How To Steal An Election And Not Get Caught — Until Now

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As I watched the turmoil in Iran, I wondered about something:

Did George W. Bush steal the 2000 election?

Nine years later, the question is still hanging around. Which means, if a fraudulent election took place, the perpetrators definitely were not naive and clumsy.

There may be a way to solve the riddle.

To my knowledge, the election scam I will disclose has never been revealed before. Insider stuff.

First, three facts were known before the 2000 election took place:

(1) The closeness of the election. One election-eve headline: “Race for White House Is Seen by the Polls As Closest in 40 years.”*

(2) The same article noted that George Bush “remained behind in some polls in Florida, a populous state where his brother, Jeb, is governor.”

(3) Florida was the key to the White House. A report published election morning stated Al Gore “had waged an all-night blitz in Florida, which he told supporters, ‘may very well be the state that decides the outcome of this election.'”**

Close election; Bush in trouble in Florida; Florida the key. Clearly, there was a motive to cheat — but was there opportunity?

Election night, the Florida vote count dribbled in. There was “a double turnaround by television networks which, using computer projections, reported that Mr. Gore had won Florida before deciding that that was premature, and then gave the state and the presidency to Mr. Bush before deciding again that they had drawn a hasty conclusion.”***

What on earth (or elsewhere) was happening?

Forget the butterfly ballot; forget hanging chad. Or rather, do not forget, but look past them. They may have been diversions.

Starting in 1974, I directed many candidates’ get-out-the-vote drives on election day. I saw some strange things. Among them: dead people voting.

The usual explanation: somebody collects names in cemeteries, and registers those names to vote. Live people then appear at the polls using the dead people’s names.

Frankly, I doubt that particular fraud occurs on an important scale:

First, it is too risky. All it takes is one flabbergasted precinct worker confronted with a would-be voter posing as the worker’s dearly departed husband, and the whole scheme is blown wide open.

And second, the cemetery ploy relies on the live person to be honest and vote the way he is told. Well, we already know about his honesty. Once the curtain closes behind him, who knows what happens? Simply put: buying a person is one thing; will they stay bought is another.

I am not excluding the cemetery ploy — just discounting it. How, then, do dead people vote?

Here is the election scam I mentioned. So far, it has been 100% safe; otherwise, you would already know about it. 100% reliable, too.

Being unmentionable, the scam has no name. I will call it “The Long Count” in honor of the 1927 heavyweight championship fight between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney.

To wit:

Election night. Their civic duty completed, the voters go home. The precinct officials search the building, then lock the doors.

Alone at last, the officials change hats and become an election night crew. They open up voter rosters along with a bottle or two (optional). The roster is the document you sign just before you vote. The officials no longer care about people who voted; their attention is fixed on non-voters, who have no signatures after their names.

In the roster, Crew Member 1 signs the name of a person who did not vote. He signals to Crew Member 2 standing at a voting machine. Crew Member 2 pushes the button for straight Democrat, straight Republican, George Bush, Al Gore — whatever. More sophisticated election night crews pass the rosters around; otherwise, the similarity of signatures might attract attention.

Of course, when Crew Member 1 sees a blank space beside a name on a roster, he does not know if the person is alive. When he signs a name, guess what can happen?

Now you know how dead people vote. Lots of them. In the “right” way, too.

Dead people who vote are Democrats and Republicans, men and women, old and young: that is true equal opportunity for you.

The signing of rosters and button pushing takes time. That is why a delayed reporting of election returns is the telltale heart of The Long Count.

How many votes are enough? In Florida 2000, Bush’s margin was less than 600. That question takes us to the second reason for The Long Count:

The final vote total is the topic of a fast and furious communications. The election crew boss passes the word up the line: we want this…we want that. He has every reason to drag out the talks, unlike the candidate. Which leads to interesting, if not always civil, dialogue.

Theoretically, The Long Count is possible anywhere. However, the county clerk must be in on it, or at least be willing to look the other way. Normally, the clerk would not let his or her own party crash and burn. Then again, I have known public officials who would sell out for a baked potato at the palace.

The Long Count leaves traces. They are so obvious, they are overlooked:

Start with precincts in isolated, rural areas. Those are the easiest ones to control physically. In Florida, that means mostly the northern counties. Two facts about them: (i) Most of them voted for Bush in 2000. (ii) I spent six years there.

(1) Precincts with unusually high turnouts. Look not only at 2000, but also prior elections. Either those precincts are full of good citizens, or they are full of something else.

(2) Among the precincts with abnormally-high turnouts, look for precincts with abnormally high percentages for Bush. If Republican presidential candidates usually get 70% of the vote in a precinct but Bush got 90%, a red flag should go up.

(3) The clincher: dead people voted.

When all 3 traces are present, something was – as they say in the political trade – “wired up.” Put The Long Count at the top of the list. A handwriting expert should examine any dubious precinct roster.

I must emphasize that even if Bush used The Long Count, that fact does preclude the possibility that the Democrats, too, exercised it. Look at both sides, and not just in Florida.

The three-point Florida study would make an excellent political science master’s thesis. And it might solve the mystery of did-he-or-didn’t-he? once and for all.

Whatever the study’s findings, a 24-year-old graduate student will see his or her name in lights. Oprah, Larry King, 60 minutes.

I do not know if The Long Count took place in Florida. I do know it did not take place in Iran. Look out your window right now. You see the difference?


*Brian Knowlton, International Herald Tribune, November 7, 2000.
**Brian Knowlton, “Exhausted Candidates in a Photo Finish,” International Herald Tribune, November 8, 2000.
***Florida has a history of prolonged ballot counts; hence the title of the article by John Vanocur, “Election may Seem Unusual, but in Some Ways It’s Deja vu all Over Again,” International Herald Tribune, November 9, 2000.

Thomas Belvedere is the pseudonym of a political consultant to senators, representatives, governors, and the media. He worked for all levels of government, and for all three branches. An accredited expert witness in federal court, he has a Ph.D. in political science.

He authored “The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion.”

For his website, go to Thomas Belvedere.

Thomas Belvedere’s website is