Democratic Underground

What Can We the People Do About Election Fraud?

April 26, 2005
By Ernest Partridge, The Crisis Papers

During the two and a half years that The Crisis Papers has been on the web, we have posted hundreds of articles and links on our Election 2004 Fraud and Electoral Integrity pages. In addition I have written and published numerous essays about the issue, most recently just two weeks ago. On each occasion, I have received numerous letters telling me "I'm convinced that the elections are fraudulent," then asking, "now what can I do about it?"

Here is a partial answer. Partial, because if honest and verifiable elections are ever to return to the United States it will be because this question will be asked relentlessly by an outraged public.

Electoral integrity is arguably the most important political issue to face the American people since the founding of our democracy, as it raises the question of whether, in fact, we still have a democracy. For if, as the skeptics contend, the outcome of our federal elections are decided before a single vote is cast, then the government of the United States no longer "[derives] its just powers from the consent of the governed." Despite what we are told from Washington, or by the corporate media, this is not a government "of, by, and for the people."

The grounds for suspicion about the integrity of our elections are simple, straightforward, and undisputed. In federal elections, thirty percent of the votes are cast and eighty percent of the votes are regionally compiled in machines (a) utilizing secret software, (b) producing no independent record of the votes (e.g. paper trails), and (c) manufactured by active members and supporters of the Republican Party. In sum, the system in place is effectively designed, either deliberately or accidentally, to facilitate fraud.

Moreover, remedies for these shortcomings are readily available, and in fact, in use. These include (a) a requirement that software (source codes) be made public (as in Australia), and (b) production of a separate paper ballot to be inspected by the voter (as in Nevada). In addition, voting machines could be selected at random, during elections, and examined for accuracy. And central compiling could be done "in parallel" by two distinct and independent methodologies.

These black box voting machines now in use inevitably raise questions as to the legitimacy of the elections. For if the current system is as honest as the winners (i.e., the Republicans) tell us it is, why do they oppose these guarantees? Would not the winners want these suspicions to be put to rest? Why, then, do they doggedly oppose reforms that would validate the honesty of our elections? Causes one to wonder, does it not?

Add to this the accumulating evidence that our elections have in fact been fixed. This includes (a) anecdotal evidence from voters e.g. malfunctioning screens, "lost" registrations, etc., (b) public demonstrations of simulated vote fraud, (for example, the CNBC demonstration by Bev Harris and Howard Dean see here and here), (c) impossible and improbable vote totals e.g. more votes reported than registered voters, and negative vote totals, (d) exit poll discrepancies accurate polls in precincts with validated (e.g. paper) ballots, inaccurate polls in precincts with black box machine voting and all discrepancies favoring one candidate or party, and (e) statistical analyses of these anomalies.

Because the evidence of machine voting fraud has been extensively published elsewhere, I will not elaborate here. (For a list of websites and articles dealing with voting fraud, see The Crisis Papers pages on Election Fraud 2004 and Electoral Integrity).

So what is to be done about this outrage?

The Media Problem

Don't expect help from the mainstream media at least, not without some persistent and creative pressure from the public. The issue of voting fraud is virtually absent from the media, except for occasional debunkings of the skeptics. There are reports that "top down" orders have been given to media staff to say and write nothing about the issue, and that violations of these orders are career-enders. True or not, the media behaves as if such orders have been given. There is a black hole of reporting on ballot integrity. As for investigative reporting, fagetaboutit.

What to do? We begin by acknowledging this problem, and then proceed to locate the pressure points that might budge the media from its negligence.

Ask an ordinary citizen, "Who are the sellers and the customers, and what is the product, of the broadcast mass media?" and you will likely be told that the TV and radio networks are the sellers, the audience are the customers, and the programming is the product. Wrong! In fact, the media corporations are the sellers, the corporate sponsors are the customers, and the attention ("eyes") of the public is the product. If you doubt this, then just follow the money. It flows from the sponsors to the broadcasters.

So therein is the pressure point: if the public withdraws the product, namely its attention, the public can starve the beast. This is the crucial difference between the media in the Soviet Union and the media in United States. The Soviet Commissars didn't care a whit if Pravda, Izvestiya and Gostelradio failed to turn a profit, so long as they continued to spew out the party line. In the US, profit is the sine qua non the whole point of having a media at all.

Case in point: the Sinclair Broadcasting "Stolen Honor" fiasco. As you likely recall, in the closing days of the Presidential campaign, Sinclair scheduled "Stolen Honor," a smear of John Kerry's Vietnam service. Following a public outcry, Sinclair withdrew the program. And why? A sudden realization of civic responsibility? Ya gotta be kidding! Fear of offending the public? Yes, but not directly. In fact, the Sinclair management, solid supporters of George Bush and the GOP, buckled from pressure from the stockholders.

The offended public was removing its eyes from the Sinclair TV screens. Hence lower ratings and lower profits. Sinclair management was ungently reminded that their job was not to campaign for George Bush, their job was to provide a return on the stockholders' investments. Failing that, management might quite properly be sued, or at least booted out, at the next stockholders' meeting.

The immediate target of our protest is not the mainstream media at large, it is the mainstream news media. And that beast is starving even today. The credibility of the corporate news media is in free-fall. Timothy Maier reports that:

For two decades polls increasingly have indicated public dismay at the spin and fantasies of the press. In fact, a recent Gallup Poll says Americans rate the trustworthiness of journalists at about the level of politicians and as only slightly more credible than used-car salesmen. The poll suggests that only 21 percent of Americans believe journalists have high ethical standards, ranking them below auto mechanics but tied with members of Congress. More precisely, the poll notes that only one in four people believe what they read in the newspapers. Chicago Tribune Editor Charles M. Madigan may have put it best when he offered this advice: "If you are a journalist, you should probably just assume that you come across as a liar." ... The study also points out that there has been a rapid decline in newspaper readership since the 1980s, with slightly more than half of Americans, 54 percent, reading a newspaper during the week.

