Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't
believe impossible things." "I daresay you haven't had much practice,"
said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day.
Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
(Through the Looking Glass)
In order to believe that George Bush won the November 2, 2004 presidential
election, you must also believe all of the following extremely improbable or
outright impossible things.
1) A big turnout and a highly energized and motivated electorate favored the
GOP instead of the Democrats for the first time in history.
2) Even though first-time voters, lapsed voters (those who didn’t vote
in 2000), and undecideds went for John Kerry by big margins, and Bush lost people
who voted for him in the cliffhanger 2000 election, Bush still received a 3.5
million vote surplus nationally.
3) The fact that Bush far exceeded the 85% of registered Florida Republicans’
votes that he got in 2000, receiving in 2004 more than 100% of the registered
Republican votes in 47 out of 67 Florida counties, 200% of registered Republicans
in 15 counties, and over 300% of registered Republicans in 4 counties, merely
shows Floridians’ enthusiasm for Bush. He managed to do this despite the
fact that his share of the crossover votes by registered Democrats in Florida
did not increase over 2000 and he lost ground among registered Independents,
dropping 15 points.
4) Florida’s reporting of more presidential votes (7.59 million) than
actual number of people who voted (7.35 million), a surplus of 237,522 votes,
does not indicate fraud.
5) The fact that Bush got more votes than registered voters, and the fact that
by stark contrast participation rates in many Democratic strongholds in Ohio
and Florida fell to as low as 8%, do not indicate a rigged election.
6) Bush won re-election despite approval ratings below 50% - the first time
in history this has happened. Truman has been cited as having also done this,
but Truman’s polling numbers were trailing so much behind his challenger,
Thomas Dewey, pollsters stopped surveying two months before the 1948 elections,
thus missing the late surge of support for Truman. Unlike Truman, Bush’s
support was clearly eroding on the eve of the election.
7) Harris' last-minute polling indicating a Kerry victory was wrong (even though
Harris was exactly on the mark in their 2000 election final poll).
8) The “challenger rule” - an incumbent’s final results won’t
be better than his final polling - was wrong;
9) On election day the early-day voters picked up by early exit polls (showing
Kerry with a wide lead) were heavily Democratic instead of the traditional pattern
of early voters being mainly Republican.
10) The fact that Bush “won” Ohio by 51-48%, but this was not matched
by the court-supervised hand count of the 147,400 absentee and provisional ballots
in which Kerry received 54.46% of the vote doesn’t cast any suspicion
upon the official tally.
11) Florida computer programmer Clinton Curtis (a life-long registered Republican)
must be lying when he said in a sworn affidavit that his employers at Yang Enterprises,
Inc. (YEI) and Tom Feeney (general counsel and lobbyist for YEI, GOP state legislator
and Jeb Bush’s 1994 running mate for Florida Lt. Governor) asked him in
2000 to create a computer program to undetectably alter vote totals. Curtis,
under the initial impression that he was creating this software in order to
forestall possible fraud, handed over the program to his employer Mrs. Li Woan
Yang, and was told: “You don’t understand, in order to get the contract
we have to hide the manipulation in the source code. This program is needed
to control the vote in south Florida.” (Boldface in original).
12) Diebold CEO Walden O’Dell’s declaration in a August 14, 2003
letter to GOP fundraisers that he was "committed to helping Ohio to deliver
its electoral votes to the president next year" and the fact that Diebold
is one of the three major suppliers of the electronic voting machines in Ohio
and nationally, didn’t result in any fraud by Diebold.
13) There was no fraud in Cuyahoga County, Ohio where the number of recorded
votes was more than 93,000 larger than the number of registered voters and where
they admitted counting the votes in secret before bringing them out in public
to count. [See appendix – attached herein]
14) CNN reported at 9 p.m. EST on election evening that Kerry was leading by
3 points in the national exit polls based on well over 13,000 respondents. Several
hours later at 1:36 a.m. CNN reported that the exit polls, now based on a few
hundred more - 13,531 respondents - were showing Bush leading by 2 points, a
5-point swing. In other words, a swing of 5 percentage points from a tiny increase
in the number of respondents somehow occurred despite it being mathematically
15) Exit polls in the November 2004 Ukrainian presidential elections, paid
for in part by the Bush administration, were right, but exit polls in the U.S.,
where exit polling was invented, were very wrong.
16) The National Election Pool’s exit polls were so far off that since
their inception twenty years ago, they have never been this wrong, more wrong
than statistical probability indicates is possible.
