BUSINESS WEEK – In Philadelphia they’re calling it “The Cheese Caper.” A Deputy City Commissioner asked the District Attorney’s office to investigate who passed out flyers on primary election day — May 17 — promising free cheese to voters for particular candidates. The flyers are topped by a handwritten scrawl, “Come Out + Vote,” adding below, “For Who Ever.” In type, they say “Free Cheese.” The flyers list two candidates, both Democrats, running in an area dominated by the 300-plus-unit Hill Creek housing project. “This guy comes to the polls, votes, and asks us for his free cheese,” says Eileen Kleindienst, a Republican judge of elections. Geraldine Hacker, the Republican official who sent Kleindienst’s complaint to the DA, thought the food might be from a government nutrition program.
The woman who wrote the flyers, Hill Creek tenant council President Gerri Robinson, doesn’t think she did anything wrong. “The people around here, you can’t get them to come out and do nothing unless you’re giving them something,” she says. Besides, she adds, the flyers worked: The two cases of cottage cheese were gone by day’s end.
Change the names of the parties
DAILY TIMES, PAKISTAN – Indonesia’s official elections website showed election successes for the unlikely “Pink Grandfather Party” and the “Party of Bottled Mineral Water” after interference by hackers at the weekend, reports said. The Indonesian General Election Commission had to shut down its website for four hours Saturday after hackers changed the names of some of the 24 political parties that contested the April 5 vote, the Jakarta Post said. The names of the top three political parties were unchanged. . . The People’s Mandate Party, in sixth, became the “Party that must repair its website first”, while 13 others were just changed to “Pink Party”, regardless of their party colors. The Crescent and Star Party was named after a singing bird, the Freedom Party took the name of a character in a popular television series, and the New Indonesian Association Party became “Party of Midwives”, for no apparent reason. The website was back on line
Steal voting booths, snatch ballots and -if that doesn’t work -fire on voters
TIMES OF INDIA – Use of electronic voting machines has failed to instill the confidence in political parties that there would be no booth grabbing in the coming Lok Sabha polls. “You never know. The booth grabbers may develop a new technique of capturing booths. That’s why we have asked the Election Commission to ensure the presence of central paramilitary forces at polling booths,” said state CPI secretary Jamaluddin Ansari.
Bihar has long been known for booth grabbing, terrorizing of voters, tearing of ballot papers and pouring of ink into ballot boxes. Political observers point out that in the last Lok Sabha elections, polling at about 500 booths was cancelled and repolling held due to electoral malpractice. A majority of them had been grabbed. In 1998, the polling in entire Patna parliamentary constituency was cancelled and repolling ordered.
For the first time in Bihar all the 49,000 odd polling booths will have EVMs. Till now, EVMs have been used in the state in by-polls. chief electoral officer K C Saha has recently ordered that personnel to be deployed for polling work be trained how to use EVMs. “The gangs of professional booth grabbers will also be undergoing training as to how to manage the situation,” remarked a politician sarcastically.
TRIBUNE, INDIA – Seven booth-grabbers, three security personnel and Janata Dal (United) leader Ghulam Rasool were among the 17 persons killed in Bihar and Manipur today in the final phase of the poll for four state legislative assemblies.
EXPRESS, INDIA – While three persons, including a booth-grabber, were killed at Runni Saidpur in Sitamarhi, a CPI (ML) leader was shot dead at Dhanarua in Barh, a booth-grabber was beaten to death at Chak Kasturi village in Hajipur, one at Salakhuadih in Saharsa and one at Yadavpur in Motihari constituency. A series of bomb explosions ripped through Hajipur where the railway minister Ramvilas Paswan, is in fray, resulting in shrapnel injuries to 15 persons, official sources said.
Exchange of fire, snatching of ballots and ballot boxes, and intimidation of voters, were reported from several places. . . Two booth-grabbers were injured in police firing at Siswar village in Jhanjharpur constituency, three in exchange of fire between supporters of rivalparties at Goriakothi in Siwan, two at Banipur in Maharajgunj and one at Bhagwanpur in Muzafferpur.
Use paperclips, pen caps, pennies
MARIO F. CATTABIANI, PHILA INQUIRER – On the day Gov. Rendell unveiled his budget to a packed House chamber, Rep. William Rieger voted in favor of all six bills that came up. But Rieger wasn’t there. The Democrat was home on Feb. 3, 100 miles away in Philadelphia. A wad of paper shoved into his electronic “yea” button atop his desk did the work for him. Similar sights are in plain view on any given session day in the cavernous lower chamber where so-called ghost voting is a tolerated bipartisan tradition. But, like most state legislatures, rules in the Pennsylvania House explicitly bar it.
Paper clips, pen caps, pennies. These things and others are routinely wedged into voting machines – a low-tech attempt to mask the fact that lawmakers have either left the floor momentarily or haven’t made the trip to Harrisburg at all. In other cases, lawmakers cover for absent colleagues by reaching across desks and voting for them. Critics say it skews the legislative record, gives some lawmakers the ability to wrongly brag of their stellar attendance, and, in some cases, costs taxpayers.
The wad of paper recorded Rieger, a North Philadelphia Democrat, as being present on the Master Roll Call – the House’s attendance sheet – on Feb. 3. And, as a result, he claimed a per diem for that day, fetching him an additional $126 meant to reimburse him for food and lodging.
