2004 presidential election demands an investigation

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115091591130773.jpg’, ”, ‘Robert Kennedy Jr.’);

Editor’s note: Quite a few of our readers contacted us about an article in the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Thank you. As many of those readers know, Joe Baker has been covering the issue of electronic voting machines since November 2002. Now, Robert Kennedy Jr. has come to the same conclusions we reached four years ago—electronic voting is stealing our elections. We offer our praise to him and Rolling Stone for being the only mainstream media to address this critical fraud. All quoted material in the following article is from the Rolling Stone piece. We wonder when the rest of the mainstream media and the Democratic Party will finally grow backbones and address what is probably the biggest crime in the history of this nation. They know. They are afraid.

— F.S.

The election of 2004 was one of the strangest and most confusing on record. In an article in the June 15, 2006, issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Robert Kennedy Jr. remembers how he could not figure out how John Kerry could be leading by a wide margin in the exit polls and the early vote count—and then vote totals abruptly switched to George W. Bush.

Kerry, the next day, could not compile enough legal evidence to challenge the outcome and conceded the election. The Republicans immediately adopted a “firestorm” defense of the suspicious voting patterns, calling skeptics conspiracy theorists in “tinfoil hats.” The Washington Post said allegations of vote fraud were just “conspiracy theories.” The New York Times flatly declared: “there is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale.”

Now, these many months later, those claims cannot withstand the light of day. As time went on after the election, according to Kennedy’s Rolling Stone magazine piece, more and more irregularities with that election surfaced.

For instance, nearly half the 6 million American voters living overseas never got ballots or got them too late to vote. That happened after the Pentagon closed down a high-tech Web site intended to process registrations from overseas voters. Then, it was learned that a consulting firm hired by the Republican National Committee—Sproul & Associates—to register voters in six battleground states had been caught shredding Democratic registrations.

And Kennedy cites these other suspicious facts as well: in New Mexico, decided by 5,988 votes, malfunctioning voting machines did not properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots. The federal Election Reform Commission found that nationally as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting machines, about one for every 100 ballots cast.

Kennedy and other investigators found the most egregious malfeasance occurred in Ohio. That was the critical state that cinched Bush’s re-election and is the home state of the Diebold voting machine company, whose CEO, Wally O’Dell, swore he would deliver the state to Bush.

Ohio officials scrubbed tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls; did not process registration cards from Democratic voter drives; shorted Democratic precincts on voting machines, so voters there had to wait unreasonably long periods to vote; and officials also illegally prevented a recount that would have given Kerry the White House.

The most glaring aspect was that exit polls did not agree with vote totals. Those totals did not match voter registration rolls. One precinct in a church in Miami County, Ohio, had a turnout of 98 percent, an impossible amount for a rural county, and an inner-city polling place in Cleveland reported only a 7 percent turnout, another highly improbable total.

In Warren County, election officials cooked up a non-existent terrorist threat to keep the media from following the official vote count. The chief election official in Ohio is Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican and a member of Bush’s re-election committee in the Buckeye State. Blackwell is running for governor of Ohio today.

Some discrepancies will pop up in any national election, but this one was very unusual. Kennedy quotes Robert Pastor, director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University. “We didn’t have one election for president in 2004,” said Pastor. “We didn’t have 50 elections. We actually had 13,000 elections run by 13,000 independent, quasi-sovereign counties and municipalities.” The number is a reference to the widely varying patchwork of voting rules operated by city and county officials across the country.

Kennedy wrote that he found the major factor in the irregularities was that in nearly every case, the anomalies hurt Kerry and helped Bush.

Kennedy said: “After carefully examining the evidence, I’ve become convinced that the president’s party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004. Across the country, Republican election officials and party stalwarts employed a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to fix the election.

“A review of the available data reveals that in Ohio alone, at least 357,000 voters, the overwhelming majority of them Democratic, were prevented from casting ballots or did not have their votes counted in 2004. That was more than sufficient to shift the outcome of an election decided by 118,601 votes.

