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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fraud in the Voting Booth?

My county, like so many Democratic counties, has a long history of voting irregularities. It is hard to guess what impact this has on elections since the Democrats massively outnumber the Republicans anyway. This is my first year experiencing this first hand, and I am not sure how to interpret what I see.

Last weekend was the end of canvassing walks. This weekend I decided to substitute phone banking for walking. I am not overly fond of the phone and would rather contribute in most any other way to retiring the Democrats this election, but clearly phoning voters and urging them to the polls was the way to contribute yesterday. I settled in at GOP HQ with a bounded but seemingly infinite list of phone numbers to call. Shortly after I began calling to urge voters to the polls, a distraught woman dashed into headquarters. She was a designated GOP poll observer at the nearby polling site (early voting). She had arrived a quarter of an hour before the legal opening of the polls to find voters already filling the voting booths marking their ballots. When she identified herself and asked what was going on, the Democratic election officials barred her from the polling place. Happy for a reason to leave my phone, I trotted up the hill to the polling site and asked the GOP electioneers whether things were proceeding appropriately. They were (appropriately) barred from the actual polling site, but were able to confirm that the polls had opened early. I returned to HQ and phoned the county GOP chair to have him file a complaint.

Was anything wrong actually taking place? I don't know. Election officials may have decided to open early to accommodate the long lines of voters waiting to cast their votes. On the other hand, they may have opened early in order to open before the GOP observers and judges were in place. Perhaps ballots sans voters were fed into the machine before the GOP witnesses arrived. Perhaps not, but years of Democrats cheating at the ballot box makes a man paranoid. I have not yet heard the outcome of our chairman's complaint.

I returned to my phone and my finite but large list of GOP voters. I have learned on my walks not to identify myself as a GOP volunteer after hearing one time too many, ''Which ones are they, the Republicans or Democrats?" I now identify myself as an X County Republican volunteer. A few score calls later, the X County GOP secretary arrived at HQ. I had a bone to pick with her. Earlier that week I committed a cardinal error of life in our modern world; I sent her an email with my analysis of the vote numbers we had seen so far and their implications for our candidate (better than other people believed). Included in the email was a sarcastic comment about one of our underperforming candidates. The secretary liked the analysis and emailed it to the entire X County GOP, all the candidates, and our district officers too. Perhaps she emailed it to the WSJ too, but I haven't checked.
I was too amused to be really annoyed, but I did have to ask what the underperforming candidate said. Apparently he was not pleased, but he has a good sense of humor, and I am sure he will find it funny (but perhaps not for several weeks). I asked the secretary, tongue in cheek, if she was trying to get me kicked out of another GOP organization.

If you are a Republican (and a U.S. citizen and registered voter) and haven't voted yet, get out and vote Tuesday. If you are a Democrat, spend Tuesday curled up with a good economics text. If you are a visitor from Europe, Asia, Australia, or Africa, I am not sure why you read my blog entries on local politics, but hello, glad to have you here.

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