View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Anniversary 

As I was driving out to Albertson's yesterday to pick up Pepto and NyQuil and Earl Grey, I happened to hear the weekend edition of NPR's least capitalism-hostile show, Marketplace. They mentioned this, and I couldn't resist the shock value.

I promise: more election stuff later

And I promise: I won't ever do that to you again.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Election Judge Training 

In the background, on Hugh's show, as I read Kerry Spot for the 14th time last night: a woman's voice, talking about how she'll support our troops in combat. Could have been Marilyn Musgrave. Then, "my opponent, Loretta Sanchez..." Locational disconnect, until I remembered that I was listening to Hugh online, and I was getting campaign ads for Southern California.

The election judge training was simultaneously encouraging and worrisome. Encouraging because so many normal people were there, wanting to take care of the process. Worrisome because some of them were barely paying attention, others were having a hard time following fairly simple processes, and at least one woman should have been carrying a drum and a "Count Every Vote Sign." I was relieved to see my old friend Bill Eigles, who theoretically contributes to this blog on an occasional basis, was there. So there's one more precinct where there won't be any shennanigans.

I have seen "flowcharts" of a sort, showing what the election judge should do in different situations, resolving conflicts in the rules, and reducing the number of decisions to be made. Sadly, the state's election judge handbook includes no such flowchart. This is likely to lead to overtaxed elections officials back at the county clerk's office, giving out incorrect, or incorrectly interpreted information about what to do.

There was also no mention of HAVA-tagged voters, those who registered by mail without providing any ID. The trainer was careful to say that lack of ID on a provisional ballot envelope would not necessarily invalidate that ballot. That's true, if there's enough existing registration info back at the elections office. But if there's not, if someone did need ID, the vote won't be counted. People who could have produced ID, but weren't told it was necessary, will have their ballots invalidated.

Here's the rub. The election commission is trying, desperately, to keep election judges from having to defend anything. It's not the judges' job to decide what provisional ballots will get counted, and which ones won't. But this is leading them to have judges avoid making any judgments at all, or give any advice at all about what ID may be necessary to help a provisional ballot count. It's a recipe for confusion and a gaping hole for a lawsuit. The outcome of that lawsuit may very well be to count all provisional ballots, legitimate or not.

Friday, October 29, 2004

So It Begins 

Republicans have filed a complaint that election workers in largely Democratic Pueblo are permitting electioneering and failing to ask for ID. Pueblo County Clerk Chris Munoz has already been in hot water for simultaneously serving as the treasurer for a local candidate's campaign.

Ms. Munoz asserts that she doesn't believe workers weren't asking for ID, because some of these judges have been around for years. Except that the ID requirement is new, and experienced judges frequently don't assimilate new procedures.

Allowing campaign buttons and clothing inside the polling place is against the law. But not asking for ID is worse. Given the reports of multiple registrations, of people registered in multiple counties, of felons being registered, the ID requirement is one of the few safeguards we have. If election judges are willing to violate their oaths and not enforce the requirement, there's almost nothing standing between organized vote fraud and a stolen election.

Basic Economics 

On this, the 75th Anniversary of the great stock market crash, the Denver Post ran two stories on the event - one from the AP, and one on the local reaction at the time. Both stories repeat the myth that the stock market crash caused the Great Depression. At the end, they get around to mentioning that the Fed raised interest rates, making things worse. Even then, they only get half the story.

The stock market crash was caused by a speculative bubble, but a market decline was inevitable. The economy had already begun to go into recession. The stock market bubble was poised to be popped, but the Great Depression was almost completely a result of mismanagement by the Government. Not only did they raise interest rates, they raised tariffs, and the Fed refused to help ease a liquidity crisis as it had so many times in the past.

Anyone who wants to write about the depression should be required by his editor to read Milton Friedman's Free to Choose, which covers this in depth. The question here isn't what could have been done to ease the Depression - they are many answers to that - it's that the Stock Market Crash didn't cause it in the first place.

Party of Hate 

Yesterday, driving to the Election Judge training, I stopped at 8th and Emerson, east of downtown. On the back of one of the stop signs, someone had spray-painted, "Kill Bush".

One data point isn't much, and not for a moment do I think the Democratic Party had anything to do with this. But I've been driving around, glancing at yard signs and bumper stickers, and even graffiti for month. I have seen protest signs equating the Israeli flag with with swastika, and one - one - Bush sign defaced. (I bet I know who those people are voting for.) I have seen reports of other, but I guess a defaced sign makes a worse statement than a stolen sign.

But not once have I seen anything remotely approaching "Kill Kerry." Nothing, nothing suggesting physical violence against a candidate or his party or even his union thugs.

This is not rational. Peter Beinart notwithstanding, it doesn't even have rational roots. And, it's completely one-sided.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Best Case Scenario 

I have believed for some time that it is important that Israel finish the security fence as quickly as possible. In the Middle East, nothing succeeds like facts on the ground. And while we'd all like to have the chance to say a Shehecheyanu as quickly as possible, Arafat might help Israel most by recovering. After the succession struggle has already started, of course.

Whether or not the circling vultures would let that happen is another story. Certainly those with the greatest interest in seeing him linger would also be those in the worst position to see that it happened.

Our Dinner with Hugh 

Last night, members of the Rocky Mountain Alliance had the great pleasure of dining with Hugh Hewitt, courtesy of the Outback Steakhouses of Aurora and East Aurora. Michael, Richard, Ben, Jim, Guy, Clay, Jonathan, Jared, Bob, and I all had a terrific time.

I can verify what the Northern Alliance guys have been saying - Hugh is very generous, and sincerely concerned with success of the conservative blogosphere as a corrective to the MSM. And, we would like to think, for the RMA in particular. He sounds like the Happy Warrior on the show, because he actually is one.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Arafat Still Not Dead 

So when I got to the Outback Steakhouse in Aurora, to meet with Hugh Hewitt and the rest of the Rocky Mountain Alliance, the first question they asked was whether or not we'd be able to toast the death of Yasser Arafat. No, I said, but I did get to tell the joke about Arafat dying on a Jewish holiday.

