Our Coming Election Nightmare

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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.

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  1. If the Democrats lose they better not whine about it being “stolen” again. It’s going to reach self-parody levels if they do.

  2. “If the Democrats lose they better not whine about it being “stolen” again. It’s going to reach self-parody levels if they do.”

    I’m more concerned about the potential for race riots. Obama tee-shirts are ghetto-chic.

  3. And? How is this different from any other election? Whoever cheats best wins. But it doesn’t matter because either way we’re all doomed.

    DOOMED I TELLS YA

  4. I want it to be a blow-out, either way. Seriously.

  5. A blow out? No way! I’m hoping for lots of fun. But I have a friend in the Ohio Sec. of State’s office who I fear may go insane between now and the election.

  6. I worked for a Florida county Supervisor of Elections office for the August primary. There shouldn’t be any further problems with voting machines – they are now only used for disabled voters. Everyone else uses paper ballots.

  7. Don’t worry, e-voting will resolve all of these problems.

    Oh wait, these are caused by e-voting? Well then it’s a good it thing it doesn’t matter who wins!

  8. We should just have VISA and MasterCard handle it.

  9. I’m guessing razor thing close and very ugly. But yeah, either way, doomed as doomed can be….

  10. The more things “change,” the more they stay the same.

  11. We should just have VISA and MasterCard handle it.

    Will we get 2% rebate on every congressperson purchased?

  12. Warren:

    So we can do a chargeback within 30 days of inauguration?

  13. Having your house foreclosed forfeits your right to vote? I assume this really about challenging non-current addresses…but a rather shitty way to go about it, no?

    Any state that has trouble keeping track of address changes should talk to whomever does the Roll Call mailouts from my alma mater’s alumni association…those guys track me down every time I move, usually within weeks…

  14. The closer it is the more potential for violence, so I want it to be down to 1 vote.

  15. I’m bookmarking this in case Obama loses and Weigel starts beating the “They stole the election!” drum, because I’m sure he’ll be one of the first to do it. This post shows that he’s already thought about it.

  16. One of the many problems with this line of think is that if your house is foreclosed it doesn’t automatically mean you aren’t still living there.

    @warren

    Elections are a fundamentally different problem so solve than running a payment processing network.

  17. Ah, the shrill cries of chicanery. How you will fill the blogosphere regardless of the outcome.

    Also, as an added bonus, I’ve spoken with partisans of both parties about this very issue. All will happily admit that their side cheats as well, but the unforgivable sin that the other side commits is cheating better than their guys. Seriously, that’s the part they think is unfair. That their preferred party isn’t as shameless.

  18. I hope it is really close as well. The election fraud of the last two elections helped wake up some of the democrats. This time hopefully the republicans notice and publicize some of the fraud taking place against them.

  19. Note that partisans of both parties are convinced that the other side is the more effective cheat.

    I hate people.

  20. Lagate Damar-

    The other side always assumes it’s enemy is this omnipresent well-oiled machine, not only in politics but in everything else.

    Extremist Jack Chick-like Protestants think the Vatican is some kind of totalitarian uber-state that has computer files on every Southern Baptist in the world, Marxists are convinced that Wall Street is a malevolent monolithic entity out to cheat the working class any way it can, etc.

    The reality is EVERYONE is disorganized and just making it up as they go along.

  21. When did Reason become a lefty mag?

    Linking to MichiganMessenger.com as even a vaguely credible site is a joke. It’s a partisan left-wing site.

    The state and county party say the Michigan Messenger is making it up.

  22. “I’m more concerned about the potential for race riots. Obama tee-shirts are ghetto-chic.”

    Yeah, I live in the hood, so I’m thinking I’m going to take a vacation day from work and stay home with my shotgun loaded and ready.

  23. Remember gabe; paranoia will destroy ya

  24. Q:When did Reason become a lefty mag?

    A:When they hired Weigel.

  25. “Yeah, I live in the hood, so I’m thinking I’m going to take a vacation day from work and stay home with my shotgun loaded and ready.”

    Not sure if you’re joking, but I wasn’t.

    This is bigger that the whole Rodney King thing. Way bigger.

  26. Fiction for a race riot vacation day:

    The Year of the Quiet Sun by Wilson Tucker.

    Tucker may be my favorite fairly-obscure SF writer. His bibliography section in wikipedia needs some serious work.

