Denial of the 2004 Election Theft – An Astonishing Example
Many of us DUers are very upset about what we see as widespread denial of theft of the 2004 Presidential election, even by most Democrats. We are upset about this because we believe that this denial represents a great barrier to meaningful election reform, and therefore a great threat to our democracy. And consequently, we feel that it is important to understand the reasons behind this denial.
I believe that there are two main explanations for it: One reason is simply widespread lack of awareness of the facts surrounding the 2004 election, largely due to a virtual news media blackout on the subject. The other explanation is more psychological – that many people just do not want to believe that such a thing could happen in our country – which we have all learned since we were old enough to speak is the ultimate shining example of democracy in the world.
In this post I present an astonishing example of that phenomenon. I consider this example to be astonishing because the author I will discuss – Andrew Gumbel, who wrote “Steal this Vote” – spends well over 50 pages making an excellent case for why we should be very concerned about the results of the 2004 election, and then he turns right around and refers to those of us who believe the election to have been stolen as “conspiracy theorists”. The reasons he gives for this point of view are so unreasoned and illogical, and they present such a stark contrast to the preceding portions of his book that it appears as if the different portions of the book were written by different persons.
Anyhow, that’s how it appears to me. I hope that most of you agree with me on that score after reading this post.
Gumbel’s scathing indictments of DRE voting machines
DRE voting machines are those which directly record the voter’s vote electronically, without the need for any paper evidence of the vote. Gumbel talks at great length about why such machines in the U.S. today are unfit to count our votes.
Here is a general statement by Gumbel as to why these machines should not be used in our elections:
… there were two fundamental problems with the touch-screen DREs. First, as computer scientists had been warning for years without anyone paying much attention, they were inherently unsafe because of their vulnerability to software bugs, malicious code, or hack attacks. Even in the best designed system, removing votes from the physical world and storing them exclusively in electronic form was a risky proposition, because there was no way of being sure that the data put into the machines during an election would be the same as the data later spat back out. Hence the strong recommendation of academic experts… to create a system of paper receipts enabling voters to confirm their individual choices and providing election administrators with the wherewithal to conduct meaningful recounts.…
The second problem with the new-generation DREs was that they were poorly programmed by their manufacturers and inadequately tested by government-contracted laboratories charged with their certification. This was a well-dept dirty secret… Because of the proprietary nature of the software, state and county officials had to take assurances about security almost entirely on trust. And take those assurances they did…
He then goes on to discuss how the Florida Task Force recommended that optical-scan machines are a much preferred alternative:
Jeb Bush appointed the twenty-one member Select Task Force on Election Procedures, Standard, and Technology… just forty-eight hours after the Supreme Court decision handing the presidency to his brother. They in turn reported back ten weeks later with thirty-five recommendations. By far the most important of these… stated that only one state-certified system met acceptable standards… That was the optical-scan system – with the added proviso that votes should be tabulated precinct by precinct, not centrally at county headquarters.
He then goes on to discuss how, due to Republican control of the state and a cozy relationship between ES&S and state officials, the Task Force recommendations were largely ignored, and touch screen machines were sold to twelve Florida counties. And then, Gumbel discusses how similar events transpired in Maryland and Georgia.
Then, on National Bureau of Standards identification of DRE problems:
In his prescient survey of voting systems written in 1988, Roy Saltman of the National Bureau of Standards identified four problem areas in verifying the outcome of computerized elections: the absence of a paper audit trail, poor program design, trade secrecy provisions that stop public officials from examining those programs, and inadequate administrative oversight. The new DRE systems introduced in the wake of the 2000 election suffered from every one of these pitfalls…. The risk, he wrote, was that these oversights would be tantamount to an “abdication of control over elections to vendors.”
But what about the potential to actually steal elections?
The above discussion, though noting numerous problems with DREs, doesn’t necessarily imply their potential to be used to steal elections. Here are some discussions applicable to that issue:
Gumbel talks about how Bev Harris came upon files of code for Diebold machines on the internet. Harris copied these files and made them available to computer scientists, so that they could examine the files and ascertain their potential. Here is what Avi Rubin and his associates at Johns Hopkins University found:
What they found left them so incredulous… describe the Diebold code as amateurish, stunningly inadequate, and downright scary…. Every single Deibold machine was crackable… A malevolent developer could easily make changes to the code that would create vulnerabilities to be later exploited on Election Day. Specifically, it was possible through a variety of techniques to alter the outcome of an election without leaving a trace.
The above findings were opinions put forth by computer scientists. To better make the connection to reality, Gumbel goes on to describe how the use of these machines likely affected the 2002 mid-term elections in Georgia, which were totally conducted by DREs:
On June 10 <2002>… six tabulation machines and a touch-screen voting terminal were stolen…. The theft was also an extremely serious security breach, because a technically adept hacker who gained access to the tabulation machines and the associated GEMS election management software could effortlessly – and undetectably – alter the outcome of an election not only in Georgia but anywhere in the United States where Diebold machines were used.
