Tag: elections

Electoral Reform Hits A Rock

Well, this was entirely predictable:

A Trump administration letter requesting data from all 50 state’s voting rolls has put some states and voting rights advocates on edge after many were already wary of the aims of the President’s commission on voting.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, sent a letter to each state Wednesday asking a series of questions soliciting feedback about election administration, voter fraud and the integrity of the process. CNN obtained a copy of the letter sent to Maine’s secretary of state.

Kobach also requested that each state provide “publicly available voter roll data” as allowed under each state’s laws, which could include full names of registered voters, dates of birth, party registration, last four digits of Social Security numbers and voting history.

Multiple states, Republican and Democrat, have told the commission to go jump in an ocean. No, I mean that literally. Mississippi’s Secretary of State said, “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from. Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”

This is not surprising. Truly eliminating voter fraud, multiple registration and purging expired registration would require a national voter database. And the states zealously guard their ability to run their own elections, especially from someone like Kobach, who has long advocated a more aggressive approach to purging voter roles. I think they are absolutely in the right to refuse to provide this information and would almost certainly win a court battle over this. I’m surprised to see many liberal siding with the states here since a national voter database would be necessary if one wanted to abolish the Electoral College. But … their partisanship happens to line up with what’s right.

UK Votes

Two months ago, Theresa May called for a snap election to strengthen her position going into Brexit. It looked like a great decision — the conservatives were leading massively in the polls. But she promptly blew all that and, tonight, it looks like the conservatives will lose their majority and have a hung parliament. Labour — lead by Marxist terrorist-loving twat Jeremy Corbyn — picked up a lot of seats but not enough to take the parliament. May is likely to step down tomorrow.

May pulled a Clinton on the UK — managed to lose an unlosable election. Crazy times.

When Moral Victories Aren’t Victories

The Left Wing is in a tizzy because the special election to replace Mike Pompeo ended up closer than expected:

Republican Ron Estes beat back a surprisingly strong challenge from an unheralded and underfunded Democratic challenger to claim a special election victory in Kansas’ 4th district on Tuesday night.

A win is a win — and Republicans avoided the catastrophic outcome of losing in a congressional district where President Donald Trump won by 27 points last November. But in Estes’ victory there are warning signs for Republicans preparing for the first midterm election of the Trump presidency in 2018.

Let’s count up the number of winds the Democrats had at their back: Brownback is one of the most unpopular governors in the country; Estes was his treasurer and Brownback budget management is a big reason he’s unpopular; Trump is unpopular, currently at 42% approval in RCP’s poll-of-polls; the Democrats didn’t put a lot of money but they did focus on this as a potential pickup. And they still lost by about seven points.

The Democrats are very big on these “we almost won” things. But ultimately, a win is a win. The Republicans keep the seat and will likely keep it in the near future. It shows you how utterly beaten the Democrats are at a national level that a seven-point loss can be spun as a turning of the tide.

Is this a warning for 2018? Sure. But it’s no more a warning than Trump’s poll numbers and the general discontent out there. Every politician should be in fear of losing his job. But predicting 2018 is foolish at this point. At this point two years ago, Clinton was supposed to crush Trump by twenty points (actually, she was supposed to crush Jeb Bush). The 2018 election will be decided by what the economy is doing and how well Trump is doing. A small Kansas election is a much of a harbinger as … well, Clinton’s one-time 60+ approval rating.

Update: I did want to add one note. Brownback is unpopular because his “cut taxes and uh, something something supply side” economic agenda didn’t work. He deserves criticism for that. But so do the liberal governors who have almost bankrupted their states as well, notably Dannel Malloy, who is happily driving Connecticut right into a brick wall and is the second most unpopular governor in America. Are we going to hear about how elections are referenda on the liberal economic agenda?

I won’t hold my breath.

Bye Bye Corey

Good riddance to bad rubbish:

Angela Corey, a state attorney in northeast Florida who investigated the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and prosecuted Marissa Alexander for firing a warning shot during a domestic dispute, lost the Republican primary on Tuesday for 4th circuit judicial state attorney.

Melissa Nelson, a corporate lawyer and former prosecutor, claimed 64% of the vote over Corey’s 26% in the fourth circuit, which oversees Jacksonville, Fla. Nelson will face Kenny Leigh, a write-in candidate who runs a men’s only law firm, in the general election.

