Do We Still Have a Democracy?
November 10, 2004
By Ernest Partridge, The
Was the 2004 presidential election fixed?
The question is virtually absent in the mainstream, corporate
media, as if it is at least impolite and at worst paranoid and delusional
even to ask it. The final totals of this election are an undisputed
given, and media discussion follows from this hard-core assumption.
The issue of the validity of the final election returns, for the
nation or for pivotal states such as Florida and Ohio, is rarely
raised in the mainstream media.
Meanwhile, on the Internet, speculation as to the fairness and
validity of the official vote count is active and increasing. Bev
has filed the most extensive Freedom of Information action in history,
in an attempt to prove that fraud took place in the 2004 election
through electronic voting machines. And Greg
Palast has proclaimed straight-out that, had all the votes been
counted, John Kerry would have won Ohio, Florida, and therefore
It's my job to tell you who got the most votes in the deciding
states. Tuesday, in Ohio and New Mexico, it was John Kerry.
Most voters in Ohio thought they were voting for Kerry. At 1:05
a.m. Wednesday morning, CNN's exit poll showed Kerry beating Bush
among Ohio women by 53 percent to 47 percent. (The exit polls were
later combined with - and therefore contaminated by - the tabulated
results, ultimately becoming a mirror of the apparent actual vote.)
According to the same exit polls, Kerry defeated Bush among Ohio's
male voters 51 percent to 49 percent. Unless a third gender voted
in Ohio, Kerry took the state.
So what's going on here? Answer: the exit polls are accurate. Pollsters
ask, "Who did you vote for?" Unfortunately, they don't ask the crucial,
question, "Was your vote counted?" The voters don't know.
The hot story in the Blogosphere is that the "erroneous" exit
polls that showed Kerry carrying Florida and Ohio (among other
states) weren't erroneous at all - it was the numbers produced
by paperless voting machines that were wrong, and Kerry actually
won... [B]loggers and investigative reporters are discovering
an odd discrepancy in exit polls being largely accurate in paper-ballot
states and oddly inaccurate in touch-screen electronic voting
states Even raw voter analyses are showing extreme oddities
in touch-screen-run Florida, and eagle-eyed bloggers are finding
that news organizations are retroactively altering their exit
polls to coincide with what the machines ultimately said.
Crispin Miller writes:
[T]his election was definitely rigged. I have no doubt about
it. It's a statistical impossibility that Bush got 8 million
more votes than he got last time. In 2000, he got 15 million
votes from right-wing Christians, and there are approximately
19 million of them in the country. They were eager to get the
other 4 million. That was pretty much Karl Rove's strategy to
get Bush elected.
But given Bush's low popularity ratings and the enormous number
of new voters - who skewed Democratic - there is no way in the
world that Bush got 8 million more votes this time. I think
it had a lot to do with the electronic voting machines. Those
machines are completely untrustworthy, and that's why the Republicans
And finally, Mike
[T]ens of thousands of people who lined up for up to four hours
at a time in Ohio and Florida to have their vote counted, were
not standing there to endorse the aggression and suicidal policies
of the current administration...
The unprecedented high turnout coupled with new registrations
( that were overwhelmingly in favor of John Kerry) suggest that
there was foul play at the voting booths....
The fact of the matter is (as every reasonable person who hasn't
been hoodwinked by the pageantry of election night fraud realizes)
that the election was stolen again in full view of the American
public. The Republican owned voting machines prevailed over
exit poll projections and the will of the American people.
Of course, the Republicans and the Bush Administration deny explicitly,
and the media deny implicitly (by ignoring the story), that there
was any fraud whatever in the election. Defenders of the machines
say that the critics of the paperless voting machines cannot prove
their charges. The machines yield no direct evidence of the alleged
vote tampering so instead the critics must rely on circumstantial
and statistical evidence.
The defenders' response is correct: the machines produce no independent
paper record of the voting, and the source codes that transmit and
record the voters' selections are secret and "proprietary"
– the property of the companies that build the machines and write
the software codes. These are the simple facts, that both sides
will agree to.
The problem for defenders of the machines is that while the critics
cannot directly prove vote tampering, for the very same reasons,
election officials cannot prove that the votes were cast and recorded
as the voters intended.
So it comes down to this: how can we know that the software
codes were not written to deliberately "throw" an election?
The answer of the manufacturers, code writers and election officials
is simple: "trust us." Given the circumstances just presented,
it is the only answer that they can give.
In a free society, where the legitimacy of the government must
reside in the consent of the governed, "trust us" is a
totally unacceptable response to the citizen's demand for proof
of the integrity of his vote. It is doubly unacceptable, when "trust
us" is uttered by an employee of a private company, the officers
of which have announced their support of a political party and of
candidates whose names appear on the ballot.
And that is exactly the condition in which we find ourselves in
the presidential election of 2004.
Herein, as all too few observers have noticed, is the crux of
this issue: it is not the ability of the critics to prove electoral
fraud, but rather the inability of the manufacturers and software
programmers to prove electoral integrity.
Let us state the fundamental moral and political issue clearly
The citizen has no obligation to prove that his ballot is secure;
the citizen has a right to be confident that his vote will be counted,
as he cast it. And it is the solemn obligation of the government
to secure that right.
The right of the citizen to a secure ballot is the foundation
of a democratic society and the guarantee that the government rules
with the consent of the governed. If that right has been violated
by supporters and/or agents of the government, that government has
We do not know if Election 2004 was fraudulent. But equally important,
the paperless machines have made it impossible to verify that it
was not fraudulent. And it is the inalienable right of a
free people that their franchise be fair, accurate, transparent,
This, at least, we can affirm: there are disquieting indications
that this presidential election, like the previous, was a fraud
and that in a fair election, John Kerry would now be the president-elect.
It is unlikely that the media will raise the issue and that there
will be a thorough investigation of this election. Not unless an
outraged public demands such an investigation. And so, if John Kerry
was fraudulently deprived of his office, and a possible majority
of American voters denied the election victory that they had earned,
then that crime can not be rectified after December 12, when the
Electoral College finalizes the election. If the case is to be made,
and if Kerry and Edwards are to assume their fairly-won offices,
this must be accomplished in a mere five weeks. It is in the hands
of the people.
Even Kerry supporters should hope that the election was fair,
for if it was not, American Democracy is dead today, even though
few Americans are willing even to contemplate that possibility.
If in fact the election was rigged, and if nothing is to be done
to restore the integrity of the ballot, then the Democrats might
just as well save their time and money and not bother to contest
the next mid-term election in 2006 and the presidential election
The outcome of these elections will be pre-determined, as was the
election just completed. The rule of the Republican party will be
permanent, and independent of the consent of the governed.
And that precisely defines a tyranny.
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