The November 2002 elections in Georgia were screwy in more ways than one. The state had its share of machine malfunctions … Most troublesome, however, were the results of the races for governor and U.S. Senate, which suggested wild double-digit swings in favor of the Republican candidates from the final pre-election opinion polls. Sonny Perdue became the first Republican governor to be elected since Reconstruction, thanks to a sixteen point swing away from the Democratic incumbent, Roy Barnes. And Saxby Chambliss, the colorless Republican Senate candidate, pulled off an upset victory against the popular Vietnam War veteran Max Cleland, representing a nine- to twelve-point swing… But it wasn’t just the opinion polls that were at variance with the result. The voting pattern was also drastically different from Georgia’s open primary … in 74 counties in the Democrat-heavy south of the state, Chambliss improved on his own standing by a whopping 22 points. Were these statistical anomalies, or was something fishier going on? In the absence of a paper backup, or of any hint of transparency from state officials, the question was for the most part unanswerable.
Some observations on possible intentions of voting machine companies
I was particularly struck by a couple of observations noted by Gumbel which, in my opinion, may shed considerable light on the intentions of voting machine companies:
Gumbel notes that many of Diebold’s internal e-mails were leaked. Some made a big point of the need to have access to vote counting codes from outside during an election. Gumbel comments on this:
Quite why the Diebold system needed to be accessed from the outside – a blatant security breach – is not explained…
(but later, a partial explanation is offered):
Easy access had “got people out of a bind” in the past.
Then Gumbel goes on to talk about the almost universal resistance of at least some DRE manufacturers to include auditable paper trails in an election:
Of all the arguments deployed by the touch-screen apologists, the resistance to a paper trail was by some distance the most perplexing, and also the one most in need of unpicking… it was unclear whether the internal audit logs could be trusted any more than the official tallies, or even if election officials could be relied upon to produce them when asked. In the wake of the 2002 midterm elections in Georgia, activists spent more than a year firing off letters to request the “zero tapes”… but never received a thing in return…
In other words, DRE vendors often insist on being able to access their machines from the outside during an election, and on the absence of paper trails – two recipes for elections theft.
The put down of "conspiracy theorists"
Up until this point, I found Gumbel’s discussion of the whole issue to be thorough, well thought out, and very illuminating – the most illuminating discussion on this topic that I have ever read. It seemed to me that he had made an excellent case for being very concerned about theft of the 2004 election. But then, when he comes to actually discussing the implications of all this to the 2004 election results Gumbel seems to throw all of his scientific and disciplined thinking out the window, in an attempt to deflect concern about what happened in the 2004 election.
After noting that all three of the major voting machine vendors for 2004 (Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia) had ties to the Republican Party, and after noting the promise of Diebold’s CEO, Wally O’Dell, to deliver the votes of Ohio to George Bush, Gumbel goes on:
Indeed, it became fashionable to see Diebold as the spearhead of some dark conspiracy in which corporate America and the Republican Party had joined forces to undermine democracy and achieve a total lock on the levers of power. Like all conspiracy theories, this one had some elements of validity…. But the scenario was almost certainly overblown, for a couple of reasons. First, the root problem was not the political allegiance of the voting machine companies; it was the reliability of their products.
This has to be one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve ever heard. After making the case in great detail in the preceding pages that DREs can be used to steal elections and probably have been used to steal elections (though he doesn’t use those words), he goes on to say that the root problem is not the political allegiance of the voting machine companies, but the reliability of their product. Well, here we have both an unreliable product, a product capable of being used to steal elections (as Gumbel pointed out, the 2002 Georgia elections for Governor and Senator involved 16 and 9 to 12 point swings from pre-election polls, both favoring the Republican candidates), AND obvious political allegiance to the Republican Party.
Gumbel then states the second reason why he says that we “conspiracy theorists” have overblown the situation:
Second, the idea that the big three manufacturers were somehow corporate titans on a par with the Big Three automakers in Detroit was laughable.
Well, that statement is laughable. Who is claiming that the voting machine companies are as wealthy or powerful as the Big Three automakers? And what does that have to do with whether their machines can be used to steal elections?
Specific references to the 2004 Presidential election
Here’s what Gumbel has to say specifically about the 2004 election:
The 2004 election, as we now know, did not result in the meltdown many people predicted, largely because Bush’s margin of victory was just comfortable enough to prevent litigation or more than background rumbles about the reliability and veracity of the result….
