In fact, whether they intend to do it or not, the Republican governors of the nine key swing states above have the power to flip the election without significant public recourse. Except for exit polls there is no established way to check how the official electronic vote count might square with the actual intent of the electorate. And there is no legal method by which an electronic vote count can be effectively challenged.
There is unfortunate precedent. In the heat of election night 2000, in Volusia County, Florida, 16,000 electronic votes for Al Gore mysteriously disappeared, and 4,000 were erroneously awarded to George W. Bush, causing a incorrect shift of 20,000 votes. This was later corrected. But the temporary shift gave John Ellis at Fox TV News -- George W. Bush's first cousin -- an opening to declare that the GOP had won the presidency. NBC, CBS, and ABC followed Fox's lead and declared Bush the winner based on a computer error. That "glitch," more than anything else, allowed the Republicans to frame Gore as a "sore loser."
In Ohio 2004, at 12:20 election night, the initial vote tabulation showed John Kerry handily defeating Bush by more than 4%. This 200,000-plus margin appeared to guarantee Kerry's ascent to the presidency.
But mysteriously, the Ohio vote count suddenly shifted to Smartech in Chattanooga, Tennessee. With private Republican-connected contractors processing the vote, Bush jumped ahead with a 2% lead, eventually winning with an official margin of more than 118,000 votes. Such a shift of more than 6%, involving more than 300,000 votes, is a virtual statistical impossibility, as documented in our WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA'S 2012 ELECTION.
That night, Ohio's vote count was being compiled in the basement of the old Pioneer Bank building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The building also housed the servers for the Republican National Committee and thus the e-mail of Bush advisor Karl Rove. Secretary of State Blackwell was co-chair of the Ohio Committee to Re-Elect Bush and Cheney. He met earlier that day in Columbus with George W. Bush and Karl Rove. That night, he sent the state's chief IT worker home early. The official Ohio vote count tabulation system was designed by IT specialist Michael Connell, whose computer company New Media was long associated with the Bush family. In 2008 Connell died in a mysterious single-engine plane crash after being subpoenaed to testify in the federal King-Lincoln-Bronzeville voter rights lawsuit (by way of disclosure: Bob is an attorney and Harvey a plaintiff in this lawsuit).
FreePress.org covered the vote shift in depth. The King-Lincoln suit eventually resulted in a federal injunction ordering Ohio's 88 completed.
But 56 of Ohio's 88 counties violated the injunction and destroyed their election records. Thus no complete recount of Ohio 2004 has ever been done. More than 90,000 "spoiled" ballots, like those in Toledo, went entirely uncounted, and have since been destroyed.
No way was ever found to verify the 2004 electronic vote count. There are no definitive safeguards in place today.
In 2008, swarms of election protection volunteers filled the polling stations in Ohio and other swing states. They guaranteed the right to vote for many thousands of Americans who might otherwise have been denied it.
They had no means of guaranteeing the accuracy of the electronic vote count. But Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan all had Democratic governors at the time. Florida's governor was the moderate Republican Charlie Crist, not likely to steal an election for a party he would soon leave.
At the time, we advocated banning money from electoral politics, abolishing the Electoral College, universal automatic voter registration for all US citizens, universal hand-counted paper ballots and a four-day weekend for voting, with polls worked and ballots counted by the nation's students.
But as Sheila Parks puts it in her new book, which is subtitled The Perils Of Electronic Voting Machines And Democracy's Solution: Publicly Observed, Secure Hand-Counted Paper Ballots (HCPB) Elections:
"In 2010, ultra-right-wing Republican governors were elected in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. In several of these states, these governors were not part of a long line of Republican governors. In fact, in some of these states, these governors interrupted a long line of Democratic governors."
So this year Rick Scott is governor in Florida, Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania, John Kasich in Ohio, Rick Snyder in Michigan, Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Jan Brewer is in Arizona. All are seen as hard-right Republicans unlikely to agonize over flipping a Barack Obama majority into a victory for Mitt Romney.
That doesn't mean they would actually do such a thing. But the stark reality is that if they choose to, they can, and there would be no iron-clad way to prove they did.
Another stark reality: hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to win this election by multi-billionaires Sheldon Adelson, Charles and David Koch, the Chamber of Commerce and other corporate interests. For them, spending a few extra million to flip a key state's electoral votes would make perfect sense.
While Obama seems to be moving up in the polls, the huge reservoir of dollars raised to elect Mitt Romney will soon flood this campaign. We might anticipate well-funded media reports of a "surge" for Romney in the last two weeks of the election. Polls could well show a "close race" -- for Congress as well as the presidency -- in the early hours of election day.