Are Americans really talking about “stealing elections”?

James Moore, the author of The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power and co-author of Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential, was asked by Amy Goodman what to make of Rove’s confidence going into the elections. Rove has said:

Unlike the general public, I’m allowed to see the polls on the individual races, and, after all, this does come to individual contests between individual candidates… I’m looking at all these, Robert, and adding them up, and I add up to a Republican Senate and a Republican House. You may end up with a different math, but you’re entitled to your math, I’m entitled to the math.

In response, Moore said:

The problem is that when Karl Rove says these kinds of things, it immediately spawns conspiracy theories and a number of other things related to electronic voting and voter suppression and any number of other things, that he has the confidence that they can turn an election and keep it, quote/unquote, “close enough to steal.” Whether Karl Rove knows bad things that the rest of us don’t know is what’s causing a lot of people concern right now.

It is a serious thing to accuse Rove and the GOP of election stealing. Moore isn’t making that allegation, but it strikes me as amazing that people in the United States are even talking about it. There have always been nutjob conspiracy theorists, but here we have a pretty entrenched view that there’s been a nasty whiff around recent elections. I don’t know if elections have been “stolen.” But how did it get to the point that we’re even suspecting such a thing could be possible?



  1. 1. The Diebold machines can be hacked into with relative ease.

    2. All other evidences of Republicans using dirty tricks to stay in power. Too many to name off here. But for example, Tom DeLay’s unconstitutional efforts to create a permanent Republican majority in Texas.

    Whether accurate or not, whether Rove is inside the heads of all Democrats or not, the evidence casts enough doubt that legitimate people are actually concerned that this vote might be stolen.


  2. Dan,

    You give me two choices.

    1. Elections are being stolen.
    2. US politics has brought us to the point that people think they are being stolen (but they aren’t).

    Either choice is depressing in its own way.


  3. Ronan, I think the electronic voting contributes a lot to the current mindset. There has been turmoil in Maryland over it this year. In my county, Montgomery, a couple of top election officials were fired for their handling of the primary after problems with the new machines. Gov. Ehrlich encouraged earlier voting in the general election to avoid similar problems on Nov. 7. That is apalling to me: the head of the state government doubting the ability to run the polls properly on election day. Electronic voting is being pushed ahead too fast without regard of the need to build trust in this voting method and maintain trust in the whole system.

    I think Karl Rove is blowing smoke in the quotes above. Good polls cost money, and whenever they show something favorable to the party paying for them, press releases go out. The only secret polls Rove would know about are ones that don’t look good for his party.


  4. And I hear O’Malley reckons it’s a ploy by Ehrlich to get people not to bother voting. I mean, wow. We have nasty, nasty politics over here (ever seen PM’s Questions?), but I can’t remember this level of cynicism over the voting mechanism.

    Let me make a suggestion. Regardless of whether any of it’s true, the fact is many people think it’s true and that’s damaging to democracy and makes America look like a Banana Republic. So: why not have a non-partisan commission into voting across the US. Seems to me like confidence in the system needs to be restored. Has something like this been done?


  5. Voter suppression is well documented. Kenneth Blackwell prided himself forcing African American voters to stand in line for hours by not assigning enough equipment to high turn out precincts, for example.

    The NAACP documents voter suppression efforts in many states. It’s part of American politics.

    The biggest problem is that the elections are not administered by career civil servants but by elected officials and their appointments. The stakes are high, the opportunity is there. Of course, they cannot resist the temptation of gaming the system.

    As the oldest democracy in the world, the United States needs some serious institutional updates when it comes to the rule of law. That includes the execution of fair elections. One has to insulate elections better from majoritarian influence.


  6. Ronan,

    depends on how you define a democracy. The one I’m guessing Hellmut goes by is that at least 50% of the male population got a chance to vote. That would be America in like 1828, if I recall correctly.

    I’m really concerned about the robocalls that TalkingPointsMemo‘s Josh Marshall documents. That’s some scary stuff.


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