Victory was comfortable enough to prevent litigation? Is he kidding? The contesting of this election is still very much alive in the courts
The problem with a lot of the “Kerry won” arguments was that their proponents were allowing wishful thinking to cloud their analysis…
Campaigners might have wanted to believe that the speaker of the Florida House had consulted a software expert on how to rig DRE machines…
Huh? Gumbel must be referring here to Clint Curtis’ sworn testimony before Congress to the effect that Tom Feeney, later to be Speaker of the Florida House, had requested him to write a program that would switch votes from one candidate to another and be undetectable (Curtis also testified that Feeney stated that this program would be needed to control the Democratic vote in south Florida). So, is Gumbel saying that if we believe Curtis’ testimony we are guilty of “wishful thinking”? And is he aware that the man charged with investigating Curtis’ allegations, Raymond Lemme, told Curtis that he had “tracked the corruption all the way to the top” just two weeks before he conveniently committed “suicide”?
Then Gumbel continues with another put down to “conspiracy theorists”, specifically with references to the Ohio election.
…some of the statistical data inconveniently challenged the conspiracy theorists. First, Bush’s margin of well over one hundred thousand votes proved well-nigh unassailable, even after a recount that was requested… That kind of number can’t easily be created out of thin air by electronic tabulation machines, especially in a state relying almost exclusively on re-countable paper ballots.
Well, that would be a terrific rebuttal to us “conspiracy theorists” IF one of our main arguments was that over 100,000 votes could “easily be created out of thin air by electronic tabulation machines”. I don’t think that many of us have claimed that it would be easy. To the contrary, we believe that Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio’s Secretary of State, had to work very hard to steal Ohio for Bush. And as far as Ohio being a state relying almost exclusively on re-countable paper ballots, the paper ballots were never re-counted and the tabulating of county-wide votes was performed by central computers. Furthermore, registration of new voters, and PURGING of voters was done electronically.
And Gumbel continues:
Second, Kerry did too well in certain key areas to support any argument that his votes were suppressed…
Gumbel’s point here being that Kerry did better than Gore in many areas, so we shouldn’t complain. Well, of course he did better than Gore. In 2000 Ohio wasn’t considered a competitive state, whereas in 2004 it was considered very competitive. So of course Kerry would have to do considerably better than Gore in many areas of the state in order to carry Ohio. And both pre-election polls (showing a tossup) and exit polls (Kerry by 4.2%) showed that Kerry did do considerably better than Gore, who lost Ohio to Bush by 4%.
Gumbel begins his book with an interesting and informative history of election fraud in the United States. His lengthy and thorough discussion later in the book of how DRE voting machines are now threatening our democracy is excellent, and provides a prima facie case for, at the very least, the need for U.S. citizens to demand a meaningful investigation into the 2004 Presidential election. I make this statement based on three crucial points made by Gumbel:
1) His thorough discussion on how our DRE machines are vulnerable to fraud, accompanied by evidence (for example, Georgia 2002, which manifested large swings from pre-election polls for the Governor and Senate races) that they have been used to commit fraud (though he doesn’t use that word).
2) Evidence of intention to commit fraud by the DRE vendors, in that they aggressively insist on maintaining features that facilitate fraud, including the absence of a paper trail, access to the system from outside, and refusal to allow public (or even election officials) access to the source code.
3) Ties of the major three DRE vendors to the Republican Party, as well as the aggressive efforts of Ohio’s Secretary of State, Kenneth Blackwell, to suppress Democratic voter registration prior to the 2004 election, such as excluding registration forms that didn’t meet very specific and arbitrary specifications, and refusing to provide provisional ballots to voters who attempted to vote in the wrong precinct, in conjunction with numerous instances of Democratic voters being contacted and told to vote in the wrong precinct.
To those who would object to my assertion that the above points constitute prima facie evidence of the need for a thorough investigation of the Ohio election, on the basis that only a small number of Ohio counties used DREs to count the votes within individual precincts, I have this to say: Both the central tabulation of votes and the registration of voters in many counties were accomplished by electronic machines, and for practical purposes we can assume that the fraud facilitating features that Gumbel enumerated in item # 2 above were present: The source code was considered “proprietary” and therefore inaccessible to the public; although a paper trail was theoretically available for most of the state, there was only a 3% recount performed in 87 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and numerous infractions of Ohio’s election rules had to be committed in order to ensure that no more than 3% of the state was recounted and that the 3% recount matched the official results, as described starting on page 36 of this report; and, we have no reason to believe that the Secretary of State did not have access to the source files.
In view of all this, I find Gumbel’s dismissal as “conspiracy theorists” of those of us who believe that the Ohio election was probably stolen, to be very odd to say the least. Whereas the rest of the book is very well documented and presented in a disciplined and scholarly manner, his presentation of the 2004 election provides a stark contrast by comparison, in its sloppiness and illogical conclusions. He acknowledges most of the major “irregularities” that characterized the Ohio election, including the fake terrorist alert that Warren County officials used as an excuse to “count the votes” in private, the totally inadequate allocation of voting machines to Franklin County Democratic precincts, Blackwell’s suppression of Democratic voter registration (though he apparently is not aware that 165,000 voters were purged, apparently selectively and illegally, from Cuyahoga County alone), and the voter reports of electronic switching of votes from one candidate to another (but without noting that virtually all of these episodes favored Bush). But he doesn’t appear to be concerned as to how these episodes may have affected the election results. Most importantly, he claims that there was a recount in Ohio, without noting any of the serious problems with that recount.
