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by Paul Rosenberg
Wednesday, Jul. 18, 2001 at 1:36 PM
The NY Times has just published the results of a 6-month investigation which shows that Republicans managed to get hudreds of illegal votes counted in a coordinated state-wide effort. It's not the biggest example of how the Republicans stole the 2000 election, but it's the clearest prima facia case calling for investigation--an investigation that should look into every aspect of what amounts simply to a criminal conspiracy to take over the government. Impeachment is too good for these bastards. Life in prison is what's called for. Quick, before Cheney dies on us.
COUPWATCH RETURNS: IT'S SPECIAL PROSECUTOR TIME!
It's officially on record: the Bush campaign pressured local election boards into counting illegal military votes for G.W. Bush. That's fraud. That's conspiracy. That's "high crimes and misdemeanors." It's time to start the investigations for the impeachments of Bush and Cheney-not to mention their criminal convictions along with dozens, perhaps hundreds of their campaign staff and volunteers.
Don't expect to hear this sort of talk from the Demopublican Party any time soon-Clueless Joe Lieberman is already on record saying "it's time to move on"-but who expects them to care about democracy? Or facts? The facts in the case are astoundingly simple: the Bush campaign adopted a double standard, challenging Democratic ballots by a strict legal standard on one hand, while arguing to accept Republican ballots that failed the same exact standards. A 6-month investigation by the New York Times has meticulously explored what happened, but-aside from conservatives attacking the report as "propaganda"-the insider reaction has been absurdly low key, yet another indication how little anyone in power cares about democracy, or "playing by the rules."
EXAMPLES OF REPUBLICAN DOUBLE-STANDARDS
Here are some samples from the Times:
Examples of a Late Postmark:
Ballot from a Democrat, postmarked Nov. 8 in Maryland to Leon County, A Gore Stronghold
From the canvassing board minutes:
Jason Unger, a Republican lawyer, requested that the ballot "be rejected based on the postmark alone."
Ballot from a Republican in the military, postmarked Nov. 10 in Missouri to Escambia County, A Bush stronghold.
From the canvassing board transcript:
Republican lawyer: "Just because it has a U.S. postmark does not mean that it was mailed from the United States."
Examples of a Missing Witness:
Ballot from a Democrat in Citrus County, which Bush won narrowly
From the canvassing board transcript:
Election Supervisor Susan Gill: "Okay. Here's her signature, which matches, but it appears there is no witness, and it's got a date signed."
Rob Horton, Republican lawyer: "We are going to object to that."
Ballot from a Republican in Santa Rosa County, a Bush stronghold
From a Republican letter to the canvassing board:
"This is a technical flaw that should not be used to disenfranchise our military personnel."
Examples of a Missing Postmark:
Ballot from a Democrat in Palm Beach County, A Gore stronghold
From a Republican form protesting the ballot as "illegal":
"The envelope was mailed but does not bear an APO, FPO or foreign postmark." (APO and FPO are military postmarks.)."
Ballot from a Democrat in Bay County, a Bush stonghold
From audio tape of canvassing board meeting:
Republican lawyer: "I don't think the postmark matters. I don't think you should disenfranchise members of our armed forces."
This didn't happen in just a few scattered cases-the NY Times investigation found 680 flawed ballots were cast, many "had multiple defects, so the total number of flaws exceeds the number of defective ballots." These included:
* 344 ballots with late, illegible or missing postmarks. (The law requires proof that ballots were cast on or before election day)
* 183 ballots with U.S. postmarks. (Military ballots must be sent from overseas.)
* 96 ballots without the required signature or address of a witness.
* 169 ballots from voters who weren't registered, failed to sign the envelope or who hadn't requested a ballot. (A ballot request is required by federal law.)
* 19 voters cast two ballots, both of which were counted.
* 5 ballots arrived after the Nov. 17 deadline.
Some of these ballots could and should have been counted, given a Florida court decision giving election boards some "latitude of judgment"-such as the 87 unpostmarked overseas ballots that arrived a day or two after Election Day. Common sense says they must have been sent on time. Of course, such common sense and discretion was precisely what Bush's people argued vehemently against in the hand recounts that were getting far more attention at the same time. Kathleen Harris refused to exercise common sense and discretion to accept Palm Beach County's hand recount, which arrived several hours late-thus depriving civilian voters in Palm Beach County of equal treatment under Florida laws.
