Something stinks. Not just an ordinary low tide smell. Not like something you’d blame on the dog. It smells like an infection. For me to plug my nose, I’d have to overlook some curious facts.
In Alaska, more people voted for George W. Bush in 2004 than for Sarah Palin on Tuesday despite an identical 61-36 margin of victory. Yes. Only four years ago 54,304 Alaskans got off their sofas and voted for Bush, but decided to sit home and not vote for Palin in 2008. In turn, I have to ignore the 30,520 Alaskans who felt progressive enough in 2004 to vote for John Kerry, but weren’t inspired to vote for Barack Obama. I would have to glance past the 1,700% increase in the Democratic caucus in February, the 20,991 newly registered voters, and the three largest political rallies in Alaska’s history. I would also have to forget the people I stood in a long line with to early vote. It would be helpful not to know every other presidential election since Alaska began keeping records has had a larger turn out than the one we just had with our own Governor on the ticket. Try not to remember 12.4% more Alaskans showed up for the August primary as compared to four years ago, before the Palin nomination. Don’t think about the Lower 49’s record voter turn out this year either. Try to delete the memory file, though difficult, that 80% of us approved of Sarah Palin just two months ago.
Something stinks. You don’t care? Obama won. Yes. He. Did! Free at Last! Wait. Democracy demands all of the votes be counted…if you can find them.
In the balance hangs the fate of Alaska’s Senate and House seats. We still don’t know if we have elected the now convicted felon Ted Stevens, or Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. We still don’t know if Don Young and his million dollar legal problems will defeat former State Representative Ethan Berkowitz and his dreams of Washington DC. Alaska hasn’t had Democrat representation in Congress since Mike Gravel lost his senate seat in 1980.
Four years ago, 313,592 out of 474,740 registered voters in Alaska participated in the election-a 66% turnout. Taking into account 49,000 outstanding ballots, on Tuesday 272,633 out of 495,731 registered Alaskans showed up at the polls; a turnout of 54.9%. That’s a decrease of more than 11% in voter turnout even though passions ran high for and against Barack Obama, as well as for and against Sarah Palin! This year, early voters set a new record. As of last Thursday, with 4 days left to vote early, 15,000 Alaskans showed up-shattering the old record set in 2004 by 28%! Consider the most popular governor in history-and now the most polarizing-was on the Republican ticket. Consider the historic nature of this race; the first African American presidential candidate EVER! The second woman to ever make a presidential ticket; and she’s one of our own. Despite that, we’re supposed to believe that overall participation DECREASED by 11%. Not only that, but this historic election both nationally and for Alaska HAD THE LOWEST ALASKA TURNOUT FOR A PRESIDENTIAL RACE EVER!!! That makes sense. REALLY??? Something stinks.
But wait, there’s more…
Pre election polls had both Mark Begich-D and Ethan Berkowitz-D solidly beating incumbents Senator Ted Stevens and Congressman Don Young by at least 6-10 points. Stevens is currently ahead by 3,353 votes with 49,000 ballots left to count. Berkowitz, however, is behind by 16,887 votes; a 51-43 margin.
Are we to believe Don Young came from an 8 point average polling deficit to win by 8 points-a whopping 16 point turnaround??? Remember how historic the pundits thought Hillary Clinton’s come from behind New Hampshire Primary victory was? She trailed Barack Obama by 9% in the pre primary polls and ended up winning by 2 points. It was called the most “stunning comeback in political history.” On Election Night, Don Young topped Hillary Clinton’s startling and unprecedented comeback.
Furthermore, there were nearly three thousand Alaskans, (2,783) that voted yet left the hotly contested congressional race blank. In the highly publicized senate race, complete with a nationally covered trial that ended with seven felony convictions for the incumbent, 1,392 Alaskans submitted a ballot and failed to register a vote in the senate race. I’m not sure statistically what that means, but it strikes me as odd that well over a thousand Alaskans would wait in long lines and not cast a vote in either the senate race or the congressional race-especially since there was only one ballot measure. In addition, this particular election had an extra high degree of local interest with Governor Palin on the national stage.
McCain-Palin was ahead in Alaska pre election polling by as much as 55-40. The Haysresearch Poll that came out Sunday indicated that gap had closed to 2.7 points! That poll was certainly consistent with Palin’s reverse meteoric fall in popularity within the state of Alaska. In that same Haysresearch Poll released on November 2, Question 2 addressed Governor Palin’s positive-negative rating. 11% of Alaskans surveyed said their opinion of Palin had become more positive while 37% indicated they were more negative towards Palin. Yesterday’s vote contradicts those polls. McCain-Palin won Alaska 61-36! A 25 POINT SPREAD!!! An identical point spread as the 2004 Election.
Alaska has certainly had our share of election hanky panky. Check out this link to our 2004 election results. There are 40 districts in Alaska. The Anchorage area districts run from District 17-District 32. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and pick any district from 17-32. Pay particular attention to the 3rd column labeled % turnout. Hit the back arrow and select another district. There are more precincts with voter turnout over 100% than under 100%. In other words, many more people voted in Anchorage area precincts than there were registered voters. Clearly, this is not possible.
In 2006, the Democrats filed a lawsuit against the Alaska Division of Elections to release public records needed to verify the 2004 election results. The Democrats also sought to have the Alaska Division of Elections release the raw data for the 2006 election. The State requested several deadline extensions and eventually refused to release the “central tabulator data file” taken from the Diebold-supplied computer used to run the “GEMS” (Global Election Management Software) application. A lawsuit was filed in Superior Court seeking release of the records. The Court eventually forced the State to release the 2004 database. The software was found to contain hundreds of edits after the 2004 election, including as late as July of 2006, prior to the release of the data.
With all that history, and the bizarre anomalies in polling and voting and reports from the field of ballots not being scanned on-site due to broken machines, could this election have been stolen?
The world is watching Alaska’s US Senate race. When President-Elect Barack Obama is sworn in on January 20, he will be greeted by a Senate with at least 57 Democrats-three shy of a filibuster-proof majority. And, there are still three hotly contested US Senate races that are too close to call; Georgia, Minnesota and Alaska. Just when we thought we were out of the national spotlight…
I’ve always said if Democracy was a religion, voting would be the sacrament. I’m wondering if someone stole the body and blood of this election. I’m wondering if the wine isn’t poisoned. Take a few whiffs. Breathe deeply. See if you don’t come to the same conclusion. Where are the votes? Something stinks at the Alaska Division of Elections.
Here are two other great sources:
Brad Friedman writes about this here
Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com writes about this here