As far as Republican vote fraud, part of me says “Oh, get a grip. Yes those touchscreens can be hacked, but Claire McCaskill edged out Jim Talent two years ago, so how much of it could really be going on in Missouri?”
But another part of me knows that those lying, cheating power mongers have done and will do enough to get them into the fourth circle of hell. Richard Hayes Phillips, in describing what he learned about the stolen 2004 Ohio election, reminded me of their extensive repertoire of dirty tricks.
When he spoke at the Ethical Society last week, he summarized the high points (low points?) of his new book about the Ohio election, “Witness to a Crime.” I heard his remarks this way: How do I cheat thee? Let me count the ways.
Besides programming touchscreens to flip votes from Kerry to Bush or to simply refuse to let a citizen vote in the presidential race, districts can withhold machines from Democratic areas–simply not deliver them.
- Some voters signed affidavits saying that they were handed punchcard ballots that had the presidential choice already punched out. Since those ballots were pulled from packets of ballots that were put together in shrink wrap bundles at the factory, that was where the punching had to have been done.
- Some city polling places had several precincts voting in one building, and Ohio law required that the punchcard ballots rotate the order of the presidential candidates in different precincts. All the cheaters had to do in strong Democratic districts was deliver the stacks of ballots to scanners for the wrong precinct and the Kerry votes would be miscounted either for Bush or for third party candidates. Lo and behold, in some of those strong D districts 30-40 percent of the presidential vote went to unknown third party candidates.
- 168,000 voters were purged from the rolls, 64,000 of them in Cleveland, a Democratic stronghold. They could have been put on an inactive list, but Kenneth Blackwell, the Republican Secretary of State, ordered them purged. The higher the percentage of votes won by Gore in 2000 in a given precinct, the higher the percentage of purged voters.
- Blackwell reversed a ruling that provisional ballots be counted. There were 93,000 ballots from blue areas on election night that were never counted.
- Ballot boxes were stuffed. We know that because Phillips photographed more ballots than the total number issued to voters in some precincts. He also photographed illegal ballots–ballots with no printing on the back to identify them as legal.
- One building where the votes were counted that night was locked down, due to a supposed terrorist threat, so that there were no bipartisan observers of the count in that location.
Okay, so Missouri is neck and neck in the presidential, and McCain has to have Missouri if he is to win. How much do we need worry that people will be talking about how Missouri was stolen?
Here’s what I know. We have a Democratic Secretary of State so that, at the very least, wholesale vote fraud would be all but impossible to coordinate. Furthermore, the Obama campaign will have lawyers at the polling sites to advise voters if they run into any of the problems cited above. But most of all, if we turn out the vote with a fantastic ground game, and if McCain’s ground game turns out to be as pitiful as it promises to be, the GOP efforts to disenfranchise our people will be inadequate to turn the race.
The two sides have been dueling, using different weapons: new registrations and vote caging. I’d say we’ve got an Ouzi versus their .32 caliber. The African-American turnout–not to mention the youth vote–should be mind boggling, and the Obama campaign is planning to do all it can to keep those voters who end up spending a goodly chunk of their day at the polls sticking it out till they get to the head of the line.
Bottom line: I never take Republican efforts to steal the vote lightly. It drives me crazy that nothing is being done at the federal level or in Missouri to deal with the twin threats of hacking DREs and scanners. But I’d rather be dueling with our weapons this year than theirs.