Such discrepancies go beyond the normal Republican hypocrisy, since the perpetrators of this intentional double-standard in counting votes went to the Supreme Court-and won the election on a 5-4 vote-based on unproven allegations of an unintentional double standard hurting them. In the case of the military ballots, the Times reported that the "benefit of the doubt was given to such ballots more than three times as often in counties carried by Bush," a clear indication that discretion was being abused.
THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG
This example of how the Republicans stole the election is not the biggest one. Far more votes were suppressed by the illegal purge of legitimate voters engineered by Kathleen Harris's office in the months before the election, to cite just one example. But in other cases the nexus of responsibility is vague enough on the surface to allow the fast-talking Republicans to avoid accountability. Not this time. This time it was done directly by the Bush campaign and with full knowledge that every single vote was vital. This time there are tape recordings of the arguments made. We know who the people making the arguments were. We have a clear course of action in beginning the investigations, and we know ahead of time what the motive was, and who the higher-ups were.
Of course, once the investigation begins into the counting of illegal overseas votes, there is no stopping it from spreading into all the rest of the Republican shenanigans that prevented legal votes from being cast or counted while allowing-and even promoting illegal votes.
PROMOTING ILLEGAL VOTES
One of the more neglected aspects of Republican illegalities in the Florida 2000 elections is the intense campaign to get people to vote absentee under false pretenses. State laws vary significantly in the circumstances allowing for use of an absentee ballot. In Florida, they can be used *only* if the voter is unable to get to the polls on election day. But Bush's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, signed a letter to Republican voters urging them to "Vote from the comfort of your home," a clear directive to violate the law-in fact to commit perjury, since the small print on the absentee ballot form says that the person signing the form can't get to the polls on election day.
Not only is such perjury a crime, so is asking someone to commit perjury-it's called suborning perjury, and that's exactly what Jeb Bush did-and what the Florida Republican Party colluded with him to do. This, too, is a crime. It's called conspiracy. Furthermore, there was another crime involved-the use of a facsimile of the of the state seal, which the letter was superimposed over, giving the letter the appearance of an official state document. Florida state law expressly forbids use of the state seal for partisan purposes.
This Republican ploy was extremely successful. So successful that in two counties there were civil suits filed seeking to through out the ballots that were cast illegally as a result of this conspiracy. Both were dismissed. In one case, the presiding judge said that criminal prosecutions were the more appropriate route. Naturally, no such prosecutions were brought. But that could easily change as the result of a thoroughgoing federal investigation-an investigation that is now clearly called for by the ever-mounting evidence of high-level Republican malfeasance in the 2000 election.
SPECIAL PROSECUTOR? *WHAT* SPECIAL PROSECUTER?
The special prosecutor law is no more, thanks to the egregious way in which Republicans abused it. But you don't need the law to appoint a special prosecutor. This is what happened with Watergate, and it's what should happen this time. We have a criminal in the White House, just as we did when Nixon occupied it. He's not just a criminal in the way that all Presidents are criminals, violating international law left and right, and authorizing FBI and other actions that violate the rights of all Americans. And he's not just a criminal in the Ken Starr "gothca!" sense, the way Bill Clinton was. He's a genuine Richard Nixon-style criminal, deeply implicated in an orchestrated attempt to subvert the American political process.
If anything, the Bush makes Nixon's criminality look positively bush league-especially if you leave out the part about Nixon sabotaging the 1968 peace talks, which the Watergate investigators never got close to. Nixon's secrets were genuinely secret, his subversion of democracy depended on buggings and break-ins and the like, covered up with bribes in the hundred thousand dollar range. Bush, on the other hand, stole the 2000 election in broad daylight, with the active collusion of the entire Republican Party and most of the corporate media. His payoffs range into the billions and trillions. He's a figurehead, of course, but that just goes to show how thoroughly the retail subversion of democracy pioneered by Richard Nixon has become institutionalized.
It's time for David to step up to the plate, and take down this Goliath.
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