Saturday, June 03, 2006

 

Why the Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. article alleging the election was stolen is substantially right and the critics substantially wrong. Part 2.

Manjoo himself states that there is substantial reason that the election was stolen: Many [experts] have concluded that the election there strains conventional notions of what a democracy ought to look like; very little about that race was fair, clean or competent. Way back in January 2005, a panel headed by Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan reported that it had found enough irregularities in Ohio to call into question the state election results and the entire presidential vote. But whether the election was stolen or not is unimportant to Manjoo. It's all water under the bridge: Whatever his aim, RFK Jr. does not appear intent on fixing the problem. He's more content to take us through a hit parade of the most popular, and the most dismissible, theories purporting to show that John Kerry won Ohio, theories that have been swirling about the blogosphere ever since the race was called. Manjoo misses the point. If it is proven the election was stolen, it will no longer be possible to delay "repairing our electoral machinery" or enacting "voting reforms" that Congress smirks at. RFK, unlike Manjoo, understands politics. To get reform requires proving that the election was stolen. To prove that the election was stolen requires an investigation. To get an investigation requires lots and lots of public anger, including some that may later be discovered to have been misplaced. Point by point: 1. Manjoo: That report does indeed point out that many people -- 26 percent -- who first registered in 2004 did not find their names on the voter rolls at polling places. What Kennedy doesn't say, though, is that the same study found no significant difference in the share of Kerry voters and Bush voters who came to the polls and didn't find their names listed. The Democrats' report says that 4.2 percent of Kerry voters were forced to cast a "provisional" ballot and that 4.1 percent of Bush voters were made to do the same First, a mere 0.1% difference between Bush and Kerry voters amounts to thousands of votes in an election where the difference between win and loss was roughly 130,000. But more important are the holes in Manjoo's reasoning: We are supposed to assume that (a) the need to cast a provisional ballot is equally distributed, (b) that everyone who should have been allowed to use a provisional ballot was in fact allowed to, and (c) that provisional ballots were counted in an equitable manner. In fact, the Conyers report found that Democratic voters were disproportionately (and in violation of the Voting Rights Act) targeted for challenge at the polls, that many more Democratic than Republican voters were turned away by long lines, and that many were improperly denied provisional ballots. As for the counting, Ohio did a remarkable job of counting provisional ballots-- except in Democratic counties like Lucas County. There, 41% of provisionals were rejected, vs. 23% statewide. In Cuyahoga, it was 34%. Knowing how averages work, those disparities mean that in Republican counties, almost all provisionals must have been counted. 2. Kennedy's headlining claim is that 357,000 voters, "most of them Democratic," were either prevented from voting or had their votes go uncounted, making Kerry (who lost by 118,000) the likely true winner. Kennedy finds these "missing votes" in the damnedest places...He says that 174,000 mostly Kerry voters didn't vote because they were put off by long lines. But the source states it was actually 129,543 voters, and that those votes would have split evenly between Kerry and Bush. Does anyone think that an estimate can be made to the voter? The source, which Manjoo might have linked at the first reference rather than below the fold, is the DNC Voting Rights Institute report. "Democracy at Risk" There is no basis given for assuming that discouraged voters would have split evenly and in fact, no basis exists. White voters waited on average about 20 minutes, black voters, nearly an hour. That suggests this assumption is simply wrong. But there were more people put off by long lines than those who actually went to the polls and were discouraged. The report also mentions 48,000 voters who didn't vote because, among other factors, they had heard about long lines. Added 6/4. Malcolm on Kos pointed out that the DNC report does say on page 5 that three percent of voters were turned away by long lines: Scarcity of voting machines caused long lines that deterred many people from voting. Three percent of voters who went to the polls left their polling places and did not return due to the long lines Kennedy may be wrong, but he's less wrong than Manjoo says. It would have made sense for Manjoo to contact Kennedy and ask about his math, since it's very usual in these situations to find that the other fellow's "errors" are actually different calculation methods. By the same token, it would have made sense for Kennedy to explain his calculation and mention why the equal split hypothesis is probably wrong. He certainly should have been clear that the DNC report made this leap into the clouds of faith, rather than short-circuiting on this point. But realistically, these things need to be worked out in discussion, rather than turned into teapot-sized tempests. 3. Worse, Kennedy relies on a band of researchers whose research on election fraud has long been called into question by experts. Only, Manjoo never tells us who they are or who "the experts" or the "band of researchers" are. This is a sleazy way to write, verging on a smear. My best guess (sneaking a peek below the fold) is that Manjoo is saying that the work of Steve Freeman and associates has been disputed by Warren Mitofsky and associates. Both Freeman and Mitofsky are experts. Mitofsky is well-connected and well-to-do. Doubtless his donations and aid support researchers and institutes in the area of research from which critics of Freeman are drawn. Freeman's work, done pro bono, poses a very serious threat to Warren Mitofsky's future income. Does anyone think this makes for a level playing field? I don't. Where Freeman has presented his findings, Mitofsky has been pretty badly stumped. This concludes comments on page 1 of Manjoo. More to come.
Comments:
Thank you for a most excellent response to Manjoo's LAME Salon article. Happily, I found my way here because a Salon reader responding to Manjoo included a link to this site. (For what it's worth, I'm a Salon subscriber and an Ohio resident and I threw my two cents in at 3:42 a.m. Sunday -- much to my surprise, Salon rewarded my blistering post with an Editor's Choice designation even though I ended it by stating flatly that it would be a cold day in hell before I wasted any more of my time reading anything Manjoo wrote.)

Since you included Bob Fitrakis' name in several of your footnotes, I thought you might be interested to know that our infamous secretary of state and chief elections officer, Ken Blackwell, is now refusing to acknowledge or count the petitions submitted by Ohio's Green Party candidate for governor, none other than BOB FITRAKIS, even though Fitrakis has obtained more than twice the number of signatures required to be included on our November ballot.

I've been in a state of outrage for over two years over what went on here before, during and after the 2004 election. RFK's article, your Manjoo rebuttal and Fitrakis' candidacy have been the only election-related events that have brought a smile to my face. Fitrakis (who's also an attorney) will most likely have to haul Blackwell into court to force certification of his petitions but I don't see how he could lose on this. Incidentally, as a certified candidate with full legal standing, Fitrakis has pledged to escalate the Green campaign to unearth more of what really happened in Ohio 2004. Small wonder Blackwell won't acknowledge those Green petitions!!
 
Thanks for this news, 3reddogs. I may contribute to Fitrakis, merely to ensure that this issue is discussed.
 
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