- As coincidence would
have it, Mark Crispin Miller's new book, Fooled Again (Basic Books), documenting
the Republican theft of the 2004 presidential election, arrived in the
same mail delivery with the January 12 edition of the Defuniak Springs
Herald, the locally owned weekly newspaper in a Florida panhandle county
- The Florida panhandle is thorough-going Republican. Even
Democrats run as Republicans. Nevertheless, the newspaper's editor, Ron
Kelley, believes that American political life is measured by something
larger than party affiliation. In his editorial, "The shepherds and
the sheep," Kelley reports that two Florida counties have banned any
further use of Diebold voting machines after witnessing a professional
demonstration that the machines, contrary to Diebold's claim, are easily
hacked to record votes differently from the way in which they are cast
- The pre-election statement by Diebold's CEO that he would
work to deliver the election to Bush was apparently no idle boast. In five
states where the new "foolproof" electronic voting machines were
used, the vote tallies differed substantially from the exit polls. Such
a disparity is unusual. The chances of exit polls in five states being
wrong are no more than one in one million.
- Miller describes considerably more election fraud than
voting machines programmed to count a proportion of Kerry votes as Bush
votes. Voters were disenfranchised in a number of ways. Miller reports
incidences of intimidation of, and reduced voting opportunities for, poorer
voters who tend to vote Democrat.
- Some of Miller's evidence is circumstantial. However,
he documents widespread Republican dirty tricks and foul play. The media's
indifference to a stolen election burns Miller as much as the stolen election
- Miller is not alone in his concerns. The non-partisan
US Government Accountability Office (GAO) in response to congressional
request investigated a number of complaints regarding the electronic voting
- Here are some of the problems noted in the GAO's September
- * Some voting machines did not encrypt cast ballots
or system audit logs, and it was possible to alter both without being detected.
- * It was possible to alter the machines so that a ballot
cast for one candidate would be recorded for another.
- * Vendors installed uncertified versions of voting system
software at the local level.
- * Access was easily compromised and did not require
a widespread conspiracy. A small handful of people is sufficient to steal
- Curiously, the media has shown no interest in the GAO
report. In my opinion, a free press has proven to be inconsistent with
the recently permitted highly concentrated corporate ownership of the US
- The electronic voting machines leave virtually no paper
trail and their use involves private potentially partisan corporations
tabulating the votes with proprietary software that is not transparent.
- A number of counties in various states have decided to
return to paper ballots that can be verified and recounted. But now that
Republicans have learned that they can use the electronic machines to control
election outcomes, the disenfranchisement of Democrats is likely to be
a permanent feature of American "democracy."
- Other reports claim that the under-sampling by pollsters
of Democratic voters creates a percentage bias that exaggerates the number
of Republican voters by as much as 5 percent, thus providing cover for
vote fraud. If hard-to-reach Democratic voters, such as the working poor,
are less likely to answer telephones, polls can create the illusion that
there are more Republican voters than in fact exist. If the electronic
voting machines are then rigged to shift 5 or 6 percent of the vote to
the Republican candidate, the result is not at odds with the expected result
and can be used as "evidence" to counter the divergence between
exit polls and vote tally.
- The outcome of the
2004 presidential election has always struck me as strange. Although Kerry
was a poor candidate and evaded the issue most on the public's mind, by
November of 2004 a majority of Americans were aware that Bush had led the
country into a gratuitous war on the basis either of incompetence or deception.
By November 2004 it was completely clear that Saddam Hussein had no weapons
of mass destruction and that Bush had rushed to war. People were concerned
by the changing rationales that Bush was offering for going to war. Moreover,
the needless war was going badly and the results bore no relationship to
the rosy scenario painted at the time of the invasion. It seems contrary
to American common sense for voters to have reelected a president who had
failed in such a dramatic way.
- Miller directs our attention to Bush's high-handed treatment
of dissenters. If electronic voting machines programmed by private Republican
firms remain in our future, dissent will become pointless unless it boils
over into revolution. Power-mad Republicans need to consider the result
when democracy loses its legitimacy and only the rich have anything to
- Dr. Roberts is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for
Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He
is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former contributing
editor for National Review, and a former assistant secretary of the U.S.
Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.
- Copyright © 2006 Creators Syndicate