Scotland's Referendum: Fair or Foul?

Stephen Lendman

Critics claim fraud at the polls. Suspicions are rife.

Rigged elections aren't new. In America, they go back to the beginning of the republic. Seventeenth century US politicians believed vote rigging was a necessary evil. They assumed opposition parties played dirty. Their strategy was fight fire with fire.

New York's Tammany Hall machine was notorious. It controlled Democrat party nominations for over a century. It bought off politicians, judges and ward captains. Vote suppression was standard practice.

Chicago machine politics works the same way. Under Richard J. Daley, it was notorious. He was an American pharaoh. He ran city government like a monarch. He wielded near-imperial power. When he died on December 26, 1976, Chicago columnist Mike Royko wrote: "If ever a man reflected a city, it was Richard J. Daley." He was "strong (and) hard-driving." He had "Texas-sized ambitions." He was "arrogant, crude, conniving, ruthless, suspicious, intolerant, raucous, hot-tempered, devious, big and powerful." He was Chicago.

Former Chicago alderman Paddy Bauler perhaps said it best: "Chicago ain't ready for reform," he explained. Chicago's tongue-in-cheek "Vote early and often" political motto goes back to Daley's early days and Al Capone. Ballots for registered dead voters at times are cast. Political analyst Dick Simpson calls Chicago the capital of public corruption. It's "a one-party system were Democrats control" city politics but govern like Republicans, said Simpson.

Voters are apathetic. They know the "fix is in." A tradition of corruption prevails. According to Simpson, it's long past time for Chicago "to become the land of Lincoln rather than the land of 'Where's Mine.' "

Chicago isn't unique. Political machines run things nationwide. They've done so for generations. The film Citizen Kane explained what goes on. When the lead character, Charles Foster Kane, lost his gubernatorial election, his New York Inquirer headlined "Fraud at Polls." It reflected real life electoral politics today. It's similar under democratic and authoritarian regimes.

Exceptions prove the rule. Democracy is more illusion than real. Everything is pre-scripted. Secrecy and back room deals substitute for a free, fair and open process. Candidates are pre-selected. Big money owns them. Key outcomes are predetermined. Republicans and Democrat share fault. They operate the same way. Independent candidates are shut out. Voter disenfranchisement is rife. Thousands are peremptorily stricken from voter rolls. Illegal practices deter people from voting.

US elections are privatized. Corporate-controlled touchscreen electronic machines do our voting. They're inherently flawed. Secret software is used. The process is easy to rig. It erases votes. It adds some never cast. It make others for one candidate show up for another. Losers are declared winners. Elections are stolen with electronic ease. Partisan politics serves privileged interests alone. Voters get the best democracy money can buy.

Historian Robert Caro called Lyndon Johnson's 1948 senatorial primary victory perhaps the most blatant example of US electoral theft. Johnson "miraculously" turned a 20,000 vote deficit into an 87 vote victory. According to Caro: It wasn't "the only election…ever stolen, but there was never such brazen thievery."

Political analysts believe Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley turned a 1960 election eve Nixon lead into a Kennedy victory. He did it by delaying a number of precinct results. They showed up later strongly for Kennedy.

America's 2000 presidential election was rife with fraud. Its outcome hinged on how Florida went. Investigative journalist Greg Palast discovered gross irregularities. Thousands of African Americans and Latinos were fraudulently stricken from voter rolls. They were declared ineligible. Various other ways were used to assure GW Bush won Florida.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act bans discriminatory practices. It prohibits states from imposing any "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure…" None may "deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." Federal oversight procedures were established to assure fairness. It didn't matter. Not then. Or earlier. Or now. Monied interests run things. They choose winners and losers. Voters have no say.

Massive fraud characterized the 2004 presidential election. Florida and Ohio made the difference. In 2000 and 2004, Ohio and Florida were stolen. Pollster Lou Harris called Ohio's 2004 election the dirtiest he ever saw. Exit polls gave Kerry an insurmountable lead. He won nationwide. GW Bush got a second term fraudulently.

In Harper's November 2012 issue, Victoria Collier headlined "How to Rig an Election, saying "The GOP aims to paint the country red." High-tech ballot box stuffing is rife. Collier called it the "equivalent of a drone strike."

