by Brendan Lalor
A right-wing in-law asked me the other day whether I accept the election outcome, given that 59.5 million people voted for Bush. My response was two-fold: First, it’s still not clear how many people voted for Bush, given that
- Broward County, FL voting machines subtracted from candidates’ tallies once they reached 32,000 votes;
- the machines in a precinct in Franklin County, OH credited Bush with 4,258 although “only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct”;
- voting machines in many counties in Florida registered massive Republican wins in Democratic districts;
- most ballots “spoiled” due to hung or pregnant chads (and therefore uncounted and discarded) came from predominantly minority, Democrat-voting precincts (“54 percent of the ballots thrown in the dumpster were cast by black folks”), and the number of spoiled votes is enough to change the outcome;
- challenges of minority voters in OH — in 155,000 to 250,000 instances — resulted in voters being given separate but equal provisional ballots (which might soon be counted);
- a “precinct in Youngstown, Ohio, recorded a negative 25 million votes” (which were omitted from official results);
- Bush “won” New Mexico by a mere 11,620 votes — but an estimated 18,000 mostly Hispanic, Native American, and poor votes were “spoiled” in the state;
- many electronic voting machines — marketed by Republican-linked companies — leave no paper trail, despite overwhelming criticism from computer scientists; and
- exit polls showed a Kerry lead.
Although this list could be extended, the point is that Bush’s “win” is as suspicious as Chuck Hagel’s.
So, on that ground alone, I cannot accept the legitimacy.
But, second, there were major misinformation campaigns from the White House, Fox News, talk radio, and right-wing religious leaders. A glance at the results of a recent survey conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland (questionnairre) is shocking:
72% of Bush supporters continued to hold to the view that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%)….
Despite the 9/11 Commission report saying there is no evidence Iraq was providing significant support to al Qaeda, 75% of Bush supporters believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, with 20% believing that Iraq was directly involved in 9/11. Sixty-three percent of Bush supporters even believe that clear evidence of this support has been found….
[O]ne key possible explanation for why Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had WMD or a major WMD program, and supported al Qaeda is that they continue to hear the Bush administration confirming these beliefs. Another possible explanation is that Bush supporters cling to these beliefs because they are necessary for their support for the decision to go to war with Iraq. Asked whether the US should have gone to war with Iraq if US intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making WMD or providing support to al Qaeda, 58% of Bush supporters said the US should not have.
The results further show that
Bush supporters have numerous misperceptions about Bush’s international policy positions. Majorities incorrectly assumed that Bush supports multilateral approaches to various international issues?the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the treaty banning land mines (72%); 51% incorrectly assumed he favors US participation in the Kyoto treaty?the principal international accord on global warming. After he denounced the International Criminal Court in the debates, the perception that he opposed it increased from 24% to 38% among Bush supporters, but a majority of supporters (53%) continued to believe that he favors it. Only 13% of supporters are aware that he opposes labor and environmental standards in trade agreements — 74% incorrectly believe that he favors including labor and environmental standards in agreements on trade….
Kerry supporters were much more accurate in assessing their candidate?s positions on all issues. Majorities knew that Kerry favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements (81%); the US being part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (77%); the International Criminal Court (65%); the land mines treaty (79%); and the Kyoto Treaty on climate change (74%).
The list of what Kerry supporters got right goes on.
If true democracy requires that each person gets one vote, and all voters’ rights receive equal protection under the law, then: No, the election was not legitimate.
If true democracy requires an informed public, then in an election in which misinformation on the part of the victor’s supporters was the rule, rather than the exception: No, the election was not legitimate.