America’s Inglorious Tradition of Election Fraud: Any End in Sight? Part 3

L. Scott Smith


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Pathological Horrors.  The popular and electoral landslide for which Nixon yearned had always eluded him.[1]  In 1972, he ran for re-election against Senator George McGovern from Sout Dakota.  According to journalist Stewart Alsop, Nixon did not regard his opponent as a homme sérieux — a man  to be taken seriously.[2]

McGovern had been Nixon’s opponent of choice for the 1972 race.[3]  The South Dakotan did not disappoint; he was obviously short on personal charisma, and the lack of skill with which he managed his campaign was just as evident.  He accepted the Democratic nomination during the wee hours of the morning and so most Americans did not hear his acceptance address.[4]  A short time after becoming the Democratic nominee he was also compelled to find another running mate, when it was revealed that Senator Thomas Eagleton of Missouri had previously undergone electro-shock treatments for depression.[5]

Helping McGovern blaze a path to the nomination meant that Nixon’s re-election committee had to torpedo the campaign of the Democratic frontrunner, Senator Edmund G. Muskie of Maine, who enjoyed a reputation for calm and deliberate decision-making.  Donald Segretti, a low-level functionary in Nixon’s campaign, played “dirty tricks” on the Senator as he was vying for a primary victory in New Hampshire.  Segretti fabricated a letter, which purported to be written by Muskie to the Manchester Union Leader, referring to Canadian-Americans as “Cannocks” [sic].[6]  Segretti also fraudulently sent  the newspaper a second letter, which contained vicious slanders against Muskie’s wife.  Exhausted and overcome with emotion, the Senator unleashed a bitter, self-destructive attack against William Loeb, the owner of the newspaper. The diatribe ended Muskie’s presidential aspirations.[7]

Another Nixon operative was sent to Chappaquiddick Island to pose as a reporter in order to secure incriminating information against Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Nixon believed Kennedy might still attempt to run for the presidency although most considered the Senator’s dream shattered by the scandal of Mary Jo Kopeckne’s having drowned while a passenger in his vehicle.[8]

Nixon’s reprehensible actions against Democratic opponents were hardly necessary for his re-election.[9] His actions did, however, give new meaning to the term “overkill.”  His operatives also, in an infamous act of intrigue, burglarized the opposition’s campaign headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, in Washington, D.C.[10]  The subsequent cover-up, orchestrated by Nixon and his closest aids, resulted eventually in the revelation of the “White House horrors,”[11] which included but were not limited to the payment of “hush money,”[12] the offer of clemency to a Watergate burglar,[13] the plan to murder a journalist,[14] other covert break-ins and plots of break-ins,[15] the use of prostitutes to compromise Democratic politicians,[16] the utilization of the Internal Revenue Service against the chairman of the Democratic National Committee,[17] and the discovery of a White House “Enemies List.”[18]

Although Nixon was re-elected in 1972, he faced certain impeachment in the House of Representatives when his actions were made public. Instead of being impeached and standing trial, he resigned the presidency in disgrace in 1974.[19]

A Fictional Margin of Victory.  The outcome of the presidential election of 2000 between Texas Republican Governor George W. Bush and Democratic Vice President Albert A. Gore, Jr., much like the presidential election of 1876, came down to the count in Florida.[20]  Bush officially defeated Gore in the state by a total of 537 votes. His victory was undoubtedly aided by the fact that his brother Jeb was the governor of the state and that Katherine Harris, Florida’s secretary of state and top election-supervising official, was the co-chair of Bush’s presidential campaign in the state.[21]

There were glaring election irregularities throughout the state. Polls showed that fully 93 percent of African-Americans there supported Gore.[22]  Yet the fact was that 54 percent of the spoiled ballots were from largely African-American precincts.[23] In Gadsden County, for example, the only county in the state where Black voters represented a majority of the electorate, 1 in 8 votes was not counted.[24]  These figures, when compared with the spoilage rate in mostly White Leon County where less than 1 in 500 votes was thrown out, are staggering.[25]  Furthermore, in precincts with heavy African-American populations, there was not the same access to state-of-the-art voting machines as there was in affluent White precincts,[26]  so that those who would typically be voting for Gore were not using machines that detected erroneous votes and gave the voter additional tries to cast a technically correct vote.  Finally, approximately 58,000 black voters were placed on a no-vote list the purpose of which was to purge felons, decedents, and mentally incompetent persons from voter rolls.[27]  The list was filled with erroneous entries; for instance, at least 300 of the “felons” who were disqualified from voting were convicted of future crimes![28]

The way in which some of the absentee returns were processed was likewise suspect. In Seminole County, Bush led Gore in absentee votes by a margin of almost 2 to 1.[29]  Yet the application form used for a voter to receive an absentee ballot omitted any entry for a voter identification number as required by Florida law.  These numbers were illegally added to applications by local Republican representatives in order to allow  Republicans to receive an absentee ballot and to vote, although no such accommodation was given to applications by Democrats.[30]  Likewise troubling was the partial manner in which late overseas absentee ballots were administered. There were 2,400 of them, and 680 were flawed.  But, as it turned out, 50 percent of the flawed votes for Bush were accepted as opposed to only 18 percent of those for Gore.[31]

