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September 24, 2008

Cheating: The American Way
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 08:10 PM * 113 comments

No need to rig voting machines. The best way to rig an election is to keep voters away from the polls in the first place.

Democrats: GOP clerk discouraging Colorado students from voting

WASHINGTON — Colorado Democrats accused a Republican county clerk Wednesday of falsely informing Colorado College that students from outside the state could not register to vote if their parents claimed them as a dependent on their tax returns.

At a news conference in Colorado Springs, Democrats also charged that county clerk Robert Balink took several steps to dampen voter registrations among college students, who are likely to favor Democrat Barack Obama. Balink was a delegate to the Republican National Convention.

“When election officials spread false information about who is eligible to vote and remove, not add, polling places, we need to be concerned that eligible voters will be denied their right to vote,” said Pat Waak, chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party.

Balink’s actions marked the second time in recent weeks that local election officials have sought to discourage college students from voting. Democrats recently have made a series of accusations that Republicans are attempting to suppress the Democratic voter turnout in the November presidential election.

The New York Times reported on Sept. 8 that a local registrar at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va., issued two releases that incorrectly suggested dire consequences for students who registered to vote, including the possibility they no longer could be claimed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns.

Martha Tierney, an attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party, said she obtained emails showing that Balink’s office sent to the Colorado College president’s office a flier to provide students with voter-registration information.

The flier stated: “What this means is that if your parents still claim you on their income tax returns, and they file that return in a state other than Colorado, you are not eligible to register to vote or vote in Colorado.”

Balink didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

Last week, Democrats filed a lawsuit in Michigan, seeking a court order barring Republicans from using lists of people facing mortgage foreclosure proceedings as a basis for challenging their voting eligibility. Michigan Republicans denied using foreclosure lists to cast doubt about voters’ qualifications.

And in Ohio, a pivotal state that was mired in allegations of voting irregularities in the 2004 presidential election, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has taken several steps to safeguard residents’ voting rights. On Wednesday, Brunner advised county election boards across the state that the listing of a voter’s name on a foreclosure list is insufficient, on its own, to sustain a challenge to his or her residency status.

“Ohioans faced with the pain and turmoil of a home foreclosure should not be targeted by the forces of disenfranchisement on Election Day,” Brunner said.

Brunner also recently took action to prevent a tactic known as “vote caging,” in which returned mail sent to a voter’s home is used to challenge the voter’s eligibility. Brunner advised counties that the return of a non-forwardable notice is not enough to sustain a challenge on its own, and she has ordered that all challenged voters have rights to hearings before the election.

Comments on Cheating: The American Way:
#1 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 08:42 PM:

The rovian rnc has been working on repressing the vote for at least 9 years now. They've done an excellent job.

The prison-industrial complex helps a lot too.

One in one hundred U.S. citizens are currently incarcerated.

Hey, you have a prison industry you gotta have prisoners. It's kind of a continuation of the repressive laws and practices the former Confederacy put in place to 're-enslave' their former slaves and solve their labor problems. The local sheriffs were the labor providers. "Hey, Sheriff Butler, need 40 cottonpickers. Pay ya a half dollar a head." And sure nuff Sheriff found 40 vagrant prime negro men -- shoot some of them needed arresting for the crime of existing as black men.

Love, C.

Love, C.

#2 ::: Andrew T ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 08:50 PM:

I've often wondered why the justice system doesn't treat election tampering/rigging as seriously as murder or treason. Screwing with an election cuts to the heart of a democracy; I honestly don't see much difference between a clerk tampering with voter lists and a general staging a military coup.

Seeing as the Roman Empire reserved the worst judicial punishments for corrupt bureaucrats (something like sewing them up in a sack with a weasel and throwing them into a river), I don't really understand why "crimes against democracy" don't have exceptional punitive power behind them.

But then I remember that the Roman Empire isn't necessarily the role model for a liberal democracy, and the probable result of beefing up election-corruption punishments would just be political operatives on both sides trying to frame their opponents to get them disqualified.

But still, the U.S. has got to take the prize for electoral shenanigans. Why does it happen here, but not in other countries, and what can we do to stop it?

#3 ::: Jackie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 09:05 PM:

Colorado College (in Colorado Springs) is pretty much a bastion of conservatism. IIRC, Darth Cheney's daughter was a student there. So, typically, this bureaucrat might well be shooting his own party in the foot by preventing conservative student voters from registering.

Most of the rest of the state doesn't have high expectations of Colorado Springs. Takes a lot to surprise us if it's coming out of the Springs.

#4 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 09:23 PM:

Keep in mind, Colorado Springs is the center of the right wing religious-fundamentalist movement in the US and Balink is merely a reflection of that political base who actually reinforces his popularity when he
* kicked a woman out of a polling place for wearing a "Grandmothers for Peace" button.
* used his official newsletter to promote his anti-immigration and anti-gay marriage views.
* pushed for a voter ID law
* held a press conference this week decrying "widespread voter registration fraud" after finding "about a dozen" forms with errors in them.
* removed the early voting location from Fountain CO (any guesses which way that area leans?)
* has delayed or declined to process several thousand voter registration forms for this election cycle

#5 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 09:37 PM:

Constance @ 1: "The prison-industrial complex helps a lot too."

I think there needs to be a Constitutional Amendment giving felons and former felons the right to vote.

#6 ::: Zebee ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 09:38 PM:

every now and then some Australians complain and say they don't want compulsory voting.

My mother lived in Chicago in the early 1960s and says "they don't realise that if voting is compulsory there's no percentage in stopping groups of people from voting"

To me that's a very important point. Most Australians (especially Anglo ones, who are the main complainers) can't comprehend that they might be stopped from voting if they wanted to.

The amount of work done by the Australian Electoral Commission to ensure everyone can vote is impressive. They have portable polling places travelling by helicopter and 4WD to the outback, and a special form of enrolment for the homeless.

#7 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 09:53 PM:

I heard a piece on NPR about this same thing being done in Virginia. Students who registered to vote with their college address got questionaires challenging their residence, including the questions about dependent status.

Then there's the foreclosure notice = challenge at the polls, and all the other varieties of general suppression.

#8 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 09:59 PM:

And I see didn't get to the bottom soon enough, and am just repeating the post.

Silly me.

#9 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 10:04 PM:

I think there needs to be a Constitutional Amendment giving felons and former felons the right to vote.

The NYT had a recent and regrettably lightly sourced article on this. Turns out that in most states, once you are out of prison, your right to vote is already restored. You will of course need to re-register. Then there's another group of states where you need to petition for re-instatement. There are only a couple states where you lose your right to vote always and forever...

Turns out the felon restrictions mostly date back to the Jim Crow era. That's reason enough to want it covered in the Constitution along with poll taxes and other unpleasantries.

#10 ::: Tom Barclay ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 10:24 PM:

Know what's odd?

We don't give Those People enough credit for being seriously imaginative. And they are - how many lawyers must swoon over the audacity of Their loophole-finding and argument-bodging?

As a result, we may not ever choose the right tactics and strategies, ourselves. Best not to underestimate Their ingenuity.

This particular set of Opposition techniques should resonate with Lumospherians. "Not only stranger than we imagine . . . " and so on. Except -- this is an imaginative bunch of people.

