What if the Real Polls Don’t Matter

One more reason polls don't matter: people who think they are registered to vote may not be. In Nevada, a GOP-financed firm purported to register voters, but secretly ripped up the forms submitted by people who wanted to register as Democrats.

There are dirty tricks in every election, but this is down there among the slimiest. Thousands of would-be voters may be effected. And it's not the only such story from this electoral cycle. See this voter fraud roundup and the one at Angry Bear.

The US doesn't have a great history on this subject, and I don't mean just the 2000 election. There's substantial evidence, for example, that JFK, LBJ and then-Mayor Daley stole the 1960 election by stuffing ballot boxes in Texas and rigging the vote in Chicago…mitigated only somewaht by some counter-evidence of GOP vote fraud that year. Arguably, Nixon's finest hour was taking that defeat relatively quietly; the counter-argument is he knew what skeletons were in his closet. (You know, this lot makes me miss Nixon. At least when Nixon and Kissinger committed a war crime, they had a somewhat plausible theory motivating it.)

This year, however, the reported evidence of fraud — not to mention the potential for rigging voting machines — leans very heavily one way, and suggests a pattern of voter intimidation (aimed at Blacks and Native Americans) and outright fraud that may continue on to election day.

How many fraud stories leaning the same way, in how many states, does it take before the validity of this election is so much in doubt that we need to ask if we still have a democracy in the real sense of the word?

And if we should conclude that we have failed Benjamin Franklin's test — a Republic, if you can keep it — then what do we do? The mind boggles. One wants to think about something else. Novels. Getting out the vote. The new Chumbawumba CDs that arrived in the mail. Work.

Is it best not to think about it until we know the result of the election? (Even if some Republicans are already laying plans to claim, as they did with Clinton, that only Republicans can be legitimately elected?) After all, it might not be close, and blowout one way would quiet criticism, espeically if it wasn't the party in power that had access to the paperless electronic voting machines.

Or, perhaps, is it already too late in the game?

Updates: Kos1 and Kos2

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20 Responses to What if the Real Polls Don’t Matter

  1. You ARE aware, I hope, that that site is being very selective about which vote fraud stories it relays? And that there are plenty of similar instances implicating Democrats? The AFL-CIO and ACORN have been pulling similar stunts all over the country this year. Check it out:

    http://billhobbs.com/hobbsonline/cat_voter_fraud.html

    BOTH parties’ hands are dirty clear up to their elbows, which is, I think, why nothing ever gets done about it.

  2. Patrick (G) says:

    Brett,
    Would you mind backing up that claim with some specific links to actual news articles ?
    The handful I looked at (three links deeper), were nowhere near the level of organized fraud as the Nevada incident.

  3. Andrew J. Lazarus says:

    Michael, you’ve been suckered by an urban legend. FIrst, the Democrats were actually picking up votes in a recount of Illinois; evidence of fraud there isn’t all that strong. (Why believe Nixon about anything?) But more important, the Kennedy margin in the Electoral College was more than the number of Illinois’s electoral votes!! NIxon would also have had to pick up several other states besides Illinois to win!!

  4. Seth Gordon says:

    When I’m not afraid that Bush will win the election, I’m afraid that Kerry will win the election by a very narrow margin, and that mainstream Republicans will spend the next four years insisting that Kerry owed his victory to voter fraud. (Wing-nut Republicans will say this no matter what, but if Kerry’s margin of victory is decisive enough, then nobody will take them seriously.)

  5. This do you, Patrick?

    http://www.floridatoday.com/!NEWSROOM/localstoryN02FRAUD.htm

    “A field director for one of the many national partisan organizations trying to drum up votes in Florida admits to routine efforts to rig the outcome. They include submitting thousands of invalid voter registration cards, as well as failing to turn in boxes of cards filled out to register Republicans.

    “There was a lot of fraud committed,” said Mac Stuart, former Miami-Dade field director for ACORN. Among his allegations — that ACORN “quality control” workers routinely kicked back Republican voter registrations while paying for Democratic ones. “They said they had enough,” he said.”

    “Stuart said he has been interviewed twice by an agent for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. That FDLE agent declined Friday to confirm his investigation. Florida law makes it a third-degree felony to interfere with someone’s right to register as well as to pay a per-card solicitation fee for gathering registrations. Stuart says ACORN did both.

    Stuart said ACORN officials at state headquarters in Tampa were aware of what was going on, and discouraged him from talking about it. He said he was ultimately fired as “a loose cannon.”

    While Republican registrations were ignored, Stuart said those of convicted felons were eagerly sought, even though by law they are ineligible until they are granted clemency by the state. Stuart set up registration tables outside the Miami police department and Dade County jail.

    “We targeted them because ACORN had a goal: 103,000 new registrations from Dade County,” Stuart said.””

    Seth, it would do a great deal to relieve Republican suspicions of ballot fraud, if Democrats would simply allow, even advocate, greater measures for ballot security. Like having to present photo ID to register, for instance.

  6. fiat lux says:

    You’re depressing me, Michael.

    Let’s all move to Canada and be done with it.