Soon. Not yet, but not long.

Of course, Arafat never bothered to groom a successor, and given his Stalinesque tendencies, that's probably just as well for the successors. The problem now is the problem common to all thugocracies: when the head thug dies, the new leader is the
one who settles all family business the fastest. So long as he doesn't go to the meeting in Gaza, on al-Tessio's territory, where he'll be safe.

Everything you hear is rumor," said Gazi Hanania, deputy speaker of the legislature. "President Arafat is sleeping."

Sure, and so is the parrot. When Arafat actually does pass on, die, move along, cease to be, become an ex-Arafat, what passes for Palestinian leadership is going to have to staple his feet to a forklift and parade him around until things settle down.

Right now, everyone's predicting a bloodbath, and I suppose that's the way to bet. There are half a dozen factions who've been sharpening their knives, waiting for this moment, and there's a tremendous first-mover competitive advantage to be had here.

Still, there's some hope this thing could be settled more quickly than we think. Moving quickly, and intelligently, and not too quickly, takes organization, which is one thing that Hamas has in increasingly short supply. Most of it has been sandblasted off of Gaza streets and sidewalks, and what's left has become the Terrorists that Dare Not Speak Their Names. So there's some reason to hope that the non-Islamist irredentist Arabs will take over, rather than the Islamists.

That's the good news. The bad news is that we've seen this film before. Everyone knew Chernenko was a placeholder, especially when the voting booth looked suspiciously like his hospital room. But Andropov was a different story. If all it takes is a tailored suit and some white wine to make some people forget that you've spent you're entire career destabilizing legitimate governments around the world, there should be lots of candidates for the job.

A quick transition to someone who's Not Arafat could stall Israel's plans short of actual victory. Whoever comes out is bound to be an unknown quantity, and the calls for Israel to stop its "provocations" long enough to give the new guy a chance to actually prove his murderous intentions. The Europeans won't believe it, but they'll be speaking to enough people who will, even within Israel.

That wasn't the plan. The plan was for Israel to finish the fence, and tell the Palestinians to come back when they stopped killing each other long enough to come up for air.

Sharon has had defeat snatched from the jaws of victory so many times before. In Sinai. In Beirut. Semi-responsible Palestinians have been calling for Arafat to step aside for a while now. Wouldn't is be ironic if he had finally found a way to elude Sharon one last time?

Gay Marriage 

I have tended to avoid the topic of gay marriage in this space. In the first place, my personal opinions on the matter are pretty much fixed by virtue of my being an Orthodox Jew: marriage simply cannot be anything other than between one man and one woman. And for me, that's about where it ends. I know how I'd vote on a referendum, and how much I'd try to punish Ken Gordon or Andrew "The Tsar" Romanoff if they tried to push is through the General Assembly. But I can't expect that convince many people; Orthodox Jews will be pretty much with me, anyone else indifferent to such argument, if you can even call it that.

More, I doubt the usefulness of such a debate, testimony to the destructive power of Roe v. Wade, and a generation of activist, liberal judges. They went to law school in the 60s, and saw a couple of decades laboring in law firms not as training to understand the law, but as the dues they paid on the way to power. Power, naturally, over you and me. The Massachusetts Supreme Court, or rather, enough members of it to play bridge, can issue a single ruling whose logical conclusion is the equivalent of a dictat from the Sultan. Until we begin to solve that problem, and its solution will take a generation, debating certain social issues seems a little pointless. (David Frum, in his superb book on the 70s, posits that voting has declined because it has mattered less. Judges and bureaucrats do not feel bound to respect even majorities of 80% and 90%.)

There is one argument, though, proposed by Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan, that deserves to be answered: the notion that a small number of people, say, 2-3% of the population, cannot threaten a major institution. There is, in fact, no reason at all why a small group of people can't force us to rethink and question social structures. I can think of two examples, both starting out with noble and necessary goals, both turning into national nightmares.

First, there is no doubt in my mind that a large part of the secularization of social life comes from a desire to more fully integrate religious minorities, especially Jews, into public life. I am old enough to remember being excused from 4th grade music class when December came around, and the class sang Christmas carols. I can remember mouthing the words to "Come, All Ye Faithful" at the Cub Scout Christmas pageant. Neither of these things would be thinkable now. And I'm not that old.

But what started as an attempt to make a non-denominational civic religion, in keeping with the Founders' intention, has morphed into a legal war against religion. The Founders didn't specify the nature of the God in Whom We Trust; but they put it on the coins, just the same. I was not thrilled at Greeley or at Fiddler's Green being asked to pray in the name of a deity in whom I do not believe. But I was uncomfortable not at all when the pastor at Red Rocks made the invocation. Listen to Dennis Prager for a few days, and you'll get the distinction.

The other example is poverty. Frum writes:

In 1980, there were 27 million poor people in America, or about 12.4% of the population, approximately the same proportion as in 1965. The level of poverty in the United States had not changed much over those 15 years, but its character had. Poverty, before 1960 mostly rural and white, became urban and nonwhite. Almost 70% of America's poor lived in metropolitan areas in 1980....This "underclass" - a term originally coined by the Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal and popularized in a 1982 by journalist Ken Auletta - tallied perhaps 2.5 million souls nationwide, almost all of them black or Hispanic. Two and a half million people is a small proportion of the total American population. But this relatively miniscule population challenged the country's ideals of equal citizenship and equal human potential more radically than the tens of millions of unemployed in the 1930s had ever done.

The analogies aren't perfect. Each situation is unique. But the notion that a small part of the population can't challenge the way we think about ourselves and our society, even its most important institutions, is clearly untrue. Marriage is a public institution, conferring a publicly recognized status on its members. It confers ancillary rights of inheritance, of surrogate life-and-death choices, of adoption, of finances, of birth, and of family.