#11 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 10:24 PM:

Jackie L. in #3: Where in Colorado are you?

While Colorado Springs is a bastion of conservatism (home of Focus on the Family, 5 major military installations with a 30 mile radius, etc.), it's been my experience that Colorado College has the typically left-leaning student body you'd expect from a nationally-ranked liberal arts college. It attracts students from all over the country and can't be judged by its home city.

There are small, vocal bastions of liberalism within Colorado Springs, Colorado College & the downtown area being one of them (Manitou Springs being another).

I lived in C. Springs for years and ran screaming to Boulder about 10 years ago, but my parents still live there, and my mother graduated from Colorado College in '71.

#12 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 10:31 PM:

Why is Balink still employed? If he is this shady and faulty at his job, isn't there a system of checks and balances in place to kick his ass out?

I realize his party controls the town, but there has to be an opposition party that can hold him to the law.

If the religious right got the America they wanted, would they be happy with it? Could anyone be?

#13 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 10:41 PM:

JJ Fozz -- puritanism has been defined as the sneaking feeling that someone, somewhere is having a good time. The religious Far Right (which is not to be confused with all religious people) does not want to be happy -- they want to be Right.

#14 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 10:45 PM:

Andrew, #2: Call in UN oversight, says I. If they can give people fair elections in the Third World, maybe they can do it for us too.

JJ Fozz, #12: If the religious right got the America they wanted, would they be happy with it?

I think they would be, for the first couple of years while the pogroms were going on. After they'd eliminated all the obvious targets (gays, pagans/atheists, liberals, immigrants, Jews/other non-Christians, and Catholics in roughly that order), then the infighting would start, and a lot of "evangelical Christians" would be very surprised to suddenly find themselves labeled as The Enemy for being the wrong brand. But by that time it would be much too late for any of us.

#15 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 11:00 PM:

In some states you have to petition for 'repatriation' after you've served your felony time/probation. Missouri is one such state (I have a dear friend who had a severe lapse in judgement, got incarcerated and is now out on probation). He really really regrets he cannot vote this time.

I've got friends in Colorado who have put a lot of work in the Obama campaign, as well as making sure that compatible folks get elected to Congress and the Senate.

I think it is going to be an interesting election...

#16 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 11:22 PM:

Lee @ 14: But it'd be game over when they got to the Lutherans. Who wants to pick a fight with a bunch of Germans and Scandinavians hopped up on bratwurst, beer and hot-dish?

#17 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 11:54 PM:

sewing them up in a sack with a weasel and throwing them into a river

Can I haz that? Plees?

I have a little list, I have a little list...

#18 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 11:57 PM:

Some of those tactics don't worry me much (though I'd like to see them eliminated).

I look at it this way: College students tend to be intelligent, imaginative, prickley about being deceived or oppressed, and plugged into the grapevine. And Liberal students are especially likely to Fight The Establishment. My guess is that these attempts to prevent them from voting are likely to result in more votes for Obama than he'd otherwise get.

Not handling registrations and COAs in a timely manner, and generally making it more physically-difficult to vote, seem to me to be in the Voter Fraud category and really ought to result in prison-time, even for elected offficials.

It's vital, in a democracy, that every eligible citizen be able to vote, and that all those votes are counted and reported accurately.

Paper ballots, counted by hand, in public, by teams representing all the Parties, at the polling-places as soon as they close, seems to me to be the only way this can be accomplished. It may be costly, but the alternative is much more costly.

#19 ::: David Cake ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 11:58 PM:

Zebee at #6 praises the Australian Electoral Commission. I also have nothing but respect for them, it is particularly heartening to see the lengths they go to to make voting easier for people in remote areas, people in hospital (mobile voting booths rolling through the wards), etc.

Another admirable aspect of the AEC is that to be employed by them, even in the most menial capacity, you must not be politically active. And even in the rough and tumble of seat redistribution and other decisions with a lot of political implications, I've never heard anyone seriously question their impartiality (and I know a lot of politicians). The AEC certainly seems do its job very well, and while Australian democracy isn't by any means perfect, the AEC certainly seems to give it a very firm foundation that increases confidence in it.

I am always astonished at how it isn't obvious to everyone that the politicisation of election oversight in the US is an astonishingly bad idea, and nothing significant is ever done about it.

#20 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:13 AM:

They did this in Virginia too.

#21 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:48 AM:

Andrew T@2: But still, the U.S. has got to take the prize for electoral shenanigans. Why does it happen here, but not in other countries, and what can we do to stop it?

One thing about the US is the variousness of the state systems, most other places are more unified AFAIK. There's definitely some shifty stuff going on here in Japan, but it doesn't seem to break the surface as often.

#22 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 01:03 AM:

Andrew T @ 2... sewing them up in a sack with a weasel and throwing them into a river

This sounds like something Monty Python would have come up with. I think I'll stick with the comfy chair.

#23 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 01:08 AM:

In DC's recent local primary (9/9), they had phantom overvotes and they're still counting to make sure the votes are accurate. The voting machine company blames a bad memory cartridge, but it hasn't explained how it could have the same number of overvotes on so many different contests.

#24 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 01:29 AM:

Marilee @ 23

the voting machine company blames a bad memory cartridge

"So, which cartridge was bad?"

"I forget."

Hmm ... so electoral systems can slip into senility, too?

#25 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 01:30 AM:

Don: I wish. Listening to the radio piece, most student just voted absentee. The Grapevine tells them the registrar of voters says it's illegal to vote local, and they either don't vote, or vote absentee; which is what the registrar/local community wants.

#26 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 01:32 AM:

But seriously, how is lying about voter qualifications on an official document to prevent people from voting not felony abuse of office? And what's Colorado's law on reinstatement of the franchise? Balink's going to want to know when he gets out.

#27 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 01:42 AM:

The more I see of your system the more I swear I will never bad mouth Elections Canada again(voter cards have already arrived in the mail). I feel really sorry for you guys.

#28 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 02:48 AM:

Paula Helm Murray @15, I had no idea that kind of thing went on. Since when did serving a jail term mean you're any less of a citizen?

(Yes, I'm for prisoners voting. And the homeless. Throw in the insane while we're at it. Voting FRENZY! MWAHAHAHAHA!)

#29 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 03:43 AM:

T.W. @27
Your voter card arrived in the mail, did it?

In my mail I just got my 140 page voter's guide to California's 12 propositions*, 4** that are Constitutional amendments.

Plus, this election, I've got
U.S. Congressional Rep, State Senator, State Assembly, Judge-Superior Court, County Supervisor, County Board of Education Trustee, Community College District Trustee, and County Open Space Authority Director, and then

Measure A, County Bond Measure--Hospital Seismic Safety $.84B;
Measure B, Transportation tax increase of 1/8th cent tax for 30 years to pay for BART;
Measure C-- Valley Transportation Plan 2035***; Measure D--another Transportation Ordinance;
Measures E to W-- I think only one applies,

And that Presidential thingum.

Twenty-Six choices, twenty-six times the democracy. So maybe we only have two parties and only 30% of us vote in the smaller elections, but since each election ballot here is six times the length of ballots elsewhere, it's equivalent to 180% participation.

Piece-of-paper ballots that can be hand-counted in an hour? Why would I want that? Our ballots have heft. They have weight.****

And 16% of eligible voters (10% of the population) can make choices that permanently and constitutionally change the lives of other people.

