Today Vera Lofaro wrote a comment that points up a dilemma in our democracy:
I feel this election is a clear choice of who runs our country, the people or the corporations.
Right now it looks like the corporations have the edge, since they have all the money, we have to counter that with the bodies and the votes, now more than ever before....It was not simply because the Tea party was more motivated, or too many of us stayed home and didn't participate, plain and simple we were outspent, tell me how did such a good man like Russ Fiengold get defeated. We saw a preview of it in Wisconson just recently, and unless we do something about it, we will see it again this Novemember.
I think this comment puts the finger on something that many of us have been feeling: the game is rigged. As it turns out, that feeling is justified. We have not had fair elections in this country for some time now. And this is not some kind of conspiracy theory, there is real evidence of the problem, which goes by the name of "red shift".
(Continued below the orange squiggle)
"Red shift" refers to the systematic biasing of election counts toward conservative, Republican candidates. If we look at the actual statistics, it is shocking:
One of my favorite mathematicians is Richard Charnin, who on his website, using readily available public information, calculates the odds of the so-called ‘red shift” occurring from the 1988 to 2008 presidential elections. The red shift refers to the overwhelming pick up of votes by the Republican Party in recorded votes over what actual voters report to exit pollsters.
In Charnin’s analysis of exit poll data, we can say with a 95% confidence level – that means in 95 out of 100 elections – that the exit polls will fall within an statistically predictable margin of error. Charnin looked at 300 presidential state exit polls from 1988 to 2008, 15 elections would be expected to fall outside the margin of error. Shockingly, 137 of the 300 presidential exit polls fell outside the margin of error.
What is the probability of this happening? “One in one million trillion trillion trlllion trillion trillion trillion,” said Charnin....132 of the elections fell outside the margin in favor of the GOP. We would expect eight.
-Bob Fitzrakis in The Free Press, 6/13/12
Now I should explain something about exit polls in the U.S. In recent years, the practice of the consortium of news organizations that run the exit polls of presidential elections has been to "adjust" the exit polls to match the final official count. It is assumed that the official count is accurate and that the raw data of the initial exit polls, if different, must be inaccurate. (Charnin, in the quote above, is comparing unadjusted exit poll data to the official counts.)
In this respect, U.S. elections are different from elections held in the rest of the world, where properly done exit polls are the chief means of finding electoral fraud--if the official count departs from the exit poll by a sigificant degree, that is evidence of vote rigging. As Bob Fitzrakis relates:
Here’s where U.S. elections become laughable. A couple of private companies count our votes with secret proprietary hardware and software, the most
notable being ES&S [Election Systems and Software]. Every standard of election transparency is routinely violated in the U.S. electronic version of faith-based voting. How the corporate-dominated media deals with the issue is by “adjusting the exit polls.” They simply assume the recorded vote on easily hacked and programmed private machines are correct and that the international gold standard for detecting election fraud – exit polls – must be wrong.
The other private company that counts our votes is Dominion Voting Systems.
(Their name has nothing to do with religion, by the way, but reflects the Canadian origins of the company.) To quote Wikipedia:
In August 2010, Dominion reported that it has contracts to provide electronic voting systems to 600 jurisdictions in some 22 states of the United States, and has deployed 80,000 Dominion ImageCast Precinct Optical Scan Tabulators around the world.
ES&S is bigger--the U.S. Justice department required them to sell part of their operations to Dominion Voting Systems on anti-trust grounds.
Is it wise to entrust the counting of our election votes to, essentially, two private companies, that do so with proprietary hardware and software? The question answers itself--the potential for corruption is obvious. And the motivation for corruption is also obvious, as the stakes of elections can be very high--just look at the recent recall election in Wisconsin. Corporate interests intervened on the side of Governor Walker to the tune of millions of dollars, outspending the opposition by more than 20 to 1. You can be sure that Walker's backers really, really cared about the outcome of the recall election--they put their money where their mouth was, as the saying goes.
Was there also vote rigging in Wisconsin? Well, pre-election polls showed the recall election as "too close to call", but the official results had Walker winning by seven percent. To quote Bob Fitzrakis again:
In any other election, the U.S. State Department would condemn the use of these highly riggable machines based on the discrepancy in the exit polls. It’s predictable what would happen if the former anti-U.S. KGB agent in some former Soviet Central Asian republic picked up an unexplained 5% of the votes at odds with the exit polls. A new election would be called for, as it was in the Ukraine in 2004.
And here is the headline from Reuters
just after the polls closed in Wisconsin:
(Reuters) - Exit polls show the Wisconsin recall election on Tuesday is essentially tied between Republican Governor Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, CNN said.
The CNN data is based on interviews with voters after they cast ballots and not on actual results.
We have a problem. We cannot trust that our elections are being fairly counted. There is strong evidence that important elections are subject to "red shift", where the results are shifted in favor of Republican conservatives. The mainstream media pretends that the problem does not exist. Democratic candidates are also silent on the matter. And this web site does not see discussion of this problem either, despite the fact that we have the "extraordinary evidence" that Markos says is necessary for extraordinary charges. (Just look at the statistics in Fitzrakis' article)
I would think that any Democratic Party activist who wants to see progressive Democrats elected to office would be concerned about this issue. Isn't it time to discuss this?