Corey, you may remember, initially did not prosecute George Zimmerman after he invoked Florida’s “stand your ground” law. She then changed her mind in the wake of political pressure but failed to get a conviction. She also came under fire for the Marissa Alexander case, where she refused to accept a “stand your ground” defense from a woman defending herself from an abusive boyfriend and got a judge to hand down a 20-year prison sentence (it was later reduced to three years).

That’s just the beginning. Corey has been one of the most aggressive prosecutors in the nation when it comes to charging juveniles as adults and seeking the death penalty in questionable cases. When criticized for her handling of cases, she’s had a tendency to lash out, famously threatening Alan Dershowitz when he criticized her charging of George Zimmerman.

Corey is just the latest prosecutor to go down in flames. Earlier this year, Chicago voters ousted Anita Alvarez for sitting on the Laquan McDonald case and Cleveland voters ditched Tim McGinity for his handling of the Tamir Rice case. This is unusual to say the least. Prosecutors rarely get unelected. But they’re now becoming the targets of unelection campaigns. Whatever one may think of these three prosecutors, I’m glad to see people paying more attention. It’s about time that “lock ‘em up, let God sort em out” stopped being an automatic ticket to power.

Austrailians have had enough, and voted that way…

Elections today show that: from the article:

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s conservative opposition swept to power Saturday, ending six years of Labor Party rule and winning over a disenchanted public by promising to end a hated tax on carbon emissions, boost a flagging economy and bring about political stability after years of Labor infighting.

“I know that Labor hearts are heavy across the nation tonight, and as your prime minister and as your parliamentary leader of the great Australian Labor Party, I accept responsibility,” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in a speech to supporters, after calling opposition leader Tony Abbott to concede defeat. “I gave it my all, but it was not enough for us to win.”

A victory for the conservative Liberal Party-led coalition comes despite the relative unpopularity of Abbott, a 55-year-old former Roman Catholic seminarian and Rhodes scholar who has struggled to connect with women voters and was once dubbed “unelectable” by opponents and even some supporters.

But voters were largely fed up with Labor and Rudd, after a years-long power struggle between him and his former deputy, Julia Gillard. Gillard, who became the nation’s first female prime minister after ousting Rudd in a party vote in 2010, ended up losing her job to Rudd three years later in a similar internal party coup.

People can only take so much bullshit and ass rape before they decide they need something else. And when the left is in power you can bet there will be a lot more bullshit and ass rape than otherwise, despite the fact that they do a real good job at propagandizing otherwise. Green shit, that carbon tax, and all that anti-brown energy regulation, has cost Austrailians jobs and money, and they have had enough.

Abbott has also promised to repeal a tax on coal and iron ore mining companies, which he blames in part for the downturn in the mining boom. The 30 percent tax on the profits of iron ore and coal miners was designed to cash in on burgeoning profits from a mineral boom fueled by Chinese industrial demand. But the boom was easing before the tax took effect. The tax was initially forecast to earn the government 3 billion Australian dollars ($2.7 billion) in its first year, but collected only AU$126 million after six months.

Faster please! Hoping the same happens in the US and anywhere else sanity can prevail. If an unpopular candidate can sweep the election there, it shows us how fed up people are with the shit the left is doing to us worldwide. Here is too wishing the Aussies a better future. Burn me a shrimp on that barby!

The Dubious Menace of Voter ID

Voter ID laws have been a point of heavy contention over the last few years. Republicans think that Democrats are only winning because of massive voter fraud and want strict ID laws. Democrats think ID laws are a conspiracy to disenfranchise poor people, minorities and students. It sure would be nice to have some data to constrain their imaginations.

Oh, look!

North Carolina is considering a strict new voter ID law, so North Carolina’s Secretary of State has conducted an analysis estimating how many voters have a state-issued photo ID. This isn’t necessarily new; states have done these sorts of analyses before. But North Carolina’s analysis overcomes many of the limitations that reduced the usefulness of previous assessments, like Pennsylvania’s. Other efforts required an exact match between voter registration and DMV databases; North Carolina expanded their matching criteria to allow for slight variations in names and data entry errors. North Carolina didn’t just look at how many registered voters didn’t have voter ID, they also looked at how many voters from the 2012 general election didn’t have voter ID. That’s very important, since it’s easy to imagine that voters without a car, or the elderly and the young would be especially likely to stay home on Election Day. And since North Carolina tracks voter registration by race and party, we have a pretty clear idea of how they would have voted.