But Rieger answered the phone at his Philadelphia home that day, as his colleagues were voting on a series of bills – including one that restructured the Pennsylvania Convention Center board
GREG PIERCE, WASHINGTON TIMES: In Philadelphia, “people apparently take their civic responsibilities seriously,” Stephen Bronar and John R. Lott Jr. write in the New York Post. “In that city, 1,025,259 are registered voters out of 1,065,455 residents aged 18 and over. As a number of adults are ineligible to vote (e.g., felons and non-citizens), the number of registered voters clearly exceeds the number of eligible people,” writes Mr. Bronar, chairman of the University of Texas Economics Department, and Mr. Lott, a senior research scholar at the Yale University Law School. “These numbers cannot be explained simply by voters being left on the rolls after they have moved or died. Preliminary numbers show some precincts had 100 percent of the registered voters voting, with 99 percent of their votes going for Gore. There is no obvious explanation for how this is possible.” WASHINGTON TIMES
Use pliers, screwdrivers and Q-tips
* New York City voters use metal lever-action machines so old they are no longer made, each with 27,000 parts. Similar machines in Louisiana are vulnerable to rigging with pliers, a screwdriver, a cigarette lighter and a Q-Tip.
* In Texas, “vote whores” do favors for people in return for their absentee ballots. Sometimes the canvassers or consultants, as they prefer to be called, simply buy the ballots. Failing all else, they steal them from mailboxes.
* Alaska has more registered voters than voting-age people. Indiana, which encourages voting with sign-ups by mail and at driver’s license bureaus, has jammed its registration lists with hundreds of thousands of people who should not be on them. They include felons, the dead and many who have registered repeatedly.
* Some students in Wisconsin say they voted as many as four times.
* Louisiana’s former election commissioner, Jerry Fowler, pleaded guilty 14 days ago to a kickback scheme with a voting machine dealer. Even when relationships are legal, lines of authority blur. In the state of Washington, dealers program vote counters. In Arizona, they go as far as to help feed in the ballots.
* Rebecca Mercuri, a computer scientist at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, and Curtis Gans, director of the nonpartisan Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, estimate that at least 2 million ballots did not get counted this year across the country. But these estimates include deliberate race skipping, when voters do not like any of their choices. Experts do not know how much of that goes on.
* The only mistakes that can be estimated with any confidence are those committed by vote-counting machines. Providers say the machines have error rates of 0.01% to 0.1%. If that is true, counting machines alone could have made as many as 100,000 mistakes this year — an average of 2,000 votes per state. But machine counts do not differentiate race skipping, either, and that makes it impossible, even in the case of machines, to know with any certainty how many voters get robbed. LA TIMES
Everyone has been too polite to point out that the real reason Florida vote canvassers had to examine dimpled and chad-challenged ballots so carefully was in order to figure out which ones had been punched by actual voters and which by someone else. In short, they were trying to determine which ballots were honestly cast and which were frauds or once-good ballots fraudulently altered.
The Review has suspected this from the start, but lacking a research lab we were unable to test our hypothesis. Comes now Peter Sheerin, the technical editor of a computer magazine, who went out and bought an Intel Play QX3 Microscope&8212 on sale at Zany Brainy for $70 and got hold of some sample Votomatic ballots. Here is a summary of what he found:
– Real Dimples
1. A real dimple will always have a pinprick, and it will be at the center of any circular depression . . . 2. If the stylus was pressed with anything more than very light pressure, a circular or semi-circular depression will be visible . . . 3. Because the pin-like tip of the stylus hits the paper before the rod part of the tip, a linear crease will almost always be formed. This crease is much sharper than that created by an improvised stylus without a pin-like center. Out of more than a dozen dimples on one card, the two on the top of the left image were the only ones that didn’t display a clear crease, but they do clearly show both the pinprick and the circular edge of the stylus.
– Fake Dimpled Chad
Sheerin created a set of dimpled chads with a Votomatic stylus, but with the card on the hard surface of a table instead of in the machine. The pinprick, and sometimes the semi-circular edge, of the stylus was visible, there was no indication of the vertical crease created when the card comes from the machine. Sheerin “then created some dimples of my own, using my fingernail (cut down to produce my own, organic “stylus”), and also with a plastic PDA stylus (the pen-like device used to write on a Palm Pilot). The dimpled chads created with my fingernail don’t exhibit the vertical crease created by the real stylus. And although the PDA stylus did create a crease, there is no pinprick in the chad as the real stylus would have created, nor is the crease a clearly defined vertical mark, and there is a complete absence of any circular mark that a real stylus would most likely have created. I also took a stack of five punch cards and used my PDA stylus to punch several of the chads. With firm pressure of the stylus it was very easy to punch out all five chads (leaving most of them hanging), but with just moderate pressure all five were created as dimpled chads. All of these chads lacked the pinprick and after the second chad all lacked any crease at all. If this is what is meant by a ‘pregnant’ chad, than any such chad on a ballot is quite clearly not a vote of any kind, shape, or form . . .
