It really does begin to look like the election was rigged. As Teresa Nielsen Hayden puts it, I deeply resent the way this government makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist. Unlike Jamie Zawinski, I don’t want to believe it, because the idea that “the people would actually vote these fundamentalists into power” is less distressing to me than the idea that they stole this election. Why? Simple: if this election was rigged, the last one probably was and the next one certainly will be, and we are dealing with a cabal that does not intend ever to be out of power again. The very idea turns my bones to water. Here are a few places to start reading about it:
- Zawinski and TNH, as mentioned
- Democratic Underground (as a side note, Elizabeth Edwards — may she recover rapidly and fully — reads DU and has for some time), this thread being where I started taking the idea of fraud seriously
- Greg Palast, who saw it coming
- Kip dons his moonbat wings; incidentally, I think the phrase “galiel‘s canaries” should enter the lexicon permanently, and I too will be keeping an eye on them
- humongous list o’ links at what really happened, some of which should be taken with somewhat more NaCl than usual
- Jeff Fisher, a candidate for the House of Reps claims to have evidence of fraud and is calling for a revote
- Voters Unite is a clearinghouse for media reports of election problems
- US Together has some data on Florida, which is easier to digest as a series of graphs
- blackboxvoting.COM has a collection of stories about voting irregularities
- blackboxvoting.ORG is Bev Harris’ site and possibly our last, best hope if there really was systematic fraud; more below
The big deal is the apparent discrepancy between exit poll data and the final vote tally. When international observers monitor elections, one of the most (if not the most) important methods employed is comparison of exit polls with final tallies. In this case, the claim is that exit polls match closely with final counts except in cases where no paper trail exists. For instance, this picture is all over the place; here are a couple of excerpts:
These images highlight the current cause of my anguish: I don’t know who put them together or where they got the numbers from. I went around the net copying all the numbers I could find for a while, but the data gained thereby is not official in any sense and is woefully inadequate anyway. Here’s what we need, at a minimum:
- exit poll data from as many sources and voting stations as possible
- final tallies from the same voting stations
- the same data from at least one previous election, preferably several, as controls
and we need those numbers to be reliable, not just “some guy with a blog copied these off the TV screen”. There is fraud in every election, and in both directions (pro-Dem and pro-Rep); what the numbers can do is to expose a pattern of systematic fraud. The “usual background” of fraud will show up as a random distribution of anomalies, but if the anomalies collect strongly on one side we have evidence of organised fraud.
Strong statistical evidence will probably not be enough in the short term. No matter how clear, I don’t see Bush going to jail on the basis of statistical evidence, nor do I see Kerry suing for a revote. Here’s where Bev Harris comes in:
Black Box Voting has taken the position that fraud took place in the 2004 election through electronic voting machines. We base this on hard evidence, documents obtained in public records requests, inside information, and other data indicative of manipulation of electronic voting systems. What we do not know is the specific scope of the fraud. We are working now to compile the proof, based not on soft evidence — red flags, exit polls — but core documents obtained by Black Box Voting in the most massive Freedom of Information action in history.
You can see the FOIA requests here; they’ve been sent to 3000 counties and townships. While I think the exit poll evidence is more important than BBV seems to imply, I don’t yet know where to turn for that data. I do know that BBV’s FOIA initiative is of vital importance to the free and fair voting issue, as is their ongoing campaign for transparent elections. Please consider giving them some money.
I’ve got a lot of reading to do, and a lot of letters to write. I want to get my own hands on as much data as possible, and I want to find the people who are working to find out whether this election was rigged so that I can help. Whether the fix was in this year or not, and whether or not we can prove it to a court of law, I think I’ve found my issue: free and fair elections. Over the next four years, I’m going to be concentrating on making sure that American elections are transparent and fraud-proof. (Incidentally, there has been much speculation that anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives in 11 states provided a huge surge in conservative voter turnout; I wonder whether “free and fair elections” initiatives couldn’t do the same for liberals?)