* 1. Bond, Rails bond $10B; 3. For The Children('s hospitals) bond $2B; 10. renewable energy $5B; 12. Bond, veterans' $.9B; 2. Farm standards; 5. Drug treatment programs, $.5B/year; 6. New minimum law enforcement funding of $1B/yr; 7. Renewable energy requirements; and then the Big 4**

** 9. Victims' rights, 11. Redistricting
12. Parental notification for minors
8. Eliminate right of marriage for same-sex couples.

*** yes, we often vote on measures from the future. They/we will have been overwhelmed with the exponential growth of measures, so they send some back so we can help. We approved this in 2023/1986.

****They're too heavy for regular 1st class prices.

#30 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 03:57 AM:

Torrilin @ 9:

Here in Washington, your right to vote is restored when you get out of prison.

Well, no. It's restored when you're done with parole and probation and have completely finished your sentence.

Well, no. It's done when you get the department of corrections to certify that you've finished your sentence.

Well, no. It's done when you've paid every fee associated with your trial and sentence, and gotten the state to give you paper showing that.

Now, I could probably make that happen for myself if I needed to. But really, you're done with parole, do you really want to go back in to see your parole officer? And then your parole officer's boss? And then pay fees from before you even went to prison? And then convince the voter registration folks that you've really got everything?

The laws on the books don't tell the whole story.

They've gotten it so it's about as hard for a felon to vote as it can be and still let them say "Sure, anyone who's served their sentence can vote." A local newspaper did a piece on it a while back, turns out there are a whole lot of folks around here who should be able to vote, but got turned away at some stage of that process and didn't fight hard enough, or who couldn't afford the interest on some damn fee from their trial, years back.

Given that Washington State has one of the least-proportionate prison populations in the country, this ends up meaning that our state government systematically denies black people the franchise. It's not illegal, exactly, but it's pretty shady.

The fact is, the state knows you've served your sentence. They know it well enough that they don't issue a warrant for your arrest, well enough that when a cop runs your license he'll see that you've put in your years and you're done.

Could something slip through the cracks? Sure. But really, if you've served it well enough that they won't arrest you if you walk in the station and slap your record on the desk, you've served it well enough to vote, unless maybe they don't really want your kind voting in the first place.

It's a bit like the no-fly list: too innocent to arrest or even detain and question, but far, far too guilty to ever be allowed to fly or vote.

I'm of the opinion that we should let everybody vote, and if you're scared that the Hon. Representative for Riker's Island is gonna mess up your legislature, well, maybe you shouldn't be sending so many people to prison.

#31 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 03:59 AM:

Apropos Roman laws, slightly off topic for this thread but given the economic crisis, hopefully of interest...

I recall reading as a student that lending money on the terms of a modern mortgage would have been a capital crime under the Roman Republic. So immoral as to deserve execution.

#32 ::: Katherine ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 04:30 AM:

Andrew #2

It's not just the USA. From my observance as a foreigner, Irish elections seem to always be held in term time on weekdays and there is no absentee ballot, so many students would have to skip at least a full day of classes to travel home to vote. Also, there is no set election day, so the party in power may set elections when they feel it will be most beneficial to them.

There's also a bit of a problem with getting registered, census taking (which is linked to voter registration), and getting the names of dead people off the list of voters. I was here for the most recent census, and never got noted as present in the state, despite calling up the central office several times to complain that the forms had never arrived to my rented accommodation. This was not a rare occurrence. Also, despite having sent in a registration card over two years ago (I should be eligible to vote in local elections), I've never received any information on elections.

Ah well. I'm currently waiting for my heavy California voters' information packet to arrive. It's come regularly ever since I managed to convince the registrar that it shouldn't be going to the UK.

#33 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 05:54 AM:

At least there's a chance of fighting voter impediments that happen this early. What can be done about problems that are set up on or closer to election day?

#34 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 06:06 AM:

Andrew T @2: I've often wondered why the justice system doesn't treat election tampering/rigging as seriously as murder or treason. Screwing with an election cuts to the heart of a democracy; I honestly don't see much difference between a clerk tampering with voter lists and a general staging a military coup.

Because if you execute people for vote rigging, and execute people for murder, why shouldn't someone intent on rigging the election roll up their sleeves and start murdering opposition voters?

(It's the classic Chinese justice paradox: "the penalty for rebellion against the emperor is death. The penalty for reporting to duty late is death. Pal, we're late for duty. I say the emperor just lost the mandate of heaven ...")

#35 ::: Forza ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 06:11 AM:

Just wanted to delurk to say that as somebody who has had two siblings recently attend Colorado College, I know for sure that Colorado College is actually quite liberal.

Colorado Springs is an interesting town because there's always a little simmering tension between the highly-conservative town itself, and the highly liberal college in the middle of it. I can readily believe that voter suppression tactics are being directed toward CC students. They are generally very looked down on by most of the townspeople, largely because of their liberality and (perceived/relative) lack of religiosity.

On the plus side, CC students are also generally fairly independent and not likely to take this sort of tactic lying down...

#36 ::: Emily ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 06:39 AM:

...I'm of the opinion that we should let everybody vote, and if you're scared that the Hon. Representative for Riker's Island is gonna mess up your legislature, well, maybe you shouldn't be sending so many people to prison.

As am I. Why are you yelling at me for agreeing with you that *all* forms of Jim Crow laws ought to be unconstitutional?

#37 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 07:12 AM:

Andrew T.: Seeing as the Roman Empire reserved the worst judicial punishments for corrupt bureaucrats (something like sewing them up in a sack with a weasel and throwing them into a river), I don't really understand why "crimes against democracy" don't have exceptional punitive power behind them.

Because it would be cruelty to weasels?

#38 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 08:33 AM:

I remember having a long conversation with an activist who lobbies for Democracy/Good Government issues in Washington. His take was basically that America (or more specifically, America's political establishment) is fundamentally not all that interested in making sure everyone can and will vote. There are dozens of head-smackingly simple things that government could do to make it easier to vote, even leaving out the ones that make Republicans scream about voter fraud. We could start by holding elections on a more convenient day of the week, or making election day a national holiday.

The Democrats are on the side of the angels on this one, but largely because they see it as directly in their interest. It's worth noting that the original masters of creative disenfranchisement were Southern Democrats.

#39 ::: DaveKuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 08:39 AM:

Besides, the weasel wasn't guilty of vote fraud.

#40 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 08:46 AM:

...sewing them up in a sack with a weasel...

I don't get it... You want to sew weasels up in a sack with other weasels?

#41 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 08:54 AM:

Lee and Lance - I'll bring a squad of Italian and Irish Catholics to the party, we can throw in with the Lutherans and crack some heads for the good of the country.

#42 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 08:54 AM:

Why am I thinking of the election in "First Lensman", where the Cosmocrats are up against the corrupt and evil* Nationalist party.
The Cosmocrats mobilise the might of the galactic patrol and do everything necessary to keep the election clean, from knocking on doors and checking residents, to spotting ringers, repeaters and imposters, and of course having highly trained and armed patrolmen at every polling station, so that nobody can be intimidated.
Now where is the national organisation to put forwards an operation like that?

*Its a story, so the goodies get to be really good, unlike the lesser evil in the current case.

