Stealing elections the Rove way is painless at first. Like leprosy. Then whole parts of our democracy start falling off.
The painlessness isn’t an essential element. It is THE essential element.
After the 2004 election, evidence surfaced that there was less than one chance in billions that Bush had actually won the vote. (Summary of data and links in my previous post Election 2004: Blinded by disbelief.) Statistics like that appear in science when you’re studying the law of gravity. There’s no doubt that they’re pointing to a real effect.
And yet what was people’s reaction? “Well, I don’t see how it could have been done. Therefore it wasn’t done.”
It’s worth remembering that we don’t actually know how gravity works either. That doesn’t stop it from doing its thing.
Now it turns out that the evidence of vote-rigging pointed to real vote-rigging.
The Department of Justice is now the focus of investigations, and it turns out they did everything they could. They did their best to shut down voter registration at welfare offices. About a million fewer people registered than had in the same time frame in the past. They obstructed minority voting, and struck voters from rolls in Democratic districts. That meant several hundred thousand fewer Democratic voters. And then, of course, there were the politically appointed US Attorneys General, bringing serendipitous corruption charges against Democratic candidates. The beauty of charges is that the election is long gone by the time the facts come out, and by then nobody cares. And so it went. A few hundred thousand here, a few million there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real results.
(Reporting on the issues above from Josh Marshall’s TalkingPointsMemo — search on “voter fraud,” or for instance Kiel’s article on the DOJ and the Voting Rights Act — and from Greg Gordon’s McClatchy Newspapers report on the vote “fraud” campaign.)
It turns out that this Administration briefed many government departments on how to help Republicans in close elections. (For instance, Kiel reports on the General Services Administration, which hands out government contracts.) People with that level of disrespect for the Constitution aren’t going to get squeamish when it’s time to use government departments to actually rig elections. Nor is there any reason why they should stop at the national level. In the interest of not hitting any nerves, the corruption should be carried out at the lowest level possible. Nobody at all is going to care what some third level functionary in somebody else’s town was doing.
Meanwhile, ballot forms weren’t available, voting booths didn’t get trucked over to the right side of town, forms were printed incorrectly, there were hours-long waits for some voters. There were “isolated” computer glitches, such as 4528 votes for Bush in 2004 in a precinct of Ohio where 638 were registered. Votes for Democrats miraculously turned into votes for Republicans. Now, missing emails and server irregularities are suggesting centrally directed fraud in Ohio in 2004.
At the time, there were no headline-grabbing visuals. They were all minor messes. It was supposed to be nobody’s fault, and it was all very boring. It meant more thousands and millions of votes lost to Democrats because, unlike real errors, almost all of them favored Bush. The chance that real errors could cluster this way, across the whole country, is one in billions. As one expert put it, the disparities were “completely nonrandom.”
I wonder if the people who “couldn’t see” how the election could be rigged are having less trouble now. Or is their denial acquiring that tinge of desperation otherwise seen in flat-earthers?
I wonder if enough US citizens will get over the terrible embarrassment of being shown up as a tinpot dictatorship. And if they’ll pull themselves together, face the facts, all the facts, and make the criminals answer for their crimes.Print This Post