At a practical level, I don't see where civil unions, on this basis, are any better a solution that "marriage," since they reproduce all of the above effects without the word. In each of the above cases, we started by making common-sense changes (not requiring Jewish kids to say the Lord's Prayer, for instance), and extended them to the ridiculous (lifetime membership on the welfare rolls). The virtue of civil unions is that if we come up with any further "innovations," we don't need to extend them to the rest of existing marriages, but we can limit them to the civil unions.

But I do see where, before we go throwing the full weight of Law and Society behind another radical social experiment, we might want to think about it a little.

Especially since it's 2-3% of the population.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Light Blogging Today 

Between schoolwork and real work, there's going to be light blogging today. See you tomorrow.

20 Years Later 

During the 1984 campaign, one of Walter Mondale's themes was that it was "time for a change." Ronald Reagan reminded America that, "we are the change," before recounting the Carter/Mondale administration's many failures.

Today, John Kerry looks for Europe to come to the rescue, like the cavalry. President Bush would do well to remind the country that, "we are the cavalry."

Monday, October 25, 2004

The President in Greeley 

I had the pleasure of attending the President’s rally in Greeley this morning, courtesy of the campaign and its generous issuance of press credentials to the RMA. (Richard also took advantage of the offer. He needs a camera. I need a digital camera. Hmmm. Maybe we need an RMA camera fund...) The site was the Island Grove Park, in the Events Center. It’s a smallish venue: about 8000 people, although it was probably the largest venue in Greeley. (The University of Northern Colorado stadium holds only about 7000). Last time I was here was in 2000 for the Greeley Dog show. The configuration is different for a dog-and-pony show.

It's appropriate that the President was speaking in Greeley. The town is named for Horace Greeley, whose rapidly-changing position on the Civil War mirrors that of the President's opponent. He pushed for vigorous prosecution of the war, and then got mixed up in an unauthorized peace mission in 1864. He opposed the President's re-election until September of 1864, after the Atlanta and Petersburg military victories.

A photographer next to me had heard that at the Kerry rally in Pueblo, there were 2000 people outside with 15 minutes to go, and they shut down the metal detectors. So I guess it’s true, the Democrats really are softer on security.

The warm-up music this time was oldies rock rather than country. “Great Balls o’ Fire” and a couple other up-tempo numbers to start, and then – oddly – “We’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’.”

Wayne Allard, every inch the veterinarian, hosted the event. Fourth District Congressman Marilyn Musgrave spoke, as did Pete Coors, who stayed late to sign autographs and have his picture taken. He seemed to love every minute of it, and I think he’s finally realizing that despite all the work, the campaign is to be savored, not resented.

The invocation was a little weird, and a little over-the-top. I can completely understand the religious sensibility that God has a hand in choosing our leaders, and certainly at a Republican event, the pastor would thank Him for sending us the man we’re trying to get re-elected. The pastor also made it clear that while he believed that George Bush was the man to vote for, that whoever was elected would be, in some sense, the leader that God had chosen for us, and that we should follow him. Some could be forgiven, though, for believing that the pastor was calling Bush God’s representative, or something like that, although it looked like he was a little too eager to hear that. I thought he stayed this side of that sort of nuttiness, but it looked like he had to work at it a little.

The intros finished earlier than planned, so we were left with this large, ponderous, “Thus Spake Zarathustra” movie soundtrack kind of music that ran through about 7 ½ times. At first I thought it might be from Apollo 13, but I needed to make it clear that no, I was absolutely not sure that it actually was from Apollo 13. The last thing I needed was to have some rumor I started end up in the paper.

Today’s Surprise Guest was none other than Rudy Giuliani. Talk about a rock star. Although Republicans once again showed their difficulties with rhythm, as an attempt to chant “Rudy” ended up sounding like booing. And this time, Laura Bush was there as the Family Member, though according to the President, she was probably happy she didn’t have to speak.

The President’s speech was almost entirely about the war, and much sharper on that. Very little on terrorism. But it was sharper, more clearly defined than I had heard before. He finally got around to countering Kerry’s Tora Bora lie, and pointed out that Kerry had supported both the campaign and the way it was fought at the time.

He noted that Kerry had said that by invading Iraq, we had created more terrorists. “Senator Kerry has it wrong. You don’t create terrorists by fighting them. You defeat terrorists by fighting them!” When he got to the part about turning Iraq from an adversary into an ally, it sounded to me like he was talking about crushing vermin with the very rock they had been hiding under.

Also went after Kerry’s historical aversion to a robust foreign policy. Kerry opposed aid to the Contras, the Pershings in Europe, and voted against weapons systems that we’re now using to fight terror. “History has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong, and Ronald Reagan was right [I’ll bet that name didn’t get a cheer like today’s in Pueblo –ed.]. When former President Bush,” assembled the coalition to oust Saddam from Kuwait, Senator Kerry voted against it. “History has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong, and that former President Bush [yes, that’s how he referred to his father –ed.] was right. After the first World Trade Center bombing, Senator Kerry called for intelligence cuts so drastic that even his colleague Senator Kennedy couldn’t support them. History has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong (long pause), and, let’s give him his due (laughter), Senator Kennedy was right [delivered with obvious relish to great laughter –ed.].”

He had the crowd laughing with him now, and went for the jugular. “Senator Kerry voted to authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein, and then criticized me for…using force against Saddam Hussein. Hours after saying that it would be ‘irresponsible’ to vote against the troops, he voted against them….History has shown that Senator Kerry was right, and then wrong, and then briefly right again, and then wrong.” (Place erupts.)

He continues to use Dennis Prager’s line about other occupations that the terrorists might have taken up, had we not been so rude as to defend ourselves.

The second half of the speech was mostly held over from the previous stump speech, the one with a domestic issues section. But it was much more powerful, much more meaningful, with the new first half.