I believe that failure to convince people that the 2004 Presidential election was very likely stolen will continue to facilitate a climate of apathy on this issue in our country that will make meaningful election reform a lotless likely. As Mark Crispin Miller says in his new book, “Fooled Again – How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them):
“To recognize that Bush & Co. stole their “re-election”, or at least to open one’s mind to the possibility, and to demand a new and unconstrained investigation into what went down in 2004, is a cognitive and moral action vital to the health of this republic.”
1. denial extends to all sorts of issue, the most prominent . . .
(besides stolen elections) being what happened on 9/11 -- and who was behind it . . . many simply refuse to entertain the notion that our own government -- the "greatest democracy in the history of the world" -- could possibly have contributed to the deaths of almost 3000 Americans to advance a political agenda . . . "This just DOES NOT HAPPEN in the United States of America," they proclaim, "so please drop it!" . . .
it's the same response you note to the notion of stolen elections . . . to entertain such a thought is -- well -- unpatriotic! . . .
when people finally open their eyes and see what's happening in this country, then things may change . . . until that happens, we are genuinely screwed . . .
Large avalanches can start out from little snowballs. I once disliked mayhem and confusion but have found it is necessary element that keeps evil minded people in their own special little cage. It's getting more out of control everyday but don't fret, it's just the natural order of things
6. I agree -- there is way too much of that in this country
The Republicans and our MSM make every effort to equate patriotism with acquiescance to whatever our leaders want to do and a belief that our country can do no wrong. I guess they forgot the warning of our Founding Fathers that the preservation of democracy requires a constant struggle.
I saw a piece on FOX News just yesterday that was really disgusting. They're trying to ram down the idea that anyone who criticizes the Iraq war is not only anti-war but anti-troops as well. They base this on a supposed study that claims that criticism of the war hurts our troops morale.
40. What we are IMO is people who are trying to live up to our
responsibility as citizens in general, and more particularly trying to save our democracy, which we believe is in great danger.
In one sense I shouldn't mind being called a "conspiracy theorist" because that is what I am. Anyone who thinks that governments don't sometimes get involved in evil conspiracies doesn't know much about history. The war in Iraq was a conspiracy, and that should be obvious to anyone by now. The outing of Valerie Plame was a conspiracy that was actually a sub-conspiracy of the Iraq war. And that should be obvious to just about anyone by now too.
The plan to steal the 2004 election was also a conspiracy. By trying to figure out how this was done and how to expose it we are playing the role of involved and patriotic citizens. Those who disparagingly call us "conspiracy theorists" are precisely those who want to preserve the status quo, including those who are involved in the conspiracy to steal our democracy. They use emotion laden terms such as "conspiracy theorist" because that's their best argument. Using words like that absolve them of the need to actually explain why we are wrong. It's like a 5 year old child calling people bad names because he can't think of any other way to express his displeasure.
4. The repugs in Ohio's legislature know they won by cheating because .....
Edited on Wed Dec-14-05 05:42 AM by Botany
...... of House Bill 3 they are ramming through. Cheating will become the law of the state.
"The End of Democracy in Ohio"
A law that will make democracy all but moot in Ohio is about to pass the state legislature and to be signed by its Republican governor.
HB3's most publicized provision will require positive identification before casting a vote. But it also opens voter registration activists to partisan prosecution, exempts electronic voting machines from public scrutiny, quintuples the cost of citizen-requested statewide recounts and makes it illegal to challenge a presidential vote count or, indeed, any federal election result in Ohio. When added to the recently passed HB1, which allows campaign financing to be dominated by the wealthy and by corporations, and along with a Rovian wish list of GOP attacks on the ballot box, democracy in Ohio could be all but over.
The GOP is ramming similar bills through state legislatures around the U.S., starting with Georgia and Indiana.
5. Thanks for a tremendous post Time For Change. Gumbel drops the ball.
He assumes there's some kind of consensus that the election was OK and doesn't want to reach the obvious conclusion, based on everything he had been saying to that point, that the whole election was fraudulent and American democracy doesn't exist anymore. It's just too big a leap for him to make. If he had made that leap, he feared being marginalized himself just as all the others who have followed the evidence to its obvious conclusion have been up to now.
At some point, this whole edifice of deceit and falsehood will come tumbling down.
37. Thank you Stevepol - Yes, I most definitely believe that Gumbel did drop
the ball. But he did carry it quite a ways before he dropped it. Like I said, I believe that his discussion of the problems with DREs was excellent, and most informative. I believe that if that information was more widely distributed it would be most helpful.
Like I said, the part he wrote on disparaging us "conspiracy theorists" for saying that the election was stolen seemed as if it was written by a different person. Maybe it was in a sense. Maybe putting that in the book was a pre-condition for getting it published.