“My conclusion, based on these limited tests, is that any chad (hanging or otherwise) that is missing both the pinprick and the vertical crease is likely a fraudulent vote, or quite possibly an indication that the voter started to vote, but had a second thought and decided not to vote for any presidential candidate, as a small percentage of people in all presidential elections do.” PUSHBACK
CREATE PAPER FELONS
GREGORY PALAST, OBSERVER, LONDON: This week, I was hacking my way through the Florida swampland known as the Office of Secretary of State Katherine Harris and found a couple thousand more names of voters electronically ‘disappeared’ from the vote rolls. About half of those named are African-Americans. They had the right to vote, but they never made it to the balloting booths. [Previously] the Observer discovered that Harris’s office had ordered the elimination of 8,000 Florida voters on the grounds that they had committed felonies in other states. None had. Harris bought the bum list from a company called Choice Point, a firm whose Atlanta executive suite and boardroom are filled with Republican funders. Choice Point, we have learned, picked up the list of faux felons from state officials in – ahem – Texas. In fact, it was a roster of people who, like their Governor, George W, had committed nothing more than misdemeanors. For Harris, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his brother, the Texas blacklist was a mistake made in Heaven. Most of those targeted to have their names ‘scrubbed’ from the voter roles were African-Americans, Hispanics and poor white folk, likely voters for Vice President Gore. We don’t know how many voters lost their citizenship rights before the error was discovered by a few skeptical county officials, before Choice Point, which has gamely ‘fessed-up to the Texas-sized error, produced a new list of 58,000 felons. In May, Harris sent on the new, improved scrub sheets to the county election boards. Maybe it’s my bad attitude, but I thought it worthwhile to check out the new list. Sleuthing around county offices with a team of researchers from internet newspaper Salon.com, we discovered that the ‘correct’ list wasn’t so correct. One elections supervisor, Linda Howell of Madison County, was so upset by the errors that she refused to use the Harris/Choice Point list. How could she be so sure the new list identified innocent people as felons? Because her own name was on it, ‘and I assure you, I am not a felon.’ Our 10-county review suggests a minimum 15 per cent misidentification rate. That makes another 7,000 innocent people accused of crimes and stripped of their citizenship rights in the run-up to the presidential race. And not just any 7,000 people. Hillsborough (Tampa) county statisticians found that 54 per cent of the names on the scrub list belonged to African-Americans, who voted 93 per cent for Gore. OBSERVER
VOTE THE FELONS
THE MIAMI HERALD: At least 445 Florida felons voted illegally on Nov. 7, casting another cloud over a disputed presidential election already mired in legal challenges, a Herald investigation has found. The tainted votes — found in a review of nearly half a million votes cast in 12 Florida counties — provide evidence that the presidential race was influenced by thousands of ineligible voters . . . The majority of the illegal votes — 330 — were cast in Palm Beach and Duval counties, which decided not to participate in the statewide effort this year to purge felons, dead people and double registrants from the rolls . . . The lapses in Palm Beach and Duval counties could become significant if Democrats win any of their legal challenges and take the narrow lead away from Republican Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Nearly 75 percent of the illegal ballots discovered by The Herald were cast by registered Democrats.
GET RID OF FELONS AND THEN SOME
GREGORY PALAST, GUARDIAN, LONDON: Vice-President Al Gore would have strolled to victory in Florida if the state hadn’t kicked 12,000 citizens off the voters’ registers five month ago as former felons. In fact, only a fraction were ex-cons. Most were simply guilty of being African-American. While 8,000 of those disenfranchised went through the legal rigmarole of getting on to the voting list, the rest – enough to have won the state for Gore – did not . . . The source of this poisonous blacklist: Database Technologies, a division of ChoicePoint, and hired by Governor Jeb Bush’s frothingly partisan Secretary of State, Katherine Harris. My thanks to investigator Solomon Hughes for informing me that DBT is a division of ChoicePoint. Under fire for misuse of personal data in state computers, ChoicePoint founder Rick Rozar made a strategic six-figure soft cash donation to the Republican Party. – GUARDIAN
STAY IN THE SUN TOO LONG
POLITICAL ACTIVIST CAROL MOORE says research shows people are more likely to question the government and act out in protest during periods of high sunspot activity. Moore estimates the solar activity, which began late last year and is expected to continue until 2002, is responsible for stirring up two-to-three times as many political protesters as normal. She says sunspots may rev up folks by blasting the body with negative ions, which cause humans to become quick- tempered. CAROL MOORE:(202) 635-3739
BRING SCOTCH TAPE TO THE POLLS
JULIE FOSTER, WORLD NET DAILY: David Anderson ~ volunteered to help count ballots manually. Given a stack of absentee ballots, he came across three that had carefully cut tape either covering a punched-out hole in the ballot or holding a chad in place. Anderson says he questioned the all-Democrat canvassing board about the phenomenon, which told him “we were counting the absentee ballots and most likely the voter punched the wrong hole and used tape to put the chad back in and vote for another.” – WORLD NET DAILY
HELP INSTRUCTION IMPAIRED REPUBLICANS
THE ELECTION SUPERVISOR in Seminole County, Sandra Gourd, goes on trial November 29 in Florida circuit court for inviting GOP workers to fill in 4,700 incomplete GOP absentee ballot requests while rejecting incomplete Democratic absentee ballot requests. A similar absentee ballot fraud case in 1997 resulted in the ouster of Miami Mayor Xavier Saurez, who admitted this month handling GOP absentee ballot forms in the 2000 election. – CAMPAIGN WATCH
HELP YOURSELF TO BALLOTS
NEWSMAX: Ballot observers have found one outrageous case after another of tampered ballots, miscounts and bias in the recount in Democrat-dominated Broward County, NewsMax.com learned in exclusive interviews over the holiday weekend . . . Among the questionable and outright fraudulent practices that witnesses noted in the recount of presidential votes:
– Numerous absentee ballots had the chad for George W. Bush Scotch-taped back in and the chad for Al Gore punched out.
– Chads were dislodged from ballots shaken by county workers during the counting.
– One Republican observer collected more than 75 chads from the table and floor in the area where ballots were being inspected and counted. While that observer was trying to collect the chads from the table before a lunch break, the counting supervisor ordered him to leave the chads and leave the room . . .
– During the final counting, four stacks of 25 ballots each were supposed to be stacked crossways into stacks of 100 votes. But on at least one instance, four stacks containing only 75 Gore votes each were originally counted as if they were four stacks of 100 ballots, a miscount of 100 votes in favor of Gore. The Republican ballot observer who saw and objected to this error leading to its correction was then kicked out of the room at the Broward County Emergency Operations Center. – NEWSMAX
HOLD A TURKEY RAFFLE
CLEA BENSON, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: [Turkey raffles] actually became an issue in the race between Democratic US Rep. Robert A. Brady and his Republican challenger Steve Kush, manager of a center city mattress store. Kush’s campaign workers complained in court that Democratic voters in the Seventh Ward, 14th Division, had been given flyers promising free coffee and doughnuts and a chance at a turkey if they voted. Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Alan Teresko issued an immediate order commanding the illegal turkey giveaway to stop.
