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Kerry Won. Here are the Facts.

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    Kerry Won. Here are the Facts. by Greg Palast 11/05/04 TomPaine.com -- I know you don t want to hear it. You can t face
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 5, 2004
      Kerry Won. Here are the Facts.
      by Greg Palast

      11/05/04 "TomPaine.com" -- I know you don't want to hear it. You
      can't face one more hung chad. But I don't have a choice. As a
      journalist examining that messy sausage called American democracy,
      it's my job to tell you who got the most votes in the deciding
      states. Tuesday, in Ohio and New Mexico, it was John Kerry.

      Most voters in Ohio thought they were voting for Kerry. At 1:05 a.m.
      Wednesday morning, CNN's exit poll showed Kerry beating Bush among
      Ohio women by 53 percent to 47 percent. The exit polls were later
      combined with—and therefore contaminated by—the tabulated results,
      ultimately becoming a mirror of the apparent actual vote. Kerry also
      defeated Bush among Ohio's male voters 51 percent to 49 percent.
      Unless a third gender voted in Ohio, Kerry took the state.

      So what's going on here? Answer: the exit polls are accurate.
      Pollsters ask, "Who did you vote for?" Unfortunately, they don't ask
      the crucial, question, "Was your vote counted?" The voters don't

      Here's why. Although the exit polls show that most voters in Ohio
      punched cards for Kerry-Edwards, thousands of these votes were
      simply not recorded. This was predictable and it was predicted. [See
      TomPaine.com, "An Election Spoiled Rotten," November 1.]

      Once again, at the heart of the Ohio uncounted vote game are, I'm
      sorry to report, hanging chads and pregnant chads, plus some other
      ballot tricks old and new.

      The election in Ohio was not decided by the voters but by something
      called "spoilage." Typically in the United States, about 3 percent
      of the vote is voided, just thrown away, not recorded. When the
      bobble-head boobs on the tube tell you Ohio or any state was won by
      51 percent to 49 percent, don't you believe it ... it has never
      happened in the United States, because the total never reaches a
      neat 100 percent. The television totals simply subtract out the
      spoiled vote.

      Whose Votes Are Discarded?

      And not all votes spoil equally. Most of those votes, say every
      official report, come from African-American and minority precincts.
      (To learn more, click here.)

      We saw this in Florida in 2000. Exit polls showed Gore with a
      plurality of at least 50,000, but it didn't match the official
      count. That's because the official, Secretary of State Katherine
      Harris, excluded 179,855 spoiled votes. In Florida, as in Ohio, most
      of these votes lost were cast on punch cards where the hole wasn't
      punched through completely—leaving a 'hanging chad,'—or was punched
      extra times. Whose cards were discarded? Expert statisticians
      investigating spoilage for the government calculated that 54 percent
      of the ballots thrown in the dumpster were cast by black folks. (To
      read the report from the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, click here .)

      And here's the key: Florida is terribly typical. The majority of
      ballots thrown out (there will be nearly 2 million tossed out from
      Tuesday's election) will have been cast by African American and
      other minority citizens.

      So here we go again. Or, here we don't go again. Because unlike last
      time, Democrats aren't even asking Ohio to count these cards with
      the not-quite-punched holes (called "undervotes" in the voting biz).
      Nor are they demanding we look at the "overvotes" where voter intent
      may be discerned.

      Ohio is one of the last states in America to still use the vote-
      spoiling punch-card machines. And the Secretary of State of Ohio, J.
      Kenneth Blackwell, wrote before the election, "the possibility of a
      close election with punch cards as the state's primary voting device
      invites a Florida-like calamity."

      But this week, Blackwell, a rabidly partisan Republican, has warmed
      up to the result of sticking with machines that have a habit of
      eating Democratic votes. When asked if he feared being this year's
      Katherine Harris, Blackwell noted that Ms. Fix-it's efforts landed
      her a seat in Congress.

      Exactly how many votes were lost to spoilage this time? Blackwell's
      office, notably, won't say, though the law requires it be reported.
      Hmm. But we know that last time, the total of Ohio votes discarded
      reached a democracy-damaging 1.96 percent. The machines produced
      their typical loss—that's 110,000 votes—overwhelmingly Democratic.

      The Impact Of Challenges

      First and foremost, Kerry was had by chads. But the Democrat wasn't
      punched out by punch cards alone. There were also the 'challenges.'
      That's a polite word for the Republican Party of Ohio's use of an
      old Ku Klux Klan technique: the attempt to block thousands of voters
      of color at the polls. In Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida, the GOP laid
      plans for poll workers to ambush citizens under arcane laws—almost
      never used—allowing party-designated poll watchers to finger
      individual voters and demand they be denied a ballot. The Ohio
      courts were horrified and federal law prohibits targeting of voters
      where race is a factor in the challenge. But our Supreme Court was
      prepared to let Republicans stand in the voting booth door.