17) In every single instance where exit polls were wrong the discrepancy favored
Bush, even though statistical probability tells us that any survey errors should
show up in both directions. Half a century of polling and centuries of mathematics
must be wrong.
18) It must be merely a stunning coincidence that exit polls were wrong only
in precincts where there was no paper ballot to check against the electronic
totals and right everywhere there was a paper trail.
The Emperor (and the Electoral Process) Have No Clothes
The preceding list recounts only some of the irregularities in the 2004 election
since it ignores the scores of instances of voter disenfranchisement that assumed
many different forms (e.g., banning black voters in Florida who had either been
convicted of a felony previously or who were “inadvertently” placed
on the felons list by mistake, while not banning convicted Latino felons ; providing
extraordinarily few voting machines in predominately Democratic precincts in
Ohio; disallowing Ohio voters, for the first time, from voting in any precinct
when they were unable to find their assigned precincts to vote in; and so on).
A plethora of reasons clearly exists to conclude that widespread and historic
levels of fraud were committed in this election.
Indeed, any one of the above highly improbables and utterly impossibles should
have led to a thorough investigation into the results. Taken as a whole, this
list points overwhelmingly to fraud. The jarring strangeness of the results
and the ubiquity of complaints from voters (e.g., those who voted for Kerry
and then saw to their shock the machine record their votes as being for Bush),
require some kind of explanation, or the legitimacy of elections and of the
presidency would be imperiled.
The explanations from public officials and major media came in three forms.
First, exit polls, not the official tallies, were labeled spectacularly wrong.
Second, the so-called “moral values” voters expressed in the now
ubiquitous “red state/blue state” formula, were offered as the underlying
reason for Bush’s triumph. And third, people who brought forth any of
the evidence of fraud were dismissed as “spreadsheet-wielding conspiracy
theorists” while mainstream media censored the vast majority of the evidence
of fraud so that most Americans to this day have never heard a fraction of what
was amiss. I will discuss each of these three responses, followed by a discussion
of the role of electronic voting machines in the 2002 elections that presaged
the 2004 election irregularities, and then wrap up with a discussion of these
events’ significance taken as a whole.
Killing the Messenger: the Exit Polls
Exit polls are the gold standard of vote count validity internationally. Since
exit polls ask people as they emerge from the polling station whom they just
voted for, they are not projections as are polls taken in the months, weeks
or days before an election. They are not subject to faulty memory, voter capriciousness
(voters voting differently than they indicated to a pollster previously), or
erroneous projections about who will actually turn up to vote. Pollsters know
who turned up to vote because the voters are standing there in front of the
exit pollsters. Because of these characteristics, exit polls are exceptionally
accurate. They are so accurate that in Germany, for example, they are used to
decide elections, with the paper ballots being counted in the days afterwards
as a backup check against the exit polls. Exit polls are used, for this reason,
as markers of fraud.
Significant, inexplicable discrepancies between exit polls and official tallies
only started showing up in the U.S. in 2000 and only in Florida (and notably,
nowhere else). The discrepancy was not the exit polls’ fault, however,
but in the official tallies themselves. Although the mainstream media fell on
their swords about their election’s evening projections calling Florida
for Gore in 2000, their projections were right. In analyses conducted by the
National Opinion Research Center in Florida after the U.S. Supreme Court aborted
the vote recount, Gore emerged the winner over Bush, no matter what criteria
for counting votes was applied. The fact that this is not widely known constitutes
itself a major untold story.
Exit polling’s validity is further affirmed by GOP pollster Dick Morris.
Immediately after the 2004 election he wrote:
Exit polls are almost never wrong. They eliminate the two major potential fallacies
in survey research by correctly separating actual voters from those who pretend
they will cast ballots but never do and by substituting actual observation for
guesswork in judging the relative turnout of different parts of the state…
To screw up one exit poll is unheard of. To miss six of them is incredible.
It boggles the imagination how pollsters could be that incompetent and invites
speculation that more than honest error was at play here.
Confounded and suspicious of the results, Morris resorted to advancing the
bizarre theory that there must have been a conspiracy among the networks to
suppress the Bush vote in the west by issuing exit poll results that were so
far off from the final tallies.
A number of different statisticians have examined the 2004 election results.
University of Pennsylvania statistician Steve Freeman, Ph.D., most notably,
analyzed the exit polls of the swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida
and concluded that the odds of the exit polls being as far off as they were
are 250 million to one. Exit polls in Florida had Kerry leading by 1.7 points
and by 2.4 points in Ohio. These exit poll figures were altered at 1:30 a.m.
