John Kerry may have conceded but the Electoral College still hasn’t cast its vote. We look at the ongoing controversy over voting problems on November 2nd in Florida and elsewhere with nationally-syndicated radio talk show host Thom Hartmann and statistician Kathy Dopp. [includes rush transcript]
With the resignations of Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Don Evans, President Bush is beginning the process of reshaping his cabinet for his second 4-year term.
But, controversy continues to rage over the fairness of the November 2 presidential election. Stories are still emerging from states like Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and New Mexico of widespread problems with vote counting, voter suppression and malfunctions of electronic voting machines. There are now multiple activist campaigns urging John Kerry to un-concede.
In response to scores of emails he received as part of these campaigns, John Kerry’s brother Cam sent out a mass email that said: “I am grateful to the many people who have contacted me to express their deep concern about questions of miscounting, fraud, vote suppression, and other problems on election day, especially in Florida and Ohio. Their concern reflects how much people care about the outcome of this election. I want to you to know we are not ignoring it. Election protection lawyers are still on the job in Ohio and Florida and in DC making sure all the votes are counted accurately. I have been conferring with lawyers involved and have made them aware of the information and concerns people have given me. Even if the facts don’t provide a basis to change the outcome, the information will inform the continuing effort to protect the integrity of our elections.”
- Thom Hartmann, nationally-syndicated radio talk show host and the author of 14 books, his latest is “What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return to Democracy” His latest article posted on CommonDreams.org is titled “This is a Game Where Principles are the Stake.”
- Kathy Dopp, independent mathematician who has been closely monitoring the patterns of the 2004 election results in Florida.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined on the telephone by Thom Hartmann. Thom Hartmann is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host and author of 14 books. His latest is What Would Jefferson Do? A Return to Democracy. His latest article posted on www.commondreams.org is entitled, “This Is a Game Where Principles Are the Stake.” Welcome to Democracy Now!, Thom.
THOM HARTMANN: Hi, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. You have been following this very closely, and talking to a number of people, including a Florida Congressional candidate. Can you talk about what you have found?
THOM HARTMANN: In fact, I have been following it so closely that I have even had to issue a semi-mea culpa. Initially speaking with Jeff Fisher in Florida, the 16th Congressional area candidate, he made some suggestions, and he has some concerns. He’s apparently still waiting for the FBI to follow through on his allegations. I keep trying to follow up on this. I wrote a piece initially for Common Dreams about this based on information that I got from him and several other sources referencing Kathy Dopp’s work and had come to the incorrect conclusion that small counties were being flipped and large counties were being ignored. Within two hours we figured out that was not the case. We got in touch with Kathy and got more information on this, fixed the article, noted in the article–on the new article in Common Dreams–that it looks like the difference is not small county/large county. The difference is what kind of machine was used to tabulate the vote. And this is still not conclusive information. There’s a huge debate going on among the statistician community about this. But it raises these questions, and this goes back to the issue that Dick Morris raised in his article on the Hill. Dick Morris, the one-time Clinton man who is now a Fox News analyst. He said exit polls are almost never wrong. This question about exit polls and the vote and the trend lines in the vote, there are just so many questions being raised that I feel it’s very, very important that we be looking into these things and this is happening now. There’s just this mass investigation going on all over the place. It started largely in the blogisphere and now it’s moving into the mainstream media, as well as into, you know, things like Cam Kerry is doing that work.
AMY GOODMAN: What you mean by exit polls are the exit polls on Election Day where the networks were reporting that the exit polls were very much going towards John Kerry?
THOM HARTMANN: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: So, the polls of people when they walk out of their polling places after they have voted?
THOM HARTMANN: Yeah. In fact, Morris makes the point in his article, which is just spot on. He said exit polls are almost never wrong. They eliminate the two major potential fallacies in research separating those who say they will cast ballots but never did, and there’s no guesswork about the turnout in the states. The even larger issue than any of this is if George Washington had come to Thomas Jefferson and said “You know, we’ve got this country now, I’m going to turn the voting over to the East India Company and let them handle it.” Jefferson would have written a second Declaration of Independence. This, I think, is the largest crime, as it were, against democracy. I call it a felony against democracy in an earlier article that I wrote. The fact that of all of the commons, our road systems, the police, the fire, the air, our water, of all of the commons that we administer through our government, the most important of the commons is our government itself. That’s what we collectively own, we, the people. That’s the thing that’s unique about our form of government. And the way that we, you and we the people, administer that commons of the government is through the vote. That’s our direct route into the Administration of the commons. How we have set up a situation that we have inserted private for-profit companies into the middle of this process between you and I and our pushing the button or marking the mark, and then these corporations saying to the government, and here’s the vote total, this in my mind is just absolutely the ultimate crime.
