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Thursday, November 04, 2004



I was listening Dianne Rehm last night and didn't I hear Norman Ornstein raising questions are the vote counts in Ohio?

I thought Kerry was gracious in not wanting to drag the country through a repeat of 2000 but it doesn't mean we shouldn't ask questions or even be so bold as to make an assertion or two.

just my .02.

Marc Cooper

John: People should question whatever they want and assert whatever feels good. But shouldn;t we be spending our energy on something slightly more constructive?

Further, one's credibilty is better maintained when one has evidence. There is none. Polls are polls -- including exit polls. People lie on exit polls the same way they do in other polls. And even if they didn't -- there are margins of error whenever stats are based on sampling as exit polls are.

I read Palast's piece very closely and maybe Im dumb, but I see NO evidence whatsoever for his assertions. The only "fact" that might stand up is that ballot spoilage is generally higher among Blacks and Indians. That is because educational levels among poorer racial minorities are lower and their voting error rate is therefore higher. True in every election, in every state, in every county.

But, really, Palast's piece is wholly leveraged on the absolutely absurd assertion that exit polling should be taken as a standard of certainty. That's a dead end.

John Moore (Useful Fools)

Presidential elections in America have always had irregularities. Nixon chose not to fight in 1960, even though he had a good chance of prevailing (lots of ghosts voting from the Chicago democrat machine); Ashcroft, running for the Senate in 2000 chose not to protest some major illegalities in St. Louis balloting.

Conspiracy theories always pop up, because some folks are conspiracy minded. There are still conservatives who think someone killed Ron Brown on his plane before it crashed; who believe that Vince Foster was murdered (Gordon Liddy I think pushed this one along, though as a former FBI agent he had to know better); Clinton was involved in cocaine smuggling in Mena.

The internet allows conspiracies to be amplified.

A lot of conspiratorial folks believe in the face on mars, the hidden aliens from the Roswell UFO, and who know what else.

I hope nobody makes a big deal of vote conspiracies or it will create hatred, and we can do without that.


Your analysis of the Democratic Party is spot on. It needs reform. That's where most of the energy should be focused on. Heads should roll.

But the voting system is still in bad need of updating despite 4 billion already spent. Only I think Nevada has a paper trail for those electronic machines.

According to, the results from precincts in King County, WA are modemed to a Microsoft 2000 Remote Access Server. The results are stored in a Microsoft Access database! That is so unbelievably hackable!

Shouldn't our votes have the same protections as say money being transferred between banks?

Marc Cooper

Yes.. the machines should be more secure, for sure.

JM Hanes

There's real irony here! Mr. Palast is almost singlehandedly responsible for the urban legend about massive disenfranchisement of Florida voters in 2000, a theme so dear to Democrats and so central to Campaign '04 rhetoric. His "facts" were every bit as flagrantly unreliable then -- as anyone who tried to cull actual info & data (versus a few random anecdotes) from the subsequent Civil Rights Commission report discovered.

Michael Hardesty

Your right, Marc ! Palast is off his gourd.
But Dennis Bernstein on KPFA's Flashpoints will
run his nonsense as absolute truth and Amy Goodman
will probably give him a respectful hearing too.

Marc Cooper

Michael.. undoubtedly. By the way, I read ur post on the other thread and I know what u mean about the PC cabal at KPFA. An OSSIFIED PC cabal.


JM Hanes - I wasn't aware that Katherine Harris irresponsible, indiscriminate use of a "felons list" supplied by a politically friendly contractor to scrub the Florida voter rolls in 2000 and it's well-documented disproportionate impact on black voters who weren't felons was a "random anecdote".

I fully expected this kind of nonsense too. In fact I'm surprised its not more widespread.

The real story of this election is Karl Rove's success in registering new evangelical voters in crucial swing states, including swing states where you'll note gay marriage or social issues generally were not on the ballot.

The country remains as fundamentally divided along political and cultural lines as it was in 2000, and in fact John Kerry won impressive victories among the crucial independent vote in important swing states (57% in Florida, 59% in Ohio), carrying on the trendline that began in 1992. Had Rove not been quite so politically astute, and begun registering new evangelicals soon after the 2000 election, Kerry would've won the Gore states + Ohio + Florida + New Hampshire. He might still have lost the popular vote, but that would've had everything to do with Bush's huge margins in red states.

Yes the Democrats need to fundamentally reform the party from within, but without a massive and permanent voter registration drive aimed at Democrat friendly constituencies - the tens of millions of unregistered single women, peeople of color, the working poor - it don't mean a thing.

GM Roper

Palast wrote: "But this week, Blackwell, a rabidly partisan Republican, has warmed up to the result of sticking with machines that have a habit of eating Democratic votes. "

Gee, how does the machine deterimine that the vote is Democratic?

