[Marxism] Kerry won (shady vote report)

Intense Red intnsred at socialismonline.us
Thu Nov 4 14:59:00 MST 2004


Published on Thursday, November 4, 2004 by TomPaine.com

Kerry Won
by Greg Palast
 
Kerry won. Here's the facts.

I know you don't want to hear it. You can't face one more hung chad.  But I 
don't have a choice. As a journalist examining that messy sausage called 
American democracy, it's my job to tell you who got the most votes in the 
deciding states. Tuesday, in Ohio and New Mexico, it was John Kerry.

Most voters in Ohio thought they were voting for Kerry. CNN's exit poll showed 
Kerry beating Bush among Ohio women by 53 percent to 47 percent.  Kerry also 
defeated Bush among Ohio's male voters 51 percent to 49 percent. Unless a 
third gender voted in Ohio, Kerry took the state.

So what's going on here? Answer: the exit polls are accurate. Pollsters ask, 
"Who did you vote for?" Unfortunately, they don't ask the crucial, question, 
"Was your vote counted?" The voters don't know.

Here's why. Although the exit polls show that most voters in Ohio punched 
cards for Kerry-Edwards, thousands of these votes were simply not recorded. 
This was predictable and it was predicted. [See TomPaine.com, "An Election 
Spoiled Rotten,"  November 1.]

Once again, at the heart of the Ohio uncounted vote game are, I'm sorry to 
report, hanging chads and pregnant chads, plus some other ballot tricks old 
and new.

The election in Ohio was not decided by the voters but by something called 
"spoilage." Typically in the United States, about 3 percent of the vote is 
voided, just thrown away, not recorded. When the bobble-head boobs on the 
tube tell you Ohio or any state was won by 51 percent to 49 percent, don't 
you believe it ... it has never happened in the United States, because the 
total never reaches a neat 100 percent. The television totals simply subtract 
out the spoiled vote.

And not all vote spoil equally. Most of those votes, say every official 
report, come from African American and minority precincts. (To learn more, 
click here.)

We saw this in Florida in 2000. Exit polls showed Gore with a plurality of at 
least 50,000, but it didn't match the official count. That's because the 
official, Secretary of State Katherine Harris, excluded 179,855 spoiled 
votes.  In Florida, as in Ohio, most of these votes lost were cast on punch 
cards where the hole wasn't punched through completely—leaving a 'hanging 
chad,'—or was punched extra times.  Whose cards were discarded? Expert 
statisticians investigating spoilage for the government calculated that 54 
percent of the ballots thrown in the dumpster were cast by black folks. (To 
read the report from the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, click here .)

And here's the key: Florida is terribly typical. The majority of ballots 
thrown out (there will be nearly 2 million tossed out from Tuesday's 
election) will have been cast by African American and other minority 
citizens.

So here we go again. Or, here we don't go again. Because unlike last time, 
Democrats aren't even asking Ohio to count these cards with the 
not-quite-punched holes (called "undervotes" in the voting biz).

Ohio is one of the last states in America to still use the vote-spoiling 
punch-card machines. And the Secretary of State of Ohio, J. Kenneth 
Blackwell, wrote before the election, “the possibility of a close election 
with punch cards as the state’s primary voting device invites a Florida-like 
calamity.”

But this week, Blackwell, a rabidly partisan Republican, has warmed up to the 
result of sticking with machines that have a habit of eating Democratic 
votes. When asked if he feared being this year's Katherine Harris, Blackwell 
noted that Ms. Fix-it's efforts landed her a seat in Congress.

Exactly how many votes were lost to spoilage this time? Blackwell's office, 
notably, won't say, though the law requires it be reported. Hmm. But we know 
that last time, the total of Ohio votes discarded reached a 
democracy-damaging 1.96 percent. The machines produced their typical loss—
that's 110,000 votes—overwhelmingly Democratic.

The Impact Of Challenges

First and foremost, Kerry was had by chads. But the Democrat wasn't punched 
out by punch cards alone. There were also the 'challenges.' That's a polite 
word for the Republican Party of Ohio's use of an old Ku Klux Klan technique: 
the attempt to block thousands of voters of color at the polls. In Ohio, 
Wisconsin and Florida, the GOP laid plans for poll workers to ambush citizens 
under arcane laws—almost never used—allowing party-designated poll watchers 
to finger individual voters and demand they be denied a ballot. The Ohio 
courts were horrified and federal law prohibits targeting of voters where 
race is a factor in the challenge. But our Supreme Court was prepared to let 
Republicans stand in the voting booth door.