AMY GOODMAN: Thom Hartmann, we’re also joined by Kathy Dopp who you quote in your piece. An independent mathematician who has been monitoring the election results in Florida, Kathy, can you quickly run down what it is that you have found?
KATHY DOPP: Well, Amy, hello. Thank you for doing this. Right now, mathematicians, as Thom Hartmann has said, have become very interested in studying the election results because we understand the methodology of exit polling and how unlikely it would be for all these exit polls to be wrong. A group of mathematicians and statisticians that I’m working with, including people in the Statistics Department and Math Departments at Stanford University and Temple University and all the way over in England, we’re planning a comprehensive statistical study of the 2004 election, and we plan to see if we can develop methods to pinpoint counties with large errors in vote counts and provide that evidence for others who would like to do Freedom of Information Act recounts to check our methods, and spend the next year or two uncovering problems with particular voting machine vendors. What we found was that in the touch screen machine counties in Florida, they all showed significantly positive percent changes in votes for both Republicans and Democrats. However, the counties using opt-scan machines of Diebold and EF & S showed significant positive change only for the Republican candidates, and so we hope to have in place by 2006 a system so that by the day or two after an election, we’ll have this analysis available to candidates so they can know where to ask for recounts before conceding.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about some specifics of what you found in Florida, and I also want to ask Erica Solvig about the overall feeling right now in Ohio, but we have to break for 60 seconds, then we’ll come back with Erica Solvig of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Thom Hartmann, a syndicated talk show host as well as Kathy Dopp, a mathematician.
AMY GOODMAN: I am joined by Kathy Dopp, independent mathematician, and Erica Solvig of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Is there a sense that the outcome in Ohio could change when all of the votes are counted?
ERICA SOLVIG: The stories that we have been doing in Warren County are not focused on the count as much as the access to the count and access to the process and being able to be part of the process as citizens and as reporters. And readers have expressed some concerns about the county process after hearing how the public was shut out of the building. But the focus of our articles has been about being blocked out of a public building on a night when the entire nation was watching.
AMY GOODMAN: Kathy Dopp, in terms of Florida, the specifics of particular counties you have looked at.
KATHY DOPP: Well, Amy, when you are looking at these counties from a mathematical standpoint, you have to compare them, you have to exclude the smaller counties, and just look at the larger ones, here is some numbers. So, just glancing at the numbers here, the percent increase over what you would expect based on the number of people that voted, and the percentage of Republicans in some counties went as high as 400 to 600%, and some of these counties would be expected to go Republican in spite of the fact that they had more Democratic voters registered because of the old Dixiecrat theory of old-time registered Democrats traditionally voting Republican. But when you compare our first analysis with other patterns of voting such as who they voted for in past presidential elections or who they voted for in their local district races, you find that you still cannot exclude some of these counties from suspicion. So, we’re developing methods of juxtaposing various patterns in order to pick out counties that look most unlikely in terms of the results in Florida.
AMY GOODMAN: Thom, one of the counties, Baker County, for example, 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of them Democrat, 24.3% Republican, vote only 2100 for Kerry and 7700 for Bush. This is an overwhelmingly Democratic county. The opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry.
THOM HARTMANN: But as Kathy notes, that’s a county that also went for Bush in 2000. That is very much a Dixiecrat phenomenon, and that’s where it’s important as Kathy said to filter the noise out. Take out the small counties and look at the medium size counties and look at the counties as a whole. It’s possible that what we’re seeing is in particular counties these anomalous counties, 500% or 600% shifts. Those are the counties where the churches were aggressive. Karl Rove mobilizing the Evangelical Program actually worked. So that this is like a combination of the Dixiecrat phenomenon and the evangelical phenomenon, it may well be. Time will tell. That’s why the investigations need to go on. The thing that is really causing people to be scratching their heads is that nearly two years ago, Congressman Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, who has a Ph.D. in physics and understands computers, introduced a piece of legislation into the House of Representatives which would have required voting machines to have an auditable paper trail. There’s a similar Bill in the Senate that Hillary Clinton and others have cosponsored. The bill has been so aggressively fought by Tom DeLay and Denny Hastert and the Republicans in Congress. They have not let it out of committee for a vote. It hasn’t begun the first steps. They have been blocked at every step of the way. Had this bill passed a year-and-a-half ago, we wouldn’t be asking many of these questions, although there would still be questions. Corporations would still be involved in the process, but it would have been a more transparent process. Many people are asking, “Why have the Republicans fought this two-year battle to prevent a paper trail or make auditing more difficult. Then you see the statistical anomalies, and there are just too many questions in the air right now. None of us are saying that we have answers.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you all very much for being with us. Thom Hartmann is a radio talk show host, syndicated around the country. Kathy Dopp, independent mathematician closely monitoring the voting patterns of the 2004 election and election results in Florida, and Erica Solvig, staff reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer, her piece appears on the front page of the Cincinnati Enquirer, today.