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Massive irregularities in the November 2 presidential vote count “will probably lead to congressional hearings in the Committee on the Judiciary,” predicts Rep. John Conyers, the committee’s ranking Democrat and longest sitting member of the Congressional Black Caucus. If tampering is found, said the Detroit lawmaker, “there will be prosecutions” under federal law.

Watergate first surfaced as a short, curious story about a break-in at Democratic Party headquarters, in the summer of 1972. A decidedly low-tech crime, the Watergate conspiracy unraveled slowly as the Republican malefactors turned on each other, finally leaving their president naked to the world, disgraced. The Great Vote Theft of 2004, on the other hand, was in part a series of high-tech crimes against numbers – felonies designed to leave no physical trace, but which are evident through the patterns created by the perpetrators. Squads of dedicated sleuths are on the case – some of them at the top of their technical game – assembling data to reveal tell-tale patterns of massive vote fraud. There may soon be compelling circumstantial evidence of how the crimes were committed and, by deduction, the identity of the conspirators.

But first, Rep. Conyers and five congressional colleagues have to make sure the evidence doesn’t disappear quicker than John Kerry’s projected lead in the exit polls. On November 8, Conyers wrote his second letter to the U.S. Comptroller General, requesting that the non-partisan General Accounting Office “immediately undertake an investigation of the efficacy of voting machines and new technologies used in the 2004 election, how election officials responded to difficulties they encountered and what can we do in the future to improve our election systems and administration.” Time is of the essence because “[t]here is substantial concern that much of the primary evidence needed to evaluate these allegations will not be preserved without immediate action.” Conyers fears “this evidence can be moved or changed.”

Joined by fellow CBC members Robert C. Scott (D-VA) and Melvin Watt (D-NC), and Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Rush Holt (D-NJ), Conyers pointed to the “more than 30,000 complaints” registered at the Election Incident Reporting Service (EIRS) and “265 specific complaints” listed at the Voters Unite! site. “We continue to receive additional reports every minute and will transmit additional information as it becomes available,” the legislators wrote.

Punk Press

The corporate media, who disavowed their own exit polls when the numbers came out “wrong” (Kerry leading) on Election Day, are institutionally invested in the legitimacy of George Bush’s presidency. “I was tipped off by a person very high up in TV that the news has been locked down tight, and there will be no TV coverage of the real problems with voting on Nov. 2,” wrote Bev Harris, head of Black Box Voting and veteran mover-and-shaker on the dangers of electronic ballots. “Even the journalists are pretty horrified. My source said they've also been forbidden to talk about it even on their own time, and he was calling from somewhere else. He was trying to figure out how to get the real news out on vote fraud. This is a person I've worked with off and on for nearly two years, and the voice was so somber it really bothered me.”

Harris posted her online warning in the wee hours of November 8. But later that day, the wall of corporate media collaboration cracked a bit, when MSNBC Countdown host Keith Olbermann presented 16 minutes of straight-up reporting on a range of vote irregularities in Ohio, Florida and elsewhere, capped by an interview with Congressman Conyers. The real domestic Story of the Century had “legs” – finally. If Conyers can expand and maintain his congressional Coalition of the Unwilling through to the hearings that he is entitled by rank to conduct, even the craven corporate media will find it difficult to dismiss the “conspiracy theorists.” Literally hundreds of reporters are aware in detail of the real conspiracy – the late night decision to validate the craziest election numbers in modern times – and some of them have a conscience.

Conyers is compelled to go through the motions of requesting help from the General Accounting Office, which is obligated to assist the Congress in carrying out its duties. However, the true engines of resistance to Bush’s crime accompli are the grassroots investigators, technicians and numbers crunchers busily in search of patterns of anomalies in the corrupted election returns – numbers that should not be there – and answers to how the tallies might have been engineered. These are the people who will craft the technical indictment against the Bush men. Bev Harris is at the center of the rebellion. On Monday she renewed her call for “lawyers, computer people, statisticians” and “funds to pay for copies of the evidence.” For non-specialists, Harris has other assignments:

”Discrepancies please, and hurry. E-mail them to [email protected] . Pass the word. Need source documents, too. ASAP. Follow your nose, or join the Black Box Scavenger Hunt: Pick a county. Look at small counties, as we are seeing many discrepancies in those. Look in any state. Get the official number of registered voters, Dem and Republican. Get the number of votes cast on Nov. 2, Republican and Dem. Make a grid like this….”

