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How the Citizens of the USA are Duped: The US Presidential Election-where the votes mean sheer nothing

The well attended conventions selecting the candidates for the US presidency, costing Americans millions of dollars, are over and these are the days when there are many debates watched by millions of Americans and millions of people outside . The contenders are debating at well attended gatherings, arguing assiduously for the better of America. The race is between Democrat Obama and Republican McCain and they are making hard proposals as to how the current economic crisis is to be solved. Today, the eighteenth of October with hardly three weeks for the election the candidates are concentrating on their attempts in swing States, giving everyone the impression that it is the vote on November 4 th that really matters in clinching a victory. Isn’t it sad that in the Mother of Democracies the voters have no say whatever in electing the President but they are also being duped- made to believe that they have a voice.
In reality the US Presidential Election of 2008 need not be held- because the outcome of the election does not mean anything in electing the President.

What is not said and what is forgotten by the contenders for the posts of President and Vice President is that in the case of the US Presidential Election there is no democratic process. It is perhaps a travesty of fate that in the home of the mightiest nation on Earth- the United States of America, a country that professes to uphold democracy, the chief executive- the President is not elected in any democratic manner. Brown the Republican contender for the post of Governor of the State of Montana pleads of his constituents for votes and states that the rumour spread by the Democrats that he is a vegetarian is not true. Montana is a meat loving State and he fears that he will lose votes.. Brown does need to worry because in every election in the USA the popular vote will determine the winner. But not so in the US Presidential Election .The contenders for the Presidency can debate, can argue to any extent but all that effort does not amount to anything. The mockery of it all is that the Envoys of the USA all over the world are advising the governments of sovereign countries to follow democratic principles and even hold them to ransom- by threatening sanctions- deny Aid and even interfere by sending their armed forces to take over countries in the name of democracy, when the USA does not elect its own president in any democratic manner.

Let us go to One-Party Communist Countries like Cuba- there the political process of electing the President can be said to be at least partially democratic because the people have the right to elect a leader of their choice from a panel of people nominated by the political party in power. In China the Communist Party has full control over every election above the local level and the candidates are approved by the Communist Party. In Iran all candidates have to be approved by the Guardian Council. Once the nomination process is over there are elections where the people have a choice and the winner is elected. In the United States the citizens do not have even that choice.

Let us go into detail as to how the people of the USA, are disenfranchised. To start with it is true that the people of America do really vote and it is on record that in the 2000 US Presidential Election, at certain polling precincts voters had to wait in queues for over six to ten hours. They are all made to think that their vote matters. After the elections the ballots are counted by voting machines and in case of any doubt there are manual counts and it was very amusing to see the ballots being sorted out by hanging chards and great pains were taken to count votes but except for scholars of the political process no one knows that though the count is totalled and solemnly declared with pomp and pageantry, it does not matter a whim because it is the Electors who actually vote to elect the President. In my own words:

Though direct presidential elections are held, each State has a slate of Electors who are free to vote according to their conscience. The US Constitution specifies that each State shall appoint in such a manner as the Legislature may direct a number of electors. The electors would nominate the president and the final vote will be by the House o f Representatives from the first five highest on the list. This means that the election of the president has been taken away from the people first by the Electors and then by the House of Representatives(The Administrative Bungling that Hijacked the 2000 US Presidential Election, The University Press of America)

The electors were expected to be wise men who would know the candidates best. The electors were expected to select the most suitable and able person, though not the most popular as dictated by the polling.

Why dupe the voters and the citizens of America. . As Dershowitz states: Fearful of mobocracy, they (the framers of the Constitution) created a governmental structure under which elites would check and balance the rabble.(Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000(Oxford).

Though intended by the framers of the Constitution to select the ablest person, in actual practice, with the inroads of party politics this idea did not hold water. As Jules Witcover states of the Electors: Far from being our elite, today the electors are more often than not political hacks given the task of a minor payoff for loyal service to the party.(No Way to Pick a President)

In my own words: It would be correct to state that the President is elected by the overt popular vote and the covert electoral vote. It is really decided by the electors: the vote of the citizens is only a façade, to make the citizens think that they are also consulted.(The Administrative Bungling…)

What a mockery!

It was the Supreme Court of the USA, the most supreme court that should uphold not only the ideals of democracy but also total fairplay, that decided to stop the manual counting of ballots in Florida in the 2000 US Presidential Election. Under the direction of the Florida Supreme Court, the disputed ballots were being manually recounted when the Federal Supreme Court ordered the count to be stopped. It was not a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court. It was decided by the Chief Justice with another four Justices, while the other four Justices dissented. The impropriety of the Supreme Court decision is expressed in the words of three of the dissenting Justices- In the interests of finality the majority(of the Justices) effectively orders the disenfranchisement of an unknown number of voters whose ballots reveal their intent and are therefore legal votes under State Law and for some reasons rejected by ballot counting machines.(USA TodayDec13,2000)

The Dissenting Judges were of the firm opinion that the case should be referred back to the Florida Supreme Court with the proviso that uniform standards should be applied in the recount. In fact as they say if that had been done there would there would have been no necessity for any intervention by the Supreme Court(The Administrative Bungling…)

In the words of James Thunder, Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at the American University: They(the Judges) have eroded public trust in representative democracy.

