[UPDATED twice at end of article.]
Nobody in the South Carolina Democratic Party had ever heard of Alvin Greene, the jobless candidate for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, before he reportedly defeated state legislator Vic Rawl last Tuesday. That, despite the jobless candidate's lack of actual campaigning, campaign website, or even spending any money on a campaign as far as anyone can tell. And there remain questions at this hour, as to where he even came up with the $10,440 filing fee to get on the ballot in the first place. Greene's interview on MSNBC last night is one of the most bizarre ever seen on television (full video posted at end of article).
Unless something changes between now and November, however, Greene's inexplicable victory will pit him against the state's often-controversial, and far-Rightwing Republican incumbent, Sen. Jim DeMint.
But where some have suggested Greene was a "plant" in the race, experts now examining the actual election result data from both SC's unverifiable Election Day touch-screen machines and its electronically counted paper-ballot absentee voting system are noting "curious" and even "staggering" disparities, suggesting what some Election Integrity experts are describing at this hour as "clear signs of ELECTION FRAUD in South Carolina"...
The 'Plant' Theory
SC's Democratic U.S. House Rep. Jim Clyburn has suggested Greene may be a "plant" by the GOP, though Greene has denied that. Clyburn also believes, with some interesting evidence to back it up, that the candidate who ran unsuccessfully him, and even a third candidate on the ballot last Tuesday, might similarly be plants.
But the "plant" theory doesn't explain the extraordinary numbers that Greene reportedly received at the polls on Tuesday, if not in the absentee voting. While it's possible all of this could be an issue of dirty tricks by Republicans who are allowed to vote in SC's open primary, there were, apparently, no known efforts by the GOP to push for Greene votes --- certainly not enough to account for the staggering 59 to 41 victory Greene reportedly sailed to on Tuesday.
'Staggering' E-Vote 'Red Flags'
So, what else, besides or in addition to the "plant" theory, could account for Greene's remarkable "victory"?
South Carolina uses ES&S' 100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, in this case touch-screen) voting machines at the polling place. The machines, also used in many other states (such as Arkansas, where we recently reported exclusively on the disappearance of thousands of votes on May 18th, which neither state nor local officials are able to explain to this day) are both oft-failed and easily manipulated in such a way that it's almost impossible to detect the systems have been gamed.
As we've written, nearly every time there is an election in South Carolina, whoever the machines end up announcing as the "winner," will likely be the winner, since there is literally no way to guarantee that even a single vote ever cast on such machines was actually recorded as per the voter's intent. It's an insane way to run a democracy, as The BRAD BLOG has spent years, and literally thousands of articles, trying to point out.
Last night, we snarkily Tweeted to that end:
Today, however, we're delighted to see that actual mainstream media are beginning to note the disparities in the patterns of absentee paper-ballot voting versus the polling place results as cast and recorded on ES&S's 100% faith-based voting machines --- the very same machines which have been decertified in state after state, based on repeated scientific reports on their multiple vulnerabilities.
The disparities being found by "three different teams" of unnamed "national academic experts," in their early comparisons between result patterns in the Election Day DRE-tallied "ballots" and the optically-scanned absentee paper ballots are already startling, and raising serious red flags suggesting electronic vote tampering...even as reported in the corporate mainstream media today.
As reported by Politico this morning (yes, Politico!):
According to [Rawl campaign manager Walter] Ludwig, of the state's 46 counties, half have a disparity of greater than 10 percentage points between the absentee and election day ballots.
"The election day ballots all favor Mr. Greene. We don't know what it means," Ludwig said in an interview. "We did significantly better on absentees than Election Day, which is according to the mathematicians, quite significant. The other reason is, it didn't happen in any other races on the ballot."
In Lancaster County, Rawl won absentee ballots over Greene by a staggering 84 percent to 16 percent margin; but Greene easily led among Election Day voters by 17 percentage points.
In Spartanburg County, Ludwig said there are 25 precincts in which Greene received more votes than were actually cast and 50 other precincts where votes appeared to be missing from the final count.
"In only two of 88 precincts, do the number of votes Greene got plus the number we got equal the total cast," Ludwig said.
Greene also racked up a 75 percent or greater margin in one-seventh of all precincts statewide, a mark that Ludwig notes is even difficult for an incumbent to reach.
Those are some remarkable numbers already, and we even heard them picked up by MSNBC earlier today (yes, MSNBC!)
'Rigging the Machines'
Election integrity experts --- those who are wiling to actually be named --- are already drawing a bead on SC's e-voting system, as much, or more so, than the "plant" theory.
NYU media professor Mark Crispin Miller, author of two books on the issue, Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform and Loser Take All: Election Fraud and The Subversion of Democracy, 2000 - 2008 [Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG is heavily cited in the former, and contributed an investigative chapter to the latter] sent a note to his sizeable e-mail list this morning citing "clear signs of ELECTION FRAUD in South Carolina."