I can’t tell you how completely, utterly, like, totally cool it was to have press access, and to get to sit with the rest of the local press. The Greeley Tribune and other local papers from Loveland and Ft. Collins were, of course, wildly over-represented, and they couldn’t possibly have been nicer to me, or to the staff. I heard one woman remark, as we went through security, “no wonder people hate dealing with the press. Some of them really are jerks.” At least I think she said “jerks.”

One reporter from one of the northern Colorado papers made clear the relationship between the mainstream traditional press and the blogs. She asked the name of my blog, and whether it was pro-Bush. When I said, “yes,” she said that she’d have to be careful then about what she said. I reassured her that I wasn’t there to campaign, and she did let me know that she thought Kerry was much more liberal then he pretended to be. Still, she clearly saw, in this post-CBS era, blogs as a sort of meta-media, reporting not only on the event, but also on the media itself.

I had the pleasure of sitting next to Mike Littwin of the Rocky. Now I have my political differences with the man. There are times when he writes as though no other interpretation of events were possible. But he remembered the emails about his Red/Blue/Battleground series we had exchanged, and we got to talking about the Old Country. It turns out he graduated from Newport News High School in 1966, 13 years after my father did. He also went to U.Va., graduating in 1970. We avoided talking about politics and writing, and I suspect he was pleased to have a respite.

I will say that while I expect his column comparing the Pueblo and Greeley rallies to be pro-Kerry, I don’t expect it to be a hatchet job. He was the one who talked a fellow reporter down from his conviction that the pastor was playing Pope to the President’s Charlemagne.

This time, I have pictures. Although the lighting was terrible, and I was stuck with the long lens and 100-speed film I had brought from home.

Here's Senator Allard. He's a fine man and a good Senator, but I'd be very careful about booking him as an after-dinner speaker:

Congressman Marilyn Musgrave:

And who's that next to the Representative? Why yes! Those of you with very good eyesight may squint a little and make out former Representative Bob Schaefer:

And The Man, himself:

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Siege Begins 

Notes to neighborhood campaign workers:

1 - We have already voted

2 - I am grouchy when I am woken up

3 - I am extraordinarily grouchy when I am woken up from a Shabbat nap

We had an out-of-town guest over for Shabbat lunch, and when I finally settled down for a nap, the doorbell rang. The dog, who was already a little wound up from being relegated to the basement during lunch, and who had started anticipating his afternoon walk, went ballistic.

Since they rang the doorbell, the electric doorbell, on Shabbat, I was pretty sure it wasn't any of my friends from shul, so I would have been content to let them leave whatever literature they had, and go away. Sage the Dog had other ideas. No! He barked, they must be driven away, so that they shall never return!


Her (and her daughter, given the Great Privilege of Holding the Clipboard): "Hi, I'm looking for Susan Sharf."

Me: "Um, yes, what for?"

Her: "Well, we're with the unaffiliated group"

Me (restraining myself): "And?" (Unspoken: yes, you're unaffiliated like my dog is a chihuahua. Right, Susie's a registered Democrat.)

Me (recovering): "She can't really come to the door right not."

Her: "When would be a good time to come back?"

Me (thinking): "After I have the trap door installed under the Welcome Mat, leading to the dungeon with the alligators and hungry wolves."

Me (for real): "Ah, yes, actually, she's already voted."

Her: "Do you know how she voted?"

Remember, this is in front of a house with a Coors for Senate sign and a Bush/Cheney 04 sign.

Me: "That would be our business."

"How did she vote?" How did she vote? I know this woman was old enough to have a daughter old enough to carry the clipboard. But I'm sure if she thinks way back to the dark ages when she was in grade school, she remembers folding the little piece of paper in class elections, so nobody would see that she didn't vote for her best friend, but instead voted for the cute guy in 4th row. Or she could go down to King Sooper and ask the election judge why the voting booth has curtains.

I have never been asked how I voted, much less how someone else voted.

Later in the evening, after Shabbat ended, Greg Golyansky came by. Mr. Golyansky is running as a Republican against the Permanent Colorado House Minority Tsar Andrew Romanoff. There's something delicious about a Republican Jew running against a man named Romanoff for political office. Of course, he's got no chance in hell of winning in this district, but it was clever to nominate a Former Soviet Unionik here, too.

And now, we have another yard sign.

Welcome Instapundit Readers! 

While you're here, take a look around the vote fraud postings (amongst others). And I won't miss the chance to plug my radio appearance this Thursday on Lea Live here in Colorado. You can listen at 11:00 AM Eastern, 9:00 AM Mountain at KFKA on October 28.

And if any of you is looking for a web programmer, now you know where to find one.

Vote Tenanbaum! Vote Bowles! Vote Both! 

The Charlotte Observer is reporting that up to 60,000 people may have found it too difficult to choose just one Carolina to vote in, so they picked both. While the South Carolina race isn't sewn up, the North Carolina race is considered much closer. Depending on how much time people have during the day, this might lead to voters casting ballots in both states, or one of their choice. (Alarmingly, North Carolina doesn't want to discourage voters by asking them to show ID at the polls, while South Carolina does ask for ID.)

I understand that campaigns need to strategically and tactically allocate resources. I just hadn't realized that voters were one of those resources.

About That Post Endorsement 

While it's got K-Lo all worked up, it looks to me like a ticket-splitting endorsement. The basis of the endorsement is entirely Bush's assertiveness on terrorism, and his willingness to use force without raising his hand and asking for a hall pass in French and German. On every other issue, including his handling of Iraq, taxes, judicial nominations, "reaching out to Democrats," everything, the Post is critical of the President.

My guess is that this is an endorsement more calculated to help Ken Salazar than George W. Bush.

Asymmetric Warfare 

One of the reasons that Democratic whining and fear-mongering about disenfranchisement is so much more effective that Republican worries about vote fraud is that the victim in one case is clear, while both the victim and perpetrator in the other are hard to identify.

In order to commit disenfranchisement, really commit disenfranchisement, some specific individual needs to be refused his ability to vote. That individual can be identified, and held up as a specific victim. More importantly, those "pre-emptive strikes" can be effective, because even if the presumed victim is a class, or hypothetical, any one of us can imagine ourselves as being turned away, and how outraged we would be. Bill Johnson apparently has retained an entire army of attorneys based on just such a fantasy.

The flip-side is much harder for most of us to personalize. In an election with millions of voters, we see the damage from one fraudulent vote as being, in some sense, distributed among the entire voting population. If that fraudulent vote is for Kerry, then sure, some Bush voter has had his vote canceled out, but which one? Surely not all of us, and surely not any one in particular. At the same time, the very nature of vote fraud conceals the perpetrator, since he needs to either invent a non-existant identity, or steal someone else's, in order to commit his crime. The inability to identify either the victim or the criminal is one of the reasons that vote fraud has received so little attention compared to intimidation or disenfranchisement.

This asymmetry extends to other areas of public policy. I can point to specific jobs lost to competition; I can't point to specific jobs created by free trade. It was only when those opposed to minority set-asides and racial quotas were able to produce specfic victims that they were able to start winning a few court decisions. Environmentalists have the hardest time imposing regulation where specific ecnomic victims can be found, but all too often the costs of regulation are distributed across an entire inustry or economic sector.

Fingerprinting and photo-taking are illegal at the polls. Some of the ID required barely qualifies as ID at all. Election judges will need astounding memories to recognize the faces of people foolish enough to try to vote twice in the same precinct. While someone, some individual being turned away, has immediate sympathy and an immediate complaint. The only way to redress this asymmetry in the public mind is to relentlessly push the issue.

Lawsuit? What Lawsuit? 

If ever there were proof that newsrooms could maintain separate editorial policies under a joint operating agreement, this is it. A day after the Post published a hit piece on Secretary of State Donetta Davidson (carefully identifying all the Republicans involved, naturally), the Rocky runs an article full of bi-partisan love.

The Post continues its campaign against Ms. Davidson today, blaming her for inconsistent judge training. (Lawyers for Bush take note: this is little more than preparing the ground for a 14th Amendment Equal Protection lawsuit.) The fact is, federal meddling in what should be a state process, and lawsuits and fear of lawsuits, have combined to take what used to be a straightforward administrative post and turn it into the focus of hothouse political pressure.

I've been critical of Secretary Davidson when appropriate. She had no business providing for same-day registration, and probably should have pushed for a special prosecutor for the existing voter registration fraud cases. But to run an article about how late in the day it is to be figuring out the rules, while barely mentioning a lawsuit that cost the state two weeks of preparation with less than a month to go, is just irresponsible.

Done for the Day 

Tomorrow, I'll be headed up to cover the President's appearance in Greeley, and in the meantime, I'm drowning in schoolwork. So that's it for the day.


Colorado "Pre-Emptive Strikes" 

The Post runs a report about former election judges turned into hectorers poll watchers.

Lucero trained Figel and two other women to be poll monitors Saturday. Volunteers, several bilingual, will be posted outside the polls on Election Day in Colorado precincts heavily populated by Latinos and African-Americans - making sure that each and every voter casts a ballot.

The People for the American Way Foundation has organized Election Protection, a coalition of various civil rights groups and others, to prevent voter disenfranchisement.

"It's just unconscionable that in the US of A that we have to go through this process," Figel said. "We live in a land of liberty, and people are being intimidated. I'm still shaking my head."

So far, the only voter intimidation seems to be by Kerry voters in Florida. When Colorado Secretary of State issued her initial set of rules for balloting, the Post was careful to assert that Colorado had no history of voter fraud. They fail to observe that the state has no history of voter intimidation.

Another nonpartisan voter advocacy group, Fair Vote Colorado, will staff as many precincts as possible with volunteers to field voter questions and solve problems as they arise at the polls.

"Non-partisan?" There they go again. Election Protection is run by People for the American Way. Fair Vote Colorado is a spinoff of the Bighorn Center, whose founder, Rutt Bridges, ran for the Democratic nomination for Senate before Ken Salazar entered the race. These organizations are about as non-partisan as NutraSweet is natural.

In fact, this is little more than the "pre-emptive" strike the Democratic poll worker manual has promised. Given the ethnic demographics of Colorado, an appeal of this sort is likely to show more results in the Hispanic community than among blacks. This is more than the normal scare and intimidation tactics, aimed at simultaneously energizing the base and undermining the law. It is also another instance of using the fear of lawsuits over "disparate impact" to avoid confronting the distortions that a large illegal immigrant population pose.

Hell Freezes Over 

Both Denver papers have now endorsed President Bush for re-election. Of course, the Post's endorsement is mostly damning with faint praise, but it comes down to leadership and decisiveness in the war on terror.

Yet, in the context of Nov. 2, it isn't sensible to assess the state of our union in easily definable ways. Ours is an era in which security matters most, and national security is the preeminent duty of the next president.

On Sept. 11, 2001, this country accepted a great challenge - to inflict justice on terrorists who would attack us and to take every reasonable step to protect our homeland. The task has been pursued with dogged resolution, and we think President Bush is best suited to continue the fight.

In making this endorsement, we don't see that American politics need to be so polarized. Just for the record, we consider both Bush and Kerry qualified to be president, and we don't think the world will come to an end if voters turn to the Democrat.

The call for less polarization would carry more weight if it included a recognition that it's been Democrats and their union thugs that have been shooting up Republican offices all over the country. Still, if their thinking represents any significant fraction of Colorado Democrats, we can pretty much write off Colorado as a swing state. It's certainly got to be a little bitter for Kerry, after his reverse-coattail visit to Pueblo yesterday.

Of course, we'll pass over the fact that both papers have also endorsed Ken Salazar.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Election Judge Law 

A couple of readers have been worrying that local election officials might try to stack the ranks of election judges with Democrats. Presumably such individuals would be more likely to break down and let people vote without proper ID, etc. Or they might be more persuded by argument, both subtle and not, from Democratic poll watchers. I don't think this is an issue.

