Guest Editorial: Live Free or Diebold

by Julian Davis on January 14, 2008

In the weeks leading up to the 2008 New Hampshire Primary, Barack Obama had gained steadily and surpassed Hillary Clinton in multiple statewide polls — leading by a margin of 8-12% in the days before voting occurred. On the eve of the primary, a misty-eyed Clinton was all too certain that she would lose and her presidential ambitions were slipping away in a tide of momentum for Obama, whom exit polls indicated was the true victor by at least 4%. Why then did Senator Clinton edge out Obama by three percentage points when the actual votes were counted?

Pundits and analysts have been searching for answers and seemed to have settled on the so-called ‘Bradley effect,’ indicating their belief that thousands of New Hampshire voters simply lied about their vote upon exiting the polls. The sad truth is that Clinton’s discrepant victory in New Hampshire is not accounted for by the number of voters whom she might count as dishonest and shamefaced supporters – but rather by the number of voters whose votes were tallied by the Diebold optical-scan machines.

Evidence of voter fraud over the last decade is well documented with the Diebold Corporation playing the role of the primary antagonist. Pivotal states in national contests have succumbed to its influence while fraudulent election results have left pundits irrationally casting doubt on exit polls, which, until about the year 2000, were a very reliable predictor of Election Day vote totals.

Roughly 80% of New Hampshire voters cast ballots that were tallied using Diebold optical-scan voting machines on January 8th. The remaining 20% of the voters cast ballots that were hand counted. Now here is a curious phenomenon: of all the candidates in the Democratic race, only Hillary Clinton gets a boost in precincts tallied by Diebold machinery while every other candidate takes a hit. Here is a break down of the numbers:

Explanations of this phenomenon that do not consider the possibility of election fraud are simply illogical. We are told that many – up to one in 10 – New Hampshire voters must have lied upon exiting the polls, voting for Clinton but telling pollsters that they voted for Obama. But if exit polls in hand-counted precincts match the election results (which appears to be the case since Obama registers a 4% victory in hand counts and exit polls have him on the low end with a 4% margin of victory), then the ‘Bradley effect’ would only apply to precincts where votes were tallied by Dieblod machines.

That would imply that New Hampshire voters whose ballots were counted by hand are less likely to lie than those whose votes were counted by a machine – a preposterous and improbable scenario. Why then do the exit polls not match the election results in Diebold precincts? Is it because voters in these precincts are less honest than other voters in New Hampshire? Or is it simply another case of election fraud? The fact that the latter question has not yet been answered in the mainstream media and that hand counting of all New Hampshire ballots has not yet begun is another tragic fact of our failing democracy.

In addition to the Bradley Effect, pundits have tried to explain Clinton’s surprise showing on Election Day by referring to the so called “Iowa drop-off” after five days (when one’s momentum is suppose to slump), mature women breaking for Hillary, and the general notion that undecideds went for the New York Senator at the last conceivable misty-eyed moment. We have seen the illogical conclusions of the ‘Bradley-effect’ hypothesis and the remaining explanations fail to account for the sizable difference between the exit polls and the election results. Clinton’s unlikely comeback is better explained by election fraud caused by Diebold machines.

No doubt Clinton may have recaptured some territory in the final days leading up to the primary, and in fact that premise is supported by polling. Obama seemed to have had at least a 10% advantage in the days leading up to election day and then supposedly lost by 3%. Many pollsters claim the gap was closing, with a noticeable Hillary surge coming on the day before the election. But there was probably not an 11-point swing: more like a 7 point swing between the exit polls and the election results, with a 4% Obama victory margin in exit polling and a 3% loss according to election results.

It is not just co-incidence that explains why Obama had a 4% lead in hand-counted precincts. Even if Clinton did make up some lost ground, even if Obama’s momentum slowed in the last day leading up to the election, and even if undecideds favored Hillary in greater numbers at the last moment, this still does not explain why the exit polls do not match the election results.

Pundits have also offered demographic analyses in an attempt to explain the discrepancy between the exit polls and the election results arguing sometimes that urban women broke for Clinton on election day and that thousands of urban voters, whose votes are mainly tallied by Diebold machines, must have lied about who they voted for. This is not supported by the evidence since Obama also won in larger towns with hand-counted precincts. In any case, if Obama won rural New Hampshire by 4%, where ballots are mainly hand-counted, it would not be hard to believe that he won statewide by at least 4%.

It doesn’t make sense that urban voters would be more racist that rural voters. Is it insane to suggest that he actually won in the urban areas, whose ballots are mainly counted by Diebold machines, by at least 4% but that this result was ultimately skewed in favor of Clinton due to election fraud? If it is insane to consider this a genuine possibility after at least two spoiled elections in which Diebold featured as a major villain and instead rational to believe in the completely illogical ‘Bradley effect’ hypothesis, then perhaps the tentacles of propaganda and media manipulation have clouded this country’s reasoning beyond a recoverable stage.

All of this begs the question as to why Hillary Clinton should have gotten a boost by Diebold machines. First, among the candidates in the Democratic field, the Republican establishment has the least to fear from Clinton and would have a much easier time rigging her election defeat in November as she has sometimes registered unfavorable ratings close to 50% among the populace at large. Obama is the candidate most likely to win a landslide in November and the Republican electioneers behind the Diebold election fraud know this.

The fraud of the past decade has fed off a deeply polarized political situation in which very close elections have been swayed and manipulated in favor of Republican candidates. Exit poll data in November of 2004 had John Kerry winning the national election only to be trumped by the election results, which showed George W. Bush to be the winner. Some put the odds of this outcome occurring at around one in 450,000.

The larger the gap between the exit polls and the election results, the harder it is to be persuaded that the election results are valid. Pundits analyzing the New Hampshire primary are having a hard time explaining what happened last Tuesday, but who will bat an eyelash if Clinton were to lose a nail-bitter to John McCain in November? Hillary is clearly the Republican favorite in the Democratic race. Obama’s message of redemptive hope and the symbolism of his candidacy have the power to electrify and unify the country. Is their any doubt why Clinton would be favored by Diebold?

How long can we the people continue to allow blatant electioneering to go unchecked by the seemingly absent hand of justice? We’d better start hand counting paper ballots in all 50 states or expect more of the same chicanery in the months and years to come. Laws should be put in place immediately that require hand re-counts of all ballots when exit polls differ from election results, no matter how large the margin of victory appears for any candidate in the election results.

Only about half of these great United States have made incremental changes to their voting systems since 2004. The real tragedy is that we are left with sound bites doubting the accuracy of exit polls yet bereft of swift action to insure that publicly employed county election officials are hand counting paper ballots in every state instead of allowing any votes to be tallied by proprietary software owned by private corporations. In a democracy, the vote is sacrosanct. The privatization and corruptibility of our elections has come to profoundly desecrate that right.

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