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November 6, 2006

Last minute dirty tricks from the GOP
Posted by Patrick at 11:32 AM *

If you live in one of tomorrow’s more hotly contested Congressional districts, you may be getting harassing robo-calls that appear to be from the Democratic candidate. Odds are they aren’t. Here’s more information, including how to fight back.

UPDATE: Even more information here. Note how little this stuff costs. Kevin Drum’s got a pertinent observation, too.

Comments on Last minute dirty tricks from the GOP:
#1 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 12:46 PM:

I really think the phrase "dirty tricks" doesn't go far enough to describe what's going on now. Richard Nixon's people were into "dirty tricks"— "subversion" is what these people are doing.

They're not doing it just to get over. They're deliberately trying to undermine the system.

#2 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 12:54 PM:

Subtle but cowardly and dirty trickery.

I've seen the effects of this first hand, working as a volunteer for Melissa Bean's campaign in Illinois. While making calls to potential Democratic supporters, more than one person has told me that they are questioning whether or not they will vote for Melissa since they have been called so many times by her campaign. I have to tell them that the Republicans are the ones calling them, not us. (We even give them the number of the Republican office so that they can tell the Republicans to take them off their lists.)

The one small upshot is that once people find out that they have been harrassed by the Republicans, they get really angry. I'm hoping they tell all their friends about this dirty little trick.

Everyone, spread the word. Tell your friends. This trick only works if people don't know about it.

#3 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 01:22 PM:

The robo-calls (I've had five so far today) aren't the only tactic the Repubs have in their playbook.

They're also planning to suppress the vote by challenging as many voters as they can. This will have the two-fold benefit (for them) of intimidating the voters they target (and the election judges: Republicans are being instructed to threaten them with jail time) and creating long lines that may discourage some people from voting.

Read all about it here and here.

Meanwhile, if you find illegal Repub tricks happening in front of you (or to you), call 1-866-OUR-VOTE

And if you happen to see Repub voter suppression in progress, and you have a digital camera or video recorder, get pictures. Especially get good face-shots of the Repos.

Cockroaches flee the light.

#4 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 01:29 PM:

Interesting, but the big fix will probably be the voting machines again. All the indications are that, at the very least, the Dems should take the House. I wonder if they'll let you? If they don't, the corporate media will pooh pooh any suggestion the election was rigged, of course. I guess tomorrow is when we get to see if you're still a democracy.

#5 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 01:40 PM:

I'm very interested in seeing what the results are from the Diebold-voting states/districts versus the ones that use a more secure & verifiable system.

Another dirty trick to deter voters having their votes counted: turn off the power in certain places. Note that paper ballots and Scantrons just have to wait until the electricity is restored.

#6 ::: Matt D ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 02:36 PM:

I truly can't wait for tomorrow to be over and done with. I haven't gotten any calls today, but yesterday my phone was ringing off the hook.

#7 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 02:52 PM:

James @ #3:

I'm working as a poll watcher for the Democrats tomorrow, and so I'll be fighting on the front lines to make sure that that doesn't happen in my district. If the Republican poll watcher does try anything, I'll be there to challenge him or her, and I'm told I have a number of lawyers roaming the district as back up. We're ready for war.

#8 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 03:02 PM:

"All the President's Men" happened to be on the tube last night; one of the scenes showed Segretti telling W&B about the Nixonian dirty tricks, using the title "ratf****" to describe them (it was both silenced and the character's mouth pixelated on that channel, interestingly). So I thought "hmm, is that the origin of the word in the political context?"

Plus ça change and all that.

#9 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 03:05 PM:


Sometimes I'm obscurely jealous of the harrassment some of you complain about, because I vote in a district that's almost certain to turn out Republican victories in every race offered.

Nonetheless, I'll be out there tomorrow morning, voting Dem, in my hoodie.

#10 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 03:15 PM:

I've gotten some of these calls (here in the SF-Bay area) and had the initial reaction the Republican candidates must hope for. Glad to have seen this. It's just a reminder to me to go over my cheat sheet tonight and make sure that I'm voting on the issues, not a knee jerk reaction.

#11 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 03:53 PM:

Does anyone remember the story (I think) "A bathroom of her own" in Heinlein's _Expanded Universe_? These stories make me think of their dirty-tricks campaign at the end. The robo-callers are almost as good as "Here's how you vote, lady!"

The scary thing isn't that the Repubs and Demos do this crap, it's that it works. 30 second attack ads actually change election outcomes, at least based on watching practitioners in the field spend their money. Presumably misleading ads and recorded messages do, too.

There are so many close races that can be the turning point for control of the House or Senate (depending on how things swing tomorrow) that I'm very worried we'll have contested elections all over the place. There will be plenty to complain about--elections are in practice largely run by undertrained retirees using unfamilar equipment that wasn't well-designed or tested in the first place. Even in the assumed absence of malicious software in the DREs, there will be lots of screw-ups, and if the election is close enough, many will call into question a critical election outcome.

