please don’t try to make voter suppression prince, brad raffensperger, a hero

John Nichols in The Nation

https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/georgia-secretary-state-recall/#:~:text=Raffensperger%2C%20the%20petition%20asserts%2C%20%E2%80%9Chas%20proven%20himself%20incompetent,a%20part%20of%20the%20fight%20against%20voter%20suppression.

ESSENTIAL PODCAST: DECONSTRUCTED INTERVIEW WITH PROGRESSIVE MIKE SIEGEL

Essential Podcasts: Deconstructed (Episode 11/6/20)

Mike Siegel, progressive candidate for the House in Texas is interviewed by Deconstructed. The district Siegel ran in was drawn to be permanently Republican through gerrymandering.  

  • According to Siegel, the Democratic Party has a narrow range of issues it “recommends” their candidates run on.  The Party does the research, the polling, and tell the candidate what they should do.  If they receive any push back, it is possible for them to withdraw funds and ruin the campaign, so most candidates find themselves in a position to go along.
  • Party pollsters do the research and tell the candidate what the talking points are, what segment of the voting population the candidate should reach. 
  • Organizing with poor people is a long difficult process and it doesn’t appeal to the donor class.  As Siegal says, “We need to get out the non-voters.” 
  • The Party, Siegal says is “too invested in conservative donors”  These donors are “moderating the message” so that only an extremely narrow set of issues is ever talked about.  “They (the party operatives) are cynical about democracy…” 
  • Party consultants produce TV ads in a quick time frame.  Then, they come to the candidate and say: Give me this many dollars, we can run this may ads, we can expect this much shift in the polling.
  • The consultants tell the candidates: We made 2,000 calls, these are the issues that matter.  These are the issues you should stress.  These are the talking points.  As Siegel says,   “it’s relatively conservative.”
  • The consultants do their research and say your issue is, for example, health care, these are the talking points.
  • As Siegel says of the party consultants: “They completely narrow what they think you can accomplish.”
  • If the candidate disagrees or tries to change the messaging of the campaign, the consultants say: “That doesn’t poll quite as well as health care.”
  • “At every point they (the consultants) push back against you.”
  • As Siegel points out, there are not pollsters and consultants who work with a populist message.  There are no people you can hire who know how to run what Siegel calls a “left campaign.” 
  • The framework, according to Siegel, is how can you raise and spend x dollars and change vote this much. 
  • Siegel challenged one of the wealthiest members of congress, and had a lot of progressive support, but came up short.  
  • Siegel says: “We need to do deep organizing.”

But, the take-away from the interview is that the Democratic Party, their donors and their elite consultants have no interest in “deep organizing.”  Deep organizing takes time and money and an actual interest in the problems of working and lower class people.  It involves demonstrating to people who have seen politicians come and go and their lives not change, that politics is important to them.  The issue is demonstrating this, not just telling them.

Another problem is that the Democratic party is a party obsessed with technocratic solutions.  One of the points that screams out from this interview with Siegel is that pollsters are dominating party strategy.  These are the same pollsters who (based on their scientific models) predicted landslides in 2016 and 2020.  Either their technology was wrong, or Republicans are systematically stealing elections through electronic voting manipulation.  There are no other options.  But, electronic voting manipulation is an issue that Democrats consistently refuse to talk about.  In fact, just raising the issue provokes angry denials and even more angry accusations about the motivations of people who talk about the issue.  It is the unspeakable topic.

The Party pollsters would rather point to their own failures in predicting the outcomes of the last two elections than admit that the vast difference between the poll numbers and the election results might be the product of cheating.  There is a very good reason for this.  If, in fact, Republicans are cheating, systematically, repeatedly then pollsters become irrelevant.  The last thing they want to be is irrelevant because they would then be out of business. 

So, the consultants and pollsters themselves acknowledge that their predictions have been wildly inaccurate, but they are still put in the position of essentially determining the way individual Democratic campaigns are run.  How does this make sense? 

You can follow me on Twitter @cjjohns1951

ELECTION NOTEBOOK: REPUBLICANS HAVE BEEN PLANNING THIS SINCE BEFORE 2016

Rutenberg, Jim and Nick Corasaniti (11/15/20) “Behind Trump’s…” NYT.

  • Trump was building this conspiracy theory about vote fraud before the 2016 election.
  • Observers in critical election sites were being told to contest every ballot on election night.
  • In Detroit, as the count went against Trump, poll watchers started chanting “stop the count.”
  • There were similar episodes in Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
  • The Republicans were using “the power of the executive branch, an army of lawyers, the echo chamber of conservative news media and the obedience of fellow Republicans” to bend reality.  To “turn losing into winning.”
  • Republicans did much of the work for this campaign of bending reality before the election.
  • They saw mail-in ballots as a threat.
  • They attempted to block moves to make absentee voting easier because of the pandemic.
  • They slowed the mail by sabotaging the postal service.
  • They had blocked Democratic efforts to et more money to the states for sorting equipment which would have helped with the count of mail in ballots.
  • In key states (Pennsylania, Michigan) legislatures controlled by Republicans blocked moves to count ballots before Election Day.
  • Trump has started claiming the election was rigged in the 2016 election with Clinton. 
  • Roger Stone created “Stop the Seal.” 
  • Purges of voters from the rolls were stopped by legal action in Texas and Wisconsin before the 2020 election.
  • In Pa. and Wis. Republicans control the legislatures but they have Democratic governors.
  • Republicans tried to do away with drop boxes, forcing all ballots to go through the compromised postal system.

