New Year's Resolutions?

Let's talk New Year's resolutions.

What are your resolutions for the new year? What will you do anew, differently, better, more, less, or not at all? (Remember, it's an election year.)

Any suggested New Year's Resolutions for anyone? President Bush? Speaker Minnis? The Democratic Party?

The new year is a time for thinking big, thinking fresh, and hoping anew. Let's hear yours.

Comments

  • Marvinlee (unverified)
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    I resolve to plant at least 30 trees in the coming year.

  • Winston Wolfe (unverified)
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    I resolve to not let Neel Pender talk with the Media anymore!

    Oh yeah, and help poor people or something.

  • Wes Wagner (unverified)
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    I resolve to cut down 30 trees next year.

    Ok I am just kidding, but please realize in this world there are many unintended consequences to well meaining intentions when you go into the new year.

    If you plant trees it increases the net warming of the earth because the dark green of the leaves soak up more of the solar radiation and emit it as heat than they actually reduce the net CO2, so planting trees actually warms the earth. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051206162547.htm)

    We do the same thing in public policy when it is goverend by pathos rather than logic or reason - we can do far more harm than good and waste resources in the process. The last place anyone should be exercising emotion in their decision making process is in legislating or voting.

    The truth in life is often somewhere in the middle and is arrived at by admitting facts that are unpopular or unpleasent.

    Wes Wagner NW Meridian

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    I resolve to notify as many people as possible that GW Bush has not been elected as our president, ever. Any one who believes he was is a miracle theorist.

  • Miracle Theorist (unverified)
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    Twice.

  • Dan (unverified)
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    If you plant trees it increases the net warming of the earth because the dark green of the leaves soak up more of the solar radiation and emit it as heat than they actually reduce the net CO2, so planting trees actually warms the earth. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051206162547.htm)

    Actually, the article says that trees planted in the tropics could decrease global warming, while trees planted in more temperate areas (Oregon) could increase it.

    So, Marvinlee should head down to the Amazon to plant his 30 trees, eh?

  • Wes Wagner (unverified)
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    Yeah rainforest recovery may be time better spent.

  • dmrusso (unverified)
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    I resolve the hold Democrats to the highest standard.

    Quit moving to the center! Quit acting like you are pro-war! Quit being Republican!

    Don't sacrifice who you are just to win office. Bush sure didn't! Be geniune, honest and never let an attack go by without a tougher counter attack.

    Hoping for a victorious TWENTY-O-Six!

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    Don't sacrifice who you are just to win office. Bush sure didn't!

    Right. He didn't win office. It's a well known fact that Gore won Florida. Now, everyone needs to read "Fooled Again" by Mark C. Miller and also the Bob Fritakis phonebook o' facts on the 2004 debacle of a stolen election. Kerry won by a sizeable margin.

    And I also agree with your point, dmrusso. No more spineless caving in to the theocrats and the robber barons!

  • Dan (unverified)
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    Yes...telling everyone that Bush didn't win will accomplish EVERYTHING that democrats have been lacking. What a brilliant plan! Focus on the past instead of the future. You will continue to look like a party of sore-loser bed-wetting crybabies instead of a party with some semblance of a plan. D's always kvetch that people don't listen to you because the Average Joe is stupid and unenlightened, but actually it's because you are boring and you have NOTHING TO OFFER but should-have's and want-if's. But that's ok...being a democrat is really more about feeling good about yourself than it is accomplishing something...anything. At least the tree-planting idiot is doing something that will have a result.

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    Go ahead and plant those trees, Wes.

    The article said that planting forests (not trees) at higher latitudes, particularly on cropland, might increase global warming.

    It also said that planting forests at middle latitudes like the continental U.S. is a net benefit until you reach a point where CO2 diffuses from the oceans to lessen the cooling benefit. On the other hand, it's my understanding that the oceans are currently acting as a huge CO2 sink and that we don't really understand what their capacity for continuing to do that is. Taking some of that burden off the oceans could turn out to be the best thing we could do.

    It matters that they were talking primarily about "forests" and not "trees" because in their modeling they made some assumptions about the reflectivity of a typical forest vs. the reflectivity of the ground beneath them which do not necessarily apply to the trees Wes might choose to plant in the places he might choose to plant them.

    If those 30 trees will be shading asphalt streets or dark colored shingles in the city you should get a decrease in heat absorption as well as a decrease in carbon dioxide and it will all be good. If you choose to plant trees with light-colored leaves that might well get you a significant net gain also. We have several variegated Japanese maples with very light colored leaves in our back yard that clearly are much less absorptive than the dirt underneath them.

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    Oops, I meant Marvinlee should go ahead and plant the trees. But perhaps Wes could also plant trees instead of spending his time on somewhat slipshod analysis.

  • Ginny Ross - DFO (unverified)
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    Focus on the past instead of the future.

    It's smarter than burying one's head in the sand of false hopes for future electoral wins in a rigged system. Democrats must embrace with both arms the fact of three disastrous national elections in which the majority was disenfranchised or we will be screwed again. I challenge you, Dan, and all readers to learn more about this subject so you will understand the scope of the crisis. Try www.BradBlog.com for starters. Act now to put this on the national radar screen and at the top of the agenda. Our electoral system is a ramshackle mess, not safe for use in a democracy. Regardless of party affiliation, a candidate's policies, plans, programs, etc. mean nothing if the election is rigged or stolen.

    Think how the Repugnants would be fighting now if Democratic party loyalists controlled the software that counts 80% of our votes in secret in this country? Just ask yourself if that's something they'd just turn a blind eye and "move on" from.

    By the by, here's and outstanding graphic to help you understand how the 2004 election was thrown late on election night.

    http://tinyurl.com/9ngly

    For all the miracle theorists who think Bush won, carry on as usual with all your donating and campaigning and preparing for Feingold, Hillary or whoever to win in '08, and then watch while the software ushers in former ES&S Ceo, Chuck Hagel.

  • Dan (unverified)
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    "Act now"!?! What, are you selling steak knives on QVC? You are choosing the most esoteric snoozefest of a issue to concentrate on, and are expecting the masses to (1) understand the concept, (2) agree with you, and (3) rise up in some sort of electoral revolution chanting "We're not gonna take it"! A political plan for the people, almost by definition should be uncomplicated, easy to understand, and easy to identify with. We aren't talking about us political operatives...we are targeting Joe Sixpack and Helen Housecoat who don't give a crap about some conspiracy theory that robbed that brave John Kerry and his three purple hearts of the White House. Isn't the big D website MoveOn.org? Physician, heal thyself!

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)
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    Once again we have a troll with nothing to offer but invective and vitriol clogging the blog, 'Dan'.

    First he spews "D's always kvetch that people don't listen to you because the Average Joe is stupid and unenlightened," and next he betrays that sentiment as his own, bloviating about HIS political focus: "we are targeting Joe Sixpack and Helen Housecoat".

    That is obviously NOT the viewpoint of the Democrats. Treating the electorate as ignorant dupes indeed does not originate with the Republican philosophy; they have allowed it to become their modus operandi by submitting to corporate take-over. It is instantly recognizable if you watch any of the corporate manufacturing subsidiaries' advertisements in the mass media: the constant theme is that consumers are just too stupid to live without the addictive nostrums which the corporation has so thoughtfully supplied.

    My wish is that an effective defense of democratic principles will be mounted in 2006. It will mean promulgating respect for the ability of the good people of America to make judgements about measures taken in their name to secure the greater good. That would mean a serious reining-in of the secret government which the current administration is using to shield their self-serving actions. They are operating as if the bedrock principle of democracy is a delusion: that as free citizens we are able to participate in decisions regarding our own fate. It will mean revoking the artificial personhood which has been granted corporate entities, because that makes merely human citizens into second-class citizens who can never have an effective voice in their own governance.

    People don't have to be able to write a doctoral thesis about political corruption to recognize it when confronted.

  • Jim (unverified)
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    Wes believes we have a problem "in public policy when it is governed by pathos rather than logic or reason - we can do far more harm than good and waste resources in the process. The last place anyone should be exercising emotion in their decision making process is in legislating or voting."

    This seems to assume that one factor or the other is what can or should govern public policy development. A cursory examination of history's best and the worst public policy directions (did somebody say "invade Iraq?") shows the importance of finding balance between the three classic influences: Logos: directed by logic, reason and knowledge. Pathos: directed by passion, compassion and emotion * Ethos: directed by ethics, morals, principles and values.

    Not only does finding this balance bring us to better public policy decisions, it is a near prerequisite to finding widespread consensus and public support for that position.

    My resolution for this year: find better balance in my life. (This was also my res for last year... go figure!)

