Something's rotten in the state of Denmark

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

David Corn on the irregularities

The likable -- at least when I met him, and certainly one of the few people who looked good in Triumph the Insult Comic Dog at Spin Alley bit -- David Corn of the Nation casts a skeptical eye towards charges of voter fraud.

Corn: "In pieces for The Nation magazine, I've noted that there is good cause to worry about the integrity of a voting system that is overseen by partisan players and that relies in part upon paperless electronic voting machines that are manufactured by companies that are led by pro-GOP executives and that refuse to reveal the computer codes they use. But I've also cautioned against declaring that the potential for abuse means the system was abused to flip the results. Exit polls that differ from reported vote counts are not necessarily proof of foul play, and statistical analyses that seem to raise questions need thorough vetting before they are waved about as signs of chicanery."

Corn also takes issue with the Hout Berkeley study that suggested that something was rotten in Broward and Palm Beach counties. (Though, weirdly, he keeps referring the Hout study as a study by three graduate students -- which makes me worry that Corn got his Berkeley studies confused. No -- I've been corrected, there were three graduate students working with Hout on the project.)

Corn continues: "A strong case that the election was stolen--either in Ohio or Florida--still has yet to be made. Statistical arguments are not convincing without concrete evidence (or widespread support among statistical experts). When reporters looked at actual ballots in Florida they found the armchair analysts were way off in their assumptions. And a recount requested by Ralph Nader in a limited number of precincts in New Hampshire--after Bush received higher than expected vote tallies in those parts of the Granite State--found little change from the original results. KPFK, the Pacifica radio station in Los Angeles, was a bit ahead of the facts when it issued a statement on November 23 noting it was projecting that Kerry "has won the State of Ohio and thus the Presidency by a minimum electoral college count of 272 to 266."

Yet even the skeptical Corn does give credence to other concerns. "Yet the voting system is shaky enough to warrant serious concern. The General Accountability Office was right to agree to a request from Representative John Conyers and four other Democratic House members that it investigate election irregularities in the 2004 election. According to these members of Congress, the GAO will examine the security and accuracy of voting technologies, distribution and allocation of voting machines, and the counting of provisional ballots. ... There are Bush critics who probably never will accept the November 2 results. And the systemic problems that do exist--secretive voting technologies, the opportunity for partisan hacks to engage in voter suppression--will allow these people to hang on to their worst fears and to continue to share look-at-this! emails with fellow believers (or nonbelievers). But the evidence to date is that the election results were not rigged but were produced by a flawed system."