Election open thread.

Readers are reporting extremely long voting lines in…

  • Columbia, MO
  • New York, NY
  • Jefferson County and Arapahoe County, CO
  • Austin, TX
  • Bucks County, PA
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Benton County AR  (50 precincts that ran out of paper ballots, they can vote electronically, some are leaving due to lines)

If you live in these areas, you will want to plan accordingly.  Report how voting is going in your area in the comments.

Also, if a poll worker or watcher attempts to deny you a ballot, call the National Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683).


I hope your Tuesday is going better than Mitt Romney's probably will on election day.In place of the usual Tuesday Conversation, it’s an election open thread today.  I’ll be posting relevant links and stories from around the web and chatting in the comments.

Later tonight, Christina and I will be having a watch party at her house (if you’re in or around St. Louis, pop on by).  We’ll both be live-blogging, and it’s entirely possible that some of the other WWJTD contributors will get in on the live-blogging action as well.  Christina has insisted that we watch the coverage on Fox News.  She listens to Fox News radio and must have a deep appreciation for pain.  So I’m going to be filling my blog with rage at that point, I’m sure.  However, if Obama wins, it will be a real treat to watch their heads explode.

I just can't picture myself sleeping with a non-voter.While Nate Silver has Obama at 91.6% to win the election, there are some other things that could come into play.  Voter suppression efforts by the GOP are big this year (because they hate voter fraud sooooo much).  This goes above and beyond the GOP’s willful, continued, and dishonest relationship with Nathan Sproul and extends to the polling stations today.  On election day, especially in Florida and Ohio, the GOP officials have made early voting (which generally favors Democrats) more difficult.  They’ve also ensured longer lines during those times.

People are waiting hours and hours in line to take advantage of early voting, largely because the lines will likely be even longer on election day. And none of this is a coincidence; it is absolutely intentional and planned.

In 2008, record numbers of voters in Ohio and Florida voted early because, in 2004, the lines on election day were so long they often had to spend all day in line. And the majority of those who voted early were voting Democratic, a fact clearly not lost on Republicans. So in both states, Republican-controlled legislatures and governors passed laws to cut back on the number of days for early voting and the length of the hours the polls were open on those days. The inevitable result: Longer lines.

And what do longer lines mean? It means some people aren’t going to be able to vote. People have jobs, kids with babysitters or at daycare, and other responsibilities. The longer the wait to vote, the fewer people are going to be able to cast a ballot. And that helps the Republicans. And they know it. In Florida, both Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist extended the hours that early voting places were open to help ease the problem; Rick Scott is refusing to do so, even when county election clerks have asked permission to remain open.

After cutting the number of early voting days from 14 to 8 — after creating this problem himself — he is refusing to do anything to fix it. Because it’s only a problem if you care about voting rights; if, like Scott, you only care about helping your party, it’s not a problem at all — it’s exactly what you intended. It’s a feature, not a bug.

On election day, is it legal to stand outside a polling place and require people to take a basic civics test before being allowed to vote.So while the polls in Ohio have Obama handily ahead, this may come into play.  Obama’s favored, but it’s not a sure thing.

Fortunately, the election has the potential to be over early.  If Romney loses Florida or Ohio, both of which are in EST, he may as well make his concession call to the President then.  If Romney wins them both, then we’re in for a tight one.

Anyway, I’ll keep bumping this thread all day and keep you all apprised of what’s going on around the web.


10:04am – Here’s a good article on why statisticians like Nate Silver and Sam Wang are more reliable than the political pundits…and why they will hopefully one day replace them.  Beware!  Bayesian math lies within.  Someone alert Richard Carrier:)


10:09am – Nate Frein pointed me to Jason Thibeault’s post on the questionable Ohio voting machine patch.  It’s solid.

So there’s apparently a software patch being installed on voting machines, a patch which has been described in an affidavit filed in an injunction against the action as “unspeakably stupid, excessively complex and insanely risky”. It’s been rolled out to tabulation machines — not the voting machines themselves, but the vote-counting (or “aggregating”) boxes — in 39 counties in Ohio. And it’s being rolled out despite the patch being uncertified, “experimental”, and providing full read/write access to the database, even though the patch’s stated intention is merely providing human-readable reports on the election results during the tabulation phase.

Definitely suspicious.  Obama has a solid lead in the Ohio polls, so it will be interesting to see what transpires here now that eyes are on it.


10:30am – This video, taken by a voter just this morning, who I assume is in Pennsylvania (his account name is centralpavote), is getting a lot of early attention.

As he describes it…

My wife and I went to the voting booths this morning before work. There were 4 older ladies running the show and 3 voting booths that are similar to a science fair project in how they fold up. They had an oval VOTE logo on top center and a cartridge slot on the left that the volunteers used to start your ballot.

I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted. I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney. Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney’s name and started tapping very closely together to find the ‘active areas’. From the top of Romney’s button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama’s name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein’s button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.

I asked the voters on either side of me if they had any problems and they reported they did not. I then called over a volunteer to have a look at it. She him hawed for a bit then calmly said “It’s nothing to worry about, everything will be OK.” and went back to what she was doing. I then recorded this video.

If stuff like this starts cropping up in Ohio, get ready for a very nasty, nation-wide fight.


10:52am – Today “watch” groups like True the Vote will be bullying voters.

In an ostensible hunt for voter fraud, a Tea Party group, True the Vote, descends on a largely minority precinct and combs the registration records for the slightest misspelling or address error. It uses this information to challenge voters at the polls, and though almost every challenge is baseless, the arguments and delays frustrate those in line and reduce turnout. . . .