Another problem was that the design of the ballot in parts of Florida was confusing.  Patrick Buchanan, an arch conservative, who had expressed doubts about the extent of the Holocaust,[32] was running on the Reform Ticket. Voters in Palm Beach County, from heavily Jewish precincts, were instructed to punch the space on the butterfly ballot corresponding to the candidate for which they desired to vote.  The difficulty they encountered stemmed from the fact that Gore was listed second on the ballot, while voting for him meant punching the third space.[33]  Punching the second space translated into a vote for Buchanan, who received an incredible 3,407 votes in the county.[34] After the election, many Jewish voters expressed concern that they had miscast their votes for Buchanan.  Even Buchanan himself doubted the validity of the returns and admitted that “this vote is much larger than one would expect from us.”[35]

America seemed headed for a constitutional crisis, since the national election  hinged upon the Florida count, which remained in dispute. On December 8, 2000, the Florida Supreme Court ordered a statewide manual recount.[36] Yet, on December 12, the United States Supreme Court, in a highly controversial decision,[37] which many observers thought reeked of partisan politics, ruled that Harris’s certified returns should stand and that no further recounting was permissible. Chief Justice Rehnquist, along with Justices Scalia, Thomas, O’Connor, and Kennedy — all Republican appointees — made up the majority.

Whether Bush really won the election may never be known, but it is clear, as one noted authority maintains, that Bush’s “537-vote margin was essentially a fictional number that had no grounding in reality, except that it would make him the 43rd president of the United States.”[38] And in case you think that electing Bush was better than electing Gore, think of the Iraq war and the fact that the Bush administration was dominated by neoconservatives and a proponent of globalist policies on trade and immigration. And of course, the mindset that the end justifies the means is exactly what motivates much voter fraud historically.

Summary. Highlighting a few past elections provides at best a cursory sampling of election fraud in America. To regard the problem as sporadic, however, would be woefully mistaken. Election fraud is ingrained into, and has become a traditional part of, the landscape of America’s political culture.  It is, for this reason, easy to underscore many other election improprieties, which disgrace the pages of American history.  One might point to the “corrupt bargain” that defeated Andrew Jackson’s bid for the presidency and elected John Quincy Adams in 1828;[39] the stealing of votes, especially in the state of New York, that defeated Henry Clay and swept James K. Polk into the White House in 1844;[40] the illegal adoption in 1857 of the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution in “bleeding Kansas;”[41] John Whallen’s iron-fisted control over the electoral process in Louisville, Kentucky during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,[42] along with the history of labor unrest, electoral fraud, and violence in the state’s “bloody” Harlan County;[43] the dismally corrupt elections in St. Louis, specifically, the bond election in 1935 that paved the way for the construction of the Gateway Arch;[44] the intimidation of African-Americans that kept them from the polls during the infamous Jim Crow era;[45] the sordid history of stolen elections in Louisiana’s Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes, especially during the middle third of the twentieth century;[46] the electoral thuggery that advanced and sustained the political career of Georgia’s Herman Talmadge;[47] the alleged denial by Ohio’s Secretary of State, who chaired the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio, of all requests from non-partisan organizations to establish impartial observation and monitoring procedures to govern the conduct of the presidential election in that state, as well as his denial after the election of public access to all tally sheets and other documents pertaining to the vote;[48] the blatantly irresponsible and illegal registration of voters by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform (ACORN) in 2008;[49] and the fact in the 2012 presidential election that registered voters in precincts of key swing states, such as Ohio, Florida, and Colorado, exceeded the number of eligible voters and that voter turnout in those precincts was suspiciously high.[50]


[1] Richard Curtis, Hubris and the Presidency: The Abuse of Power by Johnson and Nixon  (New York:Rutledge Books, 2000), 126. See Summers, The Arrogance, 434.

[2] Stewart Alsop, “The Serious Man,” Newsweek, Jan. 22, 1973, 81:304.

[3] Summers, The Arrogance, 402.

[4] George McGovern, “Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination,”  July 14, 1972,  http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=25967See Ken Rudin, “The Worst Acceptance Speech?,” NPR, Sept. 9, 2004,  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=3903470.

[5] Jon Meacham, “Through the Looking Glass of Veep Picks,” Time, Aug. 6, 2012,  http://ideas.time.com/2012/08/06/through-the-looking-glass-of-veep-picks/.

[6] Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward, All the King’s Men  (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2005), 129.

[7] Summers, The Arrogance, 381.  Edward Sanders, “The Sabotage of the Presidential Campaign of Senator Edmund Muskie 1971-72,” Woodstockjournal.com, http://www.woodstockjournal.com/elections.html.