  • Mr. Viddy (unverified)
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    I resolve to go forth into this great land and hopefully sway both liberal and conservative alike to take a more moderate stance within their parties. There is beginning to develop a pattern of extremism on both sides which does not allow for the spirit of cooperation which I believe will be the key to success in the future of America.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    My New Year's wish is that someone in Oregon or in Washington, DC (preferably both) would grow a spine and finally pass binding legislation that permits consumers to place permanent credit freezes on their credit reports at will without first having to be a victim of identity theft.

    Two weeks ago, our mortgage lender sent both my wife and I a letter stating that they had "misplaced" a computer tape that contained all our personal information on it (along with that of about 580,000 others). They kindly offered to "cover" a "credit watch" for 90 days - hardly enough time. We were able to put 90-day credit freezes on all our credit reports at the 3 major agencies, but were unable to place the freeze for any longer without first proving that we were actually the victim of identity theft. (Fortunately, the mortgage lender "found" the lost tape and determined that it "hadn't been tampered with", but they've never notified us to this effect. I read it in the NY Times).

    Any consumer ought to be able to freeze his/her own credit for as long as he/she likes. In fact, it should be the default for the credit reporting agencies.

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    mrfearless47--

    Isn't that the truth?

    I find it ridiculous that we have such limited access/control over our credit reports. It's our information, and if we want it frozen, we should have the ability to do so. We rarely do anything that requires a credit check. As such, we should be able to put a freeze on our credit so that no one else can get credit in our names and leave them unpaid.

    It's so difficult to get things cleared when you are a victim of identity theft. Back in 1999, I applied for a "Christmas loan" from our credit union. That's when I found out that someone had rented an apartment, had a phone, etc. in my name-- when I was 13. Since it was fairly obvious that I hadn't been the one to do that, my credit union went ahead and gave me the loan and then helped me to clear it off. But it took quite some time to get it cleared off. Had I been with a bank, I don't know I would have received the same help.

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    Ginny,

    With all due respect, the claims made on bradblog have been debunked extensively. They just don't stand up to scrutiny. Bush won more votes than Kerry in November 2004 and is the legitimate winner of the 2004 election. It is time to move on.

    Check the discussion on mysterypollster.com (click on the link to exit poll controversy); a forthcoming issue of Public Opinion Quarterly (unlike bradblog, a peer-reviewed scholarly publication); by the Democratic Party's own funded study of balloting in Ohio (http://www.democrats.org/vri/ohioreport/).

    If you want to confirm this with other blogs, try Rick Hasen's electionlaw blog, Dan Tokaji's equal voting rights blog, and websites maintained by the CalTech/MIT Voting Technology Center, and electionline.org.

    Continuing to believe this urban legend only forestalls the serious work that Democrats need to do in order to regain the Congress and the Presidency. Resolve to stop fighting old battles and look to the future.

  • LT (unverified)
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    I don't need a blog to confirm my beliefs--I was a recount volunteer on one close election and my friends have been involved in recounts for other elections. In the one where I was involved, we went through the process, we knew the process was honest, we went to the concession speech, and eventually started telling stories about how our candidate almost won--the margin was roughly 3000 votes statewide. But just as the fair result did not mean we had to admire the candidate who won, telling people they have no right to question the results of a close election which many feel did not have a sufficiently honest recount process will only make them not trust the person who won or that person's defenders.

    If there is a voter verifiable paper trail for all voting (our vote by mail, or an ATM-style reciept for electronic voting, etc.) then a recount would be possible. Too many electronic voting systems without paper trail can only run "electronic" recounts, not ones where paper results are compared to electronic results.

    And I think having "proprietary software " for electronic voting or vote counting (who knows who has access to a server?) where election officials don't know everything there is to know about the voting system because only company technicians are allowed to work on the machines also promote distrust.

    Some of us are old enough to remember the old voting stations in the Chicago of Mayor Daley and earlier: there were little analog counters on the back of each booth, and if there was one counter for each party, poll watchers could see who walked out of the booth and know how they voted. That was in the days of true "straight party" voting, when it was easier to pull either the D or the R lever and truly vote straight ticket, than to vote "split ticket" for candidates of more than one party.

    I also do not believe that exit polls are Gospel: any poll has a margin of error.

    But the point is well taken: GW Bush will not be on the ballot again. If there is a contested election in 2006 or 2008 (or locally at any other time) will those on the losing side of a close election (a fraction of one percent triggers automatic recount in this state) want the kind of full and fair recount which happens in Oregon? Look at the Washington State Gov. recount. If the law says one side gets a 3rd recount if they can pay for it, and they raise the money, they are entitled to a 3rd recount (done differently than the others, as I recall) and the results of that are binding. After the recount, if the state wants to change election procedures, so be it.

    How many in either Bush v. Kerry or the Wash. Gov. election form their opinions on whether they think the vote count system was fair, and how many based on elapsed time and therefore it is "time to move on"?

  • askquestions1st (unverified)
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    Unfortunately Paul Gronke continues to spread misinformation about what the purported sites actually debunk. That apparently largely results from an uncritical reading of the cited sources or a genuine failure to understand the technical details of the cited work.

    None of those sites in anyway debunk the comprehensive recounts done by the news media of the Florida 2004. Those recounted votes under the various standard rules for <it> including </it> categories of votes that were <it>excluded</it> found Gore won. The few scenarios under which Bush won involved <it> excluding </it> certain categories of votes such as was done in the actual count aborted by SCOTUS.

    Similarly, there is no scientifically credible study that has advanced and proven a hypothesis as to how the final Ohio and Florida counts in 2004 differed from the exit polls. In fact, one of the principles of the CalTech/MIT Voting Project Gronke naively cites , MIT Arts and Sciences Dean Charles Stewart, publicly retracted a claim to the contrary when faced with the research of UC Berkeley scholars.

    Finally, the CalTech/MIT Voting Project most emphatically is not a credible source on these matters. They were created and exist to advocate for purely electronic voting systems (no paper trails). They assert as doctrine that engineers and computer scientists can construct systems which are sufficiently secure to reduce the net vote count errors due to vote tampering and vote loss below that which they themselves ackowledge resulted in 2000 and 2004 due to voter suppression and harrassment tactics (like in Ohio and Florida). And they themselves acknowledge up to 6 million votes were just lost in 2000.

    This is hardly a goal and tactic which actually inspires average folks to trust elections and arguably demonstrates genuine immaturity in the civic character of this center and perhaps the principles themselves. The individuals involved genuinely seem to be incapable of understanding that in a democracy it is more important that the election processes are open and visible to folks --- things such as paper trails and public counts and recounts --- than having a priesthood of technocrats arguing they have devised a technically superior system and we should just trust them. Particularly when other informed members of the priesthood (see the Association of Computing Machinery's position paper on this) assert that the position the center advocates may have some purely academic validity, the pragmatics of engineering, manufacturing, selling, and deploying such systems in real elections render the academic arguments of this center all but moot.

    Since this all of this was pointed out to Gronke and this forum in another thread, it is clear he chooses to remain committed to false beliefs in the face of contradictory facts. This of course is a common problem in America (and from which a lot of progressives similarly suffer on other matters.) For those who actually care to be informed here is a webpage which contains links to news stories and academic reports containing the actual facts:

    http://www.dkosopedia.com/index.php/Academic_Papers_on_2004_Election_Results

    Whether you find this site to be partisan is irrelevant. It merely is a repository for links to primary source materials which you can evaluate for yourself. The best that can be said is that we really don't know with certainty who <it> should have </it> been certified as winning the most popular votes on a state-by-state basis, and therefore electoral votes, to have been elected President. And that the unresolved issues are significant enough to have warranted further investigation and not have been dismissed by a fatuous news media that largely has abandoned the role intended and required of a free press protected by the First Amendment in a representative democracy.

  • askquestions1st (unverified)
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    To Gronke:

    Peer review notwithstanding, POQ is a social science journal and not a technical journal in mathematics or statistics research. Nor does it represent itself to be. And although it is peer-reviewed, most of the contributors on polling issues few of the contributors are experts in mathematics or statistics research. In fact, if one looks at the three articles in the current edition in the section "The Methods and Accuracy of Polling", one finds none of the authors are such experts:

    Michael W. Traugott: Professor of Communications Studies, Institute for Social Research UMich. Mark Blumenthal: MysteryPollster.Com and partner in polling firm Bennett, Pitts & Bluementhal. His own bio indicates he holds a Batchelors' degree in Political Science and only some work towards a Master's degree in Survey Methodology. Robert P. Daves, Frank Newport: Daves is director of strategic and news research at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Newport is editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll. His MA and PhD are in Sociology.

