Standing in front of a huge David Perdue bus in a hangar at DeKalb Peachtree Airport, Sen. Johnny Isakson begged the crowd to go to the polls. “Tomorrow isn’t just about going to the polls for yourself, it’s about bringing our neighbors and friends,” he said, “Whatever you do from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., you want to get everyone to go out and vote.” This is the typical plea of a campaign in its final stretch. But it also reflects the fundamental and driving dynamics of the Georgia’s election contests. Rapid demographic change has pushed this Southern state from a deep red—which gave 57.9 percent of its votes to George W. Bush—to a reddish purple, where the Democratic Senate candidate—Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn—is neck-and-neck with Republican David Perdue, and the Democratic candidate for governor—Jimmy Carter’s grandson Jason Carter—is close to a win over Nathan Deal, the Republican governor. Compared to 2010, the black share of the electorate is larger (28.8 percent versus 28.2 percent) and the white share smaller (64.2 percent versus 66.3 percent). These look like small shifts, but in a close election, they’re substantial. In an electorate with more black voters, Democrats need significantly fewer white voters to maintain a lead and get to 50 percent. What’s more, these trends are ongoing—the Georgia electorate of 2016 and 2018 will each be less white than the one that preceded it. Tuesday’s races—and the strategies pursued by both campaigns—will set the stage for the next decade of partisan fights in the state.
Voting Blogs: Maybe It’s Time to Ditch the “Election Official’s Prayer” | Alysoun McLaughlin/Election Academy
Election after election, it’s the same story, different county. Somewhere, a high-profile election is too close to call. The outcome seems to hang on the tiniest of margins. With absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted, disappointed television viewers go to bed at night not knowing who “won”. Discrepancies in the election night numbers come to light that election administrators are accustomed to addressing as part of the canvass process, but voters don’t typically see. Reporters struggle to come up with a sensible narrative to explain what’s going on, and start speculating on air about ballots that have been ‘lost’ or ‘found’. The election administrator tries to explain that the process is working as intended, but eventually throws in the towel and issues a statement pledging to do better next time. In a close election, there has to be a win scenario where the people counting the ballots don’t inevitably look like morons. We’ve all heard the dubious Election Officials’ Prayer: “Lord, I don’t care who wins, but please let it be a landslide.” If we are going to get past the pervasive sense, as a profession, that we are all just one too-close-to-call election away from a career-ending media frenzy, we need to quit doing the same thing and expecting a different result. We need to package our process more understandably.
Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil.” But what would it mean for democracy if it was? That’s the question psychologist Robert Epstein has been asking in a series of experiments testing the impact of a fictitious search engine — he called it “Kadoodle” — that manipulated search rankings, giving an edge to a favored political candidate by pushing up flattering links and pushing down unflattering ones. Not only could Kadoodle sway the outcome of close elections, he says, it could do so in a way most voters would never notice. Epstein, who had a public spat with Google last year, offers no evidence of actual evil acts by the company. Yet his exploration of Kadoodle — think of it as the equivalent of Evil Spock, complete with goatee — not only illuminates how search engines shape individual choices but asks whether the government should have a role in keeping this power in check. “They have a tool far more powerful than an endorsement or a donation to affect the outcome,” Epstein said. “You have a tool for shaping government. . . . It’s a huge effect that’s basically undetectable.”
The Republicans’ plan is that if they can’t buy the 2012 election they will steal it. The plan, long in the making and now well into its execution, is to raise great gobs of money—in newly limitless amounts—so that they and their allies could outspend the president’s forces; and they would also place obstacles in the way of large swaths of citizens who traditionally support the Democrats and want to exercise their right to vote. The plan would disproportionately affect blacks, who were guaranteed the right to vote in 1870 by the Fifteenth Amendment; but then that right was negated by southern state legislatures; and after people marched, were beaten, and died in the civil rights movement, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Now various state legislatures are coming up with new ways to try once again to nullify that right. In a close election, the Republican plan could call into question the legitimacy of the next president. An election conducted on this basis could lead to turbulence on election day and possibly an extended period of lawsuits contesting the outcome in various states. Bush v. Gore would seem to have been a pleasant summer afternoon. The fact that their party’s nominee is currently stumbling about, his candidacy widely deemed to be in crisis mode, hasn’t lessened their determination to prevent as many Democratic supporters as they can from voting in November.
