The just-issued report of a special commission headed by former President Jimmy Carter and Bush family consigliore Jim Baker is of little real value.
The report warns that public confidence in the electoral system is disappearing. But it fails to point out the most obvious cause: in both 2000 and 2004, the presidency was stolen, and the Republican Party made a mockery of those who took the time and effort to vote. It did the same in Georgia in 2002, when it overrode the public will to install a Republican US Senator and Governor. The US Senate races that year in Minnesota and Colorado are also suspect, to say the least.
Much controversy surrounds the Carter-Baker report over its recommendation that photo IDs be required of all voters. This is the electoral equivalent of blaming the people of New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina (which, of course, this administration has essentially done).
The report also recommends that officials who run elections should not be aggressive partisans. But the horse is already out of the barn on that one. Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 were administered by co-chairs of the state Bush-Cheney campaigns. Secretaries of State Katherine Harris and J. Kenneth Blackwell were both extremely outspoken Republican advocates allegedly running non-partisan elections. It's now clear that their fraudulent, illegal vote fixing twice gave George W. Bush the White House.
Among the panel's 87 recommendations is also a warning that electronic voting machines must have verifiable paper trails. On paper this is important. But there are many ways to use electronic voting machines to steal elections, even with a paper trail, if the likes of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney are running the show.
In the most laughable Carter/Baker punch line, the commission warns that "had the margin of victory for the  presidential contest been narrower, the lengthy dispute that followed the 2000 election could have been repeated."
In fact, in our own preliminary report, we have unearthed more than 180 bullet points dealing with exactly how the GOP did steal the presidency in Ohio. A "do everything" Republican assault on democracy used intimidation, fraud, vote theft, computer rigging, machine distribution manipulation, a fake Homeland security alert, trashing of provisional ballots, denial of a recount and dozens more "dirty tricks" to produce a 118,775 "official" margin for Bush that was an utter fiction.
Exit polls in nine swing states showed Kerry a clear winner as late as 12:21 am on election night. Nationwide exit polls showed him with a 1.5 million vote margin in the popular vote.
But somehow, against all statistical probability, Bush wound up with a popular vote victory of nearly 3.5 million. And somehow, against all statistical probability, he carried Ohio and three other states (Iowa, Nevada and New Mexico) where he had been the clear loser in the exit polls. Ohio alone was sufficient to give him a second term, just as Florida had been in 2000.
Such an outcome is beyond implausible -- unless you saw how the Rove-Blackwell machine stole the vote.
The tactics the GOP perfected in Ohio 2004 are now being honed for re-use in 2008. Neither Al Gore nor John Kerry nor the core of the Democratic Party has been willing to face the reality that elections in the United States are all but over. This latest wimp report from the Carter-Baker whitewash commission does no better.
Unless our electoral system gets a total top-to-bottom revamp by an informed public willing to deal with the systematic poisoning of American democracy, there is no reason to bother printing the ballots or plugging in the voting machines in 2008.
Harvey Wasserman & Bob Fitrakis are co-authors of HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, now available in a special release at http://freepress.org and http://harveywasserman.com.