and Ohio precincts conducted by the University of Pennsylvania's Steven Freeman and independent investigator Faun Otter have revealed surprisingly high percentages for Bush. Those skeptical about the results further suggest spoiled ballots and provisional votes, which may have a disproportionate impact on the results in the areas with high concentrations of minority voters, could have made the difference.
The earliest exit poll data released on Nov. 2 indicated Kerry -- who had run narrowly behind Bush but within the margin of error for most of the race -- was rolling to victory and carrying many of the battleground states, including Florida and Ohio, by higher than expected margins. These same polls also suggested the Republicans were ahead in most of the tight U.S. Senate races.
By the end of the night, however, the predictions in the presidential exit were wrong while the Senate projections were largely correct.
Exit polling by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, which created the National Election Poll for ABC, AP, CBS, CNN, Fox, and NBC, had shown Kerry leading by 3 percentage points in Florida and by 4 points in Ohio. Kerry lost Florida by 5.2 percent, with Bush running ahead of his 2000 performance in 58 of the state's 67 counties. In Ohio, the margin was 2.5 percent.
Florida's 8.2-percent spread -- between the early exits and the results -- is more than double the standard error rate. In Ohio, the spread is 6.5 percent.
In Baker County, Fla. located near the city of Jacksonville and just across the border from Georgia, there are 12,887 registered voters: 69.3 percent are Democrats, 24.3 percent are Republicans. Yet 2,180 of county residents voted for Kerry while 7,738 voted for Bush -- the opposite of what some election critics say was the typically pattern elsewhere in the United States.
In Florida's Dixie County, located on the Gulf Coast between Tallahassee and Tampa, 77.5 percent of the 4,988 registered voters are Democrats, 15 percent are Republicans. On Election Day, Bush carried the county with 4,433 votes vs. 1,959 for Kerry.
Nationally, few outlets have pursued the story of what happened in Baker and Dixie, why and whether it actually indicates a problem with the counting of the ballots. Most of the coverage of the alleged irregularities has focused on why the exit polls were so far off. Skeptics dismiss them as flawed or somehow favoring Kerry and say that, though they may have influenced the narrative of election coverage, they couldn't affect the outcome.
To explain the difference, some unconvincing theories have been floated including the one offered by the architects of the sampling system used for exit polling. They say Kerry voters were simply more willing to answer the questions. It's called the "chattiness thesis" and it sounds like a weak excuse -- but so was the pollsters' earlier claims that the numbers were right, the media just read them wrong. In an article for Tom Paine.com, a liberal Internet publication, Greg Palast, an author and frequent critic of the 2000 election returns in Florida, goes farther.
"Although the exit polls show that most voters in Ohio punched cards for Kerry-Edwards, thousands of these votes were simply not recorded," he writes. Palast says he thinks the election was decided by "spoilage," the small part of the vote that is voided and thrown away.
In Ohio, as in Florida four years ago, a large number of spoiled votes were cast on punch cards, 54 percent of which were cast by black voters, according to statisticians investigating the issue for Verified Voting, a group formed by a Stanford University professor to assess electronic voting. Verified Voting has collected 31,000 reports of alleged election abnormalities.
Other factors also could have affected the vote count, including last-minute legal challenges filed in several states, both by Democrats trying to block Ralph Nader from appearing on state ballots and Republicans concerned about lax registration rules. Long lines at precincts in the evening and the large number of total provisional ballots cast across the United States also may have influenced the outcome somewhat.
Taken together, such factors could significantly change the vote in some areas, bringing the count more into line with the exit poll results.
Were the election results manipulated in some way? At the moment, the question invokes the same kind of polarizations generated by the election choice itself; a much more thorough analysis is needed -- and will not be quick in the offing -- before the Internet chatter can taken seriously, even though some will always believe it did in fact occur.
Even if the thesis can eventually be demonstrated to be accurate, that some form of manipulation did occur, the technology involved is so complex that those responsible will likely escape the consequences.
Postscript: There is as yet no solid proof that a cyber-attack occurred on Nov. 2. For one thing, it would probably require hacking into multiple local computer systems, presumably from one or more remote locations. Nevertheless, suspicions are mounting and evidence is emerging to suggest that the U.S. presidential election results were manipulated to some extent.
Could it be pulled off? As far as we know, the CIA’s successes in cyber-war include targeting specific bank accounts and shutting down computer systems. But stealing an election is considerably more difficult, requiring the alteration of data in many computers.
According to Robert Parry, writing for Consortium News, "a preprogrammed ‘kernel of brain’ would have to be inserted into election computers beforehand, or teams of hackers would be needed to penetrate the lightly protected systems, targeting touch-screen systems without a paper backup for verifying the numbers."
It’s a form of "information warfare," a hot item within the U.S. military since the mid-1990. The Pentagon has even produced a 13-page booklet, "Information Warfare for Dummies." Indirectly, this primer acknowledges considerable secret capabilities in these areas.
It also recognizes the sensitivity of the topic. "Due to the moral, ethical and legal questions raised by hacking, the military likes to keep a low profile on this issue," it explains.
So, did it happen here? Perhaps time will tell. But as the Pentagon readily admits, cyber-warfare has considerable advantages over other tactics. "The intrusions can be carried out remotely, transcending the boundaries of time and space," the manual explains.
And, best of all, if the fraud is ever discovered, there is such a technological buffer between those responsible and those doing the deed you might say it’s the state-of-the-art in plausible deniability.
Greg Guma edits the Vermont Guardian, a statewide weekly, and Toward Freedom. He can be reached at email@example.com