  27. Damn you’re fast Credibility problem !

  28. Hey Donald, are the people in your neighborhood fleet-footed?

  29. The closer it is the more potential for violence, so I want it to be down to 1 vote.

    Do you really want to leave it all up for Kevin Costner to decide?

  30. Me too. I’m totally serious, Donald. It’s gonna get ugly if Obama doesn’t win.

  31. The right wing sock puppets fantasizing about race riots are the Republican equivalent of Democrats fantasizing about an Obama RFK-like assassination.

    The 60s are over, assholes.

  32. Q:When did Reason become a lefty mag?

    A:When they hired Weigel.

    Are you saying that the left is never factually correct?

  33. BDB,

    Just because you can’t appreciate the sublime joy of a race riot, don’t damn those who can. Your stunted aesthetics is not everyone else’s problem…

  34. “The right wing sock puppets fantasizing about race riots are the Republican equivalent of Democrats fantasizing about an Obama RFK-like assassination.

    The 60s are over, assholes.”

    Yeah, there haven’t been any racial issues since then at all.

  35. Do you really want to leave it all up for Kevin Costner to decide?

    Yes. How can the person who utterly fucked up David Brin’s The Postman be wrong?

  36. “The right wing sock puppets fantasizing about race riots are the Republican equivalent of Democrats fantasizing about an Obama RFK-like assassination.

    The 60s are over, assholes.”

    So what exurb do you live in, BDB?

  37. I live in a city that’s 65% black. Nice try, though, SIV/Donald/Deadrick.

  38. Both of the major political parties have adherents that will lie, cheat and commit fraud to win an election. Sad but true. What angers me most is we are now seven years and ten months removed from the Florida 2000 fuck story and many states/counties/cities still have not even done the easy repairs to the system.

    As much as I like to bash the officials and voters here, Detroit voters tossed an incompetent city clerk in 2005, and replaced her with an intelligent and conscientious woman. Night and day.

  39. …Obama-driven voter registration put fake voters on the rolls.

    THAT’s the Chicago way!!!

  40. Nice try, though, SIV/Donald/Deadrick.

    WTF do I have to do with whatever you are babbling about BDB ?

  41. “I live in a city that’s 65% black. Nice try, though, SIV/Donald/Deadrick.”

    And you don’t see the tee-shirts? You don’t pick up on the racial tension? What’s the total population of your city? Is it one of the top ten in the US (mine is)? Or is it someplace like Drew, Mississippi?

  42. The population is 200,000.

    I ride public transit every day.

    I also don’t shit my pants when I see a black guy.

  43. And I live in one that is 61% black, J sub D. I myself am a mixture of White and Cuban. So I’m not exactly a plain old cracker.

    Race riots are dangerous no matter what color you are, dude. Stop assuming that only the non-blacks are scared.

  44. SIV-

    You said in a previous thread you were looking forward to riots.

  45. Sorry, J sub, that was meant for BDB.

  46. Do you think we’ll ever see a blow-out election again?
    Identity politics is so well done at this point that it seems impossible to sway more than a small percentage of the population to vote for one party over the other.
    This is good for the 2 party system, however, because it keeps the false dichotomy alive and creates fear of deviating from voting for one party, lest the other (evil) party win.

  47. Do you think we’ll ever see a blow-out election again?

    Not for years. And if we do it will a Marching Morons style “revolution” and it won’t be anything to look forward to for us.

  48. And you don’t see the tee-shirts? You don’t pick up on the racial tension?

    i see shirts all over brooklyn.

    the tension doesn’t seem much more tense than usual, though.

  49. I’m worried about the nursing home riots if McCain loses.

  50. “I’m worried about the nursing home riots if McCain loses.”

    Lol!

    Now doesn’t it feel good to loosen up a bit, BDB?

  51. Do you think we’ll ever see a blow-out election again?

    Do you think we’ll ever see an election when one candidate wins a majority again?

    Seriously, to me the most impressive thing about all the polls is that I *still* have yet to see either McBama or OCain at or above 50%. I bet neither one gets a majority of the popular vote in November, never mind a blowout.

  52. Since 1988 a candidate has only gotten 50% once (Bush 2004) and then only by a hair.

  53. It would be incredibly simple to create a rock solid e-Voting system that is, at a minimum, as secure as any other method. It’s too bad they don’t seem too interested in doing so.

  54. Sorry, J sub, that was meant for BDB.

    ‘salright.