Colorado Law is pretty clear on this point:

1-6-109. Party affiliation of election judges in partisan elections.

(1) For partisan elections in precincts that have an even number of election judges, each major political party is entitled to one-half of the number of election judges.

(2) For partisan elections in precincts that have an odd number of election judges, one major political party is entitled to the extra election judge in one-half of the precincts, as determined by the county clerk and recorder, and the other major political party is entitled to the extra election judge in the other one-half of the precincts, as determined by the county clerk and recorder.

(3) If an odd number of precincts exist, the county clerk and recorder shall determine which major political party is entitled to any extra election judge. The county clerk and recorder shall make this determination either by mutual agreement of both of the major political parties or, if the two major political parties cannot agree, by lot.


1-6-111. Number of election judges.

(1) For partisan elections, the county clerk and recorder shall appoint at least three election judges to serve as polling place judges for each precinct to perform the designated functions, one of whom may be a student election judge appointed pursuant to the provisions of section 1-6-101 (7). In each precinct, notwithstanding any other provision of this article and subject to the availability of election judges who meet the affiliation requirements of section 1-6-109, of the election judges appointed to serve as polling place judges pursuant to the provisions of this subsection (1), there shall be at least one election judge from each major political party who is not a student election judge.

(2) (Deleted by amendment, L. 98, p. 580, § 10, effective April 30, 1998.)

(3) When two election judges who are not of the same political affiliation are present at the polls, voting may proceed. (Emphasis added -ed.)

I suppose a whole host of, say Democrats could be induced to change their party affiliation, to stack the polls with election judges working under false colors, but the number of people required to be "in" on such a conspiracy would be unsupportable. People talk.

Of course, there's also no reason the process couldn't work the other way in some places, with Republican election judges wrongly disenfranchising some voters.

Radio Change 

My appearance on Lea Live has been changed from next Friday to Thursday, October 28. That's ok. For finance guys, October 29 has a bad ring to it, anyway. I'll be on starting at the top of the show, and running for about 40 minutes, it seems. And, as always, Radio Kafka will be streaming.

Preaching to the Converted 

Deacon over at Powerline notes with satisfaction that "The Jewish Press, America's largest Jewish newspaper, has endorsed President Bush." While this is certainly good news, it's really the equivalent of a New York Catholic newspaper endorsing John Kennedy in 1960.

The Jewish Press is the largest paper, but they cater almost exclusively to a New York Orthodox audience. (The latest edition had a Denver birth announcement listed under the "West Coast Bureau.") Orthodox Jews in New York are likely to vote heavily for Bush, anyway. They opposed Hillary in large numbers, remain big Giuliani fans, and through their contacts with Israel, are more aware of the day-to-day effects of Islamic terrorism.

The Press also tends to have very sensationalistic headlines, and is hard to take seriously as a reporter on national and international politics. I have noticed a distinct tendency to give their readership what it wants, shall we say. That this makes it a more ham-handed right-wing version of the New York Times doesn't make it any better.

Those who are more leftish aren't likely to be reading the Press, anyway. Now, if the Forward came out for Bush, that would be progress!

Beware of Poll Watchers 

Having seen election judge intimidation up close in Florida, Secretary of State Davidson is taking steps to make sure we'll be able to do our jobs on November 2. For instance, she made it clear that only one poll watcher per precinct will be allowed, making it much harder to tag-team beleaguered poll workers who have been trying to spell "S-as-in-Sam-H-A-R-F-as-in-Frank" all day.

One of the more interesting decisions yet to be made is about cell phones. Right now, ringers need to be set to vibrate, and cell phones with recorders or cameras won't be allowed in the polls at all, to prevent people from upload picture to the Master Face Database down at party headquarters. There's a chance that cell phones might not be allowed at all.

That would probably be a good idea, although I'm sure Common Cause would file a lawsuit charging that their free speech rights were being violated. (Common Cause has the least to worry about. They barely have a time-delay between thought and speech.) But it would prevent poll watchers from organizing campaign activities from inside the polling place, as has happened in other places.

On the whole, though, this looks like a good set of rules.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

President Bush to Visit Greeley 

President Bush will visit Greeley next Monday. The Greeley Tribune thinks that the 4th District Representative Marilyn Musgrave may be in trouble, but that's generally been a pretty safe seat. The area is solidly Red, and was instrumental in electing Governor Owens in 1998. The Public Opinion Strategies poll had Coors leading on the plains, too, so this looks like GOTV appearance, further designed to help Coors.

Precinct Voting 

With Colorado and Florida state courts upholding rules that disqualify (to varying degrees) ballots cast in the wrong precint, and a federal court in Michigan requiring those ballots to be counted, is it possible that we're headed for another Supreme Court decision on this issue?

UPDATE: Kerry Spot is reporting that a Federal court in Florida has disqualified ballots cast in the wrong precinct, making a Supreme Court resolution more thinkable. One would hope that they would just settle the HAVA question and leave it at that. But Bush v. Gore showed that the Court is distressingly more comfortable now talking in Constitutional terms than statutory ones.

Red Rocks go Red 

A new Denver Post poll confirms that President Bush has moved decisively, but not conclusively ahead here in Colorado as Republicans "come home." (Victor Borge would probably ask where they went? And is that why the newspapers were piling up?) The President is up 49-43, but while the article says "likely voters," the graphic says "registered voters." This confirms and earlier POS poll that had the President up by five.

As it turns out, Vice-President Cheney will be in Grand Junction on Saturday, the same day John Kerry will be in Pueblo. While the Democrats are trying to spin this to mean that the state really is still a toss-up, my guess is that Kerry's visit is designed to help Kerry, while Cheney's visit is designed to help Pete Coors and Walcher in the 3rd. Polls have shown the Salazars running well in the Western Slope, and the Veep probably is making a stopover to lend some coattails.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I Heff a Plen... 