    None of these folks are mathematicians or statisticians by training or by profession. A familiarity with the mechanics of standard polling techniques is not sufficient or relevant to understanding the mathematical issues involved in the exit poll controvery. And despite the title of this section, the abstracts of these articles in this section state that they strictly deal with the "atmospherics" and social context of voter polling not the technical details of the hard statistical mathematics discussed in detail in the research reports cited in the previous post. Of course, one cannot be certain of that without reading the full text, but the audience for POQ is not the technical research audience and it would be unlikely these articles deal with technical matters in proper or sufficient detail for that audience.

  • askquestions1st (unverified)
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    A technical correction.

    Two posts ago, the statement:

    "None of those sites in anyway debunk the comprehensive recounts done by the news media of the Florida 2004."

    should have read:

    "None of those sites in anyway debunk the comprehensive recounts done by the news media of the Florida 2000 election ballots."

    This was corrected in the last text I had on my screen, but apparently did not show up in what Typepad actually posted. Sorry about that.

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    With all due respect, the claims made on bradblog have been debunked extensively. They just don't stand up to scrutiny. Bush won more votes than Kerry in November 2004 and is the legitimate winner of the 2004 election.

    This is patently false. Evidence of massive, Bush vote padding fraud is copious. We have no basis for confidence that the will of the majority has been reflected in the Ohio vote count, and 100,000 votes remain uncounted to this day. A razor thin 6 votes per precinct average separates the purported Bush count from the Kerry count.

    It is time to move on.

    To what? A fourth fraudulent national election? The national Dems may be willing to play that game so as not to rock the boat. We shouldn't. They are too entrenched in the system and cannot fight it. What we need is radical reform that establishment Dems will not champion until it is too late. Therefore the truthtelling and activism is up to us. And the truth is, we have NO basis for confidence in the "announced" result of Ohio.

    Since republican apparachiks like Blackwell control access to the information, and a severely compromised and supine, republican-favoring corporatist media control the spotlight, I have no basis for trust whatsoever that the true story has been aired. Note that the colossal Abramoff crimes and Coingate all lead directly to the Ohio election heist and should be garnering journalists' attention on a scale equivalent to 10 Watergates or so. This is the crime of the century folks.

    Back in the dark ages everyone believed the world was flat. Just because everyone bought the story didn't make it so. But feel free to "move on" if you feel our election system is fine and actually reflects the majority. It's like pouring money into a broken slot machine.....gee, maybe THIS time it will work.

    I understand there are many who will attempt to dismiss and marginalize my comments, but I do speak from the basis of having looked deeply into the evidence and the reports. The fact is, we do not have access to the real evidence, the exit polls, and the fact that this evidence is being supressed should be the touchstone of outrage for every citizen. Note to wingers who will flame my post: If you are so confident of Bush's victory, you have nothing to fear from the complete and thorough investigation of Ohio and the exit polls, and all the other swing states, right? Good, I'm glad we cleared that up.

    If this thread is at an end, I'd like to thank Ed, LT, Paul, and yes, even Dan for your contributions to this discussion. I would like to continue the dialogue on this vital issue in the future. I will never "move on" from any fraudulent election, but will zero in on it, and work to make sure we don't get screwed again. In the meanwhile, a good place to keep up on developments and take action on election issues here in Oregon is http://www.OregonVRC.org

    Thanks and have a happy, verifiable '06!

  • geno (unverified)
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    From Southern Oregon: The flood on Friday spurred some die hard Kayackers out into Bear Creek for an adrenalin rush. Most significant in their well publicized adventure was a comment on the shocking number of homeless camps along the river. This observation has spurred in me the desire to set up a new blog called Project Dignity. As a first step I will use my techno resources to inventory the homeless with a photo journal approach and simply give them a presence. From there who knows. Lets resolve to change the world one person at a time. Happy 06

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    Ginny,

    I just hate to see political energies wasted on a meaningless effort.

    I'm not making this up. The presumed discrepancy between the exit polls and precinct results in Ohio has been subjected to extensive scrutiny. I presume you have reviewed both sides of this story (follow the links in my original posting) and not just the verified voting folks, who have experienced significant dissent within their own ranks.

    For those who aren't interested in the nitty gritty, the sole basis for fraud is the claim that we should rely on the exit polls rather than the precinct results. They assume a level of accuracy in exit polls that has been disproven by substantial non-partisan analyses. If you remove this straw, the camel's back collapses.

    To sustain your argument would require a level of conspiracy on the part of the national media, a Democratic leaning scholarly community, and both leading political parties that would, truly, be the story of the century.

    The exit polls are publicly available at www.icpsr.umich.edu. The precinct level results from are public records.

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    the sole basis for fraud is the claim that we should rely on the exit polls rather than the precinct results.

    You can't be serious. There is a floodtide of evidence of fraud from every swing state. Maybe if the doctored exit polls in Ohio, for which the underlying data has not been released, are your only basis for concluding everything is hunky dory, then this may explain your acceptance of the media and establishment Dems' bromides.

    Sorry I don't have time to discuss this more today, but thank you for your commentary. There is nothing more meaningful that exposing the massive fraud that is our current election system, now careening into a ravine of total privatization and control by anti-democratic, theocratic billionaires and their bought-and-paid-for Republican party while a spineless, pathetic, neutered opposition watches meekly on the sidelines while it all unfolds. Actually, this is the most meaningful battle anyone who supports democracy and our Constitution can join.

    Thanks for the concern, though.

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    Anything in the CalTech 'studies' that mentioned that you can defeat a Diebold machine with a common agricultural handheld scanner?

    Anyway, New Year's resolutions. I resolve to spend more time at the beach this year, even if I have to move to Orlando.

  • BethP (unverified)
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    Paul,

    Yes, it can be difficult for people to actually see the truth. There are FAR too many people -- progressives as well as conservatives -- who are so threatened by the possibility that a presidential election could actually be stolen in our sacred democracy that they refuse to even consider the possibility. They blindly believe, "It can't happen here!" because all the propaganda blasted at the American public day and night tells us we're so great, the best democracy in the world. To understand that the election WAS stolen first requires people to realize that it CAN happen here. To understand that possibility is perhaps too scary for many Americans to accept. Perhaps you are one of those who simply can't face the truth.

    On the contrary, our nation's framers had no doubt that such a crime was possible. History is rife with power-hungry people and megalomaniacs seizing power, often through force. That's why our framers developed a govt. framework with such strong checks and balances. Their system, however, relied on a free, independent, and professional press to report the truth. Unfortunately we have lost such a press to corporations and special interests.

    If you were truly informed about the election problems and analysis data, you would know about Congressman John Conyers’ report on the 2004 Ohio election; books by authors such as Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman and Mark Crispin Miller that document the extensive, widespread election problems and irregularities; analysis studies done by prominent researchers like Steven Freeman, Ph.D. showing that the election results were statistically impossible; US Count Votes' report and analysis done by 13 prominent experts that totally refutes the official Edison/Mitofsky report; and be aware of the voluminous amount of other solid evidence showing problems with the reported 2004 presidential election results, not the least of which was voter suppression and disenfranchisement of minority and Dem. voters on a monumental scale in Ohio, Florida, and other states.

    If you were truly informed, you would know that two (2) U.S. Senate races in 2002 and at least seven (7) U.S. Senate races in 2004 also had substantial differences between the exit polls and the final machine results. (The machine results, of course, were attained using secret software on Repub.-owned machines that can be easily and undetectably hacked.) As with the 2004 pres. election, ALL the discrepancies were in favor of the Repub. candidates, which is statistically implausible. The number of U.S. House races with suspicious results is unknown.

    If you were truly informed, you would know about the substantial and documented problems with electronic election systems, which include electronic voting machines and electronic tabulators that count the votes on ALL machine systems; the recent GAO report on problems with electronic voting machines; Florida software programmer Clint Curtis's sworn statement about his company being hired by Tom Feeney (Jeb Bush's former running mate and current U.S. Rep.) to develop election-rigging software; the fact that the major discrepancies between exit polls and election results occurred where e-voting systems were used, and no discrepancies occurred in places with paper ballots; and the fact that the ones initially leading the opposition to the use of e-voting systems are computer scientists and computer security experts. (For one reference, see http://www.ChuckHerrin.com.)

    Oh, wait. We're the bestest democracy in the world. The TV tells me so.

    On one of Al Franken's shows in Oct. 2004, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa stated that the Bush administration was so desperate to hold on to power that he didn’t know what they could be capable of. The Bush Crime Family lied to the American public so they could invade another country for political, personal, and/or profit reasons, is attacking our cherished civil liberties and dismantling every aspect of our society, and would do Anything to hold on to power. And yet you think they couldn’t be capable of stealing an election to pursue their magalomaniacal goals??

