Though Democrats, the American people, and the world won a great victory last month, we must not let that lull us into a false sense of security about our election system. Democrats took over the U.S. House and Senate because of a popular mandate so large …
Evidence of 2006 Election Fraud
A Report by DU Journal Writer Time For Change
Though Democrats, the American people, and the world won a great victory last month, we must not let that lull us into a false sense of security about our election system. Democrats took over the U.S. House and Senate because of a popular mandate so large that Republicans couldn’t steal enough seats to maintain control of either chamber. But before anyone conclude that the 2006 mid-term election results provide reason to be unconcerned or less concerned about the threat of election fraud, let’s consider some of the evidence:
Discrepancy between official vote count and exit polls
The official nationwide result for House races on Election Day showed a Democratic margin over their Republican opponents of 7.6%. Comparing that to a nationwide exit poll democratic margin of 11.5%, the difference between the official count and the results predicted by the exit polls was nearly 4%.
That’s just a little bit less than the 5.5% exit poll discrepancy in the 2004 Presidential election, where exit polls predicted a nation-wide Kerry victory of 3%, while George Bush came out 2.5% ahead in the official vote count. The 4% discrepancy in the 2006 mid-terms – if that represents election fraud – was not nearly enough for Republicans to maintain control in either the House or the Senate. But in 2004, it would have been enough to throw the 2004 Presidential election to George Bush – in the nation-wide popular vote, as well as in Ohio, where Bush “won” his electoral vote victory. And, as noted by Jonathon Simon, the 2006 exit poll discrepancy was far beyond the margin of statistical error, with a less than one 10,000 probability of occurring by chance.
Discrepancy between official vote count and pre-election polls
As you can see from this chart, following a brief Republican mini-surge following the arrest of suspected bomb-making terrorists in London, 40 consecutive Congressional generic ballot polls, dating from September 19th through November 3rd, showed Democrats with leads never sinking below 8%, ranging as high as 23%, and averaging above 15% for the latter 20 of those 40 polls. Then, polls ending on November 4th and 5th showed an apparent Republican surge (with three polls showing the Democratic lead down to 4%, 6% and 7%) before the final two polls showed Democratic leads of 20% (CNN) and 13% (FOX News).
The national exit polls are consistent with the pre-election polls in every significant way. They show that voters who decided whom to vote for in the last week (not including the last day) gave Democrats approximately an 8% margin, whereas those who decided before that gave Democrats approximately a 13% margin*. That is consistent with the final week surge by Republicans.
However – and this is very important – those who decided whom to vote for on the last day (10% of all voters) gave Democrats a whopping 25% margin. This strongly suggests that there was a very late Democratic surge that went totally undetected by the pre-election polls. The bottom line is that, any way you look at it, pre-election polls indicated a Democratic victory far greater than the official result of 7.8%.
We see the same story by looking at individual races. Just prior to the election there were 21 House seats where pre-election polls showed a Democratic lead beyond the statistical margin of error. Democrats lost 6 of those seats and appear to have lost a 7th one. And two of those were in Ohio (CDs 1 and 15), which was the site of massive election fraud in 2004.
* Note: See Table labeled “When did you decide who to vote for”. Then add 4% Democratic margin to each figure to account for the fact that the displayed tables represent the exit polls that are “adjusted” to the official vote count. The 4% that is added is the discrepancy between the official vote count (or “adjusted” exit polls) and the unadjusted exit polls.
Solid evidence of electronic vote deletion in Florida
If the 4% exit poll discrepancy is due to electronic vote switching, that does not mean that any significant portion of that vote switching would necessarily have been detected. The vote counts in precincts that use DRE machines are determined by secret computer programs that produce vote counts that are unverifiable.
Nevertheless, as explained by Paul Krugman, the election in Florida Congressional District 13, which was “won” by the Republican candidate by 369 votes, was almost certainly determined by faulty (whether intentional or not) DRE voting machines. In Sarasota County, which used ES & S voting machines, 15% of voters did not register a vote for the House race, compared to 2.2% to 5.3% of voters who did not register a vote for the House race in neighboring counties. That amounted to almost 18,000 ballots that did not register a vote for the House race in Sarasota County. Furthermore, those who failed to cast a vote in the House race were shown by their other votes to strongly favor Democrats.
Why did 15% of the voters voting on ES & S machines in Sarasota County fail to vote for a House candidate? The answer to that question can be ascertained from an interview of voters by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which found that one third of voters couldn’t find the House race on their ballot, and 60% said that they did vote for a House candidate, but their vote didn’t show up on their summary page.
