NYTimes repeats an old canard about the 1960 presidential race, and won’t run a correction

As the Times chose not to run this letter, we’re running it here.


To the editors:

Defending the voter ID laws pushed by the GOP from coast to coast, James P. Tuthill claims that he is “old enough to remember the credible view that voter fraud in Chicago delivered Illinois and the presidency to John F. Kennedy.” (“Letters: Using Voter ID Law to Protect Our Democracy,” Aug. 21, 2012)*

That legend might be “credible” if JFK’s election depended on his winning Illinois, but it did not. Even if he’d lost that state, his win in Texas would have given him enough electoral votes to take the White House.

And while there surely was a lot of “voter fraud in Chicago,” the GOP could find no evidence that it helped Kennedy. (It definitely swept the Democratic candidate for State’s Attorney into office.) The party hunted for such evidence aggressively not just in Illinois but in ten other states as well, and came up empty.

And yet their bitter “view” of that race seems “credible” today, and not just to Republicans—a propaganda win for Richard Nixon. Kennedy’s defeated rival never stopped insisting he was robbed, but that he chose to let it go, for the good of the country. Despite that lofty pose (“I simply did the right thing”), Nixon quietly oversaw his party’s search for proof that Democrats had stuffed the ballot box.

They couldn’t find it then—and they can’t find it now, as every study reconfirms that rampant “voter fraud” is just a myth. It is a myth that the Republicans now use to disenfranchise countless voters, which is one way to steal elections for themselves.

Mark Crispin Miller

The writer, a Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University, is the author of Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform.


To the Editor:

Re “Missed Chance to Reject Voting Barriers” (editorial, Aug. 16):

I struggle to understand your position on voter verification laws. There is nothing more important to our democracy than the integrity of the vote. If too many citizens believe that the vote is tainted, then so is our democracy.

As a registered Democrat, I don’t see any substantive basis for objecting to a reasonable verification requirement, given that we require photos for driver’s licenses, passports, credit cards and so on. With citizenship goes some modest amount of responsibility. Is it really too much to ask that a person who wants to vote get reasonable verification of who he or she is?

I am old enough to remember the credible view that voter fraud in Chicago delivered Illinois and the presidency to John F. Kennedy.

Suspicion about election results must be avoided to maintain our confidence in our democracy. Could it be that those opposed to reasonable verification laws have another agenda and are using the discrimination argument as a foil for other goals?

Lafayette, Calif., Aug. 18, 2012

1 reply on “NYTimes repeats an old canard about the 1960 presidential race, and won’t run a correction”

In Illinois, Kennedy squeeked to victory while Otto Kerner, the Democratic candidate for Governor, and Paul Douglas, the Democratic candidate for Senate were winning by huge margins. The House Delegation was also Democratic by 14 to 11. So, 1960 was a Democratic year in Illinois.

In Cook County, Kennedy got 1,378,343 to Nixon’s 1,059,607. Kerner got 1,455,674 to his Republican opponent’s 937,625; and Douglas received 1,407,775 to his opponent’s 970,050 votes. So, in Cook County, Nixon was running as much as 100,000 votes ahead of other Republicans, while Kennedy was trailing the other Democrats by 30,000 to 50,000. How could votes be stolen for Kennedy which result in his running behind the other Democrats while Nixon was running far ahead of other Republicans? How many votes did Nixon steal downstate?

In the 1968-2004 elections there were 80 million uncounted votes, the vast majority Democratic.
In 1968, there were nearly 6 million uncounted votes. Bush won by 600,000 votes nationally. If 2/3 of uncounted votes are allocated to Humphrey, he had 4 of 6 million and won by a net 1.4 million votes.

I do not have the number of votes that were uncounted in1960. But if we assume there were 6 million, JFK won by at least 2 million votes.

Democrats do much better EVERY election than the recorded vote indicates. Consider that approximately 80 million votes were uncounted in the 11 elections from 1968-2004.The Democrats lost a net 40 MILLION votes, or nearly 4 million in each election.

In 1988, Bush Sr. won the recorded vote by 7 million, but there were 11 million uncounted votes. Dukakis won the state exit polls by 51-47%. He won the National Exit Poll by 50-49%. Was the discrepancy mostly the result of 11 million uncounted votes?

In1992, approximately 9 million votes were uncounted. Clinton defeated Bush by 5.8 million (44.9-39.1) or 43.0-37.5%. But he won the unadjusted state exit poll aggregate by 17 million (48-33%).

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