Posts Tagged ‘election’

Nice election, we’ll take it

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Obama’s decisive win shouldn’t let us lose sight of just how badly in need of reform our electoral process is—and just how close we may have come to another stolen election. On Friday, October 31st, Mike Connell, GOP IT specialist and Rove protege, found himself in an Ohio court being accused by a member of the Ohio bar of stealing the 2004 election in favor of George Bush. Connell asked for several days to prepare his deposition, claiming he was too busy to testify until after Election Day; attorney Cliff Arnebeck told him that was like the robber saying he couldn’t show up in court because he was busy getting ready to rob the bank.  The judge ordered Connell to be in court on Monday; Connell showed up with a battery of GOP lawyers and denied all wrongdoing under oath.  But any ability he had for maneuvering was at an end.

And that’s where things stood when the whistle blew. Whether or not another game-changing scheme really was in the works, in hindsight Obama’s lead was probably too pronounced to allow for any believable vote-fixing that would impact the national results.  But the fundamentals of the process—the use of private contractors, the lack of any standards from state to state, the ability of local elections officials to influence results, the proliferation of unreliable electronic voting machines, etc.—leave the door open for future thievery.  And there’s been multiple reports of irregularities in the Senate races still being counted. So this remains an issue that the broader public desperately needs to wake up to. Still, it’s worth taking a moment to recognize the outstanding NGOs and journalists who worked so tirelessly to keep this issue top of mind in the run up to the election:  in particular, BlackBoxVoting, Brad Friedman, Mark Crispin Miller, Greg Palast, Velvet Revolution, and of course the folks at Rolling Stone.

What’s going on with ACORN, etc.

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

We sure are headed for some shit on Election Day. “Chaos at the polls” is how CNN puts it after studying the latest reports on insufficient poll workers, malfunctioning electronic machines, lack of enough paper ballots, etc. And it doesn’t look like we’re going to do anything about it either: we could airlift whole teams of monitors and logistics assistance into a third world election next weekend if we wanted, but closer at home a strange paralysis seems to grip us.

All the stranger since an awful lot of battleground state voters are going to be showing up to the polls only to find that they’ve been stricken from the rosters.  It’s within this context that we need to examine the ACORN controversy, in which thousands of false voter registrations have been submitted to local election boards (many with names like “Bugs Bunny” or “Mickey Mouse”).  Fox News et. al. are working 24.7 to convince their viewers that this is all part of the Democrats’ plan to steal the election:  “is it a coincidence that Obama is ahead in the same battleground states rife with voter fraud allegations?”  This is one of the big GOP talking points right now; keep in mind that the same fuckwits whom you see on TV at Palin’s rallies frothing at the mouth about traitors and death are also being assured that Osama, sorry I meant Obama is hell bent on stealing what isn’t his (not that there’s a racial subtext here or anything).

But when you compare it to an issue like the basic integrity of a Diebold machine, ACORN is actually a pretty minor matter in the scheme of things.  The media said that what they were doing could have been the “first step” toward voter fraud.  So what the hell was the next one?  Bugs fucking Bunny shows up and tries to vote? I’d pay to see that one. No, ACORN’s missteps are either the result of lots of local stoners/slackers trying to make a couple bucks, or they involved at least some GOP sabotage—I can’t rule out the latter, given how quickly/deftly the right-wing media has exploited the issue and constructed a false narrative of evil Democratic voter fraud.

And that brings us to the major issue here.  Because the overall pattern is unmistakable.  A key technique used by Karl Rove and his acolytes is to do something, and then—when the opposition calls you on it—accuse the opposition of doing the same damn thing (look how this has worked across the last few days with the crossing-the-line-rhetoric issue).  And it’s impossible to study the evidence of the last two elections with an open mind (particularly the 2004 one) and not conclude that the inner core of the Rovian strategy centered on contaminating the voting process.  This was, I suspect, the secret heart of the attempt to create a permanent Republican majority (an attempt that may yet succeed), and it’s almost certainly the reason why Bush rather than Kerry is president right now (personally, I think Kerry would have made a crap prez, but that’s not the point—and the fact that I have to even point that out is a problem).

Yet now we’re headed for a real train-wreck, because election-rigging is something that only works when the vote is close, and right now it’s anything but.  Even the most supine of medias would wake up if it were confronted with a double-digit discrepancy between polls and votes.  But fucking with the vote is like campaigning:  once you start it, you can’t turn it off. An Obama landslide may yet overwhelm all the schemes.  But on November 4th, we’ll have a chance to see how deep the rot goes.

A tied electoral college?

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 has a fascinating article on what’s arguably the worst electoral situation of all: each candidate gets 269 electoral votes apiece. In which case the election would move to the House of Representatives, where each state delegation would get one vote, meaning that New York and North Dakota would be on equal footing and the political wrangling would be absolutely off the charts. And since the Senate picks the VP, we could even conceivably see a president from one party and a VP from another.  Assuming the country didn’t disintegrate into civil war in the meantime.

What’s of particular interest to me as a D.C. resident is the ambiguous role of the nation’s capital in such a scenario. D.C. gets 3 electoral votes, but has a non-voting presence in the House.  (well, they get to vote in committees, as long as their “vote” isn’t the decisive one).  So would D.C. be allowed to play a part in a House election?  Turns out it’s up to the Supreme Court.  And their verdict’s easy to predict.

Deleting your vote

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

As the candidates enter the final stretch, the big elephant on the table (no pun intended) continues to be vote fraud. In many ways, 2004 was just as problematic an election as 2000: in particular, there’s ample evidence that Ohio was stolen, and that if this hadn’t happened, Kerry would be in the White House (Remember all those exit polls that showed Kerry winning?  Well, they may have been quite accurate.)

The public’s denial on this issue runs deep indeed: who wants to admit that democracy isn’t just in crisis, but that it’s already failing? Scientists at UC released the results of a study last week showing how easy it is to hack voting machines; in fact, Diebold (the most notorious of the manufacturers of those wonderful gizmos) admitted earlier this year that its machines do in fact contain a glitch . . . but that safeguards will be in place to prevent it from impacting the 08 election.  (It’s tough to write that with a straight face.)

All of which is very worrying indeed, particularly given that the GOP has already started a massive effort to start fucking with the vote by disenfranchising as many people as possible.  Sure, it may be the Rovian tactics and the smears that get all the headlines, but let’s face it:  there’s no better way to win elections than to rig them.  Keep it up for a few more elections, and there won’t BE any more elections.  And I’m starting to think that’s exactly the way a lot of people want it.

Lehman, Merrill, and a little monkey business

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Lehman’s roadkill. Merrill Lynch has run for cover. And it looks like Washington Mutual is probably next, along with God knows who else. The best analogy I can think of to describe what’s happening involves a really big set of cookie jars, hundreds of hungry monkeys, and a complicated light system that only incrementally reveals who has their hand in which jar, and just how many cookies they’ve already consumed. The point being that we still don’t know how deep this goes, and if that isn’t an argument for a total reform of the entire joke that our financial system has become, I have no idea what is.

It will also be interesting to see if the disaster that the economy is becoming finally makes its way into the presidential campaign.  Both candidates have talked a lot about the economy, sure, but neither has even begun to level with the American people about just how bad this is getting.  The New Model McCain is unlikely to venture anywhere near THAT discussion, of course, but Obama is going to have to.  Explaining in precise terms how this is all part of the mess the GOP has created while avoiding pointing out to the average citizen how his/her own spendthrift habits is also part of the problem . . . that’s the fine line that Obama is going to have to walk.  As for McCain, he can only hope the attacks on Palin intensify while everybody forgets about all those pesky issues that actually matter.