Freedom Isn't Free: Election Fraud In America
Written by me in my freshman-year Seminar in Composition course.
Last fall, a horrendous election scandal hit the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Protesters swamped the Parliament building, and countries around the world cried out against the affront to freedom. Eventually, the newly-elected President was forced to resign. When hearing about such injustices, the average American will express relief that this sort of thing could never happen in America. Americans, unlike the Soviets, have a better grasp on their freedoms. Right? Wrong. The 2004 U.S. Presidential election and the blatantly fraudulent Georgia election occurred under the same circumstances, and the American people should demand that their rights to a free and fair election be restored.
Americans probably don’t see the connection between the two elections. In the Georgia election, the sitting government alone counted the votes. They didn’t answer to any outside source, and they didn’t let any independent source go over the ballots. In most places in America, it’s true, voting security is far superior to this. However, with the introduction of electronic voting machines, the security of our election is no longer guaranteed. Most predicted problems with electronic voting machines are the usual complaints about computers: glitches, crashes, and attempts at hacking. While those problems pose significant danger, the voting machines also leave no physical record of the votes that it tallies. These two kinds of error should by themselves be cause for suspicion, as it eliminates the possibility of an audit in case of a simple error in the programming or machinery. Even more worrisome is that the CEO of Diebold – the corporation that produces and runs most of the machines – staunchly supports Bush and contributes millions of dollars annually to the administration. These machines, used in several of the “battleground” states, create a situation where the ballots are in the hands of a single political faction, and cannot be independently observed – just like the situation in Georgia.
In Georgia, the most glaring indicator of fraud was the discrepancy between their exit polls and the actual vote count. An exit poll is a poll given to a sample of people who are leaving the election sites, asking people who they voted for. They’re used to predict results of elections and, more recently, to verify that a questionable election was not rigged. Georgia’s exit polls showed the challenger in the lead by a significant margin. When the incumbent “won”, against the exit polls, the protests began and other nations realized that something was wrong. In America, our exit polls showed the same pattern. In the most important battleground states, the official tallies differed from the exit polls by as much as 9.5 percent, especially in the states where electronic voting machines were used. The same organization conducted the exit polls in both America and Georgia, so the exit polls weren’t performed in any fundamentally different way. If the discrepancy in Georgia caused outrage, why not in America?
Probably because the people who are in a position to audit the votes are happy with the way the election turned out. People who like the current administration are not going to question the election, in case the real tally would show the other candidate to be the winner. These people don’t realize that, even if one supports the current administration, the potential voter fraud is an affront to American values. The right to choose our elected officials is the reason that America became a nation in the first place. “No taxation without representation,” remember? Even if people are dissatisfied with the election, they may feel that there’s nothing to be done. The electors have already cast their votes, and George W. Bush has already been sworn in. It feels like it’s too late to do anything. But our rights are not contingent upon time. In the American system, every vote should be counted, and every vote should count for something. American rights are supposed to be immutable, but too few people seem to even care about their rights.
When the people of Georgia spoke out about their unjust election, they showed their desire for fairness, freedom, and self-governance. They ultimately got what they desired. When Americans sit back and allow the same deceitful political practices to occur without protest, we show nothing but a willingness to be victimized. We allow political factions to take advantage of us. This must stop, and we must be the ones to stop it.