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Comments by YACCS
Sunday, June 04, 2006

Nice try



I don't know what people are saying about the Bobby Kennedy piece in RS, but having read it twice, it disappoints. With more real reporting, and not rehashing the past

When I saw the headline, I thought I would read some real reporting. Instead, it's like Kennedy called up his friends and they told him what he wanted to hear. Remember earlier this year, Kennedy wrote a piece claiming vaccines caused autism. Only problem, he discounted the scientists and relied on an easily refuted quack. Refuted in half day by online research.

Let me state upfront that I believe Ken Blackwell played fast and loose with the law and the GOP probably violated the church-state seperation rules.

But my problems with this piece are in the reporting:

But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad(3) never received their ballots -- or received them too late to vote(4) -- after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations.(5) A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states,(6) was discovered shredding Democratic registrations.(7) In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes,(8) malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots.(9)
Only problem is that these events are unrelated and Kennedy makes no claim they are.

The implication that there may have been voter fraud in NewMexico is belied by this:

New Mexico286,41748286,7834821,251 4
5

You'll note that Al Gore won the state by 374 votes in 2000. Which already undercuts the implication of fraud.

Why? We have no idea in how many other elections this has happened in or in what districts. Spookiness is not a fact

The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush's victory in the electoral college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency. A precinct in an evangelical church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote count.(11)
That is an unproven statement. Unless you compare every election in the past, at least 10 years, there is no proof these are unlikely or engendered by fraud. You would have to examine previous elections to make that state with any definity. More importantly, as a reporter, why not investigate why that happened. The locals definitely can tell you what the deal would be. But this is just an assumption, not a fact.

According to Steven F. Freeman, a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in research methodology, the odds against all three of those shifts occurring in concert are one in 660,000. ''As much as we can say in sound science that something is impossible,'' he says, ''it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote count in the three critical battleground states of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error.'' (See The Tale of the Exit Polls)
One in 660,000 means it's impossible? Excuse me, if you had a lottery with those odds, people would rejoice at their chances. It's isn't impossible, it is merely unlikely, but it isn't impossible. He's just given you the odds, which are better than winning the lottery.


Now, thanks to careful examination of Mitofsky's own data by Freeman and a team of eight researchers, we can say conclusively that the theory is dead wrong. In fact it was Democrats, not Republicans, who were more disinclined to answer pollsters' questions on Election Day. In Bush strongholds, Freeman and the other researchers found that fifty-six percent of voters completed the exit survey -- compared to only fifty-three percent in Kerry strongholds.(38) ''The data presented to support the claim not only fails to substantiate it,'' observes Freeman, ''but actually contradicts it.''
Uh, I'm sorry, but this could also indicate that Kerry strongholds had Bush voters who refused to
answer questions. One of the theories not explored is that Kerry lost traditional Democratic voters over gay marriage.
Once again -- against all odds -- the widespread discrepancies were stacked massively in Bush's favor: In only two of the suspect twenty-two precincts did the disparity benefit Kerry. The wildest discrepancy came from the precinct Mitofsky numbered ''27,'' in order to protect the anonymity of those surveyed. According to the exit poll, Kerry should have received sixty-seven percent of the vote in this precinct. Yet the certified tally gave him only thirty-eight percent. The statistical odds against such a variance are just shy of one in 3 billion.(40)
Now, there are two problems with this. One, without tracking previous votes, you can't say this is the case. You have to know how the district voted, repeatedly, to make this claim. There is also the Bradley factor. People lie to exit pollsters when controversal questions are in play, and gay marriage was in play.

These claims are made based on 2004 vote totals, but lacks the previous years to back this up. Did Gore keep that level of support?

