Many Republicans were utterly convinced that Democrats controlled Congress from 1958 to 1994 because lever voting machines were rigged to give it to them. Nobody called these Republicans "tinhats" or "conspiracy nuts." It has become conventional wisdom in much of the nation that Nixon won the 1960 election and it was stolen by Kennedy, Daley and LBJ. Try pointing out that flipping Illinois in 1960 would not have changed the election result, and that Democrats had no ability to steal enough either in Chicago or Texas to flip these states. Try pointing out that Nixon won in 1968 by a far smaller margin and there were numerous instances of fraud.
That's a part of history that had slipped GOP minds by 2000 and 2004, when their response to Bush stealing the election was, well, Kennedy did it too.
You can always tell what Republicans are up to by what they accuse the Democrats of doing. When they were buying control of the media in the 1980s, documented in Noam Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent," they were hysterically conjecturing a "liberal media" conspiracy. When they argued that liberals were attacking religion, the Republican-connected law firm Greenberg Traurig was making a mint suing the Vatican for child abuse. Is it any wonder the Vatican has given up its social justice agenda when it knows only Republicans can keep a lid on lawsuits? When the Republicans said Jesse Jackson and George Ball were traitors, it's probably because Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld were breaking U.S. laws doing business with enemies like Libya and North Korea. When they said Islam was at war with us, Prince "Bandar Bush" of Saudi Arabia had free access to the White House, meeting with the president alone just 48 hours after 15 Saudi citizens had apparently conducted a terror attack on our nation. When they said Clinton sold military secrets to China, it was because the Bush family actually had and would continue to give away our strategic advantage. In 2004 they accused Kerry of faking his war hero record because Bush was a deserter. In 2008 they said Obama was not born in the USA, probably because McCain wasn't born in the USA. What is frightening is the amount effort and attention they have put into accusing the Democrats of vote fraud in the last few years.
They are going to steal this election if they can. This is nothing new. Abraham Lincoln was not elected by secret ballot. The "Australian" or secret ballot only came into wide use in the 1880's in the United States, and its immediate results were fraud and Jim Crow.
We are told that we need the secret ballot to prevent people from discriminating against us for our political views, but in reality we get that anyway based on what people think our views are, without benefit of legal redress (except in California, where the Unruh Act specifically forbids it). Indeed, a number of Republican employers have threatened layoffs if Obama wins. No prize for guessing which people (female, black, gay) would be targeted in this little purge. If the unthinkable did happen and all the votes were published, maybe people would take more care with their vote. I'm not suggesting we publish anything. I am suggesting that vote secrecy has enabled fraud.
Already, with the move from lever voting to punch cards, it was clear something was going terribly wrong with our nation's voting. Here's a New Yorker article warning about computerized voting in 1988. In 1977 a Republican bigwig named Prentis Hale bought the nation's biggest vote tabulating firm. Problems began to mount. Perhaps the "Reagan revolution" wasn't a real revolution in public attitudes at all, just a change in voting company ownership.
Computerized touch screens further consolidated the industry, behind a mandate in the Orwellian misnamed "Help America Vote Act" of 2002. The move to touch screens pushed the voting results far to the right, and then Republican controlled media began to "fix" exit polls to hide the evidence of fraud. Today, most American votes are counted by ES&S of Omaha and Dominion Voting Systems of Denver, with SCYTL of Spain providing critical software.
In 1996, there was a bit of a controversy in a U.S. Senate race. Ben Nelson was a popular governor in Nebraska, re-elected in 1994 with 74% of the vote. His Republican challenger, Chuck Hagel, was new to politics. Hagel was a career military man who was inexplicably made a telecommunications corporate executive. Having made a pile of money, he went into politics in his native Nebraska. He went about it the same way Romney has, first investing in a voting machine company (American Information Systems, father of ES&S and Diebold). He resigned from being Chairman of AIS just two weeks before announcing for Senate. His campaign treasurer and investment partner maintained a $5 million investment for him in AIS throughout the election. He won in a surprise, 15 points better than the polls announced in the paper, far ahead of what one would have expected given Nelson's popularity just two years before. Six years later he was re-elected by the one of the highest vote margins ever in any contested Senate race. Nebraska, Hagel would have you believe, has no liberals left at all.
If you are not a subscriber to Harpers, you should go to the newsstand and pick up the November, 2012 issue. It punctures once and for all the myth that Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008 mean that votes are not being stolen. Statistically there is still blatant evidence of fraud. It's just that in 2006 and 2008 they miscalculated how much they had to steal. Elections are being stolen in an ever more brazen and open manner. Rick Scott was almost certainly never elected Governor of Florida. Jim DeMint apparently won his office by choosing his opponents in a blatantly fraudulent miscounting of the South Carolina Democratic primary. It all goes back to George H.W. Bush, who hired Karl Rove after the latter fixed a Young Republicans election.
We can probably add Romney to that list of fixers, as noted in this blog. In addition to trying to buy strategic media for this campaign, the Romneyites have tried to tie up voting companies. Bain Capital employees formed a company called H.I.G. to invest in Hart Intercivic, the biggest of the election companies outside the big three previously mentioned.
Republicans, of course, would have you believe Obama has tried to fix the election. The right wing echo chamber says Soros has ties to SCYTL, one of the companies involved in American voting companies. Not only is this not true, it is the opposite of the truth. Conservatives, not socialists, run the Spanish government which owns a big stake. Another stake is owned by Nauta Capital of Boston, whose director on the SCYTL board came from Booz Allen, owned by the Bush era's corporate darling, the Carlyle Group.
ES&S is still the biggest vote counting firm and still works with Chuck Hagel. The Obama administration did prevent them from buying Sequoia and Diebold, but the stooge they picked to buy Sequoia and Diebold, Dominion Voting Systems of Canada, still employs the same people who have been running these companies throughout the Bush era, as does SCYTL.
Elections don't just happen to be fixed. Quite a lot of effort goes into fixing them, and that's why in 2006 and 2008, the GOP screwed up. That's actually an opportunity this year, in that Romney may think the other companies besides the one he controls are manipulating results, but if he doesn't organize to control the process personally, he may lose anyway. The negative is that Mormons have specialized in computer software for years, so if anybody could rig an election, it's the Mormons. The Proposition 8 results in California in 2008 were likely rigged. It is easier, though, to rig ballot propositions than elections where jobs are on the line. It is also easier to rig votes by a challenger. An incumbent president has lots of tools to fight back that challengers do not.
Do not despair, go out and vote. They've miscalculated before. The important thing is the more awareness of this issue is advanced, the more the public will be likely to get off their butts and do something about it.
For years, leading left commentators reacted to this circumstance of increasing Republican control over voting by shrill denials, under the false theories that 1) to point it out it would discourage Democrats from voting (my vote won't count), making the situation worse; and 2) that it would give too much credit to Republican organization. I disagree with this thinking. They should be able to communicate the necessity of voting quite clearly. Romney is so personally unlikeable that there is no chance he can win the present election without fraud. They will never have a better chance to prove fraud on the other side than if Romney wins this election. It cannot even be imagined unless turnout were to drop some huge number like 25 million from 2008. Remember, Romney got fewer votes than John McCain did in 2008 in the Republican primary season. Second, Republicans are idiots, but that doesn't mean everyone who profits from Republicanism is, and the military and the rich are quite capable of organizing fraud: competently, but not intelligently. Finally, if vote theft is the truth, it needs to be exposed regardless of whether it is politically convenient for this election.