CORRECT THE COUNT
The myth will undoubtedly live on that there was some way to get an accurate manual recount in Florida. In truth, however, the most accurate count — within the margins of statistical error — was a tie. Any recount would have merely produced a different sort of miscalculation. Dubious dimples, bureaucratic foul-ups, deliberate but (over the near term) indeterminable voter suppression among blacks and military personnel, faulty disqualification of absentee ballots, post-election ballot alteration both by accident and fraud, as well as 100,000 suspicious over-votes made a fair recount impossible. One may not like the solution to such problems contained in the law and Constitution, but it’s hard to criticize the Supreme Court for observing it. Besides, attempting to deal with errors and fraud after an election but before a winner is named rarely works. The solution is generally not to be found in recounting after the precinct doors are closed but in reforming things before they open again.
This is not as much fun for Jesse Jackson as going on TV and claiming that the Supreme Court had issued the Dred Scott decision of the 20th century, but the fact of the matter is that these problems didn’t just crop up at this election. They have been standard operating procedure in various parts of the country for a long time, not infrequently thanks to Democratic politicians. Until now, however, they just never made it to the top of the ever migratory Jackson agenda.
It is a complicated business, in no small part because all politics is local. For example, Al Gore may need a certain county’s black vote but the Democratic leadership there may, for its own reasons, want to keep this vote down. Elsewhere, a precinct may be Democratic but the poll workers are assigned by the Republican county machine. And so forth.
Dealing with all this is tedious and difficult. It may involve criminal investigations and it may require new laws. Sometimes, stories that appear to be true won’t check out. One things for sure: you don’t find the answers yammering on cable TV about racism. You will find them the way 1960s civil rights attorneys did, with hard-won and sustainable facts.
The election has also created new opposition to the electoral college. This opposition is based on the illusion that the only real democracy is one in which the winner takes all — even if the winner (as has happened repeatedly in American history including this time) doesn’t represent a majority of the voters, let alone anywhere near a majority of eligible citizens. There are, in fact, other forms of democracy. Quakers, for example, practice consensual democracy. The democracy of a congressional veto required a two-thirds vote and constitutional amendments also demand super majorities. The electoral college is a similar check on what is often only a pseudo-majority opinion. It demands, among other things, that the president represent not only the interests of those most numbers in the least space, but those throughout what are still, under the Constitution, considered united states. It also encourages candidates to seek out constituencies that are geographically confined. Perhaps the most important statistically insignificant constituency of this sort is the farmer. Do away with the electoral college and farm policy will disappear from campaigns even more than it already has.
The happiest reform would be to retain the electoral college, but for states to adopt preferential (or instant runoff) voting for president. Thus, in each state, a clear consensus choice would be obtained, avoiding totally the sort of crisis that developed in Florida.
Finally, voting machines need to be improved in many places, bearing in mind that computer voting is in itself no guarantee of honesty absent a program code available for public inspection.
In short, the way to correct the count is to improve the machines, introduce preferential voting, and do what is necessary to eliminate specific forms of fraud. It won’t make good TV, but it will sure make a better country.
RUN PLAY #245
[We previously reported how a Democratic recount drive in California six years ago so impressed its Republican targets that they asked the lawyer involved to teach them how to make recounts work for them. Three suggested rules:
1. Keep recounting until you’re ahead
2. Keeping handling the right ballots until the chads fall out.
3. The minute you’re ahead, stop and declare yourself the winner.
“What my lawyers soon discovered was that the opposition would eyeball a disputed ballot before picking it up to officially inspect it. If the hanging chad indicated a vote for Fiedler, the lawyer for the other side picked up the ballot ever so carefully, so he could argue that the voter really never intended to vote for Fiedler. If the hanging chad was a Corman vote, the lawyer picked up the ballot quite vigorously, so that the chad soon was no longer hanging. “‘You see,’ their guy would declare, ‘that voter obviously intended to vote for Corman.'” – WORLD NET DAILY
MAKE A DEAL
A CONCERNED FLORIDIAN: OK, here’s the deal. We here in Florida have all gotten together and decided to hold the rest of the country hostage with the election results until you come here and take your parents back home with you. That’s right, we’re tired of hearing how good it was back home, and how beautiful your children are. We can’t stand it any longer . . .
BRING IN THE CHAD BUSTERS
JON DOUGHERTY AND DAVID KUPELIAN IN WORLD NET DAILY report that former California Assemblyman Pat Nolan says he hired a Democratic lawyer, Tim Downs, to teach his staff how to do recounts after Downs led a successful recount effort against the Republicans. According to Nolan, Downs said there were three rules: “The first rule is, you keep counting until you’re ahead. And if that doesn’t put you ahead, you recount, re-recount — you keep counting until you’re ahead. If you’re behind, then you’ve got nothing to lose.” Second, Nolan said, “the more times those ballots are handled, the more chance there is that chads will break loose” and hence disqualify the ballot. Third, he said, “the minute you’re ahead, you stop and declare yourself the victor.” “After that, you don’t want the ballots handled any more,” Nolan said, “because some of the chads for your candidate might break loose. While you’re behind it doesn’t matter, but if you’re ahead and more break off or become disqualified for your candidate, that’s a bad thing.” A favorite tactic, said Nolan, is to ask election officials for ballots, “allegedly so they can look at it more closely.” When operatives do, often they will bend or crinkle ballots covertly in an effort to break another chad loose and thus have the ballot thrown out. “This whole process sounds like exactly what is going on in Florida,” Nolan said. “And the more times those ballots are handled, the more chances are you’ll break some of them [chads] loose.” WORLD NET DAILY
DISCOURAGE THE BLACK VOTE
–Charles Weaver, publisher of Community Voice, a Fort Myers African American weekly paper, witnessed “intimidation, harassment and apparent illegal activity” at a polling place he visited. “There were illegal poll watchers, threatening people, telling them, ‘I know where you work. You’re going to get fired,'” Weaver told the Inter Press Service. The same article reported that Tallahassee police set up traffic checks at the entrance to a polling place in a black neighborhood; that police in Newport News, Va. stopped people at checkpoints; and some black voters were turned away from polls in St. Louis for not having voter registration cards, even though registration cards were not required from white voters.