    I keep forgetting. We're the bestest democracy in the world. We're the bestest democracy in the world. We're the bestest democracy in the world.

    BTW, if you really believe the issue of exit polls vs. final machine results is resolved, perhaps you should read the actual data that Mitofsky claims to summarize in his report, found at http://www.exit-poll.net/election-night/EvaluationJan192005.pdf.

    Mitofsky states, "Our investigation of the differences between the exit poll estimates and the actual vote count point to one primary reason: in a number of precincts a higher than average Within Precinct Error most likely due to Kerry voters participating in the exit polls at a higher rate than Bush voters."

    A Ph.D. friend of mine notes that the above statement is "bizarre". He says, "If Mitofsky actually read his report before summarizing it, he would have found that his data revealed the opposite result--Bush voters were (ever-so-slightly) less likely to refuse to participate. This result was in a technical section, a study of whether Bush or Kerry voters were disproportionately represented. Steve Freeman from U. of Pennsylvania pointed this out; it was Mitofsky who was 'outed,' not Steve."

    So, can you tell who's telling the truth now -- Mitofsky or Freeman? To those of us who can see the reality of our illusionary "democracy," it's obvious it isn't Mitofsky.

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    If we continue to deny the past, fearful of the REPUBLICAN framing that "Democrats are whiners," we'll never move forward with the wisdom of experience, or be able to offer effective solutions for correction.

    Regardless of what you think about the outcome of the the recent elections, it is undisputed fact that there were enormous problems with the election process. Perhaps you don't wish to believe this, and consider as bunk the reports of Conyers, the GAO, and even Carter-Baker (of which, you have to read the text, not the "highlites').

    But if you continue to act as an ostritch in the sand, you'll find that Democratic or Progressive Election victory increasingly elusive. Why? Because the voters, with each successive election, have been displaced farther and farther from the process itself. We do not count the votes; we do not observe the counting of the votes. It is done by private corporations operating trade secret software.

    This, even if no "mistakes" are made, has no place in American democracy.

    And a reminder to all... the lobster is heated slowly in the pot, so as not to arouse...um.... suspicion....

    We've been told by Bush to "just trust" that he'll do the right thing... We're essentially being told the same by corporations that run elections.

    No,I won't.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Why? Because the voters, with each successive election, have been displaced farther and farther from the process itself. We do not count the votes; we do not observe the counting of the votes. It is done by private corporations operating trade secret software. In Oregon? Yes, there are suspicious things going on in other states, but anyone participating here who does not know their local election officials (generally the County Clerk) is not doing their homework. It may seem like just another local office, but it is a very important office. Our new county clerk is someone I have known for years, who replaced a highly professional clerk who retired.

    And another thing--about exit polls. I consider them less accurate than most because there is no real control on the sample composition. They are likely to be answered by people willing to stop and talk to pollsters. And how are exit polls conducted in states with early voting where not everyone votes on the same day (from states with "early voting" places, to large absentee vote, to vote by mail in Oregon)?

  • (Show?)

    Hi LT,

    I hope Beth P. returns to give you an explanation and a link as to why the 2004 exit polls were some of the most highly scientific and highly funded polls in history.

    But I'd like to respond to your question about our vote counting here in Oregon. We have a paper ballot of record that is counted on Optiscan machines and the votes are then sent to central tabulators. The software for these devices is authored by employees of the election machine corporations ES&S and Sequoia. When Oregon counties purchased these machines, they purchased the software to operate them, but due to the private "trade secret" privilege for the vendor, no election or county official has any right to see the source code that is counting the votes. The public's right to transparency has been trumped by private contract rights of corporate vendors.

    The most appalling part of this arrangement is that there is virtually NO oversight. We're asked to just "trust" that the often highly compromised and conflicted corporations such as Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia (which counted 80% of the 2004 vote in secret) will count the votes fairly and accurately.

    Our vote counting, even in Oregon, is being conducted by this trade secret software. There is no test or audit of the result, although a recount of the paper ballots could be conducted if needed.

    As for the exit polls --- they were right. This is a matter concerning science, math, statistics. We are expected to believe that all of a sudden, exit polls, that have been accurate within a very small margin of error for decades, and they have a proven track record, now are not accurate because of some ridiculous claim about "shy republicans"? All this in a highly contentious year marked by a cleptomaniacal, power grabbing incompetent non-conservative imbecile, where thousands of well known republicans, military people, academics, business leaders and the most unified D party in history came out against him? And he "won"? Please.

  • BethP (unverified)
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    Yes, there are suspicious things going on in other states, but anyone participating here who does not know their local election officials (generally the County Clerk) is not doing their homework.

    Yes, we are indeed fortunate here in Oregon for many reasons. We have a Secretary of State and County Elections Officials who all have a high degree of integrity and belief in the democratic process; county election workers are unionized and can't be fired for partisan reasons; and the entire state uses paper ballots that are the <u>legal ballots of record</u>. Our Vote-by-Mail system also greatly reduces voter suppression and disenfranchisement.

    However, the optical scan systems in all the counties are still electronic election systems, and all of the votes in Oregon are therefore counted by electronic tabulators that use secret software. As great as our election officials are, they have no control over the tabulating software that the vendors insist is trade secret. The vendors do not allow anyone to check their software for inaccurate or malicious code. The result is that our votes are essentially counted in secret and we are told to have faith that the machine results are accurate. It's like giving your ballot to the man behind the curtain, waiting for him to come back out and report the results, and having to take his word at face value. Why should we have a faith-based election system? Furthermore, secret vote-counting for our public elections is not only undemocratic but, according to attorney Paul Lehto, illegal.

    What we need is a random hand-counted sample of the paper ballots to ensure the machine results are accurate, i.e., an audit or verification test. The Oregon Voter Rights Coalition is proposing such an audit. More information can be found at their website at http://www.oregonvrc.org. The coalition has also developed an election standards checklist that can be found through the website, or directly at http://tinyurl.com/73abu.

    So, on the contrary, some of us have actually done a <u>great deal</u> of homework on this issue.

    And another thing--about exit polls. I consider them less accurate than most because there is no real control on the sample composition. They are likely to be answered by people willing to stop and talk to pollsters.

    Consider who is claiming exit polls are inaccurate. It's the corporate media and certain political leaders and pundits. Statisticians and Ph.D. researchers believe wholeheartedly in the accuracy of scientifically designed exit polls. Personally, I'll take the word of professional statisticians over partisan polticians any day. In addition, exit polls are used to verify election results all over the world. Even the U.S. govt. uses exit polls to question the validity of election results in other countries. Take Ukraine, for example, in Nov. 2004. Strange how our corporate media and govt. were screaming about the fraudulent election there (and hundreds of thousands of Ukranians were protesting in the streets) while just a couple weeks before, the SAME thing occurred here at home but nothing was said (and nobody was protesting)............

    For additional information, the Oregon VRC has another good brochure on election reform, found at http://tinyurl.com/8dbnm.

  • BethP (unverified)
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    For those of you still questioning the validity of exit polls and believe the outcome of the 2004 presidential election was accurate, I encourage you to download a graphic developed by the Oregon Voter Rights Coalition, "Timeline of National Exit Poll & Machine Tally Data in Presidential Race - Election Day 2004" (http://tinyurl.com/9ngly). In the written explanation, it describes how Dr. Michael Keefer's analysis showed that the large, last-minute 5.5% vote swing in Bush's favor (i.e., a "red shift") between exit poll data sets #3 and #5, as compared to the small increase in the number of exit poll respondents, is mathematically impossible.

    Furthermore, as the graphic shows, this large swing occurred during the time that the computer server capturing the national election results was suddenly and mysteriously "down."

  • (Show?)

    (and nobody was protesting)............

    I sure was. (And I know you were too, Beth.)

    Thanks for the excellent post.

    Folks, this is your democracy about to be stripped away completely. In our Constitution the "people" have been declared sovereign. But the ONLY means by which we transfer that sovereignty to our representatives, the vote, is about to be privatized, counted on secret software and left in the hands of this fascistic, theocratic cleptocracy that intends to destroy the two party system and all the rest of our constitutional checks and balances along with it.

    Are you going to face this reality now and do something while there is still time, or will you "wait and see"? It looks like the Dems and the media are capitulating to the criminals in the White House. That leaves the heavy lifting up to us. So let's get to work and put this issue on the national agenda. Every candidate we work for should have a very vocal and clear election reform platform, should acknowledge the appalling chaos and inconclusive elections of 2000, 2002 and 2004 and be willing to actively turn the spotlight onto this vital issue.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Democrats took over the Senate majority in 2004, so "elections being fixed" didn't change that.