Marc, you are again, as on so much on target. This is not rational discussions of what needs to change (for the democrats or republicans) or what needs to change in our political dialog. This speaks to paranoia.

I hope the real progressives in this country band together and take back the Democratic party, that can only be good for America. Just as the Democrats need to tone down the hate, the Republicans do too.

As Glen Renolds remarked, "It always strikes me that so many people who are quick to note the importance of understanding the differences in perception between nations, or races, or sexual preferences, and to try to bridge those gaps, are so unwilling to do the same thing where people from elsewhere in their own country are concerned. But Democrats must do better, or become a regional party. Because contempt doesn't win a lot of votes."

That goes for the right as well.


I agree with you Marc.


I'm not at all convinced by Palast's argument about Ohio, though it wouldn't surprise me to hear about some extent of the shenanigans that characterized the Florida farce of 2000. I doubt it's enough to change the vote in Ohio, and of course not nationally.
I don't believe that Palast spread urban myths about Florida and disenfranchisement. That sounds like a mantra that the right likes to use in response to clear facts about fake felon lists, mass numbers of Jews voting for Buchanan... That was rather blatant, so blatant that it required a massive get out the vote effort on the part of relgious conservatives to beat back the improvements that resulted from the work of people like Palast and the NAACP, ACLU, in the post-2000 mess.

Josh Legere

Palast is full of it. KPFK is all over it already. Another stolen election! I had to listen to Quigley last night for laughs. Wow Pacifica is nuts. Democracy Now will be all over this...

I am suprised that you are not all over this one Steve.

Josh Legere

I also heard Micheal Slate from the RCP on Pacifica talking about how Kerry "took one for the empire."

The madness never stops...

Marc we need you back on the radio in LA.

Josh Legere

I also heard Micheal Slate from the RCP on Pacifica talking about how Kerry "took one for the empire."

The madness never stops...

Marc we need you back on the radio in LA.


"I am suprised that you are not all over this one Steve."

Why would you be surprised that a person who likes the writings of Jerry Lembcke, Noam Chomsky, and Doug is not a big fan of conspiracy theory? If you read any of such people carefully, I can't see how you could express such surprise.


First post to this board, been reading for a month or so.

I was very dissappointed in the Palast article, especially after the crack reporting on the 2000 debacle. I thought he had more sanity than that: guess I should've read him closer. Now do I have to re-read all of his 2000 stuff and make sure that wasn't a bunch of bs as well?


Norman Ornstein? Vote count reform? Paper Trails? Treating our votes like first class citizens?

Nope. Instead I hear Glen Reynolds and Bill O'Reilly: Shut up! Just Shut Up!

In minority dominated precints the crappier equipment is generally used. Why? Separate and unequal seems to apply in those places. Doesn't this amplify the disenfranshisement effect?

In a black precint in Columbus people were turned away after waiting for 5 hours. The reason? Only two voting booths!

Anyone have any figures on the number of lawsuits that were filed about keeping precints open in OH? Anyone have an estimate on many people just gave up?

Why can't we ask these questions? Why shouldn't this be an on-going national priority?


Josh - why on God's good earth would you spend your time listening to a Maoist crackpot broadcasting on Pacifica ?


Marc... It's too bad. Palast is bright enough, but he's too taken with his vision of himself as muckracker demi-star---damn the facts.

While the KPFKs and KPFAs of the world may be grabbing on to these conspiracy theories, thankfully most of the large liberal blogs have nearly uniformly avoided this nonsense, and Salon has already come out against another version of the WE WAS ROBBED theory advanced by the Democratic Underground.

Look, I admit it: I was fully expecting a goodly amount of Rovian lying, cheating and stealing. But, if it went on, it appears it wasn't on a scale to make any real difference.

As Jon Stewart said last night, in a lotta ways it kinda felt better to be defrauded---as some of us believed we were four years ago. It turns out we preferred the fraud thing know...just plain having our asses whupped.

(All that said, JM Hanes, as reg pointed out, it's far from just Palast who documented the vote scrubbing debacle of 2000; it has been pointed out by such notorious fringe whackos as former President Jimmy Carter.)

One final note: for all you sore winners out there lecturing with spectacular self-righteousness on the earlier thread (All but you, GM, you've been very adult and graceful), before you get too mandate-crazy, do keep in mind that your guy also had more Americans voting AGAINST him, than any candidate in any other election in US history.

