Wake Us When It's Over

As much as we'd love to believe it, no proof yet of massive presidential vote fraud

If you're like Naked City – and who isn't? – your e-mail has been full of prog outrage for two weeks, as the initial devastation of the John Kerry defeat has steadily morphed into the bitter conviction that the Senatorial Savant from Massachusetts couldn't have actually lost to the Crawford Cowboy. So Bush must have cheated, right?

There were the early exit polls that predicted an easy Kerry victory – although polls taken later in the day flattened that edge, and there are rational explanations for the early discrepancy. There was a computer glitch in one Ohio county that gave several thousand extra votes to Bush – although the error was caught and corrected, a fact largely unrecognized in the Web paranoia. There were the heavily Democratic Florida Panhandle counties that voted strongly for Bush – as the same crackers unsurprisingly had done in 2000 as well. And there is reporter Greg Palast's "Kerry Won" version of Ohio and New Mexico, where structural inequities in the voting system, a persistent nationwide scandal, make it likely that thousands of votes were either discouraged, discarded, or rendered permanently "provisional" – although it would take virtually every single one of those votes to be both valid and for Kerry to affect the final total. And so on.

The alternative conclusion, that slightly more than 50% of our compatriots endorsed Bush's wars, repression, and deceptions, may be hard to bear or even believe, but if it weren't true or very nearly true, we wouldn't be in the fix we're in. Nevertheless, while Kerry and the Dems have rested on making certain that all the remaining votes are counted, the Green Party and the Libertarians announced they would call for a formal recount in Ohio. Green presidential candidate David Cobb says the $116,300 necessary for the recount had been raised, and he and Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik called for Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell – who had been heavily criticized concerning voting preparations – to recuse himself from any recount. A spokesman for Blackwell said that recount requests would have to be filed with every Ohio county, and could not take place before the original count is certified in early December.

Common Cause of Ohio and the Alliance for Democracy said they are joining in the Ohio recount effort. Ohio attorney Cliff Arnebeck, who represents both groups, said, "The purpose of the recount is to verify the honesty of the process. That is in the interest of anyone who would be declared the winner." The hope is that whatever the final outcome, the increased scrutiny of the recount will provide additional pressure for reform of paperless electronic voting methods, as well as more equitable and practical systems to allow everyone to vote easily and accurately.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Election 2004, John Kerry, Greg Palast, David Cobb, Michael Badnarik, Ken Blackwell

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