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The Stolen Election of 2004

Posted in the database on Thursday, July 06th, 2006 @ 15:32:14 MST (3789 views)
by Michael Parenti    ZNet  

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The 2004 presidential contest between Democratic challenger Senator JohnKerry and the Republican incumbent, President Bush Jr., amounted toanother stolen election. This has been well documented by suchinvestigators as Rep. John Conyers, Mark Crispin Miller, Bob Fitrakis,Harvey Wasserman, Bev Harris, and others. Here is an overview of whatthey have reported, along with observations of my own.

Some 105 million citizens voted in 2000, but in 2004 the turnout climbedto at least 122 million. Pre-election surveys indicated that among therecord 16.8 million new voters Kerry was a heavy favorite, a fact thatwent largely unreported by the press. In addition, there were about twomillion progressives who had voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 who switchedto Kerry in 2004.

Yet the official 2004 tallies showed Bush with 62 million votes, about11.6 million more than he got in 2000. Meanwhile Kerry showed only eightmillion more votes than Gore received in 2000. To have achieved hisremarkable 2004 tally, Bush would needed to have kept all his 50.4million from 2000, plus a majority of the new voters, plus a large shareof the very liberal Nader defectors.

Nothing in the campaign and in the opinion polls suggest such a masscrossover. The numbers simply do not add up.

In key states like Ohio, the Democrats achieved immense success atregistering new voters, outdoing the Republicans by as much as five toone. Moreover the Democratic party was unusually united around itscandidate-or certainly against the incumbent president. In contrast,prominent elements within the GOP displayed open disaffection, publiclyvoicing serious misgivings about the Bush administration's huge budgetdeficits, reckless foreign policy, theocratic tendencies, and threats toindividual liberties.

Sixty newspapers that had endorsed Bush in 2000 refused to do so in2004; forty of them endorsed Kerry.

All through election day 2004, exit polls showed Kerry ahead by 53 to 47percent, giving him a nationwide edge of about 1.5 million votes, and asolid victory in the electoral college. Yet strangely enough, theofficial tally gave Bush the election. Here are some examples of how theGOP "victory" was secured.

---In some places large numbers of Democratic registration formsdisappeared, along with absentee ballots and provisional ballots.Sometimes absentee ballots were mailed out to voters just beforeelection day, too late to be returned on time, or they were never mailedat all.

---Overseas ballots normally reliably distributed by the StateDepartment were for some reason distributed by the Pentagon in 2004.Nearly half of the six million American voters living abroad---anoticeable number of whom formed anti-Bush organizations---neverreceived their ballots or got them too late to vote. Military personnel,usually more inclined toward supporting the president, encountered nosuch problems with their overseas ballots.

---Voter Outreach of America, a company funded by the RepublicanNational Committee, collected thousands of voter registration forms inNevada, promising to turn them in to public officials, but thensystematically destroyed the ones belonging to Democrats.

--- Tens of thousands of Democratic voters were stricken from the rollsin several states because of "felonies" never committed, or committed bysomeone else, or for no given reason. Registration books in Democraticprecincts were frequently out-of-date or incomplete.

---Democratic precincts---enjoying record turnouts---were deprived ofsufficient numbers of polling stations and voting machines, and many ofthe machines they had kept breaking down. After waiting long hours manypeople went home without voting. Pro-Bush precincts almost always hadenough voting machines, all working well to make voting quick andconvenient.

---A similar pattern was observed with student populations in severalstates: students at conservative Christian colleges had little or nowait at the polls, while students from liberal arts colleges were forcedto line up for as long as ten hours, causing many to give up.

---In Lucas County, Ohio, one polling place never opened; the votingmachines were locked in an office and no one could find the key. InHamilton County many absentee voters could not cast a Democratic votefor president because John Kerry's name had been "accidentally" removedwhen Ralph Nader was taken off the ballot.

---A polling station in a conservative evangelical church in MiamiCounty, Ohio, recorded an impossibly high turnout of 98 percent, while apolling place in Democratic inner-city Cleveland recorded an impossiblylow turnout of 7 percent.

---Latino, Native American, and African American voters in New Mexicowho favored Kerry by two to one were five times more likely to havetheir ballots spoiled and discarded in districts supervised byRepublican election officials. Many were given provisional ballots thatsubsequently were never counted. In these same Democratic areas Bush"won" an astonishing 68 to 31 percent upset victory. One Republicanjudge in New Mexico discarded hundreds of provisional ballots cast forKerry, accepting only those that were for Bush.

---Cadres of rightwing activists, many of them religiousfundamentalists, were financed by the Republican Party. Deployed to keyDemocratic precincts, they handed out flyers warning that voters who hadunpaid parking tickets, an arrest record, or owed child support would bearrested at the polls---all untrue. They went door to door offering to"deliver" absentee ballots to the proper office, and announcing thatRepublicans were to vote on Tuesday (election day) and Democrats onWednesday.

---Democratic poll watchers in Ohio, Arizona, and other states, whotried to monitor election night vote counting, were menaced and shut outby squads of GOP toughs. In Warren County, Ohio, immediately after thepolls closed Republican officials announced a "terrorist attack" alert,and ordered the press to leave. They then moved all ballots to awarehouse where the counting was conducted in secret, producing anamazingly high tally for Bush, some 14,000 more votes than he hadreceived in 2000. It wasn't the terrorists who attacked Warren County.

