Friday, October 26, 2012

Securing the Vote: Lessons from 2010

I was a poll watcher in Bridgeport, CT in 2010. For those of you not familiar, the Mayor of Bridgeport set off a recent firestorm by promising to swing the 2012 U.S. Senate election for Democrat candidate Chris Murphy. How can he do that? Let me tell you what happened in 2010.

The 2010 Connecticut Governor's race was a closely fought election. The final result was a Democrat victory by 5000 votes. On the morning after election day, the result showed a different outcome.

The Secretary of State ordered an insufficient supply of ballots so in the middle of the afternoon, election precincts across the state began to run out. Extra unnumbered, unaudited copies of ballots were photocopied and handed out to voters during the late afternoon. As they were not printed on special computer readable paper, they were not fed through the Scantron machine that tabulated votes and were secured in a special storage bin which began overflowing by the early evening. In fact, so many ballots were cast that they had to be collected in shopping bags.

At the end of the evening, after polls were kept open for an additional two hours by a judicial order meant to accommodate voters who were unable to vote during the fifteen minutes that polls were closed mid-afternoon, the ballots were secured and tabulated. A tally was sent to the Registrar of Voters which engaged in a marathon counting session throughout the night. By morning, with the final official tally on the fax machine set to be reported to the Secretary of State in the capital, someone miraculously found a bag of missing ballots and thus set off days of additional counts and recounts which swelled the margin of victory of the Democrat candidate.

What can be done to prevent similar incidents from happening in future elections?

(1) Volunteer to be a poll watcher with your local campaign and organizations like True the Vote. The primary job of a poll watcher is not to catch fraud but to deter it. Leftist groups attack True the Vote because they know that it is easier to cheat when people are not watching.

(2) Be prepared. Republicans were not adequately prepared in Connecticut in 2010. Election supervisors are not generally lawyers and can be taken aback when their discretion is challenged by a member of the opposition party, sometimes for the first time. Poll watchers need to be able to rely on a team of local lawyers who can escalate issues to a local judge or magistrate. Many disagreements amount to minor misunderstandings of the law and can be handled expeditiously if poll watchers have support from the local campaign. In Connecticut in 2010, all disputes including the decision to keep polls open an additional two hours were litigated in the state capital several hours away. Had anyone asked, the appropriate remedy would have been to keep polls open an additional fifteen minutes as that is how long they had been closed.

(3) Remember that the primary job of the poll watcher is to deter fraud and that can only be accomplished if you are in the room. Within an hour of my arrival at the polling location, the election supervisor asked the Deputy Registrar of Voters, accompanied by two state troopers, to speak with me because I had the temerity to challenge the qualification of voters who did not present proper ID. I could have been intimidated and gone home or I could have been infuriated and gotten arrested. Neither would have accomplished the ultimate goal of deterring fraud as both would have placed me outside the room. If your campaign does not have enough poll watchers to cover every polling location where you anticipate problems, assign teams of roving poll watchers and lawyers to cover them on a random basis and let the election supervisor know you will be checking in periodically.

(4) Assert the power of the provisional ballot! A provisional ballot is a ballot cast by a voter whose eligibility is in question. It allows an independent arbiter to determine the eligibility of the voter after voting is complete. If a voter whose eligibility is in question is allowed to cast a regular ballot, that vote is commingled with those of legitimate voters and it is not possible to remedy the situation if the voter is later determined to be ineligible.

(5) Fight for in-person voter ID laws that require the voter to present a state issued photo id that includes the voter’s address at an in-person voting location. This simple law would obviate much absentee ballot fraud, fraud where voters cast ballots in multiple locations, and fraud advocated by Congressman Moran’s son where criminals impersonate voters living and deceased to cast votes. As an election lawyer in Maine in 2008, I watched a student voter at the state university present a Sports Illustrated magazine label as proof of residence and then sign an affidavit that his girlfriend lived with him as proof of her residence. While both facts may have been true, there is no way to verify either independently or to have determined at the time whether either person had voted absentee in his home district.

Elections will never be without fraud. Too much power and money is at stake. If our sons and daughters are prepared to sacrifice their lives in the most desolate corners of the earth to preserve our freedom and our right to vote, the least we can do is take the proper measures to ensure that elections are conducted as honestly as possible.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Freedom To Succeed

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Obama Presidency - George Orwell's 1984 Redux


War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

Published during the Soviet Union's rise as a global superpower, George Orwell's 1984 offers a prescient window into the soul of the propaganda apparatus of a utopia dictatorship. While Barack Obama has yet to transform the United States from a constitutional republic, his effort to redesign Old Glory notwithstanding, enough similarities have arisen during his presidency and his campaign for re-election that it is worth taking notice. When reality is refracted through the prism of the state propaganda machine, we lose sight of who we are as a society.

Inhabitants of Orwell’s 1984 live in rat infested Victory Mansions and drink Victory Coffee that can generously be described as swill. The Ministry of Plenty allows them to purchase one pair of threadbare pajamas per annum. The Ministry of Truth re-writes historical news events and promulgates Newspeak, a language that seeks to confuse citizens into believing they are not living a dystopian nightmare. 

