Protect the Vote

It's too late to change ballot designs, change voting machines, any of that. Also, elections have standard error rates that are commonly 1-3%, where ballots are spoiled, lost, etc.

It's also been much discussed that even if a canvasser tries to get paid for signing up people who don't exist, those nonexistent people don't show up to vote, and the worse crime is that plenty of people are outright prevented from voting in the first place.

There will be a time, I hope, when problems like these can be corrected. When we can insist on standard, nation-wide balloting with a full paper trail. But that wasn't going to happen while Bush was in office and it's going to be a hard slog even with Democrats in power.

So here are a few things people may want to keep an eye out for, given that there are glitches in the system:

-- The Election Protection Wiki is a publicly editable, collaborative effort to keep track of how the election is going and to identify any problems. If you learn of any problems, you can report them here.

--Mother Jones has compiled its own state-by-state report on known election issues.

-- North Carolinians are having problems with a ballot that allows straight party line voting ... except for the presidential race. That's an extra box to check and a lot of people don't. It's also a problem that's plagued previous NC elections and that no one's cared enough to fix.

-- What do Republicans who aren't Charlie Crist do for fun come election time? Purge voters and discard ballots.

-- Or, they may send the politicized Justice Department to prosecute groundless claims of vote fraud in order to depress turnout.

-- Or, they may lie to Virginians about when election day is, and suggest that Democrats can wait until November 5th to vote. Which is ridiculous. Who ever heard of holding a US election on a Wednesday?

-- Bipartisanly suspect e-voting machines have flipped votes in three states, affecting both Democrats and Republicans, and even the New York Times is now saying that paper ballots need to be the standard. Check out these videos from West Virginia for more.

--Verify your registration, or you might end up voting on a provisional 'ballot'.

-- If you live in Florida, don't give your ballot to a stranger just because they knocked on your door and asked for it. Not even if they give you candy.

-- If you live in Pennsylvania, be aware that unpaid parking tickets have nothing to do with your right to vote and the police don't cage polling places looking to arrest people who forgot to move their car on street cleaning day. And, based on past, similar fliers I've read about in past elections, outstanding bills also have nothing to do with voting rights. Neither the landlord nor the repo man get to interfere with whether you can vote.

Though even with all these problems, even with opponents who literally lie, cheat and steal, even with dodgy equipment, we can still win. It will mean that the election can't be close enough for there to be a question. It means everybody who can contribute, contributes. It means everybody votes who can vote. Everybody volunteers who can volunteer.

We will turn out this vote. We will elect people who'll listen when we tell them that we need better election laws. We can bury the efforts of these two-bit weasel-humping punks in an avalanche of legitimate votes.

So let's do this thing. You coming?

"Of course the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you--if you don't play, you can't win." Robert Heinlein

There's more...

States Move to Rein in Political Robo-Calls; Congress Should Too

During the lead up to last month's elections, Republicans perfected yet another mode of voter suppression: repeated, misleading prerecorded phone calls that either gave the impression that Democratic candidates were harassing voters or forced voters to listen to harsh attacks on Democratic candidates. Now, according to CQ Weekly's Shawn Zeller (no link available), a number of states are moving to curtail Republicans' ability to use this stealthy and rather deceiptful practice.

So now, legislatures in at least six states -- Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin -- are moving to stem the practice, either by banning altogether use of the machines that make the calls or by expanding state do-not-call lists to include automated political campaign calls.

"This is an abuse of privacy," says Stan Jordan, a Republican state representative from Jacksonville, Fla. "People are paying for that phone in their home, and politicians are using what they paid for as a tool of destruction."

Jordan and other robocall foes would still condone use of human-staffed campaign phone banks. There's a natural limit to how many calls a person can make, Jordan notes -- and voters can ask not to be called again if a real person reaches them. Not so with robocalls, which are limited only by the memory chips of the dialing machines.

Not only are these states right in moving against these bad faith practices, the new Democratic Congress should seriously think about regulating robo-calls as well, whether outlawing the use of them in altogether or for those on teh do-not-call registry or alternatively placing strict requirements for those financing the calls to clearly identify themselves and who they are supporting at the beginning of the calls.

But even aside from this, it's not clear to me that robo-calls -- the more up front kind (rather than the more duplicitous variety) -- are as effective as many believe. It is true that they are extremely cheap and thus allow for a high volume of voter contacts without a large investment. At the same time, they irritate a lot of voters. In my personal campaign experience, I would probably opt not to spend money on robo-calls in the future even in the absence of new legislation prohibiting or limiting their use (boy, did I enjoy the calls I received on my cell phone from voters wholly opposed to prerecorded phone messages!).

So I would like to see Congress take up some legislation on the matter. It doesn't have to be immediate. It certainly does not need to be a top priority of Congressional Democrats. But before the year is out, the Democrats should try to rein in political robo-calls. And if they do so, there's little doubt in my mind that they will win more friends than they lose (all apologies to robo-call vendors...).

There's more...

NC-05: REPORTING FOR DUTY

Recently, StormBear and LumkpinCharm have been EVERYWHERE with diaries showing in great detail what a fantastic Democratic candidate ROGER SHARPE is for NC-05. There are signs that his race against Virginia Foxx,formerly thought of as "long shot," is now entirely competitive. We from the ground agree.

Likewise, these bloggers (and countless others) have worked hard to awaken the people of our great state and nation to the hideousness of NC-05 Republicans who long ago gave up on things like...democracy. And voting.

Republican State Senate candidate David Blust(handpicked by Madame Foxx):

I don't like college students voting in local elections...

Do you think its any coincidence that...the next day...students turned in 1000+ new voter registrations!?

There's more...

Diaries

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