The victims were often poor women, and those accusing a woman of witchcraft could not seem to form a logical thought as we know it, i.e., if she's a witch with magical powers and in congress with the Devil, why isn't she a queen with vast armies to protect her from being burned at the stake?
Those who think that Democrats cheat despite the evidence that we haven't cheated our way into the Presidency or control of Congress in recent years are very similar, in their thinking pattern, to witch-burners.
But it's important to distinguish between the powermongers and the more ignorant, vulnerable, fearful people whom the powermongers manipulate. The latter commit the worse sin, of course, in that they are generally more knowledgeable and more educated than those whom they manipulate, and more capable of reason and fairness. Their problem is that they don't care. Their sole purpose is to gain power for themselves, and they think nothing of using the thought processes of weaker minds to do so.
The thought process that they use to gain power goes like this:
Witches: Women are evil. God says so (sin of Eve). Women are lesser human beings (Adam's rib). Ergo, any independent thought or skill that a woman may have (say, knowledge of herbal medicine, or the ability to read and to dispute the authority of a priest or a man) cannot be due to her own merit or to God's grace. It must be due to the influence of the Devil. And any ill event that befalls good, obedient, God-fearing Christians is the work of the Devil using women as his agents. (--or Jews or other convenient scapegoats).
Thus, women fell victim to being accused as witches because of the 'a priori' argument that women are evil. Given this 'a priori' belief (hammered into peoples' minds with constant propaganda), it is difficult to form an independent, logical thought, based on evidence (for instance, that the woman with herbal knowledge is a healer and has helped many people, or that, if she has access to the Devil, why isn't she rich and powerful?)
Democratic vote stealers: Democrats are evil. God, the preacher and George Bush say so. They commit sins like homosexual fornication and abortion, and even encourage them. Democrats are lesser human beings. Most of them fail to possess the money-accumulating skills of the righteous, and therefore depend on government handouts. They are a drag on the rest of us--stealing our hard-earned money in the form of taxes, to support transients and miscreants. Those who have money and are still Democrats are misguided, or immoral.
Thus, Democrats are guilty of vote stealing because Democrats are evil and are lesser human beings. The logic that Democrats are in fact the majority, and thus might win an election now and then, cannot enter such a mind. How could anybody want to be a Democrat (evil, immoral, lesser)? And the logic that the concept of liberty requires the government to permit freedom of action (and potential immorality, in THEIR view) cannot penetrate.
A governmental system that empowers the poor--that uses collective tax gathering and dispersement to equalize human beings, and that is based on principles like freedom of speech and religion--frees the poor from punitive, irrational, religious fanatics such as these, and they can't stand it. So, they have to presume that it can only succeed through vote stealing (illogical as that may be). They just don't "get" democracy. They never did.
Democracy evolved from the 18th century Enlightenment, which itself had evolved out of the 16th century Humanist movement. This was the era of western history in which reason, logic and scientific inquiry began to challenge the authority of the Church (which had entirely dominated western thought with 'a priori' thinking and arbitrary dictates from the 5th century AD to about the 15th). Here is a good essay on it: http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/hum_303/enlightenment.html
Democracy, of course, originated with the Greeks (Pagans all). It was the re-discovery of ancient Greek writers (Aristotle, Plato, and the playwrights) (from Islamic libraries!!) that inspired the Humanists of the 16th century to begin to value human intellect and beauty, and, most especially, to reject the "sin and guilt" preachings of both the Catholic Church and of the Christian factions (the Protestants) that arose in opposition to the Catholic Church. Christianity of whatever stripe, when combined with state power (king, or parliament, or other) tended to oppress, torture and kill other Christians, non-Christians, or anyone who disagreed with those in power on whatever basis.
The lesson that the Founders of the United States--people like Thomas Jefferson--drew from all of this was: SEPARATE CHURCH AND STATE! And let everyone say and believe whatever they like. The truth will thus emerge from free inquiry--from reason, from logic, from scientific endeavor, and from all religious faiths and belief systems, each one freely contending with the others, with no power to enforce their beliefs on anyone.