#43 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 09:06 AM:

DaveKuzminski @ 39... the weasel wasn't guilty of vote fraud

In fact, it was trying to ferret out the cheats.

#44 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 09:15 AM:

"Michigan Republicans denied using foreclosure lists to cast doubt about voters’ qualifications," says the article. Oh, really?

"The chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County, Michigan, a key swing county in a key swing state, is planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the upcoming election as part of the state GOP’s effort to challenge some voters on Election Day.

“'We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses,' party chairman James Carabelli told Michigan Messenger in a telephone interview earlier this week."

#45 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 09:28 AM:

Riddle me this, Batman.

Why is it that, just now, the government is assigning a brigade of the Third Infantry - the Third Infantry for all love, a hardened and thoroughly effective combat unit fresh from three tours in the sandbox - to the fatherland homeland as an emergency response force? What kind of emergency are we talking about here?

The kind where the neocons' vapid, pretty puppet is falling behind in the polls, perhaps?

What press is carrying this? The Army Times, slipped through at the end of the day while everyone was twittering about McCain putting his campaign on hold.

#46 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 09:41 AM:


Guthrie, whenever I read that story, I think of the Cosmocrats as the republicans and the Patrol as their self-righteously duped enforcers. You don't have armed officers at every polling place so that people won't be intimidated; you have them there so only the people you don't like will be intimidated.

Let's see now. The right to vote is a civil right. And "It is a crime for one or more persons acting under color of law willfully to deprive or conspire to deprive another person of any right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States." I'm sure the department of justice will be investigating any minute now.

#47 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 09:51 AM:

Mark @ 45, was just coming here to post the same thing.

I said "Isn't there a law against that?" to one of my friends this morning, who said "I'm not sure. There used to be. It's not a new or interesting idea, in countries that consider themselves 'free,' to separate the police from the army. I am less than pleased with this development."

(From this statement it is possible to conclude that my friend is in a quiet, white-hot fury. When he says he is "less than pleased" with something in politics or government, it usually means that he thinks it is a gross betrayal of Constitutional principles. He said that he was "not a happy camper" about FISA, for example.)

#48 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 10:10 AM:

Guthrie @ 42:

I haven't read the story, but I suspect I know more or less how that door knocking would go.

"Hello ma'am. It's just me and a couple of heavily armed patrolmen. We're here to check on your voter registration. Lovely house ma'am, looks like you really keep up the place. It's so heartening to see so many people participating in the political process. I hope you're thinking very hard about who you want to vote for. If you make the wrong choice there's no telling what could happen. This really is such a lovely house.

"Well, seems everything is in order. Before I go, I just want to let you know that we'll be doing regular patrols and that there will be heavily armed patrolmen at every polling station to keep an eye on things and make sure that nothing untoward or irregular happens. Well, goodbye, and please do think hard about who to vote for. It could have very serious consequences for your future."

#49 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 10:13 AM:

The problem is not just that elections here are handled at the state level. It's that, in most states, they're specifically the responsibility of the state secretary of state, who is an openly partisan, elected official with an obvious conflict of interest. This was a large part of the problem in Florida in 2000, and definitely in Ohio in 2004.

#50 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 10:17 AM:

It is instructive that the classic American film about the forces of 'good' defeating the forces of 'evil', Birth of a Nation is about how the good Ku Klux Klan saved the South from the evil Negroes and their untoward designs against white womanhood. And how did the Knights of the White Camellia save white women from having to commit suicide so as to save themselves from fates worse than death? Why, by preventing the dastardly Negroes from voting, of course. That was the climactic victory of the honourable men in their white sheets over the evil dark-skinned monsters, after the destruction of their leader in the burnt-cork makeup that is (couldn't have an actual mulatto pawing Lillian Gish, wouldn't have been right).

#51 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 10:20 AM:

I remember reading that Lensmen book and being amazed that Kinnison was actually supposed to be the good guy--his campaign came across to me as bullying demagoguery, and the Galactic Patrol's involvement as deeply creepy. And it certainly made me wonder about Doc Smith's politics, though I know worse things were in the air at the time.

#52 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 10:52 AM:

#50 ::: Fragano Ledgister:

It is instructive that the classic American film about the forces of 'good' defeating the forces of 'evil' Birth of a Nation is about how the good Ku Klux Klan saved the South from the evil Negroes and their untoward designs against white womanhood.

To be fair, I don't think Birth of a Nation is much of a classic any more-- I think it's just viewed as part of history of movies.

The classic good vs. evil American movie these days is probably Star Wars.

#51 ::: Matt McIrvin:

I remember reading that Lensmen book and being amazed that Kinnison was actually supposed to be the good guy--his campaign came across to me as bullying demagoguery, and the Galactic Patrol's involvement as deeply creepy. And it certainly made me wonder about Doc Smith's politics, though I know worse things were in the air at the time.

There are reasons to mistrust Smith's politics-- the good guy Osnomians in the Skylark series are what you get if the Nazis won. They're the result of long culling. And Black DuQuesne, the cool villain, has a taste for eugenics, too.

In Lensman, no one brings up the question of whether the telepathic view broadcast for the election is trustworthy. Really, how could you tell?

#53 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 10:58 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 52... the good guy Osnomians in the Skylark series are what you get if the Nazis won

When I read the first Lensman novel, I thought that the graduation ceremonies at the beginning, if filmed, would have looked like Triumph of the Will, but without the latter's declarations by the Shovel Corps.

#54 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 11:18 AM:

#52: Well, the Lensmen Cannot Lie Telepathically. And anyone who doubts that is a Boskonian zwilnik.

#55 ::: SylvieG ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 11:19 AM:

Serge @ 43 - Besides, to err is ermine.


#56 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 11:48 AM:

Naomi Klein, award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the bestseller, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, interviewed by Amy Goodman (the progressive journalist roughly manhandled and arrested while covering protests at the rnc in St. Paul).

Here's just a single extract:

Yeah. I mean, there is pressure being put on Congress from Democrats who—you know, we’ve heard the proposals to cap executive pay and to have a moratorium on foreclosures. It’s coming not from all Democrats, but from some. But there’s something going on on the Republican side, where you have people like Newt Gingrich, and you also have the Republican Study Committee, which is a group of very influential Republican lawmakers who are saying that they’re opposed to the bailout, and they also have their wish list. And I think it is that it’s not that they’re going to oppose a bailout completely; it’s that they want economic changes, right-wing, pro-corporate economic changes, attached to a bailout. So, Newt Gingrich has his list. He’s got eighteen demands. But I think even more important than that is the Republican Study Committee, and I raise this because they’ve just issued their ransom list. It starts with suspending the capital gains tax, privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, suspending mark-to-market accounting, which is the rule that requires companies to assess their assets at current market values.

So, what’s so stunning aboutabout this, Amy, is that here you have a crisis that everyone seems to agree is borne of deregulation, and they’re actually calling for more deregulation. We have a situation where the debt is exploding on American taxpayers, and they want to suspend corporate profits—sorry, corporate taxes, which is actually what might defray some of those costs from regular taxpayers. So it’s an incredible display of opportunism. And this is what I mean by stage two of the shock doctrine. The first stage is just the bailout, but the second stage are all of these radical reforms that are going to be invoked in the name of the crisis that the bailout is creating, whether it’s pushed through right now or whether it’s pushed through later.