FAIR ELECTION? “i SEE NO PROGRESS TOWARDS AN EVIDENCE-BASED ELECTION.”

Jennifer Cohn, an election security advocate, writer, and attorney is essential reading if you are at all interested in fair elections.  One of the downsides to Biden winning the 2020 election is that everybody wants to go home, drink and relax.  As women keep saying to me, they want to get back to “normal.”  But, “normal” brought us here and as in the quote from Thomas Wolfe: “You can’t go home again.”  Normal, or what people are referring to as normal, is over.  It will never return, at least not in our lifetimes.  In fact, normal on the political scene has been over for a long time, at least since 2000.  Most people just never noticed.

I don’t claim to understand what happened in the election of 2020.  I was certain that the Republicans would cheat electronically just like they cheated when wiping hundreds of thousands of people off the voter rolls, enacting laws that acted as voter suppression, closed down polling places, decreased hours for voting, sabotaged the post office in an attempt to slow if not stall the movement of votes and tried the best they could to restrict mail-in voting.

They lost at least at the presidential level.  They didn’t lose outright at the state level.  The Democrats actually lost seats in the House and they are fighting for their lives in the Senate.  Once again, the polls predicted a landslide for Biden.  He barely squeaked through.  They predicted losses in the Senate, but Collins and McConnell and others won.  The two Republicans running for Senate in Georgia will most probably win.

But, since we cannot see into the vote count, because machines count our votes and partisans in the race control the voting process, how would we know what happened, really? 

As Jennifer Cohn tweeted today:

•        “Polls predicted Trump would lost in a landslide, Rs blocked robust election audits (#SAFEAct), GOP senate wins are red shifted, voters lack means to investigate, DEM leaders won’t do it, and Rs are the ones screaming fraud.  I see no progress toward evidence-based elections.”

•        “Evidence-based elections are the only way to know if electronic election outcomes are legitimate.  They require hand Marked Paper Ballots plus robust manual audits plus a secure and transparent (perhaps videotaped) chain of custody through conclusion of the audit.”

•        “I worry we win a battle only to soon lose a war.”

•        “The next four years will be hell if the GOP maintains control of the Senate.  The next election could be hell too.  And I see no Democrats discussing the possibility that the GOP cheated.  I hope they are just waiting until Ds Hopefully win the senate.”

•        “…Those of us not in Congress must…continue to sound the alarm re some of these unexpected red shifts and other anomalies favoring Rs.”

•        “…Rs and right-wing media will spend the next 4 years claiming falsely that Biden is illegitimate when it was Republicans that blocked progress toward evidence-based elections and, if anything, it is suspicious that Trump and the GOP did as well as they did.”

•        “We cannot let Rs spin this faulty narrative…the GOP steadfastly blocked efforts to move to evidence-based elections and that DeJoy engaged in highly suspect conduct with vote by mail.  WE MUST STAND FOR EVIDENCE BASED ELECTIONS.

GEORGIA: THE USUAL SUSPECTS

Republicans are furious with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and SOS Brad Raffensperger because even with a new $150 million voting machine system, they couldn’t reliably deliver a win for Trump and two Republican Senators.  The two senate candidates, Perdue and Loeffler, called for Raffensperger’s resignation.  Kemp, it will be remembered, is widely thought in Georgia to have stolen the governorship from Stacey Abrams in 2018. 

Given the amount of voter suppression, the millions spent in overt propaganda to convince Georgians that their voting machine system was “secure,” and the black-box nature of machines which cannot be meaningfully audited, the only reason Kemp and Raffensperger couldn’t deliver is the large number of mail in ballots that were cast. 

Geogia’s highly touted “secured” voting system, includes paper ballots with the voter’s printed choice of candidate on them.  One big problem is that the scanner that counts the votes, doesn’t count the words printed on the page.  The scanners count a barcode at the bottom of the page that neither the voter nor the voting officials can read.  Many people, like me, voted by mail because this allowed circumventing the Ballot-marking devices and the barcode scanners.   

So now, Kemp and Raffensperger are scrambling to save their political careers.  Even though there is a large margin for Biden in the state, they have announced that there will be a recount.  Yesterday (November 11) Raffensperger announced that the recount would be a hand recount of every ballot.  He even made jokes about the amount of overtime that would cost counties to do such a recount.  I’m not sure they shared his humor.

