2002 general election
The 2002 general election saw a Republican sweep across the nation. Such an effect was especially pronounced in the South, where popular Democrats were unexpectedly defeated. A surge in support for Bush after 9/11 served as a convincing political explanation for the GOP victories. But 2002 was also the year that electronic voting machines came into wide use in the wake of the Florida recount disaster. These new machines, riddled with security issues and set up by a handful of private companies, made the vote impossible to verify. Tellingly, the exit polls were so far off that the media was too embarrassed to even publish them.
The VNS never released its 2002 exit polls. At first, they claimed it was due to a system glitch, but VNS actually withheld the exit polls because they appeared shamefully inaccurate. VNS saw it as a continuation of the trend that began with the 2000 Florida election, which had a 6.6% exit poll miss in Al Gore's favor. But the red shift discrepancy in Florida's 2000 election was most likely due to miscounted votes, and the proliferation of exit poll discrepancies in 2002 coinciding with the rise of computerized vote counting simply extrapolated that trend nationally. The 2002 exit polls gave an eerie sign of widespread computerized election fraud.
Electronic vote rigging
The exit polls, whose first major miss was 2 years prior in the 2000 Florida election beset with irregularities, were too far off for the media to even release in 2002. And just as much of Florida's red shift could be tied to electronic voting machines, the 2002 election had credible occurrences of electronic vote theft in multiple states: Georgia and Alabama in particular. Nationwide, more states than ever used electronic voting machines, a move accelerated by the "hanging chad" debacle of 2000. A large swath of the country was ripe for vote theft, and both direct and indirect evidence shows that it happened.
Main article: 2002 Georgia general election
Georgia experienced multiple shocking Republican upsets. Popular Democrats like Senator Max Cleland and Governor Roy Barnes were defeated when the pre-election polls consistently predicted a victory. There were political explanations concocted, but few considered that 2002 was also the year paperless Diebold touchscreens were introduced to Georgia, leaving the vote in the hands of a private corporation and impossible to verify. In fact, multiple whistleblowers reported that several uncertified patches were installed before the election, including one which oddly came directly from Diebold's president.
Main article: 2002 Alabama general election
Democratic incumbent Don Siegelman initially won a tight race for governor, but overnight, GOP election officials recounted the votes in Baldwin County and swung the election to Republican challenger Bob Riley. A statistical analysis found that the Baldwin County results were fraudulent, and Siegelman was the true winner. However, the Republican attorney general sealed the ballots to prevent a recount. That same attorney general, along with a cadre of GOP power players, would later take part in a politically-motivated criminal prosecution of Siegelman.
Following his suspect victory in 1996, Chuck Hagel was easily reelected to the Senate in 2002. He won with 83% of the vote, the largest victory in Nebraska's history. However, statistical analysis indicates that much of his winning margin was fraudulent. Hagel almost certainly still won in a landslide, but by a lesser amount than reported. The likely purpose was to give him the appearance of overwhelming support and prepare him for a presidential run (which never materialized).
Related article: Paul Wellstone
After the contentious 2000 election and the divided Congress that resulted, Republicans swept the nation at every level with a series of victories in 2002. Their success was attributed to a nation that rallied around Bush and the GOP after 9/11. But the evidence of fraud in multiple states, the extreme nationwide exit poll discrepancies, and the rise of electronic voting machines occurring at the same time make election fraud a major player in the Republican sweep as well.
- Dave Tarr and Bob Benenson, Elections A to Z, p.196: "The low point for national exit polling came in 2002, when early counts, or “runs,” of survey results on election day turned up percentages for competing candidates that appeared (and in many cases turned out to be) so inaccurate that the TV networks' polling combine withheld and never published them."
- Statistical analysis of Hagel's elections
- Dave McGowan, "Newsletter #22: Special Election 2002 Edition", 2002/11/13
- TomPaine.com, "No Exit" - exit polls had Democrats doing better than the official results
- 2002 pre-election polls
- BartCop, "Diebold Magic?"
- Lynn Landes, "2002 Elections: Republican Voting Machines, Election Irregularities, and "Way-Off" Polling Results", 2002/11/08: "Meanwhile, I called John Zogby of the highly respected Zogby International. I asked him if over the years he had noticed increased variation between pre-election predictions and election results. Zogby said that he didn't notice any big problems until this year. Things were very different this time. "I blew Illinois. I blew Colorado (and Georgia). And never in my life did I get New Hampshire wrong...but I blew that too." Or did he?"
- Alastair Thompson, "American Coup: Mid-Term Election Polls vs Actuals", 2002/11/12
- Lynn Landes, "If This Election Is Stolen, will it be by enough to stop a recount?", 2004/10/31
- Thom Hartmann, ""If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines"", 2003/01/31 - the Politico reporter doing the Hagel story with Bev Harris was Alexander Bolton
- Baltimore Chronicle, "Our Rigged Elections (Part I)" by Mark Crispin Miller, 2006: "That year there were other such anomalies, induced, perhaps, by what some wags called "Diebold magic," as the company's product figured heavily in those other states where far-right candidates won upset victories: Colorado, where Republican Wayne Allard, down by nine points against Democrat Tom Strickland, won by five points; and New Hampshire, where Republican John Sununu, down by one point against Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, won by four points.
As odd as such reversals seemed, and as conspicuous a role as Diebold evidently played in them, there were no calls for inquiry, as it was easier to say that "terrorism"—or maybe "family values"—had simply grabbed the voters' hearts and minds in Georgia, Colorado and New Hampshire. (Diebold, in fact, had no hand in Republican Norm Coleman's startling victory over Walter Mondale in Minnesota—the born-again New Jerseyite having trailed the favorite son by five points, then winning suddenly by three.) Thus did the Bush Republicans take back the Senate, thereby canceling out the Democratic edge enabled briefly by Jim Jeffords's controversial exit from the GOP."