Harris is looking forward to putting Republicans in the dock. “We are working now to compile the proof, based not on soft evidence – red flags, exit polls – but core documents obtained by Black Box Voting in the most massive Freedom of Information action in history,” she wrote. There are “strong indications that both Florida and Ohio would be flipped if election manipulations are rolled back. Some indication that fraud may
have occurred in at least 30 states.”

Power trumps exit polls

It may be possible to mortally wound the Bush administration without “flipping” the election – a tall order. If “at least 30 states” were subjected to GOP fraud, then hundreds of individual operatives were involved in the crimes. The more perpetrators, the better the fishing. Untying one knot could cause the whole conspiracy to unravel in a chaos of recriminations and crime-compounding cover-ups. Remember Watergate.

The networks, the “horse race” impresarios who fed the public a daily campaign diet of dueling polls rather than issues and facts, have disgraced themselves in their eagerness to discredit the Mother of All Political Surveys, the presidential exit polls. This is their Electiongate, too. The aborted November 2 exit poll finally engaged 150,000 real voters, face to face, about a subject they cared enough about to show up for: voting. The usual commercial poll involves 800 to 1500 respondents, drawn from the dwindling minority of people who agree to speak to pollsters on the phone – sometimes as few as 20 percent of those called.

( calculated that Kerry was penalized up to three percentage points by flawed commercial polls in the lead-up to the election, especially the Gallup Poll, whose electoral model projected that Blacks would make up only 7.5 percent of the turnout. Black participation had hovered around 10 percent in the last two presidential elections, and reached 11 percent in 2004.When the exit polls came in, we felt vindicated.)

Morally challenged but professionally competent former Bill Clinton advisor Dick Morris got it right before (like John Kerry) he got it wrong: “That an exit poll is always right is an axiom of politics. It is easier to assume that a compass is not pointing north than to assume that an exit poll is incorrect. It takes a deliberate act of fraud and bias to get an exit poll wrong. Since the variables of whether or not a person will actually vote are eliminated in exit polling, it is like peeking at the answer before taking the test,” said Morris, correctly. Then he flipped out. “But these exit polls were wrong. And the fact that they were so totally, disastrously wrong is a national scandal. There should be a national investigation to unearth the story behind the bias.”

Amazing. Like the networks, Morris cannot acknowledge the truth that is obvious to Black voters everywhere. Since official returns must be right, he reasons, the exit polls must have been rigged. Who was the puppeteer of hundreds of exit pollsters at locations all across the country? Dick Morris doesn’t say. Because there is nothing to say.

David Swanson, former spokesman for the Dennis Kucinich presidential campaign and now media coordinator for the AFL-CIO associated International Labor Communications Association (ILCA), notes that

“the exit polls were accurate within their margin of error in many states but were surprisingly far off in a number of swing states, and always off in the same direction, showing more support for Kerry than was found in the official counts. Warren Mitofsky, co-director of the National Election Pool, told the News Hour with Jim Lehrer that ‘Kerry was ahead in a number of states by margins that looked unreasonable to us.’ Mitofsky speculated that perhaps more Kerry voters were willing to participate in the exit poll, but did not suggest any reason for that speculation other than the difference between the exit polls and the final counts.”

As Swanson says, it’s all “circular reasoning” – an attempt to avoid the obvious, and all the more maddeningly ironic since, by Dick Morris’s reasoning, Mitofsky is the guy best-placed to “rig” the exit polls in Kerry’s favor. Instead, he ordered them shut down, for presidential choice purposes. Swanson’s article cites University of Pennsylvania Professor Steven F. Freeman, whose November 9 study of the exit poll and official tallies in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania finds the figures totally incompatible. “The likelihood of any two of these statistical anomalies occurring together is in the order of one-in-a-million. The odds of all three occurring together are 250 million to one,” the MIT Ph.D calculated. “As much as we can say in social science that something is impossible, it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote counts in the three critical battleground states of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error.”