Conservatives have long complained about an unfriendly press. More than ever before, the Obama administration and its sycophants in the media are driving an Orwellian dystopian narrative to distract voters from the true misery of the economy and the dangers that face the United States abroad. Reasonable people can debate whether Mitt Romney or the solutions he proposes offer a superior alternative to the policies of the present administration. In a free country with a free press, the American people are entitled to the unvarnished truth. Our ancestors fought a revolution to free us from imperial rule. The modern day Tea Party movement is a metaphorical revolution against the heavy hand of top down, one size fits all, centrally planned government from both Republicans and Democrats. If the strength of the regime is our ignorance, we will surely lose our freedom.

The Polls

The Department of Justice sued The Gallup Organization after Gallup expressed an unwillingness to publish polls favorable to the Obama administration. Polls commissioned and released by media organizations should be intended to inform the public on the state of the election. Instead, polls are commissioned to reflect a desired outcome and drive voter perception. Individuals polled should be chosen to reflect an accurate representation of voter sentiment. Instead, pollsters heavily weight their samples with Democrats to give the impression that there is a wave of support for President Obama and Governor Romney is losing the election. In the critical swing state of Ohio, pollsters weight their samples with as many as 10% more Democrats despite evidence that Republicans have requested 40% more absentee ballots than Democrats and Republicans are outpacing their own absentee ballot requests from four years ago. Misrepresenting polling data is significant because many news organizations cite the average of these poll results reported at RealClearPolitics.com. When the website UnskewedPolls.com reports these results without a Democrat polling bias, they report a 7% lead for Mitt Romney as compared to the 4% lead RealClearPolitics reports for Barack Obama as of this writing.

The Economy

While the media continues to criticize Mitt Romney for a comment he made at a fundraiser several months ago, one that is technically accurate, they ignore the fact that the labor participation rate is the lowest it has been in 25 years resulting in a real unemployment rate of over 11%. Since President Obama took office, gasoline prices have more than doubled and one out of every four homes is worth less than the value of its mortgage. Despite the passage of a nearly 3000 page bill President Obama promised would reduce health insurance premiums by $2500, they have risen by nearly 20%. Nearly nine million people are collecting disability payments and the number of food stamp recipients has more than doubled under President Obama's watch. It is no wonder that median household income is down 8%. With our economy in freefall, the Federal Reserve has been forced to monetize 3/4 of the $6 trillion in new debt President Obama has accumulated. Rather than focusing on the disaster that is President Obama's economic record, or President Obama's own remarks acknowledging a desire to see welfare recipients as a 'majority coalition', or even President Obama’s outright lies on 60 Minutes about not raising taxes or his admission of lying in his paid advertisements, the media chooses to focus on Mitt Romney's supposed missteps and other campaign minutia. It is no wonder that only 8% of Americans have a 'great deal' of trust in the media.

Terrorism and the Middle East - Libya, Egypt and Iran

A United States consulate is set ablaze and our ambassador is murdered on the anniversary of 9/11 in an act of terrorism White House spokesman Jay Carney referred to as “self-evident", a characterization the President of Libya and Secretary of State Clinton agree with, and President Obama professes to the United Nations that this was the result of an out of control mob upset with a video that was released months earlier. Since the attack, we have learned that the United States government knew that al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack within 24 hours, that Secretary of State Clinton hired a 'security' firm that agreed to send UNARMED! 'guards' to ‘protect’ a consulate in one of the most dangerous corners of the world and that United States Marines guarding our embassy in Egypt were not permitted to be armed with live ammunition. When engaging in such reckless behavior, President Obama ignored growing evidence of Arab radicalization in North Africa. In response to these attacks, reports have surfaced that President Obama is considering releasing the convicted mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing and a plot to bomb the tunnels leading to New York City and a federal building in lower Manhattan. To add insult to injury, President Obama has decided to give $450 million in NEW aid to Egypt despite evidence of Muslim Brotherhood connections to the Libya attack and after proposing a $129 million cut from the embassy security budget. While the Prime Minister of Israel draws literal red lines at the U.N. and his country hands out gas masks as Iran races toward becoming a nuclear power, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta calls 'little red lines' a political ploy. Meanwhile, U.S. soldiers continue to be killed in 'friendly' fire incidents in Afghanistan where the U.S. suffered the worst single day loss of air power since the Vietnam War as the Taliban destroyed eight Harreir jets while parked at an air base.

Lying has become the new normal among the Obama Administration and its allies. It has gotten so bad that FreedomWorks CEO Matt Kibbe and conservative allies authored a letter expressing their outrage. At a recent Cato Institute Forum, Kibbe wondered rhetorically “how it is possible that so many diverse people can come together and create something that is better than themselves... when Barack Obama stood in front of Solyndra two months before it went bankrupt and said with a certitude that should disturb everyone ‘I know what is better’”. Orwell recognized that ignorance is power because it affords the government greater control. Barack Obama and his liberal allies recognize this too. To paraphrase Kibbe, freedom is the disintermediation of government control. Only with freedom of information is this possible.