The long and short is this. About 300,000 eligible voters don’t have ID. And about 138,000 people who voted in North Carolina in 2012 didn’t have ID. Of the voters without ID about half were non-white (compared to 30% generally) and 58% were Democrat (compared to 43%). So the impact was stronger on traditionally Democratic voters. However, even if all the people who didn’t have ID were denied the ability to vote — and in actual voter ID situation, that number would have been far less than 138,000 — the impact would have been minimal:

As a result, Obama’s share of the vote in North Carolina might have dropped from 48.3 to 48 percent, expanding Romney’s margin of victory from 92,000 to about 120,000 votes. 25,000 to 30,000 votes could flip a very close election, but nothing more. In 2012, no state was so close.

That’s Nate Cohn at the New Republic, by the way, who opposes voter ID laws and thinks they are a conspiracy to disenfranchise Democrats and steal elections. But even he is forced to acknowledge that impact would be minimal even in a state that has a large minority population and lots of students. Moreover, no voter ID law was being enforced. If it were, the number of ID-less voters would have been lower as the state and the parties made pushes to get IDs for eligible voters.

The wild claims of stolen elections were always a bit ridiculous. If massive vote fraud were occurring, we would expect participation rates to be much higher in inner cities instead of much lower. But so were the hysterical claims that elections were being stolen by Republicans. The simple fact is that 95% of the population has some form of acceptable identification.

Now I oppose the idea of 138,000 people being denied the right to vote if they are entitled to it. I think any voter ID laws needs to come with provisions to make it easy for legitimate voters to obtain ID and exercise their rights. But this study indicates we can back away from the abyss and move the debate and the law to more reasonable terms. In my opinion, those reasonable terms are requiring ID while making it easy for voting citizens to get them (including provisional ballots for those who forget or lose their ID). It may not swing many elections. But it will diffuse an issues that has dragged on for far too long.


I’ve made my position on the voter fraud thing very clear: 1) I think it does happen; 2) with the exception of close elections (e.g., Al Franken), I don’t think it happens enough to swing elections. Hypothesis number one keeps being confirmed:

FBI agents arrested a woman Friday in Las Vegas on charges that she tried to vote twice in the presidential election, Secretary of State Ross Miller said.

A criminal complaint accuses Roxanne Rubin of casting a ballot at an early voting location in Henderson on Oct. 29, then trying to vote again at a polling site in Las Vegas on the same day.

Miller said poll workers questioned Rubin when they found her name in a database that showed she had already cast a ballot, but she denied having voted and insisted she be allowed to vote.

The election workers did not allow Rubin to vote and reported the incident to the Clark County registrar, who notified the secretary of state.

One little quirk here: she’s a Republican. Yes, it’s possible that voter fraud takes place on both sides. It will be amazing to watch the Left twist themselves into a pretzel on this issue as they cry “Republicans are trying to steal the election!” while still trying to pretend that voter fraud doesn’t exist.

(The second part of that hypothesis — that voter fraud is not enough to decide all but the closest elections — comes from the same source as my lack of belief in 9/11, lunar landing or bigfoot conspiracy theories. Voter fraud on a massive scale — thousands or hundreds of thousands of votes — would involve hundreds if not thousands of conspirators, all of whom have maintained an amazing silence. It would also have to involve Republican poll watchers, poll workers and canvasing boards and likely several Republicans Secretaries of State. I just don’t see that kind of conspiratorial masterpiece emerging from the Cavalcade of Clods.

So why should worry about vote fraud if it doesn’t involve zillions of votes? Because it’s wrong and illegal. And because it could swing a very close election and probably has.)

The flip side of voter fraud allegations is voter surpression allegations levied by liberals. I’m not a big believer in those either. As with voter fraud, it’s not that voter surpression effort don’t exist; it’s that it’s a small effect. Over at Moorewatch, we repeatedly took apart the most famous claim of voter surpression: Michael Moore’s wild allegations about the 2000 election and Florida “strike list”.

