Why We Must Not "Get Over It"
December 2, 2004
By Ernest Patridge, The
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,
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
Freeman of the University of Pennsylvania and the University
of California-Berkeley's Quantitative
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 "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. 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 are promptly dismissed by the mainstream
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
- 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
- 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
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
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.
MORE CLUES AND EVIDENCE
Statistical analyses of the 2004 election. I have cited above the
studies by Steven Freeman and the UC-Berkeley Quantitative Research
Team, both of which provide strong statistical indications of vote
total manipulation. On my desk are drafts of additional statistical
studies that have not been released, pending peer review. No doubt
there are still more studies in progress, and thus we are certain
to hear much more statistical evidence in the near future.
Why statistical studies, and no direct examination of the independent
audit trails and machine software? Because, as we have pointed out,
there are no audit trails and the software is secret. Elsewhere
I have suggested how the accuracy of the DRE machines might be tested
directly, but these methods would have to be employed during the
day of the election, and I have found no reports that any such testing
was done on November 2. So statistical analysis is all that we have
– the DRE manufacturers and the GOP members of Congress have seen
It is significant, but alas not surprising, that while the Freeman
and UC-Berkeley studies have provoked enormous interest on the Internet,
they have been virtually ignored by the mainstream media. The establishment,
it seems, has put silencers on these smoking guns. Persistent pressure
from the denizens of Blogistan just might bring these issues to
the surface of general public awareness. If public demand becomes
strong enough to provoke the media to take on this issue, that just
might be the ball game for the Busheviks.
The Tell-Tale Touch-Screens
Numerous reports from throughout the country, but most significantly
from Florida and Ohio, indicate that attempts to select "John
Kerry" on DRE screens resulted in "George Bush" appearing
on the verification screen. In some reported cases, several
attempts to correct this error were unavailing. (I have heard no
reports of the opposite result: Bush votes converted to Kerry).
The media have routinely dismissed these incidents as curiosities,
and as "insufficient to change the outcome of the election."
Nowhere in the mainstream media have I encountered the question:
"is is possible that such switches might have taken place without
evidence thereof on the screen?"
Here's an intriguing possibility: these DRE "glitches"
are the tip of a malignant iceberg. A software program designed
to convert (say) every tenth Kerry vote to Bush, occasionally breaks
through to record the switch on a screen. This was not intended,
of course. It is a "bug" that was not found and corrected
before the machines were released. Maybe, and maybe not. But surely
it is an hypothesis worthy of investigation by an enterprising journalist.
There has apparently been no such investigation in the mainstream
The silence is deafening.
In a carefully monitored election, such malfunctions would trigger
serious investigations. The misbehaving machines would be immediately
withdrawn and subject to thorough examination by computer experts.
I've heard of no such investigations. If there were none, then why
Is "Moral Values" a Cover Story?
The official story is that George Bush owes his victory to the
"moral values" issue, which prompted millions of evangelical
Christians and conservative Catholics, who otherwise would have
stayed at home, to vote for Bush. So pervasive is this conventional
wisdom that even Democrats are now talking non-stop about how they
might develop a "moral values" argument of their own.
(On its merits, this a worthy enterprise. But one need not justify
a Democratic emphasis on morality by presuming that "values"
was a significant factor in this election.)
There is reason to believe that "moral values" was not,
in fact, a decisive or even a particularly important issue in this
election. However, if computer mischief were afoot in this election,
and if millions of votes were thus redirected to Bush's totals,
then this unanticipated windfall would require an explanation. I
submit that the "moral values" issue might well be a cover
story– a concoction designed to explain the extraordinarily large
number of votes for Bush.
Among the most widely cited indicators of the importance of the
moral values issue is the CNN
exit poll. (Warning: the presidential numbers here are the later
adjusted polls which some critics believe are corrupted. See Shea,
blog). When asked "which one issue mattered most in deciding
how you voted for president?" more voters identified "moral
values" than any other issue. Of those who chose "moral
values," 80% voted for Bush. On the surface, that sounds impressive.
But that's the glass-half-full account of the significance of
"moral values" in the election. Closer inspection discloses
that the "moral values" issue is of little importance. There we
find that only 22% of the respondents identified this issue as "the
most important." The runner-up, at 20%, was the economy, and
of those who so responded, 78% voted for Kerry. So from another
perspective (glass-half-empty) "moral values" appears
to be not all that significant. (Interestingly, conservative pundits
Brooks and Charles
Krauthammer concur, failing to notice, perhaps, that a rejection
of the "values" cover story entails some serious difficulties
in explaining the Bush victory).
