Al Wynn Brags of Stealing the Election

I just got this email from the Donna Edwards campaign.

Hello,  

By now you are aware of the multiple layers of problems that occurred in  the Tuesday, September 12, election in Maryland's 4th Congressional  District.  Whether these flaws are attributable to incompetence, inefficiency, or fraud -- we may never know.  Votes are still being  tabulated in Maryland's 4th District -- provisional ballots arriving as late as  Tuesday, September 19, a truckload of machines and memory cards arriving 21 hours after the polls closed on  September 12, changing estimates of absentee  ballots to be counted, etc.  

Needless to say, the system is deeply flawed  -- leaving voters with little reason to be confident.  In the midst of all  of this system failure and uncertainty, I wanted to share with you the  transcript of an exchange that took place on Tuesday, September 19, between my  opponent, Albert Wynn, and his colleague on the powerful House Energy &  Commerce Committee:  

BARTON: Down in Texas, we had a Democratic primary about 50 years ago that Lyndon Johnson won by 54 votes. And he got the nickname "Landslide  Lyndon." We have Mr. Wynn next. He had a little bit of a tussle last week, but  he did win. And so, I want to recognize "Landslide Wynn" for any opening  statement that he wishes...
WYNN: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  In fact, they're still counting, but we're quite optimistic. And I did take a  couple pages out of Lyndon's book, so if I win, it can be attributed to Texas  know-how.
(LAUGHTER)
(UNKNOWN): Did you (inaudible)?
BARTON: I hope  not. I hope you win fair and square.
(LAUGHTER)
WYNN: A win is a win.  

P.S.  Just within the last couple of hours, the Board of Elections in Prince George's County opened up a machine with no tamper tape (so much for security), and at least one other machine that recorded votes for other offices  but none for U.S. Congress.

Come on, it's time to speak up on this.

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Glover Park, Rip-off Strategists and Unethical Behavior in the Polling Community

Sorry to bring up net neutrality again, but we're really in the final stages of putting the nail in the coffin for the Stevens legislation.  Senator Sununu is predicting that it will be delayed into 2007, which means a rewrite of the bill and the possibility of getting an affirmative net neutrality regulation into the bill.  We're close to winning this stage, in other words.  The telecom people know this, and have changed tactics.  The most recent idea is to release a poll that purports to show that the public really wants their bill passed.  The idea is that rather than argue on the merits of net neutrality, an argument the telecom companies have already lost, they will argue that the Stevens bill is really really popular.   Core to the credibility of the poll is the notion that the firms who did the poll come from both sides of the aisle and is therefore bipartisan.  I'll get to that at the end of the post, but I want to actually show why the conclusions from the survey don't actually make sense.

First, some context.  Net neutrality is the single most controversial piece of the bill and the only piece that has gotten any free media or organizing push behind it.  If Americans have heard of the bill, they probably would have heard of net neutrality.  Given this fact, the poll is self-discreding on its face, because according to the Glover Park Group the data seems to say that only 8% of the voting public has heard of net neutrality but that the voting public by overwhelming margins wants the Stevens bill bill passed.  The telcos are trying to prove that (a) the public hasn't heard of the debate and doesn't care about net neutrality and (b) the public has heard of the debate and wants a new telecom bill passed.  It's slightly more complicated than this, but that's the general idea.  You can read the poll yourself, and it's clear from the way that the survey is structured that it is leading to a false conclusion of popular support for this legislation.

Anyway, I didn't think that this poll would be taken seriously by anyone.  Apparently I was wrong.  So here's a fuller debunking of the poll by Joel Wright, a professional pollster who has, you know, standards.

1. Question wording is pathetic and is clearly geared toward positive responses. Example: in the Likelihood of More Choice question, there are no negative impacts tested. All are positive impacts, so they're telegraphing to respondents that positives are the only possible result. The question they ask is how likely those positive impacts are. Bullshit research.

2. Do a double ditto on the above when it comes to the next question: Importance of Leg. Elements. The stem specifically and only notes passage of the legislation and then only the BENEFITS of that passage. This is beyond pathetic, it's close to unethical in a purported 'objective' survey.

3. The loaded nature is 'proven', as close as you can get to it, in their own data. In the Want Senator to Vote For/Against Question. 80 to 5? Get outta here. You don't get 80/5 on anything. In particular the low against (5) is a clear indicator of biased questions. There're more people UNSURE (15%) than against. This is an absurd result.

4. And then there's the last question wording. Jeepers this is crap. The wording literally describes a benefit for consumers and a negative for consumers' providers (barring broadband providers from offering services) as the choice. So the choice is benefit for you vs. a negative for your provider. Whaa? Of course consumers jump on their own benefit given that, for one thing. More importantly though, providers win, regardless of how people respond. This IS unethical.

5. In my view, the big kicker is comparing the national data to the states. Example: in the Want Senator to Vote For/Against, their data show national For: 80%, PA: 84%, OH: 80%, MO: 80%. With a margin of error of 5 points for the state data, they're telling us there is NO significant variation in ANY state surveyed from the national numbers. Beyond bullshit.  This shows a question designed to elicit high numbers for them. No variation IS A PROBLEM. Harder case to make to the press, but true nonetheless.

So who is doing this unethical and poorly done poll?  Well none other than our friends at the Glover Park Group and Public Opinions Strategies.  Here's part of the press release from Senator Ted Stevens' Commerce Committee.