      In the end, the challenges were not overwhelming, but they were
      there. Many apparently resulted in voters getting these
      funky "provisional" ballots—a kind of voting placebo—which may or
      may not be counted. Blackwell estimates there were 175,000;
      Democrats say 250,000. Pick your number. But as challenges were
      aimed at minorities, no one doubts these are, again, overwhelmingly
      Democratic. Count them up, add in the spoiled punch cards (easy to
      tally with the human eye in a recount), and the totals begin to
      match the exit polls; and, golly, you've got yourself a new
      president. Remember, Bush won by 136,483 votes in Ohio.

      Enchanted State's Enchanted Vote

      Now, on to New Mexico, where a Kerry plurality—if all votes are
      counted—is more obvious still. Before the election, in TomPaine.com,
      I wrote, "John Kerry is down by several thousand votes in New
      Mexico, though not one ballot has yet been counted."

      How did that happen? It's the spoilage, stupid; and the provisional

      CNN said George Bush took New Mexico by 11,620 votes. Again, the
      network total added up to that miraculous, and non-existent, '100
      percent' of ballots cast.

      New Mexico reported in the last race a spoilage rate of 2.68
      percent, votes lost almost entirely in Hispanic, Native American and
      poor precincts—Democratic turf. From Tuesday's vote, assuming the
      same ballot-loss rate, we can expect to see 18,000 ballots in the
      spoilage bin.

      Spoilage has a very Democratic look in New Mexico. Hispanic voters
      in the Enchanted State, who voted more than two to one for Kerry,
      are five times as likely to have their vote spoil as a white voter.
      Counting these uncounted votes would easily overtake the
      Bush 'plurality.'

      Already, the election-bending effects of spoilage are popping up in
      the election stats, exactly where we'd expect them: in heavily
      Hispanic areas controlled by Republican elections officials. Chaves
      County, in the "Little Texas" area of New Mexico, has a 44 percent
      Hispanic population, plus African Americans and Native Americans,
      yet George Bush "won" there 68 percent to 31 percent.

      I spoke with Chaves' Republican county clerk before the election,
      and he told me that this huge spoilage rate among Hispanics simply
      indicated that such people simply can't make up their minds on the
      choice of candidate for president. Oddly, these brown people drive
      across the desert to register their indecision in a voting booth.

      Now, let's add in the effect on the New Mexico tally of provisional

      "They were handing them out like candy," Albuquerque journalist
      Renee Blake reported of provisional ballots. About 20,000 were given
      out. Who got them?

      Santiago Juarez who ran the "Faithful Citizenship" program for the
      Catholic Archdiocese in New Mexico, told me that "his" voters, poor
      Hispanics, whom he identified as solid Kerry supporters, were handed
      the iffy provisional ballots. Hispanics were given provbisional
      ballots, rather than the countable kind "almost religiously," he
      said, at polling stations when there was the least question about a
      voter's identification. Some voters, Santiago said, were simply
      turned away.

      Your Kerry Victory Party

      So we can call Ohio and New Mexico for John Kerry—if we count all
      the votes.

      But that won't happen. Despite the Democratic Party's pledge, the
      leadership this time gave in to racial disenfranchisement once
      again. Why? No doubt, the Democrats know darn well that counting all
      the spoiled and provisional ballots will require the cooperation of
      Ohio's Secretary of State, Blackwell. He will ultimately decide
      which spoiled and provisional ballots get tallied. Blackwell,
      hankering to step into Kate Harris' political pumps, is unlikely to
      permit anything close to a full count. Also, Democratic leadership
      knows darn well the media would punish the party for demanding a
      full count.

      What now? Kerry won, so hold your victory party. But make sure the
      shades are down: it may be become illegal to demand a full vote
      count under PATRIOT Act III.

      I used to write a column for the Guardian papers in London. Several
      friends have asked me if I will again leave the country. In light of
      the failure—a second time—to count all the votes, that won't be
      necessary. My country has left me.

      Greg Palast, contributing editor to Harper's magazine, investigated
      the manipulation of the vote for BBC Television's Newsnight. The
      documentary, "Bush Family Fortunes," based on his New York Times
      bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, is now available on
      DVD. View a clip at http://www.gregpalast.com/bff-dvd.htm

      To receive Greg's investigative reports click here:



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