Friday, June 02, 2006

"As dirty an election as America has ever seen."

Every few years, I come across a piece of non-fiction that changes how I look at the world: Richard Dawkins's The Selfish Gene, Richard Hofstadter's The Paranoid Style in American Politics, and Chris Hedges's War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning.

A new article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is one of those works that turns everything on its head. Was the 2004 Election Stolen? is a lengthy, scrupulously documented piece of muckraking. It is utterly convincing. Reading it changes everything. The article is indispensible.

Hyperbole? No. I came to the article skeptical. Immediately after the election, I donated to Black Box Voting. Then I stopped thinking about it. Like a death in the family, there's a point where you need to move on and rationalize. Claims of a stolen election took their place with conspiracies about the Kennedy assassination and U.S. responsibility for 9/11.

But like a James Ellroy novel transplanted to electoral politics, this article builds a chilling, cynical, frightening momentum, and conventional expectations wilter. It's so lengthy and detail-packed that I can't summarize it. I don't want to do a book report -- I want everyone with a conscience to read.

The article isn't a retread about the flaws of electronic voting machines and Republican disfranchisement minorities. In the state of Ohio, the fix was in on every level. As the article says:
Indeed, the extent of the GOP's effort to rig the vote shocked even the most experienced observers of American elections. ''Ohio was as dirty an election as America has ever seen,'' Lou Harris, the father of modern political polling, told me. ''You look at the turnout and votes in individual precincts, compared to the historic patterns in those counties, and you can tell where the discrepancies are. They stand out like a sore thumb.''
***
In January, a team of mathematicians from the National Election Data Archive, a nonpartisan watchdog group, compared the state's exit polls against the certified vote count in each of the forty-nine precincts polled by Edison/Mitofsky. In twenty-two of those precincts -- nearly half of those polled -- they discovered results that differed widely from the official tally. Once again -- against all odds -- the widespread discrepancies were stacked massively in Bush's favor: In only two of the suspect twenty-two precincts did the disparity benefit Kerry. The wildest discrepancy came from the precinct Mitofsky numbered ''27,'' in order to protect the anonymity of those surveyed. According to the exit poll, Kerry should have received sixty-seven percent of the vote in this precinct. Yet the certified tally gave him only thirty-eight percent. The statistical odds against such a variance are just shy of one in 3 billion.
Go. Read. Now.

Update: Salon.com has posted a fairly persuasive piece rebutting Kennedy's use of fact. For instance: "... Kennedy relies on a band of researchers whose research on election fraud has long been called into question by experts. Especially in his section on Ohio's exit poll, Kennedy reports his sources' theories uncritically, even though many have been debunked, or have at least been the subject of tremendous debate among experts. Reading Kennedy's article, you'd never guess that some of his star sources' claims have fared quite badly when put to people in the field."

4 comments:

Crunk Raconteur said...

When Flop pointed this article out to me, I didn't expect to be surprised, and in fact I wasn't. I'm still not over the events of that day, and what it was like to be in my godforsaken home state (are you happy now, Diane McCune of Grove City, you incomprehensible moron!).

Maybe I'm less enraged by this because I had an outlet when it was happening. And make no mistake, it was happening. I've told this story many times before, but my first case of official voter fraud came in to my office on Cleveland's west side at 7:00 am that morning. Seems this woman, who had just recently registered to vote for the first time, had a bit of a boo boo done to her by the board of elections (oh Ken Blackwell, you are a devilish one!). The board made just a minor "mistake" on her registration. You see, she lived on W. 112th street in Cleveland....but her voter card had her listed as living on...E. 112th street, so her precinct was way across town. So she went there, and since her ID had her actual address, they didn't let her vote. So she went to where her actual precinct should be, and because she wasn't registered there, they didn't let her vote there either. So she came to us. And she did all of this before 7 am.

So, yeah, I believe this story. The Republicans, a party of stupid ideology supported by blatant criminality, stole from me what was mine.

Truthdowser said...

Searching BlogPulse with kennedy ohio got me to this good entry.... but what do I REALLY LIKE? Commenter Crunk's phrase just above: "The Republicans, a party of stupid ideology supported by blatant criminality." ...awesome. ...willing to share that?

CrimeNotes said...

Crunk may have just inspired our first line of Cafe Press T-shirts. I can't speak for him, but I suspect that he's willing to share. And get used to it. If I understand correctly, he'll soon be guest-blogging here for six weeks.

Crunk Raconteur said...

I am happy to share, all I ask is that if Cafe Press T-shirts are printed up, that I get a free one!