    I have heard others, some who I respect voice the expectation that if Obama loses riots will happen. My immigrant Persian buddy thinks so. I don’t, but could be wrong. There is a lot of understandable but misdirected rage in the poorer parts of the African American community.

  55. Did Irish Catholics riot when Al Smith got blown out?

  56. BDB, you’re just trying to act as if riots have never happened before, and I know you’re not that naive.

    Maybe they will, or maybe they won’t, but stop acting as if it’s an absurd thought to see it as possible.

  57. As much as I normally mock it, I favor verified 6-sigma techniques for any voting procedure.

  58. Part of me wants to get to experience the fun of Cleveland burning once again, which disturbs me the tiniest bit. Is there a fancy French or German term for joy-in-destruction?

  59. Is there a fancy French or German term for joy-in-destruction?

    The English term is sociopathic if that helps.

  60. 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.

    The problem with this sort of moral equivalence is that ACORN really does engage in election fraud, nor does it explain how those nefarious Republicans are able to purge the voter rolls of Democrats, and only Democrats, by using a foreclosure database that presumably includes lots of Republicans in its ranks.

  61. Just the other day, a Hillary supporter said to me “mark my word” Obama will be assassinated if he wins and there will be anarchy in the streets, and a war on whites that would end the racial question forever. She had hoped the first black president would be a Republican because, if he or she was shot, the African -Americans would be better behaved.

  62. “Did Irish Catholics riot when Al Smith got blown out?”

    no but remember when Mike Tyson had his comeback fight with Peter McNeeley…lots of upset irish folks.

  63. There has been one episode of rioting over a contested election in the past decade, and it was carried out by a lily-white band of Republicans flown in from DC.

  64. The English term is sociopathic if that helps.

    *narrows eyes*

  65. And even then, it was a pretty wussy riot.

    I also don’t shit my pants when I see a black guy. Cosmotarian! I’ll bet you wear deoderant, too.

  66. But….joe. T-shirts!

    T-SHIRTS!!!!!

  67. Uh, what’s happening CC?
    They still call it the White House
    But that’s a temporary condition, too.
    Can you dig it, CC?

    To each his reach
    And if I don’t cop, it ain’t mine to have
    But I’ll be reachin’ for ya
    ‘Cause I love ya, CC.
    Right on.

    There’s a lot of chocolate cities, around
    We’ve got Newark, we’ve got Gary
    Somebody told me we got L.A.
    And we’re working on Atlanta
    But you’re the capital, CC

    Gainin’ on ya!
    Get down
    Gainin’ on ya!
    Movin’ in and on ya
    Gainin’ on ya!
    Can’t you feel my breath, heh
    Gainin’ on ya!
    All up around your neck, heh heh

    Hey, CC!
    They say your jivin’ game, it can’t be changed
    But on the positive side,
    You’re my piece of the rock
    And I love you, CC.
    Can you dig it?

    Hey, uh, we didn’t get our forty acres and a mule
    But we did get you, CC, heh, yeah
    Gainin’ on ya
    Movin’ in and around ya
    God bless CC and its vanilla suburbs

    Gainin’ on ya!
    Gainin’ on ya!
    Gainin’ on ya! (heh!)
    Gainin’ on ya!
    Gainin’ on ya!
    What’s happening, blood?
    Gainin’ on ya!
    Gainin’ on ya!
    Gainin’ on ya!

    Yeah!
    What’s happening, black?
    Brother black, blood even
    Yeah-ahh, just funnin’

    Gettin’ down

    Ah, blood to blood
    Ah, players to ladies
    The last percentage count was eighty
    You don’t need the bullet when you got the ballot
    Are you up for the downstroke, CC?
    Chocolate city
    Are you with me out there?

    And when they come to march on ya
    Tell ’em to make sure they got their James Brown pass
    And don’t be surprised if Ali is in the White House
    Reverend Ike, Secretary of the Treasure
    Richard Pryor, Minister of Education
    Stevie Wonder, Secretary of FINE arts
    And Miss Aretha Franklin, the First Lady
    Are you out there, CC?
    A chocolate city is no dream
    It’s my piece of the rock and I dig you, CC
    God bless Chocolate City and its (gainin’ on ya!) vanilla suburbs
    Can y’all get to that?
    Gainin’ on ya!
    Gainin’ on ya!
    Easin’ in
    Gainin’ on ya!
    In yo’ stuff
    Gainin’ on ya!
    Huh, can’t get enough
    Gainin’ on ya!
    Gainin’ on ya!
    Be mo’ funk, be mo’ funk
    Gainin’ on ya!
    Can we funk you too
    Gainin’ on ya!
    Right on, chocolate city!

