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Dialing In For Democracy - Now Is Critical
Published on Monday, January 3, 2005 by CommonDreams.org

Dialing In For Democracy - Now Is Critical

by Thom Hartmann
 

Jeff Taylor is one of Vermont's three electors - representatives elected by the citizens of Vermont to vote for President of the United States. He and his two peers have joined the electors of several other states in signing resolutions asking their state's congressional delegation to protest the Ohio slate of electors.

"If they can have fair elections in Kiev," Taylor told me, "why not in Cleveland?"

Here's what troubles Taylor:

If you flip a coin a hundred times, odds are that around fifty times it will come up heads and fifty times tails. In reality, it may be 49-51 or even 47-53, but it will always pretty much evenly split. That's the nature of random events, including random errors and mistakes.

So if the tens of thousands of election "irregularities" being reported all across the nation - but particularly in Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, and North Carolina - showed "irregularities" worked randomly to the benefit of both parties, it would be easy to say that we have a broken, but not a stolen or hacked, election system. But that was not the case.

In nearly every case now documented, producing odds not of 50:50 but, according to credible statisticians, sometimes rising to 1:250,000,000, "irregularities" seem always to favor George W. Bush or other Republican candidates. These include:

  • machine errors

  • misplaced machines

  • unmailed absentee ballots

  • certification of more votes than registered voters in some areas, and dramatically low voter turnouts in other areas

  • modem-connected voting machines and tabulators

  • different standards for provisional ballot recounts in different areas

  • phony companies registering voters and then tearing up the registrations of people who checked one party but not the other

  • voting machines defaulting to a particular candidate or 'jumping' by recording a vote for one candidate when another's button was pushed

  • exit polls not corresponding with reported votes

  • voting elections officials creating what look like phony election machine poll tapes and tossing original, signed tabulations in the garbage.

And while the vast majority of the "irregularities" in 2004 are breaking to the benefit of George W. Bush, they also did so in 2000, and for Republicans generally in 2002.

It's time to start using the "F" word. George W. Bush was made President of the United States in 2000 by fraud, and apparently has done it again.

First, 2000.

As The New York Times reported on November 12, 2001, in an article titled "Examining The Vote: The Overview" by Ford Fessenden and John M. Broder, a media consortium was pulled together to actually count every questionable ballot in the 2000 Florida election.

The media consortium included The Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Tribune Company, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The St. Petersburg Times, The Palm Beach Post and CNN. The group hired the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago in January to examine the ballots. The research group employed teams of three workers they called coders to examine each undervoted ballot and mark down what they saw in detail. Three coders provided a bulwark against inaccuracy or bias in the coding. For overvotes, one coder was used because there was seldom disagreement among examiners in a trial run using three coders.

The data produced by the ballot review allows scrutiny of the disputed Florida vote under a large number of situations and using a variety of different standards that might have applied in a hand recount, including the appearance of a dimple, a chad dangling by one or more corners and a cleanly punched card.

The result clearly demonstrated that Al Gore won the 2000 Florida vote. But the Supreme Court, in the lawsuit initiated by George W. Bush against Al Gore now known as 'Bush v. Gore', ruled that "irreparable harm" might be done to candidate Bush if such a recount was performed in Florida by Florida authorities. Justice Antonin Scalia, in his concurring majority opinion in Bush v. Gore, wrote that "The counting of votes that are of questionable legality does in my view threaten irreparable harm to petitioner [George W. Bush], and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election."

And Scalia was right, if "irreparable harm" means that counting all the votes may lead to the petitioner [Bush] "losing an election." When the Consortium examined all the ballots statewide, noted the Times, "The findings indicate that Mr. Gore might have eked out a victory if he had pursued in court a course like the one he publicly advocated when he called on the state to 'count all the votes.'"

(To his eternal credit, Justice John Paul Stevens dissented, writing that: "Counting every legally cast vote cannot constitute irreparable harm. On the other hand, there is a danger that a stay may cause irreparable harm to the respondents [Gore] - and, more importantly, the public at large - because of the risk that 'the entry of the stay would be tantamount to a decision on the merits in favor of the applicants [Bush].'")

Further, "In a finding rich with irony," note the Times writers, "a statewide recount -- could have produced enough votes to tilt the election his [Gore's] way, no matter what standard was chosen to judge voter intent."