    I don't live in Ohio, so I can't do anything about Ohio elections.

    But I think electing Oregon Democrats in 2006 is more important and a better use of energy than "go to the Oregon VRC website and read Mark Crispin Miller who you may never have heard of but should believe".

    For those of you who are really worried about this, what is your source for However, the optical scan systems in all the counties are still electronic election systems, and all of the votes in Oregon are therefore counted by electronic tabulators that use secret software. Is it from going to your County Elections office and asking or from a website?

    If your County Elections officials said that was an inaccurate statement, would you believe them?

  • BethP (unverified)
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    Democrats took over the Senate majority in 2004, so "elections being fixed" didn't change that.

    I take it you mean the Oregon Senate, because the Dems. lost quite a few seats in the U.S. Senate in 2004, and as a result of at least 7 U.S. Senate races with very suspicious results (plus the 2 similar races in 2002). Personally, I consider that to be alarming, especially with everything that's happening at the federal level these days that affect our everyday lives -- both in the present and future.

    I don't live in Ohio, so I can't do anything about Ohio elections.

    No, but what we can do is make sure that our elections in Oregon are secure and accurate. The goal of many election reform activists in Oregon, and I think of Bill Bradbury himself, is to make Oregon's election system the best in the country, to have ours as a model election system that other states, hopefully, would adopt.

    Also, while we can't influence what happens in Ohio or other problematic states directly, what happens in Ohio with federal elections DOES have a major impact on the whole country. For example, thanks in large part to fraudulent elections in Ohio, B* is now president rather than Kerry....... And if federal election results in Ohio are fraudulent, esp. for President, that does affect me directly and gives me cause to be protesting in the streets!

    ...read Mark Crispin Miller who you may never have heard of but should believe

    Are you negative about this suggestion because you're frightened by what his book reveals? Actually, you should be frightened by it, but frightened into fighting to take our elections and our country back, not frightened and stick your head in the sand. Also, don't take our word about Mark Crispin Miller. Read about him and his excellent credentials for yourself. They speak for themselves.

    Our source for the statement that all our votes in Oregon are counted by secret software is due to knowledge of the facts.

     1.  Electronic tabulators tally ALL votes from ALL voting machine systems -- e-voting, optical scan, lever, and punch card systems.
    
     2.  All counties in Oregon now use paper ballot/optical systems.  A couple counties used punch card until recently.
    
     3.  Counties in Oregon use, I believe, either ES&S or Smartmatic (formerly Sequoia) electronic election systems.  While there currently are no Diebold systems in the state, all the companies are essentially the same and, in fact, are closely allied.  (For example, the President of Diebold helped found ES&S with his brother.)
    
     4.  The top companies, at least, also have very strong political and even personal ties to the extreme right-wing and the Repub. Party.  That is a FACT.  (The former CEO of Diebold, Wally O'Dell, who lives in Ohio, even bragged in a memo in 2003 or 2004 that he would deliver the state of Ohio to Bush in the 2004 election.)  For more information on the companies, one of many good sources of information is http://www.whoscounting.net/.
    
     5.  In the 2004 national election, 80% of the votes cast in the country were counted on either ES&S (50%) or Diebold (30%) machines.
    
     6.  ALL electronic election systems -- including e-voting and electronic tabulators -- use proprietary, trade secret software.  That is a well-known and well-publicized fact.  The vendors do not allow ANYONE to review their software code -- not the feds, the states, or the counties.  Unfortunately, there currently is no open source software available.
    
     7.  Many County Clerks trust that their own integrity and honesty result in honest and accurate election outcomes.  Many feel that pushing for election reform in Oregon is an insult to their integrity.  However, it certainly is not meant that way.  On the contrary, <b>the Oregon Voter Rights Coalition, at least, has only but the highest regard for our election officials in the state.</b>  We feel extremely lucky in that regard!  Unfortunately, they simply have no way of knowing if the tabulating software contains inaccurate or malicious code because, legally, no one's allowed to look at it..  Ask your own county elections people about it.  (Many officials believe that their "Logic and Accuracy Test" covers this.  However, that test only tests a handful -- literally -- of ballots to make sure the scanners read the ballots properly.  It does not check for accurate results after, say, 5,000 votes, let alone 50,000.)
    

    All we're saying is that, if the private and highly partisan vendors insist that their software is secret, then We the People are going to insist that the machine results be validated through an independent random, hand-counted audit of the paper ballots. That way, everyone will be able to have confidence in the reported results. Right now, the system prevents confidence.

    This is not a partisan issue. It is an American issue.

    I hope this helps.

    It's not the voting that's democracy, it's the counting. ~Tom Stoppard, 1972

  • (Show?)

    Yes, and please read the extensive debunking of Keefer's analysis at the sources I posted above. These are not right wing radicals folks--I know every single one of the academics personally. If it matters (it should not but in these times it does), they are progressive Democrats as well as well-established statisticians and scholars of political analysis. And NONE of them, I repeat NONE have given any credibility to the verified voter claims.

    The claim made above about Keefer is ONLY acceptable if you take the exit polls as valid and accurate to a certain margin of error. If, as has been shown in many states, the implementation of the exit polls in 2004 had serious flaws, the claims made by Keefer collapse.

    Beth, I am completely supportive of making the voting system as transparent and accurate as possible. But you still refuse to acknowledge any of the evidence that I have cited here on the other side. Have you read those as well? It's awfully easy to simply dismiss anyone who is a Republican (I seriously doubt all voting system vendors are "far right wing")

    I'm very familiar with Steven Freeman's work (by the way, all of the scholars I have listed above also have PhD's, and unlike Freeman, have extensive experience studying electoral data.). I disagree with his claims, as do most scholarly assessments.

    All I can tell people is that there are highly reputable people, non partisan and partisan, paying very close attention to electronic voting mechanisms and vote counting methods.

  • BethP (unverified)
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    Paul --

    With all due respect, "askquestions1st" already addressed your claims (see posts above). You also ignore the issue of Mitofsky's reported conclusions failing to consider the possibility that the final machine tallies could be in error rather than his exit poll numbers (even though he's the expert who developed exit polling!) and the fact, as I pointed out above, that the data in his own report directly contradicts his conclusions. Me thinks that perhaps his arm was being twisted in writing his report.....??

    You can also check out http://www.truthisall.net. He provides information in plain English, and you can download and do the math yourself with his election model. If you want to get in a discussion and analysis work with <u>real</u> statistics experts on this (rather than continuing to spout misinformation here), one good place is http://www.ProgressiveIndependent.com.

    Also, I suggest checking out:

    Scoop News http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0507/S00238.htm

    The Unanswered Question: Who Really Won In 2004? Monday, 18 July 2005, 2:53 pm Opinion: DU Elections Forum The Unanswered Question: Who Really Won In 2004?

    By PI - DU Poster Autorank Posted at Democratic Underground See also... this annotated thread. It’s all in the numbers

    According to the vote tabulators, in the 2004 presidential election George W. Bush won a stunning victory that defied all odds, particularly those applied by unbiased statisticians. He won despite trailing in most state and national polls. He won despite an approval rating of less than 50%, usually the death knell for an incumbent presidential candidate. He won despite trailing in the three National Exit Polls three timelines from 4pm to 12:22 am (13047 respondents) by a steady 48%-51%, miraculously winning the final exit poll (with only 613 additional respondents, totaling 13,660). This poll was “weighted” (altered) to meet the reported election result on the assumption that the reported result was accurate -- quite an assumption. The final poll showed a stunning reversal of the Kerry 51%-48% poll margin, which had been measured consistently all day by the same polling group: major news/networks and polling firm Edison-Mitofsky.

    (For full article, see link above)

    NOTE: The exit poll vs. machine tally data is also available in a graphic available at http://tinyurl.com/9ngly.

  • BethP (unverified)
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    If some of the links on TruthIsAll's website are no longer active, everything has been archived here: http://tinyurl.com/9gt3a.

  • Jerry Adams (unverified)
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    I am with the Oregon VRC and also have a Ph.D. in research, including over 30 years of experience conducting large-scale studies. My son and I conducted our own studies on the posted county election results in several states right after the election.

    That was our starting point, not someone else's analysis or exit polls. We found some of the key results in Ohio and Florida to be "not credible;" we pursued various statistical analyses for alternative explanations, such as that a large number of voters in some counties had historically registered as Democrats but then voted Republican. The alternative explanations did not pan out based on historical voting records for the counties. Then others, such as Dr. Michael Hout from U. of Cal. Berkeley, came out with their analyses.