In 1996, Republican Chuck Hagel (Obama's defense secretary) suspiciously defeated Nebraska's popular Democrat governor Ben Nelson. At stake was a US Senate seat. Polls suggested a close race. Hagel won by 15 points. Few Nebraskans knew about his business connections. He was part owner, chairman and CEO of Election Systems & Software (ES&S). It counted Nebraska's votes electronically. At the time, it was called American Information Systems. AIS' parent company founder, Michael McCarthy, was Hagel's campaign treasurer. His easy victory made winning suspect. His own company rigged things for him. He never disclosed his business ties. A Senate Ethics Committee investigation was requested. It was rejected.

America's political system is too corrupt to fix. According to Collier, voters "have no ability to know with certainty who wins any given race, from dogcatcher to president." Corporate-controlled faith-based elections have no legitimacy. It bears repeating. Democracy in America is pure fantasy. It's always been this way. For sure now.

♣ ♣ ♣

Elections elsewhere are suspect. Scotland's September 19 referendum is the latest example. Whitehall went all-out to defeat independence supporters. It controls BBC news, information and analysis. Paul Mason is a former BBC business editor. He criticized its referendum coverage, saying: "Not since Iraq have I seen BBC News working at propaganda strength like this. So glad I'm out of there." Mason challenged Deutsche Bank's fear-mongering warning. It ludicrously claimed independence would cause a 1930s-style depression.

On September 13, Mason headlined "Deutsche's 'Wall Street Crash' prediction goes über alles the airwaves." He highlighted Deutsche Bank's previous "warnings of doom." They're opinions alone, he said. They're "open to debate." They're deceptive. They're misleading. They're polar opposite truth. Depressions didn't follow independence earlier. Nor would they now. Claims otherwise are fraudulent. They're intended to intimidate voters. To manipulate them. To support what benefits monied interests. To ignore what they might otherwise prefer.

On September 18, Scottish voters ostensibly chose unity over independence. They did so by 55% to 45%. The wide margin surprised many analysts. Throughout months of campaigning, polls showed "no" supporters consistently ahead. More recently, "yes" advocates gained strength. Some polls showed they led. They were favored to win. Most UK and international surveys called the outcome too close to call. Did fraud corrupt the process? Did it deny Scotland independence?

On September 19, Infowars headlined " 'Yes' Supporters Claim Videos Show Scottish Referendum Was Rigged," saying: "(A)lmost as soon as (vote counting) began (critics) alleged examples of tampering." Considering the stakes, Whitehall had every incentive to assure unity. Examples Infowars gave included:

A video showing "bundles of referendum papers are seen on top of a table designated for 'No' votes and yet when zoomed in, the top paper on two of the bundles clearly shows an X marked in the box for 'Yes.' "

Another "clip show(ed) a man at a desk in a polling station writing on a piece of paper." Perhaps he just "fill(ed) in referendum cards…" He could "as easily be tallying up votes."

A third example is less clear. It's harder to explain. "It shows a woman at a polling station counting votes." "She takes one paper from the 'No' pile and places it in the 'Yes' pile before taking at least two cards from the 'Yes' pile and placing them in the 'No' pile."

Glasgow police are investigating at least 10 cases of fraud, said Infowars. They involve voter disenfranchisement. Registered voters found their names stricken from rolls. Doing so shows foul play. As explained above, it's commonplace in America. Apparently Whitehall and Edinburgh operate the same way. Videos aren't conclusive, said Infowars. Alone they don't prove fraud. At the same time, Britain's monied interests feared possible independence enough to go all-out to prevent it. Perhaps independent investigations will show if Thursday's results were fair or fraudulent.

On September 18, RIA Novosti headlined "Russian Observers Suspect 'Special' Voting Technologies in Scotland." Using them may have influenced final results. Boris Borisov chairs the Council of the Russian Public Institute of Election Law. He led Moscow's observer mission. He commented on Scotland's referendum as follows:

"The absence of lines at voting offices could indicate the use of special voting technologies. About 20 percent vote in advance, via post. From our experience, we know that in 2012 Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney during presidential elections in early (stages of) voting. That is, he won prior to the day of the election. Whether this technology was used during the referendum, we will know when the votes have been counted. If the organizers of the referendum announce the results of the postal votes separately from the results received on the day of the election, then it will be possible to assess how great the influence of technologies on the vote was."