–In an NAACP public hearing held in Miami, Stacy Powers, a former police officer who currently serves as news director for Tampa radio station WTMP, spoke of witnessing numerous voting irregularities in her election day travels through city neighborhoods. Powers testified that she saw people being turned away from several polling places in the black community after being told their names were not on voting lists. When Powers reminded poll workers that an individual can legally sign an affidavit and vote even if their name isn’t on an official list, she said, she was ejected from several polling places (
— Miami’s Donnise DeSouza testified that she was denied the right to vote after being shuttled to several polling places and told her name was not on the list. When she checked with the elections board the next day, she said, she found her name was in fact on the list. Many other voters were told they’d been dropped from the rolls as convicted felons, even though they had never been arrested, and that names of black college students who registered this summer never showed up on voter lists, according to the NAACP hearings
–According to the New York Times, more than 26,000 ballots were disqualified in the largely Republican area of Duval County– four times the total in 1996. The Times notes that nearly 9,000 of these ballots were cast in predominately African-American communities around Jacksonville, which registered support for Al Gore over George Bush at a ten-to-one ratio.
–Derek Drake, an editor of the black weekly newspaper Central Florida Advocate, told the London Financial Times that Haitian Americans and Hispanics, unlike whites, were often asked for two forms of identification. “There was either something of a conspiratorial nature going on or there was mass incompetence,” Drake said. In a recent column for the Los Angeles Syndicate (11/12/00), the Reverend Jesse Jackson noted that ballot boxes in black communities went uncounted, voters were turned away after being told there were no ballots left, and Creole speakers were not allowed to assist Haitian immigrants voting for the first time.
— In New York City, Columbia University journalism students reported that citywide voting irregularities included broken ballot booths, the denial of translation assistance and insufficient instructions given to first-time Russian voters hoping to support a write-in candidate, and the transposing of the Chinese characters for “Republican” and “Democrat” on wall posters at polling places and on columns in ballot machines
CHAD TRICKS AND MORE
Montana Gov. Mark Racicot claims that
– Chads have been taped to the backs of cards to hide votes for Gov. Bush.
– Ballots with votes for Bush were put in stacks of Gore votes.
– A Democratic observer admitted that the piles had been “sabotaged” overnight.
– Post-it notes are being used on the cards to distort the votes.
– Exhausted and elderly counters have been used to do the recount.
– The recount room is poorly lit and some counters have resorted to using flashlights.
– Twenty to 60 ballots were dropped on the floor and staff were seen walking over ballots.
– Two precincts had to be manually recounted twice.
– Ballots are being moved from table to table without direction.
IMPERSONATE A SERVICEMAN
In ‘Rascal King,” Jack Beatty tells how in 1942, when James Michael Curley ran against Thomas Hopkinson Eliot for Congress, Eliot was approached by an alleged defector from the Curley camp claiming to have a list of voters serving in the military overseas. All he had to do was use some of his supporters to pretend they were the soldiers at the polls. Eliot– grandson of a Harvard president — recognized a set-up and immediately sent the woman away. He knew the papers would have the story the next day if he had fallen for it. Come election day, Eliot checked out each precinct in his district. Everywhere he went he saw the same six men get out of the same car and go to vote. They turned out to be the missing servicemen who were now adding to Curley’s total. Curley won handily.
TAKE A SURVEY
GREG PIERCE, WASHINGTON TIMES: Two Republican members of the Electoral College from Colorado have accused ABC News of trying to pressure them into voting for Democrat Al Gore, the Rocky Mountain News reported. ABC News denied the charges. Mary Hergert, a Colorado elector for George W. Bush, told the newspaper that she felt intimidated by the caller from ABC. “Hergert said the caller said he was ‘Ed from ABC News’ and asked if she would ever consider voting for Al Gore, then said it is unconstitutional for her to be bound by state law to follow Colorado voters’ preference for Bush,” the newspaper reported. “It was bothersome,” said Miss Hergert, who served as Mr. Bush’s Weld County campaign chairman. A second Colorado elector, Rob Dieter, also mentioned a call from ABC News when the Rocky Mountain News asked if anyone had tried to influence his vote. ABC News spokeswoman Su-Lin Nichols apologized for any confusion caused when a group of staffers called electors across the country with a series of identical questions in preparation of a possible story on the Electoral College vote.
USE THE ‘BB’ TRICK
Party hacks would place a BB in the hole under the place where their opponent’s voters would be punching their ballots. This would prevent the card from being punched properly. The trick would soon be discovered, but with enough BBs on enough machines, the work would be done.
BLAME IT ON THE HUMIDITY
As late as the 1980s, Cook County Clerk Stanley Kusper was blaming a delay in vote counting on high humidity that prevented the proper counting of the ballots. The longer the wait, the more chance for party intervention.
Then there was the political ward heeler who delivered the perfect result: a zero precinct for his opponent. The proud man expected praise from the ward committeeman but instead was sent back to steal a few votes for the other side so the extraordinary results would not attract public attention.
WATCH THE DANCING
When the Democrats were on one side of a machine and the Republicans at the other, party poll watchers could figure out how people were voting by watching their feet under the curtain. Among the warning signs was “the dance,” a sign that voters were splitting their ballots.