Day-long Hell

Somebody’s figures are bogus in all three states, and for much of the nation at large. The conspirators are the same people who, as crusading journalist Greg Palast regularly documents, have made vote theft an institutional crime – that is, Republicans (and others) steal Black votes with such regularity through both legal and informal means that their crime sprees have grown to seem much like weather. (See “Kerry Won,”, November 4.) Count Every Vote 2004 documented hundreds of voting irregularities in seven southern states, typically involving “faulty equipment and sub-par facilities in some poor neighborhoods [that] contributed to possible voter disenfranchisement.”

The digital vote tricksters are the same people who created a day-long Hell for voters in the mostly Black Broward County, Florida precinct where Marsha Johnson, an African American attorney from New York City, was assigned as a voter protection volunteer:

”I saw an incompetent poll clerk telling approximately 1 in every 5 registered voters (who voted at the very same polling place last year and who's voter registration cards indicated that they were at the correct polling site) that they had mysteriously been ‘reassigned’ to other sites but failing to tell them where to go, or worse, giving them incorrect information.”

And so on, at thousands of locations, thefts of awesome dimensions and howling arrogance – the humiliation of African Americans in order to secure George Bush another chance to destroy the planet.

Yet, in the continental insane asylum that (white) Manifest Destiny has made of America, this is only “soft” evidence of crime, as Bev Harris correctly notes in her summons for a posse to corral the electronic ballot stuffers and stealers. The “soft” crimes of 2000 were repeated with a vengeance in 2004, and there is no reason to expect the system to respond any differently this time around. Exit polls are “soft” too: they only point us to the methodology of the criminal, who must be ensnared in the provable act of ballot tampering – a “hard” crime.

John Maxwell, the esteemed Jamaican activist, educator and journalist, sees the United States much more clearly from Kingston than ABC’s Peter Jennings does through his teleprompter. The U.S. corporate media got whiplash disassociating themselves from their own very expensive exit polls. Many lost their composure in trying to acclimate to the new corporate line, that voters had “swung” from Kerry to Bush in the latter hours of Election Day – a totally counter-intuitive proposition when considering that Black and poor folks vote late. “But there was no swing,” wrote Maxwell. “According to one exit pollster, both candidates retained 90 per cent of their party's 2000 voters. So the swing came in the computers. In Florida people complained that their votes were recorded for Bush although they had voted for Kerry.”

Hard evidence

On January 6, the United States Senate will once again be called upon to say “Yes” or “No” to the verdict of the Electoral College. Four years ago, as millions were reminded in Michael Moore’s movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” 20 members of the Congressional Black Caucus rose to ask that at least one Senator raise his or her voice to object to awarding Florida’s stolen electoral votes to George W. Bush. Not one Senator spoke up. Apparently, the evidence was too “soft.”

This year, the Bush men reached into the voting machinery to alter the results of the election in a large number of jurisdictions, apparently adding lots more votes than they subtracted. The Republican operatives and their handlers need to do “hard” time, and be forced to trade in their co-conspirators up and down the line, like other criminals. The patterns and sources of the Great Vote Theft of 2004 may well be discerned in the coming weeks. No hand is truly unseen.

Richard Nixon didn’t personally plan the Watergate break-in – his subordinates did. However, two years of lying about the crime so thoroughly discredited Tricky Dick that he found it necessary to resign. We at doubt that George Bush knew the details of his henchmen’s high- and low-tech election crime wave – why would anybody tell that fool anything? – and we would be surprised if the evidence pattern reveals enough purloined votes to reverse the results of November 2. But fixing elections is a crime, and covering up a crime is a bigger felony, as Nixon’s crew discovered. If Conyers and Bev Harris and squadrons of citizens run their show right, we may at least look forward to four years of a once-again “illegitimate” Bush presidency. With luck, we might even send Karl Rove to prison.

At any rate, it will be good to have the hounds yelping at the “master’s” heels, for a change.

Next week: Black relations with the Democratic Party are at a turning point, but not towards the GOP.



November 11 2004
Issue 113

is published every Thursday.

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