“In what may be the single most astounding fact from the election, one in every four Ohio citizens who registered to vote in 2004 showed up at the polls only to discover that they were not listed on the (voter) rolls, thanks to GOP efforts to stem the unprecedented flood of Democrats eager to cast ballots. That doesn’t even take into account the troubling evidence of outright fraud, which indicates that upwards of 80,000 votes for Kerry were counted instead for Bush. That alone is a swing of more than 160,000 votes—enough to have put John Kerry in the White House,” Kennedy wrote.

Long-time observers of U.S. elections were stunned by the extent of vote rigging in 2004. Veteran pollster Lou Harris commented: “Ohio was as dirty an election as America has ever seen. 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.”

Moreover, exit polls in 30 states deviated to an extent that cannot be explained by their margin of error. In all but four of those states, the discrepancy favored Bush. Statisticians and pollsters consider exit polls the most reliable. Such polls in Germany, for example, have never been off by more than three-tenths of 1 percent. Political consultant Dick Morris, who has served both Republicans and Democrats, said: “Exit polls are almost never wrong.” He said such checks are “so reliable that they are used as guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World countries.” In November 2004, exit polling in the Ukraine—paid for by the Bush administration, by the way—revealed election fraud and cost Viktor Yushchenko the presidency.

But when exit polls revealed disturbing flaws in the U.S. election that month, the six media operations that commissioned the polls seemed to be embarrassed by the results. Rather than viewing the discrepancies as a story to be pursued, the networks removed the offending data from their Web sites and substituted “corrected” numbers, which had been adjusted to match the official vote count.

Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw told Kennedy: “The people who ran the exit polling, and all those of us who were their clients, recognized that it was deeply flawed. They were really screwed up—the old models just don’t work anymore. I would not go on the air with them again.”

On election night, reporters at each of the six networks, from CBS to Fox News, were told by pollsters early in the evening that Kerry had an insurmountable lead and would easily rout Bush—at least 309 electoral votes to Bush’s 174, with 55 too close to call. In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair turned in for the night, expecting to greet President-elect Kerry in the morning.

Even Fox News declared: “Either the exit polls, by and large, are completely wrong, or George Bush loses.” Kerry continued his strong lead during most of the evening, but gradually there were shifts as the tallied margins veered away from the polls’ prediction. In each case, the shift favored Bush.

In Ohio, results showed Bush winning the state by 2.5 percent. He also totaled 6.5 percent more than the polls predicted in Pennsylvania, and 4.9 percent more in Florida.

Steven Freeman, a scholar from the University of Pennsylvania specializing in research methodology, said the odds against all three of those shifts happening at the same time were one in 660,000. “As much as we can say in sound science that something is impossible,” Freeman said, “it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote count in the three critical battleground states of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error.”

Freeman found the greatest disparities between exit polls and the official vote count came in Republican strongholds. In precincts where Bush got at least80 percent of the vote, the exit polls were off an average of 10 percent. In contrast, in precincts where Kerry dominated by 80 percent or more, the exit polls were accurate to within three-tenths of 1 percent. That pattern, said Kennedy, strongly suggests that GOP election officials stuffed the ballot boxes in Bush strongholds.

“When you look at the numbers,” said Freeman, “there is a tremendous amount of data that supports the supposition of election fraud. The discrepancies are higher in battleground states, higher where there were Republican governors, higher in states with greater proportions of African-American communities and higher in states where there were the most election day complaints. All these are strong indicators of fraud—and yet this supposition has been utterly ignored by the press and, oddly, by the Democratic Party.”

Young Kennedy, after studying the above data and much besides, is calling on Congress to conduct a thorough investigation of the Diebold voting machine company and noted repeated studies have shown the touch-screen machines are highly vulnerable to hacking and manipulation.

“Only a complete investigation by federal authorities can determine the full extent of any bribery and vote fraud that has taken place,” a Rolling Stone magazine editorial that accompanied Kennedy’s article said. “The public must be assured that the power to count the votes—and to recount them, if necessary, will not be ceded to for-profit corporations with a vested interest in superseding the will of the people. America’s elections are the most fundamental element of our democracy—not a market to be privatized by companies like Diebold.”

From the June 21-27, 2006, issue

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