Readers respond – mostly critically – to Mark Hertsgaard’s article on the 2004 Ohio vote.

Recounting Ohio

Mark Hertsgaard’s article about the 2004 election is embarrassingly deferential to the Democratic establishment’s spin on the situation. There is in fact very good reason to believe that the astonishingly consistent exit poll discrepancies in several key states points to systematic fraud perpetrated by a relatively small group of insiders with connections to key Republican and Democratic figures. For someone who believes “…Bush did steal Florida and the White House in 2000…,” Mr. Hertsgaard is surprisingly oblivious to the way in which the strategy and tactics of stolen elections in our putative democracy are developing. In 2000, [the] Florida [vote] and the Supreme Court [decision] were rigged; in 2004, several key states and the media were rigged; in 2008 the whole thing will be rigged, but rigged so that the vote will be fairly close — at least according the people who secretly “counted every vote.”

In his discussion of 2004 there are two key points Mr. Hertsgaard seems to miss: (1) there are enough corrupt insiders to pull off a large scale electronic and back-room vote fraud; and (2) a large portion of the Democratic establishment is complicit in the secret Republican strategy of falsifying the public vote. Getting out the vote is futile when the “opposition candidate” is a stalking horse for the “winner.” And when each vote you cast is counted by a hackable machine under the control of insiders who agree to disagree for the sake of spending a lot of money on campaigning, it is absurd to think that abolishing the Electoral College would ensure that the “will of the people” determine[s] the outcome of the election. It’s not that all Republicans need to be corrupt for an election to be stolen by a few insiders, nor do all Democrats need to be dumb as stones to let it happen, provided some key players are smart enough, and crooked enough, to get a piece of the action.

The strongest piece of evidence Mr. Hertsgaard mentions to support his reluctance to say the 2004 vote was stolen is the outcome of the New Hampshire recount requested by Ralph Nader. In that case, “…the [hand] recount confirmed the official tally.” Well, that recount had several deficiencies. Most notably there was a failure by election officials to guard against ballot substitution in the precincts selected for recount. Further, the seven recount locations were known in advance, and did not constitute a random or representative sample of the suspicious precincts, let alone sample all of those showing wide discrepancies.

True, we may never know for sure whether or how 2004 was stolen for Bush unless a public investigation with full subpoena powers is undertaken by Congress. That sort of investigation is not yet on the horizon for one simple reason: there is a widespread and desperate determination among Americans to believe “it can’t happen here” – not here in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Mr. Hertsgaard’s article, and your magazine’s implicit endorsement of it, only bolster that refusal to see how bad things have really become.

The person you named your magazine for would not be fooled by the 2004 ‘election’ of G.W. Bush. Nor would she have much patience with a feeble and misleading analysis of the fraud(s) that put him in office. I think Mother Jones (the person) would see we need to make elections real again by using real paper ballots for a plurality of candidates with real positions, and by hand counting real instant runoff votes in public to find the real winners. I don’t believe Mother Jones (the magazine) has grasped either the problem or the solution yet.

JAMES CAMPBELL

Woodstock, IL

I read with interest your article about the vote in Ohio in ’04.

One thing I don’t remember the author touching upon was the possiblity that the software itself was corrupted. I remember a Randi Rhodes monologue on Air America [in which] she described how easy it was to hack into the central computer. It was easy to understand how to do. Also what about the Diebold and Triade corporations. There were a number of convicted felons who worked for those companies? California wouldn’t use those machines, because they were so easily hackable. I believe that author missed these points. How can we be sure that the software of a central computer cannot be hacked?

Sincerely,

JON KRECKER

In regard to [Mark Hertsgaard’s article] about Ohio’s “supposedly” being stolen by the neocons in the last presidential election doesn’t he remember this line quoted in ’03: “(I’m) committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President next year.” That remark was made by Walden “Wally” O’Dell, [a] committed Republican and CEO of Diebold, maker of those snazzy electronic voting devices. Do you think that Wally was fired up about the prospects of going door to door or did he simply wrench some votes from D to R with a little hocus pocus? I think Republican Congressman Peter King of New York said it best back in ’03: “It’s already over. The elections over. We won… It’s all over but the counting. And we’ll take care of the counting.” Sounds like something some Russian once said.

RICK DEFLORIO

Valparaiso, IN

I have just read Mark Hertsgaard’s above referenced article and I am greatly disappointed in Mother Jones for printing such propaganda!

While Hertsgaard’s article touches on all the issues, he glosses over, in only three paragraphs, the exit polls. He states the lie the pollsters put out — that “an apparent tendency for some pro–Bush supporters to shun exit pollsters”. He wrongly claims [that] that’s because the pollsters were “bearing the logos of CBS, CNN,” when in fact Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International where doing the polling.

Edison/Mitofsky went back and reviewed the polling and concluded not only that Kerry voters were not over-sampled but [that] in fact Bush voters may have actually been the ones over-sampled — a fact Mr. Hertsgaard does not even mention in his article, because he doesn’t even mention the audit done by the polling companies.

Mark Hertsgaard’s article does a real disservice to exit polls, which were used to overturn three elections in former Soviet states, and to the readers of Mother Jones. Articles like this, and David Corn’s two propaganda pieces in The Nation, have caused me to cancel my subscription to The Nation and seriously consider doing the same for Mother Jones!!!

You can count on me telling everyone on my e-mail list my opinion on this article.

PAUL ELLCESSOR

Chico, CA

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