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Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Recounting the Senate race: An Epilogue

Well, the recount is over. It finished last Friday with essentially no change to the optical-scan machine-announced election night results.

Our group initiated a statewide recount of the Senate race here because we felt the announced results differed widely from pre-election expectations, exit polls, and because we felt there was a strong possibilty of fraud, given the stakes at play in this election with the balance of power in the United States Senate in question.

Our system here works. The recount showed that.

Alaska has optical-scan machines, but Diebold does NOT have anything whatsoever to do with the programming of the tabulating computers in those machines. A worker in the Division of Elections programs the memory cards here and no one else has access to those cards or that software.

Bipartisan teams check the process at every level of the counting. Essentially, as it stands right now, our system of counting votes is impregnable to fraud, unless someone were extremely determined and/or had inside access.

We raised the required $10,000 deposit for the recount in record time, just barely getting the required signatures of registered voters and the deposit in to the Division of Elections a few minutes before the deadline.

Then, we asked the state to hand recount 10% of the 439 precincts in the state. They agreed to do that, in addition to rerunning the ballots through the machines for a statewide recount. Since some of the rural precints were already hand-counted on election night (not all precincts have the optical-scan machines), those precincts were left out of the pool, because they'd already been hand-counted. So effectively, we got to count about 15% of the precincts.

Those results were essentially the same as the machine count. There were maybe 2 or 3 precincts with a difference, and the difference in each case was 1 or 2, perhaps 3 votes all told.

If we'd recounted the entire state by hand, that result would have differed from the machine count by maybe two or three dozen votes at the very most, and probably a lot less than that. This is out of nearly 311,000 votes cast for our Senate seat.

The bottom line: Our system of counting votes works.

What doesn't "work" (at least beyond reproach) is our system of registering and verifying voters. It's basically alright, if you're a registered voter at a stable address who doesn't vote absentee. However, there are some glaring problems that need to be addressed, and our group will be writing up a white paper to be posted on our site that addresses the problems we notice during the recount (e.g., it is possible, though not very likely, to request an absentee ballot, get it in the mail, vote, return it by mail to the DOE, and then vote at your regular polling place and no one would be the wiser unless and until they checked the voter rolls and absentee lists).

What it all means is this: nearly 150,000 of my fellow Alaskans essentially voted to endorse nepotism. Frank Murkowski names his own daughter to fill out the remaining two years of his Senate seat after he's elected to the governor's mansion in 2002, and almost 150,000 Alaskans have no problem with that.

It goes to show the power of incumbency (in this case that of our senior Senator, Teddy Warbucks) and the ability of the Rove machine to grease the skids to ensure that LISA! won the state outright.

One thing is for certain: if a guy like Tony Knowles, a popular two-term former governor whose views and outlook is close to that of the majority of Alaskans, can't win here, we're royally fucked.

Another thing that is certain about all this: Lisa Murkowski will never, ever, have and independent voice all her own. Karl Rove and Ted Stevens now own her lock, stock and barrel and that's that. She'll do what she'd told, vote the way she's told, and march in lockstep with the fascists who've now hijacked her party.

The sad this is, I bet that at some level at least, she's quite well aware of that.

You've made your bed with them, Lisa. Now go sleep in it.

The rest of us will soldier on without you.

We don't need or want you.

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