Bill McInturf, co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies, and Amy Phee, partner at The Glover Park Group presented the bipartisan survey's results. The Glover Park Group is headed by Joe Lockhart, former press secretary to President Bill Clinton, and is widely used by Democratic strategists. Public Opinion Strategies has conducted polling for a variety of Republican candidates including Republican presidential hopefuls. - Senate Commerce Committee press release

Ah, don't you just love the Glover Park Group?  In June, they release a memo arguing that Democrats shouldn't take on the prescription drug fiasco even as the company is paid by health care interests.  And now they are doing downright unethically worded polling with Republican polling firms pushing for the end of net neutrality.  What's striking though is not the work they do, but the dishonest way they market their work as coming from important Democratic sources.  Lockhart is using his position as former Clinton White House press secretary to add credibility to the study, and Amy Phee is using her position as a former employee of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research to do so as well.  

Core to the credibility of this poll is that the two firms that did it come from opposite sides of the aisle.  Public Opinion Strategies is a right-wing polling outfit and clearly unethical in their business work.  They will and should suffer for their lack of ethics around the data they put out.  Still, it's Glover Park that enables Senator Stevens and Verizon in this tactic by allowing them to pay for the bipartisanship dishonesty they need to pull off this PR strategy.

At this point, there's a serious credibility problem emerging with the Glover Park Group.  Twice now they have proven their willingness to put out bad information in service of powerful interests while masquerading as Democratic strategists.  Carter Eskew, a key aide to Lieberman in the primary, and Howard Wolfson, a senior advisor to Senator Clinton, work at Glover Park, so this is a powerful group of Democrats.  It's time for Democratic clients of this organization and ethical partners within Glover Park itself to put a stop to the dishonest tactics.  It's fairly clear that the Glover Park's main asset is its credibility, and that's going to die pretty quickly if they keep doing stuff like this.  In addition, this unethical lobbying behavior is going to tag politicians like Senator Clinton who are in favor of net neutrality, and those like Kirsten Gillibrand, who are using Glover Park-allied firms or personnel to make their political decisions.  It's bad for everyone involved, and it needs to stop.

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Update on Donna Edwards

The provisional ballots in Montgomery County are still being counted. 

In Montgomery, there are between 11,000 and 12,000 provisional ballots to be sorted, Karpinski said, though it is still unclear how many will ultimately be counted. (Officials last week said about 3,000 of those ballots are in the 4th District. In Prince George's County, the number of provisional ballots in the 4th was unknown.)

It may take five days for the count to be finalized.  I don't think Donna can make up the margin she needs to get within 1000 votes.  She may run again in 2008, and she'll have a really good shot at taking the seat.  Regardless, Wynn's power has been badly damaged.  Once you something like this happens in an election that should have been a cakewalk, your prestige as a leader and kingmaker comes crashing down.  Who wants to be on the side of someone who's probably going to lose, if not this time then next cycle?

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Dems K Street Bragging Seizing Defeat From Jaws of Victory?

bumped - Matt

Never, ever underestimate the ability of Democratic Party operatives in Washington to risk losing winnable elections. To understand what I mean, take a journey with me along a timeline in the extended entry that traces the last year in politics. You will see that despite many candidates battling the GOP's "culture of corruption," there are those inside the Democratic Party apparatus in Washington, D.C. who seem unable or unwilling to stop bragging to reporters about thier own corporate shakedown operations.

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Media Reports on Edwards Challenge

There's lots of press out today on the voting problems and irregularities of Tuesday's election.  The provisional ballots are going to be counted on Monday, so this race isn't actually over.  Donna Edwards is going to sue, and challenge returns.  

Candidate Donna Edwards, who is locked in a tight race with Rep. Albert Wynn for the Democratic nomination in district four, today said she intends to challenge returns from two or three precincts where voting cards were allegedly left unsecured overnight.

Edwards says Prince George's County voting officials who did not complete the ballot count on Tuesday night, left electronic voters cards in a truck overnight without security.

The Prince George's Board of Elections stopped counting votes around 2;30 Wednesday morning and resumed around 9:30 a.m. Results from more than 130 precincts were input using computer cards that election officials hand-carried to the board's office after equipment malfunctions.

Edwards isn't sure whether the complaint will be filed in state or federal court, but said she intends to take action by Monday.

``I'm really concerned, deeply concerned, about the integrity of the election," Edwards said.Thousands of provisional ballots, which could determine the outcome of the election are to be counted on Monday.

The legal action is being taken because, ``When the [voter] cards were entered, we saw some troubling shifts in the vote count," Edwards said.

NBC4 has more.

The integrity of some of Tuesday's primary elections has been challenged after possible voting fraud and election irregularities -- problems one candidate said she saw herself.

"We are today filing a complaint filing for a restraining order asking the courts to enjoin the conclusion of the ballots in the election," said congressional candidate Donna Edwards.

Edwards is now fighting to have votes set aside three days after the primary when she faced off against incumbent fourth district United States Rep. Albert Wynn.

Edwards said election officials in three precincts did not take outing electronic cards from voting machines that calculate votes.

"There were cards in those machines -- cards with votes on them. When those cards were entered we saw some troubling shifts in the vote count out of Prince George's County.

Edwards said the votes that were counted were exceptionally favorable for her opponent.

She said she is not accusing Wynn's camp of fraud but is concerned that the cards were left at polling stations overnight and could have been tampered with.

Donna Edwards isn't the only candidate who experienced problems.  Rushern Baker, running against incumbent Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson, is also calling for an investigation. Funny how Prince George's County seems to have electoral problems when machine candidates are vulnerable.  I wonder if Julius Henson was involved in Johnson's race as well...

Anyway, the key issue right now are the precincts whose machines weren't delivered for at least a day after the election closed.  Of course, had Montgomery County polling stations not opened between two and five hours late, Edwards would be preparing for the next session of Congress.  From the Hill:

He explained that as the electronic poll books, where voters signed in, crashed and the lines began to lengthen, many people left and did not come back.

And that's how it's done.

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