Jennifer Cohn and others have been on twitter, however, pointing out that the SOS has no authority to mandate a hand recount, so the legality of this proposal is dubious.  Several other Georgia watchers have also pointed out that lawyers representing Trump in litigation about the election are also representing the State of Georgia.  This conflict of interest has not been explained.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Georgia state law requires an audit but leaves up to elections officials the choice of race. This leaves the people in charge of the election in charge of determining what race to audit. Officials in Georgia have chosen the presidential race to recount rather than the senate races.  The certification deadline in Georgia is November 20.  It is unclear how counties in Georgia (where they are already pleading for volunteers to help monitor the recount) are going to do a total hand recount by the deadline for certification.  This may in fact be the game.

On Twitter: @cjjohns1951

What Could Go Wrong?

Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has crafted and circulated to legislators a new “anti-mob” piece of legislation.  This legislation is an expansion of Florida’s “stand your ground” law.  The law would:

  • allow armed citizens to shoot suspected looters or anyone engaged in “criminal mischief” that disrupts a business;
  • allow vigilantes to justify violent actions against protesters;
  • opens for door for death as a punishment for property crimes;
  • allows people to use force against people who engage in criminal mischief that results in the “interruption or impairment” of a business;
  • enhances criminal penalties for those involved in “violent or disorderly assemblies;”
  • makes it a third-degree felony to block traffic during a protest;
  • allows the withholding of state funds from local governments that cut law enforcement budgets.

Ceballos, Miami Herald, 11/10/20).

Nevada: stop the count

5:00 PM

The Nevada Independent is reporting that Trump’s campaign and Nevada Republican Party officials have filed an emergency appeal requesting the Nevada Supreme Court to immediately order Clark County to stop processing mail ballots.

Even though a District Court last week, issued an order denying their request, they have gone to the Nevada Supreme Court. The request is for Clark County to stop using an automatic signature verification machine and to stop “duplication” of all mail ballots. The “duplication” occurs when a mail in ballot has something wrong with it that prevents it being processed by a machine, so another ballot is created to record the vote.

If Clark County doesn’t immediately stop counting, the attorneys argue, “Nevadans – and the rest of the country – will be left wondering whether the results of the election are legitimate.”

The Registrar of Voters in Clark County has stated that if the use of the signature verification machine is stopped, it is unlikely that they will be able to complete the counting of ballots by the deadline set by state law.

And, this is exactly the intent. The Republicans will do anything to win, anything.

We don’t need voluntary capitulation

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Even though a Texas Judge ruled that Republicans who sought to throw out 127,000 ballots cast in drive-thru locations in Harris County, Texas did not have standing, Harris County decided to close down most of its drive-thru voting locations overnight.  Why?  The judge in the case, Andrew Hanen, found it necessary to go beyond the legal issues and advance his own political agenda in his opinion.  Hanen wrote that he wouldn’t vote in these drive-thru voting locations, legal or not.

So, this is where we are in this country.  The court now does not even have to rule against the forces of democracy for a county to voluntarily close down entirely legal voting options.

The County Clerk admits that Republicans are pursuing a strategy of trying to keep Americans from voting, and defends the decision as one which will protect votes.  But, in closing down the voting locations what he does, in the long run, is to encourage Repubicans to do exactly what they have done in this case, i.e., bring a completely baseless lawsuit that clearly has no legitimate basis and use it as intimidation to suppress voting.   

It is not the first time Hanen has used his judicial opinions to go beyond the legal issue at hand and pursue his ideological agenda.  He is in fact notorious for doing so. These are the kinds of judges McConnell and the Republicans have stacked the courts with. 

Make no mistake, when Republicans claim that they oppose “activist judges” they are lying.  They support “activist judges” and are appointing them at record levels. 

There are Democrats in the Senate who are complicit in this packing of the courts with right-wing activists.  And, voluntary capitulation is a characteristic of a country descending into authoritarianism.   

Exit polls, already warning us that they are unreliable

Monday, 2 November 2020

At a time when many people who have read the information about electronic vote manipulation seriously question the integrity of the vote count in the coming election, FiveThirtyEight, one of the most visible of the polling companies, is already warning us that exit polling will be “even less reliable this year.” 

Even though exit polling is extensively used all over the world to monitor the possibility of fraudulent elections, U.S. polling firms and media outlets maintain that their exit polling cannot be used to monitor election integrity.  They say that their exit polls are not designed to detect fraud, but to predict elections and flesh out demographics.

Even when the vote count has been widely different from the exit polling, professional pollsters and corporate media pundits have denied even the possibility of fraud in this country. 

But, as election integrity expert Jonathan Simon notes in his book “Code Red,” 

“America’s electoral system has been corrupted in the most direct and fundamental of ways: the computers that now count virtually all our votes in secret can be—and, the evidence indicates, have been—programmed to cheat…”

And, if the Republicans cheat in this election and eke out tiny margin of victory across a few key states, how will that cheating be uncovered?  We as a country have allowed Republicans (and to a certain extent Democrats) to bury the vote counting process in the secrecy of electronic vote counting systems that cannot be meaningfully audited. 

Again, Simon:

“We continued merrily on our way, election to computerized election, sending our votes into the partisan pitch-dark of cyberspace with nothing much besides our thoughts and prayers to protect them.”