HARASS THE ELECTORS
LEE BANDY, THE STATE, COLUMBIA, SC: Two South Carolina Republican electors say they have been approached about changing their votes to Democrat Al Gore. Both said they would not go back on their pledge to support George W. Bush . . . Under state law, an elector could face possible criminal prosecution if he violates his signed pledge. Also, if word were to leak out that a member was going to change his vote, the state GOP could replace the elector. [Dan] Richardson said he has received about a half-a-dozen calls. But he never asked the callers to identify themselves . . . [Cecil] Windham said he had received about three calls, “all asking the same thing. Would I change my vote?” Again, the callers refused to identify themselves.
LOSE THE OVERSEAS BALLOTS
MICHAEL VAN SICKLER, PALM BEACH POST: Checks with elections officials in 66 of 67 Florida counties Tuesday found at least 10,102 overseas ballots had not been counted from a total of 21,047 mailed out. But unless return rates increase dramatically, most of ballots that have not been received will never be counted. The US Postal Service said it has received 447 ballots from military personnel since Nov. 8, casting doubt that a majority of the ballots still missing from military personnel will be returned by Friday’s deadline. At the current rate of 75 ballots arriving each day, military personnel will account for 750 ballots by Friday. The Pentagon estimates that 24,000 people from Florida — members of the military and their family members — received absentee ballots this year, although it is unclear how many ballots that represents . . . All military mail delivered to Florida is sent through the Air Mail Center at Miami International Airport, which has sophisticated equipment designed to sort overseas mail . . . The Panhandle county of Okaloosa — which has a total of 100,000 voters and three prominent military bases — has received only 56 overseas absentee ballots, while about 1,500 have not been returned. One of every two Okaloosa voters are in the military or are related to members of the military, said Supervisor of Elections Pat Hollarn. And about 70 percent of military personnel are Republican, she said. If they all come in, Okaloosa’s overseas votes — the most of any county in Florida — could have a huge impact on the final tally. Hollarn said she has filed a complaint against the post office with the Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, which oversees the voting rights of military personnel. She said she has received 50 complaints from military personnel who said they received their overseas ballots late or not at all . . .
WORLD NET DAILY: WorldNet Daily reported yesterday that a source on the USS Tarawa, a US Navy destroyer near Yemen, said that “thousands” of absentee ballots were languishing onboard. The Navy has now confirmed bundles of overseas ballots left behind — not on one, but three ships in the Persian Gulf region. According to a New York Post account, Comdr. Greg Smith, a Navy spokesman, said the ballots of some 3,000 sailors and Marines on the USS Tarawa, USS Deleuth and USS Anchorage would be flown back to the United States “expeditiously.” Before the discovery of missing Navy ballots, Defense Department spokesman Kenneth Bacon and Navy Lt. Dave Gai had both criticized WorldNet Daily — Bacon publicly at a press briefing — for its reporting on this issue. Bacon referred to WND’s initial story as “ludicrous” for reporting that some servicemen and women suspect the Clinton administration may have somehow purposely delayed sending absentee ballots to military personnel overseas because most historically vote Republican . . . A United Press International account reported comments from a Marine Corps captain from the Tarawa who helped evacuate the dead and injured from the USS Cole after it was attacked by terrorists on Oct. 12. Capt. Van P. Brinson, who did not receive his absentee ballot, wrote in a Nov. 8 e-mail: “I cannot speak for the remainder of the crew of the Tarawa, but I do know that the majority of the Marines and sailors that I have spoken with are in the same boat. What is distressing about the situation,” he added, “is that a majority of the pilots aboard are registered voters in Florida.”
VOTE EARLY AND OFTEN
CAMPAIGNS & ELECTIONS: A Wisconsin district attorney is investigating a student newspaper’s report that scores of college students may have cast more than one presidential ballot. The Marquette Tribune, Marquette University’s student newspaper, surveyed 1,000 students and said it found that 174 admitted voting more than once. The newspaper conducted the survey after state Republicans on Friday alleged voting irregularities, including claims that students at Marquette and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee voted more than once . . . According to unofficial results, Al Gore defeated George W. Bush by about 6,000 votes . . . Of the 174 Marquette students who said they voted more than once, 95 said they cast absentee ballots from their home state and in Wisconsin, the Tribune said. The 79 others told the Tribune they voted more than once in Wisconsin. Those students included 13 who claimed they voted four or more times.
PLAY A HAND OF POKER
REUTERS: If the final state-certified result on Nov. 28 yields a tie, New Mexico statutes require that “the determination as to which of the candidates shall be declared to have been nominated or elected shall be decided by lot.” In practice, the usual method for this rare event has been to play one hand of five-card poker. “That’s what’s been done in the past. Not even a whole game of poker, but just one hand, and that takes dumb luck,” state Republican Party chairman John Dendahl told Reuters. The last time this happened was in December 1999, when Republican Jim Blanq and Democrat Lena Milligan tied at 798 votes each in a local race for magistrate judge. They played one hand of poker in a courthouse with dozens of people watching, and Blanq won. But the law leaves it to the parties to decide what game or method of drawing lots they use, state elections director Denise Lamb said. `Whether they want to draw straws, play a hand of five-card stud (poker), or draw a high card, that is totally up to the participants,” Lamb said.
MISLABEL CHINESE BALLOTS
VILLAGE VOICE: Some Chinese Americans may have inadvertently voted for the wrong candidate because the ballots were translated incorrectly. At six voting sites in Flushing, Queens, where there are large Chinese American populations, the party headings for all state races were wrong. The “Democratic” label was translated as “Republican,” and “Republican” was rendered as “Democratic.” “I just don’t understand why they can’t get the Chinese ballots right,” says Chinatown voter Stephanie Woo. “It just shows how little they care.”