But didn't Bush's emphasis on "values" (in particular,
abortion and gay marriage) prompt a huge number of evangelicals
to vote for him? Again, the evidence is wanting. Rick
Perlstein of the Village Voice writes:
The idea that [the] election results show that there is a great
silent majority of Americans who vote first and foremost on their
moral values, which means that they vote for the Republicans,
has become gospel on our nation's airwaves by now. It is nonsense
on stilts. Bush didn't win this election on "moral values." It
turns out he didn't do any better among strong churchgoers, or
rural voters, than he did in 2000...
On his blog Polysigh, my favorite political scientist, Phil Klinkner,
ran a simple exercise. Multiplying the turnout among a certain
group by the percent who went for Bush yields a number electoral
statisticians call "performance." Among heavy churchgoers, Bush's
performance last time was 25 percent (turnout, 42 percent; percentage
of vote, 59 percent). This time out it was also 25 percent—no
change. Slightly lower turnout (41 percent), slightly higher rate
of vote (61 percent).
Before the election, Karl Rove often said that the secret for
winning in 2004 was to bring to the polls the four million evangelicals
who didn't vote in 2000. Apparently they didn't vote in this election
as well. Yet Bush's 2004 total was eight million more than he had
Where did Bush's Eight Million Surplus Votes Come From?
Furthermore, what happened to all those Kerry votes?
When asked by Al Franken how Kerry and the Democrats lost the
election, Kerry adviser Mike McCurry replied, "they out-hustled
us." By this he meant that the GOP get-out-the-vote effort
was much more intensive and successful than that of the Democrats.
McCurry's reply has the appearance of an ad hoc, after the
fact, rationalization. ("We lost. So now figure out a reason.")
The evidence does not support McCurry's conjecture that the Democrats
The shock of defeat seems to have dropped a curtain of amnesia
on November 2, whereby Kerry supporters appear unable to recall
events and sentiments that immediately preceded the election. In
fact, at that time there were abundant indicators of a Kerry landslide
in the offing. There were widespread accounts of Republican defections
to Kerry, both from celebrities (John Dean, Kevin Philips, Pete
Peterson, Russell Train, to name a few) and ordinary Republican
citizens. The organization "Republicans for Kerry" was
active and conspicuous, far more than it's counterpart "Democrats
for Bush." More than 35 major newspapers that supported Bush
in 2000, switched
their endorsements to Kerry.
Reports "from the field" throughout the country told
of an unprecedented effort by the Democratic Party, and by allied
organizations such as MoveOn, the Sierra Club, People for the American
Way, ACT, labor unions, etc., to register new voters and then to
get them to the polls.
A sweeping voter registration campaign in heavily Democratic
areas has added tens of thousands of new voters to the rolls in
the swing states of Ohio and Florida, a surge that has far exceeded
the efforts of Republicans in both states, a review of registration
The analysis by The New York Times of county-by-county
data shows that in Democratic areas of Ohio - primarily low-income
and minority neighborhoods - new registrations since January have
risen 250 percent over the same period in 2000. In comparison,
new registrations have increased just 25 percent in Republican
areas. A similar pattern is apparent in Florida: in the strongest
Democratic areas, the pace of new registration is 60 percent higher
than in 2000, while it has risen just 12 percent in the heaviest
Republican areas. (September 26)
with Kate Zernicke:
A record surge of potential new voters has swamped boards of
election from Pennsylvania to Oregon, as the biggest of the crucial
swing states reach registration deadlines today. Elections officials
have had to add staff and equipment, push well beyond budgets
and work around the clock to process the registrations....
Registration numbers are impossible to tally nationwide, and
how many of the newly registered will vote is a matter of some
debate. But it is clear the pace is particularly high in urban
areas of swing states, where independent Democratic groups and
community organizations have been running a huge voter registration
campaign for just over a year...
The huge gains have come in areas with minority and low-income
populations. In some of those areas in Ohio, new registrations
have quadrupled from 2000. (October 4).
These reports come, not from amateur would-be journalists on the
Internet, but from the New York Times. (See also Davis,
This intensity of commitment was also apparent during early voting.
Florida's early polling was designed to make voting easier, but
enormous voter turnout swamped the limited number of early polling
sites. Over the weekend, people in some polling places had to
stand in line for four, five, even six hours, often in the hot
sun. Some of them - African-Americans in particular - surely suspected
that those lines were so long because officials wanted to make
it hard for them to vote. Yet they refused to be discouraged or
During the last few days before Election Day I saw pictures from
Florida that were even more majestic. They showed long lines of
voters, snaking through buildings and on down the sidewalk: citizens
patiently waiting to do their civic duty. Those people still believe
in American democracy; and because they do, so do I....
And it wasn't just in Florida. Similar stories came in from across
the country, wherever early voting is allowed: Everywhere, huge
numbers of voters were coming to the polls, determined to exercise
their democratic rights.