My personal experience as a poll watcher on Election Day
As a poll watcher working for Pollworkers for Democracy in Maryland, I encountered a Diebold machine that was missing the tamper proof seal that was supposed to cover access to the voter access cards. Having learned from my poll watcher training that such a finding could very well be an indication of one of several different methods of electronic election fraud, I asked the chief election judges to take the machine out of service. They subsequently called the Montgomery County Board of Elections to ask for advice, and they were told to continue to use the machine. I therefore called my contact person, who sent in lawyers to talk with the Board of Elections, but to no avail. He also informed me that two other identical incidents had been reported to him that day, all three involving machine # 4 at the respective precincts.
At the end of the day machine # 4 showed the highest percent of Republican votes for major statewide offices (Governor, Senate, and Comptroller) of all the machines used in my precinct.
Voter suppression and dirty tricks
In 2004, dirty tricks and voter suppression were major tactics used by Republicans to keep down the Democratic vote. I don’t know what was the full extent of this problem in 2006. But I can tell you that as a poll watcher on Election Day I was informed that there was substantial voter intimidation going on in Prince Georges County, Maryland, causing Pollworkers for Democracy to divert numerous pollwatchers to precincts in that county. I would have been diverted there myself if not for the illegal Diebold machine that I noted in my precinct (discussed above).
Robocalling was a major part of the Republican plan in 2006. CBS News noted that “In at least 53 competitive House races, the National Republican Campaign Committee has launched hundreds of thousands of automated telephone calls, known as "robocalls." In many cases these calls pretend to be taking a poll, when in fact they are being used to slam the Democratic candidate. In many other cases they pretend to be calling on behalf of the Democratic candidate, calling at all hours of the night with the purpose of irritating Democratic voters so badly that they’ll decide not to vote – a practice that is clearly illegal. And that is in all probability why Tammy Duckworth lost her huge lead by Election Day.
Conclusions regarding election fraud in 2006
Most of the issues discussed above do not, by themselves, prove election fraud. Discrepancies between the official vote count and election polls – whether pre-election polls or exit polls – do not by themselves prove election fraud. Election polls can be biased, and it is usually very difficult to prove whether or not that is the case.
However, what we have here is a highly consistent pattern. In 2006, Congressional generic ballot pre-election polls taken by numerous different professional polling organizations consistently showed a much larger Democratic lead than the official results on Election Day. Exit polls on Election Day showed the same thing. And furthermore, the exit polls showed a substantial last day nation-wide surge by Democrats which could not have been identified by any of the pre-election polls. Comparison of Pre-election polls with official election results for individual candidates showed much the same pattern of discrepancies. And the same thing happened with the 2004 Presidential election, in which exit polls predicted a clear popular vote and electoral victory for the Kerry/Edwards ticket.
We also know of numerous instances of specific problems with electronic voting machines which strongly suggest serious inaccurate vote counts at best, and massive election fraud at worst: The negative 16,000 votes for Al Gore in 2000 from a precinct in Volusia County, which caused the 2000 election to be initially called for George W. Bush; the highly unexpected loss of Max Cleland’s Senate seat in 2002, in a state in which all votes were counted by Diebold’s DRE machines; the pervasive switching of votes from John Kerry to George Bush on electronic voting machines from all over the country, but especially in south Florida; and, the “victory” by the Republican House candidate in Florida District 13 described in this post. These and other identified problems in all likelihood represent only the tip of the iceberg of electronic voting inaccuracy or fraud.
So why didn’t the Republicans perpetuate enough vote fraud in 2006 to allow them to maintain control of Congress? Many Democrats, including a good percentage of DUers, thought that they would do just that. I believe that the obvious answer to that question is that they were unable to. Through a combination of vigilance by Democrats and voter rights organizations, the knowledge that they were being carefully watched, and a fear of getting caught, Republicans in 2006 were perhaps able to steal only about 4% of the vote. And that wasn’t enough this time. But it was enough to elect a Congress considerably more conservative than it could have been, drive Democrats to the right for fear of losing future elections, and pose the threat that most close elections in the future will go to Republicans. Or worse yet, if they are able to better perfect their methods they might be able to steal even more elections than they are currently able to steal.
The bottom line is not so much the evidence that points towards election fraud as it is the simple fact that our vote counts cannot be verified when votes are counted by electronic DRE machines. That is totally unacceptable in a Democracy, and is the main reason why Jimmy Carter has said that our voting system fails to meet international standards for free and fair elections. Until Congress enacts laws that make vote counting in our country transparent to all, it is difficult to see how we can be called a Democracy.