I've been working on another story, of late, so haven't been able to cover the precinct place mess in Garland County, AR which emerged over the weekend. (What's the matter with Arkansas when it comes to elections?! See my exclusive on Monroe County from late last week, for just one possible answer, in case you're wondering). Also, I was happy to see the issue getting plenty of coverage from sites like DailyKos and MoveOn, etc., so didn't feel I was either needed, or had anything additional to add at the moment.
But, as the bizarre decision/behavior by the Garland County Election Commissioner Charles Tapp could come into play tomorrow, depending on the reported results of the hotly contested Democratic U.S. Senate primary run-off election between incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter --- and as so many have written in to make sure I knew about the situation (I do) --- it seems worth at least flagging here for now at The BRAD BLOG, to make sure that you know about it.
For that, allow me to defer to Joyce McCloy's Voting News coverage of the coverage today...
Garland County Arkansas voters were turned away from the polls Saturday. With only 2 polling places instead of the usual 40, with 76,000 registered voters, a hotly contested primary runoff & other races, officials promised to open an extra polling place on Saturday. The polling place was not opened & voters were turned away...
We've been looking at their May 18 "Super-ish Tuesday" election night numbers on the AR Secretary of State's website (Monroe County doesn't have its own public election results website) since the night of the election, and the posted results can only be described as going from "impossible" on the day after the election, to possible but still entirely inexplicable.
At least six different election officials at both the county and state levels remain unable to tell The BRAD BLOG how any of it could have happened, even though thousands of votes appear to have simply disappeared in the final certified results, and the state is set to hold its primary run-off election next Tuesday...
Setting aside the unverified (and, in many cases, unverifiable) results of yesterday's elections for the moment, what caught my eye throughout the night were the turnout numbers, Democratic compared to Republican.
While the reported results of the races ran largely counter (surprise!) to the "GOP/TeaParty-fueled Massacre Slated for November!" meme that the corporate beltway media and related villagers have been endlessly re-enforcing with zombie-like precision over the last several weeks and months, the turnout of actual voters in the marquee state-wide primaries (races that we detailed, along with the e-voting systems in use, in our Super-ish Tuesday Backgrounder on Monday) seem to be of note when considering what November might actually look like when all is said and done.
I'd caution not to take too much from these numbers as there are various mitigating factors that could be used to explain them --- or even explain them away --- as noted below, but I think the numbers themselves are very much worth noting here, as I haven't seen much coverage of this over the last 12 hours or so...
Reports of votes flipping on the 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting machines used in Carroll County, Arkansas, have led to a call for removal of the machines. Who could have predicted it?
[Oh, yeah, we did, in our backgrounder on today's election in AR, as based on years of the same exact problem happening, on the same exact machines, over and over again, in election after election, in Arkansas and many other states alike, where officials are still in utter and shameful denial.]
This report is somewhat unique in that it comes from a candidate for County Clerk who has called for the removal of the machines, and is reportedly supported by affidavits from a Circuit Court Judge and one of his employees who both reported their votes flipping from the County Clerk candidate to his opponent during early voting on two separate days...
Tuesday's election are being called "Super Tuesday" by some in the media hoping to hype the four-state Election Day as a bellwether for the "anti-incumbency fever" predicted by the same media for this November.
But beyond the marquee races in each of the states holding elections tomorrow --- Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Oregon (and Hawaii is currently holding an all-mail special election which ends on Saturday) --- as usual, we'll be keeping our eyes on whether voters are actually able to cast their votes, and whether or not those votes are actually counted and counted accurately.
The mix of states holding elections tomorrow also offer a mix of electoral systems --- from a majority of voters using 100% unverifiable touch-screen machines in use in KY and PA, to a compilation of touch-screen and paper ballot systems run by a company with a disastrous reliability record in AR, to the black hole of all mail-in voting in OR (and in HI).
Remember, whatever happens or gets reported (or doesn't) on Tuesday, it's often the case that concerns about failures in the system don't necessarily become immediately apparent on Election Day itself. Sometimes problems in the system and in the tallies do not begin to emerge until days, weeks, and sometimes even months after Election Day. So whatever we see in the surface reports tomorrow, for good or bad (and, as usual, you can count on various reports of "glitches," "hiccups," "snags," and "snafus" which use those words to marginalize problems, instead of the correct word: "failures") may just be the tip of any electoral icebergs beneath the surface. As usual, eternal vigilance by the citizenry is the hallmark of the ongoing fight for electoral integrity and transparency in these United States.
Here then is a general BRAD BLOG backgrounder on each state heading to the polls, its marquee race or races, the electoral systems used in each, and what you can do to help keep an eye out for any election integrity issues as they could emerge...
Nothing illustrates the danger we face from our own Taliban better than the way American "Christians" are now tangled up with the homophobic --- now potentially gay murdering --- Ugandan Christian/political leadership.