    Yeah, get deep
    Real deep
    Heh
    Be mo’ funk
    Mmmph, heh
    Get deep
    Bad
    Unh, heh
    Just got New York, I’m told

  68. Election-related riots tend to be a non-black phenomenon. If black people are involved, it has generally been as victims (eg., Wilmington riot, 1898, aimed at overthrowing Republican/Fusionist rule, which involved black voters).

    The great black riots tend to involve alleged law enforcement/criminal justice abuses – Harlem 1930s, Los Angeles 1960s, Liberty City c. 1980, Los Angeles 1992. In these cases, the precipitating event was some cop accused of misterating someone and/or getting acquitted for it.

  69. grr…just provide the link next time, SugarFree.

  70. explain how those nefarious Republicans are able to purge the voter rolls of Democrats, and only Democrats, by using a foreclosure database that presumably includes lots of Republicans in its ranks

    All they would need to do is purge a larger number of Democrats than Republicans for the plan to succeed.

  71. BDB,

    I once saw this black guy with a Malcom X T-shirt, and I’m pretty sure he was gonna mug me.

    I could “feel the tension,” in the sense that I got really tense.

  72. All they would need to do is purge a larger number of Democrats than Republicans for the plan to succeed.

    Which is a pretty good bet, if they are using addresses of 1) people who lost their homes in 2) strongly Democratic cities. Which they are.

  73. But….joe. T-shirts!

    T-SHIRTS!!!!!

    It’s far worse than you folks realize. The “T-shirts” are for sale everywhere. Street vendors, convenience stores and numerous outlets that are not affiliated with the Obama campaign!

    This blatant ignoring of copyright law is just the first step towards the total anarchy that will be unleashed when McCain wins Michigan by 493 disputed votes.

  74. Vote [Obama] or Die!

  75. For initials like TAO, you sure don’t seem to be on a path to inner-peace.

  76. Besides, I’m sure this plan would be just as innocent as the felon purges in Florida.

  77. hey, that’s ’cause the “T” is pronounced properly in my initials.

  78. A person whose home is foreclosed becomes until he moves out or is evicted, a holdover tenant, not a trespasser. No legal obligation to move out upon foreclosure, at least until the purchaser demands surrender of possession. Even then, the purchaser may not resort to self-help and must employ the forcible entry and detainer laws to obtain a judgment of possession, enforceable by a sheriff.

    At least, that’s how it is everywhere I know of, which does not include any swing states.

    I hope the Republicans’ lawyers have thought about that.

  79. TAO,

    You have a namesake comic character. He’s a bit obscure, I didn’t know if you knew.

  80. SugarFree – the house, the house, the house is on fire!

  81. For the curious, here is Wikipedia’s List of Riots throughout world history.

    I notice that the list for the twenty-first century is *longer* than the list for the 1960s. The twenty-first century rocks!!!

    Riot Anecdote: My mother was teaching at a traditionally black college in the South back in 1968, when Martin Luther King was assassinated. She got a call from one of her students, advising her not to come in to work, because other students were feeling a lot of anger over the assassination. There was, in fact, a riot in that city, as in other cities.

    The 1968 riots were in the context of the argument among black people over King’s nonviolent tactics and the more militant approach. The assassination of King was seen by certain circles as proof that peaceful methods were a sucker’s game – probably a contributing factor in the riots.

    I doubt that an electoral loss by Sen. Obama would necessarily trigger riots. Assassination, on the other hand, might lead to a re-run of the aftermath of the King shooting. Hopefully, that proposition will never come to the test, because I would presume the Secret Service is all over this.

    If you hear of overzealous acts by Sen. Obama’s Secret Service guards, this may have something to do with it.

  82. Yeah, I’ll admit I can see an assassination triggering race riots. But not an electoral defeat. Americans are used to electoral defeats.

  83. I mean, no black people in TN rioted when Harold Ford lost.

  84. What happens if Sen. Obama loses because a decisive number of black voters in swing states vote for Cynthis McKinney?

    I suspect that McKinney will soon discover what it feels to be on the receiving end of conspiracy theories about The Man.

  85. Mad Max, that’s a win.

  86. “Republicans will claim that Obama-driven voter registration put fake voters on the rolls.”

    Claim??

    Please. I live in Chicago, where the dead are more likely to vote than the young.

