Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Will Pho Become Stolen Election Guy?

I’m on record as being skeptical of the Stolen Election meme, and contemptuous of Stolen Election Guy. It’s not that I believe that vote tampering was impossible, and certainly not because the election was clean. My position is spot-on with Al Franken’s – I’ll listen to the evidence, but so far it hasn’t persuaded me.

So now we have the Kennedy article. I hadn’t done more than skim the first few paragraphs when I asked Redfern about it. I just wanted to see what he would say. Now I’m wading into the murk. So far I’m about 15 graphs in. I’ve also read Tim Russo’s first (and hopefully not only) post and browsed the Salon pieces on it (thanks, BMD.) I haven't visited Mystery Pollster in a while, but no doubt he has things to share.

As for whether I’ll decide the case has been proven: doubtful.

First off, let’s define terms. I agree that the Republicans suppressed the vote. I also agree that ducks quack. We need to work like hell against the future efforts to suppress votes. But worlds of difference exist between suppressing the vote and tampering with the votes cast. The latter has yet to be proven to my satisfaction.

To prove tampering, I would need to see evidence that overcomes the following:

Pre-Election Tracking Polls. The polls had Bush ahead in most of the states under discussion. In Ohio both Rasmussen and Zogby had him up by 4%. Kennedy likes to “calculate the odds” of the exit polls being off. What are the odds of the last tracking polls being that badly off?

The North Carolina Example. Driving around election day as part of my election protection duties I heard the early reports that exit polls showed North Carolina was swinging to Kerry. The tracking polls showed Bush ahead of Kerry by a whopping 10 points – more than twice the MOE. Surely the NC exit polls had problems. That should call the Ohio, Penn and Florida polls into question.

Bipartisan Election Supervision. In every county in Ohio the local Board of Elections is bipartisan, as are the poll workers in each precinct. I have yet to hear an explanation of how the Republicans committed massive fraud under the noses of so many Democrats. Not saying it didn’t happen, but show me how.

Nobody Has Blabbed. I’m a conspiracy theory skeptic not because I don’t believe in conspiracies, but because I don’t believe that conspirators can keep their traps shut. People who do crimes talk. Just ask John Zaffino.

Occam’s Rasor. The sort of conspiracy alleged – tamper with ballots in this county, screw with electronic reporting in that one, rig a power outage in a third – has too many moving parts to have worked this well.

Again, I’m not saying it couldn’t have happened. But I’m watching to see answers to these hurdles before jumping on board.

Meanwhile, election integrity is becoming huge news. Currently litigants are contesting the legality of electronic voting machines. From the looks of it, a challenge to Blackwell’s interpretation of the Republican’s latest election deforming law is on the way. And you can talk about all this and more at a forum this Friday at the Center for Election Integrity at CSU.


joebu said...

I will attempt to provide a few answers.

As for the Bi-Partisan Election Supervision, most election supervisors do not understand voting machine technology very well, whether it's touch screens, punch card tabulators, etc. Their computer sophistication is likely not very high. If it was, they would likely be doing something other than working for the board of elections. Remember, these people are in rural areas, which further increases the likelihood that they are not very technologically adept.

Therefore, it becomes easy to pull off shenanigans under the Dems' noses because they likely do not understand the particulars of how such shenanigans are being pulled off. They are simply not able to notice the oddities that would point to illegal behavior.

For example, look at the California utility deregulation in 1996, which later allowed Enron to rape the state in 2001. A Democratic-controlled legislature approved of the complex scheme. Did they really understand it? Probably not.

Also, many Dems in rural areas tend to be socially conservative. Therefore, it is not at all atypical for them to vote Dem in local elections, but then vote Republican in national elections. Bush campaigned largely on social issues. Therefore, I don't think it's unreasonable to speculate that a few Dems on rural county election boards participated in the fraud.

As for Occam's Rasor, see the movie Bush's Brain or read the book. It is about Karl Rove and how he does things. His methodology has always been to do things with intermediaries or agents so that something would not have the slightest appearance of a connection to Rove. He designs his plans such that it would seem so implausible to make certain connections.

The Swift Boat Liars group was a classic example. It seemed so independent, but Rove was completely behind it.

In the election case, it certainly seems implausible that someone could orchestrate such an elaborate conspiracy that would involve so many small parts, but it is very consistent with how Rove gets things done. It is what defines him as a political genius.

As for Pre-Election Tracking Polls, what makes them more reliable than the exit polls? I am not saying that the ones you cited were wrong, but exit polls are almost always more reliable because they are done immediately after the fact. There's no guesswork involved as to whether someone will change their mind.

As I mentioned in a previous comment, my conclusion that the election was stolen is largely based on circumstantial evidence. However, given current trends in this country and how they compare to similar times in history, I don't think my conclusion is unreasonable.