What Vote-Theft Conspiracy?


The big losers on Election Day were of course President Bush and the Republican Party, but there was another loser too: the conspiracy theory that had it that a slick operation run out of Karl Rove’s office, and working in cahoots with the makers of the electronic voting machines increasingly being installed by voting districts around the country would steal the key elections electronically.

I always felt that this conspiracy theory was over the top, and that it moreover was having the pernicious effect of creating massive cynicism about elections that would keep many people from voting who otherwise might have.

There’s no way to know how many people didn’t go to the polls because they decided that it would be a waste of time, but I sure have heard plenty of people saying, over the past year, “What’s the point? The Republicans are going to steal the election anyway.”

Well, if they were ever going to steal an election, this would have been the one to do it to. The last thing a criminal president whose popularity is in the cellar needs is a Congress armed with subpoena power in the hands of the opposition party. Surely, if Karl Rove could have tinkered with the numbers on those voting machines in just a few dozen districts, or in states like Montana or Virginia where the margin was a few thousand votes, and where the key voter registrar officials were fellow Republicans, he would have done it.

Instead, we saw dozens of congressional races and a handful of key Senate races switch to the Democrats, and sometimes by the narrowest of margins.

I am certain that Rove and his legions of dirty tricksters did their level best to intimidate and discourage minority and low-income urban voters from going to the polls. Greg Palast and others have ably demonstrated how Republicans have mastered the art of removing people from the rolls who should not be removed, of tricking people into thinking they’d registered to vote when they hadn’t, and of threatening some groups of voters–mostly blacks and Hispanics–into not voting for fear of being arrested on some trumped-up charge. There have also been plenty of documented cases of Republican Party attempts to establish burdensome and illegal photo ID requirements. All these things have certainly lowered Democratic vote totals by millions of votes.

But the systematic tampering with voting machines that some warned would happen and that people have claimed happened in 2004 and 2000, simply didn’t occur–and I suspect didn’t occur those years either.

I’m not saying it couldn’t be done from a purely technical point of view. Techies at Princeton have proven that the machines made by Diebold can be hacked. Others have hacked machines made by Sequoia Systems. And certainly if ATM machines can be made reasonably safe and reliable, voting machines should be able to be made equally so. But all that being said, showing it can be done, and actually having it done are two very different things.

Certainly the idea of having elections that use electronic voting machines which keep no paper record of votes is stupid and is just asking for trouble. Just consider the election district where a voting official forgot to push “save” to record the vote totals before turning off the machine! Or consider the Virginia Senate race, where they can’t really do a recount even if Sen. Allen wants one, because a third of the voting machines have no paper record of what voters did. We don’t do our ATM business without a receipt, or buy gas at a pump by credit card without a receipt, so why on earth would we accept the idea of voting without a receipt?

So let’s fix the system so it has a verifiable paper trail.

But let’s also stop the paranoia about massive vote-stealing conspiracies.

Karl Rove is about as much a genius as George Bush is a talented leader. The sinking ship of the Bush administration and the Republican Party is proving that. The way I see it, if you can be beaten by the current Democratic Party, you’ve got to be pretty pathetic!

Instead of telling people that the Republicans are going to hack the vote, we should be telling people that voting is a critical responsibility. We should also be fixing the election system so that the real threats to a fair vote–the impediments to voting that we know are being erected by Republicans–become illegal.

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!” is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s new book is “The Case for Impeachment“,
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com




More articles by:

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).

Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Roberto J. González
The Mind-Benders: How to Harvest Facebook Data, Brainwash Voters, and Swing Elections
Paul Street
Deplorables II: The Dismal Dems in Stormy Times
Nick Pemberton
The Ghost of Hillary
Andrew Levine
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Paul de Rooij
Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot
Chuck Gerhart
Sessions Exploits a Flaw to Pursue Execution of Meth Addicts
Robert Fantina
Distractions, Thought Control and Palestine
Hiroyuki Hamada
The Eyes of “Others” for Us All
Robert Hunziker
Is the EPA Hazardous to Your Health?
Stephanie Savell
15 Years After the Iraq Invasion, What Are the Costs?
Aidan O'Brien
Europe is Pregnant 
John Eskow
How Can We Live With All of This Rage?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Was Khe Sanh a Win or a Loss?
Dan Corjescu
The Man Who Should Be Dead
Howard Lisnoff
The Bone Spur in Chief
Brian Cloughley
Hitler and the Poisoning of the British Public
Brett Wilkins
Trump Touts $12.5B Saudi Arms Sale as US Support for Yemen War Literally Fuels Atrocities
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraqi Landscapes: the Path of Martyrs
Brian Saady
The War On Drugs Is Far Deadlier Than Most People Realize
Stephen Cooper
Battling the Death Penalty With James Baldwin
CJ Hopkins
Then They Came for the Globalists
Philip Doe
In Colorado, See How They Run After the Fracking Dollars
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Armed Propaganda
Binoy Kampmark
John Brennan’s Trump Problem
Nate Terani
Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
Steve Early
From Jackson to Richmond: Radical Mayors Leave Their Mark
Jill Richardson
To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done
Ralph Nader
Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Sam Pizzigati
Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk
Sergio Avila
Don’t Make the Border a Wasteland
Daryan Rezazad
Denial of Climate Change is Not the Problem
Ron Jacobs
Flashing for the Refugees on the Unarmed Road of Flight
Missy Comley Beattie
The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities
George Wuerthner
Isle Royale: Manage for Wilderness Not Wolves
George Payne
Pompeo Should Call the Dogs Off of WikiLeaks
Russell Mokhiber
Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections
Franklin Lamb
Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely
Montana Wilderness Association Dishonors Its Past
Elizabeth “Liz” Hawkins, RN
Nurses Are Calling #TimesUp on Domestic Abuse
Paul Buhle
A Caribbean Giant Passes: Wilson Harris, RIP
Mel Gurtov
A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring