Repeat after me: Elections aren’t rigged

There is a faction of America who think the election will be “stolen” and that ttrocess is rigged.

Hogwash.

Start with common sense, and think of the process of where you vote.  You walk into your local precinct, stocked with ordinary people from your community.  You might say hello and ask how their family is doing.  They check your name and ID against the book of registered voters looking for your matching signature.  In most places you are handed your ballot or plastic card for a touch-screen and off you go to vote.

For the election to be rigged, your local volunteers would need to be in on the scam. In my Ohio community of 20,000 inhabitants, there are just less than a dozen polling precincts located in three or four voting locations.  Each voting location has, easily, 20 volunteers at any time during the day.  There must be 50 voting locations in my county, which is one of 88 in the state. How many thousands of local volunteers at polling stations would need to be in on the fix?  A GOP-based DC law firm tweet-stormed how this idea of a rigged election is preposterous.

Also at each polling location are members of the Democratic and Republican parties, trained to watch to be sure there are no shenanigans take place and that any voting irregularities are handled immediately and by the book.  Pollwatching is pretty much the same in every state, and with each party granted the opportunity, another layer of protection guarantees that the system is not rigged.

Elections are state-run affairs, but managed at the local level.  States are a patchwork of different systems for voting, from optical scan to touch-screen computers and paper ballots for those who vote absentee. Indeed, the entire state of Oregon is absentee, as their system is exclusively mail-in.  Anyone who claims the system is rigged needs to explain how this can be to you and me.

This doesn’t even broach the topic of voter fraud, which has been found to be tremendously rare. To buttress this claim, the Federalist website took these claims to task, pointing out that in Pennsylvania 700 people may have voted twice (which doesn’t even add up to 0.10% of the electorate in that state) and that in Colorado a handful of dead people voted.  Yes, voter fraud exists.  But by the total number of votes counted, voter fraud is extremely rare.  And yes, we should continue to prosecute it and continue to work to have fraud-less elections.  But this is hardly proof of stolen elections.

What is possible is that the election could be hacked.  There is ample data showing that the potential for this does exist.  And some states do not have a redundant backup to verify a person’s vote, such as Georgia. However, there are multiple back-ups and secure steps in place for the preventing the tampering with the actual total vote count in a state.  When Florida was reported as being hacked this week, allegedly by Russians, it lent credibility to the claim that election could be thrown.  But read through how Florida handles the actual voting mechanisms which make throwing the election much more than a simple hack.

So rigging an election?  Nope.  Hacking election systems that create chaos and turmoil?  Very possible.  Throwing the election through a simple hack?  Fantastical.

Democracy is built upon trust: of each other and of our elected leaders. It would be the ultimate show of patriotism in the worlds oldest running democracy for its leaders — of all political stripes — step forward and jointly speak to the confidence each has in the election mechanisms.  Why would anyone want to cast doubt over the legitimacy of our democracy?

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White guys aren’t determining this election…

How many of your friends have said something akin to choosing the lesser of two evils with this election? Chances are that friend was a white guy. Back from the summer, when things were much, much rosier for both candidates, here’s what it looked like with ABC News:

White folks back in the good old days of the summer were at 50% unfavorable for both candidates.  But by the end of the summer… it goes worse for both:

unfavor

But while white guys are wringing their hands over these supposedly bad candidates… dig inside the numbers and you will find that there are demographics who very much like one of the candidates.

minority

Dig into those Net Positives in the columns for Black, Hispanic and Asian for Clinton. This the Hispanic numbers don’t blow you away, they are on the positive side for Hillary, a full 68 points above Trump’s. Over a month ago, SurveyMonkey had even higher numbers:

So it’s quite clear that all this chatter about two bad candidates… is a lot of… white noise.

Two weeks ago, fivethirtyeight.com posted that Trump could win if the “missing white” votes from 2012 were engaged and voting.  But they are not.

Although Trump may be converting plenty of existing voters to his side, there’s really very little evidence that previous nonvotersare coming out of the woodwork in large numbers for him. – 538.com

But this “converting” voters is misleading, because the same site shows that Trump is faring worse than Romney with the non-college white voter.

Even as he piles up support among white men without a college degree, he’s on track for a record poor performance for a Republican among white voterswith a degree. And right now, that tradeoff is a net negative for Trump, compared with Romney. If a ton of new white voters without a degree flooded into the electorate, that could change the math for Trump. – 538.com

The Pew Research Center showed back in February that there projects to be 226 million eligible voters in 2016, of which 31% will be minority voters.  In a typical election, the white vote is split between the two candidates.  For argument’s sake, give 60% of the 165 million white voters to Trump, which comes out at 99 million votes.  Clinton takes home 66 million.  Now factor the minority vote, and give 80% of the remaining 64 million minority votes to Clinton, and you get 118 million for her and 111 for him.  Keep in mind, giving Trump 60% of the white vote is very generous for September, let alone where he is now.

But now unpack the female white vote.  It’s trending fast and furious away from one candidate. Before there was a Trump “sex tape”, women were far and away anti-Trump:

Clinton has consistently led by double digits among female voters, while men have fluctuated from a 42 percent tie between the candidates in June to a current 16-point edge for Trump. Among likely voters, Clinton has a 19-point lead among women, and Trump has an identical lead among men. – Washington Post, Sept. 25

In 2012, 53% of the voters were women. If you re-visit those 165 million white voters and take out 53%, 87 million are women.  Conservatively, giving 60% to Clinton (that 19 point lead two weeks ago) yields 52 million.  Add in her 51 minority votes, and she is at 103. Add in a mere 40% of the male white vote, and she’s at 133 million votes. Trump would come in at 96 million.  This Washington Post poll is illuminating:

Polls are just that, a prediction that sometimes can be wrong.  But when you look at trends as you dig inside the demographics of the 2016 election one thing is really clear.  White guys are not the ones who will decide the Presidency this year.

  • J.

Election 2016: Can we have a mulligan?

Friday’s news cycle was a depressing one regardless of candidate.  Trump’s “hot mic” moment is winning the news cycle, but Hillary’s wiki leaks revelation isn’t a winner either.  In a “normal” election cycle some of these moments by both candidates would be deadly damaging.  But in 2016, it’s just hunker in the bunker and say the other candidate is worse.

Consider today…

  • Key Republicans either un-endorsed Trump or asked him to step down. Trump said “no way” will he step aside.
  • Trump has said he will go after Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct in the next debate, saying Hillary was complicit or an enabler.  Yes, Bill is not running for President, but if it wasn’t a Clinton running this wouldn’t be an issue.
  • Fox News on the morning following Trump’s “hot mic” incident, dispatched a female Democratic media member who will still be voting for Trump. She said his comments were just locker room banter and that Hillary Clinton was much worse to women, citing reports she went after those accusing Bill of infidelities. Again, it would have been hard to shift the argument had this not been a Clinton running.
  • The revelation that Hillary said one thing to Wall Street in private, and expensive, speeches and said another to Bernie Sanders followers is a tough pill for many to swallow on the left.

Both Clinton and Trump are trying to face down recent accusations that their Foundations are just fronts.  Hillary’s in a “pay for play” situation and Trump’s in feeding his own businesses.  How many times does “lesser of two evils” come up on Social Media?

So the Sunday Debate… guess it is going be devoid of wonky policy discussion, eh?  And… it makes you wish for a mulligan. Can’t we just do this all over again?

Turns out, that’s totally possible.  Consider Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution:

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators. – Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution

Congress has every ability to change the date of the national elections.  If both parties could be convinced, they could easily pass such a law and set a new date (perhaps December 1st) for the Presidency and re-convene their conventions in November and choose anew. Likely?  Absolutely not.  Could it be done?  Technically, yes.  Expensive?  Certainly, and that is a state expense, not a federal one.v  Pragmatically… not a chance.

But with record unfavorabilities of the two candidates, would this restore the faith of the electorate in their candidates?  Maybe not… but one has to wonder, if given the choice, would America make this call:

seriously

  • J.

What if Trump withdrew from the race?

With the news Friday of the latest Trump bombshell, caught on a “hot mic” leading into an interview, the interwebs are ablaze again, asking… again: Can the GOP replace Trump?

Yes.  And No.

Yes, according to the GOP’s own rules, they are able to at any time replace the candidate for president. Indeed, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) suggested this on Friday.  Back in August, this movement had minor play in the media, and a GOP expert stated that it was completely possible to replace a candidate for any reason.  But that was August… we are now one month out from the General Election.

Could the GOP replace Trump?  Yes, but it seems implausible for any party’s machinations to come together and do so this late in the game.  But what if Trump just quit the race?  Does Pence become the presumptive Presidential candidate?  No. The GOP can select any individual to replace Trump, it doesn’t have to bring Pence in from the Bullpen to take the ball.

But it is already too late to take Trump off the ballot across the country should he be replaced or drop out.  According to individual state laws, a slew of states have already passed the deadline for a candidate to appear on the ballot. There are only 14 of the 50 states where as of October 1st it isn’t clear if a candidate could be added.

That means Trump will be on the ballot across America in just about every state even if he withdraw.  While not quite an equivalent, the idea of a name appearing on a ballot who is no longer in the race… well, America has elected no fewer than 5 dead candidates to Congress, whose untimely passing left their names on a ballot.

However, the Presidential race is different, as our vote isn’t pure like voting for a Congressman or Senator.  Each state has a series of Electors who ultimately cast their vote for President.  Each candidate has a list of Electors who will assemble after the election to vote separately for President and Vice President.

The question becomes, is an Elector bound to vote for the candidate who selected her or him in the first place?  There is no Federal law, so yes, Electors in the states could choose NOT to vote for Trump is he wins the popular vote of that state. But not in 29 states have laws that specify how an Elector can vote.

Most of these state laws generally assert that an elector shall cast his or her vote for the candidates who won a majority of the state’s popular vote, or for the candidate of the party that nominated the elector. – Fair Vote.org

Any time a question can be answered with YES and NO the result is usually the same: chaos.

