Double Standards on Exit Polls


A bitterly contested presidential election was held recently. The opposition candidate lost narrowly, by less than three percent of the vote, but now a large segment of the electorate is crying foul.

There was evidence of fraud-supporters of the opposition candidate being kept from the polls while supporters of the incumbent were voting more than once in those “red” regions of the country where the incumbent president’s party was most popular, people crying foul in those regions where the opposition was stronger–and besides, exit polls showed the opposition candidate winning handily.

The country? Not America. It’s the Ukraine.

The response to this evidence of a possibly stolen election? Hundreds of thousands of protesters have camped on the streets of the capital, insisting that opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko be declared the winner. Yushchenko himself has declared victory and even took a symbolic oath of office.

And in the U.S., the Bush administration, citing the exit polls and evidence of fraud that have been raised, has urged government authorities in Kiev “not to certify results until investigations of organized fraud are resolved.”

What’s this?

Roll back the film a minute.

Isn’t the Bush administration facing much the same situation in the U.S., absent the mass street rallies?

In Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, and other battleground states in the U.S., there is considerable documented and anecdotal evidence of fraud, including organized efforts in Florida and Ohio by Republican Party authorities to hinder or depress the urban (read black and Democratic) vote, in the deliberate denial of voting rights to people of color, and of possible widespread fraud in the registering and the counting of votes. And exit polls universally showed opposition presidential candidate John Kerry winning handily in the key states of Florida and Ohio, victory in either one of which would have given him victory.

Indeed, a University of Pennsylvania researcher, studying those exit poll results, has concluded that the consistent shift from Kerry to Bush from exit poll prediction to official tally result is a statistical impossibility, leaving fraud as the only explanation.

Yet in Ohio, where a recount of all votes requested by two small third parties, the Greens and the Libertarians, could conceivably overturn the state’s pro-Bush result and hand the presidency to Kerry, the Republican-run Secretary of State’s office is doing everything it can to delay that recount until the state’s electoral college meets and hands its 20 votes irrevocably to Bush., making the recount moot.

Where are the government calls to hold off on such a certification of Bush’s election win until issues of fraud are “resolved.”

Meanwhile, the mainstream media, while making much of the crisis in the Ukraine, have pretty much dropped the whole story of voter fraud in the U.S. election. Indeed, while exit polls are cited as providing strong evidence that Yushchenko probably was the real winner over governing party candidate Viktor Yanukovych in the Ukraine, in the U.S. media, the prevailing wisdom is that the U.S. exit polls-heretofore said to be far more accurate than pre-election polling–were simply wrong.

In contrast to Ukraine opposition candidate Yushchenko, U.S. opposition candidate John Kerry almost immediately conceded victory to Bush, despite mounting evidence of massive fraud in Ohio and Florida, and despite earlier pledges to fight hard and to make sure “every vote is counted.”

Little wonder that in the Ukraine, where people take their new democracy seriously, the victims of fraud have taken to the streets demanding an overturning of the tainted results, while in the U.S., voters on the losing side of this electoral scandal are reduced to private grumbling.

Even so, the idea of this president, who took office the first time in the face of widespread voter fraud and disenfranchisement in the state of Florida, thanks to a decision by a Supreme Court packed with members of his own party, and who “won” the Nov. 2 election thanks to similar tactics in Ohio and Florida, telling the Ukraine to hold off on declaring a winner until allegations of fraud can be investigated and resolved is hard to swallow.

Almost as hard to swallow as the media that report this without even a passing note about its irony and hypocrisy.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” to be published this fall by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com



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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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