---Bush did remarkably well with phantom populations. The number of hisvotes in Perry and Cuyahoga counties in Ohio, exceeded the number ofregistered voters, creating turnout rates as high as 124 percent. InMiami County nearly 19,000 additional votes eerily appeared in Bush'scolumn after all precincts had reported. In a small conservativesuburban precinct of Columbus, where only 638 people were registered,the touchscreen machines tallied 4,258 votes for Bush.

---In almost half of New Mexico's counties, more votes were reportedthan were recorded as being cast, and the tallies were consistently inBush's favor. These ghostly results were dismissed by New Mexico'sRepublican Secretary of State as an "administrative lapse."

Exit polls showed Kerry solidly ahead of Bush in both the popular voteand the electoral college. Exit polls are an exceptionally accuratemeasure of elections. In the last three elections in Germany, forexample, exit polls were never off by more than three-tenths of onepercent.

Unlike ordinary opinion polls, the exit sample is drawn from people whohave actually just voted. It rules out those who say they will vote butnever make it to the polls, those who cannot be sampled because theyhave no telephone or otherwise cannot be reached at home, those who areundecided or who change their minds about whom to support, and those whoare turned away at the polls for one reason or another.

Exit polls have come to be considered so reliable that internationalorganizations use them to validate election results in countries aroundthe world.

Republicans argued that in 2004 the exit polls were inaccurate becausethey were taken only in the morning when Kerry voters came out ingreater numbers. (Apparently Bush voters sleep late.) In fact, thepolling was done at random intervals all through the day, and theevening results were as much favoring Kerry as the early results.

It was also argued that pollsters focused more on women (who favoredKerry) than men, or maybe large numbers of grumpy Republicans were lessinclined than cheery Democrats to talk to pollsters. No evidence was putforth to substantiate these fanciful speculations.

Most revealing, the discrepancies between exit polls and officialtallies were never random but worked to Bush's advantage in ten ofeleven swing states that were too close to call, sometimes by as much as9.5 percent as in New Hampshire, an unheard of margin of error for anexit poll. In Nevada, Ohio, New Mexico, and Iowa exit polls registeredsolid victories for Kerry, yet the official tally in each case went toBush, a mystifying outcome.

In states that were not hotly contested the exit polls proved quiteaccurate. Thus exit polls in Utah predicted a Bush victory of 70.8 to26.4 percent; the actual result was 71.1 to 26.4 percent. In Missouri,where the exit polls predicted a Bush victory of 54 to 46 percent, thefinal result was 53 to 46 percent.

One explanation for the strange anomalies in vote tallies was found inthe widespread use of touchscreen electronic voting machines. Thesemachines produced results that consistently favored Bush over Kerry,often in chillingly consistent contradiction to exit polls.

In 2003 more than 900 computer professionals had signed a petitionurging that all touchscreen systems include a verifiable audit trail.Touchscreen voting machines can be easily programmed to go dead onelection day or throw votes to the wrong candidate or make votesdisappear while leaving the impression that everything is working fine.

A tiny number of operatives can easily access the entire computernetwork through one machine and thereby change votes at will. Thetouchscreen machines use trade secret code, and are tested, reviewed,and certified in complete secrecy. Verified counts are impossiblebecause the machines leave no reliable paper trail.

Since the introduction of touchscreen voting, mysterious congressionalelection results have been increasing. In 2000 and 2002, Senate andHouse contests and state legislative races in North Carolina, Nebraska,Alabama, Minnesota, Colorado, and elsewhere produced dramatic andpuzzling upsets, always at the expense of Democrats who were ahead inthe polls.

In some counties in Texas, Virginia, and Ohio, voters who pressed theDemocrat's name found that the Republican candidate was chosen. InCormal County, Texas, three GOP candidates won by exactly 18,181 votesapiece, a near statistical impossibility.

All of Georgia's voters used Diebold touchscreen machines in 2002, andGeorgia's incumbent Democratic governor and incumbent Democraticsenator, who were both well ahead in the polls just before the election,lost in amazing double-digit voting shifts.

This may be the most telling datum of all: In New Mexico in 2004 Kerrylost all precincts equipped with touchscreen machines, irrespective ofincome levels, ethnicity, and past voting patterns. The only thing thatconsistently correlated with his defeat in those precincts was thepresence of the touchscreen machine itself.

In Florida Bush registered inexplicably sharp jumps in his vote(compared to 2000) in counties that used touchscreen machines.

Companies like Diebold, Sequoia, and ES&S that market the touchscreenmachines are owned by militant supporters of the Republican party. Thesecompanies have consistently refused to implement a paper-trail to dispelsuspicions and give instant validation to the results of electronicvoting. They prefer to keep things secret, claiming proprietary rights,a claim that has been backed in court.

Election officials are not allowed to evaluate the secret software.Apparently corporate trade secrets are more important than votingrights. In effect, corporations have privatized the electoral system,leaving it easily susceptible to fixed outcomes. Given this situation,it is not likely that the GOP will lose control of Congress comeNovember 2006. The two-party monopoly threatens to become an even worseone-party tyranny.

Michael Parenti's recent books include The Assassination of JuliusCaesar (New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), and The CultureStruggle (Seven Stories Press). For more information visit:www.michaelparenti.org.


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