The Election That Never Ends ... Online
Friday, November 12, 2004; 9:58 AM
Traffic to Dopp's site jumped from 500 to 17,000 and her findings were highlighted by some in Congress calling for a probe into voting machines, the paper said. "But rebuttals to the Florida fraud hypothesis were just as quick. Three political scientists, from Cornell, Harvard and Stanford, pointed out, in an e-mail message to a Web site that carried the news of Ms. Dopp's findings, that many of those Democratic counties in Florida have a long tradition of voting Republican in presidential elections. And while Ms. Dopp says that she and dozens of other researchers will continue to analyze the Florida vote, the suggestion of a link between certain types of voting machines and the vote split in Florida has, at least for now, little concrete support."
The New York Times: Vote Fraud Theories, Spread By Blogs, Are Quickly Buried (Registration required)
The Washington Post weighed in with its own piece on the post-election online rumor-mongering yesterday, and like the Times, the Post made clear that "[e]ach of the claims is buoyed by enough statistics and analysis to sound plausible. In some instances, the theories are coming from respected sources -- college engineering professors fascinated by voting technology, Internet journalists, election reform activists. Ultimately, none of the most popular theories holds up to close scrutiny. And the people who most stand to benefit from the conspiracy theories -- the Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee -- are not biting."
The Washington Post: Latest Conspiracy Theory -- Kerry Won -- Hits the Ether (Registration required)
The Philadelphia Inquirer weighs in today with it's own look: "Armed with thousands of reports of malfunctioning voting machines, lost ballots and suspicious vote counts, they are filling the Internet and the airwaves with arguments that President Bush's victory was a fraud. Web sites and blogs are streaming headlines such as 'Votescam: The Stealing of America' and 'Evidence Mounts That the Vote Was Hacked.' Groups such as stolenelection2004.com contend that electronic voting machines were tampered with to tip the election in Bush's favor." A report in Tuesday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution said: "None of the conspiracy theorists has provided proof of widespread errors that might have changed the outcome of the election, which official tallies say Bush won with a 3.5 million popular vote margin and 286 electoral votes, 16 more than needed. Independent groups that monitored the voting found problems scattered around the country, but nothing decisive, and election officials have generally dismissed the Internet chatter. Even so, Doug Chapin, executive director of Electionline.org, a nonpartisan research group set up to study the nation's voting system, is not surprised that doubts are surfacing. After the 2000 election, he said, 'any problem is going to get noticed, no matter how small.'"
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Some Still Fighting Election Outcome (Registration required)
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Election Conspiracy Theories Persist (Registration required)
Sometimes conspiracy theories can actually influence public policy. Earlier this week, a Boston Globe noted that "with reports swirling on the Internet, six Democratic members of Congress have asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate. Leading academics have joined the fray as well, saying that the integrity and future of the nation's voting system demand a vetting of all claims."
The Boston Globe: Internet Buzz On Vote Fraud Is Dismissed
Post-Election Online Therapy
The Washington Post's Hank Stuever wrote an essay today about how Kerry supporters have taken to Internet postings and e-mails to mourn their candidate's loss: "Forty-eight percent of the nation is still sad and upset about the defeat of John Kerry, and you know so because they won't stop forwarding the same few links, cartoons and manifestoes to you, over and over again, as if it were 1998 and the Web were still new and you cheerfully opened every e-mail you received," Stuever wrote. "The post-electoral mass CC'ing seems to reflect a new stage of grief, a regression into the old-fashioned Internet of yore: Maybe if I forward this Jesusland map along to all my friends, the election results won't feel so bad." Stuever particularly cites SorryEverybody.com, a Web site that, well, takes self-flagellation to a new level.
The Washington Post: Post Election Blues Driven Ever FWD Into the Past (Registration required)
The San Francisco Chronicle said debunking the election conspiracy theories "isn't likely to change the minds of those on the Internet claiming election fraud, said David Emery, a San Franciscan who debunks rumors and urban legends on the popular Web site at urbanlegends.about.com. 'Any discussion of a rumor or conspiracy -- even when people debunk it -- seems to help its longevity,' Emery said."
The San Francisco Chronicle: If It's Too Bad To Be True, It May Not Be Voter Fraud
Wired News offered some analysis of how the online discussions can have a positive and negative impact. "The academics say the intense scrutiny has been good for democracy and has highlighted the need for instituting mandatory election audits that would help catch anomalies with voting machines and restore voter confidence in results. But Stanford University professor of government Jonathan Wand said the analysis can be harmful if done improperly. 'It's important that when allegations are made that people bring to bear the correct evidence and statistical analysis to actually back it up,' Wand said. 'What is destructive is when the allegations are made and they are misconceived or implausible. That's not helping anything. But the general process of people paying attention is a very good one.'"
Wired News: Florida E-Voting Fraud? Unlikely
Blogging The Next Race
Blogs certainly edged closer to joining the mainstream media in 2004, but that doesn't mean politicians are likely to take up the online communications form any time soon. Lest we forget that the ultimate online candidate -- Howard Dean -- proved that getting buzz on the 'Net does not necessarily translate into real votes. As Wired News notes, "Many of this year's major campaigns, including both Kerry's and President Bush's, had active blogs. But to many observers, few candidates at any level used their blogs effectively to make much of a difference in reaching their constituents. Many in the blogosphere are acutely aware that most political campaigns, like most companies that have started to publish corporate blogs, have yet to discern a way to incorporate blogs in any meaningful way. And at last weekend's BloggerCon at Stanford Law School, many bloggers bemoaned the fact that most candidates are missing the boat on what could be a powerful political tool. One issue raised at BloggerCon was whether candidates' blogs need to be written by the candidates themselves to be effective. 'It's very important for campaigns to have a voice,' said Cameron Barrett, the author of the blog CamWorld."
Wired News: Longing For A Blogging Candidate
AOL's Online Vacation
America Online is getting into the online travel search business, partnering with Kayak, a company that launched a beta site earlier this year that scans multiple travel sites to offer rates on flights and other travel services. "The move raises the profile of the new travel search-engine space. At least half a dozen sites, most of them launched in the past year, scour online travel agencies and Web sites of hotels, airlines and car-rental companies to find the best deals," The Wall Street Journal said. "Other companies in the travel-search sector include Yahoo Inc., Mobissimo and SideStep Inc."
The Wall Street Journal: AOL Plans Service To Scour Internet For Travel Deals (Subscription required)
CNET's News.com: AOL Plans To Launch Travel Site
In other AOL news, while the company is expanding its search capabilities, it will stop offering its broadband service to nine markets in the South, the AP reported.
The Associated Press via washingtonpost.com: AOL's Broadband Service In South To End
Search-engine giant Google is helping the open-source software movement score some points. "Google and Mozilla may or may not be working together on a Web browser, but the two are cozier than ever in the latest Firefox release. The search company is newly featured, at center stage, on the default home page of Firefox 1.0, a Web browser based on the Mozilla Foundation's open-source development work and which was made available for free download Tuesday morning. In only two days, an estimated 2.5 million people have downloaded the Web browser, according to Mitchell Baker, president of the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation. Google's prominence on the browser underscores the foundation's desire to grow Firefox from its early roots in the Web developer community to an audience of Joe and Jane Surfers, who are likely to use search," CNET reported.
CNET's News.com: Google Stars In Firefox's New Browser