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Friday, November 12, 2004

All the Fraud You Can Eat 

Via Zemblan patriot J.D.: the NYT says that internet reports of possible vote fraud are so full of hooey they could have been written by Judith Miller.

Via Zemblan patriot K.Z.: Kevin Drum of Political Animal thinks internet reports of possible vote fraud are probably hooey, but admits that the information in this table (prepared by Steven Freeman of Penn) gives him pause:

So why am I posting about this at all if I don't believe it? [writes Drum.] Mainly because I'm getting progressively more pissed off about the exit polls with every passing day. The folks who ran them have actually encouraged rumor mongering by refusing to publicly explain what happened to us benighted masses. So far, all they've done is write a confidential report that apparently didn't even acknowledge the systemic errors in the final results and instead laid the blame on those irresponsible bloggers who got everyone riled up by posting early results. Meanwhile, their defenders in the media were practically apoplectic about the gall of non-experts using data they can't possibly understand in order to advance their own bizarre conspiracy theories. Which would be fair enough if they'd step up to the plate and give us the benefit of their expertise.
Sterling Newberry of BOP says that "Was the Election Stolen?" is the wrong question to ask. The right question: "Was It Stealable?"
In this post 911 world, we can easily make the distinction between "nothing went wrong, today" and "something could go wrong". What we will find, regardless of whether there is a way to make it add up to enough votes to swing the results, is to prove that there are pervasive irregularities in the balloting system, that these pervasive irregularities favor the Republican Party consistently, and that the "solutions" proposed often make the situation worse not better.
And, via Cursor: the Washington Post agrees that internet reports of possible vote fraud are so full of hooey they could have been written by Janet Cooke, in response to which Sam Parry of Consortium News says the same to you doubled:
While Bush’s totals are not statistically impossible, they do raise eyebrows. Our question was: where did these gains come from? We are not claiming that the surprising numbers are evidence of fraud, but we do believe the tallies deserve an honest and independent review.

It also should be the job of journalists to probe questions as significant as the integrity of the U.S. voting system, not to simply belittle those who raise legitimate questions. The fact that Internet journals and blogs are doing more to examine these concerns than wealthy news organizations like the Washington Post is another indictment of the nation’s mainstream press.
UPDATE (via our revered colleague Avedon Carol): Another isolated, one-of-a-kind incident for which there is undoubtedly a perfectly reasonable explanation:
A hand recount of ballots cast using optical scanning technology gave a Democrat enough extra votes to bump a Republican from victory in a county commissioner's race.

The erroneous tally was caused when the Fidlar Election Co. scanning system recorded straight-Democratic Party votes as votes for Libertarians in southeastern Indiana's Franklin County . . . .

Democrats had suspected a glitch after preliminary election results included a Libertarian congressional candidate winning 7.7 percent of the vote in Franklin County, more than four times better than he did across the entire district.

Fidlar workers said no programming problems were found in the Accuvote 2000 ES system, but said the Rock Island, Ill.-based company is going over its programming elsewhere in the state and in Wisconsin and Michigan, which, like Indiana, have straight-party voting.

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