Unfinished Business?

It occurs to me that Edward’s incredibly classless comment about all the votes being counted may be a good thing. Ohio will probably come in more strongly for Bush.

But it also points out that there really may be some further unfinished business from this election.

There was apparently significant vote fraud in Wisconsin, based on hearsay from people there, and in Pennsylvania, ditto. Wisconsin in particular was so close it may have been “stolen”. MoveOn.Org was supposedly actually electioneering and intimidating people in the polling places in some places in WI.

As I said, I did not see this myself.

Nonetheless, these issues should be investigated. If they are found to be true or likely to be true an investigation and prosecution of (1) vote fraud and (2) illegal “coordination” between 527 organizations and the Democrat Party should be a priority. I have not researched whether this should be or can be done by the relevant State AGs or by the DOJ under Ashcroft or his successor. Whoever has the authority to enforce the law on these issues should do so.

The Democrats seem to need a brush-back pitch. To be fair, if any GOPers were doing this stuff, hammer them as well. But I don’t think that is a big part of the equation. The midterm elections are not far off. Pushing back on these shenanigans could be very important. Defending the process is very important.

8 thoughts on “Unfinished Business?”

  1. It’s been a major failure of the Republican Party that it has avoided making a serious political issue of election fraud. The Republicans seem to be scared of countercharges of fraud or of charges of racism. This is a mistake, both on principle, because election fraud is morally odious, and for practical political reasons, because fraud costs Republicans races which they should win. But many voters might respond favorably to a political attack on vote fraud, just as they respond favorably when Republicans advocate restricting drivers’ licenses and other State privileges from illegal immigrants.

    It’s true that the Republicans were assiduous in policing fraud in this recent election, but they have done it in the Bush style of coordinating activity out of public view. I don’t think they would lose much by taking the battle public, and if they did so they might change the public tone to the extent that more voters would begin to take the issue seriously.

  2. While my heart and passion agree, my head says now would not be a good time. First, you already have two Republican senators, Chafee and Spector, openly declaring that they will caucus Republican but support the Democrat filibuster of judges who are not PC activists. Second, it will just let the media reopen “What about the attack dogs used to intimidate voters in Fla in 2000?”

    Now we all know that there were no attack dogs, and that the newspaper recounts showed that Bush won after recounts, but still. How will the voters get to take the issue seriously when one side is doubted when they provide hard evidence and the other side is declared correct on hearsay alone?

    Maybe if there is a sacrificial Republican effort to prosecute at the same time, but i don’t know of any this year except the possible registration problem in the south west.

    And yes, i’m aware that by this standard there may just never be a good time…

    Matya no baka

  3. One of my colleagues (who teaches economics & graduated from New Mexico & who was a congressional aide there) argued for “pro-active” work on ensuring fair elections (where not only is every vote counted but every vote honestly and freely cast by valid voters). Retroactive stuff may be necessary (not only for honesty but to define the problem) but that tends to make us doubt the system. Spotting potential problems and conflicts fof interest before would make the system better.

    But his remark stayed with me. Does anyone out there know what’s with New Mexico? Why has it taken longer in both 2000 and 2004 to count those votes than California or Texas or New York (as far as populations) and surely, say, Hawaii and Alaska would pose larger logistical problems. (Is this just the nature of things or is something going on there that stays below the radar because there just aren’t all that many electoral college votes?)

  4. MNB:
    . . . it will just let the media reopen “What about the attack dogs used to intimidate voters in Fla in 2000?”

    And what about the lies used to intimidate Republicans? Democrats will continue to use such tall tales as long as Republicans can be controlled by them. Republicans can fight back effectively if they decide to.

    I don’t know the answer, but NM has been run by Democrats for a long time and is probably corrupt and inefficient, as is any state that’s run by one party for a long time.

  5. Florida has sent names of double-state voters to the FBI, according to the FL election website, and is continuing to investigate. I suppose the FBI is involved because of the stateline crossing.

    I absolutely agree that voter fraud needs to be looked into and cracked down on now. It’s becoming way too common. Let the chips fall where they may. & it may be that democrat vote fraud won’t be considered news, but republican fraud will. So be it. That won’t be any consolation to the people sitting in jail, and it will still be a deterrant to future fraud.

  6. We need a voting system that people can trust. Because if people don’t believe in the outcome of elections, and won’t sit still for what the other side is doing on the basis of elections that they don’t trust, they’ll resort to the only alternative – civil war. Not right away, but long term, that’s the alternative.

