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Election-fraud rumors on Web refuse to die

Daily newsbrief journal for November 2004, also see for a global 100-page perpetual brief and follow twitter @usdemocrats

Election-fraud rumors on Web refuse to die

Postby admin » Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:08 am

Election-fraud rumors on Web refuse to die« Thread Started on Nov 27, 2004, 5:15pm » --------------------------------------------------------------------------------Election-fraud rumors on Web refuse to die ... llegations abound that vote tinkering made Bush a winner.By James Rosen -- Bee Washington BureauPublished 2:15 am PST Sunday, November 21, 2004WASHINGTON - More than two weeks after Sen. John Kerry conceded defeat and urged national unity, the Internet remains ablaze with accusations and theories about voting irregularities, rigged equipment, machines that counted backward, machines that stopped counting, and all manner of possible mishap from incompetence to corruption and outright fraud.Four in five Americans believe the election was conducted fairly, including two-thirds of all Democrats, according to a poll released Wednesday by Harris Interactive. But 16 percent are suspicious of the outcome, with more than one in four Democrats saying it was tilted, deliberately or not, toward President Bush. While Kerry and his top aides have not challenged Bush's re-election, some prominent Democrats are joining the fray. Two days after Kerry's concession, three Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee wrote to the head of the Government Accountability Office demanding an urgent investigation of the election.The congressmen cited reports from Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and other states about voting machines that had lost votes, voting machines that had failed to count votes, voting machines that had given extra votes to Bush.But that's tame compared to some of the inflammatory rhetoric on the Internet. A host of Web sites and bloggers are alleging a conspiracy of massive proportions to ensure Bush's victory.A typical site is, whose home page begins: "In Election 2000, the Bush regime stole the election and got away with it. Now, in Election 2004, there is new evidence that Bush and the Republicans have stolen the 2004 election by electronic voting fraud in states with E-Voting without paper trails, scrubbing the voter rolls of Democratic voters, and destruction of paper ballots in heavily Democratic areas."The site then invites visitors to "post any evidence of election fraud at our new Stolen Election 2004 Blog," and it provides electronic links to other Web sites making similar allegations.At the edge of the online fray, some sites show U.S. maps noting the similarities between the pre-Civil War slave states and the "red" states that backed Bush this year, while others try to mount a secession movement for the "blue" states that supported Kerry.Still other Web sites are trying to shoot down - or at least slow down - the online conspiracy locomotive., a San Francisco-based group founded by Stanford University computer science professor David Dill, says on its site that "unproven charges of fraud are unwise and damaging" and adds: "So far, we have not seen convincing evidence of either fraud nor of a major error in the presidential election."The allegations have several clear roots: the 2000 Florida recount debacle, the five-week drama that introduced millions of Americans to the arcane methods of vote-counting and led many to see its imperfections for the first time; the replacement of punch-card systems with electronic voting machines, which has substituted the possibility of human error with the specter of nefarious, invisible computer error; and the early exit polls on Election Day this year, which erroneously - or so the official returns showed - predicted that Kerry would carry Florida and Ohio, and thus win the White House.Another root is the practice of many states' top election officials to participate actively in the campaigns of their party's presidential nominee, which puts them in the position of supporting one candidate even as they fulfill their duty of ensuring fair polling for all candidates.Still another breeding ground of suspicion is Diebold Inc., a North Canton, Ohio, firm that is one of the country's largest manufacturers of electronic voting equipment. Its chairman and CEO, Walden O'Dell, faced a storm of controversy last year after a fund-raising letter he had written for Bush was disclosed, in which he said he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes for the president."After facing intense criticism, O'Dell filed a new ethics policy with the Securities and Exchange Commission for his publicly traded company, banning campaign contributions and prohibiting all political activity except voting for its executives. Months later, the original stories about O'Dell's fund-raising letter still circulate widely on the Internet to support claims of a Diebold-led conspiracy, without accounts of his subsequent steps to address the problem.But more than anything else, the swirl of controversy over the election displays the ever-expanding reach of the Internet, its increasing ability to influence American politics and its growing status as a news alternative to broadcast and print media outlets for more and more people.Henry Farrell, a George Washington University political science professor who has written extensively about the Internet, said a handful of Web commentators - or "bloggers" in online parlance - have emerged as influential opinion brokers with daily readerships that reach several hundred thousand, audience sizes that exceed those of all but the 50 or so largest newspapers.Prominent liberal bloggers include Duncan Black of www., Kevin Drum at, and Josh Marshall at www., while leading conservative bloggers include Glenn Reynolds at www., and Andrew Sullivan at www.andrewsullivan. com."Blogs are becoming part of the everyday bread-and-butter of the American political system," Farrell said. "Just as the political hacks try to spin newspaper and TV reporters, they also try to spin bloggers. Politicians are beginning to wake up to the fact that blogs are important."During the election campaign, bloggers were the first to question the validity of documents CBS News had used to challenge Bush's past military service in the Air National Guard; mainstream reporters followed their lead, and the network soon had to issue an embarrassing apology.A growing number of mainstream reporters are reading the top bloggers, Farrell said, and political operatives are communicating with them directly. As its influence grows, he said, the "blogosphere" and the broader political Web sphere to which it belongs are exerting more discipline on content. Farrell noted that not one of the leading liberal bloggers has jumped on the election conspiracy bandwagon since Nov. 2.One of them, Black, stopped blogging for several days after the election. Then, on Nov. 8, he resurfaced."One of the reasons I blew out of here for the weekend was that after the 100th or so shrill e-mails accusing me of failing to acknowledge PROOF that the ELECTION WAS STOLEN, I was a bit fed up," Black wrote.Black, a former economics professor at the University of California, Irvine, and a self-professed activist Democrat, said he started writing his blog on a Web site he launched in April 2002 after moving to Connecticut with his wife, who had gotten a position as a Spanish professor at Bryn Mawr College. His blog now gets 130,000 hits a day. Its success, he said, has stunned him, leading to a position as a senior fellow with Media Matters for America, a new liberal watchdog group in Washington."It started off as something for me to let off steam," he said. "I was happy when I had a couple hundred hits a day. Then it just grew and grew and grew."Ida Briggs, a software designer and database manager in Michigan, went online after the election and began crunching some of the New Hampshire election returns. She detected what appeared to be gross statistical anomalies in the returns for some of the southern precincts of the Granite State, in which Bush received far more votes this year than he had in 2000.Even though Kerry narrowly won New Hampshire, Briggs wondered about problems with optical-scan voting machines in New Hampshire - made by Diebold. After calling the Kerry campaign office but finding little interest in her findings, Briggs contacted aides to third-party candidate Ralph Nader.Now, thanks to funds provided by Nader and based entirely on Briggs' findings, New Hampshire election officials are conducting a recount of 11 precincts in the state. So far, they have not discovered significant changes in the returns.
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