Archive for the ‘Ballot security’ Category

Robin Smith is no political outsider

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Democrat Robin Smith is portraying herself as a political outsider in her campaign for Missouri Secretary of State. She isn’t.

Both Ms. Smith and Republican challenger Jay Ashcroft are second-generation candidates of political families. While the Ashcroft patriarch, former Governor, U.S. Senator and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, is better known with greater accomplishments, Smith’s political pedigree is actually larger. She is preceded in politics by both her father, the late Wayman Smith, Sr., and brother, Wayman Smith, Jr. Both were St. Louis aldermen serving in the rigidly controlled political machine of the late legendary state senator J. B. “Jet” Banks. With the Banks machine’s reputation for shady election practices, it is no coincidence that Ms. Smith’s choice of offices to seek is the one that supervises Missouri elections. The office also certifies and disciplines notaries public, who certify the identity of voters casting absentee ballots, the abuse of which was the election fraud that overturned the results of a contest in this year’s Missouri Democratic primary.

Recent Ashcroft ads disclosed that Ms. Smith has been delinquent in paying taxes. Ironically, the political career of Sen. Banks ended shortly after his conviction on felony charges of filing false state income tax returns.

Ms. Smith has also been involved in local politics. She was reputedly a close personal friend of notorious former St. Louis school superintendent Jerome Jones, whose administration was tarnished in 1987 by a scathing state audit called resulting from a citizen petition. Criticized for extravagant poorly documented spending of taxpayer funds, he may be best known for his comment that it was hard to find lunch in St. Louis for under $100. (Remember, those were 1987 dollars he was talking about.)

Ms. Smith’s claim to independence is her tenure as a reporter and anchor for three national television network affiliates in St. Louis. Toiling for local mainstream media outlets is anything but politically independent.

In addition to supervising elections and notaries public, the secretary of state also supervises business formation and disclosure, securities regulation and investor protection and publishes state administrative rules and regulations. While Ashcroft’s training and experience as an attorney well prepares him for these duties, there is nothing in Ms. Smith’s background that qualifies her for the job.

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Are Democrats poised to steal the midterms?

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Something weird is in the air this election season, and I don’t like what I smell. I think it’s a rat.

Most factors point to a big Republican win in the midterms, with the GOP expanding its majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and, more significantly, wining control of the U.S. Senate. Republicans appear poised to take the six net (8 takeaways minus 2 givebacks) Democrat-held seats necessary for a 51-seat “Biden proof” majority, and a Republican wave raising all GOP boats as little as 2 more points would give them 10 net new seats (rescue the two vulnerable seats, plus 2 more where incumbent Democrats are currently slightly ahead) and insulate their senate control against the loss of a few vulnerable seats in 2016.

Yet, something’s in the air. President Barack Obama exudes confidence in the midterm results. He even went out of his way to brand reluctant vulnerable Democrat senators with his mark, stating publicly that his policies are on the ballot because all those Democrats voted for them. Why would as politically savvy a politician as Obama do such a thing? He must be positioning himself to take credit for their wins. What does he know that we don’t?

My fear is that the fix is in.

What could dishonest Democrats possibly do to overturn a massive nationwide Republican wave? Old-fashioned ballot box stuffing, for starters. One way involves hoards of lower-level (i.e., not important enough to be recognized) political operatives voting in the names of others in several hand-picked polling places staffed by party-loyal clerks who won’t challenge their signatures. (In many inner city areas, thee aren’t enough legitimate Republicans to staff polling places, so Democrats fill those slots with their own people, and the bi-partisan checks and balances are out the window.) The operatives vote in the name of a registered voter who the party is confident won’t show up to vote themselves. Voters over age 90 (or known to be incapacitated, or even dead) who haven’t voted in several consecutive elections are a prime source for names. (For examples, see here and here and here.) This is what voter-ID laws are designed to prevent, and it’s why Democrat lawyers fight so hard to get judges to overturn or delay implementation of those laws.

Ballot stuffing, part deux, takes place after the polls close and corrupt Democrat pols get a feel for whether more needs to be done. If more votes need to be manufactured, the election judges take care of it. (As I noted above, many inner city polling places are staffed exclusively by Democrats.) They don’t have to guess who isn’t going to vote, because they have the official list of who really did vote and, more important, who didn’t. Filling out paperwork for those who didn’t vote turns those nonvoters into straight Democrat ballots that count. This can be time consuming, especially if a lot of votes need to be manufactured. But they’ll take whatever time is necessary. Ever notice how the most Democratic precincts are always the last ones to turn in their ballots for tabulation?

Close contests in areas that have significant concentrated pockets of super Democrat support are most vulnerable. Rogue precincts in liberal college towns and inner-city parts of Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro can keep North Carolina’s seat in Democrat hands. Little Rock and precincts along the Mississippi River could save Arkansas for the Democrats.