In response to Gumbel's statement that the Bush margin of victory of over 100,000 in Ohio was "unassailable" and that those numbers can't easily be pulled out of thin air from electronic tabulating machines:
Just a few pages earlier Gumbel, in describing the 2002 Georgia Governor's race and Senate race, implied precisely that. The turnaround in both races from pre-election polls to the official results was far greater than the Bush margin over Kerry in Ohio. And yet Gumble indicated that he was highly skeptical of those Georgia results. It appears like he feels that it's ok to postulate election theft for a state race, but not for a U.S. President.
13. The difference between Georgia and Ohio was that Georgia was
pure DRE and Ohio was mostly punch card and optical scan, so I understand the "pulled out of thin air" statement as a reflection of those differences.
However, Gumbel apparently completely ignores the fact that the so-called recount was bogus and ignores the fact that counties and the Sec. of State bent over backward to subvert the Ohio recount laws.
He also apparently only looks at vote casting/vote counting and ignores the issues of registration irregularities, other vote suppression techniques, under vote patterns, and provisional ballots in a coordinated effort to steal Ohio.
Personally I don't believe Ohio was stolen using a single method but by using every overlapping and complimentary technique the Republicans could come up with. And many of the techniques were illegal, unethical, and anti-democratic.
16. I tend to agree with you. Thinking like a criminal for a minute,
if they got caught using one strategy, there were still 10 others in play. Or, looking at it another way, machine fraud required the other strategies because they had to give the bare appearance of a victory. They failed and as I recall, there was at least one public demonstration against the theft at the Ohio state house on election night.
18. I pretty much agree with the points you make here, with one exception
which I believe is very important to what happened in the 2004 election.
While it is true that Georgia used all DREs in 2002 and Ohio used very few for individual voting, nevertheless central tabulation of the county vote totals and much of the voter registration was handled electronically -- and I think that there is good reason to believe that this is where much of the election was stolen.
With regard to voter registration, I refer to a report in my OP that indicated that 165,000 voters were purged electronically, probably illegally, and probably selectively, in Cuyahoga County alone. There is much evidence for this. Actually, the link that I provide to this discussion in my OP is to a DU thread of mine, where I discuss this issue in detail and provide a link to the actual report. I didn't provide the link to the actual report in this OP because I had trouble accessing it last night, though I have accessed it many times in the past.
With regard to the evidence for use of the central tabulators to steal this election, I don't think the evidence is as good as for the voter registration fraud issue. This is a rather complex issue, and I have posted on it a handful of times on DU in the past couple of months or so.
There are, of course, numerous historical precedents--the most blatant and nationally significant of which was probably the massive vote fraud in Chicago in the 1960 presidential election, carried out under the auspices of the first Mayor Daley. That election was most likely stolen--by the Democrats. So for Republicans the 2000 and 2004 elections aren't so much the end of democracy as we know it--which has always been crooked--but a payback for 1960. To paraphrase Stalin, it's not who casts the votes that matters--it's who counts them.
10. So, are you implying that this is no big deal?
I think that there are a number of differences between the situation that we have now and the 1960 election.
It is true that Nixon may have been the rightful winner of Illinois, and that Kennedy may have carried Illinois due to fraud in Chicago. In any event, carrying Illinois for Nixon would not have won him the Presidency. He would also have needed Texas, and there is no evidence that he should have won Texas.
Probably the more important difference is that with the electronic machines that we have today, with their lack of security, absence of a paper trail, and proprietary software codes, as Gumbel himself points out, the potential for fraud is greater than ever before. The Democrats may have had a lock on Chicago in 1960, and I am not excusing that. But today it appears that the Republicans may be developing the mechanis to use elections fraud to carry large portions of the country.
I note in my OP that there are many excellent parts to Gumbles book, not withstanding his denial of election theft. He points out the great potential of DREs to accomplish massive election fraud, and he explains what kinds of safeguards need to be put in place in order to prevent this. The Republicans today control all 3 branches of our federal government, and they are aggressively pursuing statutes that will make our elections even more prone to fraud -- by them, since they have the voting machine vendors in their pockets. I don't think that it's a coincidence that they are actively pursuing statutes that will make fraud even easier than it was in 2004. If they succeed then their lock on government will become even more solid, and they will have even more control to do as they please.
Furthermore, I don't believe that our country has ever been in the hands of as ruthless a bunch of criminals as it is now.
I just don't understand why you are apparently trying to minimize the importance of this?
I think the integrity of the electoral process is probably the most important issue facing any democracy. I'm just pointing out that this country has never been pure and good in that regard--it's not like this has never happened before, and we shouldn't be surprised that it's happening again. Those who are in denial have short memories. And a lot of people would argue with you about Texas in 1960--there were numerous allegations of vote fraud there, too. LBJ was a master of Texas power politics--the Tom DeLay of his day. Kennedy didn't pick LBJ as his running mate because of his bubbly personality, after all
"So for Republicans the 2000 and 2004 elections aren't so much the end of democracy as we know it--which has always been crooked--but payback for 1960". In other words, for Republicans what we have now isn't so bad, so maybe we should look at it from that point of view.