Nevertheless, I wish Republicans wouldn’t do shit like this:

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, whose decision to try to restrict early voting was thrown out first by an Ohio judge, then a federal appeals court and denied a hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court, will be back in court again this month after he issued a last-minute directive on provisional ballots that not only contradicts Ohio law but is also in violation of a recent court decision and the opposite of what Husted’s own lawyers said he would do.

As reported by Judd Legum at ThinkProgress, Husted ordered election officials not to fill out a section of the provisional ballot that verifies what form of identification that the voter produced and that, if it is incorrectly filled out, the ballot will automatically not be counted. However, under the law establishing the provisional balloting procedures, according to the lawsuit filed against Husted on Friday, it is election officials that are supposed to record the type of ID provided, not the voter — and that election officials are supposed to attempt to resolve any questions on the spot.

Husted, frankly, needs to shitcanned. He has provided immense fodder for liberal conspiracy theorists with crap like this. He narrowed early voting from five weekends to one, which is resulting in huge lines and chaos at Ohio polls this weekend, especially in Democrat-heavy inner cities. And it is absolutely unconscionable that he would give pollsters incorrect orders on how to deal with provisional ballots (of which there may be several hundred thousand). Filling out a provisional ballot form is not difficult — it’s a pretty simple form. But the appearance of impropriety is not something we can afford.

(It also contradicts what we said in 2000. You may remember that one of the things the GOP argued in Bush v. Gore was that it is unfair and illegal to make up the election rules as you go. The rules for running an election should be set months in advance and everyone should stick to those rules. Ad hoc changes — whether it’s counting hanging chads in a third recount or changing the rules on provisional ballots — are an open invitation for bullshit.)

One of the most aggravating things that could come out of Tuesday’s election would be the refusal of either side to accept the result if it’s close. Republicans might scream about voter fraud; Democrats might cry about surpression. There is little evidence that either of these is powerful enough to swing the election unless Ohio 2012 turns into Florida 2000. But these conspiracy theories are fed by Democrat refusals to countenance the reality of voter fraud and Republican efforts to monkey with election laws at literally the last minute.

We don’t need this.

Split Decision

There has been a lot of discussion recently about a potential split between the popular vote and the electoral college this year. Obama is leading in the polls in several critical swing states while Romney has been holding a lead in the national polls (caveat: Nate Silver points out that the math doesn’t work out. If the state polls are accurate, Obama should have a national lead (and indeed, the RCP average is now tied or has Obama with a very slightly 0.1% lead). One set of polls is likely off. Come Tuesday, we’ll find out which ones).

I’d kind of like to see a split this year since it would weaken the President and create the glorious spectacle of every pundit arguing the precise reverse of what he said in 2000. While it does now appear unlikely, it remains possible. And given that we’ve had two such splits in our history, a third will likely happen at some point.

(There is a very tiny chance of an electoral tie as well, which would throw things to Congress, assuming we don’t have any faithless electors. That would, given the composition, result in a Romney-Biden administration; almost like the worst of both worlds.)

I’ve made it clear that I oppose switching to a national popular vote, but we’ve never really had a discussion. So I want to throw this open before Tuesday’s vote. Should we abolish the electoral college? Should we go to a popular vote?

One of the things that make me hesitate is this: to the best of my knowledge, we have never had a national vote. On anything. All three high offices — the House, Senate and the President — are elected at the state level. Amendements are passed by Congress and state legislatures. In fact, reading the Constitution, you can’t help but be struck by how the Founders went to great lengths to avoid anything approaching a plebiscite.

This wasn’t just because a national election would have been difficult in such a large nation in the 18th century. And it wasn’t just federalism speaking, either. They cleared regarded direct democracy as dangerous (as do I). The beauty of a Constitutional Republic is that the people do not always get what they want. Elections do not give us what we want; elections create accountability.

Because we have never had a national vote, creating one is a lot more complicated that just adding the tallies from the states. Different states have different voting laws and that will create some power disparities. States with stricter voting requirement will lose votes relative to more liberal ones. States that don’t worry too much about counting every single Presidential vote because of the huge margin (e.g., Utah) will have to be more strict. And how do you reconcile the widely varying laws on early voting, absentee voting and electronic voting? What happens if online voting becomes a thing?