A dozen years ago, proving who you were at the polls wasn’t a big issue. But then came the presidential election of 2000, which spotlighted mechanical and other flaws in Florida’s vote-counting system and ended with the U.S. Supreme Court intervening to declare a winner. That high-stakes drama touched off a re-examination of election processes and led several states over the next decade to tighten ID requirements to reduce the possibility of fraud. By 2011, voter ID was “the hottest topic of legislation in the field of elections,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Minnesota, voters in November will be deciding whether to move from having no voter ID requirement to adopting one of the strictest in the nation.
Memphis School Board Member Kenneth Whalum, Junior has been an outspoken member of the Memphis City School Board, “I cannot be bought, speak my mind and question things that need to be questioned.” When a new Shelby County School Board takes over in 2013, Whalum won’t be on it. In a nail biter, Whalum lost to Kevin Woods, 6,423 votes to 6,531. That’s a loss by a mere 108 votes. “I have never seen such an infusion of hundreds of thousands of dollars from outside Memphis in a local school board race. It was a miracle I was able to get 50 percent of the vote,” says Whalum.
What may be even more shocking to some, is there is no automatic recount in a race this close.
Curious whether new restrictive state voting laws requiring photo ID will damage the credibility of this year’s election outcome, I sent email queries over the past week to several conservative analysts. I found their responses illuminating. Amy Kaufman, director of congressional relations at the Hudson Institute, wrote that “while there are changes to many states’ registration programs, these will not be an impediment to the victor.” She argued that Florida is “attempting to reduce voter fraud by purging possible noncitizens. Those people have the right to be readmitted by proving citizenship. It appears that over 500 of the roughly 2500 on that list have come forward to show documentation.” A colleague of Kaufman’s at the Hudson Institute, Michael Horowitz, was more outspoken, declaring that “requiring some form of identification of voters seems to me not merely reasonable but long overdue.” In Horowitz’s view, the “accusatory rhetoric” of Attorney General Eric Holder “about the alleged racism of those who support the I.D. reforms — unspeakable because he’s the Attorney General of the United States, not someone running for mayor of the District of Columbia — merits condemnation from progressives, not a threat that Republicans will lack political legitimacy.”
When Edward and Mary Weidenbener went to vote in Indiana’s primary in May, they didn’t realize that state law required them to bring government photo IDs such as a driver’s license or passport. The husband and wife, both approaching 90 years old, had to use a temporary ballot that would be verified later, even though they knew the people working the polling site that day. Unaware that Indiana law obligated them to follow up with the county election board, the Weidenbeners ultimately had their votes rejected — news to them until informed recently by an Associated Press reporter. Edward Weidenbener, a World War II veteran who had voted for Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential contest, said he was surprised by the rules and the consequences. “A lot of people don’t have a photo ID. They’ll be automatically disenfranchised,” he said.
Florida: Confusion feared since ballots bear names of presidential contenders no longer in race | Palm Beach Post
Only four candidates are facing-off in Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary, but there are nine names to choose from on the ballot. Although five candidates have dropped out of the race, including Minnesota Congressman Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, their names are still on the ballot. Palm Beach County elections chief Susan Bucher said Friday she is worried the ballots may confuse voters. She wants to make sure residents don’t “waste” their vote by choosing a candidate who dropped out. “It is a statewide issue,” said Bucher, who has discussed her concerns with the Secretary of State’s office. “I am just concerned that people will waste their vote, in what appears to be a very close election.”
A 14-vote difference between Republican Common Council members Deborah Kleckowski and David Bauer has caused the city to recount all of the ballots from Tuesday’s election, city officials said Wednesday. Kleckowski has unofficially won a seat on the council over Bauer, with 3,828 votes, to Bauer’s 3,814.
Kleckowski said she feels that she did a good job during her first term as a council member and she is disappointed that her numbers weren’t higher. Kleckowski said she is confident that she will win the recount, but if she doesn’t, she said she will support Bauer just as she thinks he will support her.
Virginia Democrats’ hopes of maintaining their party’s hold on the Commonwealth’s upper house were very much in doubt late Tuesday, hinging on a razor-thin count in a single Senate district. When the ballot-counting ended for the night, longtime Spotsylvania incumbent Sen. R. Edward Houck (D) was 86 votes behind Republican challenger Bryce E. Reeves. Absentee ballots have been counted, and an unknown number of provisional ballots will be counted Wednesday.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) early Wednesday morning declared victory on behalf of Reeves in the 17th district, which encompasses Fredericksburg and parts of five downstate counties. Craig Bieber, Houck’s campaign manager, said the race “remains too close to call” and noted “several significant discrepancies during Tuesday night’s tabulation that deserve further attention during the canvassing and certification process.”