#12 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:10 PM:

I'll be running a polling place tomorrow in Boulder County, which leans heavily toward the Democratic party. The trouble I expect to see is Republican poll watchers trying to interfere with the process via nit-pickery.

During the 2004 general election, the Republican poll watcher was complaining that we should call out voter's names louder or rearrange the traffic pattern because he couldn't observe everything at once without moving around a lot. The problem with "call out voter's names louder" is it intimidates voters. We are supposed to say, "Jane B. Doe has voted!" when they deposit their ballots, and "Here is Jane B. Doe" when the sign-in judge hands the slip to the poll-book judge, and the poll-watcher wanted us to do both of those--not just the post-vote announcement but also the sign-in judge to poll-book judge communications--loud enough to be heard from one end of the hall to the other.

Also there was much nit-pickery of the details of where the tables were and exactly what order each thing was done in, venal sins of the polling place rather than mortal ones. Like, we hadn't shuffled the paper ballots out of the packaging sufficiently for the poll watcher's happiness.

This year's training session emphasized that poll watchers are not allowed to interfere with the process. They are allowed to observe, and to challenge voters' eligibility, but not to tell the judges how to do their jobs. Dammit.

I expect to quote that entire last paragraph to whoever's assigned to give my precinct trouble tomorrow.

#13 ::: Robert West ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:21 PM:

On the subject of threatening election judges with jail times: election judges are volunteers.

It's too late for this election, but people concerned with the integrity of elections would do well to join Nicole and me in volunteering to work in the polling places themselves.

Nicole: your poll watcher experience sounds obnoxious. I would have had the local police remove him for interfering with the election process.

#14 ::: Robert West ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:48 PM:

PiscusFische: the Republicans are betting that turnout in California will be low, because the Democrats are demoralized by Angelides. The plan is to drive turnout lower, thereby allowing downticket Republicans (McClintock, McPherson, Poizner) to squeak ahead of their opponents.

#15 ::: ben ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 05:50 PM:

Last night I witnessed an attack ad against Claire McCaskill (also a target-by-association of Limbaugh's attacks on Michael J. Fox) implying in the VO (without sources, of course!) that she's soft on the issue of Mexican immigration. The video dropped more-subtle hints that she's soft on irredentism. I was disgusted, but we haven't even gotten to the truly bizarre part.

...I don't even live in Missouri. Just close enough that I can't imagine many people here being registered in Missouri as absentee voters.

Whatever it takes, right?

#16 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 07:10 PM:

I'm glad I only have a cell phone! No odd calls from anyone.

We also live in a new enough neighborhood that we've had no candidate door-knockers either.

Of course, we do have the ludicrous TV commercials running (a current Santorum ad claims that his opponent has given money to companies that support terrorism), but those will be all over tonight.

#17 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 07:20 PM:

I got a robo call from a local republican candidate yesterday. He was trying to scare the faithful into turning in their ballots.

I'm glad he wasted the time on the call to my number.

#18 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 07:24 PM:

Now, if the Republicans just get their party identified with spammers, it'll be all over...

By the way, reports from Jefferson City, MO are of requests for photo ID at the voting booth and I'm seeing scattered reports in Google of voting machine problems. Time for the UN monitors, Maw.

#19 ::: wayne ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 07:26 PM:

Susie Madrak has lots more here

#20 ::: Heidi ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 08:15 PM:

There's more at DailyKos about outright fraud in voter suppression. Here's one:

[Tim Daly from Clarendon got a call saying that if he votes Tuesday, he will be arrested. A recording of his voicemail can be found online at:

The transcript from his voicemail reads:

"This message is for Timothy Daly. This is the Virginia Elections Commission. We've determined you are registered in New York to vote. Therefore, you will not be allowed to cast your vote on Tuesday. If you do show up, you will be charged criminally."

Daly has been registered to vote in Virginia since 1998, and he has voted for the last several cycles with no problem. He has filed a criminal complaint with the Commonwealth's attorney in Arlington.]

#21 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 11:16 PM:

[Satire warning, satire warning, satire warning, parody might still be protected free speech...]

Appropriate things to do with Diebold and other (alleged) voting machines (frigging in the election rigging...)

1. Remember "Catch it and you keep it!" from the Lampoon's record Radio Dinner? Put the Diebold and other such executives and the corrupt appartchiks who were the Purchase Authorities at the bottom of the cliff.

2. Payloads for Yankee Siege and its competition for distance throwing, once again, the targets should be...

3. Explosions are such fun things. Blow them up....

#22 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 11:23 PM:

In Massachusetts, we somehow have managed to get a pro-Diebold (and incumbent, btw) Secretary of State running on the Democratic line.

The choice is between him and the Green. Supposedly our Green party is "clean" and not Republican-financed. But, then again, there's the Greens' record in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Florida ...


#23 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 11:33 PM:

Link (#8): From what I hear, new FCC regs require not only bleeping offensive words but obscuring the "source" so we can't read lips.

