Why isn’t there more rage over the Electoral College because it violates democratic norms?
There was so much rage over Florida, people didn’t think about the Electoral College. But if it happens again, twice within 10 years, it would be intolerable to Americans.
For African Americans, it would be more than intolerable. The New York Times reports:
Wounds have not healed here in Duval County since the mangled presidential election of 2000, when more than 26,000 ballots were discarded as invalid for being improperly punched. Nearly 40 percent of the votes were thrown out in the predominantly Democratic-leaning African-American communities around Jacksonville, a reality that has caused suspicions of racial bias to linger, even though intentional disenfranchisement was never proved.
Now, in a show of early election enthusiasm, more than 84,200 people have already voted in Duval County, surpassing the number of early votes cast in the last presidential election. Added to 33,800 absentee ballots collected so far, the numbers show that 22 percent of registered voters cast their ballots as of Oct. 27, county election officials said.
But amid excitement over Mr. Obama’s historic candidacy and the chance that the country might choose an African-American president within a matter of days, there is an unmistakable sense of anxiety among blacks here that something will go wrong, that victory will slip away.
In the 2006 election, as many as 20 percent of provisional ballots were not counted in some states.
Americans should be outraged that $3 billion later, states still are not ready. The 2002 Help America Vote Act was intended to help voters and restore confidence in the electoral process. Instead, vendors have helped themselves to taxpayers’ money.
Volunteers across the country are moving quickly to build a decentralized election monitoring system that will allow voters to use text messages to report incidents of voter suppression, long lines, broken machines, and other disruptions on Election Day. The Twitter Vote Report site will aggregate the reporting data, represent it in real-time on a dynamic web map, and notify voters, election monitoring groups, and the media, facilitating rapid response by poll workers and activists.
A study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, drove campaign coverage last week:
It was during that debate that the legend of Joe the Plumber was born. And almost immediately, the press descended on the home of Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, who seemed to enjoy the exposure until reporters began probing his political views, employment status, and a tax lien filed against him. An October 16 ABC report declared that “the networks battled over him as if he were Britney,” adding that by the end of the week, “Joe was already feeling the flip side of fame.”
John McCain is exploiting Wurzelbacher’s celebrity, such as it is. His campaign is plumbing the depths with an “I’m ‘Joe the Plumber’” video contest. The best video could end up in a TV ad.
In one respect, though, Wurzelbacher is average. His name is misspelled in the voter database. He's been registered to vote since 1992 so he's not at risk of being challenged on Election Day.
Some states will not register voters or will purge them from the voter rolls if election officials cannot match their voter registration information against information in other government databases. The problem is the computer match processes states use are inherently unreliable. Between 15% and 30% of all match attempts fail because of typos, other administrative errors, and minor discrepancies between database records, such as a maiden name in one record and a married name in another or a hyphen in one record and not another. No match, no vote policies can block hundreds of thousands of voters through no fault of their own.
I normally don’t read advice columns but a recent “Dear Abby” column caught my eye. One of her readers, a poll worker, sent in this advice:
Before Election Day, voters should check the sample ballot they receive in the mail for their precinct number and the location of their polling place. Polling places can change for a variety of reasons. Often several voting precincts are housed in one location. If a person goes to the wrong location -- perhaps because they have voted there before -- it can take considerable time and effort to direct the person correctly. Nearly all these problems would be avoided if people read the information on the sample ballot and brought it with them on Election Day.
Also, the voting booth is not the place to review and make decisions about the candidates and issues. This should be done in advance (another reason for the sample ballot). The booth is for one purpose: to mark your ballot. It is inconsiderate to occupy the space for an extended period of time, especially near closing time.
The Associated Press reports that a “senior law enforcement official confirmed” the FBI has opened an investigation into whether ACORN has violated federal law by fostering “voter registration fraud around the nation before the presidential election.”
In light of the FBI investigation, the McCain campaign released a statement:
Given the fact the FBI has launched a nationwide investigation into the questionable voter registration practices of ACORN, it is imperative that Barack Obama's campaign cooperate fully with this important investigation. To date, in public announcements including last night's debate, Barack Obama has attempted to conceal and distort his and his campaign's relationship with a group that is currently engaging in systematic voter fraud. Barack Obama's campaign must fully disclose the true nature of his association with ACORN, including:
The total disclosure of all funds, including $832,000 from Barack Obama's campaign to ACORN and ACORN affiliations like Citizens Services, Inc.
Any and all information the Obama campaign has related to ACORN's database of registered voters compiled during this election cycle.
The total disclosure of coordination between Barack Obama's campaign, ACORN, and ACORN affiliations over the entirety of this election cycle.
The truth behind ACORN's hiring of get-out-the-vote workers on Barack Obama's behalf in Ohio during this election cycle.
In the spirit of a fair election Barack Obama should assist in this process prior to Election Day.
Along with the efforts by the two political parties to take the public pulse and get out the vote, there’s another kind of party competition. That’s a competition to keep down the votes of the other party. It’s rarely acknowledged but it’s been going on by both parties since the 1830s…
It makes sense to try to win elections that way…You try to suppress those groups that are likely to vote for your opponent.
Voter suppression is institutionalized in the American voter registration and balloting system…It’s become important since blacks have become a voting bloc. The surge of blacks and young people is threatening to topple the Republican business machine.
The fraud is almost always in the count. It’s in the stuffing of the ballot box and the count…The fraud story is an ancient myth that’s deeply embedded in American political culture...
The story of ACORN and voter fraud is a classic case of using fraud to either block election reform or dampen down the vote. To sow confusion in people’s minds about what is going to happen.
And what is likely to happen is chaos at the polls. ACORN’s sloppy voter registration practices have gummed up the process. Some newly registered voters’ names may not appear on official voter lists by Election Day.
There will be confusion as poll workers try to figure out who’s eligible to vote. This will, in turn, lead to longer waits for all voters, some of whom may get discouraged and leave before casting a ballot.