    I have assembled some reports, articles, and studies for your review; it is some of the material we examined to come to our conclusions:

    http://www.awesomelibrary.org/Classroom/Social_Studies/Government/Fraud_in_Voting.html

    and

    http://www.awesomelibrary.org/Classroom/Social_Studies/Government/Election_Reform.html

    These are what I consider to be the "best" sources of information. Paul, if you have already read most of these yourself, then we simply have a difference in judgment. Have you read most of them? You stated:

    "...please read the extensive debunking of Keefer's analysis at the sources I posted above."

    You evidently did not read the sources yourself that "debunked" the exit polls. For example, Mitofsky et. al. summarized that the exit poll results were incorrect because of a larger percentage of Republicans than Democrats refusing to participate. This was the basic "flaw" you spoke about. If you reviewed the technical details of their posted analysis of the exit poll methodology, however, you would have found that their summary is simply false; their report data actually say the opposite. If one of the Ph.D. researchers that you rely on read Mitofsky's technical report analyzing the exit poll methodology and came up with a different conclusion, please put us in contact.

    You also stated: "I disagree with his [Freeman's] claims, as do most scholarly assessments." Paul, please be specific here. Give specific names from specific studies that debunk Freeman and exactly what statement(s)of Freeman have been debunked, based on what data. I have yet to find one credible source to do this in your references. We need to know the precise statement(s) that Freeman or others made that are alleged to be false. Then we can check out the data ourselves to see which statements, if any, really are false. We need to know.

    Paul, we have been checking these claims, both "sides" of them. I will tell you straight: Your claims up to now have proven baseless.

    As vexing as it is to have progressives debating the facts of what has happened in the past elections, it actually is not the point.

    The point is this:

    Now, and for the forseeable future, our votes will be counted using software that is not transparent, secure, or tested for malicious code. Current and proposed national elections standards do not propose steps that will protect against malicious code. Oregon does not have procedures for conducting such tests. No county we have yet discussed this with has a method for checking for malicious code.

    County level tabulations are done by computer, not by hand. This situation of extreme vulnerability to fraud is unacceptable. This is where we need to focus our efforts. We need to ensure that we have independent verification of computer-based tabulations and that the software used is secure, open to public viewing, and tested for malicious code.

    Jerry

  • Michael Keefer (unverified)
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    May I join this very interesting discussion to offer corrections to a couple of Paul Gronke's postings? To the best of my knowledge, none of the people Paul mentions as experts have engaged in "extensive debunking" of my analysis. I've read Rick Hasen, Dan Tokaji, Mark Blumenthal ('mystery pollster') and the others at intervals--always with respect and interest--and have never found the least indication that they even know of my existence.

    These are, as Paul says, highly reputable people. (So also, by the way, is Paul Gronke, whose work on certain aspects of US elections is well known among political scientists.) But with the exception of the scholars associated with the CalTech/MIT Voting Technology Center, who as BethP noted lack any critical perspective on issues of electronic security, it's really not accurate to claim that any of them know very much about electronic voting mechanisms and vote counting methods. The real experts in that area--people like Rebecca Mercuri, Bruce Schneier, Doug Jones, and Aviel Rubin--were issuing a crescendo of warnings about the openness of new voting technologies to fraud during the years leading up to the 2004 election. (The first 50 or so entries in a bibliography on "Evidence of Fraud in the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election" that I posted at www.globalresearch.ca on December 5, 2004 are devoted to that subject.)

    Paul's also wrong to claim that "the sole basis for fraud is the claim that we should rely on the exit polls rather than the precinct results."

    The exit polls are important evidence, and those who want to argue that this particular set are mysteriously unreliable are in my opinion trying (at best) to protect themselves from a truth they find too painful to contemplate. To my mind, our best guides to what the state exit polls reveal are TruthIsAll (who's posting now at the Progressive Independent site), and Steven F. Freeman (who humbled Warren Mitofsky in their debate at the University of Pennsylvania in October). As TIA and Freeman have also both observed, the 2004 nationwide exit poll likewise shows that there's something very seriously wrong with the national vote tally in that presidential election.

    Let's run through the arithmetic. The number of votes cast for presidential candidates rose from 105,405,000 in 2000 to 120,255,000 in 2004, while votes cast for third-party candidates (chiefly Ralph Nader) declined from 3,949,000 in 2000 to 1,170,000 in 2004. As I noted in an article posted at www.globalresearch.ca on November 5, 2004, the exit poll data were corrupted early in the morning of November 3rd, while we all slept.

    But here's what the national exit poll data that was made available by CNN on the evening of November 2nd (and that was based on responses from 13,047 randomly selected voters) tells us. First, 83% of these people said they had also voted in 2000. Of the Gore 2000 voters, 91% voted for Kerry in 2004, while 8% voted for Bush. Of the Bush 2000 voters, 90% stuck with him, while 10% swung to Kerry. Of the people who'd voted for third parties in 2000, 64% voted for Kerry and 17% for Bush. People voting for the first time in 2004 went 57% to Kerry and 41% to Bush.

    Gore, remember, won the popular vote in 2000 by almost 544,000 votes (50,999,897 votes to Bush's 50,456,002). On the assumption, generous to Bush, that the 2000 voters who switched loyalties in both directions in 2004 balance each other out, we can take the base number of supporters for Bush and Kerry in 2004 as amounting to nearly 95% of the Democratic and Republican presidential vote tallies in 2000: in round numbers, 48.4 million votes for Kerry and 47.9 million for Bush.

    If a similar percentage of the 3,949,000 who voted for third-party candidates in 2000 also voted in 2004, then since this group went 64% to Kerry and 17% to Bush, that gives about 2.3 million more votes to Kerry, and about 600,000 to Bush. Their totals are now at 50.7 million votes for Kerry and 48.5 million for Bush.

    Add in the 20.2 million new voters, 57% of whom voted for Kerry and 41% of whom supported Bush. That gives Kerry 11.5 million more votes, and 8.3 million for Bush. The final expected total? It's 62.2 million votes for Kerry, and 56.8 million for Bush.

    Now compare that to the official results: 61,194,773 votes (51% of the total votes cast) for George W. Bush, and 57,890,314 (48% of the total) for John Kerry. Do you smell a fault? Or were the 13,000 people who were sampled systematically deceiving the pollsters?

    But as I said, Paul's wrong in thinking that the exit polls are the sole indication of fraud in the 2004 election. In January 2005, I posted an article entitled "The Strange Death of American Democracy: Endgame in Ohio" at www.globalresearch.ca. (I'm sorry if the title seems apocalyptic, but I think that's what's at stake.) In that article I tried to summarize the evidence for electoral fraud in Ohio, the state whose Electoral College votes decided the national outcome.

    That evidence is both massive and also, to anyone who cares about democracy, sickening. I'm not talking just about the disgusting vote-suppression tactics that forced long lines of African-Americans to stand for hours in the November rain outside precincts where the voting machines had been deliberately shorted.

    There's lots more. It includes the 106,000 provisional ballots and punch-card undervotes that were never counted. It includes the touch-screen machines which 15% of Ohio's voters had to use, and which in Youngstown and elsewhere systematically flipped Kerry votes to Bush or into cyberspace. It includes the Democratic precincts in Cleveland where people lined up for hours in the rain in order to achieve, according to the certified vote tallies, precinct-level turnout figures such as 20.07% of the registered voters (precinct 13F), 14.59% of the registered voters (13D), and 7.85% of the registered voters (6C). And then there's Cleveland's precinct 10L, where the turnout figure magically rose from 24.72% in the initial report of the vote to 56.21% in the figure certified by Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. (Did someone forget to throw away the provisional and absentee ballots cast in this one inner-city precinct?)

    In Republican Perry County, however, there was no problem with voter turnout. Blackwell (who was also co-chair of the Bush campaign in Ohio) certified turnouts of 124.4% and 124.0% of the registered voters in two precincts of that county. In the Concord South and Concord South West precincts of Republican Miami County he certified turnout figures of 94.27% and 98.55% of the registered voters. And there's more. There's Warren County, where the administration building in which the vote-tabulation was carried out was locked down on the phony pretext of a terrorist threat. And guess what: in Warren and the two adjoining counties, Bush's margin of victory rose by more than 30,000 votes over what it had been in the 2000 election.

    Is that enough to give just a taste of what went on?

    Here's a challenge for you, Paul. You're a fine scholar: I know, because I've read some of your work. You love your country, and you're passionate about democracy. How is it then that I know these things and you don't? I'm a scholar too, but not a specialist on elections, or even a political scientist. Hell, I'm not even an American. My great-great-great-great grandfather died in 1780 defending Long Island from George Washington's army, and his widow was kicked off the family farm in Paulinskill, New Jersey, and had to walk north to Ontario with her two boys and a cow. (That's o.k.; we've learned to like it here.)