I take you at your word though that you didn't mean it like that, that like you say in your last post, you feel that the integrity of the electoral process is probably the most important issue facing any democracy.
But I made a number of points in my last post, other than whether the 1960 election was really stolen, that I feel makes the 2004 election and what we are facing now much more crucial to the survival of democracy in our country than what we faced in 1960. Do you have an opinion on that?
17. May I butt in? I don't think the propensity to steal an election
is confined to any political party.
The computerized casting and tabulating of votes just offers an unprecidented opportunity to steal elections easily and without detection.
It's kind of like bank robbery. One can enter a bank with a gun, but it's a lot easier, less risky and much more lucrative to systematically loot the banks, simular to what happened in the Savings and Loan rip off during the 80's.
Why didn't The Democrats (as a whole) raise holy hell about the systematic S&L looting that took place in the 80's?
They just kind of spent the 400 billion in taxes it cost to clean it up, a few people went down, and most of the problems were just kind of swept under the rug. I think there is a parallel to the Democratic response to the stolen elections of 2000-2005 and the looting of the S&ls.
The BCCI scandle is simular too in the lack of a strong focused response.
19. I'm not sure I understand your first sentence of this post
though I pretty much agree with the rest of your post.
I believe that at the present time, as far as stealing elections go, the Republicans are holding all the cards, as they have strong ties to the voting machine vendors.
Also, IMO today's Republican Party, unlike the Democratic Party, is made up largely (at least at the top) of a very ruthless and immoral bunch of hypocrites who care little for serving their country, as compared to lining their own pockets. So if you are saying that today's Republican Party is no more likely to steal an election than the Democratic Party, given similar opportunities, I definitely disagree with that.
24. You have a much higher regard for the integrity of the Democratic
leadership than I do--particularly the DLC/New Democrat types who seem to be the smokey-room shot-callers come primary time. They seem to have sold out just as thoroughly to corporate interests as their Republican counterparts, but have done so with considerably less candor about their agenda.
26. My first sentence was because you had directed your question
to another poster and I thought i'd jump in, that's all.
I agree that the levels and blatantness of corruption have reached new heights under the bush crime family.
The point I was making is that, given that we don't see much of a response or an outcry by the Democrats as a whole concerning the reliability of our elections process, we have to wonder why.
I pointed out the same thing had happened with the Democratic response to the S&L scandal and the BCCI problem.
In fact, this same pattern holds with a fair sized minority of the Demos in Congress as regards the run-up to the war in Iraq.
I know we can't trust our election system, you know we can't trust our election system, Joe Blow on the street knows we can't trust our elections system. Conyers et al knows we can't trust our elections system, the only folks who don't know it are???? who? And why don't they know it?
29. Yes, I have spent much time myself wondering why there's no more outcry
I have come up with partial answers, but I certainly don't feel that I have a full handle on it.
I do believe that part of the reason, perhaps much of the reason has to do with our news media. I believe that any effort by Democrats to raise a big fuss about the election will be met with scathing insults from the our corporate news media, and I believe that most all Democratic politicians believe that too, and that fear must act as a strong barrier to Democratic politicians to emphasize this issue. Not that I agree with their decision to remain silent about this. But I do believe that a lot of it has to do with fear for their political future.
I also believe that Joe Blow on the street is not very concerned about the problems with our election system, and I believe that that fact is largely due to the silence of our corporate media on this issue.
34. Thanks for your OP as well as this discussion. I'm enjoying
I think the Corporate Media (particularly as embodied by the Media Consortium, or whatever they change their name to)is indubitably and deeply involved in our election system and has a strong incentive to maintain the status quo.
That said, We see Members of Congress like Conyers et al, and a few Senators actually "getting it." They haven't been media raped. Also, the timidity of many members to address this issue seems more like an election liability (both politically and structurally, as in are their votes being screwed with?)than like a good safe political choice.
Given that about half the electorate has already decided that registering, let alone voting, is a waste of time, I would say the man on the street does "get it" at least on a very basic level. And beyond that, it doesn't take a computer scientist to realize that voting in pixels alone is just plain ripe for exploitation. Many people know at a gut level that something stinks, whether they know a DRE from a punch card machine.
I think the reason Democrats aren't, as a whole, more concerned with this issue is complex. For one thing, I think there is, at some level, the complicity of some Democrats.. Secondly, if the legitimacy of the system is called into question, that calls into question the legitimacy of every elected member of congress and the entire government itself. And lastly, Joe Blow isn't pissed off but ill at ease. They just quit voting or vote and hope that it's all OK.
Probably there are some Democrats that are complicit, though I certainly hope that the number is very small. And you are almost certainly right that Dems are somewhat reluctant to call into question the legitimacy of elections because that will at least to some degree call into question their own legitimacy.
