Genevieve — Greg Palast — Kerry Won

Topic(s): 2004 Election | Comments Off on Genevieve — Greg Palast — Kerry Won

I was sent by MoveOn PAC to Florida where I spent 3 days canvassing a
Republican precinct and later served as a poll watcher. During the three
days canvassing, Kerry was ahead 3 to 1 and 2 to 1… still it was a small
sample… but add this to the Zogby exit polls which showed a clear Kerry
victory, electronic voting that limited the number of votes and began
counting backward after reaching a limit… and those who electronically
voted for Kerry and it showed a vote cast for Bush… You can’t help but
wonder if Greg Palast is correct. Genevieve
Kerry Won. . .
Greg Palast
November 04, 2004
Bush won Ohio by 136,483 votes. In the United States, about 3 percent of
votes cast are voided­known as “spoilage” in election jargon­because the
ballots cast are inconclusive. Drawing on what happened in Florida and
studies of elections past, Palast argues that if Ohio’s discarded ballots
were counted, Kerry would have won the state. Today, the Cleveland Plain
there are a total of 247,672 votes not counted in Ohio, if you add the
92,672 discarded votes plus the 155,000 provisional ballots. So far there’s
no indication that Palast’s hypothesis will be tested because only the
provisional ballots are being counted.
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, has been
released this month on DVD .
Kerry won. Here are the facts.
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
with­and therefore contaminated by­the tabulated results, ultimately
becoming a mirror of the apparent actual vote. [To read about the skewing
of exit polls to conform to official results,
here .] 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 know.
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,
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,
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 completely­leaving 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
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
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
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
loss­that’s 110,000 votes­overwhelmingly 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 laws­almost never used­allowing
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
In the end, the challenges were not overwhelming, but they were there. Many
apparently resulted in voters getting these funky “provisional” ballots­a
kind of voting placebo­which 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 plurality­if all votes are counted­is
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 ballots.
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
precincts­Democratic 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 ballots.
“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 provisional 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 Kerry­if 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
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 failure­a
second time­to count all the votes, that won’t be necessary. My country has
left me.