November 3, 2004 on CNN to conform to the “official” tally. In the
end, Kerry lost Florida by 5% and Ohio by 2.5%. This is a net shift of 6.7 points
in Florida and 4.9 points in Ohio in Bush’s favor, well beyond the margin
of error. By exit poll standards, this net shift was unbelievable.
A team at the University of California at Berkeley, headed by sociology professor
Michael Hout, found a highly suspicious pattern in which Bush received 260,000
more votes in those Florida precincts that used electronic voting machines than
past voting patterns would indicate compared to those precincts that used optical
scan read votes where past voting patterns held.
The Edison-Mitofsky polling group that conducted the National Exit Poll (NEP)
issued a 77-page report on January 19, 2005 to account for why their exit polls
were so unexpectedly far off. Edison-Mitofsky rule out sampling error as the
problem and indicate that systemic bias was responsible. They concluded that
their exit polls were wrong because Kerry voters must have been more willing
to talk to their poll workers than Bush voters and because their poll workers
were too young and inexperienced. Edison-Mitofsky offer no evidence indicating
that their conclusion about more chatty Kerry voters actually occurred, merely
that such a scenario would explain the discrepancy. In fact, as nine statisticians
who conducted an evaluation of the Edison-Mitofsky data and analysis point out,
Bush voters appeared to be slightly more willing to talk to exit pollsters than
Kerry voters. This would make the exit polls’ discrepancy with the official
tallies even more pronounced. In addition, the Edison-Mitofsky explanation fails
to explain why exit polls were only exceptionally wrong in the swing states.
Red State, Red Herring: the “Moral Values” Voters
A plausible explanation still needs to be offered for the startling 2004 election
outcome – how did Bush, caught in a lie about why we went to war with
Iraq, racked by prison abuse and torture scandals at Abu Graib and Guantanamo,
bogged down in Iraq, failing to catch Osama Bin Laden, badly embarrassed during
the debates, caught sleeping prior to 9/11, and so on, manage to win a resounding
victory? Enter here the “moral values” rationale. As Katharine Q.
Seelye of the New York Times wrote in a November 4, 2004 article entitled “Moral
Values Cited as a Defining Issue of the Election:”
Even in a time of war and economic hardship, Americans said they were motivated
to vote for President Bush on Tuesday by moral values as much as anything else,
according to a survey of voters as they left their polling places. In the survey,
a striking portrait of one influential group emerged - that of a traditional,
church-going electorate that leans conservative on social issues and strongly
backed Mr. Bush….
In the same issue, another article by Todd S. Purdum entitled “Electoral
Affirmation of Shared Values Provides Bush a Majority” cited 1/5 (more
precisely, 22%) of the voters as mentioning “moral values” as their
chief concern. This was echoed throughout major media. The only person in the
mainstream media to challenge this was New York Times columnist Frank Rich,
on November 28, 2004 in an opinion piece entitled “The Great Indecency
The mainstream press, itself in love with the "moral values" story
line and traumatized by the visual exaggerations of the red-blue map, is too
cowed to challenge the likes of the American Family Association. So are politicians
of both parties. It took a British publication, The Economist, to point out
that the percentage of American voters citing moral and ethical values as their
prime concern is actually down from 2000 (35 percent) and 1996 (40 percent).
As Rich correctly points out, no American media outlet repeated this statistic.
Instead, the widely mentioned and oft-repeated “moral values” vote
took on the status of an urban – or in this instance, suburban/rural -
Shocked by the election results, many people took out their anger at the perceived
mendacity of Bush voters, especially those in the so-called “red states.”
This fury, while understandable given Bush’s record, badly misses the
point. Voters did not heist this election. As others have pointed out eloquently,
many of the people who really did vote for Bush did so primarily because they
were misled through systematic disinformation campaigns.
“Spreadsheet wielding conspiracy theorists”
In November 2004 major U.S. media gave headline news treatment to the Ukrainian
Presidential election fraud, explicitly citing the exit polls as definitive
evidence of fraud. At the very same time major U.S. media dismissed anyone who
pointed out this same evidence of likely fraud in the U.S. elections as “conspiracy
theory” crazies. A November 11, 2004 Washington Post article, for example,
described people raising the question of fraud as “mortally wounded party
loyalists and … spreadsheet-wielding conspiracy theorists.” Tom
Zeller, Jr. handled it similarly, writing in the November 12, 2004 issue of
the New York Times (“Vote Fraud Theories, Spread by Blogs, Are Quickly
Buried”): “[T]he email messages and Web postings had all the twitchy
cloak-and-dagger thrust of a Hollywood blockbuster. ‘Evidence mounts that
the vote may have been hacked,’ trumpeted a headline on the Web site CommonDreams.org.
