October 26, 2008

Beware of Election Fraud

"I remember Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, and I am willing to take action in 2008 if the election is stolen again. I support efforts to protect the right to vote leading up to and on Election Day, November 4th. I pledge to join nationwide pro-democracy protests starting on November 5th, either in my community, in key states where fraud occurred, or in Washington D.C.. I pledge: No More Stolen Elections!"

This pledge has been endorsed by a wide variety of activists including Jesse Jackson, Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin and many more. See their full statement at http://nomorestolenelections.org/call_to_action

I truly hope that this election will be conducted fairly and freely but there are reasons to be concerned. I hope that we all will insist that irregularities are investigated and resolved before we accept tainted results.

*David Swanson, of AfterDowningStreet.org urges action in the event of a stolen election. A McCain "Win" Will Be Theft, Resistance Is Planned

*Check the Can I Vote website http://www.canivote.org/ for links to check on your status or register online. This site will link you to the information in your state. You can also check on the voter ID requirements in your state, so you can be sure to have the proper documents to vote when you go to the polls.

My first blog post was a piece I wrote in 2000 analyzing the Florida vote showing that Gore really did win. See Gore Wins http://dangoldstein.blogspot.com/2000/11/gore-wins.html and Blame Florida http://dangoldstein.blogspot.com/2000/11/blame-florida.html and that was before I knew the half of it. We now know that thousands of poor and black voters were kept from the polls improperly. BBC reporter and author Greg Palast has documented all of this extensively. See Greg Palast’s website http://www.gregpalast.com/ for details and to see how these abuses have been continued and expanded since then.

A “Miracle” for McCain?
As we come down to the end of this very long election, the polls show Obama pulling further ahead, with even leading Republicans, including Colin Powell, Christopher Buckley and many more, jumping onto the Obama bandwagon. Yet, John McCain said he can “he can “guarantee” a win on Nov. 4 in a squeaker victory that won’t be clear until late that night.” It would seem that McCain has either lost touch with reality or he knows something that that rest of us don’t about how the votes are going to be counted.

Although most reports give Obama a comfortable margin a few articles like this one seem to be setting up the possibility of an election night miracle for McCain. (McCain guarantees victory (Yahoo 10/26/08) http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081026/pl_politico/14951;_ylt=AkooC78tXlIvKZ7khtDWozRh24cA)

Democracy Now! ran an interview with Nate Silver, who has been analyzing polling data. He notes that polls try to adjust their results in order to give more weight to likely voters. Depending on the assumptions they make, it can skew the results, producing variations in results from poll to poll. With many polls every day, new analysts may be tempted to cherry pick the polls that support the position they want to take. (http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/23/the_spreadsheet_psychic_with_fivethreeeightcom_nate)

Voter Suppression

A key part of the Republican strategy has been to suppress the Democratic vote. States have become aggressive about purging the voter rolls, eliminating people who have moved or show up on often faulty lists of ineligible voters. Ideally, voters will be notified and allowed to appeal such decisions, but that does not always happen and even so, the burden of proof is on the voter to prove that they are eligible. Often the result is simply that the voter is discouraged from voting or casts a provisional ballot that may never be counted. Misinformation has been circulated on college campuses concerning student voter rights and in poor communities that falsely imply that voting with unpaid parking tickets or misdemeanor convictions could get you in trouble.

In many states there are now requirements to show ID at the polls. Although many types of ID may be accepted, including utility bills, driver’s license or other documents, voters may not be aware of the requirement and therefore could be denied the right to vote when they get to the polls. Those who vote by mail may be challenged if their signature appears different than when they registered. In these cases they are supposed to be given a provisional ballot, but again the burden of proof is on the voter and experience shows that many of these ballots are simply not counted.

Voter Registration drives are called into question. The most blatant example being McCain’s attacks on ACORN for alleged voter fraud. The so-called fraud consisted of a small percentage of the registrations that appeared to be invented out of thin air by lazy canvassers. This is inevitable with any large scale canvassing operation, whether it is a rightwing initiative or a voter registration drive. There is no evidence that anybody turns up to vote as “Mickey Mouse” or any of the other imaginary voters. ACORN has even cooperated with state authorities to investigate and correct these errors. Nonetheless, persistent Republican attacks have made it more difficult to conduct registration drives.

The good news is that it is easier than ever to make sure before election day that your voter registration is still valid. Everybody should do this. Check the Can I Vote website http://www.canivote.org/ for links to check on your status or register online. This site will link you to the information in your state. You can also check on the voter ID requirements in your state, so you can be sure to have the proper documents to vote when you go to the polls.

Election Day Challenges

Republicans are gearing up to aggressively challenge voters at the polls in Democratic neighborhoods, such as the plan to use lists of foreclosures to disqualify voters who have had to move. They also use address errors to disqualify voters they don’t like. Even if a challenge is factually inaccurate, the common response is to force them to use a provisional ballot and assume the burden of proving eligibility.

Voting Machines

After the 2000 election revealed problems with punchcard voting machines, the so-called Help America Vote Act, promoted even more unaccountable electronic voting machines. They eliminated the hanging chad problem by eliminating any paper record of the vote, thus making recounts impossible. These machines run on software that is kept secret, even from voting officials, but was shown to be vulnerable to vote tampering and prone to error. See Hacking Democracy (http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/hackingdemocracy/synopsis.html)

In early voting in 2008 some voters have reported that the machines switched their vote from Obama to other candidates. Without a paper record, there is nothing they can do about it. Citizen pressure has forced some places to require a paper trail but there is little official interest in random audits to check the paper record against the electronic results. Without a verification process to certify the vote, even paper ballots do little good.