By Brad Friedman on 2/16/2012, 4:12pm PT  

[Now UPDATED TWICE with new details at bottom of article.]

It figures. The one time we're on the road and unable to keep up with things on a minute-by-minute basis, a major election would be stolen outright. And there's not a disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restriction in the world that could have done a thing to stop the thieves.

Despite the reputation The BRAD BLOG has gained in some quarters over the years, I don't believe we have ever outright declared an election as "stolen." That has now changed as the Republican Party of Maine has blatantly stolen the 2012 GOP Caucuses in their state for Mitt Romney, as we detailed yesterday.

That fact is just the latest data point in a remarkable and rapidly expanding spate of GOP election fraud by very high profile Republicans across the nation, as we also detailed in yesterday's report.

The question now: Can it be "stolen back"?

Happily, even though we're on the road, the issue is being covered very well this time around by Rachel Maddow at MSNBC. Her coverage last night honed in on a few additional points in this remarkable story, underscoring the blatant theft and breathtaking hypocrisy in the entire embarrassing, if enlightening, affair.

Among the points she expanded on last night (several of which we'd flagged in our coverage yesterday): the call by a Maine county Republican committee for the immediate removal of the shameless and breathtakingly dishonest state GOP Chair Charlie Webster and how the state party leadership not only seems to have lied to voters about results from postponed caucuses to be held this Saturday in Washington County, but how new evidence from Waldo County suggests the party may have simply just made up "results" out of whole cloth --- and then tried to keep those fake numbers a secret from the public in order to award the race to Mitt Romney by 194 votes over Ron Paul.

All of that, remember, before an entire county --- Washington County, one of just 16 in the entire state --- has even managed to hold their caucuses and vote at all in the statewide contest.

This is remarkable stuff and perhaps made more remarkable by the fact that this isn't currently at the top of every news outlet in the nation...

Here's Maddow's full report from last night...

Of particular note in her coverage last night:

• It has never happened before this cycle that a winner has been announced in a Presidential primary or caucus only to see that result later overturned with a different winner announced instead. That happened earlier this year after the Iowa Caucuses --- when that state's GOP chair similarly announced Romney as the winner, even before all vote counts had been reported accurately --- and it may well happen a second time in Maine if the people stand up and fight for the "winner" of the election to be the one who actually received the most, ya know, votes.

• There has been a call for Maine GOP chair Charlie Webster to be fired. The Waldo County Republican Party voted to ask the state GOP committee to formerly "censure" him, after they were unable to get consensus on the call to fire him outright. Remember, Webster, in addition to prematurely announcing Romney the "winner" last Saturday night, before all of Maine's voters had even had a chance to cast their vote, is the hapless clown who, last year, went on a shameless and embarrassing bender in hopes of trying to keep thousands of legal student voters from being able to vote in Maine at all in this year's Presidential elections.

• Washington County was allegedly told the results of their postponed caucuses would be counted in the final results, originally, only to learn last Saturday night, when the state party issued its statement declaring Mitt Romney "the winner" of the 2012 Republican Caucuses in Maine, that the county's "results WILL NOT be factored into" the final certified results of the contest. When the state committee meets on March 10 (several days after Super Tuesday on March 6), in addition to voting to censure Webster as requested by the Waldo County GOP, the committee could also do the right thing and decide to factor in Washington County's results after all.

• The GOP reported zero votes in a number of towns that, in fact, had reported their votes correctly. Is this what the party did across the state? Never mind Washington County, which is set to vote this Saturday, but did Paul already beat Romney even before Washington votes?

A closer look at this last point is in order, as it demonstrates potential malfeasance beyond simply ignoring voters who have yet to cast their votes. It suggests the Maine GOP deliberately falsified the numbers they reported last Saturday.

In our coverage yesterday, we reported on comments posted to a Ron Paul supporter website from Matt McDonald, the chair of the caucus in Waldo County's town of Belfast. He had claimed that when he called the GOP to give the numbers from his caucus (where Paul had won), they told him that their numbers showed Romney winning there instead.

But when he told the woman he spoke to that they had "publicly counted the ballots" at his caucus, "her ears perked up."

The trouble with all of this? When the state GOP posted their official numbers to their website [PDF], the town of Belfast showed ZERO votes for the entire town!

Ethan Andrews picked up on McDonald's comments and added a bit more in his coverage at Waldo VillageSoup [emphasis added]:

Matt McDonald, chairman of the Belfast caucus committee told VillageSoup Feb. 14 that he personally called in Belfast's results to the state GOP office but was told the party already had the figures. When the woman on the phone read those tallies back, McDonald said they showed Romney winning in Belfast, which he knew was not the case.

"I said, 'Ma'am, I know you're very busy but we publicly counted our votes here in Belfast,'" McDonald said, going on to note the discrepancies. ... As soon as she heard we had publicly counted she said, 'Oh, I'll be sure those numbers are changed.'"

When the official results were released, the line for Belfast contained neither the figures the state party official had quoted to McDonald on the phone nor the revised figures but a row of zeroes, suggesting no votes were cast in the city.

So the "publicly counted" votes --- the type of counting that The BRAD BLOG has been advocating for years as Democracy's Gold Standard --- sent a signal to the GOP that they'd have a difficult time gaming the numbers. Instead of reporting the numbers they had for Belfast, however (the ones which claimed Romney won), or the ones from the actual caucus chair (showing Paul had won), they just reported ZERO votes all together.

They appear to have done the same thing in town after town in their own results posted on Saturday night --- the ones which, at the bottom, show Romney having "won" by just 194 votes.