DEMAND A PHOTO ID
SALON: Stacy Powers, a news director at Tampa’s WTMP, discussed her Election Day experiences rallying voters. She told the audience that she drove around a predominantly black Tampa neighborhood in the station’s van on Election Day and encountered voters who had been turned away from the polls because they lacked a photo ID After Powers challenged the poll manager to justify the decision to keep them from voting, “She told me not to get snippy with her.” Powers said she was eventually kicked out of the polling place. She also shared the story of an elderly black man whom she met at another polling precinct near Tampa. He had told Powers that it was his first time voting, and proudly pointed out the “I Voted” sticker on his collar. Just as Powers was about to leave, a police car approached the man. “They pulled up on the grass, two deputies stepped out and they started asking the man, ‘What are you doing in this area? What exactly are you doing?'” Powers said. “He pointed to his collar and said, ‘I just voted.’ And they said, ‘We want to see ID and we want to see it now!'” At this point in her testimony, Powers paused for a moment and started to cry. “Then [the police officer] turned to me and said, ‘What are you sitting here for?'” She then sped off in fear, she said.
BE A SORE WINNER
Can anyone point to another example in history where a county’s winner by 140,000 votes successfully got a recount based on the alleged inaccuracy of less than one percent of the vote? That is what happened in Palm Beach County.
USE A TIME SAVING BALLOT
DANIEL MCCGRORY, LONDON TIMES: The FBI is being asked to investigate how thousands of mainly black supporters of Al Gore were given ballot papers that had allegedly already been marked for rival candidates. Yesterday Democrat officials were examining claims that up to 17,000 ballot papers in the Miami area had been tampered with in what they described as “organized corruption.”
GIVE IT TO THE LAWYERS
JULIAN BORGER, GUARDIAN, LONDON: One thing was clear in the Florida state capital yesterday. The confusion over the election results has paved the way for a stealthy and rapid seizure of power in the US. The lawyers have truly taken over. They were everywhere in Tallahassee, patrolling the normally sleepy streets in uniform charcoal suits and colorful ties for the men, the women in earth tones. They huddled in hotel lobbies or on street corners, and marched in and out of the courthouse with the heady sense of purpose of people who had been waiting all their careers for just such a moment.
THINGS REPUBLICANS SAY WENT WRONG IN MILAUKEE
– Marquette students were seen taking 10 or more ballots at a time.
– Ballots were taken out of the polling place.
– Individuals entered the voting place with more than one addressed envelope and asked which one would allow them to vote in that location.
– A voter was asked by another voter to vouch for her residence in the ward. He said he wouldn’t, and the woman appealed to another person in line. The other person claimed to poll workers that she is his roommate.
– Polling place had a “help yourself” pile of ballots.
– Ballots were left sitting on a chair prior to being fed through the machine. Poll workers were seen looking through them.
– UWM student voted on campus. Another voter showed his off campus address to a poll worker. The poll worker told him, “you can’t vote here, put down (address of dorm) instead.” Same student said friends were bragging about having voted for Gore five or six times.
– Voter was told that his marks on the ballot were too dark, and asked to re-do the ballot. The voter did not see the other ballot destroyed.
– Ballot machine was not operating. The ballots were being stacked in a pile for workers to run through later.
– Two ballots were given to a man wearing a Milwaukee County Public Schools jacket. When he tried to return a ballot, he was told that he should have two.
– Poll workers told a voter to “vote Democrat”.
– A voter tried to register to vote at the 4th Precinct in the 72nd Ward of Milwaukee. He was not asked for identification or proof of address. Poll workers tried to prevent him from filling out a registration card. Registration cards that he observed only had a signature, no address.
– A voter was given three different ballots due to mistakes he made on them. The two previous ballots were not seen destroyed.
– Ballot machine in Wauwatosa was broken, and until the machine was fixed, ballots were stacked next to the machine.
– Take stacks of ballots, lining them up carefully
– Insert a long, thin rod through the Buchanan part of the ballot
– If it were a Buchanan vote, nothing would happen
– If it were a Gore or Bush vote, it would appear the voter was confused and voted twice. You now have a bunch of invalidated votes apparently caused by a bad ballot design.
– Total time needed; five minutes
THE SYNERGRY OF INCOMPETENCE AND FRAUD
An activist who has investigated vote fraud in San Francisco ays, “The incompetence is built into the system so if fraud is needed is it easy to pull off. That’s how elections work.”
UPGRADE YOUR SOFTWARE
HOWARD STRAUSS, A PRINCETON COMPUTER SCIENCES PROFESSOR: The presidential election of 1992, without too much difficulty and with little chance of the felons getting caught, could be stolen by computers for one candidate or another. The candidate who can win by computer has worked far enough ahead to rig the election by getting his ‘consultants’ to write the software that runs thousands of vote-counting computers from coast to coast. There are so many computers that use the same software now that a presidential election can be tampered with – in fact, may already be tampered with. Because of the trade secrecy, nobody can be the wiser.
USE GRAPHITE UNDER YOUR THUMBNAIL
How to eliminate a paper ballot during a recount: place some graphite (as used in pencils) under your thumbnail and when the ballot of an opponent appears, simply smear graphite on the box of another candidate. The ballot is now invalid.
REDESIGN THE BALLOT
This technique, tried out this year in Palm County, Florida, produced a surprisingly high vote for Pat Buchanan’s whose checkbox was suspiciously near that of Al Gore. On the other hand, the ballot was approved by a Democrat and was published in the newspapers without a single complaint.
SPEED UP CITIZENSHIP
According to former impeachment counsel David Schippers, the White House put pressure on the INS to clear tens of thousands of immigrants in time for the 1996 election. Among the beneficiaries: 75,000 new citizens who had arrest records when they applied, 115,000 whose fingerprint records had proven unclassifiable, and another 61,000 who never got fingerprinted. One applicant was actually in jail when he was naturalized. Further, Schippers learned that the scam was to continue: “Our sources inside the INS revealed that, in preparation for the 2000 elections, INS agents in district offices were directed to relax the testing for English, complete every interview in twenty minutes, and insure that all applicants pass the civics test by continuing to ask questions until an applicant got a sufficient number right. Sometimes it was necessary to ask twenty or twenty-five questions before four or five were answered correctly.”