"With DRE machines deployed statewide (and op-scans used to "count" the absentee ballots), stealing Greene's race would be a cinch," Miller wrote. "Nor is there any reason whatsoever to believe the numbers tossed out by ES&S, the right-wing private company that makes and maintains both those DREs and op-scans."
Miller quotes an email from Jonathan Simon, co-founder and Executive Director of the Election Defense Alliance, asking "Let's assume Greene was a plant, how does that get him 59% of the votes statewide?"
Simon, a long-time critic of e-voting, known for reporting on the extraordinary and still-unexplained disparities between Election Night results and Exit Polls in the 2004 Presidential race, suspects foul-play on the machines.
"[Greene] was a complete unknown to all voters, D and R. There was no campaign, period, certainly not to Democratic voters, and no evidence at all of one to GOP voters urging them to crossover vote in the D primary (the strategy that was credited with some bizarre results in D primaries in 2008)."
"So, whether Greene was or a plant or not can't really be the issue: you can plant a guy in a race but you can't get him 59% of the vote --- unless you're rigging the machines."
He went on to point to the same concerns we'd Tweeted last night in regard to the unverifiable ES&S voting system used across the state, and called for the machines to be impounded immediately for investigation.
"The machines are ES&S no-paper-trail DREs, 100% pure, unadulterated faith-based voting. The only question that I want to ask is why James Clyburn and Keith Olbermann and everybody else are focusing on the candidates, when it is so blatantly obvious that they should be talking about the DRE machines. Time to impound a few of those suckers, assuming the code is not self-deleting."
The BRAD BLOG has long called for federal law requiring the 22-month retention of all election-related materials to be applied to the sensitive memory cards used in voting systems to both program the "ballot" and record voter preferences. Routinely, those memory cards, which are likely to hold evidence of either manipulation or failure, if there is any in an election, are erased with days or weeks following an election.
Democrats in South Carolina would do well to get to court immediately and ask for not just an impounding of the machines themselves, but of those memory cards before the important information on them is deleted for good.
Will Corporate Media follow the trail this time?
Simon added one other noteworthy thought in his email, regarding the corporate mainstream media's astounding lack of willingness, generally, to even broach the issue of machine-based election fraud at all.
"AOL 'Politics Daily' moderators apparently thought my Comment questioning the veracity of the DRE counts was 'not a constructive contribution' to the dialogue and accordingly blocked it from publication. Don't know whether to cry or laugh. I wonder why the riggers decided to go this far out on the limb: inebriation, stupidity, hubris, or just because they know they can?"
We don't know, of course, whether there were "riggers" or not at this hour. But we can certainly confirm the corporate media's years-long propensity to examine every other explanation for such anomalous elections, except for the one which might also be the most obvious.
Neither Simon nor Miller had likely seen Politico's report yet, as quoted above, when their emails were sent out. That report, though it doesn't specifically discuss the possibilities of e-voting manipulation out loud, certainly begins to draw an inescapable focus on the possibility --- for a refreshing change.
This story sounds as if it is likely to have legs. We'll see if the corporate mainstream media have the courage --- and intellectual honesty --- to begin focusing on what would seem to be the obvious first suspect here --- the e-voting system --- or whether they'll take a sudden turn, as they often do, and settle for more more speculative reasons for Alvin Greene having "won" the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in South Carolina.
As ES&S is the largest concealed vote-counting vendor in the nation, and millions of votes will be cast on its systems --- and those of the few other companies whose machines are equally vulnerable, but used across the entire nation anyway --- between here and November, we won't be surprised at all if the media determine it's better to ignore the issue entirely, rather than risk informing the public that the entire voting system on which our "democracy" rests, is built entirely on systems which are easily manipulated in such a way that is virtually impossible to detect...unless one actually bothers to try and do so...
UPDATE 4:54pm PT: Tom Schaller at FiveThirtyEight.com examines another possible explanation for Greene's "victory," the idea that it had something to do with race, as Greene is African American and Rawl is white.
Schaller's findings, based on his statistical analysis of voting patterns in each county compared to the share of non-white registrants in each:
He offers hard data for his conclusion, including details from overwhelmingly white counties that went for Greene in enormous numbers, while majority non-white counties barely gave Greene the edge over Rawl.
He also has an email from Rawl's campaign manager Ludwig, which offers further details on just how bizarre Greene's victory was. Here's a sample:
We, on the other hand, while we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on primary, we did do 220,000 robocalls (including one with Rep. John Spratt), and sent out about 250,000 emails in the five days before election. So, yes, we weren’t well known, but we had gone to 80 events around the state, and Rawl had some public profile previously, especially in Charleston County.
UPDATE 9:08pm PT: FiveThirtyEight's Tom Schaller follows-up to say that the race is getting "getting weirder by the hour," to cite new analyses by statisticians suggesting "something smells fishy," and narrowing down the possibilities of what could have happened here to just two --- one of which involves "a very devious manipulation of the vote returns". Full details now here...
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann interviews South Carolina's mystery Democratic U.S. Senate nominee, Alvin Greene, on 6/10/10...