    What's my challenge? To have a go at what the anthropologist Clifford Geertz called "thick description," to get in close to the details of what people reported from that dirty election, and to assess it critically and unflinchingly--without forgetting for a moment what's at stake for your country and the world.

  • BethP (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Dr. Keefer --

    It's an honor to have you join this discussion! Thanks for your excellent summary of the election problems. You're right -- all too often we get hung up on the exit poll issue and forget about the massive voter suppression and disenfranchisement that also took place. Not only was that unbelievably undemocratic and an outrageous violation of people's civil rights, it was also the real cause for Ohio -- and the nation -- going for B*.

    Any time you want to come down to Portland, OR, we at the Oregon Voter Rights Coalition would be thrilled to have you! (Bob Fitrakis and Mark Crispin Miller have both been to Portland in the past few months and given talks about their books and the election.)

  • LT (unverified)
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    The evidence of turnout levels where people were lined up in the rain, or provisional ballots, or punch card undervotes are valid.

    But there are some of us who have never had faith in any exit polls, and not just "this particular set". Talk to someone working on the KOIN switchboard (or anyone trying to call) back how many presidential elections ago when Dan Rather looked into the camera and said "IT IS OVER" before the polls closed on the West Coast. How did he know that--exclusively reports of votes counted in precincts? Not to mention the 2000 Florida debacle.

    Yes, indeed, there should be reforms---starting with non-partisan election officials rather than having those at any level run as partisans.

    But some concerned about this issue make it sound as if Democrats will never win another election unless we spend time debating Ohio in 2004.

    Sorry, but these issues have been around for a long time. My grandfather was Michigan AG at a time when Michigan State Senator Anthony J. Wilkowski and others were involved in ballot tampering (a lot easier back then, using blue pencils to deface ballots and recounts found things like 200 people voting in a pct. with only 150 registered voters). State Senator Anthony J. Wilkowski ended up going to jail for what at the time amounted to almost Abramoff style corruption, and later was a test case for a Michigan law about whether felons could ever hold office after they had served their time.

    My point is this: it is good to have a goal of regulations and laws about voting procedures. But as sure as the tug of war between McCain style campaign reformers and Abramoff style crooks has been around longer than any of us have been alive, there will always be debates about voting technology.

    Personally I think the answer to this may be as simple as Oregon style Vote by Mail and vote counting machines which are kept under lock and key, never touched by company personnel once installed, not connected to the Internet, and other such common sense solutions.

    But Oregonians can't solve the problems of Ohio unless they move there, so I think we should also concentrate on getting good candidates running to contest every possible election.

  • (Show?)

    Sorry, but these issues have been around for a long time.

    And that's a reason to not correct an increasingly corrupted system?

    Failure to understand, challenge and correct problems in the election process - especially as computerization has become an integral part of the process - does a diservice not to the politician for whom the vote is cast, but to the voter who casts the vote.

    To color this entire argument in shades of partisanship clouds the focus on the real issue. The voting process is as vulnerable to corruption as a Mercedes with the keys in the door is vulnerable to theft. The keys to the election process aren't readily visible, but those with cybervision scoff at how easily an election can be skewed via software tweaks.

    To deny this reality is like leaving the keys in the Benz and hoping that everyone passing by is of good character.

    ballot tampering (was) a lot easier back then...

    This argument is not only false and baseless, but tends to diffuse the critical threat we now face in obtaining fair elections. While I do not doubt the tales of backroom ballot games of the past, to play the reality now against the framework of the past and claiming "It's just like old times..." not only indicates somewhat of an aquiessence to corruption, it implies that A) It's no more serious than it's been in the past and, B) We can't change it, anyway.

    To both suppositions I heartily disagree.

    But Oregonians can't solve the problems of Ohio unless they move there...

    After Election 2004, many Oregonians pondered how we can address the issues in Ohio and elsewhere, and many of us discovered that what we do here in Oregon can make a difference beyond our own borders. Oregonians have established contacts with activists nationwide in grassroot efforts to confront election system problems. Oregonians have been in the forefront in speaking about election reform. Oregonians have worked for Ohio campaigns recently... and have done it from the comfort of their Oregon homes.

    Finally, the Oregon election process is probably the best in the country, run by folks of the highest integrity. But there IS room for improvement. Machine counted ballots MUST be randomly checked via a mandatory statewide sampling process, to ensure the count is accurate. Tabulation software can be corrupted, whether maliciously or accidentaly, and the honorable election official is none the wiser. A scientific sampling will identify anomolies, allow us to proceed with a hand count, and ensure the election results are accurate. And, we must take the necessary steps to ensure that trade secret software is eliminated from the election process.

    Oregonians must be sure that their elections are failsafe. Yes, it's the Mercedes on a street of Fords, Chevys and a few Yugos, but I still feel the need to give that pretty car a nice polish.

  • LT (unverified)
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    And what specifically do you mean? Finally, the Oregon election process is probably the best in the country, run by folks of the highest integrity. But there IS room for improvement. Machine counted ballots MUST be randomly checked via a mandatory statewide sampling process, to ensure the count is accurate. Do you have a specific sampling process in mind? Have you talked to the Sec. of State about this (or legislators about legislation)?

    Or are you making the mistake others have made that "if only we debate this enough on a blog things will change".

  • BethP (unverified)
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    Do you have a specific sampling process in mind? Have you talked to the Sec. of State about this

    Yes, the Oregon VRC has a team working on developing a proposed audit methodology. The team consists of statistics people and a Ph.D. researcher (Jerry Adams), and they have been working with a top researcher at one of our universities. One of the things about the VRC is that we have placed great importance on trying to work with (and learn from) our county and state elections officials rather than work in a vacuum. That is how we have come to have a great deal of respect for them and for Oregon's overall election system.

    Also, knowing that the last thing our county officials need is another mandated task that would be expensive, extremely time-consuming, and require a lot of people/volunteers, the methodology that the team is working on is relatively simple, very inexpensive, and would not require a great deal more resources, if any. And, this methodology would produce accurate results to boot. We feel it's the best of both worlds.

  • (Show?)

    Or are you making the mistake others have made that "if only we debate this enough on a blog things will change".

    I don't know anyone who actually feels that way. Further, I'm curious as to why you're so motivated to not only deny the enormity of election problems, but why you're so determined to convince others to "move on."

    I will applaud your efforts in getting Democrat candidates elected; I certainly will be putting my time in, too. But for more than a year, now, and after the 2006 elections, some of us have made it our priority to restore the election process to We the People.

    And it's critical that all of us remember, even after our dream of a progressive majority 2006 is realized, that the work of election reform will continue.... Maybe by then, they'll stop calling us "whiners".

    HINT: "Whining" is snivelling about something about which you can do NOTHING (a called third strike, etc.) Taking a stand against wrongs and injustice... that's activism. It's a good thing.

  • (Show?)

    Sigh. I got sent a link from progressiveindependent.com where "The Bear" suggests that my lack of reply indicates that I have been convinced. Far from it--I just don't see any point in continuing to debate with people who are unwilling to listen to any contrary evidence.

    Over at progressiveindependent, Keefer claims: Nor were any of the experts he cited--Mark Blumenthal, Rick Hasen, Dan Tokaji, the CalTech/MIT Voting Technology gang, and Old Uncle Tom Cobbler and all--people of statistical persuasion.

    This is complete hokum. The CalTech/MIT group contains some of the most accomplished political methodologists in the country. Blumenthal has been conducting political polls for twenty years. Hasen and Tokaji are experts on election law. Regardless, I cited these places as sites to find discussions and alternative links, not as "experts" on this particular topic (although the CalTech/MIT folk do qualify).

    I'll only leave you with these links. Draw your own conclusions.

    Walter Mebane's series of reports on Ohio: http://macht.arts.cornell.edu/wrm1/Ohio2004/OhioDNC/

    Most important is this statement, pg. 7 of the executive summary: I. The statistical study of precinct-level data does not suggest the occurrence of widespread fraud that systematically misallocated votes from Kerry to Bush.

    If anyone wants to question Walter's partisan credentials, here is his published paper which demonstrates that Bush lost the 2000 election: http://macht.arts.cornell.edu/wrm1/overvotes.pdf

    Bruce O'Dell (founder of US Counts Votes, the organization which originally claimed fraud), belives the evidence does NOT support fraud. His paper, along with a variety of responses, is contained here: http://www.mysterypollster.com/main/2005/06/uscv_vs_uscv.html

    Here is the CalTech/MIT Voting Technology Project report on 2004: http://www.vote.caltech.edu/media/documents/VotingMachines3.pdf

    Note this phrase from page 1: 4. We conclude that there is no evidence, based on exit polls, that electronic voting machines were used to steal the 2004 election for President Bush.

