Our Coming Election Nightmare


If this is going to be a close election, it's going to become the third in a row where some proportion of angry voters blame their loss on fraud and unfairness. Some of the complaining will be conspiracy-minded, and some of it won't. Cynthia McKinney's talking nonsense when she says the 2004 election was stolen by e-voting machines, but Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan is signing on congressional letterhead today because voting machines swallowed 18,000 votes in a race that was decided by less than 500.

The more likely problems are going to come from registration challenges. In Michigan:

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. He said the local party wanted to make sure that proper electoral procedures were followed.

As reporter Eartha Jane Melzer points out, most foreclosures in the state have come in the Democratic base of Detroit and the swing counties around it. But, as Republicans will point out, the plan is opposed by the shady activists of ACORN, "whose group has registered 200,000 new voters statewide this year and also runs a foreclosure avoidance program."

In Wisconsin (which, we forget, was far closer than Ohio in 2004), the Republican attorney general is aiming to challenge voters whose registrations don't match up with a database that, of course, is flawed.

According to Government Accountability Board estimates, about 1 million people have registered to vote since Jan. 1, 2006. Election clerks say they would have to check each one, although Justice Department spokesman Kevin St. John has said they would have to check only people who registered by mail, which amounts to about 240,000 between Jan. 1, 2006, and this Aug. 6.

The problem is the software is still unreliable. It's been red-flagging hundreds of registrants, mostly because their names don't match how they're entered in other databases.

That's two swing states. It's way too easy to imagine the election flipping based on the votes of a state where Democrats will howl about purged voters or Republicans will claim that Obama-driven voter registration put fake voters on the rolls.