USA 2012: the land of poll rigging

AS THE 2012 US presidential election nears, the ugly spectre of poll rigging has reared its head, despite the fact that the last poll saw the Republican candidate, John McCain, being wiped out.

Given that there are cases pending over laws that insist on photo IDs if one wants to vote, the Democrats are now recalling the polls of 2000 and 2004, when the Republicans rigged the polls in Florida and Ohio respectively to get George the younger into the White House.

Voting patterns show that black and Latino voters go for the Democrats to the extent of about 80 per cent, hence it is logical to assume that blocking these categories will strengthen the Republican vote. Many counties in Ohio have black majorities, and the rigging concentrated on these areas.

Thus it is not surprising that Struggle, a film on the 2004 rigging should be shown right now. The documentary was screened in a small theatre in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday (September 25) night, a rush job, but one that serves as a grim reminder of how powerful political operatives can function when they want to get their man into office.

In 2000, it was the Florida secretary of state, Kathleen Harris, who ensured that masses of black voters were knocked off the rolls so that the state would swing Bush’s way; even then, it was only stopping a recount that ensured Bush would slip through. In 2004, it was Harris’s Ohio counterpart, J. Kenneth Blackwell, who did the honours for the Republicans.

Crude means were used in 2004 – less voting machines than needed were provided, voters were sent from polling station to polling station until time ran out, voters were locked out with the excuse that time had run out, the machines themselves were rigged, and no paper trail was provided for cross-checking.

The exit polls in Ohio in 2004 showed John Kerry having a four per cent lead over Bush among male voters and a six per cent lead among females. Yet the final “result” showed Bush winning overall by 6.7 per cent, something incredible if one respects the laws of statistics.

This year, Democrats know that the incumbent, President Barack Obama, leads Republican Mitt Romney by pretty big margins in what are considered battleground states – for example, Obama has an eight per cent lead in Ohio and a four per cent lead in Florida as of September 25. They figure that Republicans are getting desperate now; after all, there are just six weeks to go for their man to swing things around.

Struggle director Roger Hill admits that the film is a rush job and that he is trying his level best to polish it up in order that it can be released on the web for people to be educated and avoid being cheated. Free Press Columbus editor Bob Fitrakis explained the mechanics of rigging to the small crowd that viewed the film in Columbus; he is a veteran of this kind of exercise.

But it shows one thing – the squeaky clean image that the US of A has been projecting for so long is pure fantasy; the reality is that crooks in the US, like those in every other part of the world, will stick at nothing to achieve their ends. The land of the brave and the free is also the land of A-grade cheats and thieves.


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