The Ugandan Parliament is considering a bill that would impose the death penalty on gays. One American must be cheering from the grave. Here’s what the late R.J. Rushdoony, Reconstructionist theologian and founder of the modern movement of that name, wrote in a letter to gay rights activist Mel White: “God in His law requires the death penalty for homosexuals.”
Disclosure: Both Mel White and Rushdoony were friends of mine, back in the day I was a Religious Right leader and sidekick to my father – the late Francis Schaeffer – who is “credited” by many, including by Karen Armstrong and Max Blumenthal – with being a key father of the Religious Right...along with R.J. Rushdoony. I quit the movement over its hate for the “other” and got out by the late 80s and started writing novels like Portofino, aimed at the heart of the movement through humor at fundamentalist’s expense.
That said... The problem of American exceptionalism combined with a theocracy in which the “we” of evangelical faith finally destroy the “they” (everyone else) is growing. Who do you think Fox News' rabid followers are? Who do you think calls Obama "Hitler" while using the tactics of fascism themselves?...
Mike Huckabee broke his silence on Monday and defended his decision to give clemency to a convict said to be responsible for the ambush murder of four Seattle police officers. I have an odd connection to Huckabee. He told Katie Couric, during the 2007 primary race, that my Religious Right leader father's (Francis Schaeffer) book, How Should We Then Live?, was his favorite book. The book is credited (along with others my father wrote) for starting the evangelical wing of the anti-abortion movement.
In Huckabee’s more than 1000 pardons of criminals that prosecutors and victims objected to in Arkansas Huckabee most often cited his belief in “redemption” as his "reason." This belief was a result of Huckabee’s extreme and literal born-again fundamentalist views about people’s path to God. His religious views obviously trumped common sense. And this was a direct result of a theology known as "Dominionism" (or "Reconstructionism") where believers want to not just believe their religion privately but "take back America for God" in other words rule on the basis not of American law but the Bible. I explain this trend in my book Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism).
Huckabee freely mixes his ideas about church and state and how religion should shape policy. That brings up a question: should any religious fundamentalists ever be elected President by Americans who want them to do a good, sensible, moderate job, not use their office for expression of their pet religious fanaticism? And another: wasn't one already more than enough?...
(By the way, be sure to catch's Mike's latest not-ironic-at-all column at the Republican News Channel (RNC)'s website on the "The Death of Journalism"!)
No doubt the Republican News Channel (RNC), recently seen on video-tape "stage managing" the Teabagger protests they sponsored last week in D.C., is very proud. Though perhaps they missed an opportunity by not putting Glenn Beck into the poll? With a show five days a week on the RNC, and on your public radio airwaves --- unlike Huckabee, who's only seen on weekends (though he does do a short syndicated daily essay on your public airwaves in 500 radio markets) --- it's likely he would have been a shoo-in! Why waste all that valuable air time, Fox, when you could be using it to put your superstar in office?!
This weekend's summit in D.C., as in previous years, celebrated far-rightwing liberal interpretations of the Constitution and extremist judicial activism, such as the promotion of big government intrusion into the lives of American citizens, the "right" of that government to come between patients and their doctors, and other anti-American values such as ignoring the Rule of Law, and the Constitutional right to equal protection under the law for same sex couples who wish to be recognized by the government as married, just like their heterosexual counterparts.
The winners and losers, out of 597 votes cast in the straw poll, were reported to have been Huckabee with 28%, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney a distant second at 12%, followed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, with the celebrity community organizer and former Alaskan Governor who aborted her term earlier this year, Sarah Palin tying with Indiana's U.S. Rep. Mike Pence for fourth/fifth.
Congratulations to them all! You're all both winners and losers in our eyes!
While out on the stump for VA's Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, former Gov. Mike Huckabee made an hysterical joke to the laughing assembled crowd of Republicans, instructing them to "Do the lord's work" by not letting voters to the polls if they don't plan to vote for McDonnell.
HUCKABEE: You have two jobs. One - get all those people who are gonna vote for Bob out to the polls and vote. If they're not gonna vote for Bob, you have another job. Let the air out of their tires and do not let them out of their driveway on Election Day. Keep 'em home. Do the lord's work, my friend. I'm giving you an opportunity...yes, do the right thing.
Of course, it was just a joke. Who in the Republican Party would ever do such a thing in this country?!
Well, other than the guy in the video on the right, Paul Weyrich, one of the founding fathers of the modern Republican vote suppression movement, who, until he recently died, was a regular, legendary consultant to the nation's top Republicans, and also another hysterically funny Republican Baptist just like Huckabee.
WEYRICH: Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome - good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
McDonnell's Democratic opponent in the VA race, former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe, wasn't laughing. He sent a letter to supporters describing Huckabee's comment as "no joking matter," noting: "People died for the right to vote in this country, and we have to protect it." Rachel Weiner has the full letter tonight at HuffPo.