  7. radish says:

    Brett, much as I appreciated the laugh, I think you should read the article a little more carefully. Mac Stuart says ACORN was rejecting R registrations. I’ll accept this arguendo since Stuart is just some guy whose credibility we can’t assess and I personally think ACORN is something of a self-deluding scam. What then of Ion Sancho’s story? If you want a “Dems are doing this more than Rs” story you should find one that doesn’t also contain a substantive description of R wrongdoing.

    Mac Stuart’s storyline is like Mark Scott trying to use the term “questionable applications” to justify rejecting all applications from a Muslim GOTV effort. “Questionable” is a non-falsifiable assertion and therefore not useful in a controversial situation. Ion Sancho OTOH, has committed himself to producing about 1000 reg forms whereon African American Democrats at Florida A&M University were re-registered, without their consent, as Republicans.

  8. Michael says:

    A few reactions to some of the interesting things above:

    1. The 1960 electoral vote was 313-219 (94 vote gap). Switch 47 votes, it goes the other way. According to The Political Graveyard, Illinois was 27, Texas 24, that equals 51 which is greater than 47. Is it possible either state was or could have been won by JFK without fraud? I don’t know. But there were a lot of late votes pouring in from areas controlled by Daley and LBJ that swung those states…

    2. I am spectacularly unimpressed with the billhobbes site as a source of information. I’ve only found myself there on economic issues, but on those at least the items I happened to read were brain-dead recitations of GOP spin points, long after they had been exploded by reputable economists. That doesn’t mean it can’t be right, but it does mean I would like something better before I’m prepared to say that the two parties are anywhere near parity this time around.

    3. I’ve always thought ACORN was bad news, so I would be sad but not all that surprised to find they had a field office gone rogue (I’d be a little surprised if it were a national policy). But even assuming the worst is true, is this comperable to a hypothetical such effort financed by the Democratic party itself, or by a Democratic officeholder (or wannabe)? I don’t think so. It’s a big country and there are always nuts and sages, evildoers and saints.

    The issue I blogged was an organized national campaign by the GOP itself, and by once, current or future GOP officeholders. It’s bad whenever anyone mucks with the sinews of the electoral system, but unless it’s on a massive scale it’s closer to ordinary crime than something that threatens the system. It’s verging on putchist when parties and officeholders do it nationally. Whether those people are named Daley (Sr.) or Rove.

    We urgently need a system impervious to such gamesmanship, such as motor voter, or registration at the polls themselves….which probably will require secure ID cards….but that’s another kettle of fish….

  9. Try, “Dems are doing this, too.” I really get irate at the suggestion that this is just something that Republicans are doing. I don’t know which party is doing it more, I just know they’re both doing it too much. And I think that’s the reason we don’t have better ballot security in this country: Both major parties are guilty, in different places.

  10. thomas says:

    Chumbawumba????????

  11. Brett, if the best you can do is “everybody’s doing it,” then what else is there to say?

  12. “We urgently need a system impervious to such gamesmanship, such as motor voter, or registration at the polls themselves….which probably will require secure ID cards”

    We’ve GOT “Motor Voter”; It’s part of the problem. Yes, we need a requirement for secure ID to register, and to vote, and that’s about the only thing that would convince me to stomach a national ID system.

  13. Ab_Normal says:

    [tangent] Thomas, you punctuated it wrong — it’s “Chumbawamba!!!” (listening to “Readymades” even as I type). 😉

    My apologies. Carry on with the serious discourse.

  14. Patrick (G) says:

    Brett,
    Sproul & Associates AKA Voters Outreach of America AKA America Votes seems to have committed multi-state fraud (Arizona, Nevada, Oregon,Pennsylvania, West Virginia), apparently financed directly by the Republican National Convention. This is not Politics As Usual, this is Organized Crime.

  15. Observer says:

    Arguably, Nixon’s finest hour was taking that defeat relatively quietly

    Nope. Another urban myth.

    Yes, he did concede publicly. But he legally challenged the votes in 8 (or more states). Look it up (I’ve seen links posted in comments here before).

  16. Brett Bellmore says:

    “Brett, if the best you can do is “everybody’s doing it,” then what else is there to say?”

    “Everybody should stop.”, obviously.

  17. Eli Rabett says:

    As with much else the solution is simple, done most everywhere else and totally rejected in the US, ie. an identity card system where the card is linked to a database of addresses which constitutes the registration. Can you think of another country where you have to separately register to vote?

  18. Totally rejected? Are you joking? You need to do some serious research on the national id card…

    I’d start with Censored 2000, The Year’s Top 25 Censored Stories, by Peter Phillips and Project Censored…it focuses on the Illegal Immigrant Reform and Responsibility Act of 1996…note the $5 million dollar grants for states willing to implement early…

    Btw, thank Diane Feinstein, who’s all for it. And our best advocate against it? Dick Armey. We’re through the looking glass here, people.

  19. jazmine says:

    As an immigrant to the USA who ran away from a dictatorship, I am totally aghast at how the popular vote is disrespected. It’s time to end the Electoral College, which is actually a tyrannical agency. Also, registration to vote should be made automatic, tied to the other numbers system meant to keep track of people. Possibly through the electric bill or something.

  20. Can you really blame the electoral college? Or is it our fault, as individual voters, for not bothering to track whether our electors follow the popular vote, and taking the necessary response?

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