Did the Republican Party simply ZERO out a bunch of Paul town's in order to give the results to Romney?

Andrews offers more details on this point, noting that some 18 towns held caucuses "a week before the announcement," and yet, "In the official Maine GOP tallies...the results from all but one of those communities were given as a series of zeros below the name of each candidate, as though no one had voted."

According to Mike Quatrano, executive director of the Maine Republican Party, and the person who issued the press release, the omission of the Waldo County votes was not a typo. Quatrano did not offer to review the results, but said simply that what appeared on the press release was what was counted by the party.

The GOP leader noted the deadline for local caucus organizers to submit results and chalked up the rows of zeroes after dozens of towns around the state, including 17 of the 18 that participated in the Waldo County event on Feb. 4, to either a lack of participation or a failure by organizers to submit results.

According to Raymond St. Onge, who organized the multi-town Waldo County gathering, neither was the case.

Speaking on Feb. 13, St. Onge said he submitted the results of the Feb. 4 caucuses to the party immediately after the event, which was held a week before the deadline
"They had the numbers to count," said St. Onge, referring to state party officials. "Why they didn't include them, I don't know the answer to that."

According to figures supplied by St. Onge, Ron Paul came out the winner among the 18 towns that gathered on Feb. 4 with 43 votes, followed by Rick Santorum with 41.

Mitt Romney, who was declared the statewide winner in Maine by GOP officials, took third place with 35 votes, collectively, among the 18 towns.

REMINDER: This is how elections are stolen --- by folks on the inside, by folks who run the elections and/or have access to the reporting of the supposed results. They are not stolen by imaginary "dead" voters showing up at the polls on Election Day (as folks like Webster and the bulk of Republican officials across the country like to claim.) No polling place Photo ID restriction was required for Republicans casting their votes at Maine's GOP caucuses, neither would such a restriction have stopped Webster from declaring Romney the "winner" of the Maine Caucuses as he did last Saturday night (on both a televised announcement and in the one posted to the Maine Republican Party website.)

Similarly, no Photo ID restriction in the world would have kept Iowa GOP Chair Matthew Strawn from inaccurately declaring Romney the winner on Caucus night there either, as he did, even though Romney had not won that state either. That state's GOP, which similarly determined all of their own rules for the caucuses, also chose not to require Photo ID for their own voters, despite attempting to do so earlier in the year in the state legislature for elections in which Democrats might be able to vote. What does that tell you?

Strawn was forced to resign after his debacle. Maine Republicans should demand same of Webster, and I have little doubt but that they soon will.

If the Paul camp is serious about accountability, they should be filing a lawsuit against both him and the party in Maine as well. So should Republican voters there.

In both Iowa and now Maine, it has been members of the public who have been able to step forward to point out the inaccurate totals reported by the state Republican Parties in each state after they tried to award their races to Romney whether he actually won or not.

That's what Paul supporter Edward True did in Iowa. That's what Belfast's caucus chair Matt McDonald has now done in his town.

In both cases, this was possible because paper ballots were publicly hand-counted. Had those ballots been tabulated by a computer, where results can simply be changed with a few keystrokes, there would have been little evidence of theft for anybody to report on, and the corporate media would have simply moved on and declared a site such as The BRAD BLOG, attempting to oversee the elections and point out disparities and anomalies discovered during our investigation, as little more than a "conspiracy site".

The infamous quote attributed to Josef Stalin is oft-used, but far more frequently ignored. But it has never been more apt: "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."

And again, we should point out that this news site has never outright declared any election as "stolen"...until now.

The 2012 Republican Caucuses in Maine have been stolen --- by the Republican Party of Maine themselves. Now it's up to the people --- yes, the actual voters and those who support them --- to "steal" it back. Thankfully, since the people are allowed to vote on paper ballots that can be publicly counted, that just may happen.

Think they'll have much of a turnout this Saturday for the previously postponed Washington County caucuses?

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P.S. Remember to see our previous coverage on the stolen GOP Caucuses in Maine for a quick summary if other recent high profile cases of confirmed and alleged Republican election fraud, including by Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and several others that you probably haven't heard about thanks to our terrible corporate mainstream media. And no, none of the fraud has anything to do with either ACORN or "dead people" voting, or all the over stuff and nonsense Americans are usually told (usually by Republicans, but dutifully repeated and misreported by the corporate media) as being the cause of "voter fraud" and stolen elections. You're welcome.

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UPDATE 6:56pm PT: From Bangor Daily News tonight:

The Maine Republican Party has reversed course and will recommend that delayed caucus results from Washington County be included in its final presidential poll tally.
“The results of the Washington County caucus will be reviewed at the March 10 Republican State Committee meeting,” Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster said in a prepared statement approved by the state party’s executive committee.

“The executive committee voted unanimously to recommend to the state committee that they include the results in the final tally for the presidential preference poll as their caucus had been scheduled to occur by the February 11 deadline, however it was postponed due to inclement weather. “
In addition, the executive committee is working to reconfirm results that were turned in before Feb. 11

Not sure what "reconfirming" means, but that seems to refer to the numbers that were initially reported by the GOP as zeroed out in town after town last Saturday night when Webster initially (and fraudulently) announced Romney as the "winner" by 194 votes.

UPDATE 2/17/12: We may now have some of those "reconfirmed" numbers. And they reportedly reveal Romney's 194 vote lead shrinking to just 157 in advance of tomorrow's final caucuses in two different counties. Full details on the new numbers now here...

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