‘Fraud took place in the 2004 election through electronic voting machines,’
Neither of these articles bothered to address even a fraction of the evidence
of irregularities. They did, however, both dismiss the 93,000 excess votes in
Cuyahoga County, Ohio as merely an error in how the votes were reported, the
Washington Post article offering the strange explanation that in “even-numbered
years” the county posts vote totals from other districts outside the county
in the Cuyahoga totals. The Washington Post passed off the exit polls discrepancy
as “not being based on statistics” since the exit polls “are
not publicly distributed.” Both of these statements were untrue. The New
York Times article for its part failed to even mention exit polls. Both articles
explained away the glaring and unbelievable totals for Bush in hugely Democratic
districts as due to the “Dixiecrat” vote. This would be plausible
except for two things: first, Bush did not win over any more crossover votes
in 2004 than he did in 2000, and second, these votes far in excess of Republican
registered voters numbers occurred primarily in non-rural areas. In just one
example of this, Baker County, Florida, out of 12,887 registered voters, of
whom 69.3% were Democrats and 24.3% Republicans, Bush received 7,738 votes while
Kerry only received 2,180. As Robert Parry of Consortiumnews.org points out:
Rather than a rural surge of support, Bush actually earned more than seven
out of 10 new votes in the 20 largest counties in Florida. Many of these counties
are either Democratic strongholds – such as Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm
Beach – or they are swing counties, such as Orange, Hillsborough, and
Many of these large counties saw substantially more newly registered Democrats
than Republicans. For example, in Orange County, a swing county home to Orlando,
Democrats registered twice as many new voters than Republicans in the years
since 2000. In Palm Beach and Broward combined, Democrats registered 111,000
new voters compared with fewer than 20,000 new Republicans.
The only person in major media to treat these complaints seriously and at any
length was Keith Olbermann at MSNBC who ran two stories on it, citing Cuyahoga
County’s surplus 93,000 votes over the registered voter count, and the
peculiar victories for Bush in Florida counties that were overwhelmingly Democratic
scattered across the state. For his trouble, media conservatives attacked him
for being a “voice of paranoia” and spreading “idiotic conspiracy
The Oh-So Loyal Opposition: the Democratic Party
An obvious question here is: why haven’t the Democrats been more vigorous
in their objections to this fraud? The fact that they haven’t objected
more (with a few notable individual exceptions) has been taken by some as definitive
evidence that no fraud must have happened because the Democrats have the most
to gain from objecting. In part the answer to this puzzle is that the Democrats
don’t fully understand what has hit them. The Kerry campaign’s reaction
to the Swift Boat Veterans attack ads that damaged them so much are a good illustration
of this. The right-wing media hammered away at Kerry through their by now very
heavy presence over talk radio, the Internet, Fox News, and other outlets. The
mainstream media such as ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and major newspapers and magazines,
still adhering to the standards of “objective” journalism, which
the right-wing media consider “quaint,” legitimated these false
allegations about Kerry by presenting “the two sides” as if one
side made up entirely of lies and half-truths could be considered a legitimate
“side.” The Kerry campaign concluded that these ads were all lies
and wouldn’t have any effect, thus they took too long to respond to them.
By the time they did, the damage had been done. In a CBS/NY Times poll taken
September 12-16, 2004, 33% said they thought that the Swift Boast Veterans’
charges against Kerry were “mostly true.” A remarkable feat given
that Kerry volunteered and was multi-decorated for heroism while Bush used his
father’s connections to dodge real service.
The Democrats’ meek acceptance of other races’ extremely peculiar
outcomes prior to the 2004 elections illustrates this point further. As a result
of the 2000 Florida debacle, Congress passed the “Help America Vote”
Act in October 2002. While this act introduced a number of reasonable reforms,
it also resulted in the widespread introduction of paperless electronic voting
machines. This meant that there was no way to determine if the votes recorded
by these computers were accurate and tamper-free. Efforts subsequently by a
few Democratic Congresspeople, led by Michigan Rep. John Conyers, to rectify
this and ensure a paper ballot, have been blocked by the GOP majority.
The following is a partial list of 2002 discrepancies that can be understood
as dress rehearsals for the stolen presidential election of 2004:
On Nov. 3, 2002, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll showed Democratic Sen.
Max Cleland with a 49-to-44 point lead over Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss.
