February 24, 2006

Extreme Makeover, Government Edition; Part II - Election Reform

I was recently invited to speak at a local college on the subject of the 2000 and 2004 elections… particularly how they were stolen. I wouldn’t call myself an expert on election rigging, but I am a flaming liberal, and I suppose that makes me an expert in most things anti-Bush.

I’ve been reading about the election anomalies and irregularities all along, and I had no doubt that the Busheviks stole both elections, but I hadn’t taken the time to meticulously compile all of the evidence and findings for a speech. So, for the past few weeks I’ve been researching. Rep. John Conyers’ document “Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio” is one of the definitive reports on the subject. This amazing piece of literature speaks to the corruption of the 2004 election, particularly in Ohio - the operative state that swung the presidency to Bush. Another critical reading is “Fooled Again” by Mark Crispin Miller, which goes deep into the 2004 election fraud and corruption, before during, and after November 2nd, on many aspects, not just Ohio. Then of course, there are a myriad of articles on the subject, too numerous to mention.

The election anomalies & irregularities in November of 2004 were abundant and just about every one of them favored Bush and the Republicans. The statistical evidence is overwhelming, not just because the ‘actual’ voting results differed so much from BOTH the exit polls AND the pre-election telephone polls, but because the discrepancies were only flagrant in the states and counties where the paperless, audit-less voting machines were deployed. Even if you ignore statistics, probability, and likelihood, simple common sense would conclude that election anomalies, if pure & innocent, would occur in BOTH directions. But nooooooooo… literally tens of thousands of election irregularities and they all benefited W. It simply isn’t possible. Make no mistake – this election was stolen!

My message in this article however, is not to document and prove that the elections were stolen. So many people have already done that, and I urge you to do your own research just as I have done. My message today is that the current electoral environment and processes in the United States are inherently flawed and need to be changed – radically changed. So here are a few ideas for radical change in our electoral process…

Conflicts of Interest

This goes back to Part 1 of my “Extreme Makeover” series, which was all about corruption. Essentially, no election official should ever have an affiliation with a candidacy. It’s nothing short of unconscionable that both Katherine Harris and Kenneth Blackwell were the top election officials in their respective states, while at the same time chairing the Bush campaign in the 2000 & 2004 elections in their respective states. That conflict-of-interest is just as blatant as the Vice President of the United States receiving compensation from a company that the government hands out no-bid, billion-dollar contracts to. Were they just coincidences that in both elections the tiebreaker came down to those states?

Clearly, in Ohio in the 2004 election, Kenneth Blackwell as Ohio’s Secretary of State (responsible for the election) AND chairperson of the Bush campaign, did everything in his power to swing Ohio over to Bush. Well before Election Day he was thwarting registrations and provisional & absentee ballots. On Election Day he allocated voting machines to the benefit of the more affluent Republican precincts while the lesser affluent Democratic precincts were shorted causing impossible waiting lines. After Election Day he did all he could do to obstruct the recount processes. This man’s actions are nothing short of treasonous as he intentionally impeded the United States democracy.

Verifiable Machines

Talk about infuriating… after the 2000 election debacle, our wonderful Republican-controlled congress passed an election reform law (the Help America Vote Act – HAVA) that actually made the election process worse. HAVA essentially corrupted the electoral process even more then it already was by paving the way for paperless, audit-less electronic voting machines, manufactured AND operated by blatantly partisan companies (Diebold, ES&S, Triad, etc.).

Every electronic balloting machine MUST have a paper trail to back up its tally, but HAVA does not require it. All machines should also produce a hard-copy receipt for the voter to verify and validate that the machine accurately recorded their vote. The electronic tally and the paper-trail tally must synchronize. Every electronic balloting machine must be open for random inspection, oversight, and verification to ensure the sanctity of the equipment.

Given the statistical discrepancies between the polling and ‘actual’ results, particularly in states & counties deploying these unverifiable machines, I am absolutely certain they were hacked. In the software industry, there are extremely stringent standards for quality assurance and auditing of transactions (i.e. ‘votes’). If you think that those voting machines without paper trails are just fine, just imagine one of those machines as your ATM, and the votes as deposits in your bank account. However, you never get a receipt for your transactions, and never receive monthly statements to reconcile your account. Would you trust your bank account to an electronic machine with no audit trail, no paper trail, no oversight, and manufactured & operated by an organized crime syndicate? (Not that I’m equating the Republicans to organized crime, although I certainly could, the point is that whether you’re a Democrat OR a Republican, you wouldn’t trust your money to organized crime).

Revise the Electoral College

This never made any sense at all to me. If one candidate receives just 1 vote more than the other in a given state, they get ALL of that state’s electoral votes. Why? What sense does that make? I can buy the concept of electoral votes, which are the equivalent of the total number of the members of Congress, but I think that within each state, the electoral votes should be divided according to the votes tallied for that state. The winner-gets-all rule on a state-by-state basis is not fair by any stretch of the imagination.

Media Coverage

Clearly, the media has a magnanimous influence over the public. The media has shaped public opinion in so many ways, and that is why it is so critical for the media to be politically independent. Unfortunately, that is not the case anymore. Media consolidation over the last 5 to 10 years has put the shaping of public opinion into the hands of a handful of people. One could argue that Rupert Murdoch had every bit of influence in selecting George W. Bush for president in 2000 as did the Supreme Court. The conservative bias in the Fox News Channel (FNC) is well documented in the exposé – Outfoxed. (By the way, if you have not had a chance to see this documentary I strongly urge you to rent the DVD. It’s truly astonishing when you hear about some of the stuff that occurred behind the scenes at FNC. Having seen that documentary, I will never watch FNC again, nor will I ever trust any news from FNC.)

I would never advocate for governmental influence over the media. However, in the case of elections, I do believe there are some guidelines that the media should observe in the interest of preserving fairness. First of all, no media outlet should ever be predicting any winners before all of the polls are closed. I know that if I lived out on the west coast and one of the networks called the race before I had a chance to vote, I probably wouldn’t bother voting.

Make Election Day a holiday

It would not cause economic harm to have a special holiday once every couple of years to aid in the election process. Citizens shouldn’t have to fit voting into their work schedule, along with picking up their kids from day care. If you really want to Help America Vote (HAVA), make Election Day a holiday. That will help them get to the polls.

In the end…

Having faith in the electoral process has everything to do with the credibility of the President, his/her ability to govern, the plausibility of his/her agenda, and his/her mandate for change. In every respect I have no faith in this President.


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