DON’T DELIVER ALL ABSENTEE BALLOTS
Worldnet Daily has reported that an unknown number of absentee ballots failed to reach service people abroad.The Pentagon has denied the story.
DECLARE A “GLITCH” IN THE DATABASE
In New Mexico, where the presidential count is still not decided, nearly 60,000 absentee ballots have been withdrawn because of database problems.
MOVE TO THE RIGHT ON CRIME
The most ironic factor in the Florida election was the fact that over 400,000 largely black ex-offenders — 31% of black men in the state — have been permanently barred from voting thanks to the authoritarian justice and prison policies backed to the hilt by Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
BLAME RALPH NADER
This technique, popular among liberals, suffers from the faulty premise that the most recent in a chain of events is necessarily the most important. It is like blaming one’s last child for the world population explosion or the last batter’s third strike for a 15-0 defeat in baseball. In fact, Gore got into trouble for a variety of more substantial reasons including the fact that he doesn’t tell the truth, was involved in illegal fundraising, declined to break with a criminally corrupt president, is a lousy debater, wears about as well on TV as a $19.95 gadget salesman, and despite such liabilities ran for president. Ralph Nader had no impact on these problems. Neither did John Hagelin, who also got enough votes to change the outcome but so far has been exempt from the tirades by Democrats angry that 95,000 Floridians dared not to vote for one of the two major parties.
TELL PEOPLE THAT THE POLLS ARE CLOSED
OR THAT THERE ARE NO MORE BALLOTS
Reported by the Rev. Jesse Jackson
SET UP A POLICE CHECKPOINT NEAR A POLLING PLACE
This happened in southern Leon County, FL. The Florida Highway Patrol says it didn’t know there was a polling booth nearby but black voters think otherwise.
INTRODUCE ELECTORAL REFORM
WALL STREET JOURNAL Motor voter has helped fuel an explosion of phantom voters. Between 1994 and 1998, nearly 26 million names have been added to the voter rolls nationwide, a nearly 20% increase. The bipartisan polling team of Ed Goeas and Celinda Lake says that perhaps only 5% of those who register when they get licenses routinely vote, which artificially drives down voter turnout. Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, supports national voter registration, but says voter lists from around the country “are virtually unusable” and “more inaccurate than they have ever been.” These suspect lists are an open invitation to voter fraud . . . CBS’s “60 Minutes” created a stir last year when it found people using mail-in forms to register fictitious people, or pets, and then obtaining absentee ballots in their names. An investigation by Bill Theobald of the Indianapolis Star found that in Indiana “hundreds of thousand of names, as many as one in five statewide” on voter registration rolls, “are bogus since the people behind those names have moved, died or gone to prison.”
CENSOR A POLITICAL WEB SITE
Peacelink found the leading anti-democratic web censors such as Cyber Patrol, Surfwatch, AOL, Bess, and Safe Server, were extending their blacklisting to political sites including campaign finance reform links, a site that explains how a bill gets through Congress, the Traditional Values Coalition (which supports net censorship), the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, a course on American politics at St. John’s University, the War Resisters League, an essay on Memorial Day, and the Hillary for President site. Numerous candidate sites have also been blocked. Incidentally, the Progressive Review is also blocked by Bess as unfit for decent Americans to read.
New Jersey’s new senator, Jon Corzine, spent more money on his campaign than Kenneth Starr did investigating Bill Clinton. With an abandon more suitable to an IPO for corzine.com, the senator-elect spent $20 per voter and $448 per dollar of salary he will receive next year.
THE SOCIAL WORKER TECHNIQUE
We thought we knew most of the tricks of politics until an evening a few years ago when we attended the Ward One Democratic Hall of Fame Dinner in DC. One of the recipients was a social worker not long out of the Dominican Republic. She was moved by her honor and told how when she had come to the US she knew little of American politics but she did understand that Abraham Lincoln had freed the slaves and so she became a Republican. Later, she said, she discovered that the Republicans weren’t like Lincoln anymore and so she became a Democrat. Such an enthused Democrat, in fact, that she kept a stack of registration forms in her desk. Whenever a new client would come in, she would explain that the first step to mental health and happiness was registering as a Democrat . . . and then she would hand them a form.
THE FIRST SHALL BE FIRST
OHIO STATE RESEARCH NEWS: In a study of Ohio elections published in 1998, researchers found that candidates received an average of 2.33 percent more votes when their names appeared first on the ballots, rather than when their names were listed last, said Jon Krosnick, co-author of the study and professor of psychology and political science at Ohio State University. However, in some races, candidates received as much as 6 percent more votes when listed first compared to being listed last. “Bush’s placement at the top of all Florida ballots almost certainly allowed him to win that state, given the closeness of the contest,” Krosnick said. By Florida law, the party that controls the governor’s office has all of its candidates listed first on ballots in the state. “George W. received an electoral boost by the fact that a Republican – his brother Jeb – is governor,” Krosnick said. Some states – including Ohio – have laws that mandate that candidates’ names be rotated in different precincts to eliminate the candidate name order bias.
THROW MONEY AT IT
WASHINGTON TIMES: In the overwhelming majority of this week’s Senate and House races, candidates with the biggest war chests were victorious. In the Senate, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reveals, a whopping 85 percent of candidates who spent the most money proved winners at the polls.
GET YOURSELF AN FBI AGENT
WASHINGTON TIMES: The Justice Department dispatched an FBI agent to work with the NAACP on Election Day to make sure there were no roadblocks to a huge black turnout for Democrat Al Gore, according to USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham . . . Mr. Wickham writes. “A FBI agent was on stand-by in the room to serve as a liaison between the civil rights organization and the Justice Department if reports of voting irregularities occurred.”
KEEP DOING IT
98% of incumbents won their House seats again.