This is the day when voters raised on a reverence for democracy realize the utter disregard their leaders hold for that concept. The moment state and local officials around the country get elected, they stop caring about making it easy for their constituents to vote. Some do so deliberately, for partisan reasons, while others just don’t pay attention or decide they have bigger priorities. The result can be seen in the confusion, the breakdowns, and the agonizingly slow lines at thousands of precincts in almost every state.
Automated telephone calls questioning the registration status of voters, including several received in the Mid-Valley, apparently will not trigger legal action by Secretary of State Kate Brown. Based on inquiries by the state Elections Division, “there’s really not a lot we can do” because no violation of election law turned up, said Andrea Cantu-Schomus, Brown’s spokeswoman. However, she said Wednesday, the Oregon Department of Justice is looking at whether the calls violated do-not-call lists that people can sign up for. The do-not-call law has an exception for some political purposes.
The Supreme Court of the United States came back for its 2012 session Monday and decided it will not take the appeal filed by a provider of prerecorded telephonic messages seeking to overturn enforcement of a ban on automated robo-calls in Indiana. FreeEats.com Inc. used an artificially intelligent calling system to contact residents throughout the country on behalf of its clients, including Economic Freedom Fund. The messages were political in nature. In 2006, Indiana filed a complaint alleging FreeEats.com had violated the state’s Autodialer Law. FreeEats.com contended the law violates the Indiana Constitution’s free speech clause.
The financial firepower that fueled the rise of a network of conservative advocacy groups now pummeling Democrats with television ads can be traced, in part, to Box 72465 in the Boulder Hills post office, on a desert road on the northern outskirts of Phoenix. That’s the address for the Center to Protect Patient Rights, an organization with ties to Charles and David H. Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankroll a number of conservative organizations. During the 2010 midterm election, the center sent more than $55 million to 26 GOP-allied groups, tax filings show, funding opaque outfits such as American Future Fund, 60 Plus and Americans for Job Security that were behind a coordinated campaign against Democratic congressional candidates. The money from the center provided a sizable share of the war chest for those attacks, which included mailers in California, robo-calls in Florida and TV ads that inundated a pocket of northeastern Iowa. The organizations it financed poured at least $46 million into election-related communications in the 2010 cycle, among other expenditures.
Shadowy unregistered political groups — some of which claim to be “super PACs” — are placing apparently illegal robocalls to voters across Ohio and the country. Experts say the latest form of dirty politics has the power to sway elections, and the problem is escalating nationwide. A Cincinnati-area Democratic congressional primary candidate, David Krikorian, says his defeat at the ballot box on March 6 may have been caused by a robocall that went out to voters the prior weekend, urging them to vote for an unknown candidate who didn’t actively campaign, instead of Krikorian, who was endorsed by many Democratic groups.
The man in charge of Elections Canada has broken his silence on the fraudulent robo-calls controversy, divulging that the agency has received 700 specific complaints about phony dialling from the 2011 ballot in the past three weeks. In his first statement on the matter, Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand also strongly hinted Thursday that he would like to be called before a parliamentary committee so he can offer more detail about the allegations received. His office is already investigating what it has alleged in court filings is an operative connected to the Conservative campaign in Guelph, Ont., one it believes used an alias “Pierre Poutine” and misleading robo-calls to try to suppress voting by supporters of rival parties. A senior Conservative government official said later Thursday that the Tories, who control House and Senate committees, are “amenable” to having Mr. Mayrand speak before MPs. The Commons, however, is rising for a spring break after March 16 and MPs won’t be sitting again until March 26.
Canada: Tory election official Guy Giorno wants ‘full weight of law’ applied against those responsible for robo-cal|s | thestar.com
The Conservative Party campaign co-chair agrees with a former top Elections Canada official on one thing — the courts should throw the book at whoever is behind calls to deliberately mislead voters in the 2011 election. Lawyer Guy Giorno, Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff now back in the private sector, told CTV’s Question Period that “suppression of vote is a despicable, reprehensible practice and everybody ought to condemn it. “So I wish Godspeed to Elections Canada and the RCMP investigators. We want them to get to the bottom of this and let’s hope the full weight of the law is applied to any and all.”
“Come out to vote on November 6.” “Before you come to vote make sure you pay your parking tickets, motor vehicle tickets, overdue rent, and most important any warrants.”
That’s the text of a flier distributed in African-American and Hispanic communities the weekend before Election Day in 2002 when Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. ran for governor against Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. November 6 would be too late to vote; it was a Wednesday. Failure to pay the rent or parking or motor vehicle tickets is not a barrier to voting; neither is an outstanding warrant.
The Maryland General Assembly first outlawed voter suppression efforts in 1896, making it illegal to use “force, threat, menace, intimidation, bribery, or reward, or offer…[to] otherwise unlawfully, either directly or indirectly, influence or attempt to influence any voter in giving his vote.”
Last week, Paul Schurick, the campaign manager for former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to violate election laws and two counts of election fraud for orchestrating a scheme of robo-calls intended to deter 100,000 Democratic African-American voters from voting in the City of Baltimore and Prince George’s County Maryland.
The robo-calls, delivered in a woman’s voice, assured Democratic voters that the Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley had already won the election as of 6:00 p.m. on Election Day 2010. “Our goals have been met. The polls are correct and we took it back. We’re OK. Relax. Everything’s fine. The only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight.”
At trial, Schurick argued his intention was to anger voters sympathetic to his candidate in order to motivate them to vote. A jury rejected his argument and found Schurick’s intent was to mislead and discourage Democratic African‑American voters from going to the polls. Schurick’s conviction comes in the midst of a robust national debate about the importance of ballot security and how to protect American elections.