I enthusiastically agree with you, though, that Democrats in general should be much more assertive about this issue and take it very seriously, not withstanding the comments I made about their fear for their political future. But only the most courageous will be able to do this I fear. I am so grateful to leaders like Conyers and Boxer, who put themselves out in front of this issue.
As far as Joe Blow citizen is concerned, I may see it a little differently than you. My hope is that if we and our Democratic leaders make enough noise, take this issue seriously enough, and work to document the failures of our electoral process, including how the 2004 election was stolen, that that might fire up citizens to be more enthusiastic about voting. In other words, I believe that dispersing information about how the 2004 election was stolen will help to improve especially Democratic turnout in the next election. (Which was a large part of my incentive for writing this post).
In fact, I believe that to a large extent, that is exactly what happened in 2004. I believe that the message that Gore was an illigitimate victor in 2000 helped fire up the electorate in 2004, and that's why we saw such a high turnout. Unfortunately, there was so much voter suppression, including illegal voter purges, that the relatively very high turnout in 2004 wasn't able to help Kerry as much as it should have.
It makes me all tingly inside. "For Republicans" is the key phrase in the above quote, I believe. I've never voted for a Republican in my life--though I briefly flirted with the notion of voting for Ross Perot, until he went publicly insane. I'm an old-school, FDR Democrat with a dash of Libertarian don't-fuck-with-me-ism thrown in for flavor. I've never met a Republican whose intellect I respected, or whose politics seemed motivated by anything other than the grossest self-interest. Does that clarify my position for you?
I do, in fact, have an opinion on the current electoral fraud vs. the 60's version, which is that subverting the electoral process and thwarting the expressed will of the electorate is a very bad thing, no matter who does it. The fact that it's more pervasive and much less easily detected/investigated/proven now than then is indeed alarming--but that seems a difference in scale rather than in kind. And while it is of paramount importance to detect, investigate and prove the electoral fraud of 2004, doing so is not a substitute for effective political leadership on the Democratic side, of which there is a critical lack, if you ask me. If we have no dynamic, electable leaders and no unified agenda that's fundamentally distinct from the Republican agenda, then it doesn't really matter who wins or how. By which I mean that I've all but given up hope for the political future of this country, because the central problem of undue corporate influence in the political process will never be addressed in any serious way.
27. I pretty much agree with everything you say here
though I am hopeful that things will get better.
But hey, there's no need for the sarcasm. Your first post to this thread sounded to me like you were minimizing the seriousness of our failing election system. You explained to me that you did not mean it like that, and I accepted that. I didn't mean to offend you.
It wasn't just Chicago that cheated. Downstate Illinois Repubs pulled a lot of funny stuff as well, which is probably one reason why they were willing to let it go, even though Chicago probably had more impact.
15. Gumbel follows the same illogical path that many on DU follow....
and it just boggles my mind when I read posts by (supposedly well educated) DUers who say the "margin of victory" has ANY FUCKING THING to do with whether or not the machines just, simply, SWITCH the vote totals.
45. Well, I don't think that anyone knows just how many votes they were
capable of stealing -- except those who were in on it.
But you're right -- Gumbel, who so carefully thought out almost everything else he wrote in the book, when it came to the 2004 election he simply said that 100,000 would be too many to steal, and he didn't go into detail at all on how he concluded that.
Maybe his publisher told him that the only way he could get the book published would be to claim that the 2004 election wasn't stolen.
31. A different sort of case is needed that goes beyond specific cases of frau
Edited on Wed Dec-14-05 02:04 PM by pat_k
When our case for action is centered in detailing the evidence for specific instances of fraud, we unnecessarily open ourselves up to this kind denial. And permitting the denial allows people to rationalize inaction. We need to make a case that allows "no escape" -- a case grounded in simple truths and moral principles.
The following post outlines a different approach, one the cuts through rationalizations and muddled thinking.
42. I can see the point of looking at it like that
You make a lot of good points there IMO. It is important, as you say, to ground our case in moral principles of sound election practice, emphasizing the need for transparency in our elections.
But many of us, including me, also believe that it is important to thoroughly investigate the 2004 election to identify what went wrong, and expose what went wrong to a wide audience. In our opinion, for a large number of our citizens, exposure of what happened in 2004 is necessary in order to get them more concerned about the problem, and therefore to provide a political climate that will facilitate meaningful reform.
47. Needn't be either / or -- just need clarity about what we are working on.
Edited on Thu Dec-15-05 02:54 AM by pat_k
There are actually several different things going on, all loosely related to the fight for trustworthy elections. To be most effective, we need to be clear about what we are working on. For example:
(1) Making the case to lawmakers (Repub or Dem) that our election system must undergo radical change.
It is not necessary to prove past fraud to make progress in this effort. But, we do need to pin down lawmakers on what they believe the minimum requirements for a free and fair election are.