Are we to understand that these long lines in the poor and African
American districts were composed primarily of evangelicals infuriated
at the very idea of gay marriage? If so, then similar crowds would
be expected in the southern "Bible Belt," and they were not there.
Bush's popular vote total simply doesn't add up. As Marc
Despite the fact that the Democrats registered far more people
in the past six months than the Republicans, and despite a huge
voter turnout, with first time voters (according to Warren Mitofsky's
poll) giving Kerry a 60:40 edge, President Bush appears to have
increased his national vote total by 8 million votes compared
with the 2000 election, yet Mitofsky saw no desertion to Bush
from 2000 Gore voters (90% of Gore voters stayed with Kerry and
90% of Bush voters stayed with Bush).
Did hordes of previously non-voting evangelicals turn out this
time to sweep their born-again leader into power? Apparently not.
Did a faction of the public incensed over liberal "immorality" (and
at the same time unconcerned about the immorality of an illegal
war, or of Republican greed and cruelty) vastly outnumber another
faction concerned about the deteriorating economy? The CNN (Mitofsky)
exit polls tell us that the numbers were essentially equal.
Were the Democrats "out-hustled" by the Republicans in the GOTV
(get-out-the-vote) efforts? News reports indicate that the "hustle
prize" goes to the Democrats. Did the majority of new registrants
enroll as Democrats in order to vote for Bush?
Did the undecideds "break" for the incumbent? This has rarely happened
in history, and even if, somehow, it happened this time, the few
remaining undecideds would not have significantly added to Bush's
total. Was there an eleventh-hour surge of popular support for Bush?
first post-election poll reported Bush's approval rating at
48%, and the percentage of those who agreed that the country was
"moving in the right direction" at 47%.
Never before has an incumbent president with an approval rating
below 50% won re-election. What accounts for the alleged exception
Eleven million more votes were cast in 2004 than were cast in
2000. We are expected to believe that of these Bush got eight million
(73%) and John Kerry three million.
So we ask again: Where did George Bush's surplus eight million
votes come from?
Did those newly registered voters, and those long lines of voters
who waited up to ten hours to vote in the inner cities and college
towns (but not conspicuously in rural Republican areas) come out
on November 2 to vote, overwhelmingly, for George Bush? No, these
were Kerry people (or as likely anti-Bush people) believing that
they were about to cast valid votes. Why, then, do these votes not
appear in Kerry's totals? Is it possible that they were "relocated,"
via hidden and secret digital hocus-pocus, into Bush's column?
If there is a more plausible explanation I'd like to hear it.
WHERE'S YOUR PROOF?
The preceding is a partial list of clues and evidence that the
2004 election was stolen. But it does not add up to proof-positive
that such a horrendous crime against our republic was in fact committed
by the "winners" of this election. This lack of proof
gives aid and comfort to those in the corporate media who insist
that we "get over it" and "move on," and who
dismiss these investigations as the work of "conspiracy nuts."
This dismissal disregards an essential point: forensic investigation
does not begin with proof. Its objective is to end either with proof
of a crime and apprehension of the criminal, or with exoneration.
Forensic investigation properly begins with probable cause. And
probable cause of a stolen election is, I submit, inescapably before
In addition, as any "Law and Order" and "CSI"
addict is well-aware, in the search for a suspect, a detective looks
for motive, means and opportunity. If my preceding argument has
merit, the privatized election industry has given the GOP and the
Busheviks abundant means and opportunity to steal an election. And
thanks to the cooperation of the corporate media, they also have
little reason to fear independent investigation and disclosure.
As for motive, the high-level members of the Bush Administration
have good reason to fear the loss of power and a return to private
life. To be sure, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush
intensely desired and fought hard for a second term. But they all
submitted without resistance or complaint to the will of the electorate.
The Bush gang is of an entirely different sort. They are not only
motivated to remain in power, they are also motivated to retain
their ill-gotten wealth and, in many cases, to avoid indictment,
conviction, and federal imprisonment.
To these individuals, a Democratic victory entails much more than
a transfer of power. It means a new Attorney General and an FBI
with vast resources of investigation and the option of prosecution.
Democratic control of either house of Congress brings with it the
powers of investigation, including subpoena, the requirement of
sworn testimony, and thus the threat of criminal contempt and perjury.
In addition to all this, a Democratic administration would certainly
restore progressive taxation of the wealthy and federal regulation
Given such motivation to win at all costs, would the Busheviks
hesitate to implement secret software that would fraudulently deliver
to them the White House along with several congressional seats?
If the opportunity were theirs for the taking, would they hesitate,
if they anticipated little likelihood of discovery or investigation
by the media? I don't think so.
If in fact we had an honest, fair and accurate election on November
2, this was due only to the good will, sense of fairness, and the
sufferance of the Bush Administration and its corporate supporters,
the owners and managers of the e-voting machines.
