If This Election Is Stolen, will it be by enough to stop a recount?
Most people don't get it.
Democrats don't get it. Even former President Jimmy Carter doesn't
get it. During a recent National Public Radio interview with Terry
Gross, Carter said that voting machines should produce paper ballots, just in
case the election is "close" and a recount is needed.
Recounts are triggered by
close elections. But, stealing elections and avoiding recounts is duck
soup for the dishonest among us.
Keep in mind that both
mechanical and computerized voting machines have a long history of vote fraud
and irregularities. However, never before have so few entities dominated
the tabulation of the vote. Today, two voting machine companies
with strong and well-documented ties to the Republican Party will count
80% of all votes in the upcoming election. These two companies, ES&S
and Diebold, manufacture, sell and service both touchscreens and computerized
ballot scanners. A foreign-owned company, Sequoia, is the third largest
voting machine company.
This is not to say that the
election will go against Democrat John Kerry. What it does mean is that
election officials in America have privatized and outsourced the voting
So, how can an election be
stolen and recounts avoided?
First, eliminate paper
ballots. Thirty percent of all voters will use paperless computerized
voting machines that are easy to rig and impossible to detect.
Republicans in Congress successfully fought off legislation sponsored by
Democrats in the House and Senate that would require voting machines to
produce a paper trail. Even with this legislation, paper ballots
were only to be used in case of a "close" election.
Second, make sure the paper
ballots that do exist are counted on computerized ballot scanners and not
by-hand. This includes absentee ballots. Ballot scanners are also
easy to rig and are owned by the same handful of corporations. Even in
Nevada, where touchscreens must produce paper ballots, the ballots will
only be counted in case of a close election. In California, which is allowing
voters to choose paper ballots in the upcoming election, ballots still
won't be hand-counted; instead they'll be scanned by computers.
Third, and most importantly,
steal the election by enough electronically-tabulated votes so that a recount will
not be triggered.
To many observers, that is
exactly what happened in the 2002 election. In several upset elections
across the country, the vast majority of victories went against Democrats by
a margin of 9-16% points off of pre-election polling.
Meanwhile, Republican upsets were well within the margin of
error. After the election I interviewed John Zogby of Zogby
International, a fairly well respected polling company. I
asked him, if he had noticed over the years an increased variation
between pre-election predictions and election results. Zogby said that
he didn't notice any big problems until 2002. Things were very different this
"I blew Illinois. I blew Colorado (and Georgia). And never in my life
did I get New Hampshire wrong...but I blew that too," Zogby told this
reporter. Or was he wrong? The 2002 election was, perhaps, a repeat
of the 2000 presidential election, when the polls accurately predicted the
winner (Gore), but the voting system in Florida collapsed under the weight of
voting machine failure, election day chicanery, and outright
disenfranchisement of thousands of black voters by Republican state officials.
Georgia in the 2002 election
was a particular cause for concern. The following is an excerpt from a
July 30, 2003 article by Thom Hartmann, “’USA
Today reported on Nov. 3, 2002, "In Georgia, an Atlanta
Journal-Constitution poll shows Democratic Sen. Max Cleland with a 49%-to-44%
lead over Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss.” Cox News Service, based in
Atlanta, reported just after the election (Nov. 7) that, "Pollsters may
have goofed" because "Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss defeated
incumbent Democratic Sen. Max Cleland by a margin of 53 to 46 percent. The
Hotline, a political news service, recalled a series of polls Wednesday
showing that Chambliss had been ahead in none of them… Just as amazing was
the Georgia governor's race…. the Zogby polling organization reported on
Nov. 7, "no polls predicted the upset victory in Georgia of Republican
Sonny Perdue over incumbent Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes. Perdue won by a margin
of 52 to 45 percent. The most recent Mason Dixon Poll had shown Barnes ahead
48 to 39 percent last month with a margin of error of plus or minus 4
points… Almost all of the votes in Georgia were recorded on the new
touchscreen computerized voting machines, which produced no paper trail
Implicit in the Constitution
is the right to a recount of ‘intact’ ballots. Contested elections are
addressed in Title 1 of the U.S. Code § 5 and in 26 American Jurisprudence
§ 444, “In an election contest the ballots themselves constitute the
highest and best evidence of the will of the electors, provided they have been
duly preserved and protected from unauthorized tampering, and recourse may be
had to the ballots themselves in order to determine how the electors actually
voted. However, one who relies on overcoming the prima facie correctness of
the official canvass by a resort to ballots must first show that the ballots
as presented to the court are intact and genuine.”
We've come a long way since 1892 when voting machines were first used. And it's been all in the wrong direction. This may or may not be a "close election", but one thing is for sure. There will be no way to prove who really won on November 2nd. That will be a lose-lose for all concerned.
Lynn Landes is one of the nation's leading journalists on voting technology and democracy issues. Readers can find her articles at EcoTalk.org. Lynn is a former news reporter for DUTV and commentator for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org / (215) 629-3553