Friday, January 27, 2006

How to Achieve One-Party Rule 

Terrence McNally of AlterNet interviews Mark Crispin Miller, author of The Bush Dyslexicon and, most recently, Fooled Again: How The Right Stole The 2004 Election, And Why They'll Steal The Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them). The latter book has made Mr. Miller something of a media pariah: the major talk shows have refused to book him, and when he tried to buy an ad spot on NPR, NPR turned him down:
MCM: The evidence in Ohio, as anyone who followed the story knows, is copious. Bush allegedly won that state by 118,000 votes. As I point out -- and this part of the book is largely based on John Conyers' report to the House Judiciary Committee -- the various stratagems, tricks and tactics used to prevent people from registering, to prevent them from voting, to throw away provisional ballots -- all these add up to a number far greater than 118,000.

TM: That's news to me. Many people have said, yes, there were long lines, yes, there was disproportionate distribution of voting machines, yes, there was trouble with provisional ballots, yes, there was intimidation -- but the margin was 120,000. You're saying that they add up to over 120,000?

MCM: Oh easily, easily. It was in the urban parts of Ohio that most of this stuff went down. All the urban centers in Ohio were Democratic. If people want to get a strong sense of what was happening at the grassroots level coast to coast last year, go to a website called the Election Incident Reporting System, EIRS. Then type in the name of a state or a county, and you'll get a transcript of all the complaints that were lodged that day by people who called 1-866-MY-VOTE.

Now a lot of them couldn't get through because it was understaffed, but those who did get through left messages. You can find copious firsthand evidence of what the average person had to go through to try to vote against Bush. This didn't happen only in Ohio. Electronic touchscreen machines flipped Kerry votes into Bush votes in at least 11 states.

TM: You say similar practices (and occasionally worse ones) were applied in several other key states -- Florida, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and even New York?

MCM: In New Mexico, for example, we're told that Bush won by some 7,000 votes. We know of over 17,000 Democratic voters who were unable to cast a vote for president because the touchscreen machines in their districts refused to record a vote for president.

These 17,000-plus New Mexicans turned out to vote in Democratic areas, and they didn't record a vote for president. Seventeen thousand is 10,000 more than 7,000. That glitch alone can account for the ostensible victory margin of Bush over Kerry in New Mexico. Greg Palast's new book will have a whole chapter on New Mexico. It's hair-raising stuff, and we haven't heard a word about it. The same kind of thing happened in Iowa, where Bush supposedly won by under 10,000 votes.

Tom Daschle was supposedly beaten in South Dakota by 4,500 votes. There was so much chicanery going on there, that it's easy to argue that John Thunes should not have won. I know Daschle believes he was robbed.

This isn't only a matter of the White House, it's also a matter of the Congress. I don't believe that this government represents the people of this country. The people of this country, however frightened some of them may be by terrorism, are essentially not theocratically inclined. They don't want a Christian republic. They were not happy with the way the government dealt with the Terry Schiavo case. Americans basically believe in the American system of government. Checks and balances, the separation of church and state.

The press kept telling us after the election that a huge outpouring of religious voters account for Bush's miraculous victory. Well that's nothing more than a talking point that the religious right itself put out after the election. There is no statistical evidence whatsoever that there was any increase in the number of religious voters.

TM: The big thing that people seized on was one particular exit poll in which people, when given a choice of a few things, said moral values was the No. 1 reason for their vote. More people answered moral values in 1996 and in 2000 than in 2004. There was actually a drop in the number of people who attributed their vote to moral values in 2004, not a rise.

Let me check a couple of things with you. I've heard that exit polls were most inaccurate -- by a big margin -- in those areas that used electronic voting machines with no paper trail. True?

MCM: That's basically true, and it was particularly noticeable in five swing states. There's a lot of stuff floating around out there in cyberspace about the exit polls. The question of the exit polls has been very badly muddied by a lot of disingenuous argument. Now a lot of people think that it's not a reliable gauge, it doesn't tell us anything. That's actually the result of propaganda obfuscation. The exit polls' sudden divergence, sudden wrongness in these five states is really a remarkable deviation from the norm.

The guy doing the best work on that particular issue is a statistician at the University of Pennsylvania named Steve Freeman, who will have a book coming out in a few months primarily about the exit poll question.

Bogus reasons for why the exit polls were so wrong include the reluctant responder argument, which holds that Bush voters were strangely reluctant to tell exit pollsters how they voted. Well, Freeman has read the raw data at precinct level and has discovered that, as a matter of fact, if anyone showed a greater reluctance to come forward and say honestly who they voted for when confronted with an exit pollster, it was actually the Democrats. There's no evidence of any numerical kind that can support the view that somehow Republicans wouldn't fess up.
Mr. Miller also sees "Diebold magic" at work in the 2002 Congressional elections: in Colorado, Minnesota, and Georgia, among other states, "you had far-right-wing politicians predicted to lose by pre-election newspaper polls and by exit polls, and all of them won."

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