W. Bush’s political allies appear to be slow-rolling a requested recount
in Ohio, leaving so little time that even if widespread voting fraud is
discovered, the finding will come too late to derail Bush’s second term.
Though balloting occurred on Nov. 2, more than a
month ago, Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell still
hasn’t certified an official vote, a move now expected on Monday, Dec.
6. Since Blackwell also has battled requests from third-party candidates
for an expedited recount, a review of Ohio’s vote now won’t begin until
Dec. 13, at the earliest, according to Blackwell’s office. [See Boston
Globe, Dec. 1, 2004]
But the Dec. 13 date is the same day the electors
of the Electoral College meet to formally select the President of the
United States. So even if the recount uncovers enough fraud to reveal
John Kerry as the rightful winner in Ohio, it would be too late to
change that outcome.
Meanwhile, as Ohio’s official foot-dragging has
gone on, Bush’s election-night lead has continued to shrink with the
counting of overseas and provisional ballots. The Associated Press
reported on Dec. 3 that its vote tally of Ohio’s 88 counties showed
Kerry narrowing Bush’s lead to 119,000 votes from about 136,000 votes,
leaving Bush with a 2 percent lead.
But Kerry also might stand to gain a substantial
number of votes from a recount that would examine ballots thrown out by
antiquated punch-card voting machines. They are used mostly in
poor areas, especially African-American neighborhoods that are
Democratic strongholds. Other voters, believing that Ohio’s electronic
systems were susceptible to vote rigging, have sought audits to check
Instead of embracing these examinations to resolve voter
doubts, however, Secretary of State Blackwell and other Bush allies in Ohio have
resisted the demands. Now, the clock is running out for any meaningful review.
[Citizens demanding a full recount in Ohio scheduled
a rally for Dec. 4 in the
capital of Columbus Other protests
are being organized in the days leading up to the Electoral College
meetings on Dec. 13.]
In some ways, the United States is witnessing a
repeat of Election 2000 where Bush first frustrated Al Gore’s demands
for recounts in Florida and then had five Republicans on the U.S.
Supreme Court block a recount ordered by the state Supreme Court.
Finally, the five Republican justices in Washington required that a
reorganized Florida recount be conducted in two hours, a clearly
impossible task that handed the presidency to George W. Bush.
Placing national unity as a priority over
democracy, the U.S. news media stepped in after Election 2000 to sweep
away any lingering doubts about Bush’s legitimacy. The unity message was
that the United States needed to put the contentious election in the
past, even though Bush was the first popular-vote loser in more than a
century to move into the White House.
This protection of Bush’s fragile legitimacy gained
even greater momentum after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The
“united-we-stand” sentiment put the New York Times and other leading
news organizations in a particular quandary in November 2001 when they
completed an unofficial recount of Florida’s votes.
The recount discovered that if all legally cast
votes had been counted, Al Gore would have won Florida regardless of
what standard of “chad” was used. In other words, Gore was the
rightfully elected President of the United States, not Bush.
To avert the predictable conservative outrage over
the recount findings, the major national news outlets simply buried the
“Gore-won” lead. Instead, they topped their stories with a bogus
analysis that a recount would have left Bush as the rightful winner.
The analysis assumed, falsely, that so-called “overvotes,”
where voters checked a candidate and wrote in the name, would not have
been included in the recount. But the news organizations were erroneous
in this assumption because the judge handling the Florida recount had
ordered those votes tallied and almost certainly would have added them
to the state’s total, since they were clearly legal under Florida law.
[See Consortiumnews.com’s “So
Bush Did Steal the White House.”]
Now, with Team Bush running out the clock in Ohio,
one has to wonder what contortions the mainstream news media would put
itself through if a belated recount – after Bush’s election is
formalized – shows that Kerry should have won Ohio and thus the White