Despite reported high voter turnout, "people (didn't) wait (long) to vote," said Borisov. "I haven't noticed anything like that. Although, there are lines of two-three people to take to the ballot."

On September 19, London's Guardian headlined "Russia cries foul over Scottish independence vote," saying: It "did not meet international standards." Counting "took place in rooms that were too big and that the procedure was badly flawed."

Borisov criticized what he saw. The room where he observed counting was a cavernous "aircraft hangar." It was next to an airfield. It was hard seeing what went on. The hanger was about 100 meters by 300 meters. Tables were stacked with voting papers. Observers were confined to perimeter areas. It was impossible to know how vote counting was handled, said Borisov. It was unclear "where boxes with ballot papers (came) from." London and Edinburgh failed to meet proper referendum requirements, he explained. "Nobody was interested in who was bringing in the voting slips. There were no stamps or signatures as the bulletins were handed over."

Analyst Afshin Rattansi explained huge "international considerations" on how things went. An example is North Sea oil. Scotland is home to Britain's HMNB Clyde and HMS naval bases. Whitehall's nuclear weapons are maintained there. According to Rattanai:

"With the vote as close as this, with the mainstream media on one side, with a massive amount of people from Westminster running up to beg Scotland the other way, and certain recounts in certain bits of the poll, which way did the vote go, really? With the vote as close as this, with the mainstream media on one side, with a massive amount of people from Westminster running up to beg Scotland the other way, and certain recounts in certain bits of the poll, which way did the vote go, really?"

Misoslav Rudenko is a Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Supreme Council member. He suspects foul play, saying: "I don't rule out that the British authorities have falsified the results of this referendum. The difference between those who voted in favour of independence and against it is not so great." A few hundred thousand votes separated both sides. Rudenko accused Britain of "double standards." It allowed Scotland's referendum. It opposed ones Donetsk and Lugansk held. It called Crimea's legitimate process fraudulent.

It's typical Whitehall. It's common Western practice. Was Scotland's referendum fair or fraudulent? Considerable doubts remain. Perhaps the fullness of time will tell. Most important is whether independence matters. Monied interests run Scotland. They do most everywhere.

It bears repeating. Policies they institute benefit privileged interests alone. People have no say. The only solution is world revolution. Things are too corrupted to fix. It's way too late for scattered reforms. They're inconsequential. They're meaningless. They're insulting. An entirely new system is needed.Government of, by and for everyone equitably and fairly alone works.

The alternative is business as usual. It prevails. Nothing suggests change. Perhaps some day. Not now. Not any time soon. Not until popular outrage demands it. Not until ordinary people accept nothing less.

A Final Comment

Thousands in Scotland want referendum results recounted. They suspect fraud. At least 27,000 signatures were collected in hours. They're on a petition saying:

"Countless evidences of fraud during the recent Scottish Referendum have come to light, including two counts of votes being moved in bulk into a No pile, Yes votes clearly being seen in no piles and strange occurenses with dual fire alarms and clear cut fraud in Glasgow. We demand a revote be taken of said referendum, where each vote shall be counted by two individuals, one of whom should be an international impartial party without a stake in the vote."

It remains to be seen what follows. Expect business as usual to prevail. Don't expect this time to be different.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He has devoted his time and efforts to progressive causes and organizations, all involved in working for a more humane and just world for all people everywhere, but especially for the most needy, disadvantaged and oppressed. His efforts since summer 2005 have included writing on a broad range of vital topics ranging from war and peace; social, economic and political equity for all; and justice for all the oppressed peoples of the world like the long-suffering people of Haiti and the Palestinians. He also co-hosts The Global Research News Hour, gives occasional public talks, and appears frequently on radio and at times television. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. Also visit his blog and listen to The Lendman News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening. His new book "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War" can be ordered here. He can be reached at



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