Thursday, June 15, 2006

Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

With the exception of the post on An Inconvenient Truth, this is potentially the most important story I've mentioned on the blog since I started contributing. I say "potentially" only because I don't know if it's true. If it's true, it's that important.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has just published a long, detailed article in Rolling Stone entitled "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" Kennedy takes the title and much of his information from a forthcoming eponymous book for Seven Stories Press by Steven Freeman and Joel Bleifuss. All three men claim that Kerry won the Ohion in 2004 until it was taken from him by electoral fraud. Because Ohio was the deciding state, if they're right, then Kerry won the 2004 election.

Obviously, Kennedy has partisan allegiances and people have questioned his credibility before. Obviously the mainstream media haven't taken the story seriously.

Still, it sounds like Freeman and Bleifuss make a strong case.

Parts of the case are complicated and rely on statistical analysis. I won't try to reproduce those here. But the main points are pretty simple and based on two problem areas:
1) The exit polls
2) The Ohio secretary of state
1) THE EXIT POLLS had such a large population sample that they had only a 1-2% margin of error (compared to the usual 2-4% for even big national polls by the likes of ABC or The New York Times). But the exit polls were wrong in Ohio. Really wrong. 6-7% wrong, with Kerry winning.

These were sophisticated polls paid for by all the major news organizations (including FOX News), who paid for them because they wanted accurate information--especially after all the confusion in 2000. They shouldn't have been that wrong.

It turns out they were probably dead right. In the immediate aftermath, the only explanation the pollsters could come up with for the discrepancy between how the voters said they'd voted and how the state of Ohio said they'd voted was that Republicans had avoided exit polls more than Democrats had. But Was the 2004 Election Stolen says that 53% of Republicans responded to the pollsters while only 51% of Democrats did.

So it wasn't a biased sample throwing off the results. It an accurate sample testifying to rigged voting. But how could someone have rigged the vote?

2) For starters, that someone could have been the OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE J. Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell was not only in charge of registering voters and counting votes, he was also the co-chair of Bush's re-election campaign in Ohio. And, according to Kennedy, Bleifuss and Freeman have piled up irrefutable evidence that Blackwell acted on behalf of Bush rather than Ohio voters. Among other things, Bleifuss and Freeman apparently have documented 80,000 ballots fraudulently altered so as to change a Kerry vote to a Bush vote, hundreds of thousands of uncounted votes, and hundreds of thousands of Democratic voters removed from election rolls even though they were completely eligible voters. Kennedy offers a lot of really strong facts to back up those claims.

If even half of this is true, Blackwell helped rig a Presidential election. Which in turn would mean that Bush would turn out to be the only two-term President to have never been elected by the American people.

At a minimum, these are serious charges seriously made. The logic is persuasive, the evidence copious. At a minimum, the charges should be investigated--really investigated. By transparency groups, by journalists, by the FEC, and by special prosecutors. If we don't investigate this, we'll be deciding that democracy was an expensive error.


At 7:10 PM , Blogger Mike M. said...

I think Kennedy makes a strong case as well. Sadly, he presents it badly on television and, of course, anyone who claims vote-rigging always seems like a whiner in the public arena. It doesn't help that Kerry has chosen (probably so as not to seem like a whiner in case he runs in 2008) not to give Kennedy any support at all.

Sadly, though, this is one of those issues that should be non-partisan. The Ohio result is open to reasonable question at this point and Kennedy more than proved that. Makes me wonder what's going on in the rest of the country.

See... it doesn't have to be a national conspiracy. It doesn't have to be that either party has things rigged on a national level. The issue to me is, at the local level, we have good reason to believe that lots of votes on both sides just aren't counting.

At 4:12 PM , Blogger Jon E. said...

In, Farhad Manjoo takes issue with pretty much everything Kennedy has to say:


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