One of the reasons George W. Bush’s first-term in office was so disastrous was that he came into office by clearly illegitimate means. His victory over Al Gore was Constitutional – and I respect that – but the majority of Americans voted for Gore in 2000 over Bush and all but the most partisan understand that Gore would have won Florida if the Republican-majority on the Supreme Court had allowed the recount to occur. It was Al Gore that Americans wanted sworn in as president in January 2001 and not the governor of Texas.
There was a lot of disappointment in my household following Bush’s 2004 victory but it at least felt better to me knowing that all the votes had been counted and that his victory reflected the will of the people. Now there is reason to suspect that wasn’t the case.
Like many Americans, I spent the evening of the 2004 election watching the returns on television and wondering how the exit polls, which predicted an overwhelming victory for John Kerry, had gotten it so wrong. By midnight, the official tallies showed a decisive lead for George Bush -- and the next day, lacking enough legal evidence to contest the results, Kerry conceded. Republicans derided anyone who expressed doubts about Bush's victory as nut cases in ''tinfoil hats,'' while the national media, with few exceptions, did little to question the validity of the election. The Washington Post immediately dismissed allegations of fraud as ''conspiracy theories,''(1) and The New York Times declared that ''there is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale.''(2)
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) Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment -- roughly one for every 100 cast.(10)
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)
Was the 2004 election stolen? Did John Kerry actually defeat George W. Bush in 2004 just as Al Gore did in 2000? Kennedy makes a good case that is just what happened.
Steven F. Freeman and Joel Bleifuss, writing today in The Boston Globe, are asking for a federal investigation. That would only be appropriate considering the evidence we now have available. All Americans need to know if their votes were stolen in 2004.