In the end, the challenges were not overwhelming, but they were there. Many 
apparently resulted in voters getting these funky "provisional" ballots—a 
kind of voting placebo—which may or may not be counted. Blackwell estimates 
there were 175,000; Democrats say 250,000. Pick your number. But as 
challenges were aimed at minorities, no one doubts these are, again, 
overwhelmingly Democratic. Count them up, add in the spoiled punch cards 
(easy to tally with the human eye in a recount), and the totals begin to 
match the exit polls; and, golly, you've got yourself a new president. 
Remember, Bush won by 136,483 votes in Ohio.

Enchanted State's Enchanted Vote

Now, on to New Mexico, where a Kerry plurality—if all votes are counted—is 
more obvious still. Before the election, in TomPaine.com, I wrote, "John 
Kerry is down by several thousand votes in New Mexico, though not one ballot 
has yet been counted."

How did that happen? It's the spoilage, stupid; and the provisional ballots.

CNN said George Bush took New Mexico by 11,620 votes. Again, the network total 
added up to that miraculous, and non-existent, '100 percent' of ballots cast.

New Mexico reported in the last race a spoilage rate of 2.68 percent, votes 
lost almost entirely in Hispanic, Native American and poor precincts—
Democratic turf. From Tuesday's vote, assuming the same ballot-loss rate, we 
can expect to see 18,000 ballots in the spoilage bin.

Spoilage has a very Democratic look in New Mexico. Hispanic voters in the 
Enchanted State, who voted more than two to one for Kerry, are five times as 
likely to have their vote spoil as a white voter. Counting these uncounted 
votes would easily overtake the Bush 'plurality.'

Already, the election-bending effects of spoilage are popping up in the 
election stats, exactly where we'd expect them: in heavily Hispanic areas 
controlled by Republican elections officials. Chaves County, in the "Little 
Texas" area of New Mexico, has a 44 percent Hispanic population, plus African 
Americans and Native Americans, yet George Bush "won" there 68 percent to 31 
percent.

I spoke with Chaves' Republican county clerk before the election, and he told 
me that this huge spoilage rate among Hispanics simply indicated that such 
people simply can't make up their minds on the choice of candidate for 
president. Oddly, these brown people drive across the desert to register 
their indecision in a voting booth.

Now, let's add in the effect on the New Mexico tally of provisional ballots.

"They were handing them out like candy," Albuquerque journalist Renee Blake 
reported of provisional ballots. About 20,000 were given out. Who got them?

Santiago Juarez who ran the "Faithful Citizenship" program for the Catholic 
Archdiocese in New Mexico, told me that "his" voters, poor Hispanics, whom he 
identified as solid Kerry supporters, were handed the iffy provisional 
ballots. Hispanics were given provisional ballots, rather than the countable 
kind "almost religiously," he said, at polling stations when there was the 
least question about a voter's identification. Some voters, Santiago said, 
were simply turned away.

Your Kerry Victory Party

So we can call Ohio and New Mexico for John Kerry—if we count all the votes.

But that won't happen. Despite the Democratic Party's pledge, the leadership 
this time gave in to racial disenfranchisement once again. Why? No doubt, the 
Democrats know darn well that counting all the spoiled and provisional 
ballots will require the cooperation of Ohio's Secretary of State, Blackwell. 
He will ultimately decide which spoiled and provisional ballots get tallied. 
Blackwell, hankering to step into Kate Harris' political pumps, is unlikely 
to permit anything close to a full count. Also, Democratic leadership knows 
darn well the media would punish the party for demanding a full count.

What now? Kerry won, so hold your victory party. But make sure the shades are 
down: it may be become illegal to demand a full vote count under PATRIOT Act 
III.

I used to write a column for the Guardian papers in London. Several friends 
have asked me if I will again leave the country. In light of the failure—a 
second time—to count all the votes, that won't be necessary. My country has 
left me.

Greg Palast, contributing editor to Harper's magazine, investigated the 
manipulation of the vote for BBC Television's Newsnight. The documentary, 
"Bush Family Fortunes," based on his New York Times bestseller, The Best 
Democracy Money Can Buy, has been released this month on DVD .

© 2004 TomPaine.com

-- 
While we sit comfortably using our computers, soldiers paid for with our taxes 
are killing and torturing innocent people half a world away in order to open 
their country to US corporations and steal their oil; we have blood on our 
hands.




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