In 2009 and 2010, for example, the group focused on the Houston Congressional district represented by Sheila Jackson Lee, a black Democrat. After poring over the records for five months, True the Vote came up with a list of 500 names it considered suspicious and challenged them with election authorities. Officials put these voters on “suspense,” requiring additional proof of address, but in most cases voters had simply changed addresses. That didn’t stop the group from sending dozens of white “poll watchers” to precincts in the district during the 2010 elections, deliberately creating friction with black voters.

The group also “used inaccurate lists to slow down student voting” in Wisconsin. This is part of a much larger strategy, as Elizabeth Drew explains:

[T]he current voting rights issue is . . . a coordinated attempt by a political party to fix the result of a presidential election by restricting the opportunities of members of the opposition party’s constituency—most notably blacks—to exercise a Constitutional right. . . . In the aftermath of the 2004 election, which was characterized in Ohio by lines at voting places in black districts so long as to discourage voters, Ohio Democratic officials made voting times more flexible; after the Republicans took over the state they set out to reverse that.

Iowa, Florida, and Colorado tried to purge the voting rolls of suspected unqualified voters, but their lists turned out to be wildly inaccurate. Florida officials compiled a list of 180,000 people whose qualifications were questioned, but after voting registrars checked (some protesting the unfairness of the purge) only 207, or .0002 percent of the state’s registered voters, were found to be unqualified to vote.

If you are being pestered by these people, notify the DoJ by calling 1-800-253-3931.  Spread the word.


10:56am – This cracked me up.

NPR is reporting that voters in Belmont, Massachusetts were asked to leave the voting line so Mittens can vote without rubbing elbows with the riffraff. Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden stood in line with regular folks to cast his ballot at his polling place.

Truly, Romney is a man of the people.


11:23am – Wow.  Rachel Maddow has a great piece about what Obama has accomplished during his presidency.  This is a must-watch.


12:30pm – Via Richard Stage: True the Vote, one of those poll place bullying groups, who operates under the guise of wanting to stop voter fraud, has been barred from polling locations in Franklin County (Columbus, OH).  Why?  Wait for it…for attempting to commit voter fraud.

Yesterday we reported that True the Vote was attempting to place observers at precincts in Central Ohio, focusing on African American districts.  We also noted that there might be some problems with the forms they submitted to the Franklin County Board of Elections (FCBOE).

The FCBOE met today and determined that True the Vote had likely falsified the forms submitted for general election observers. The new observer forms, filed over the past few days by True the Vote representative (and Hilliard Tea Party Member) Jan Loar, used candidate signatures copied from a previous set of forms filed in early October

All but one (Scott Rupert, an independent for U.S. Senate) of the six candidates whose names appeared on the original form had withdrawn permission to use their signatures prior to the submission of today’s forms.   During the BOE meeting Candidate Terri Jamison spoke up to say her name was “forged” on the latest round of forms.

The form for appointing observers reads ‘election falsification is a 5th degree felony’.  Election officials have confirmed that there will be a post-election investigation of True the Vote.

The forms have been rejected unanimously by all members (Rs and Ds) on the board.  True the Vote observers will not be allowed in Franklin County polling locations tomorrow.  Poll monitoring organizations expect they may still be stationed outside of polling locations.

Board member Zachary Manifold told us he was ”amazed that a group that goes to such extreme lengths to claim voting fraud in Ohio would knowingly forge or misuse signatures to try to gain access to Franklin County polling locations.”

According to a news release from the Department of Justice their personnel will monitor the election in Franklin County for Voting Rights Act violations.  The Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group.

Good fucking riddance.


12:31pm – Chris Matthews has a message for anybody who doesn’t vote: You’re an idiot.


12:49pm – Voting in a state with marriage equality on the ballot (Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington)?  Don’t get tricked by confusing wording.  Here’s how you should vote.

Maine: vote YES on 1.  In Maryland, vote FOR question 6.  In Minnesota, vote NO.  In Washington, vote to APPROVE R74.

Via Camille Beredjick over at Friendly Atheist.


1:56pm – Ok, as Andrew Sullivan says, mental health break.  Here’s some politically-themed funny videos.


2:04pm – After Mitt Romney told the whopper of a lie in Ohio about Chrysler sending its jobs to China, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne had to send his employees an email explaining that Romney was, frankly, full of shit.

But then Romney doubled down on the lie.  Now Chrysler has given its employees the day off to go out and vote.  It turns out you don’t need god telling you that lying is bad, you just need to realize that being dishonest creates problems in your life that you don’t want.


4:48pm – HO LEE SHIT.  This happened.

In a press release on Monday, Clackamas County spokesperson Tim Heider said that 55-year-old Deanna Swenson had been “relieved of duty immediately after the alleged ballot tampering was discovered.”

Swenson, who was registered as a Republican, was accused of filling in a Republican straight ticket on ballots where voters did not specify a choice.

Contacted by Willamette Week, Swenson tearfully insisted that it was “only the two” ballots that had been altered.

The Oregon Department of Justice began an investigation last week after an elections official reportedly observed ballots being altered.

“At this point, it is unclear how many ballots the employee at issue had access to, or what will be done with those ballots,” the sheriff’s office said on Monday.

Makes you wonder how much of this stuff doesn’t get caught.  I suspect she considers herself a values voter.  Praise the lord.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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