M. Collins: Six Years After Florida, Where Are We?
Six Years After Florida, Where Are
Warning! Adult Content, Shocking Material
“Scoop” Independent News
Understanding Florida 2000 is central to understanding where we stand today as a nation. Al Gore’s clear victory in the popular vote was obscured immediately by the last minute drama of the Florida vote count. The extended melodramatics of the post election period further confused and confounded the fundamental problems with that election.
The birth of a lie. The last shall be first by media acclamation and judicial ratification.
Rather than focus on the at least 50 thousand plus black Floridians who were summarily removed from state registration rolls due to a faulty felon purge computer program (citizens who had every right to vote), we had to endure the endless discussion of a few hundred flawed ballot in a retirement community.
Instead of focusing on the over 20,000 invalidated presidential ballots in Duval County, which came almost exclusively from Democratic precincts, and the tens of thousands more mostly minority ballots that were arbitrarily tossed out by so-called election judges, we had to endure a dyspeptic Judge from Leon County who told the lawyers he had plenty of time when he knew time was of the essence.
And when the votes were finally being recounted in Miami Dade, instead of focusing on a preppy riot by Republican Congressional staffers flown in just for that event; a riot that ended the vote count, we were diverted to minutiae. Even though knowing their identity would have been a huge story, no one bothered to tell us who these scary folks were.
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Washington DC based Republican Congressional staffer show up at Miami Dade County Board of Elections and stage the preppy riot that lead the board of elections to suspend its Presidential vote recount. These Republican operatives helped change history.
What was the grand plan to prevent any more elections like Florida 2000? Lets all vote on computerized voting machines, really complicated machines. Everybody knows you can’t cheat with a computer. We’ll even spend billions to buy states and counties voting machines from vendors with strong Republican ties. And even better, we’ll set up an Election Assistance Commission that focuses almost exclusively on voting technology while totally ignoring race and class bias plus political dirty tricks, the real problems with Florida 2000…a bipartisan effort.
The Sorry Record of Questionable Elections
When a solution fails to match the problem in question, the problem persists. In 2002, Max Cleland and Barnes went from substantial pre-election leads to substantial post election deficits (last minute swings between 9% and 16%). Quite a surprise: two reversals like that in the same state, on the same day, from the same party, and both very well liked public officials. The other surprise is that five thousand voting machines in densely populated, Democratic Counties were secretly modified just before the election. According to whistleblower Chris Hood, this was done the orders of the president of the voting machine company, Diebold, Inc., who told the contractor making the changes to make the change without notifying the county authorities.
Shouldn’t this have been a clue? Apparently it wasn’t. We rolled into 2004 with few lessons learned. The Kerry campaign placed thousands of lawyers in place around the country to spot election fraud. The most substantive result of the effort was the production of this empirical study of a major county in Washington State by attorney Paul Lehto, one of the Kerry poll watching lawyers. There was no challenge. Of course, the Libertarians and Greens were more than willing to cry foul and note the emperor had no clothes in Ohio, to their great credit.
The 2004 election produced a major anomaly, one that will not go away. The truth emerged about how the candidates had been tracked by the National Exit Polls. These showed a Kerry victory. They were not for on air use but ended up being broad case anyway. The mathematical odds are overwhelmingly in favor of a Kerry win. Nobody bothered to tell the American people. The topic has never been seriously discussed by the mainstream media. It’s all there in black and white. There’s even a free Excel interactive program that allows you to enter your own assumptions to force a Bush win. It’s very difficult
2000, 2002, 2004…still asleep at the switch.
The persistent set of machine mal functions from 2000 forward developed as a theme – surprise or last minute victories by Republicans amidst questions about undervotes, over votes, machine problems, long lines, confusing voting instructions, etc, etc. The machine manufacturers and elections officials who enable them offer sanctimonious explanations which usually blamed voters.
Human error is their theme. By the way, this is the same set of lies told by the apologists for spoiled ballots, which were almost always in predominantly minority precincts. Back then it was a thinly veiled racist meme – the uneducated voter just didn’t know how to mark a ballot. This was a lie and the vile assertion was dismissed once and for all in a moment of scholarly brilliance. Now we’re back to the not so swift old voter in the case of the latest excuse for 18,000 ballots for Congress lost in the race for the seat vacated by Bush Secretary of State Kathleen Harris.
Georgia 2002 was the warning shot that Florida 2000 was no coincidence. The loss of a victory for a second time in 2004 was the outcome of a failure to heed that warnings. Subsequent unbelievable results like the Ohio Special Measures election with a 20-40% reversal of reliable pre-election polls, and the lost of one in seven votes in Sarasota County, the strong hold for the losing candidate, are the world as will know it in elections to come as long as those in power fail to recognize that machine foul ups are just an updated version spoiled ballots. They have a consistent outcome. Democrats lose.
The Prospects for Real Reform the New Congress
Plan A: Home grown. Action on elections is a hot item in this Congress. At the opening, Representative Rush Holt, Dem, NJ stood to raise a point of order that will allow hearings on the Florida 13th race, a bold move at this point. The legislative remedies don’t match this boldness: tinkering around the edges with no one willing to say the “F” word – FRAUD. Meaningful reform is not readily apparent in any current form. The hope is that the Jennings Election Contest, a very strong case, will generate a serious wake up call to all who favor fair and inclusive elections. It may just do that if Christine Jennings and her attorney Kendall Coffee get a fair hearing.
Plan B: Globalism to the rescue. How hard is it to set up a voting system, let alone an efficient voting system? Not very hard, if you use India as an example. The nation adopted a low tech electronic voting and reporting system that serves more than 600 million voters . That’s a lot of citizens exercising the franchise. But in India the stakes are very high. The political factions there take their politics very seriously. There is a history of violence surrounding elections. There were some problems but the Indian approach looks like a success. So here you are, $300 (US) a piece – tested in the killing fields of no nonsense politics in the world’s largest democracy, and, if we fail to change our laws, the last hope the United States has for free and fair elections: INDIA’S EVM.
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India’s election commission makes the case for the low tech by design EVM (electronic voting machine). If we can’t get election fraud recognized as a real event and a remedy through Hand Counted Paper Ballots, we can always just swallow our price and adopt a model that works.