The prospects for the future are grim, as the younger cohorts are particularly cool to the media. In a recent speech, Rupert Murdoch (no less!) noted that the 18-34 age group was abandoning newspapers for the Internet. Furthermore, he reported that "only 9%" of this group "describe us as trustworthy, a scant 8% find us useful, and only 4% think we're entertaining."

Professional journalists find these statistics alarming. On the contrary, I find them very hopeful. The mainstream news media have richly deserved this public contempt, as they have increasingly become purveyors of trivia and conduits of official right-wing propaganda, and decreasingly independent investigative watchdogs serving the public interest. The public, especially the younger cohort, knows this and is now looking elsewhere for its news.

With the abandonment of responsible broadcast journalism in favor of trivial "info-tainment," there is a latent demand for the "old-style" reporting and investigations of pros such as Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and Woodward and Bernstein. Surely such an enterprise would be commercially viable. To paraphrase Field of Dreams, if they build it the public will come.

And so the news media, desperate for recovery, need to be told, time and again, that if they want our attention, they had better declare their independence and get back to the business of investigating and reporting significant public issues. And they might start with the most important issue of all: the integrity of our ballots.

Our job: tell the media, and their sponsors, that we no longer trust their news reporting, and are now looking elsewhere. And while we are at it, we should collect and distribute the names and addresses of media and sponsors, and encourage still others to voice their complaints. (The Democratic Underground's outstanding Local Media Blaster can supply this information. See also The Crisis Papers' Activist's Page).

Progressive Voices on the Commercial Broadcast Media. Air American Radio is a good start but merely a start. A progressive cable news channel an "anti-FOX" - is long overdue, and as the past election campaign demonstrated, start-up funds are available from such major sources as George Soros and Warren Buffet.

The Internet and Alternative Media. Unless and until the mainstream news media acknowledge and deal with the ballot integrity issue, the progressive Internet and the alternative media must be supported and encouraged to publicize the problem of ballot fraud. In your public and private e-mails, include links to the websites and the particular articles that deal with the issue. Download, print, and copy these articles, and pass them around to your friends and associates.

Recruit Allies. Regrettably, many prominent progressives are not convinced that the past election was fixed - among them, Paul Begala, Al Franken, Arianna Huffington, and Bernie Sanders. To this day, the Democratic Party is mute on the issue, as is the progressive think-tank, The Center for American Progress. Demand that they examine the evidence and challenge them to refute it. And if they can't, tell them to join the fight.

Where are the Books? Effective political movements have a supporting literature. The American Revolution had Tom Paine and Common Sense. The Civil War had Uncle Tom's Cabin. The supporting documents of the electoral reform movement are compelling, but they are diffuse. The defining and catalyzing book the book that is held aloft at the public meetings, cited in the media and in the letters to Congress that work is desperately needed and overdue. Perhaps it is still in progress, or even now at the publishers. If not, will some genius (and our cause has several) please write that book!

Perhaps such a book exists, but no American publisher dares to print it. In that case, the author might look abroad and import it. (And what a message that would convey about the state of our "free" press!) In the meantime, or instead, the book should be put on the Internet.

Send a Message to the Democrats. Those who contributed to the Democrats and the Kerry Campaign are surely receiving numerous solicitations for donations. Find them, take out a red felt pen, and write something like: "Unless the Democratic Party addresses the problem of voting fraud, its time and my contribution will be wasted. Secure my vote, and I will once again contribute generously. Until then, nada!"

Demand Action on the Local Level. As Ohio's Kenneth Blackwell dramatically demonstrated, federal elections are administered on the state level. Election fraud is a violation of both federal and state laws. Obviously neither Attorney General Gonzales nor the Republican Congress will touch the issue. However, there must surely be a state with a Democratic Governor and/or Legislature and/or Attorney General that could investigate, indict, and prosecute some culprits involved in the Great Election Robbery of 2004. And if elected officials refuse to take the initiative, citizen groups and defeated candidates should file law suits. With the threat of perjury and imprisonment, and the prosecutor's power of investigative discovery, some culprit somewhere might break, then another and another, whereupon the whole rotten system of fraud and cover-up might collapse. It happened to Richard Nixon, and it can happen again.

The voting fraud issue is a sleeping giant that the Busheviks, with the determined complicity of the mainstream media, are desperately trying to keep asleep. Few appreciate just how daunting a task this is. As we noted at the outset of this essay, the opportunity for fraud is known and undisputed. The evidence published, available, and compelling. There is no refutation other than "trust us," "get over it," "let's move on," "don't be so paranoid," and other such irrelevancies.

Bush, the GOP and their media allies hope that if they ignore the issue and direct public attention elsewhere, the sleeping giant will not stir. But if I were Bush, Rove, Cheney, or the rest, I'd be afraid I'd be very afraid. For now Bush's approval ratings are falling even as gas prices, interests rates, and the consumer price index rise. And all these may be harbingers of much worse to come. As the dire economic costs to almost everybody of the Bushevik plunder become more apparent, the American public will become ever more receptive to the idea that they were criminally robbed of their franchise in (at least) the past three federal elections, that the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress lack legitimacy, and that the American people are no longer, in any authentic sense, citizens of a free society.

Those of us who are aware of the electoral crime against the American people must steadfastly sound the alarm and arouse the sleeping giant. No doubt many of you who read this essay will have still more ideas. Share them with us. Send your suggestions to me at crisispapers@hotmail.com, and I promise to collect and publish a selection of them in The Crisis Papers.

Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He publishes the website The Online Gadfly and co-edits the progressive website The Crisis Papers.

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