Count the dimpled chads or not. Count the overvotes or not. Count the pregnant chads or not. No matter WHAT standard was chosen - Gore won Florida in 2000.

And that doesn't begin to examine the true fraud that occurred in Florida when Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris, according to the NAACP and Greg Palast's reporting on the BBC, illegally removed tens of thousands of African American voters from the voter rolls - a crime that is still in the courts and has yet to be prosecuted. (An amazing documentary of this is the DVD "Unprecedented".) Or, as I reported in an article commissioned by MoveOn.org in July of 2003, many computer irregularities across the nation also drew into question the legitimacy of the 2000 and 2002 elections.

And now, in 2004, we are again visited by a Stalinesque fusion of cronies funding and controlling the election apparatus, national media intimidated into silence, and a populace so preoccupied with daily survival concerns - and uneasy about being identified as "troublemakers" by a new, highly centralized state security apparatus - that they don't have the means or time to react.

Yet react we must.

Congressman John Conyers has conducted hearings in Ohio, which uncovered sufficient evidence to call into question - at least in the mind of the Congressman himself and many associated with him - the validity of the Ohio vote.

The Electoral College was modeled after a form of governance used by the British before the Norman invasion in 1066, as documented in The History of England As Well Ecclesiastical As Civil by Paul de Rapin Thoyras, one of the two books that Thomas Jefferson repeatedly cited as the most important histories every written.

It's been out of print for two centuries, but in my copy, printed in London in 1728, Thoyras writes, presaging language later re-used in the U.S. Constitution, "Now in order to preserve a perfect Union, it was necessary some way of communication and intercourse between them [the people in remote locations and their government] shou'd be established. This was done by the means of a Wittena-Gemot or Assembly of Wise Men, who were the Representatives of the whole Nation. This Method the Saxons brought with them from Germany, where all publick affairs were transacted in such like conventions...[including their] Presidents." (Italics from the original.)

And now our wise elders - Electors like Jeff Taylor - are telling us they believe our elections may have been corrupted.

Section II, Article 2 of the Constitution, amended by the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, create and define the Electoral College, modeled by the Framers after the Saxon Wittena-Gemot. Each state chooses its own electors any way it wants, although all today do so by election of the people.

Electors have already met in the various states to vote, but that vote will not be opened until Thursday, January 6th. If Conyers' protest is matched by the protest of at least one single senator, then the House and Senate retire to their respective chambers for a maximum of two hours to debate the legitimacy of the Ohio (and, possibly, other) electoral slates. After two hours, with a maximum of 5 minutes for any member to speak, a vote is taken. If both the House and the Senate vote by majority to sustain the challenge, then the presidential vote goes to the House of Representatives, where each state has a single vote.

Given that Republicans control both the House and Senate, and a majority of states were "red" in this past election, even if a senator joins Conyers it won't change the outcome of this election, unless between now and Thursday such massive, credible evidence of election-changing vote fraud is presented that even Republicans will agree that the election was stolen. Given how often Republicans in the House and Senate have placed the interest of their party's power above the needs and interests of democracy or the nation in the past few decades, it's extremely unlikely that a challenge will result in a change in the election.

But - vitally - it will put the issues of vote fraud in America on the table in a way that even the mainstream media can no longer ignore. And it may lead to getting private, Republican-affiliated corporations out of handling our votes in secret, and to other electoral reforms such as IRV and public financing of elections. It could be a huge step in pulling us back from the brink of the Stalinist state the Bush administration seems determined to lead us into.

Rallies are being held in Columbus, Ohio and Washington, DC, and news stories of them are easily found on this and other progressive news sites. But for those who can't travel, perhaps the most important step you can take today is to call your two senators at 1-202-224-3121 or 1-800-839-5276 and ask them to join Conyers in his protest of the Ohio electors. This is particularly important if you live in California, West Virginia, Minnesota, Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maryland, Illinois, or Maine, as those state have senators who may be more inclined to join Conyers than most.

Make your call now. It's one of the last ways we can still reach our elected representatives without a Republican corporation in the middle.

Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection," "We The People," "The Edison Gene", and "What Would Jefferson Do?."

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