No, we’re not just talking about having a popular vote. We are talking, in the end, about federalizing the vote. We are talking about creating uniform voting standards, uniform early voting and absentee policies and, most likely, a national voter registry and ID card. In fact, I can not see that national vote would possible be compliant with Bush v. Gore unless it created uniform standards.

Maybe that’s preferable to the 50-state patchwork we have now. But if so, make the case. Why should we abolish the electoral college? Why should we nationalize the vote?

Politics Makes You Stupid: First Time

I’m not OFFENDED! by this ad. I just think it’s really really dumb. And it really really gets at everything that can drive you nuts about the Cult of Obama. I defy any thinking person to watch and not want to puke into a trash can by the end.

My first time voting, incidentally, was 1990. I think I voted for John Linder for Congress. He lost to Ben Jones because Pat Swindall had left such a foul taste in people’s mouths and Jones was a conservative Democrat (and also Cooter from the Dukes of Hazzard). I also voted for one of the few Democrats I’ve ever supported — Senator Sam Nunn, who was very conservative and would probably be a Republican today. Nunn may even have been running unopposed in 1990. Two years later, I voted a straight Republican ticket in Bush’s I unsuccessful re-election bid.

I didn’t feel “empowered” or “special” or anything. It was just something I did. Politics was not something new and exciting when I was 18. The first election I get intensely interested in was 1984 when I watched Reagan absolutely destroy Mondale. But Nunn, Linder and Bush were very good politicians to cut your teeth on. There was no cult about them, no flash and celebrity. All three were plain, competent men who executed their offices in a very straight-forward business-like way. I can’t imagine anyone going faint and blushing over them like in the above video. And that’s the way it should be.

At the risk of making some of our readers feel old (including me), do you remember your first election?

Vote Early, Vote Often

Now that early voting has officially begun in the election — that shocked you didn’t it? — this article, in which the Daily Caller argues against early voting, is making the rounds. His arguments against early voting boils down to five key points, none of which I find convincing.

First, he argues that it doesn’t boost participation rates. I would agree. But while that was, theoretically, the point of the early voting laws, they have value beyond that. Early voting, like absentee voting, is convenient, especially in our mobile society. When I lived in Baltimore, I had to wait hours to vote. I’ve missed a vote because I had to be in another country on short notice. Early voting is just a fancy way of absentee voting.

He also argues that the voters are poorly uniformed because they are casting ballots before the debates. While this may be true, we have been immersed in this Presidential campaign since … well, since February 2009, really. I doubt early voters are going to persuaded by the debates. Unless Barack Obama opens the debate by killing a seal with a chainsaw, committed Democrats are going to vote for him. And unless Mitt Romney shows up to the debates with a boyfriend, committed Republicans are going to vote for him. Anyone who is going to be persuaded by the debates is going to … wait until the debates.

The third point, cost ($2.6 million for Maryland), seems trivial and is one of those costs the people have decided to shoulder. Ballot integrity, the fourth point, seems a more generalized issue. Votes are sealed until election day and there’s no chicanery with early voting that can’t go on with absentee. And you can imagine what I think of his fifth argument, the “sense of community”. The last thing I need to build my sense of community is to stand in line for five hours with a bunch of Obama voters.

But I want to pivot off this to a larger point. Ever since the 2000 election, many people — mostly embittered Democrats — have argued that we should overhaul our entire electoral process. Proposals include: elected the President off a straight popular vote; making election day a national holiday; embargoing election results until the entire country has voted (including Hawaii?); allowing felons to vote; mandating the vote; etc, etc.

I find none of these persuasive. The electoral college forces candidates to a broad appeal. Making another national holiday won’t affect people who are out of the country and I don’t see that having people standing in line for eight hours instead of working accomplishes anything. And a mandatory vote seems ridiculous. How is harassing, fining or jailing non-voters going to accomplish anything?

In the end, this all seems to be aimed at expanding the franchise, particularly to the poor, who have lower participation rates than everyone else. Maybe it’s my conservative nature, but I don’t find that argument very interesting. I’m dubious of democracy at the best of times. I don’t see why we should worry about the unheard voices of those who have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the polls. We’ve been liberalizing voters laws for years — motor voter, allowing felons to vote, early voting (which was specifically targeted at working poor). All of these were aimed at boosting participation among the downtrodden and all have failed. The Great Liberal Revolution has failed to happen. I don’t think that’s because we’re not making it easy enough to vote.