#24 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2006, 11:39 PM:

More SOS.... Old [excrement] from the Police State Party:


"Three men have been convicted of, or pled guilty to, federal crimes and sentenced to prison for their involvement as of 2006. A fourth is under indictment. However, investigators and those who have followed the scandal closely believe that there were more people involved at the national level. It has been suggested that some high-ranking Republican Senate leaders were aware, and more recently records showing phone calls from the political operative convicted of engineering the scheme have raised questions as to whether officials in the Bush Administration were involved as well....

"White House connections
A Democratic analysis of phone records introduced at Tobin's criminal trial show he made 115 outgoing calls to the White House between September 17 and November 22, 2002. [21] Two dozen of the calls were made from 9:28 a.m. the day before the election through 2:17 a.m. the night after the voting, a three-day period during which the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out, and then abruptly shut down.

Virtually all the calls to the White House went to the same number, which currently rings inside the political affairs office. In 2002, that office was headed by Ken Mehlman, now the chair of the Republican National Committee. The White House has declined to say which staffer was assigned that phone number in 2002.

"The national Republican Party, which has continued to pay millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says the phone calls involved routine election business and that it was "preposterous" to suggest the calls involved phone jamming. [22] [23]. Mehlman said that the calls were simply part of the many he and his assistant made to field operatives in competitive races all over the country during that time period [24]...."

"Ex-GOP official sentenced over phone-jamming
Tobin gets 10 months in prison for snarling N.H. Democrat phone lines in ?02..."

#25 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 12:55 AM:

Jon @ 23, I'll be darned. Well, this was a cable station called PAX, which used to run wholesome family movies and other such mundanity, so maybe they decided they'd better go whole hog if they were going to show such a subversive film. I gotta say, though, they need practice.

OTOH, I think I read every single book about Watergate ever written for a while there, so I may qualify as some sort of minor expert on the subject. I'd been in the Navy in Japan when it all happened, and the Stars and Stripes (my sole English news provider other than AFRTS) wasn't the most liberal of papers. When I got out I devoured those books.

#26 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 08:40 AM:

#22 Jon Meltzer:The choice is between him and the Green. Supposedly our Green party is "clean" and not Republican-financed.

I didn't do the footwork to track Jill Stein's campaign financing that I should have. However, she supports a whole bunch of positions which no Republican would support. e.g., single-payer universal healthcare, relatively sane stances on elections. (I'm ambivalent about instant runoff voting. It's merely one of many alternatives as far as I'm concerned.) Also, the GOP dirty trick would have been to convince people to vote for Stein instead of Galvin so that some Republican candidate would get a plurality of the vote. However, that can't be the case because there is no Republican candidate for MA Secretary of State.

She's actually my only deviation from voting a straight Democratic ticket. Sorry, Patrick. I thought really hard about this one. Voting for her can't cause a Republican to win and she's running on "Count Every Vote."

#27 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 08:41 AM:

Oops, Uncle Jim was the one urging a straight Democratic ticket. Well, I'm sorry to him too.

#28 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 10:50 AM:

The plurality of voters in Massachusetts are disgusted with both the Republicraps and the Democraps here. This was the last bastion of "the last free-range flock of moderate Republicans" as an NPR/PBS pundit put it several years ago," and that flock's slightly less extinct than the dodo now. Repulsive reactionary Romney masqueraded as one for several years, before reskinning himself as a rightwing reactionary recidivist, and now he spends his time out stumping for the 2008 Republicrap nomination for Oval Orifice Asshole....

Most politically prominent positions, what was once the GOP here can't even muster a nonentity to get nominated to put on the ballot, and lots of incumbents to state and federal elected positions here are running unopposed... the town I live in voted in a whacko Republican just for the heck of it back some years ago, feeling that if nothing else it would add some change for the sake of change. The fellow turned out to be a total whacko, though, not just someone to raise some issues...

#29 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2006, 11:02 AM:

Oh, I left out "the Democrats have had complete one party control of the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representative for -decades-." Republican have been governors here but without any sustainable veto power whatsoever, there are that few non-Democrats in the state legislature. So, effectively, it's been monopoly politics for years--and Billy Bulger's slimeball murderer brother got personally protected by the Schmuck sealing off FBI records from Congressional investigation a few years ago.

That is, Congress demanded an accounting of the FBI's dealings with James "Whitey" Bulger. Congress held hearings. Billy Bulger, placed politically into the presidency of the University of Massachusetts after his retirement as the most powerful elected legislator in the Massachusetts State House (President of the Masssachusetts Senate for years, and high-handed in that position... one judge who referred to him as "a corrupt midget" was singled out as the ONLY judge in the state to not get a pay raise...), testified in front of Congress and had the most convenient forgetful memory ever to testify in front of Congress. Bulger's a Democrat, who acted much like a Republicrap, but one who was more socially free-spending (socially he was just as reactionary and narrow, social conservative rightwing values regarding birth control, etc.)

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