If we don't elicit even one or two minimum requirements, how can we make the case that radical change is needed to ensure those minimum requirements are met? If we don't establish what conduct they view as intolerable, how can we make the case that change is required to ensure the intolerable does not occur?
This is where dialog is mandatory. Posing questions, following up, and challenging rationalizations should yield a couple mandatory requirements that our current elections completely fail to provide.
Questions like the following can get the dialog rolling: "Do you believe citizens have a right to have confidence in their elections?", "Are hours-long poll-tax-lines for poor, minority voters AND none for affluent, white voters a tolerable condition for you?", "Some people invoke a large margin of victory to dismiss the rights of the disenfranchised, claiming that insufficient numbers were disenfranchised to change the outcome. Does that make sense to you?"
(2) Pursuing evidence of fraud and going after the perpetrators.
Identifying and punishing the perpetrators of fraud is critical. We must go after the perpetrators, even if the only court available is the court of public opinion. Identifying election manipulation is not enough. There must be consequences.
(3) Enlisting citizens in the fight.
There are many different on ramps. As you note, some people are activated by the crimes that have occurred; others by a desire to punish the perpetrators; others by the fight for fundamental principles or legislative change. Many just want to do something, they are just looking for some simple action. We can all help spread the word and help others find ways to voice their objections. Most people don't need tons of evidence. Most don't need complex talking points. A simple message to lawmakers or leaders of good government organizations is sometimes the most powerful ("I don't want to vote on a machine. I don't trust them! What are you going to do about it??")
(4) Breaking through Democratic Denial that the 2000 and 2004 elections were stolen.
As long as Democrats continue to deny the horrible truth -- that the elections of 2000 and 2004 were stolen -- they will be complicit with the perpetrators of the fraud.
When she joined Rep. Tubbs-Jones objection on January 6th, Barbara Boxer shed the bonds of complicity in the theft of Ohio.
The rest of the Senate and a vast majority of our other Democratic leaders remain in denial. Tragically, their silence and tacit complicity feeds the motivation to deny. A vicious cycle.
Confronting them with the overwhelming evidence is one approach, but to date, they have effectively brushed aside the evidence. Part of the problem is that unscrupulous lobbyists and internal government entities have turned "facts" into slippery things (consider the "Intel" on Iraq). All too often, our government officials have been presented with supposedly "solid" cases built on "facts" and "evidence" that have turned out to be utter crap.
In other words, their position and experiences make them uniquely resistant to cases built on facts and evidence.
They have strong motives to resist the case for massive fraud. Fear of ridicule is part of it, but it is more than that. It is not easy to grasp the notion that the presumably rational world you operate in is being turned on its head by irrational criminal fascists. Think invasion of the body snatchers. Folks didn't believe Donald Sutherland ('78 version) either.
There are a variety of ways to create conditions that are conducive to facing the truth. At the moment, fear of ridicule by the opposition and the public is a barrier. Imagine how the dynamics would shift if any mention of Kerry-08 or Gore-08 was met with guffaws and cries of "What, that quitter??” “Just what we need! A guy who turned his back democracy out of fear of being called a bad name."
Facing the horrible truth demands action. If we keep pounding away, their wall of denial will crumble sooner or later. Progress on (1), (2), and (3) will hasten the day.
It must be noted that the electoral strategies employed by the Democratic party in recent years has allowed this situation.
By focusing primarily on large states with giant electoral college voting blocks seems an economic and sound strategy at first glance it is this strategy that has allowed vote manipulation in a single state to determine the results of the last two presidential elections.
Ignoring the smaller states has allowed the Republicans to pick up these states with very little effort building an electoral college voting block that requires the votes from only one or two major states to tip them over the edge. States like Florida and Ohio for example.
In this situation vote manipulation doesn't need to be too widespread, it can be focused on a small number of high population areas. The manipulation doesn't even need to be active. It can be achieved by creating major bottlenecks in the vote queues making people stand for hours, last minute changes of voting venues, tie up the registration process in a huge amount of bureaucracy, etc. If that fails, then you can rely on ballot box stuffing techniques to ensure your victory, or manipulating the electronic voting machines/tabulators.
The manipulation does not require a huge conspiracy, it requires perhaps 10 well placed people in important states to achieve their aims.
A good campaign that tries to win all states would make fraud in one or two states irrelevant, no matter how large their voting block is.
51. Fraud was nationwide. The magnitude of Kerry's margin of victory will ne
Edited on Thu Dec-15-05 12:28 PM by pat_k
Corruuption was nationwide. The magnitude of Kerry's margin of victory will never be known.
More theft probably occurred in the "blue states." I have absolutely no doubt that Kerry's margins in NY and CA were much larger. He certainly won by larger margins in NJ than Gore did (whatever the vote count here says). Kerry voters were discouraged across the nation. Vote counts were manipulated to favor Bush somewhere in every state. The illusion of a "close" election was necessary to make it possible to steal the swing states. The fascists knew they would be in trouble if they had to steal the election in the face of a Kerry win in the popular vote.
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