Freedom of religion is fundamental to our democracy. It places the sovereignty of the individual human being and the dignity and integrity of the human mind above all "authority," and greatly undermines the ability of would-be tyrants to manipulate others with 'a priori' beliefs ("givens") taken from the Bible or wherever they get them from. Our Founders also had the model of the Iroquois, as to democratic procedures and principles. (It wasn't all the Greeks' idea--and ancient Greek democracy was rather seriously flawed by slavery, as was American democracy in its first hundred years.)
(People often dis Jefferson for not freeing his slaves, while failing to sufficiently credit his monumental achievement of the freedom of religion for the new republic. Religious fanaticism had enslaved whole countries, and the entirety of Europe. Also, he was in effect married to one of his slaves and had children by her, and Virginia law did not permit freed slaves to remain in the state. Freeing his slaves would have meant their banishment. He did try to get slavery abolished in the Declaration of Independence, and was overruled by his southern brethren. He wrote about slavery in his chronicles of Virginia and understood its damaging psychological impacts on slave master and slave. He is not the first great thinker to have to live with mind-boggling contradictions, nor the first to be forced into wretched compromises with his times. Money (the value of slaves) was not likely a factor with Jefferson. He was very generous, and he died poor.)
The people whom Jefferson and the other Founders were opposing with the First Amendment will always be with us, ever seeking state power to impose their views on the rest of us. Power-mongers--whether preachers or politicians--will ever manipulate the weak-minded among their followers to demonize and lie about those who oppose them, whether witches or Democrats. They will also ever seek to create "scapegoats"--an essential component of illegitimate power--to draw attention away from themselves by projecting their own ill intentions onto others.
But they always have been and always will be a minority. That's WHY they do what they do. They cannot gain power by legitimate arguments and means, because the vast majority of people--whether in old Europe or in modern America--want to be left alone, want to think their own thoughts and live their own lives, and have an abiding, common sense belief in "live and let live" (a product of REASON).
Also, the Christian right (Democrats are evil) is in such stark contradiction with the teachings of Christianity that they cannot win an argument with a real Christian. Love thine enemy, give all you have to the poor, live communally and reject no one, and blame no one, is the essence of what Jesus taught. How does that square with killing 100,000 Iraqis to get their oil? How does that square with throwing the Democrats out of your church, as happened in Waynesville recently? But the important part of the Waynesville story is that 40 church members quit the church in protest, and most Americans were appalled by what happened, because most Americans have common sense and understand, and believe in, democracy.
It is MY belief that people like the woman described above--who is repeating Bush Republican "talking points" about Democratic vote stealing--should be ignored.
I know they can be scary. Look at all this history behind us of irrationality and witch-burnings. They push my buttons, too--my fear of Nazism button, and my fear of the Grand Inquisitor's button. But I think we risk over-reacting, in the present circumstance, and giving them more power than they really have, by focusing too much on this minority, rather than on the disenfranchised MAJORITY, whose views are progressive and tolerant. This is what Karl Rove WANTS you to believe--that the rightwing Christian zealots are on the rise. Consider the lies he has told about their "invisible" voter registration campaign. (The Democrats blew them away in new voter registration in 2004, nearly 60/40.) He and the news monopolies are trying to create the ILLUSION of some big movement towards the right, led by rightwing Christians, when, as a matter of act, the opposite is happening.
The majority of Americans are very unhappy with these people--as expressed in opinion poll and after opinion poll, with 60% to 70% of Americans opposing every major Bush policy and giving Bush unprecedented dismal approval ratings. And the election itself saw an extraordinary coalition of all progressive groups, and the rise of a whole new voter group, to vote Bush out--a movement that succeeded, if the truth were known. THAT is the majority. And THAT is who we need to inform about the fraudulent election system and its fraudulent outcome.
When the unreasonable beliefs and will to power of rightwing Christian fanatics led by ugly powermongers like Bush causes them to cross the line, and violate the rights of others, we must resist, of course. I'm not saying ignore their actions or policies. I'm just saying, don't extrapolate too much from the inability of individual Bush followers to look at facts and exhibit rational thought. And don't let yourself be scared by them. They are anomalies in this great progressive country, and in the overarching trend of human history toward higher intelligence and more equality and justice.
"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny imposed upon the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson (inscribed in the rotunda around his statue in Washington DC)