Was the 2004 Election Stolen?
by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
"I'm not confident that the election in Ohio was fairly decided."
-- Howard Dean
"Ohio was as dirty an election as America has ever seen."
-- Lou Harris, father of modern political polling
In the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. investigates a GOP voting scandal in the 2004 presidential election that virtually guaranteed another four years in the White House for George W. Bush. Surveying reports by federal officials, election scholars, and voter advocates, Kennedy finds that in Ohio alone, a critical battleground state, Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters -- the overwhelming majority of them Democratic -- from casting ballots or having their votes counted. In a race decided by only 118,607 votes, he concludes, these votes could have been enough to put Senator John Kerry in the White House. In his article Was the 2004 Election Stolen?, Kennedy also uncovers evidence of outright fraud that may have shifted more than 80,000 rural votes from Kerry to Bush. The primary culprit behind the widespread barriers to voting was Ken Blackwell -- now the GOP candidate for governor of Ohio -- who used his powers as secretary of state to purge tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, create long lines in Democratic precincts, and oversee a rigged recount. Says Rep. Dennis Kucinich, "The secretary of state is supposed to administer elections, not throw them. The election in Ohio in 2004 stands out as an example of how, under color of law, a state election official can frustrate the exercise of the right to vote."
Kennedy investigates numerous election night irregularities including the monumental discrepancies between exit polls and actual voter count. As the last polling stations closed on the West Coast, the polls showed Kerry ahead in ten of eleven battleground states. But as the evening progressed, official tallies began to show implausible disparities – as much as 9.5 percent – with the exit polls. I. In ten of the eleven battleground states, the tallied margins departed from what the polls had predicted. In every case, the shift favored Bush. Based on exit polls, CNN had predicted Kerry defeating Bush in Ohio by a margin of 4.2 percentage points. Instead, election results showed Bush winning the state by 2.5 percent. Bush also tallied 6.5 percent more than the polls had predicted in Pennsylvania, and 4.9 percent more in Florida.
According to Steven F. Freeman, a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in research methodology, the odds against all three of those shifts occurring in concert are one in 660,000. "As much as we can say in sound science that something is impossible," he says, "it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote count in the three critical battleground states of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error."
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Rolling Stone spent four months investigating the 2004 election in Ohio, interviewed dozens of election officials, pollsters, candidates, voter advocates, and political scientists, and reviewed reports by federal officials, statisticians, voter advocates and journalists. Kennedy's article, Was the 2004 Election Stolen? appears in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone, on sale nationwide, Friday, June 2.