Read it. Please. It's not a joke, saying the last 8 years were Overture and the coming of da mav'rik and the great white 'laska gawddess are Armageddon. The corporatistas and their corporaristocrat and their corporissimo are anything but dead. The bailout is the first stage of giving them entire control. Gingrich has his 18 non-negotiable goals for the bailout plan. Wolfe tells you what they are. Number one is handing over social security.

Only non-stop, constant pressure on the dems will dilute this.

Love, C.

#57 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:08 PM:

Katherine @ 32: Census taking is related to voter registration? How do you mean this? Because it has nothing to do with registering voters, and the census doesn't count from the voter rolls. It does end up apportioning how many representatives a state gets, but that's not related to to votes.

re the 1st BCT of the 3ID... It's strange. It's also a small group (really, in terms of things, and this is why there are oddities in the equations when one starts thinking widespread rebellion; even without the question of logistics, but I shan't digress more than that on that topic right now).

One BCT can't do more than control a, smallish, city. The Posse Comitatus, and the Insurrection Act, basically, made it impossible to use the Regular Army inside the US. BushCo. was implying they didn't think those laws applied, as far back as 2003/4.

After Katrina they got a law passed pretty much giving the Prez the power to declare martial law. There were restrictions placed on it in the next year, but Bush made a signing statement reminding us all of his "sekrit powers" as the "unitary executive" and told the world he didn't care.

Why now? I don't know. I have some speculations, but nothing concrete, and more to do with other aspects of electoral politics (it's a brigade which isn't being prepped for combat, it's being prepped to defend der Heimland. This goes in hand with the boys from 10th Mountain being redirected to Afghanistan (near Khost) instead of Baghdad).

It is deeply troubling.

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:11 PM:

SylvieG @ 55... (*ducks*)

Good idea, otterwise you'll be pelted.

#59 ::: Trip the Space Parasite ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:12 PM:

inge @ #37:

I thought that too, but if we only use rabid weasels that would have to be put down anyway, it should be okay. (Anyone seen Rove lately?)

#60 ::: SylvieG ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:16 PM:

Serge @ 58 - I'll mink it up to you somehow.

#61 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:18 PM:

Serge @43, SylvieG @55,
You are all so foxy!

#62 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:24 PM:

Did anyone else (particularly in the western half of the country, where the timing was better) watch the 1940 Preston Sturges comedy The Great McGinty on TCM? McGinty's saga starts during the Depression, as an impoverished and amoral guy cozies up to the corrupt pols by voting for their choice of mayor under various assumed names in 37 different precincts; next, the guy *becomes* mayor, along with a lot of lifestyle changes, and gets into the ongoing graft in a big way; finally he's voted in as governor, gets tired of the grafters who want him to build more dams and bridges, and that's his downfall -- he ends up working in a sleazy bar somewhere in South America, shown as frame for the flashbacks.

Aside from the moments of conscience and the way it all turned out, it kinda reminded me of the Sarah Palin story.

Brian Donlevy was great in this, and in a similar role in the film they showed next, The Glass Key, even if the mood was very different. (For me, though, the true star of Key was not Donlevy or Alan Ladd or Veronica Lake, but William Bendix, playing a psychotic thug!)

#63 ::: SylvieG ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:29 PM:

Magenta Griffith @61 - Aww, you're not so badger self.

#64 ::: Janet Lafler ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:35 PM:

This kind of voter suppression is one of the reasons that Obama got his local campaign offices staffed and up and running early on. From what I have read, the Obama field offices are the best the Dems have had in a long time, if ever -- organized, efficient, with well-trained staff and volunteers. Obama and his staff have taken extremely seriously the idea that the ground game -- getting your voters registered and to the polls -- will make or break a campaign. If he hadn't had that kind of ground-level organization, he never would have been the nominee. Whether this will be enough in November remains to be seen.

@52 I think the current consensus is that Birth of a Nation is hugely influential in terms of film narration -- use of tracking shots, close-ups, etc., things we take for granted now as part of the "language of film." I've never seen it.

#65 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:41 PM:

#63: I stoat think she was fishering for compliments, you know.

#66 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:42 PM:

SylvieG @ #63

Actually, I'm getting tired of the vole thing.

#67 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:54 PM:

And these additional shenanigans by the GOP:

"Allegations of fraudulent voter registrations in El Paso County have prompted the state Republican Party to begin looking into nearly 500 statewide addresses where 10 or more people have registered.

Party volunteers have started checking the list of residences, homeless shelters, nursing homes, rehab centers and college dormitories to confirm registrations are legitimate.

"We are concerned that folks are fraudulently registering to vote with absentee ballots," said Ryan Call, a lawyer for the GOP. "Most of all, we are concerned with the integrity of the vote. Every vote should be a legal vote."

Call said the investigation will determine the validity of the voters at those addresses and check to see that the addresses listed are not just vacant lots.

The St. Francis Center, a daytime refuge for Denver's homeless, tops the list with 1,263 registrations, the most at a single Colorado address.

Andrew Spinks, department director for the center, says 1,263 is not a surprising number of registrants. "We see more than 10,000 different people a year and 500 to 700 different people every day," Spinks said. "In a mathematical perspective, 1,263 is a small amount."

Spinks said the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has been at the center, working to register new voters.

The Gathering Place, a daytime refuge for women and children, has 190 voters listing the facility as their address.

"The number is pretty accurate," said Denny Thompson, director of communications for the Gathering Place.

Call said the party is concerned with the volume and aggressiveness of voter registration this election cycle.

"I haven't seen a registration as aggressive as this," Call said. "Voter registration needs to be done with integrity."

Matt Farrauto, spokesman for the state Democratic Party, criticized the Republicans.

"Why is the Republican Party so focused on matters not pertaining to the economic crisis, the lack of affordable health care and our country's dependence on foreign oil and so focused on finding people they can prevent from voting?" he said."

#68 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:56 PM:

As I have repeatedly told my children: the only thing you really need to know about the Republican Party is that, historically, the fewer people vote the better the Republicans do.

Really, what more do you need to say?

#69 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 01:18 PM:

Faren @62:

Saw the tail-end of the first and was surprised by The Glass Key, as Donlevy made no bones about being utterly corrupt, but with his own rules that any wiseguy understood.

Also stayed up for The Boss, with John Payne as a man bred to be the successor to his brother's operation, and his rise up to the top, miserable every step of the way. His handing over the state and the police force to the slimiest vice boss in exchange for financial liquidity during the 1929 crash kinda felt familiar.... just like last week's dictator-possessed-by-God (no, *really*) in Gabriel Over the White House, Hearst's contribution to Depression public discourse.

As usual, someone in TCM's programming section knows how to reach the proles....

#70 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 02:00 PM:

This just in: The fellow hired to certify voting machines for the state of Colorado apparently lied about graduating college. He also didn't seem to have any minimum standards for the machines to pass:

Issues of Oversight

#71 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 02:11 PM:

I would love to hear some comments on who ought to vote in local elections.

On the one hand, I can see the "we want everyone to vote" side.

On the other hand, in college and vacation towns, it is not at all uncommon for the "locals" and the "students/summer people" to have quite a different set of interests--and I can definitely see an argument that only locals should have a vote.

