Friday, December 10, 2004

Silencing the vote

Silencing the vote

By David Lytel

December 9, 2004

PEOPLE FROM all over Ukraine have gone to Kiev to protest dishonest vote counting in their presidential election. Exit polls, so trustworthy that they are used worldwide to uncover election fraud, showed the opposition candidate had won, and the people didn't believe the news when it reported the government's surprise victory.

To those of us who doubt President Bush won the election in the United States, the key differences between here and Ukraine are the methods of fraud and the passivity of the news media.

Here the party in power used unverifiable computerized voting to boost its totals and intimidation and misinformation to suppress the vote totals of its opponents, but the news media haven't investigated it.

The recounts by the Libertarian and Green parties in Ohio and by the Ralph Nader campaign in New Hampshire are not being covered by the commercial news media, despite being under way for more than two weeks. And that's not even the most consequential story the national press has not yet seen fit to print.

In Franklin County, Ohio, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a Bush campaign official, distributed voting machines so that Republicans could vote efficiently while ensuring that Democrats had to give up hours of their time waiting in line because of a shortage of voting machines in their districts, thus reintroducing a poll tax that the Constitution forbids. Mr. Blackwell did the same elsewhere. One polling place in Howard County, Ohio, that was under court order to permit everyone in line to cast their vote sent them all home at midnight because the order applied only to Election Day itself.

Warren County, Ohio, closed the vote count to outside observers on the advice of the Department of Homeland Security. This county in suburban Cincinnati is of no interest to al-Qaida but it is the single most important county in the nation to Mr. Bush's re-election, having produced nearly one-third of his statewide margin. Democratic registration improved by one-third from four years ago, while Republican registration dropped by 10 percent. Mr. Bush's performance statewide dropped, too, but despite all the arrows in the other direction, Mr. Bush's vote totals mysteriously increased.

Mr. Bush's total increased dramatically over four years ago in the 26 Florida counties using the optical scan equipment manufactured by Diebold Elections Systems, Inc. Democratic performance apparently plummeted everywhere Diebold equipment counted votes.

Multiple counties in these states recorded more votes than there are registered voters.

Exit polls nationwide showed more voters casting ballots for Sen. John Kerry than for Mr. Bush. But instead of explaining the accuracy of exit polling and the dubious trustworthiness of the voting machinery, the news media have refused to investigate.

About 70 percent of Ohio's voters cast punch card ballots. The recount may undermine Mr. Bush's very narrow victory in Ohio. In New Hampshire, we'll learn if voting equipment manufactured by corporations openly in Mr. Bush's camp gave him a bonus. All of these "glitches" and "irregularities" nationwide and not one improperly credited vote to Mr. Kerry? What are the chances of that being random?

Finally, we deserve an investigation because there are so many of us. According to a post-election Harris Poll, 38 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of people who are not enrolled in either of the two major parties believe there were either "some" or "many" attempts at unlawful vote suppression.

The most conservative estimate would be 37 percent of the millions of Democrats who voted, or 18 million Americans. When the independents are added, the total is 30.3 million Americans who do not trust the legitimacy of our own presidential election.

We oppose faith-based voting and demand complete transparency in the vote casting and counting. Like Charlie Brown trusting Lucy to hold the football steady enough to kick, the leaders of our party seem determined to ignore both reason and experience.

Unless we act, the nation will get the same result as in 2000 -- no investigations, no indictments, no convictions and more fraud. We suspect that if the votes had been tallied honestly, we would be preparing for the inauguration of the candidate who authorities with a huge stake in the outcome tell us lost the election.

David Lytel, founder of, served in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the first Clinton administration.