    Sometimes they’ll resort to civil war anyway – if they know the elections are legit, but they’re hopelessly outnumbered, likely to stay that way, and won’t accept the other side’s favored policy without a fight. That’s how we got our very own civil war more than a hundred years ago. Some say that FDR averted another civil war through appeasement – the would-be Communist revolutionaries were given much of what they wanted without a fight, assuming that they existed. I’m not so sure we should have given in so easily, again assuming that they existed – those who claim to speak for them have only escalated their demands over time.

    But if we can avert the risk, however small, of civil war without giving away our liberties, it’s a no brainer – civil wars are unbelievably destructive, and not especially good for our liberties either. So let’s crack down on voter fraud on both sides. Let’s mollify those who don’t trust the electronic voting machines (and as a programmer myself, I know better than to just assume software is foolproof and bug free; I’ve learned through hard experience that one should always assume that a piece of software has something wrong with it) and make the damn things spit out some paper tickets that can be counted by hand (with observers from both sides) if there’s any questions. Let’s have everyone show ID (and no, that’s not racist, unless you’ve got reason to believe that the state isn’t giving ID’s to minorities, which is simply not credible). Let’s spend the money for more voting machines to make the lines go faster, so no one has to stand in line for hours.

    I’d rather spend more money on the process, and even lose a few elections, than let either side have any rational basis for suspecting a fix. Of course, if they try to push an irrational basis, and stir up “civil unrest” on the basis of obvious bullshit, then we’ll have no choice but to fight – letting them get away with it only encourages them. But first, let’s fix the system and spend whatever it takes so that people willing to be rational will be satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt that the elections are legit, and avert any civil wars that don’t have to be fought.

  7. Jonathan, it seems you are correct. The stories are being re-tread yet again even with no prosecutions. So let’s try to clean up some of the mess.

    Ken, before the civil war comes the civil court actions. Fully agreed, we need to address the perceptions and really, really work hard on auditability and reconciliation.

    Reconciling two figures means you need two figures to reconcile. If IDs were scanable in some way, and you spent on the extra machines, one might consider having people vote twice, in two different rooms of the same polling place. Instant audit. (You need the scanable ID to prevent three or many votes there.)

    Now to prevent tieing the vote back to a particular person, you would want to make the card single use, not their drivers license or some such. They would collect it when they were ticked off on the register.

    Make the card an I/O device, and you can record the vote on the card and let the voter take it home. For a major scandal or recount, visit a bunch of folk and re-read their card, comparing the results with the machines where they voted.

    This doesn’t have to be hugely expensive because of the cards. The technology is used on the back of all NY tri state train passes and NY subway passes to store value used on the NYC busses and subways. But of course writers are more expensive than simple touch screens, so you have twice as many machines and more expense per machine.

    I don’t think this is the right system, but i do believe you need two totals to have a decent audit, and i do believe the voter needs something to take home that can still be compared to the machine.

    Matya no baka

  8. I agree with Ginny and Jonathan on NM. Albuquerque has been Republican for at least 40 years, but has
    moved toward balanced and the rest of the state has moved from Democrat to more balanced
    during that period. The Hispanic vote has generally been democrat, but with upward mobility
    and moral issues being more important factors, there has been some movement toward the GOP. This is not
    the case with Native Americans who are voting in greater numbers, legitmately or otherwise.
    Corruption in the rural (predominently democrat) areas was infamous 35 years ago when I lived there.
    I wouldn’t think it has stopped with the stress of the state becoming more Republican on balance,
    but I have no current observations. Being proactive in reducing voter fraud is much better than trying
    to question the results after the fact.

    I can’t deny or confirm that Republicans have used it as well in NM, but it tends to work better among
    the less educated, poorer and non English speaking voter concentrations.

    With the state largely democrat 35 years ago, it was hard for legal authorities to penetrate largely
    single party rural counties to determine voting fraud (if they were even interested). These were
    largely closed communities with strong self-defense attitudes. Looked too much like racial profiling
    in NM. The media wasn’t really interested in (or capable of) taking this on either. I can’t believe
    it is any easier today to get to the truth and deal with it. Many still view voting outside the law as
    morally acceptable in attaining political representation. I believe in NM this was and is reinforced a legacy
    of Mexican political practices transfered by migration.

    Perhaps state wide voter lists (registration and voting) and a little sanity in retracting the
    liberalizing of unverifiable registration means, especially for new voters, might help reduce local
    voting fraud. Some serious jail time for officials guilty of voting fraud violations and those who
    cast fraudulant votes could be instructive to others so inclined. I’m no expert on voting fraud, but
    it appears to me that there is little negative incentive to trying it. After the fact recriminations
    seldom lead to changing the incentive structure.

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