Published on Monday, October 22, 2001 in the Sydney Morning Herald
Media Suppress the News that Bush Lost Election to Gore
by Charles Laurence in Washington
The most detailed analysis yet of the contested Florida votes from last year's presidential election - with the potential to question President George Bush's legitimacy - is being withheld by the news organizations that commissioned it.
Results of the inspection of more than 170,000 votes rejected as unreadable in the "hanging chad" chaos of last November's vote count were ready at the end of August.
The study was commissioned early this year by a consortium including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The New York Times and the broadcaster CNN. The cost was more than $2 million.
Now, however, spokesmen for the consortium say that they decided to postpone the story of the analysis by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago for lack of resources and lack of interest in the face of the enormous story after the September 11 attacks.
Newspapers were saying last week that the final phase of the analysis, counting the 170,000 votes, had been postponed.
"Our belief is that the priorities of the country have changed, and our priorities have changed," said Steven Goldstein, vice-president of corporate communications at Dow Jones, owner of The Wall Street Journal.
Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman for The New York Times, said: "The consortium agreed that because of the war, because of our lack of resources, we were postponing the vote-count investigation. But this is not final. The intention is to go forward."
However David Podvin, an investigative journalist who runs an independent Web page, Make Them Accountable, said he had been tipped off that the consortium was covering up the results.
He refused to disclose his source other than to describe him as a former media executive whom he knew "as an accurate conduit of information" and who claimed that the consortium "is deliberately hiding the results of its recount because [former Democrat vice-president Al] Gore was the indisputable winner".
He also claims that a New York Times journalist involved in the recount project had told "a former companion" that the Gore victory margin was big enough to create "major trouble for the Bush presidency if this ever gets out".
"The goosiness, the sensitivity, that the press which organized this analysis is now showing to publishing the results and the persistence of questions about the Florida ballots raise questions," said Dr John Mason, a professor of political science at William Paterson University, in New Jersey.
"There is a sensitivity over the legitimacy of this president."
National Opinion Research Center staff have been puzzled by the idea that the media would lack the resources because, they said, they had computer programs already designed and fitted for the final count.
The Telegraph, London
Copyright © 2001 Sydney Morning Herald
Jul 12, '04
THE GREAT FLORIDA EX-CON GAME How the ?felon? voter-purge was itself felonious
Friday, March 1, 2002
In November the U.S. media, lost in patriotic reverie, dressed up the Florida recount as a victory for President Bush. But however one reads the ballots, Bush's win would certainly have been jeopardized had not some Floridians been barred from casting ballots at all. Between May 1999 and Election Day 2000, two Florida secretaries of state - Sandra Mortham and Katherine Harris, both protégées of Governor Jeb Bush- ordered 57,700 "ex-felons," who are prohibited from voting by state law, to be removed from voter rolls.
Two of these "scrub lists," as officials called them, were distributed to counties in the months before the election with orders to remove the voters named. Together the lists comprised nearly 1 percent of Florida?s electorate and nearly 3 percent of its African-American voters. Most of the voters (such as "David Butler," (1); a name that appears 77 times in Florida phone books) were selected because their name, gender, birthdate and race matched - or nearly matched - one of the tens of millions of ex-felons in the United States. Neither DBT nor the state conducted any further research to verify the matches. DBT, which frequently is hired by the F.B.I. to conduct manhunts, originally proposed using address histories and financial records to confirm the names, but the state declined the cross-checks. In Harris?s elections office files, next to DBT?s sophisticated verification plan, there is a hand-written note: ?DON?T NEED.?
Thomas Alvin Cooper , twenty-eight, was flagged because of a crime for which he will be convicted in the year 2007. According to Florida?s elections division, this intrepid time-traveler will cover his tracks by moving to Ohio, adding a middle name, and changing his race. Harper's found 325 names on the list with conviction dates in the future, a fact that did not escape Department of Elections workers, who, in June 2000 emails headed, ?Future Conviction Dates," termed the discovery, "bad news.? Rather than release this whacky data to skeptical counties, Janet Mudrow, state liaison to DBT, suggested that ?blanks would be preferable in these cases." (Harper's counted 4,917 blank conviction dates.) The one county that checked each of the 694 names on its local list could verify only 34 as actual felony convicts.
Some counties defied Harris' directives; Madison County's elections supervisor Linda Howell refused the purge list after she found her own name on it.
Rev. Willie Dixon , seventy, was guilty of a crime in his youth; but one phone call would have told the state that it had already pardoned Dixon and restored his right to vote. On behalf of Dixon and other excluded voters, the NAACP in January 2001 sued Florida and Harris, after finding that African-Americans?who account for 13 percent of Florida's electorate and 46 percent of U.S. felony convictions ?were four times as likely as whites to be incorrectly singled out under the state's methodology. After the election, Harris and her elections chief Clay Roberts, testified under oath that verifying the lists was solely the work of county supervisors. But the Florida-DBT contract (marked "Secret" and ?Confidential?) holds DBT responsible for ?manual verification using telephone calls.? in fact, with the state?s blessing, DBT did not call a single felon.
When I asked Roberts about the contract during an interview for BBC television, Roberts ripped off his microphone, ran into his office, locked the door, and called in state troopers to remove us.
Wallace McDonald , sixty-four, lost his right to vote in 2000, though his sole run-in with the law was a misdemeanor in 1959. (He fell asleep on a bus-stop bench.) Of the "matches' on these lists, the civil-rights commission estimated that at least 14 percent - or 8,000 voters, nearly 15 times Bush's official margin of victory - were false. DBT claims it warned officials "a significant number of people who were not a felon would be included on the list"; but the state, the company now says, "wanted there to be more names than were actually verified." Last May, Florida's legislature barred Harris from using outside firms to build the purge list and ordered her to seek guidance from county elections officials. In defiance, Harris has rebuffed the counties and hired another firm,
just in time for Jeb Bush's reelection fight this fall.
Last edit by pickledpepperRN on Jul 12, '04