#72 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 02:12 PM:

I'm sure he's ideologically pure, though.

#73 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 03:04 PM:

Katherine, #32: Census taking is ABSOLUTELY NOT linked to voter registration in any way! The whole point of the census is to record every person living in a given area, whether they're registered to vote or not. There are also EXTREMELY strong prohibitions (and practices to back them up) against releasing any information which could be directly tied to individuals. During the census-taking process, names and other identifying information are stripped out when the data for an individual is entered.*

Chris W., #38: It's also worth noting that the Southern Democrats went over to the Republican Party en bloc in the early 60s because of the Civil Rights movement... and took all their corruption with them.

*My partner was a district IT tech in the last census, which is how I know about this. I can provide exact details of the process if you want.

#74 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 03:08 PM:

Andrew @2
I'm all for election tampering being a treasonable offense. I'm still ticked that my hometown in Ohio made a spread in the NYT because of the 400 people registered to vote, 500 voted. The extras going to you-know-who. I have a suspicion that enough elected officials have wet their feet in that pond that making it a crime would violate their 5th amendment rights.

Charlie Stross @34 I feel that this is a false argument. Why the Chinese justice paradox doesn't apply is that murder (as opposed to 'in the heat of passion' manslaughter) takes quite a different mentality than election fraud and those that are up to the latter I wouldn't automatically assume would be up to the former. I once ran into a fellow who was able to manipulate tech so that he could get free cellphone time. In his opinion, why should people "pay for air?" Even though everyone else had to pay for what he was scamming off the cell phone company (in higher rates, etc, etc) he was definitely not a person who would go out an mug other people for the money to pay for a cellphone.

There's just not the blaze of glory in murdering to throw an election. Plus, you'd have to be really, really good at serial killing or live in a very sparsely populated area for it to make any difference.

#75 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 03:10 PM:

SamChevre: The residency requirements for most places in the US are 30 days.

CalPolySLO graduates it's students in five years. About 1/3rd of those students are there the whole time (summer jobs, not going back home). By the time they become juniors that number goes up to about 2/3rds. They rent apartments/share houses, have jobs, etc.

So if I'm not a student, I move there 30 days prior to the election, and I get to have a saym but if I'm a student, and I've lived there for 3-4-5 years, I don't?

There are some other quirks to your question of, "what counts as local,".

There's a developer up there who wants to build near a lagoon. He took it to the city council. They turned it down.

He took it to the city voters. They turned it down. He took it to the entire county. They approved it.

Should he have been allowed to take it to the people in SLO county who live 50-60 miles away, and don't have a stake in the way things are developed in the City of San Luis Obispo? What makes them more qualified than the students?

The student body at CalPoly is about 18,000. The population of SLO is about 46,000. The surrounding area (those towns/cities that see SLO as the place to go) add about that many again (Avila, Pismo, and Grover Beaches, Guadalupe, etc.).

How many of those students want to vote in SLO? A lot keep their home registration because they are concerned with local politics (our housemate was in an interesting position. She owned the house we were in, but her mother lived in San Diego, which was her home of record; she voted in SD, not SLO).

Is an interested, and attentive voter (which most students who work to get registered where they go to school are) to be discouraged? How many of those students will stay in the city where they went to school? How much more involved will they be if they aren't told they aren't wanted?

#76 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 03:11 PM:

Whoops! Also wanted to add that in the Chinese paradox, the lesser crime has already been committed, so the inevitability of the punishment is the same. In the voting scenario, there is still the choice of not committing the crime.

#77 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 03:11 PM:

What I can say is that voter turnout in south Fulton County, Georgia, since early voting started this week has been high. It's been damn' near impossible to get into the county administrative centre, which is the polling station. This is a predominantly black area.

Just one small straw in the wind, and not statistically significant.

#78 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 03:23 PM:

I get the impression that the census Katherine is talking about is not the US census. Other countries, other laws.
Although the US census is certainly used for redistricting at all levels - you need to know how many people you have in an area in order to know how many didtricts it's going to become.

#79 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 03:58 PM:

Caroline @47: Mark @ 45, was just coming here to post the same thing.

I said "Isn't there a law against that?" to one of my friends this morning, who said "I'm not sure. There used to be. [..]"

From which we get the phrase, Crossing the Rubicon.

#80 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 06:17 PM:

Lee #14:

Yep. It seems like there are a hell of a lot of people who see
freedom (in the sense of limits on the powers of the state) entirely
in terms of forbidding them and their side from doing what it wants.
And they completely miss the extent to which freedom and rule of law
and limited government both:

a. Protects them and people they value.

b. Prevents the country from endless horrible and irreconcilable
political battles over which religion will be on top, whose newspapers
will be shut down, which private sexual behaviors will be forbidden,

These people are like folks living behind a strong dam that protects
them from flooding on a regular basis, and they want to tear that dam
down so they can build some new lakefront housing, or maybe so they
can use the concrete from the dam for some urgent need elsewhere. And
they simply have no clue that without the dam, they're going to be
waving at passing boats from the top of their houses, shouting for
help, the next time there's a good, hard rain[1].

This administration has shown us what it looks like when we tear down
that dam, when the crisis of the day[2] demands that we let them
establish torture camps or wiretap everyone or invade nasty tinpot
dictatorships far away. And yet, there are *always* people who can't
imagine a flood in the future (one hasn't happened lately, after all),
but who can easily visualize themselves in one of those nice lakefront
houses. Or who are all pumped up about the emergency need for
concrete chunks that can be had most cheaply by tearing down this
apparently unimportant dam. And the folks planning to get paid to
tear the dam down and build the houses can be relied upon to spend
money buying themselves shills, who will come up with deeply
principled reasons why the dam was never a good idea in the first
place, and tearing it down is opposed only by those who hate freedom
and capitalism, and are probably gay French pagan communists or

[1] A parallel comment comes to mind regarding financial market
regulation, but I'm less certain it's accurate, as it's not remotely
clear to me that any regulation capable of preventing the current
disaster could possibly have been enacted.

[2] Say, seems we're having another crisis of the day, in which we're
told to ignore principles, property rights, and the constitution "for
the duration." Isn't it remarkable that such a thing could happen on
Bush's watch.

[3] By some kind of professional courtesy, these shills' previous
completely wrong and dishonest comments are simply never brought up
again. Instead, the shills get hired by the New York Times or NBC
news. But then, journalists and news organizations expect the same
courtesy, and hardly anyone points out that, say, the whole New York
Times spent years shilling for the current war in Iraq.

#81 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 06:20 PM:

Terry #57:

I was wondering if this was the beginning step of trying to prepare
for the worst that might come with a genuine financial system
collapse, of the kind that the administration appears to believe is
likely unless Something Is Done. The alternatives are worse,

I probably need to stop watching politics about now. There's
somethign about the pattern of events and news coverage that I find
deeply disturbing, at a level I can't quite put together. The
much-hyped threat of an economic collapse[1], the strange
political/social responses in the media and by the candidates and
congresscritters, the bizarre situation surrounding the McCain
campaign, the weird identity-politics dance around Sarah Palin, the
darkening international situation w.r.t. Russia, Iran, N. Korea, and
Venezuela. They probably don't really fit together in a meaningful
pattern, and I'm not Ozymandias watching all the TV screens and
intuiting what's coming next. But, damn. This just feels
wrong, like something that could come down on our heads in a truly
spectacular, horrible way.