  87. the dead are more likely to vote than the young

    Hoooooooope and Braaaaaaaaaains!

  88. I interned in Washington just a few weeks after the ’91 riot, tension was still quite surreal. You should be prepared for anything even if you don’t think there is much of a chance for a riot, preparing for worst case scenarios, like a John McCain presidency or Democrats controlling all three branches of the government, should be SOP for 21st century living.

    Obama/Republican Congress ’08. Keep McCain away from the bombs, and Obama out of your wallet.

  89. Voter fraud may not be such a bad thing. If we can get all votes for Obama and McCain to switch to Barr or Paul…

  90. because voting machines swallowed 18,000 votes in a race that was decided by less than 500

    That’s not quite accurate. I voted in that race. The issue was a poorly designed ballot that likely caused people to miss that race. Poll workers warned me of the issue as I went in to vote that day. The problem was that the race for Governor was on the same page. There were 7 (by my recollection) candidates for Governor, and two for the Congressional seat. There wasn’t enough spacing between the two contests, so it just looked like 9 gubernatorial candidates. It was easy to miss the second race at the bottom of the screen. The software warned you of any races you missed before you cast your ballot, but people might have breezed past that screen.

  91. The funny thing about black riots is that they tend to cause damage mostly to black neighborhoods.

  92. “I once saw a black man with a Malcolm X t-shirt”.
    I once saw a white guy with a Malcolm X t-shirt. I assumed he was from the mental institution, and I was worried that he would walk over and ask if he could eat my underwear.

  93. The most obvious election fraud in my time was when the Voter News Service told west Florida that Gore has clinched Florida an hour before the polls closed in Pensacola. I’ll never believe the exit polling was that far off considering the election was tie. A tie, that is, before central time voters decided to stay home.

  94. I understand all of the arguments for anonymous voting, but there’s something to be said for having everyone vote on the record. Or at least the individual option to vote on the record.

  95. Cynthia McKinney’s talking nonsense when she says the 2004 election was stolen by e-voting machines….

    And you know this because the paper trail in Ohio was audited? Oh wait, there was no paper trail….

    Some of the complaining will be conspiracy-minded…

    And easily identified as such, because you don’t think it’s likely, and because, well, why would any Republican or Democrat do such a thing?

  96. Heck, we might as well vote publically and on the record. Isn’t that what the Union check-card legislation will mandate? Don’t you think if your employer can see how you voted to unionize his shop, then that’s going to piss him off more than knowing you voted for some senator he opposes.

  97. I once saw a white guy with a Malcolm X t-shirt.

    My dad used to golf in one of those X baseball caps after the movie came out. He got some funny looks.

  98. “Republicans will claim that Obama-driven voter registration put fake voters on the rolls.”

    It would be interesting if they could ever demonstrate that any of these fake votes had ever cast illegitimate votes. You know: did stuff that actually illegally affected the outcome of an election, as opposed to just hypothetically based on some crooked voter reg employees being paid by the form.

  99. That’s assuming that there will be an election night.

  100. Ah, yes, the phantom election fraud that sweeping the country.

    You know, the kind that’s so totally ubiquitous that the Bush Justice Department hasn’t been able to substantiate any.

    I guess they’re just really shy about pursuing cases that might have implications for partisan politics.

  101. Boss Daley I of the Chicago Machine used the graveyards of Cook County to put JFK over, and Boss Daley II will try to do the same for Obama.

    Obama may win the popular vote thanks to the big city machines, but I question the validity of those votes.

  102. And you know this because the paper trail in Ohio was audited? Oh wait, there was no paper trail….

    As it pertains to Ohio, that has rarely been the complaint. It’s usually some race-baiting form of “lines in the poor black ghettos were like, forever long, man! It’s like, a Ken Blackwell conspiracy!”

  103. Bad – try the WA gubernatorial election in 2004, where a court found that there were 13 times as many proven illegal votes as the final declared margin of victory. Under a strange feature of Washington law, you have to actually prove who dead and phony people voted for to remove those illegitimate votes from the totals, so those votes still counted, even though most states would have invalidated the election and ordered a new one on that proof.

  104. …says the Republican. It absolutely IS a right wing conspiracy. Republican = Liars, crooks, cheats, hypocrites. Since fighting dirty is starting to backfire on them, the right wing Republicans will do ANYTHING to steal this election. Again.

  105. Republicans love voter caging. Cheat, lie, steal that’s the Grand Oil Party.

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