Blackwell -- now the Republican candidate for governor of Ohio(47) -- is well-known in the state as a fierce partisan eager to rise in the GOP. An outspoken leader of Ohio's right-wing fundamentalists, he opposes abortion even in cases of rape(48) and was the chief cheerleader for the anti-gay-marriage amendment that Republicans employed to spark turnout in rural counties(49). He has openly denounced Kerry as ''an unapologetic liberal Democrat,''(50) and during the 2004 election he used his official powers to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Ohio citizens in Democratic strongholds. In a ruling issued two weeks before the election, a federal judge rebuked Blackwell for seeking to ''accomplish the same result in Ohio in 2004 that occurred in Florida in 2000.''(51)
This is the strongest part of the piece, and if Kennedy had dropped the numbers and reported on Blackwell's activities, this would have been a very good piece, instead he's hanging his analysis on 2004 exit polling. The parts about the Blackwell games are the most impportant section here

Take the case of Ellen Connally, a Democrat who lost her race for chief justice of the state Supreme Court. When the ballots were counted, Kerry should have drawn far more votes than Connally -- a liberal black judge who supports gay rights and campaigned on a shoestring budget. And that's exactly what happened statewide: Kerry tallied 667,000 more votes for president than Connally did for chief justice, outpolling her by a margin of thirty-two percent. Yet in these twelve off-the-radar counties, Connally somehow managed to outperform the best-funded Democrat in history, thumping Kerry by a grand total of 19,621 votes -- a margin of ten percent.(181) The Conyers report -- recognizing that thousands of rural Bush voters were unlikely to have backed a gay-friendly black judge roundly rejected in Democratic precincts -- suggests that ''thousands of votes for Senator Kerry were lost.''(182)

But it doesn't suggest that. The judge got more votes than she should have, but there is no historical data to suggest this was or was not wildly off the mark

The most transparently crooked incident took place in Warren County. In the leadup to the election, Blackwell had illegally sought to keep reporters and election observers at least 100 feet away from the polls. (190) The Sixth Circuit, ruling that the decree represented an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, noted ominously that ''democracies die behind closed doors.'' But the decision didn't stop officials in Warren County from devising a way to count the vote in secret. Immediately after the polls closed on Election Day, GOP officials -- citing the FBI -- declared that the county was facing a terrorist threat that ranked ten on a scale of one to ten. The county administration building was hastily locked down, allowing election officials to tabulate the results without any reporters present.

In fact, there was no terrorist threat. The FBI declared that it had issued no such warning, and an investigation by The Cincinnati Enquirer unearthed e-mails showing that the Republican plan to declare a terrorist alert had been in the works for eight days prior to the election. Officials had even refined the plot down to the language they used on signs notifying the public of a lockdown. (When ROLLING STONE requested copies of the same e-mails from the county, officials responded)
Voter fraud, you bet.

Here's my problem with the piece, it lacks historical perspective. The strongest indicator of voting fraud is not what employees do, but what has happened in the past.Many of the conclusions cannot be regarded as valid because they are not historically based. Districts do not change overnight. They change over time.

Now, do I believe Ohio Republicans were going to deliver the state to Bush come hell or high water, But Kennedy doesn't do the historical comparisons needed to actually bring some facts to this. We don't know how previous elections went, so there is no basis to compare the variances. The data is there, but it's not coalated in a way where people can point to abnormal trends.

The story would have been much stronger tossing the exit polling debate over the side and going to inverview people in Ohio,not just about the numbers, but what the day was like.

One other point, Republican voices are notably lacking. They need to explain their actions or refuse to explain them, academics aren't enough. It's a half story, because it's too big. You go into a country, go into ED's and you just break it down, you just have to look through voting records on ALL the races, downticket and federal, you talk to the people who worked the district. This requires a microscope to get to the matter here, not a broad brush

The strongest part of this piece was detailing the criminal activities of the corrupt Ohio GOP to steal votes in plain sight. Diebold was not much of a factor here. Outright voter intimidation and theft were. Which I have argued for two years

posted by Steve @ 3:40:00 AM

3:40:00 AM

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