Colorado’s all-mail ballot is tailor-made for fraud. Corrupt politicians are busy voting phony ballots right now. And if they fall short, count on them “finding” new uncounted ballots a few days after the election. It worked six years ago for Al Franken.

Georgia and Louisiana could be a two-part affair because of runoff laws. Democrats may try to steal these elections on election day by creating enough phony ballots to give the Democratic candidate the majority necessary to avoid a runoff. Or the fun could be repeated at (or deferred until) the runoff, when fewer legitimate voters will participate. By then, results from other states will have determined whether these contests will be decisive for senate control. If they are, there will be tons of money, lots of lawyers and plenty of experienced locals to make sure the senate stays under Harry Reid’s thumb. Atlanta provides a treasure trove of inner city votes to manipulate, and plantation country in southwest Georgia can provide backup if needed. In Louisiana, Republicans will need to overcome creative voting in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

But some old-fashioned fraud may not be necessary for Democrats if high-tech voter fraud can provide an election day surprise or two, especially under the radar in totally unexpected places. This worries me because of what happened on June 10, 2014, in the Republican primary in Virginia’s 7th congressional district. Underfunded Tea Party challenger David Brat upset House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in an election that pre-election polls had universally showed Cantor winning by 13 to 34 points. Brat succeeded where virtually all other (and better funded) Tea Party challengers across the country had failed, and no one seems to know why. With no disrespect to Brat, whom I believe will be a fantastic, principled congressman, I believe Brat was the innocent beneficiary of manipulated vote tabulation on the part of Virginia Democrats. I suspect that VA-7 was a successful test run for a much bigger national prize on November 4. Fast forward to last week’s early voting in the Chicago area, when an observant Republican candidate “caught” his touch-screen voting machine changing his vote from Republican to Democrat. That candidate got that machine pulled out of service (just a “calibration error,” nothing to see here, move along), but what about all the other rogue machines that ordinary people don’t notice? (Say Goodnight, Bruce Rauner. You’re toast.)

Low population states with low-visibility, seemingly uncompetitive Republican-favored senate contests are prime targets for scattered “calibration errors,” because these states have even fewer voters to overcome than VA-7. Possible targets include Alaska (where the senate race is close), as well as seemingly safe states like Montana and South Dakota. Are they as “safely out of reach” as Eric Cantor seemed to be on June 9? And while Oklahoma and South Carolina are larger and would require more fraud to overturn, they are also tempting targets because they are “twofers;” both have two senate seats on this year’s ballot. Democrats would especially love to eliminate South Carolina’s black Republican Sen. Tim Scott, because his presence contradicts their racial narrative.

While blatant voter fraud such as this seems like it would be too risky to try, don’t bet on it. When you don’t know ahead of time what’s going on or where to look, vote fraud is hard to detect and even harder to prove. The only witnesses are people who were involved. Even among innocents, the communities where voter fraud takes place have a long “don’t snitch” tradition that intimidates witnesses, especially vulnerable elderly people. Deadlines for challenges are too short to put together evidence, and confidentiality laws prevent much evidence from being discovered. Furthermore, the Obama Administration has a history, from its onset, of refusing to prosecute the few who are caught. Remember the New Black Panthers case in Philadelphia? And if all else fails, Obama himself, with his pen and his phone, is around for two more years to issue pardons.

For the sake of the country, I hope I’m dead wrong. I want people holding up this article and laughing at me on Election Night. But Obama’s cocky, seemingly misplaced confidence worries me. What does he know about the midterms that we don’t?

Sabato’s partisan rant re: electoral college reform

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

I like Larry Sabato, his Crystal Ball column and the fine work of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. But his post criticizing a proposal to reform the Electoral College falls well short of the standards ordinarily maintained by him and his organization. His thesis is easily unraveled, and it seems to be transparently based on concern that the change could hurt Democrats.

The proposal at issue would change the Electoral College by awarding one electoral vote to the winner of each individual congressional district and the state’s remaining two electoral votes to the statewide winner, the way Maine and Nebraska already award their electoral votes. The other 48 states and District of Columbia currently award electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis.

Crystal Ball‘s hyperbolic headline screams that the plan would “undermine democracy.” Sabato’s personal comment called the proposal “truly rotten” and claimed that it would “fix and game the Electoral College” to benefit Republicans.

Really?

The main analysis, penned by Senior Columnist Prof. Alan Abramowitz, claims the such a plan would have changed the result of the 2012 election because of gerrymandered congressional districts, specifically citing Republican-drawn plans in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, all states that Obama carried last year. But those states’ plans weren’t particularly gerrymandered or even unfair. Abramowitz failed to mention the most blatant gerrymanders, by Republicans in North Carolina, by Democrats in Illinois, and by a nominally non-partisan board in California. Since Romney won North Carolina statewide, the proposed plan would actually have given Obama some electors from that state that he did not receive under the current system. The reverse would have been true in Illinois and California.