The next day, Chambliss, despite trailing by 5 points, ended up winning by a
margin of 53 to 46 percent. This was, in other words, an unbelievable 12-point
turn around over the course of one day!
In the Georgia governor's race Republican Sonny Perdue upset incumbent Democratic
Gov. Roy Barnes by a margin of 52 to 45 percent. This was especially strange
given that the October 16-17, 2002 Mason Dixon Poll (Mason Dixon Polling and
Research, Inc. of Washington, D.C.) had shown Democratic Governor Barnes ahead
48 to 39 percent, with a margin of error of ± 4 points. The final tally
was, in other words, a jaw dropping 16-point turn-around! What the Cleland “defeat”
by Saxby and the Barnes “defeat” by Perdue both have in common is
that nearly all the Georgia votes were recorded on computerized voting machines,
which produce no paper trail.
In Minnesota, after Democrat Sen. Paul Wellstone's plane crash death, ex-vice-president
Walter Mondale took Wellstone’s place and was leading Republican Norm
Coleman in the days before the election by 47 to 39 percent. Despite the fact
that he was trailing just days before the race by 8 points, Coleman beat Mondale
by 50 to 47 percent. This was an 11-point turn around! The Minnesota race was
also conducted on electronic voting machines with no paper trail.
Welcome to a world where statistical probability and normal arithmetic no longer
apply! The Democrats, rather than vigorously pursuing these patently obvious
signs of election fraud in 2004, have nearly all decided that being gracious
losers is better than being winners, probably because – and this may be
the most important reason for the Democrat’s relative silence - a full-scale
uncovering of the fraud runs the risk of mobilizing and unleashing popular forces
that the Democrats find just as threatening as the GOP does.
The delicious irony for the GOP is that the Help America Vote Act, precipitated
by their theft of the Florida 2000 presidential vote, made GOP theft of elections
as in the preceding examples easy and unverifiable except through recourse to
indirect analysis such as pre-election polls and exit polls. This is the political
equivalent of having your cake and eating it too. Or, more precisely: stealing
elections, running the country, and aggressively, arrogantly and falsely claiming
that “the people” support it.
Flavor Flav of the rap group Public Enemy used to wear a big clock around his
neck in order to reminder us all that we’d better understand what time
it is. Or, as Bob Dylan once said: “Let us not speak falsely now, the
hour’s getting late.” To all of those who said before the 2004 elections
that this was the most important election in our lifetimes; to all of those
who plunged into that election hoping and believing that we could throw the
villains out via the electoral booth; to all of those who held their noses and
voted for Democrats thinking that at least they were slightly better than the
theocratic fascists running this country now, this must be said: VOTING REALLY
DOESN’T MATTER. If we weren’t convinced of that before these last
elections, then now is the time to wake up to that fact. Even beyond the fraudulent
elections of 2000 and 2004, public policies are not now, nor have they ever
been, settled through elections.
The Role of Mass Movements and Alternative Media
What can be done? The Eugene McCarthy campaign of 1968 and the George McGovern
campaign in 1972 didn’t end the war in Vietnam. The Vietnamese people
and the anti-war movement ended the war. Civil rights weren’t secured
because JFK and LBJ suddenly woke up to racial discrimination. The Civil Rights
Movement and Black Power Movement galvanized public opinion and rocked this
country to its foundations. Men didn’t suddenly wake up and realize that
they were male chauvinist pigs - women formed the Women’s Movement, organized,
marched, rallied, and demanded nothing less than equality, shaking this country
to the core. The Bush administration is bogged down and sinking deeper in Iraq
not mainly because the top figures of the Bush administration consist of liars,
blind (and incompetent) ideologues, international outlaws and propagators of
torture as an official policy, but because the Iraqi people have risen up against
imperialist invasion. Prior to the war, the international anti-Iraq war movement
brought out millions of people into the streets, the largest demonstrations
in history, denying the U.S. imperialists the UN’s sanction and leading
to Turkey denying US requests to use their land as a staging area. These are
major, world-historic feats.
The 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections fraud underscores the critical importance
of building a mass movement, a movement of resistance that doesn’t tie
itself to the electoral road and electoral parties. In addition, as Robert Parry
has eloquently argued, a counterforce to the right-wing media empire must be
built by the left and by progressive-minded people. As it stands today, the
right can get away with nearly anything because they have talking heads on TV,
radio, the Internet and other outlets who set the tone and the political agenda,
with mainstream media focusing on sex and sensationalism and taking their political
cues to a large extent from the right.
Like a bridge broken by an earthquake, the electoral road can only lead to
plunging us into the sea – which is precisely what happened in the 2004