With Hillary Clinton’s recent win over rival Barack Obama in the New Hampshire primary, cries of foul play and voter fraud have increasingly become louder and louder, and it’s deeply disturbing.
The theory that the now infamous manufacture of voting equipment, Diebold, gave Hillary Clinton a slim margin of victory immediately began to circulate almost as soon as Obama delivered his concession speech.
The claim, as with most conspiracies, is an overly simplistic one that easily subdues the minds of those who scoff at mental exercise and who never stray from their pack. It states that because Hillary Clinton led Obama in towns where votes were counted by machine (53 to 47) and Obama led Clinton in towns where votes were counted by hand (54 to 46) then there is evidence of voter fraud on a massive scale.
Simply stated, the theory says this: ‘Obama was ahead in the polls before the election, and because Clinton beat Obama in areas where votes were counted by machine and not in areas where votes were hand counted, then it is evident that machines were tampered with to produce the result.’
Folks, this is called a fallacy of logic. Specifically, it’s a “post hoc” fallacy, which is short for the Latin phrase “post hoc, ergo propter hoc,” which means, “after the fact, therefore because of it.” This kind of logic is simplistic, and is almost never true.
That fact that Clinton won the areas where votes were counted by machine does not mean that she won because they were counted by machine. This fact is evidence of something, but not of fraud. It’s evidence that Clinton preformed better in large cities than she did in small towns.
Areas that had automatic ballot counting machines where not random districts throughout the state, they were all the largest cities and towns in New Hampshire where Clinton’s support was greatest. Areas where votes were counted by hand were obviously the smaller towns and rural areas were such a method is practical.
New Hampshire followed the same pattern that is has followed in the past two Democratic primaries; more heavily populated areas supported the more centrist candidate (this year Clinton, Kerry in 2004, Al Gore in 2000), and rural areas more strongly supported the more liberal candidate, (this year it was Obama, Dean in 2004, Bill Bradley in 2000).
When the contributing factors are examined, there is no evidence of cheating on the part of Hillary Clinton. When the conspiracy deepens and widens to include President Bush, the Diebold Corporation, the GOP and the World Bank as conspirators against Obama, it gets to be downright laughable. It’s an embarrassment for freethinking liberals and progressives, who are able to rise above the most simple of notions.
The conspiracy movement has now been bolstered by assistance from one presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich. But there is a reason why it’s Kucinich who is asking for a recount, and not the candidate who can actually afford to pay for one. It’s not because Dennis believes in UFOs, the reason is because Obama knows that the areas that he lost weren’t firmly in his grasp, the results aren’t really suspect.
The conspiracy junkies never stop to realize or look for rational factors that might defeat their position. This is inherent to the mentality; once the most simplistic or ‘antiestablishment’ path has been accepted, then they fortify their ill-conceived notions against the slings and arrows of all logic and reason.
Here is a list of factors that damage the New Hampshire conspiracy conclusion:
1. The New Hampshire Democratic primary was tie; both Clinton and Obama received nine delegates each. If it was a fraud, it was not a very successful one.
2. New Hampshire isn’t Florida. They use scantron ballots that leave a very clear and traceable paper record. Voters make a mark on a paper, and then a machine reads the mark. These are the good kind of machines that proponents of transparent elections want, not the awful all-electronic machines used in Ohio and Florida where the only paper record is one printed by a machine.