The French Candidate's Plan for Iran has already been rejected by the mullahs:

On the 18th of September, Iran was called to halt its uranium enrichment activities immediately and permanently in a decision by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors. Iran rejected the demand and claimed that its nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment designed to produce a nuclear fuel cycle, are anchored in the international treaties and regulations.(1)

Recently, the three European countries, France, Germany, and the UK, initiated (in the talks between the EU and Iran in the past two years) a new proposal where nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes would be provided to Iran by European countries as part of an incentive package. Iran principally refused the offer. In the next few days, the three foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the UK are expected to arrive in Tehran for talks, in which they will officially submit the offer....

The Iranian foreign minister's spokesperson, Hamid Reza Asefi rejected the offer, stating: "[this is a question of] the preservation of our inalienable right [to pursue Uranium enrichment activities]... the Europeans will have to accept the fact that they cannot force Iran to do [whatever they want]." Iran claims that it is determined to achieve independent nuclear fuel cycle capabilities and that it cannot be swayed from this right.

So the presumed subjects of his plans for Iraq and Iran have already rejected his proposals.

More Voters Than Citizens 

Another good reason for requiring ID at the polls. Apparently, some county clerks have been, er, less than diligent in purging their voter rolls. As a result, some jurisdictions have more registered voters than the 2003 Census estimate of the voting-age population. About 55,000 appear to be registered more than once, many times in multiple counties. Some registered voters have either moved away died.

While the ID requirements makes it harder to vote regularly, there's nothing that keeps someone from voting provisionally as one of these improperly registered voters without ID. The standard for counting a provisional ballot is that the person is registered; they are assumed, after the fact, to be properly registered.

Nobody wants to ask this question, but how many of these new registrants might not actually be citizens?

He's No Curt Schilling 

This morning, while I was walking the dog around scenic Crestmoor Park, I saw a woman jogging, coming towards me, pushing one of the jogging strollers, with a small dog on the other end of a leash. The stroller was empty.

"I think you lost somebody," I said.

"No, the stroller's for him," she said, pointing to the dog. "He just had knee surgery and he can only go around the park."

Knee surgery. The dog was so short, he barely had knees. It was all I could to keep from asking how long he'd be on the DL, how his rehab was going, and whether or not he could go Saturday if we needed him.

Perspective, people, perspective.

I Ran Away From John Kerry, Before I Ran With Him 

John Kerry and Ken Salazar will finally share the same stage, after weeks of taunting from the Coors camp about their never having met. The event looks like a sandwiched-in kind of thing, on the way from Reno to Las Cruces, NM. Pueblo is heavily hispanic, and this looks like an attempt to use Salazar to shore up Kerry, without unduly damaging Salazar. Salazar, obviously, runs far ahead of Kerry among hispanics.

Cross-Posted at Salazar v. Coors.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Why I Love Baseball 

Aside from the statistics, that is.

When that count went full, and the game ended as it should have, with the batter swinging, not looking, what a thrill to realize that the series wasn't over yet. Football fans and ex-players like to make fun of tubby baseball players like Cecil Fielder. There's not one concussion-riddled quarterback who's ever shown more raw physical courage than Curt Schilling did tonight. Every step was painful, but it probably just made him look more menacing.

Just when it looked like this postseason was going into the toilet, we've been rescued by three fantastic days of baseball. The Red Saux and Yankees have play three tremendous games, bringing the Red Saux once again to the point of, but likely not past, the brink of history. I've seen great teams "caught in the riptide," as Tom Boswell wrote of the 1979 Orioles. The Yankees have that look.

Over in the National League, the Cardinals are probably giving Tony LaRussa nightmares about his 1983 White Sox. That team won the American League West by 20 games, only to do an el foldo and lose the ALCS 3-1 to eventual World Series Champions Baltimore Orioles.

For my money, the greatest post-season as a whole is still 1986. The Red Sox came from down 3 games to 1 to beat the Angels, including Dave Henderson's Game 5 heroics. The Astros and Mets played a 6-game set, the sixth game going 16 innings, with each team getting runs in both the 14th and the 16th. The 6th game had a 7th-game feel to it, since the unhittable Mike Scott would have gone for Houston in Game 7. While we all remember Game 6 of the World Series, we forget that the Saux started out with a 3-0 lead after one inning of Game 7, and brought the tying run to the plate late in the game, too.

Who says baseball is boring?

More Tracking Polls You Shouldn't Believe 

The Battleground Poll shows some interesting numbers over the course of the last week. The third debate seems not only to have helped Bush on domestic issues, but also to have reassured them on Iraq and terrorism. On most questions, we're back where we were before the debates, although the "vote for" number has yet to catch up.

The Battleground poll is run daily, but released weekly, on Monday, running through the prior Thursday. It's greatest use now is to confirm (or not) the trends that seem to be showing up in other polling data.

Krugman On the Draft 

Paul Krugman has decided to help mainstream the draft scare. Leave aside the fact that nobody wants a draft, that the left-wing Congressmen who introduced the idea voted against it when it was put to a vote, that it was dreamt up as a way of scaring a very pro-Bush 18-30-year-old demographic into voting for Kerry. It took less time to mainstream this argument than it did to mainstream the idea that Israel ordered into action in Iraq.

Krugman claims that since Bush brought on a deficit while denying he would do so, so he will bring on a draft while denying it. Of course, Bush's tax cuts helped prevent a far worse deficit, which was actually caused by the recession alreadu underway. Krugman never even lists the as-yet-present-but-unreported recesssion happening at the time as a reason for the deficit.

The equivalent events in his argument won't be the factors he's laid out, but some pressing need for much broader, much more immediate military action, and a national mobilization. (A draft was necessary during WWI and WWII, after all.)

I'm supposed to take a comparative economic-military analysis from an economist who 1) couldn't see, and 2) doesn't understand the effects of, a recession?