Beyond that, we'll spare you the photographs of the who-knows-how-many African-Americans who not only were kept from voting in this nation by others just "doing the right thing" and "the lord's work," but who were strung up in trees by their necks in order to keep them from voting and to send the hilarious message to others that they'd best not be let out of their "driveways" come Election Day. We'd go on, but it's all just so funny, we can't even keep typing.
The most cogent broadcast media discussion about Same Sex Marriage issues that we recall seeing. As usual, it comes from The Daily Show. Also, as usual, the opponent here --- in this case Mike Huckabee --- ultimately can come up with absolutely no legitimate reason to oppose full rights for all Americans, other than concerns about having to rewrite a few editions of Merriam-Webster's. Bravo, Jon...
Even if he's out of his mind in regard to things like evolution and equal rights for Americans, Huckabee's a decent fellow who, we suspect, will some day have a "revelation" and reverse his opinion on both of those things once he no longer perceives he needs them to win public office (for example, after he no longer plans to run for anything). That cynicism, of course, runs contrary to my belief that he's "a decent fellow". But hey, nobody's perfect, right?
Admittedly, events of the last decade or two have greatly lowered our bar for "decent fellows" when it comes to Republicans, unfortunately.
In a stunning admission Sequoia Voting Systems has admitted to not printing and mailing over 11,000 absentee ballots to Denver, Colorado, voters. Their spokeswoman claimed they “made an unfortunate mistake.” In fact, the company had failed to notify the city of this “mistake” and when originally asked they lied and told the city they had delivered all 21,450 ballots they were supposed to print and deliver to the post office on Oct. 16. Sequoia claims they will have ballots printed and delivered to the post office by tomorrow, Monday. Voters have until election day to get those ballots marked and either back in the mail or delivered to any early polling site. Not mentioned by anyone is if any overseas voters or military are affected by this failure.
In Jefferson Co, Arkansas, voters will vote on ballots that don’t have some alderman races on them. The county discovered their error too late and they have now fixed it but all early voting has been done without those races being voted on by the voters. The county will just forget all of those voters and hope that none of the races are close, which would open them up for potential lawsuits....
By all means, let's not pay attention to this report until after November.
This is a follow-up to several previous items we ran last week (here, here and here) on a number of elections in Arkansas where the outcome was reversed after the lucky discovery of mistallies on the ES&S electronic voting system which failed widely in a number of counties during local primary elections there last week.
Here's the latest explanation, most notable passages excerpted below, on what went wrong in Faulkner County's very low turnout election for their District 45 State Representative Democratic Primary in which voters casting ballots in the Cadron Township Constable race had their votes recorded erroneously for the Dist. 45 State Rep race instead.
While these same touch-screen voting systems, the ES&S iVotronic, are widely used across the country, and have failed notoriously in a number of races over the years, and thus, theoretically prone to the same or worse failures this November when the turnout will be far higher, the full article by Joe Lamb in Arkansas' Log Cabin Democrat notes two more additionally chilling points:
"[T]he votes for the constable race were later found to have recorded accurately on the voter-verifiable paper trail and therefore would not have appeared erroneous to voters either." (Which means there also would have been a fight, in any contested recount, about which numbers actually reflected voter intent!)
"What makes the situation all the more baffling, [Faulkner County Election Commissioner Bruce Haggard] added, is that the machine in question, along with its associated software and coding, were found to have worked to perfection during early voting." (So pre-election tests and early voting gave no indication that something would go wrong on election day, despite election official and voting machine company claims that such tests protect against such problems!)
Says the candidate who ended up losing in the very-low-turnout race after the ES&S machine failure was discovered: "What's going to happen in November when there's a presidential race and there's all sorts of people here. This was a 1,500 person turnout. What's going to happen when there's a 20,000 turnout?"
What's going to happen indeed. Arkansas is quickly becoming Florida/Ohio, it seems. Worse, these very same, oft-failed ES&S machines are used all over the country.
As God is my witness, there will be blood...okay, hopefully not blood...but massive Election Disasters this November. Disasters which might have, should have, could have, otherwise been averted had Election Officials bothered to actually read this blog every couple of days over the last four years, and done a damned thing about it other than make excuses for their horrible decisions and continuing state of denial.
Keep in mind, we are going to save the most troubling aspect of this report for the very end, so those of you who can take no more of this garbage, will be able to bail out before hand.
If you can take it, prepare to be amazed by the end, as we wend through the massive failures in Arkansas last Tuesday, through mind-blowing new (disastrous) federal "Electronic Voting Reform" legislation just announced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) with Sen. Bill Bennett (R-UT), before landing in West Virginia, where a candidate on last week's ballot assures us everything is just fine because the guy spotted by voters opening up the voting machines and going inside of them to make adjustments at the polls during Election Day was him.
It's as bad as it sounds. Read on, if you feel strong enough, otherwise, abandon hope all ye who enter here...