Thus went democracy out of the window in the case of the USA Presidential Election 2000. The Supreme Court is the most supreme judicial institution to adjudicate the laws of the country and they had no role to play in the election of the President. Instead the Presidential Selection Act confers on the Congress the power to decide if there is a deadlock.

In the case of the 2004 US Presidential Election the modus operandi to steal the people of their franchise was different. “ The people of America were robbed without their being aware that they were robbed. It was done in a very subtle manner, so subtle that many would not even imagine that anything wrong had really happened.”(Karunaratne: The Electronic Stealing of the 2004. US Presidential

The method used was to use the electronic voting machines to elect. In fact the process used made columnist Thom Hartman write:If you want to win an election, Just control the Voting Machines. The Voting Machines had notoriously malfunctioned again and again in every election. The worst case on record is what happened in Ohio, in 2000: This happened in an optical scan machine at Allamakee County in Iowa. When 300 ballots were fed the machine reported 4 million votes. The County Auditor tried the machine again and it repeated 4 million. The fault was so vast that it could not be ignored. As Bill Roe, the County Auditor said, “ We don’t have 4 million voters in the State of Iowa.”.(The Electronic Stealing…)

Similar discrepancies were quite common in the 2004 election as well as in other elections. As Professor Rebecca Mercuri, an authority on computers states: Fully electronic systems do not provide anyway that the voter can truly verify that the ballot cast corresponded to that being recorded, transmitted or tabulated. In the 2004 election as much as 80% of the ballots were tabulated and totalled by electronic voting machines.

The problem in the case of the 2004 US Presidential Election was that the voting machines functioned in a weird manner: There were umpteen differences between the number of voters who signed in at voting and the number of ballots counted. Again when a particular candidate’s name was touched n the voting machine, the name of a different candidate appeared on the screen and mistakes in tabulating and counting were common occurrences. For example; News Analysts from The Washington Despatch reported that in Palm Beach County the official website posted that 542,835 votes were cast at the election. However only a total of 454,427 voters had turned up at the election and this number included the absentee ballots that had been cast. This leaves a vast discrepancy of 88,408 votes.(Washington Post Nov 05,2005)

The worst was that many of the electronic voting machines did not have a paper documentation that could be used to manually check the veracity of the totals declared by the voting machines. There were many loopholes in the certification of the voting machines and whenever a breakdown occurred, technicians had to be called and the machines when mended had to be used without any certification. Overall the situation was so chaotic that though there were many instances of discrepancies Kerry could not call for a manual count because there was no paper documentation. One has to agree with Lynn Landes’s statement: There is no hard evidence of who really wins any election in America. Our voting system has been privatized and outsourced. Public control oversight is over. At this point in time America truly fits the definition of a fascist state.

With these details comes on the 2008 US Presidential Election, an election that is being truly being fought tooth and nail. Obama is on top and assassination attempts are even in the air. Let us hope that such an eventuality will not befall our leaders. The Democrats have tried again and again to get Congress to decide on a paper trail in every voting machine, but have failed to get a bill passed.
Isn’t it sad that in the mightiest of countries, equipped with the most sophisticated technology known to mankind, the US has so far failed in the simple task of handling an election. I can remember that in 2000, Fidel Castro, the President of Cuba offered his services to the United State of America when he came to know of the plight of the presidential election process in the USA. I was once an elections administrator in Sri Lanka and have functioned in charge of the supervision of polling and counting in several parliamentary elections. I can state emphatically that the election process can be assured for what happened in the 2000 and 2004 elections not to happen, but the he Electors have to be eliminated. In the words of the Editorial of The Chicago Tribune, Abolishing the Electoral College would be a welcome step towards a more democratic democracy (Nov.7, 2004)

While the election process is democratic in many countries it is sad that democratic principles have no say in electing the President of the USA, the most powerful personality on Earth.

It is up to the Congress and to the leadership in the USA to sort out this mess so that the democratic world can look up to the US for guidance once again.

By Garvin Karunaratne Ph.D (Michigan State University Author of The Administrative Bungling that Hijacked the 2000 US Presidential Election(The University Press of America), The Electronic Stealing of the 2004 US Presidential Election.

- Asian Tribune -

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