by Matt Stoller, Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 10:54:54 AM EDT
Let's start with what we know. This primary isn't over. And if Al Wynn hadn't cheated, he would be giving a concession speech right now. For instance, how much of his money that came in was misreported or downright illegal? We just don't know at this point. How many people were intimidated from volunteering with Donna Edwards because Wynn supporters were beating people up? We don't know.
And now we come to the reported results. First of all, there's a lot to be counted, and there are possible legal challenges depending on what happens.
Second of all, don't trust the numbers that are out. They aren't real. According to the Maryland Board of Elections, without the provisional or absentee ballots, Wynn is leading by around 3000 votes or so. Putting these numbers out numbers that might be false is inappropriate, but it's in keeping with the utter and shameful incompetence that the Maryland Board of Elections has shown this entire process.
Machines in Montgomery County broke instantly, meaning that polling places were turning people away in the morning, and that they had to turn to provisional ballots. Some people were writing their votes on scraps of paper because the polling places then ran out of provisional ballots. The voting machines kept breaking, hours were extended, and precincts from Prince George's County - where Wynn has his base - were apparently among the last to be counted. A rule of thumb for stealing elections is to make sure that your precincts are the last ones to be counted. This is just brazenly atrocious, and emails are coming in about peoples' bad voting experiences.
The Maryland Elections Board has been disgraceful this whole time, amazingly incompetent. Equipment was completely disfunctional, staffers weren't trained, and there was little preparation for obvious contingencies. Read this first hand account of how messed up this election was by an experienced and tech-savvy election worker.
Throughout the early part of the day, there was a Diebold representative at our precinct. When I was setting up the poll books, he came over to "help", and I ended up explaining to him why I had to hook the ethernet cables into a hub instead of directly into all the machines (not to mention the fact that there were not enough ports on the machines to do it that way). The next few times we had problems, the judges would call him over, and then he called me over to help. After a while, I asked him how long he had been working for Diebold because he didn't seem to know anything about the equipment, and he said, "one day." I said, "You mean they hired you yesterday?" And he replied, "yes, I had 6 hours of training yesterday. It was 80 people and 2 instructors, and none of us really knew what was going on." I asked him how this was possible, and he replied, "I shouldn't be telling you this, but it's all money. They are too cheap to do this right. They should have a real tech person in each precinct, but that costs too much, so they go out and hire a bunch of contractors the day before the election, and they think that they can train us, but it's too compressed." Around 4 pm, he came and told me that he wasn't doing any good there, and that he was too frustrated, and that he was going home. We didn't see him again.
In such an environment, corruption flourishes, and we know Wynn has little respect for election laws. Except for provisional (and possibly absentte) ballots, there are no paper trails, and the Board of Elections is generally not transparent about their work. This is a disgrace on the part of Maryland, which is run by a Republican Governor whose Chief of Staff is a big dollar Wynn contributor.
Donna is fighting this, like she has fought for everything else. The provisional ballots are going to be counted on Monday, and there will be lots of observers there.
If you voted in this election, send me your story, good or bad.