[1] That doesn't mean the risk isn't real--plenty of folks I trust to
tell me the truth seem to be genuinely worried, albeit somewhat less
inclined to be stampeded into appointing Paulson the economic

#82 ::: deathbird ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 06:30 PM:

This all make me even happier that I live in Australia where registration is compulsory for all citizens over 18.

And being able to register/change address/etc by mail to the Electoral Commission makes it really easy for everyone to be eligible.

#83 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 06:48 PM:

Terry Karney (7):

I heard a piece on NPR about this same thing being done in Virginia. Students who registered to vote with their college address got questionnaires challenging their residence, including the questions about dependent status.
They did indeed do this same thing in Virginia. That's troubling on two counts.

First, it's hard to see how the schools could have honestly come up with this erroneous new interpretation they're peddling to their students. The pertinent tax codes and student financial aid regulations neither suggest nor support the idea that students can't register to vote where they go to school if they're listed as dependents on their parents' tax returns.

Moreover, the rules being misinterpreted are not obscure. They're some of the core laws pertaining to postsecondary institutions and the students who attend them. There is no way university administrators at major institutions can avoid being familiar with them.

Pause to summarize: it's hard to see how university administrators could honestly make that mistake.

Second, I find it impossible to believe that the same brand-new misinterpretation could spontaneously arise at two (or more) universities during the same campaign season. This is an interstate conspiracy to deny legitimate voters their right to vote, and it's originating within the national Republican organization.

Then there's the foreclosure notice = challenge at the polls, and all the other varieties of general suppression.
It's a general pattern at the national level, and it's increasingly blatant. I've been writing about it since 2000: the false devaluation of exit polls. The exclusion of legitimate Florida voters from the rolls of registered voters. James Baker's bare-faced lie about computer counts being more accurate than hand counts. The attack on the Florida ballot recount by known Republican political operatives from out of state, whose expenses were being paid by the national organization. Numerous instances since then of vote suppression and politically motivated vote caging. The Diebold mess. The Republicans' use of "voter fraud" as a code phrase for suppressing votes, and their profoundly improper firing of state attorneys general who didn't adequately respond to White House pressure to pursue vote suppression schemes. (Even scarier: all those state attorneys general who weren't fired, and are still in place for the 2008 elections.)

That's not a party; it's a national-level criminal conspiracy. As ever, I'm boggled by the sheer number of people who don't understand that a political operation that suppresses voting, doesn't count ballots, and lies constantly and shamelessly to the public, is not and cannot be on their side.

#84 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 07:21 PM:

#68: I think it's also important to point out that the more educated someone is, the less likely they are to vote Republican.

How else do you explain Republican education policy?

#85 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 07:35 PM:

P J Evans (#78) and others: Cambridge has a local census form they send out periodically, which is used to keep the voter registration list up-to-date. It's completely separate from the US census.

#86 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 08:07 PM:


One minor point. Exit polls have their uses--they provide information useful for later analysis of why voters voted the way they did.

However, exit polls in the U.S. are NOT designed or carried out in a way that would allow them to be reasonably used to detect errors in election results.

(Additional information on exit polls can be found at

#87 ::: Katherine ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 08:28 PM:

Terry @ 57 and Lee @ 73,

I was a bit unclear there. I'm a transplanted Californian in Ireland, and it was the most recent Irish census I was talking about. I was a student in California during the 2000 census, and I have no complaints about how that was run.

Census taking absolutely should not be linked to voter registration, but when the census conveniently ignores the existence of sizable amounts of people in rented accommodation and that rented accommodation never sees the voter registration cards that got posted to private estates and don't seem to be available anywhere else?

It's not that census information is used to cull certain people from the list of people who are allowed to vote. It's that from what I saw, the most recent Irish census didn't actually record the people who were there, and those sections of people who weren't recorded as existing in the area didn't get registration cards sent to them in the recent updating of voter registration (which was also meant to help cull large swaths of dead people, some of whom were still voting, from the lists of registered voters).

#88 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 09:05 PM:

‟It is becoming clear this election will once again be about fear″
from yesterday's opinion piece by Michael Gawenda

Like others said above (and I think I've mentioned in a few other discussions) I'm grateful to be in Australia, despite criticisms and worries I have about it. If nothing else, the climate where most people live means it can be easier to survive destitution.

BTW, the 1935 version of The Glass Key, with George Raft, is recommended as well.

Tried to look up some of the Roman judicial punishments. I remember a number involved being put in a sack with animals like snakes, cats or cockerels & drowning. This one from the Wikipedia article dealing with the Roman Military, unlike many of the others, sounds useful for modern situations:

"if a prisoner died due to the punishment inflicted by Roman legionnaires, unless he was given the death penalty, then the leader of the troops would be given the same punishment"

#89 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 09:13 PM:

Emily @ 36

I wasn't meaning to yell at you, I don't think. As you say, we're on the same side. I think you're joking (maybe?) but if so it was lost in translation to text or back out of text into my head.

While my anger over the topic obviously shows through in my post, the only people I want to yell at are those who made these laws and policies, and those who, out of fear, support them, while sending more and more of their fellows to prison (also out of fear, one assumes). The section you quoted even identifies that: "if you're afraid..."

You've identified yourself as not belonging to either of those groups, so you're out of the yelling radius on this one. I apologize if my anger bothered you anyhow, but I hope we can get turned around and be angry at the same folks.

#90 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 10:04 PM:

TNH@84: As ever, I'm boggled by the sheer number of people who don't understand that a political operation that suppresses voting, doesn't count ballots, and lies constantly and shamelessly to the public, is not and cannot be on their side.

Why? Why does it boggle you that a large fraction of this country believes that governmental bad things only happen to bad people? It makes things so much simpler if you assume the people in charge are on your side (at least until the moment when events turn against you).

The Time/Life book on psychology said that in Freudian interpretation of dreams, one's father was represented by a king -- except in the U.S., where the symbol was the President. That was >40 years ago (and Freudianism was slipping even then), but I don't see that changing. For many people, thinking is hard work, not sport -- just like reading. (What is the \operational/ illiteracy rate in the U.S.?) And some portion of the same liars you excoriate have discouraged teachers from teaching the populace to think, or even actively encouraged them to be so dull/brutal that their students come to believe thinking is too hard (if not to be outright mistrusted). They might not need to -- it's unclear whether the U.S.'s despisal of intellect is taught or a natural state -- but they do.

#91 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 11:00 PM:

albatross, #80: it's not remotely clear to me that any regulation capable of preventing the current disaster could possibly have been enacted

You're looking at that from the wrong side. Forty years ago, we had regulation which was perfectly capable of preventing the current disaster. In the interim, every bit of that structure has been deliberately, systematically dismantled. And McCain is STILL arguing that more deregulation is the solution! Fuck that shit; I want to see some RE-regulation. And more and more, I think the majority of Americans are starting to see it that way too.

Katherine, #87: Ah, okay. Sorry about getting hot under the collar, but there are a LOT of really harmful myths about the U.S. Census Bureau and the census process itself out there, and I try to stomp them out where I can.

