Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Real Problems with US elections

It’s not ghost voters or people voting multiple times but real voters being refused the right to vote – or not having their votes counted

The really big and effective methods of electoral fraud aren’t about getting made up people onto the electoral register. They take real people off of it so they can’t vote, or else make sure their votes will be discarded and go uncounted.

Greg Palast found that from 2000 on Republicans and right-wing Democrats have taken the right to vote from poor black, Indian and Hispanic voters – who are far more likely to vote Democrat in Presidential elections and elect left wing delegates to Democratic party conventions (1,2,3,4,5).

Methods used by include illegally removing millions of black voters from electoral registers, falsely claiming they’re felons; not counting provisional ballots issued to try to get these people their votes back; and providing fewer, less accurate and older voting machines in mostly poor, black and Indian precincts so there’s a far higher proportion of ballots spoilt in them. Millions of voters weren’t allowed to vote in 2004. Even the Election Commissioner for Las Vegas arrived to vote to find his name had been removed from the register. Even more – an estimated 3 million – have been removed from electoral registers in 2008. Kerry was still leading in exit polls though. The millions of provisional ballots not counted and the many more Democratic than Republican votes spoiled and uncounted are one probable reason; millions more votes for Kerry weren’t counted than votes for Bush. So that may be one of the reasons Kerry won in exit polls, but Bush won more of the votes which were counted (1,2,3,4,5).

Another method idenfitied by Palast as being used to deny poorer (and so more likely Democrat) voters their vote is to demand a driving licence as ID to vote. Many of the poorest Americans can't afford a car and so haven't learned to drive or got a licence.

Other “electoral irregularities” recorded by voters in Delaware County, Ohio (contacting the Verified Voting Foundation) in 2004 included :

  • Disabled people being refused access to vote

  • All the machines at 5 different polling stations being out of order or switched off with people told to go home and that they’d be phoned when the machines were working – the calls never came

  • Voters being refused provisional ballots

  • Registered voters who were still at the same address they were on in 2000 being told they weren’t on the register

  • Elderly voters being physically intimidated by Republican ‘challengers’

Other methods reported to have been used across the country include the following

  • Voters were informed before the election and even in at least one case in Ohio by Republicans with loud-speakers that anyone turning up to vote who had any outstanding fines for parking or other minor offences would be arrested.

  • In some polling districts up to 13 different forms of ID were demanded from some voters – and if they failed to produce all 13 they were turned away.

  • Absentee ballots were sent out without Kerry’s name even appearing on them.

You can see the incidents for every county in the US by going to the VVF's EIRS (the map isn’t actually clickable though – you have to click first on one of the state name links below it then on a county name link below the map of the state on the next page) (7).

Then there’s tampering with electronic votes. Black Box Voting monitor the easily hackable electronic voting machines produce by companies like Diebold and ES&S – and the links between these companies’ executives and the Republican party leadership. Bev Harris of Black Box Voting has found considerable evidence of tampering with the files stored on these machines in recent elections (8), (9). John Hopkins University researchers confirmed her claims that many of the machines used in 2004 were easily hackable.

Diebold and other firms have tried to use 'commercial confidentiality' clauses in contracts with American states and legislation intended to prevent illegal file sharing to refuse to give anyone access to the voting files to find out if they've been tampered with or not.

Verified Voting campaign for all electronic voting machines to create paper votes so that there can be verifiable recounts to find out if votes have gone missing or mysteriously changed.

For more on electoral ‘irregularities’ in the US see:

Source Notes

(1) = Palast, Greg (2006) ‘Armed Madhouse’, Allen Lane, London, 2006,Chapter 4

(2) = BBC Newsnight ‘US election: fake voter claims’,

(3) = Observer 10 Dec 2000 ‘A blacklist burning for Bush’,

(4) = Palast, Greg (2003) ‘The Best Democracy Money Can Buy’ (2nd edn)

(5)= Rolling Stone magazine 30 Oct 2008 ‘Block the Vote’,
By Robert F. Kennedy Jr. & Greg Palast,

(6) = Verified Voting Foundation – Election Incident Reporting System,
County Election Incidents: Delaware County, OH , Election Year 2004,

(7) = Verified Voting Foundation – Election Incident Reporting System,

(8) = NYT 02 Dec 2003 ‘Hack The Vote’, by Paul Krugman,

(9) = NYT 03 Nov 2003 ‘File Sharing Pits Copyright Against Free Speech’,

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