Whining about gerrymandering ignores the fact that who benefits from gerrymandering changes over time. In Missouri, for example, the current Republican-drawn map, which caused the state’s loss of a seat from decennial reapportionment to come at the Democrats’ expense, represented the first time Republicans had drawn the state’s map since 1920. The liberally oriented main stream academics and media rarely objected when unfair redistricting favored Democrats.

The real reason that the proposed plan would have given the Republican nominee an electoral majority in 2012 even though the Democrat won the national popular vote by several million votes (and why Republicans control the House of Representatives even though Democratic congressional candidates outpolled Republican candidates nationally) is because of housing patterns. People who vote Democratic tend to congregate in metropolitan areas filled with people who think and vote like themselves, while people who vote Republican are more geographically dispersed. In the McKinley/Teddy Roosevelt era, the politics were exactly reversed, with Republicans dominating most cities and Democrats dominating most rural areas. (The red/blue state map of McKinley’s 1896 election is virtually a mirror image of the 2000 election, except for five states not then admitted to the Union.)

The rationale for the Electoral College is to give relevance to a broader geographical range of voters. When George W. Bush was criticized that he had won unfairly and against the will of the people in 2000, he explained that he would have campaigned differently if the popular vote had determined the outcome, but he campaigned according to the rules in place. Barack Obama did exactly the same thing, surgically concentrating on just ten “swing” states. Electing the president by the popular vote would put a premium on appealing to geographically concentrated voters who could be reached most economically, to the detriment of everyone else. That would shift attention away from most “swing” states, mostly to the benefit of single-party machine areas. Since Democrats are geographically concentrated, that plan would favor Democrats. And that bias would presumably be just fine for liberal academics.

Balkanizing presidential election returns into separate, independent elections (51 current jurisdictions, 486 under the proposal) insulates the election from fraud (whether by multiple or ineligible voting, voter suppression, or logistical problems with overseas and military ballots) by isolating its impact to a single area that is already likely to vote for the party that would benefit from the fraud. A few political machines (either urban Democrat or rural Republican) are in a better position to steal a national election in a larger election than in 51 or 486 smaller ones. For example, under the current system, the Chicago Democratic machine allegedly changed the outcome of the razor-thin 1960 election by swinging Illinois’ electoral votes to Kennedy with late reporting votes. (Democrats may prefer confused butterfly ballot voting in Florida in 2000 as an election-changing example.) Under a popular vote system, a few like-minded machines could manufacture millions of phony votes and steal an election that wasn’t close. Under the district vote proposal, they could have only affected congressional districts that they were going to win anyway, plus the two statewide votes.

The proposed reform would bring the election results closer to the people by giving relevance to their individual district, while still giving some attention to statewide results. The voices (and votes) of urban Democrats in Missouri and Texas and rural Republicans in Illinois and California would actually matter. Overall, that would currently favor Republicans. At other times (e.g., 1945-1980) it would favor Democrats. And the system that’s in place now isn’t really all that bad.

Amid cheer, an ominous sign in Wisconsin

Hold the champagne.

The Unablogger

Prior to Wisconsin’s June 5 recall elections,Democrats announced that Wisconsin would be where they would test out their GOTV plan. Gov. Scott Walker’s victory caused many to say that the Dems’ plan was a failure. Except that it wasn’t.

What the Democrats mean by GOTV (standard definition Get Out The Vote) is manufacturing enough phony votes to win. It’s their MTV plan – Manufacture The Vote. That’s how they reversed Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R-MN) election night win in 2008 to send Al Franken to the senate and give them the 60th vote they needed to ram thru Porkulus and Obamacare before 2010.

While clear thinking Wisconsin voters piled up too big a margin for Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch outstate for the Dems to steal statewide, Democrats nevertheless did manage to pull off their plan in one senate district. When I went to bed (well after midnight Central time), 75% of the precincts had been counted in the 21st district, and Republican incumbent Sen. Van Wanggaard had a 6-point lead, but Democrat precincts in Racine were holding out their count till they knew how many votes they needed. Sure enough, the Racine vote put Democrat former Sen. John Lehman over the top by about 700 votes and turned control of the senate over to the Dems and the public sector unions that own them.

This is Obama’s game plan for November. Urban areas in OH, FL, PA, WI, MI, CO, NV and MO will hold out till the end, and if Romney’s lead isn’t out of reach they will report whatever POTUS needs. All of those states except Colorado also have contests determining control of the US Senate.

The Wisconsin results should be less about victory laps and more about the need to beef up both the ground game and ballot security.