No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post
It’s hard at this point to keep up with all the different vote allegations, challenges, counters and counter-charges. Here is what I flagged this week, and I’m sure there are lots of stories I missed as well.
- The New York Times had a story on a variety of efforts to cut down voter participation. This likely hurts the left;
because Democrats have been more aggressive at registering new voters this year, according to state election officials, any heightened screening of new applications may affect their party’s supporters disproportionately. The screening or trimming of voter registration lists in the six states - Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina - could also result in problems at the polls on Election Day: people who have been removed from the rolls are likely to show up only to be challenged by political party officials or election workers, resulting in confusion, long lines and heated tempers.Students are another left-leaning group being targeted according to Avni Patel of ABC News. The article focuses on Drexel University in Philadelphia but is likely happening in many places.
- You can add Montana to Pennsylvania, Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina in the list of states seeing efforts to keep down vote totals:
Last week, we noted the announcement by the Montana Republican party that it’s challenging the voter registrations of over 6000 voters, mostly in Democratic-leaning counties…[T]wo registered Montana voters, along with the state Democratic party, this morning filed suit with a federal court to stop the challenges, calling the GOP move “a transparent and very likely unsuccessful attempt” to discourage voters from turning out.This was happily one of those cases where the problem was identified and removed quickly:
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy issued a scathing order Wednesday lambasting the Montana Republican Party for challenging the registrations of thousands of Montana voters, but stopped short of an actual ruling in the case…However, the judge left little doubt about his thoughts on the voter challenges. “The timing of these challenges is so transparent that it defies common sense to believe the purpose is anything but political chicanery,” Molloy wrote…The GOP abandoned those challenges Tuesday night.
- I’ve given Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner some grief for her unsuccessful challenge of about a thousand absentee ballot applications. She’s done some good work though, including switching Cuyahoga County to an optical scan voting system. Moving away from pure electronic voting is good - unless a paper ballot is counted by hand and available for audit. To those who dismiss that attitude as paranoid, I remind them: Trust, but verify. Anyway, this week Avedon pointed to Brunner’s terrible experience with them. Skepticism is warranted, pure and simple.
The flip side of illegally keeping the vote down is illegally inflating it. Based on the above post you shouldn’t be surprised that Republicans are particularly concerned about this, and the focus of their outrage is ACORN. Even a right-leaning outlet like Politico can’t summon high dudgeon (or dudgeon of any sort). Here’s why: ACORN is registering voters, but pestering people to register - even if they already are - is annoying but not illegal. And has nothing to do with who shows up to vote in November. Or to put it another way: Registering the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys to vote in your precinct will not cause the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys to vote in your precinct on election day. I hope you all followed that. And even then keep in mind
the organization attempts to authenticate every registration form its workers submit and by law they must turn in every form to election officials —- even if they find a registration to be fraudulent when they call the phone number submitted on the form, or if the forms are otherwise suspect or incomplete. They do so, and they flag all questionable registration forms as being suspect before turning them in to officials.Now, ACORN has had workers convicted of election fraud, so there is some reason to make sure their work is legitimate (and they need to make sure the number of such pleas in future election cycles is precisely zero) but overall it seems like the GOP is trying to blow smoke and convince people there’s a fire behind it.
The most mind-bogglingly obvious “news” of the week is that those granted vast, unaccountable spying powers will abuse them. Fill us in on the unsurprising details, intercept operator David Murfee Faulk:
Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of “cuts” that were available on each operator’s computer. “Hey, check this out,” Faulk says he would be told, “there’s good phone sex or there’s some pillow talk, pull up this call, it’s really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, ‘Wow, this was crazy’,” Faulk told ABC News.What’s crazy is that we needed to learn these things the hard way.
Quick hits: The White House looks like it will successfully run out the clock on this inert Congress. Heck of a job, Harry and Nancy. The surveillance state will not work for terrorists, and it’s fair to ask if that was ever the intent. The administration has already tried to bring the extrajudicial (read: unconstitutional) procedures at Guantánamo to American soil. Giving local law enforcement the ability to classify people as national security risks has the predictable result. Alan Greenspan: “In a market system based on trust, reputation has a significant economic value. I am therefore distressed at how far we have let concerns for reputation slip in recent years.” He clearly is gunning for Doug Feith’s title.
UNPACKING JANE: On page 146 a former CIA operative on the detention and interrogation of terror suspect Abu Zubayda:
“It was going to get a lot uglier. We warned them, it’s going to become an atrocious mess.” The problem form the start, he said, was that no one thought through what was called “The Disposal Plan.” “What are you going to do with these people? The utility of someone [like Zubayda] is at most six months to a year. You exhaust them. Then what?” He said, “It would have been better if we had executed them.”
How will they end up? If they aren’t executed or held forever, what then?