[8] Summers, The Arrogance, 378-380.

[9] Ibid., 408, 411.

[10] Ibid., 425-7.

[11] The Watergate Hearings: Break-in and Cover-up  (New York: Viking Press 1973), 378 (quoting John Mitchell).

[12] Ibid., 444-5

[13] Matt Schudel, “John Caulfield Offered Watergate Burglar Clemency for Silence,” Washington Post, June 25, 2012,  http://www.bendbulletin.com/article/20120625/NEWS0107/206250326/.

[14] Summers, The Arrogance, 407.

[15] Ibid., 359, 386, 390, 391-3.

[16] Ibid., 418.

[17] Ibid., 435.

[18] Ibid., 378, 408.

[19] “Richard Nixon,” The History Place: Presidential Impeachment Proceedings, http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/impeachments/nixon.htm.

[20] Campbell, Deliver, 292-320.

[21] Ibid., 296.  Gumbel, Steal, 211.  Spencer Overton has pointed out that, in 33 states, the secretary of state or some other election director is an elected partisan like Katherine Harris. Spencer Overton, Stealing Democracy 32 (New York: W.W. Norton, 2006), 32.

[22] Campbell, Deliver, 315.

[23] Ibid., 311.

[24] Ibid., 312.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Gumbel, Steal, 207.

[27] Campbell, Deliver,  312.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid., 315.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid., 309.

[32] Ibid., 298.

[33] Florida 2000 Presidential Vote: Famous Butterfly Ballot, at http://arts.bev.net/roperldavid/politics/fl20000.htm.

[34] Campbell, Deliver, 298.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Gore v. Harris, 772 S2d 1243 (2000).

[37] Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000) (per curiam) (ruling (1) that the Florida Supreme Court’s method for recounting votes constituted a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, since there was a lack of equal treatment of all ballots cast in the state and (2) that no alternative method could be established within the time limits established under U.S.C., Title 3, § 5, thereby effectively deciding the 2000 Presidential election in favor of George W. Bush).

[38] Campbell, Deliver, 320.

[39] Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln  (New York: W. W. Norton, 2005), 255-57.

[40] Campbell, Deliver, 20, 24-25 (pointing out that Polk won New York by only 5,106 votes, that 55,000 votes were cast compared to 41,000 eligible voters, and that if Clay had not been victimized by the Tammany machine and had won the state’s 34 electoral votes, he would have won the presidency).

[41] Wilentz, The Rise, 717.

[42] Campbell, Deliver, 114-35 See Duane Bolin, “The Whallen Brothers in the Falls City,” Murray Ledge & Times, Apr. 16, 2012, at http://murrayledger.com/opinion/columns/home_and_away/the-whallen-brothers-in-the-falls-city/article_6f29ee36-87eb-11e1-aed5-001a4bcf887a.html.

[43] George J. Titler, Hell in Harlan, 162-7,  http://www.carlestes.com/hellinharlan.pdf .

[44] Campbell, Deliver, 162-91.

[45] Michael O’Malley, “A Blood Red Record: the 1890s and American Apartheid,” History 122, http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/news/jimcrow/links/misclink/1890s/homepage.htm.  

[46] Campbell, Deliver, 198-9.

[47] Ibid., 215-22.

[48] Michelle Mairesse, “How American Elections Became a Criminal Enterprise (pt. 2),” Hermes Press.com, March 11, 2006, 7,  http://www.hermes-press.com/criminal_vote2.htm.

[49] James Simpson, “The Left’s National Vote Fraud Conspiracy Exposed,” Accuracy in Media, http://www.aim.org/special-report/the-lefts-national-vote-fraud-strategy-exposed/.

[50] Aaron Gardner, “Colorado Counties Have More Voters than People,” RedState, Nov. 25, 2012, http://www.redstate.com/2012/09/04/colorado-counties-have-more-voters -than-people/ (noting that Gilpin and Hinsdale Counties had 110 percent of their populations registered to vote); “BREAKING: St Lucie County Florida Had 141.1% Turnout; Obama Won County,” Pundit Press, Nov.  9, 2012, http://www.punditpress.com/2012/11/breaking-st-lucie-county-florida-had.html (pointing out that actual voters in St. Lucie County, Florida outnumbered eligible ones); Stephen Feller,“Voter Fraud Charges Begin in Ohio,” NEWSMAX, Nov. 3, 2012,  http://www.newsmax.copm/Headline/Ohio-voter-registration-fraud/2012/11/03/id/462674 (noting that many suspect voter registration cards were discovered in Ohio and that “officials fear[ed] that [it might] be a groundswell of thousands more to come.”); Christopher Collins, “Voter Fraud, Illegal Activities Reported in Several States,” Examiner.com, Nov. 11, 2012, http://www.examiner.com/article/voter-fraud-illegal-activities-reported-several-states (reporting that dozens of counties in Ohio had Obama suspiciously winning 100 percent of the vote).

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