Vol. 12, No. 3,009 - The American Reporter - October 19, 2006

On Native Ground

by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
Dummerston, Vt.

Printable version of this story

DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Ever since the somewhat murky outcome of 2004 presidential election in Ohio, there have been numerous reports of how Republicans engaged in widespread and intentional cheating and fraud to ensure that President George W. Bush would win.

Unfortunately, the story has never gained traction in the mainstream press. Just like it is considered impolite to say that the Bush Administration repeatedly lied to gin up a war with Iraq, it is considered equally impolite to say that Mr. Bush stole both the 2000 and 2004 elections.

Maybe that might change with the publication of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s story in latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Kennedy put together a lengthy and well-documented summation of the extent of the vote manipulation in Ohio. There was very little new in the Rolling Stone piece, but it is the most complete examination of voting fraud to appear so far in a major American publication.

The mainstream press, particularly in Ohio, pooh-poohed Kennedy's story.

"I read it and there really was nothing new," Carl Weiser, government and public affairs editor at the Cincinnati Enquirer, told Editor & Publisher magazine last week.

"They were things we already reported on and issues we did not see to have much substance," Eva Parziale, Ohio bureau chief for the Associated Press, told E & P.

"In the end, there were problems, but they were not of the magnitude that would have made any difference," Doug Clifton, editor of The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, told E & P.

In other words, it's old news and not really a story worth talking about.

Except that it is. Kennedy's story is this summer's Downing Street Memos.

Remember them? The documents leaked in the British press last year that confirmed that the Bush Administration settled upon an invasion of Iraq early in 2002 and was manipulating intelligence data to support that desire?

The Washington press corps pretty much ignored them. It took nearly a month before the AP ran a story acknowledging their existence, and it consisted mostly of official denials.

Few in the press have the courage to say the Bush Administration intentionally lied to the American people on Iraq. Likewise, few have the courage to say that the President's supporters in Ohio, and other states, did everything they could to ensure a victory for the Bush team.

Here's some of what the Ohio press corps believes is old news that's totally irrelevant and not worth further investigation:

  • Nearly 240,000 votes went uncounted in Ohio, enough to give President Bush the margin of victory he needed to win the state, and ultimately the election.
  • In all, about 3.6 million votes nationwide were uncounted. If you were a black voter, you were nine times more like to see your vote discarded than if you were a white voter.
  • There were about 1.4 million "spoiled" votes nationwide - punch cards with too few or too many punches, paper ballots that were improperly scanned or touch screens that never registered a result.
  • Another 1 million "provisional" ballots and about 526,000 absentee ballots went uncounted nationwide. In Ohio, for example, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell - a staunch supporter of Mr. Bush - changed the rules to toss those ballots even though voters were told that they would count after their voter registration was confirmed.
  • Then there were the people who never got a chance to vote, because their names never were entered on to registration lists or were mistakenly removed. Others never got to vote after being forced to stand in lines for hours because urban areas did not have enough polling stations or equipment while suburban precients had a surplus of polling booths.

    There is one common thread all of the above. Black voters overwhelmingly back Democratic candidates in any given election, so Republicans have diligently tried to suppress the black vote through the aforementioned methods.

    This is not a wild-eyed conspiracy theory. All of this happened and is well documented. That's why Kennedy's story is so important and is a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of our democracy. It deserves more attention, not because it will change the outcome of the 2004 election, but because these same tactics will almost certainly be employed again in the Congressional elections in November and the 2008 presidential election.

    "American history is littered with vote fraud," wrote Kennedy. "but instead of learning from our shameful past and cleaning up the system, we have allowed the problem to get worse. If the last two elections have taught us anything, it is this: The single biggest threat to our democracy is the insecurity of our voting system."

    The Republicans have shown that they will stop at nothing in their quest to stay in power. The mainstream press wants to keep pretending that we have free and fair elections in this country, but it is unwilling to confront the reality that if people don't have a reasonable belief that their votes will be counted accurately, the whole idea of government by the people falls apart.

    It's time that all Americans take this issue seriously, and demand elections that are honest and fair.

    Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 25 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at randyholhut@yahoo.com.

    Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

    Site Meter