Monday, July 25, 2005

(Democracy left for) Dead in Ohio 

You can reward good behavior by purchasing a Harpers from the newsstand this week. Finally, somebody covers the, um, irregularities in Ohio 2004. There is an "online forum" in audio on the site, but the full article is only available in print. So I'll type in some extracts from Mark Crispin Miller's article, "None Dare Call It Stolen." Warning: This is going to be long; and I've left out the corroborating detail in favor of getting to the bottom line:

On Election Day, twenty-six state exit polls incorrectly predicted wins for Kerry, a statistical failure so colossal and unprecedented that the odds against it happening, according to a report last May by the National Election Data Archive Project, were 16.5 million to 1.

The press had little to say about the strange details of the election—except, that is, to ridicule all efforts to discuss them. This animus appeared soon after November 2, in a spate of articles dismissing any critical discussion of the outcome as crazed speculation.

On January 5, Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, released Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio. The report was the result of a five-week investigation by the Committee's Democrats, who reviewed thousands of complaints of fraud, malfeasance, or incompetence surrounding the election in Ohio.... Although they were invited to join, Republicans chose not to join in the inquiry.

Although Conyers trod carefully when the report came out, insisting that the crimes did not affect the outcome of the race (a point he had to make, as he told me, "just to get a hearing") his report does raise "grave doubts regarding whether it can be said that the Ohio electors selected on December 13, 2004 were chosen in a manner that conforms to Ohio law, let alone Federal requirements and Constitutional standards." The report cites "massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies" throughout the state—wrongs, moreover, that were hardly random accidents. "In many cases," the report says, "these irregularities were caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio."

The first phase of malfeasance entailed, among many other actions, several months of bureaucratic hijinks aimed at disenfranchising Democrats, the most spectacular result of which was a "wide discrepancy between the availability of voting machines in more minority, Democratic, and urban areas as compared to more Republicanm suburban, and exurban areas.

The second phase of lawlessness began the Monday before the election, when Blackwell issued two directives restricting media coverage of the election. ... Both cases were immediately struck down on First Amendment Grounds. Contrary to a prior understanding, Blackwell also kept foreign monitors away from the Ohio polls. "We thought we could be at the polling places before, during, and after" the voting, said Soren Sondergaard, a Danish member of the team. Denied admission to the polls in Columbus, he and his partner went to Blackwell, who denied them letters of approval, again citing the Ohio law banning "loitering" outside the polls.

To what end would election officials risk so malodorous an action? We can only guess, of course. We do know, however, that Ohio, like the nation, was the site of numerous statistical anomalies—so many that the number is itself statistically anomalous, since every single one of them took votes from Kerry.

The electoral fraud continued past Election Day, but by means far more complex and less apparent than the bullying that marked the day itself. Here the aim was to protect the spoils, which required the prevention of countywide hand recounts by any mans necessary.

Some 1,300 Green Party and Libertarian volunteers monitored the count throughout Ohio. [Numerous examples of malfeasance in county after county omitted.] Finally, Democratic and/or Green observers were denied access to absentee, and/or provisional ballots, or were not allowed to monitor the process, in Summit, Huron, Putnam, Allen, Holmes, Mahoning, Licking, Stark, Medina, Warren, and Morgan counties. In short, the Ohio vote was never properly recounted, as required by law.

This Democracy can survive a plot to hijack an election. What it cannot survive is our indifference to, or unawareness of, the evidence that such a plot has succeeded.
(via Harper's Magazine, August 2005, p. 39 et seq.)

My bottom line: Bush's "election" in 2004 was just as valid as his "election" in 2000. That is, not at all.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

I'd like to be able to say "never again." But readers, how?

NOTE Given that the DLC held its latest meeting in Ohio, yet had nothing to say of this, I hold out little hope for them.

corrente SBL - New Location
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