  • J.

 

THE LOSS OF CIVILITY

A great thing about Democracy is that sometimes you agree with the majority… and sometimes you don’t.  When you don’t and you wish to oppose, you have that right and ability.  There are lots of avenues.  In 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a controversial measure to curtail unions.  It was met by widespread protest but passed anyway.  It led to recall elections of state lawmakers and the governor, of which most lawmakers and the governor prevailed.  This is how democracy works.  Win some, lose some, find other ways to win your argument.  This week the process took a new turn, as the Wisconsin lower court ruled that measure unconstitutional.  But before the pro-union folks begin dancing in the streets, the decision will be appealed and will surely end up in the state’s Supreme Court.  And it could one day end up on the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court. Democracy… it grinds on. Continue reading

Voter ID… scam or sham?

Since the 2012 election, a wave of Voter ID laws have been passed in the states.  While there has not been any widespread cases of voter fraud identified, let alone prosecuted, these states consider it pre-emptive protection.  Or is it Poll Taxes and Literacy Tests all over again?  Pre 1965, states used the concept of a “Literacy Test” as a way to ensure that citizens who voted had a basic civic education prior to voting.  Except the difficulty of said tests were such that poorer educated blacks routinely failed the tests until the NAACP started classes.

Wisconsin is cool with your Driver’s License… which doesn’t help you if you are a citizen who just happens to be poorer and car-less.  That’s ok, there are plenty of other ID options, starting with a real estate tax bill.  That is, if you happen to own your property.  Since you don’t have a car, that’s not real likely.  You can also produce a bank statement. But… a lot of poor don’t utilize banks and deal primarily in cash.   But hey, Wisconsin is here to help!  Just click right here for other “approved documents“! Continue reading

THE TRUMP EFFECT

It’s certain that The Donald will have an impact on the 2016 Presidency, whether he is nominated or not.  Consider what Monday brought.  The New York Times posted a long-form piece insightful of Trump’s rise at the expense of GOP Elite. It’s not a liberal hit piece.

… the story is also one of a party elite that abandoned its most faithful voters, blue-collar white Americans, who faced economic pain and uncertainty over  the past decade as the party’s donors, lawmakers and lobbyists prospered. From mobile home parks in Florida and factory towns in Michigan, to Virginia’s coal country, where as many as one in five adults live on Social Security disability payments, disenchanted Republican voters lost faith in the agenda of their party’s leaders.

Right and Far right Republicans in Ari Fleischer and Laura Ingraham both state in the piece that the Elites that directed the party leadership have to reckon with how they left behind a sizable piece of the GOP electorate.

Perhaps the mantra the Bill Clinton rode to his 1992 victory, “It’s the Economy, Stupid” evaded the elites. The lower-middle and middle-middle classes have not recovered from the free trade deals and the Great Recession of the past 20 years.  Politicians – left and right – get so far immersed in their analytics and think tanks, that sometimes they just miss the forest for the trees:

Between 2008 and 2012, according to the Pew Research Center, more lower ­income and less ­educated white voters shifted their allegiance to Republicans.
These voters had fled the Democratic Party and were angry at Mr. Obama, whom they believed did not have their interests at heart. But not all of them were deeply conservative; many did not think about politics in ideological terms at all.

The mistake the GOP made was thinking that Americans by nature were leaning more Conservative and therefore “Elites” felt their loss in 2012 was that they didn’t choose a “Conservative-enough” candidate.  The bigger mistake was made by the Democrats, who have embraced a bigger tent for diverse folks but left no room for the working class whites.  They appear no better prepared to open the tent flap.

Latch on to these two phrases from the article about these non-ideological Republican-come-lately working class folks, for it may be the un-doing of Senate control for the GOP:

They opposed free trade more than any other group in the country.

They saw illegal immigration not only as a cultural and security threat, but also as an economic one, intertwined with trade deals that had stripped away good manufacturing jobs while immigrants competed for whatever work remained.

The evidence that this concept is a strong one with voters continued today in Ohio as well, where incumbent Senator Rob Portman will have to fend off former Congressman and Governor Ted Strickland to retain his seat.  The craftily monikered Senate Majority PAC launched a TV ad against Portman late last week that sounds Trump-like in its roots.

 

Make no doubt that Ohio, despite voting for its own Governor in the GOP Primary, has a significant rust-belt, blue-collar pro-Trump demographic.  The Columbus Dispatch noted the voting record of Portman and Strickland:

…the voting records of Strickland and Portman are polar opposites. As a member of the U.S. House from 1993 through 2005, Portman voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico and for Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. When he was U.S. trade representative under President George W. Bush in 2005, Portman helped guide the Central American Free Trade Agreement through Congress. By contrast, as a member of the House, Strickland opposed NAFTA, permanent trade relations with China and the Central American pact.

This underscores how Trump’s appeal is not GOP as much as it is demographic.  Regardless of whether or not he is the nominee, the Trump Effect with immigration and jobs is going to put a lot of GOP legislators up against the ropes. In Ohio, Senator Portman may swing for it this Fall.

  • J.