CHip, #90: A significant number of those people appear to simultaneously believe that (1) the government will only do bad things to bad people, and (2) the government can come and take away your house or your children anytime they want, for any reason or no reason at all. Trying to communicate with people in that group is like playing with a toddler's pop-up toy; the minute you disprove one assertion, they switch straight to the other one -- and then back again with equal ease.

#92 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 11:32 PM:

Nancy, #33, your netaxs edress is bouncing.

#93 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2008, 12:44 AM:

Teresa: Oops, confusion of terms. It was the county registrar of voters, not the school's registrar of students.

Yes, I agree, the people doing these things are not interested any sort of democracy. They believe they are entitled to power, and intend to keep it, by any means they can get away with.

#94 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2008, 02:43 AM:

Oops. Have updated the email address. Thanks for letting me know.

#95 ::: Tom Barclay ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2008, 12:15 PM:

This is getting scarier and scarier.

In connection with the above-mentioned US Army ops here in the states, this just came out from Haliburton. They have a new endless contract to build and expand immigrant detention camps.

#96 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2008, 12:21 PM:

Re #95: I am starting to think I'm moving to Canada whether McCain wins or not. "Immigrant detention camps"? How long before people start getting shot trying to escape from those?

#97 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2008, 01:19 PM:

Tom, your url was truncated. Here's the tinurl version: and a clicky link to the story.

As for the contract itself, it occurs to me that such a mass confinement project would be much too useful to the Administration, in the case of A Horrifying Emergency, to limit it just to immigration use.

#98 ::: Tom Barclay ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2008, 03:49 PM:

Earl wrote, " . . . such a mass confinement project would be much too useful . . "

My very thought, Earl. My very thought.

#99 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2008, 04:35 PM:

A number of times, since details about Gitmo started coming out, I've been reminded of the so-called "Square Miles" described in Raphael Carter's The Fortunate Fall: large-scale "McGulags" run at minimal cost by the future U.S. This news item isn't helping, thanks.

#100 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2008, 04:58 PM:

Sounds a bit like the beginning of the "21st-century" 'Sanctuaries' Bashir and Sisko were transported back to in the two-part Past Tense episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 3. Saw them just this week.

#101 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2008, 10:55 PM:

Either more, or less, regulation would have helped avoid the current mess. (Less, because the requirement on banks to lend to people who couldn't pay their mortgages was government-enforced. More would have been interesting: how would they both required banks to make a certain fraction of loans to people who won't repay, and not allow them to make too many bad loans?)

#102 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2008, 12:35 AM:

Lee @14:
You realize election monitors don't make an election fair, don't you? They just certify whether it was or not — and quite often international news reports that the monitors found quite a lot of shenanigans.

Lance Weber @16:
Are you kidding? The Missouri Synod will probably start the infighting even before the other "enemies" are gone.

#103 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2008, 12:41 AM:

Tom Barclay: That contract is actually more than two years old. Doesn't change the problems with it, but it's not exactly co-ordinated with the new mission of the 1st BCT/3ID.

Anyone who cares can see my thoughts on that subject on my blog, follow the link in my name.

#104 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2008, 10:57 AM:

The comment upthread about requiring released prisoners to repay all the fees associated with their trials strikes me as akin to the Chinese government's reputed policy of executing people and then sending the family of the executed person a bill for the bullet.

And I think the actual reason is simple -- in neither case do the "relevant authorities" view the prisoners as either "people" or of any intrinsic "value" whatsoever.

#105 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2008, 04:41 AM:

Craig R #104 - I've linked to this page about Erich Kästner ( http:// books/ kastner.html ) in my annual 9th November "The Other 9/11" posts for his eyewitness descriptions of "Crystal Night, 1938" and the 1933 burning of his and 23 other authors' books.

At the top of the page, 'setting the mood', is a scan of a bill sent by the German Nazi Party government charging the family of a hanged man for the execution. Some of you may be able to translate the details from the full-sized hangman's bill image.

The Howard/Costello Australian Liberal Party government was edging towards that too, starting with billing deported asylum seekers for their keep & other fees over the years they'd been held in detention centres so that they'd owe tens of thousands of dollars if they came back, even as authorised immigrants. It bespeaks a very mean and petty kind of vindictiveness. Haven't heard if our new Labo[u]r government has changed that. Should check.

#106 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2008, 05:53 AM:

Mez --
The same sort of soulnessess was evident here in the US not too long ago -- it used to be SOP that, if a U.S. servicemen died, if they had "over-extended leave" (that is, if they had taken leave in excess of that earned), even if the leave had been approved by command structure, DOD would back-bill the dependents for the difference. This was also being done in the case of separation from service due to service-related injuries

I don't know if that practice is still the case, but it struck me as nasty, brutal and needless.

#107 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2008, 06:58 AM:

Katherine @ 87: wrt the census operation, it's not so much that people in rented accommodation were ignored, as that apartment living in Ireland isn't done well (on so many levels). The census forms were hand-delivered, they weren't just dropped in mailboxes. Unfortunately, getting access to apartment buildings can be hard: they don't have supers, the alternative of ringing buzzers until someone lets you in isn't foolproof, and most people won't answer a knock on their door anyway. That could explain why you got no form.

If you weren't listening to radio, you mightn't have heard the adverts explaining what to do if you didn't have a form. See the 19th April entry here for what I mean.

For voter registration, libraries, police stations and council offices will have the lists and the forms. Or there's the Check The Register website, which also has downloadable forms.

Oh, and midweek voting vs weekend? Doesn't make as much difference as you'd think. The government that introduced free third level education held the general election on a Friday, with the (not unreasonable) expectation that gratitude would secure them some votes. They lost.

#108 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2008, 03:10 PM:

I can haz absentee ballot! W00t!

(I'm absentee from California, so my presidential vote is a drop in the ocean, but there is a certain state constitutional amendment that needs my no vote.)

#109 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2008, 03:57 PM:

Seth@101: blaming the problem on anti-redlining regulations is easy and simple; how much cause that was is debatable, vs how much by the willingness of front-line mortgage people to bury outright falsehoods in a mass of paper thicker than most buyers could understand.

#110 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2008, 04:58 PM:

abi @ 108... there is a certain state constitutional amendment that needs my no vote

May we ask what it might be about?

By the way, one the many things I miss about living in California is the booklet that'd come in the mail to explain what each measure was about. Especially entertaining was the section where proponents and opponents would elaborate on their positions. I found that those whose political views were the opposite of mine tended to resort to screaming, with lots of caps and exclamation marks.

#111 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2008, 05:07 PM:

Serge @110:

I'll let Scalzi explain the matter. (And the ballot uses the very wording he quotes.)

My own views on the subject should come as a surprise to no one.

#112 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2008, 05:29 PM:

abi @ 111... Goodness.

proponents of the proposition went to court to change that “inflammatory” language, saying it will unfairly influence voters to reject the measure

American politics do sound more and more like an Onion spoof.

#113 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2008, 02:52 AM:

I filled out Luke's application for absentee ballot with him yesterday and will mail it tomorrow. I had a couple of questions to ask the registrar and after I told her why he might not be able to come to vote in person, she said registration is way up and she thinks it will be really crowded. So I asked him if he'd rather just vote absentee and he said yes.

I'm thinking about it for me, too, but I'm a lot better at saying "I can't stand this long, I'll be back in this spot when it gets near the front" than he is.

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