And---separate and apart from the woefully enraging failings of the DNC and the DLC and anyone else who ever had a good thought about Terry McAuliffe --- tens of thousands of ordinary people worked unbelievably hard and in good faith on the Blue State side of this election for a goal that they failed to accomplish---a huge number of them people who had never before been particularly politically active. In similar good faith, many of those same people, and others like them, gave more money to this or that aspect of this presidential race than they’d ever given cumulatively in their respective lives, and usually in $25 and $50 increments. All that involvement is a good thing, by any sane standard. More young people came out to vote than ever before (I know, I know: not proportionately more), meaning that more young people cared more about the democratic process than ever before and, as it happens, the greater number of those kids voted for Kerry. To cavalierly dismiss and deride all that work and caring and involvement, as many of you have been doing, is… to put it? a tad unAmerican

Think what you like, guys, but the overriding majority of these various folks were not working against you, dear Red State voter, or vilifying you, dear Republican supporter, they were working against the policies of George W. Bush, which they---and I---really and truly believed to be damaging and dangerous. Still do. And guess what? We get to think and say those things in a democracy. That's how it works.

You don’t have to agree, you don’t have to like any of it, but---if you care about the country as much as you say you do---show some fuckin’ respect.


If only they'd listened to Howard Dean:


"One of the bright spots in Florida was the passage of the amendment
for an increase in the state minimum wage, starting at $6.15 an hour
and beginning six months after enactment. The wage is to be annually
indexed to inflation thereafter. Amendment 5, one of eight ballot
initiatives here, won with 71 percent of the vote, 4,834,437 votes to
1,990,465. It appears that the amendment got more votes than Bush"
(Bill Davis and Esther Moroze, "Florida Minimum Wage Amendment
Passes," November 6, 2004,

Andrew Gumbel

Yes Palast's piece is bollocks. That's obvious. But there are also a number of disturbing irregularities emerging from Ohio, over and above the well-documented attempts by Sec of State and Bush-Cheney campaign co-chair Ken Blackwell to stack the deck against the Democrats as much as possible ahead of time.

What are these irregularities? Reports coming in from lawyers and other observers on the ground point to a lack of voting machines in predominantly African American and/or poor areas, compared with much better machine to voter ratios in more conservative areas in the same counties. That, in turn, led to queues as long as 10 hours on Tuesday in some places. Interestingly, when Fox called Ohio for Bush, not only were not all the votes counted, but not all the votes were yet cast. Voting carried on until 3am in some areas.

We are also learning there was a butterfly-ballot style format problem with the absentee ballot in Franklin County, seemingly favouring Bush. Likewise, there were problems in touchscreen voting machine counties, eg failure to record votes properly, or machines that light up for Bush when the voter presses for Kerry (and, it must be said, vice versa).

Now here's the point. All of this info needs to be QUANTIFIED -- a word Greg Palast doesn't seem to understand or appreciate, to judge by his work on both Florida 2000 and this election -- and it is simply too early to do that. The vote-counting process is still going on, and will last several more days. Once that's over we can ask the hard questions: How did the provisional ballot count pan out? How many of them were discarded and on whose say-so? How many residual votes (eg undervotes or overvotes) did the punchcard machines produce? Any chance of making an open records request to inspect them? Etc etc.

Let me make clear, I'm not postulating a dark conspiracy theory here. It seems to me that, even under ideal impartial counting circumstances, Bush would more than likely stay ahead in Ohio, albeit by a reduced, perhaps significantly reduced, margin. Given the fact that Bush was well over three million votes ahead nationwide, Kerry clearly did the right thing to throw in the towel rather than hope against hope of eking out a Bush 2000-style fake victory after weeks of turmoil. (Just imagine what would have happened to him, and to the Democrats, if he had done that and still lost.)

It is equally clear, however, that a number of things in this election fell significantly short of the standards of transparency and fairness one would, ahem, expect a great and glorious democracy like the United States to aspire to. It doesn't seem unreasonable to speculate that, while Bush won the election fair and square, his supporters had a few contingency plans up their sleeves in case it got really close again.

It is important to research the aberrations thoroughly and to continue to lobby for meaningful reform to fix them. It is also important to counter the emerging conventional wisdom that the electoral system is fine again after the freak meltdown of 2000. Contrary to popular belief, the management of elections was far from fine before 2000 and it is possibly even further from fine now.

What really ticks me off about Greg Palast is that he blends issues of genuine concern with self-aggrandising fantasies that make it way too easy for those in power to brush away the entire premise of his "investigations". Here are the rest of us, trying to break into the evidence room, only to realise that Palast has already snooped around and pissed all over everything. In our brave new Bushworld, that's the last thing we need.


Compare Josh's version of Thomas Franks with the real Frank in the op-ed column of the NYT today; long winded attacks on affirmative action, gay marriage,...just straightup economic populism and pointing out the contradictions in the cultural wars of the right...interesting stuff...indeed, completely unlike the Thomas Frank josh is using against my arguments...

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