There is not, and cannot be, independent confirmation that they
did not fix the election. Such a degree of trust in individuals
in high public office should be totally unacceptable to a free people.
In fact, the founders of our republic did not believe that morality,
goodwill, and a sense of responsibility sufficed to constrain the
ambition, greed and power lust of those in public office. And so,
in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the founders instituted
the separation of powers, the rule of law and the guarantee of fundamental
human rights – safeguards which have been profoundly eroded by the
WHY NOT "GET OVER IT"?
"Wait 'till next time!," say the leaders of the Democratic
Party. "We'll try a different approach, we will sharpen and focus
our message." "The 2004 election is over, we lost, now
let's move on!" To skeptics such as myself, such talk is profoundly
disheartening. For missing from all this is serious consideration
that the problem was not the message or the candidate's poor performance
– that in fact, the intended votes in this election were sufficient
to put John Kerry in the Oval Office, and perhaps even to allow
the Democrats to regain control of the Senate.
The Democrats too readily forget that 2004 was "next
time." Why believe that 2006 and 2008 will be different? If
in fact GOP control of the mechanisms of the election allowed them
to steal this election, they will do so next time, and the time
after that. Issues, messages, tactics, attractive candidates will
all be unavailing. Republican control of all branches of the government
and of the media will be permanent, and independent of the consent
of the governed.
Perhaps this election was scrupulously honest. Perhaps George
Bush in fact received 59 million authentic votes, and 51% of the
popular vote. But dare we accept this on faith, without reflection,
without careful examination of the abundant evidence to the contrary?
If the election was fair, then no harm will result from a scrupulous
assessment of the contrary evidence. The facts will compel that
the assessment will come up short. But can we afford the luxury
of blind acceptance of the "official" tally? Must we ignore
the accumulating evidence of foul play? I submit that we must not.
The fate of our democracy is at stake.
This far into the essay, I cannot pursue the topic of remedies.
That requires a separate project, which I expect to undertake shortly.
However, brief mention might be in order.
The Media Problem must be addressed. As the University
of Maryland PIPA study clearly indicates, a large portion of
Bush supporters based their decision on false information. Had the
mass media fulfilled its primary obligation of presenting true information
to the public, not even the best efforts of the DRE industry could
have overcome the overwhelming public sentiment for "regime
change." (Pending my further treatment of "the media problem,"
see my "The
The State-Level Solution. Clearly, neither Attorney General
Gonzales nor the Republican Congress will investigate the 2004 Presidential
election. But that need not be the end of it. Presidential and Congressional
elections are the responsibility of the states. If there were instances
of fraud in this election, these were violations of state laws.
States with Republican Governors and Legislatures are also unlikely
to investigate and press charges. But surely, there are opportunities
for official investigation, with advantages of subpoena and sworn
testimony, in Democratically controlled states. And of course, a
successful criminal investigation and indictment of election fraud
on the state level would have immediate national impact.
Demand Auditable Voting Equipment. Even if the 2004 election
was not stolen, there was abundant opportunity for unscrupulous
candidates to gain office through fraud. The public must demand,
persistently, strenuously, and in no uncertain terms, that every
vote be verifiable, and that every step in the election process
be open to independent confirmation.
We must keep alive our insistence that the election of 2004 may
have been stolen and that continuing investigation is imperative.
Books must (and presumably will) be written detailing the evidence
and presenting the case. The case for fraud is not conclusive, but
it is compelling. And as long as that case remains alive, even if
unresolved, several advantages will follow:
- George Bush will be deprived of his claim of "mandate."
Continuing doubt of the validity of the 2004 election will both
diminish the legitimacy of the Bush regime, and enhance the legitimacy
of the criticism of that regime.
- As long as doubts persist about the validity of this election,
prospects improve for a reform of the electoral system in time
for the 2006 and 2008 elections.
- The very possibility that the Bush regime was not chosen by
the American people, but rather was imposed upon them, will help
to restore the reputation of the United States among the peoples
and nations of the world.
Make no mistake: The task ahead will be arduous and for some even
dangerous. Some of us will suffer for it. But if we truly love our
country, and the principles of morality and justice that ennobled
its founding, then we have no honorable choice but to take on this
If the task ahead appears daunting, remember this: in November,
1972, Richard Nixon was re-elected in an unprecedented electoral
vote landslide, carrying forty-nine states and gathering 60% of
the popular vote. Less than two years later, on August 9, 1974,
Nixon resigned in disgrace from the presidency.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "The arc of history is long,
but it bends toward justice."
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in
the fields of Environmental Ethics and Moral philosophy. He publishes
the website, The
Online Gadfly and co-edits the progressive website The