hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Friday, June 14, 2002
hi, thanks for the previous reply about absentee ballots. When I first heard about Duvall county, I was so mad I couldn't think straight. I literally thought it could be worse than Watergate. If you have time, please read this post about why its so fishy, and if you agree, please look into it! On Tuesday or Wednesday, the Gore campaign official overseeing Northeast county claims he was told by the Duvall County Supervisor that there were at most 200-300 disqualified ballots in Duvall county. On Friday night/Saturday morning, the Duvall County Chairman said that 26,000 ballots, an astounding 10% of votes cast in the county, were disqualified. When asked about the Gore official's account of his previous conversation with the Chairman, the Duvall county spokesman blandly said that the Gore official had "misunderstood what the Chairman said." The circumstantial evidence strongly supports the Gore officials claim. Palm Beach County had a wildly anamolous 5% error rate. Are we supposed to believe there was a simply unheard of 10% error rate in another county which somehow nobody noticed? And this impossibly high error rate occurred on a straight-forward ballot, unlike Palm Beach county? Wouldn't the Bush campaign have brought up Duvall county before, to support the argument that what happened in Palm Beach was acceptable because it happened to Republicans in Duvall county too? Equally puzzling is how could the Duvall county chairmen have suddenly discovered missing votes equal to 10% of the county? Surely its a simple calculation: (# of voters who go to the polls + absentee ballots) - (# of votes for all Pres. candidates). Due to absentee ballots, mistakes, etc. this formula could be off by a small number, but not 10% (most absentee ballots are in by election day). And why would he declare this fact on friday night/saturday morning, *just* after the deadline to call for a hand recount had passed (deadline is Friday 8 EDT)? The circumstantial evidence thus shows it was highly likely the Duvall county chairman deliberately lied to the Gore campaign official about the number of rejected ballots. Either he was lying when he said there were 300, or he is lying now when he says there are 26000. This leads to the first key question, which is, what could be his motive to do something so drastic? scenario 1) He lied initially. In this case, he would have kept the news from the Gore team to avoid there being a manual recount. But this makes no sense. Since the Duvall county ballot is straightforward, ballot errors would be random and support the Bush campaign, since its a Republican county. The only explanation in this scenario is that the rejected ballots were somehow unintentionally biased against Gore (very unlikely), or that Gore ballots were deliberately sabotaged (possible, but hard to contemplate). scenario 2) He's lying now, and these 26000 new ballots have been manufactured. In this case, his intention is to eventually call for a manual recount and give Bush an advantage, if that should be necessary. How could he do this? He would have to list registered voters who did not vote as having voted, and then mark up their ballots for Bush. This sounds far out, but what would stop him? Did any news organisation calculate the discrepancy between ballots cast and Presidential votes for every Florida county early on in the process, say Tuesday night or Wednesday? Did they ever calculate those discrepancies? If not, they simply cannot ferret out this possible fraud. The only way to find it out is to poll people and ask if they voted, which is cumbersome, and once people get wind of the poll, in a heavily Bush county they have incentive to lie. I realize this sounds out there, but can you think of any inncocent explanation why the Duvall county Chairman would lie, and why there would be an astounding 10% of disqualified ballots? The second key question is, if any of these scenarios are true, the Republicans will have stolen an election from under our nose. How were they able to get away with it? The answer is that the media fell down on the job. There has simply been no independent investigative reporting on the possibility of fraud in this election (allegations of fraud in Wisconsin came from Republican oppo research). Everything the pundidtocracy knows comes from one AP reporter in each county, who gets all his information from the official sources, with no ability to challenge those sources. I've cooled down a bit, and I can't quite believe that the Duvall County Republicans have engaged in a criminal conspiracy worse than Watergate. But if they have, then despite the snazzy studios and fancy salaries, the shoe-leather capacity of the media has degraded so much that they are simply incapable of finding out about it. And that should chill us all. Do any of you agree with this at all? Or does it seem somehow implausible or absurd? Duvall county really bothers me, and besides the perfunctory AP article, no one in the national media has talked about it at all