    Here is a report from the Social Science Research Council, written by some of the most accomplished political scientists in the country. http://www.vote.caltech.edu/media/documents/InterimReport122204-1.pdf

    Note that ALL of these reports indicate serious problems with our current election system, and support the reforms that have been advocated here. I support the work of Oregon VRC.

    But I think it's a gross political error to continue to use the alleged stolen election of 2004 as their launching off point. Not only have this been extensively debunked, but it undermines their support among Republicans who might otherwise support election reform.

    When folks say "move on," that's what they mean.

  • Michael Keefer (unverified)
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    I hope it’s not a violation of thread etiquette to be responding so belatedly to Paul Gronke’s last posting.

    Paul Gronke was probably right to detect (and call me on) a note of arrogance that crept into the remarks of mine he quoted from progressiveindependent.com. Mea culpa: I must have been still at my desk long past the hour when people who are or wish to remain sensible have gone to bed.

    And his reminders of important work by Walter Mebane, Bruce O’Dell, and the authors of the Social Science Research Council’s 22 December 2004 Interim Report are of course helpful.

    But shall we take a closer look at the work he thinks shuts the issue down?

    First, Walter Mebane—a brilliant scholar who (unlike those Gronke previously referred to) has done innovative and heavyweight work in statistical modeling and data analysis. Mebane’s work on the Ohio data is indispensable, and on some issues seems to me conclusive. (For example, his analysis of the shorting of voting machines in Franklin County demonstrates that on a conservative estimate the result was a more than four percent reduction in voter turnout in predominantly African-American precincts.)

    But on the larger questions of whether, where, and with what results vote-count fraud may have occurred in Ohio in 2004, Mebane’s analysis fails to incorporate and explain certain key anomalies. These include the irregularities highlighted by Richard Hayes Phillips, whose county-by-county studies are posted or linked at the www.freepress.org site. Many of those same irregularities are discussed in the very detailed report on the Ohio election assembled by Congressman John Conyers (which to its shame the Democratic National Committee largely ignored in its report Democracy at Risk: The 2004 Election in Ohio).

    One symptom of Mebane’s insufficiently elaborated conceptual framework is the way in which he and Michael Herron, in their analysis of “Turnout, Residual Votes and Votes in Precincts and Wards” (Section 6 of the DNC report), find themselves speaking of a repeated (and unexplained) “weirdness” in the data they are analyzing (pp. 5, 7). Repeated “weirdness” in data sets and their correlations is—or should be—a clear sign that the researcher’s conceptual apparatus needs further refinement: either the relations among causal factors have not been adequately theorized, or else further unrecognized factors are in play.

    On the evidence of his postings in this thread, Paul Gronke doesn’t seem interested in doing critical work of this kind. Other people who are will find some astute (and respectful) criticisms of Mebane’s analysis in two postings by ‘Time for change’ at Democratic Underground: “Was Kerry Cheated out of Almost 100,000 Votes in Cleveland Alone?” (7 October 2005), http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=104&topic_id=4998616; and “What Happened in Cleveland?—A Plausible Scenario for a Stolen Election” (30 October 2005), http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=132&topic_id=2196589. ‘Time for change’ notes that the within-precinct correlations among five variables that Mebane thought provided “strong evidence against the claim that widespread fraud systematically misallocated votes from Kerry to Bush” are significantly weaker in seven counties—among them Cuyahoga County (which includes Cleveland), where one of the correlations is actually negative. S/he notes that another correlation remarked on in Section 4 of the DNC report, between voter turnout and the ratio of voters to machines, also goes negative in Cuyahoga—which could of course be a sign that large numbers of votes cast in that county were being trashed by hackers working with the electronic tabulators.

    As ‘Time for change’ also observes, there’s no reason to think that Mebane’s network of correlations would detect randomly conducted deletions of votes from precincts in Democratic strongholds. I don’t suppose, for that matter, it would detect ghost-votes added to the tally in the right proportions in Republican strongholds. (Remember Miami County, Ohio? It first announced a total of 31,620 votes, with 100% of the precincts reporting—and then, late on election night, brought in a second total of 50,235 votes, which was in two respects anomalous: Kerry’s 33.92% share of the vote remained, to one-hundredth of one percent, what it had been in the first returns, and Bush was shown to have won the county by exactly 16,000 votes.)

    ‘Time for Change’ reports correspondence with Professor Mebane in which the latter says: “I don’t know what went on in Cuyahoga County. As I wrote in several places in the DNC report, there were many anomalies in the data from Cuyahoga County that warrant further investigation.” Mebane isn’t conceding anything in these words—but neither is he rudely telling people to “Move on.”

    Let’s do so anyway, and turn to Bruce O’Dell—who, despite what Gronke tells us, nowhere says that he “believes the evidence does NOT support fraud.” Can we try for some minimal accuracy here? O’Dell thinks “The case for fraud is still unproven,” and believes that it cannot be proven “through exit poll analysis alone.” But he insists in the paper to which Gronke refers us that his work “should not be misinterpreted as an argument against the likelihood of vote fraud. Quite the opposite; I believe US voting equipment and vote counting processes are severely vulnerable to systematic insider manipulation and that is a clear and present danger to our democracy.”

    In this light—given Gronke’s stern disapproval of “people who are unwilling to listen to any contrary evidence”—it may be worth noting that Kathy Dopp thinks it possible to determine mathematically what patterns of exit poll discrepancy result from random sampling error, partisan exit poll completion rate differences, and vote miscounts. (See her recently published paper “Vote Miscounts or Exit Poll Error? New Mathematical Function for Analyzing Exit Poll Discrepancy” (16 January 2006), http://electionarchive.org/UCVAnalysis/US/Exit-Poll-Analysis.pdf. )

    Let’s leave the mathematicians to work these matters out among themselves—though not without observing that Steven Freeman’s presentation to the American Statistical Association on October 14, 2005, “Polling Bias or Corrupted Count?”, offers a persuasive account of what exactly the exit polls can tell us. Interesting, when you think about it, that a political scientist like Paul Gronke should prefer the glib sallies of “mystery pollster” Mark Blumenthal to the carefully weighed, scrupulously referenced—dare I say scientific?—analyses of a scholar like Dr. Freeman (available, by the way, at http://www.appliedresearch.us/sf/epdiscrep.htm). But there do seem to be leanings among some political scientists toward the patronizing sighing Paul Gronke indulges in at the beginning of his post: a bunch of them, in fact, hang out together at a blogspot they’ve named “Polysigh,” where they groan together over the follies of the uninitiated.

    We needn’t pause over the SSRC report Gronke recommends, unless to note that a great deal more data is available than that which was examined by this group in December 2004—and to observe that they think “continuing uncertainty over the extent of irregularities merits closer public scrutiny and full disclosure of relevant data.”

    But I hope we can be forgiven, finally, for smiling over Gronke’s recommendation of the Caltech/MIT paper “Voting Machines and the Underestimate of the Bush Vote.” This is the piece that made the embarrassingly elementary error of using the exit poll percentages published by CNN on November 3, 2004 as a basis for dismissing concerns about discrepancies between the exit polls and the vote tallies. As Gronke proudly tells us, the authors “found no evidence, based on exit polls, that electronic voting machines were used to steal the 2004 election for President Bush.” Of course they didn’t: the exit poll ‘data’ they were using had been conflated or corrupted to move it towards conformity with the vote tallies.

    So where, in the end, is all the debunking we were promised? Professor Gronke began by claiming that Blumenthal, Hasen, Tokaji, Caltech/MIT and others had shown that those who asserted (as I have done) that the 2004 election was stolen were peddling an “urban legend.” It now appears that some of these people are to be regarded rather as sources of links and discussions. But out comes another list of definitive debunkings—rather more to the point than before, but still not conclusive, unless one wants to lie down and roll over in the face of unexamined authority. Like the first list, it includes Caltech/MIT, whose authority on exit polling Paul Gronke so fancies.

    There is, after all, something about this mode of conducting an argument that is irresistibly reminiscent of the old folk-song “Widdicombe Fair.” Here’s the stanza I was half-remembering last time:

    Tom Pearse, Tom Pearse, lend me your grey mare, (All along, down along, out along, lee) I wants for to go down to Widdicombe Fair, Wi’ Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney, Peter Davey, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawk, Old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all, Old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all.

    <h2>Substitute “Caltech/MIT” for “Uncle Tom Cobbleigh” in the refrain and the rhythm still works, more or less.</h2>
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