In all seriousness, I have been asking myself that very question for a few months now. And since this issue has been getting more and more press lately, (in addition to the phenomenal compilation done with respect to the 2004 election "irregularities"), I wanted to gauge the thought process, the general feeling, the potential reaction that is necessary, warranted, required, feasible, etc. if we have a repeat of 2000, 2002 or 2004.
Before we take this into "pitchfork and torch" territory, or into tin foil hat territory (although I think there is enough evidence to not treat this as such - at least not the potential), I want to lay out a few things here. And yes, I realize that I am doing this at my own peril, but I want to have this be as constructive a discussion as possible.
There are so many questions to be asked - there are so many variables to consider, but to not have any thoughts as to what the reaction would be if we wake up on November 8 and find that double digit leads have mysteriously vanished overnight, or that exit polls were "so far off" because republicans didn't want to say that they voted the way they did, or that voting machines were "selectively available", or whatever else can happen on November 7 (and even afterwards with the counting of the absentee ballots, etc.) would be a bit shortsighted.
It is clear that this is a very winnable election in a potentially historic manner. It is also very true that we have a lot to do before November 7. And it is true that a lot can happen between now and then. But from where things stand now, the polls are showing major Democratic gains in a number of races, a number of races with widening leads for Democrats and a number of races that are much closer than you would have thought a few months ago.
While the vaunted republican ground game and voter targeting is something that is to be envied at times, it still is a midterm election where motivated voters make the difference. So while there is plenty of disincentive for republicans to stay home, we still can't take it for granted. And I am going to take out of this equation any "October surprise" - because to speculate based on another variable just isn't want I want to do here.
But this diary is not about motivating us and others to vote - I will leave that to people who are much better at writing about that issue than I am. What I want to do is (seriously, please) ask what we are prepared to do if the following scenarios occur (almost like a pre-action item):
Republicans, including MD Governor Ehrlich are calling for paper ballots over the electronic voting machines. A number of people, including the most recent example of Princeton professors show how easy it is to hack the Diebold machines and spread a virus to change votes without leaving a trace. This is even picked up by Fox News (I guess just in case the Democrats do win). So we know that this is getting out there to way more people than in 2004.
Polls continue to show Democratic candidates leading, some by wide margins, up until election day. Then, suddenly, a five to six point lead becomes a seven point loss, virtually overnight. Exit polls, which have been used in this country to show how accurate the elections are (at least through 2000), and are even used (and cited by the US) in many other countries to prove the validity of elections, show a very difficult to explain discrepancy to the actual results (which may or may not be changed by CNN, Fox, AP, etc. like in 2004).
"Irregularities" and instances of voter disenfranchisement or suppression are reported all over the country - whether it be provisional ballots, voting machines switching the votes, more votes for a candidate than there are voters, voting machines not working or available, phone jamming, or whatever else it may be. The vast majority of these "irregularities" favor one party. The vast majority of the "close" races all break for the republicans, despite an abysmal view of the current Congress, as well as the seemingly overwhelming desire to see Democrats win their races.
The republicans retain control of the House and the Senate by one or two seats. The mainstream news outlets once again bury the stories (although I think that if the exit polls are close to the actuals - whatever that may be - then this wouldn't be as much of a story to bury, regardless of who wins).
These are all fairly likely to happen in some way, shape or form. Whether they all occur (as they did in 2002 and 2004) is a different issue altogether. The political environment is worse than 2004 in terms of the general view of Bush, the republicans, Congress, the economy, Iraq, the "war on terror", the environment, corruption, cronyism - you name it. A "narrow victory" that has a similar (bullshit) explanation to the one we got in 2004 should not suffice. It should and will not explain anything. It will look more suspicious.
But many Americans have shown their overwhelming ability to be gullible and believe what they are told by their government, no matter how stupid, no matter how unreliable, no matter how unfounded or unsourced the lie or explanation is. And many Americans may just say, "well, the Democrats couldn't win in this environment", or "Rove and the superior ground game just won out in the end" or whatever other drivel is shoveled at us.
Well, then what? What do we do?
Clearly, sitting back and yelling to each other isn't going to work. Unlike 2004, I think that there will be a much more organized and unified voice, since this is not really a "taboo" topic anymore. However, I don't know that anything short of mass protests and demonstrations in many many American cities will get press or attention. Plus, I don't know if it would matter much in terms of changing anything.
That all being said, I do think that there will be more reception from (certain) media outlets (not just Olbermann) to report on this. Will the races be challenged? Even if we support Democratic candidates to the fullest, will they demand a recount? Will they (or we) demand an investigation into the votes? Will these calls, cries and demands go unnoticed, unanswered, or only addressed with a half-assed effort from those who we are calling out to? What will Democratic Party leaders do? Will they demand an investigation? Will they shut down Congress? Will they disappoint us?
And for whatever we can do - how do we do it (whatever "it" may be)? Who would we write letters to? Who would we call? Where would we march? Will anyone go to bat for this country (other than us)?
It is a horrible scenario to think about, and hopefully it won't happen. I, personally, am at a loss for answers, although I will be pissed as can be. What if the republicans do win, and they win in a similar manner to 2002 (Georgia, for example) and 2004? What if things don't "pass the smell test"? There will be a whole lot to overcome for us to overcome the propaganda and the wave of explanations, excuses and other nonsense.
How will we do it?