More Stolen Honor Controversy 

The New York Times is reporting that one Kenneth J. Campbell is upset with the editing of Stolen Honor:

The suit, filed yesterday in Philadelphia, involves the film "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," which accuses Mr. Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president, and the antiwar group he joined of making up the accounts of wartime atrocities that Mr. Kerry later talked about in his 1971 Senate testimony. The Sinclair Broadcast Group has asked its 62 television stations to show the movie this week.

The veteran who brought the suit, Kenneth J. Campbell, is shown saying he was not at one of the massacres later discussed, and asking another veteran whether he could produce accounts of the massacre.

A lawyer for Mr. Campbell, a decorated marine who is now a professor at the University of Delaware, said the film was edited to take out footage in which Mr. Campbell made clear that only soldiers who witnessed the atrocities firsthand would be allowed to testify at the hearings, and footage in which he recounted his military superiors ordering him to kill innocent civilians.

"It edits little clips to make it look like they're just making up instances," said the lawyer, David Kairys, who said Mr. Campbell was not connected with the Kerry campaign.

Well, they were just making up instances. VVAW's big "testimony" moment came in Detroit, in the so-called "Winter Soldier" hearings, where Vietnam critic Neil Sheehan shows that many "events" were imaginary, as was much of the "service" tendered by the witnesses. This extends even the VVAW Executive Director Al Hubbard.

It's possible, even likely, that members were unaware of the specific fraud being perpetrated. If the film seems to show Mr. Campbell collaborating in lying, when he in fact assumed that those around him were the real thing, then he might have reason to be upset. It seems like an easy thing to fix.

The NY Times Joins The Note 

Having the New York Times fact-check someone else these days is a little like being lectured to by Tony Soprano about law and order. Still, Davids Rosenbaum and Halbfinger do a nice job calling Kerry to heel about his rather wild accusations over the last couple of weeks concerning the draft, Social Security, and (possibly) the flu vaccine.

Coors Pulling Ahead 

Two sets of polls show Ken Salazar losing ground badly in the last couple of weeks of the campaign. Public Opinion Strategies, whose polls last month were widely discussed here, now has Coors with a 45-40 lead, where he had trailed 42-52 a month ago. The USA Today Gallup Poll has Coors erasing a 9-point deficit two weeks ago, to pull within a point, 49-48. (As an aside, it also has Amendment 36 collapsing to a mere 39% support, compared to 53% opposed.)

Neither poll would take into account a series of weekend side-by-side comparison interviews and profiles in the local papers. Those are online, but none of them really contains much new information.

Cross-Posted at Salazar v. Coors.

Early Voting 

Election Day is over for me. At least as a voter. I took advantage of Denver's early voting system, traipsing down to the local grocery, King Sooper, to vote this afternoon. If convenience gets any more complicated, I may never vote again.

I live in an area with a large number of ex-Soviet immigrants, and all evidence is that the system was designed to make them feel at home (the absence of a Russian-speaking election official notwithstanding). I asked the woman in front of me, a nice old Jewish immigrant whose house I walk the dog past every day, whether the Russians were getting a 2-for-1 special today. "Three-for-one," she said, just like in Russia. Just so long as they didn't let them count the votes, too.

First, you fill out a little blue form, show your ID, and the nice lady who's been doing this since the Gold Rush writes down your name and sends you to the second line. The fact that you get to the table first is no guarantee that you'll actually finish first. It's kind of a reality-TV show test, who can write their names out legibly the fastest.

The second line takes you to the Election Judges who, laptops at the ready, look up your name to make sure you're registered. That's great if they can read. The Nice Lady from 1859 re-wrote my name since she didn't think my handwriting was legible enough. The Nice Election Judge still thought it said, "SHARP." I've got my Social Security Number, my Driver's License Number, and my birthday on the form, and he stares at it like a side-dish he hadn't ordered, no doubt afraid he was going to have to give me a provisional ballot. I had him try again. Paydirt.

On to the third line. The one where you actually vote. You hand them the little slip with your precinct number on it (really, the ballot configuration) and into the little box you go.

When I arrived, there were lots of people in the third line, a fair number of people in the second line, and no waiting for Little Blue Slips. By the time I left, the Russians had backed up the second line, the Lady from Conestoga was struggling to keep up with the new arrivals, and as a result, there was nobody actually waiting to vote.

There are some very simple operations management principles at play here, mostly having to do with throughput and bottle-necks. By creating bottle-necks at the sign-in point, the geniuses who've let this system evolve (it can't have been designed), virtually guarantee that voting machines will shut down from boredom. There simply aren't enough people manning the check-in stations to keep things moving, and there's no use blaming it on the confused old woman from Minsk who doesn't understand "register." ("I can wote now? I wote? I go wote?")

I can only hope that they've got things a little more ironed out by November 2.

Common Cause v. Davidson 

I've finished reading through Judge Hoffman's opinion, and I'm looking forward to the day when Governor Owens appoints him to a higher post.

Judges are frequently people, too, and often they have a sense of humor. At the end of the the first day's testimony, the State suggested that things be delayed until the next morning. "One of the things to consider, your honor, is that we've got a roomful of political junkies here, and tonight is the Vice-Presidential debate."


"What can I say? Life's full of choices. Let's try to finish."

As a result, judicial opinions are generally not as dry and opaque as people suppose them to be. They are full of references and footnotes, and often it takes a trained legal mind to understand where the judge is coming from, and what he chooses to ignore. But the opinions themselves are often quite readable.

It's Common Cause's bad luck that they got assigned to Judge Hoffman. I had suspected, from the little I was able to dig up that Tuesday evening, that he was a judicial-restraint kind of guy, not given to wild theorizing, and not likely to try to invent rights and impose his own values. Lower court judges are usually restrained by their fear of being overturned on appeal. Still, the Colorado Supreme Court got fairly inventive itself in the redistricting case, which might have emboldened less conservative folks.

Judge Hoffman starts out by framing the case as one of balancing goods - avoiding disenfranchisement vs. avoiding fraud. The Constitution deliberately recognized no specific "right to vote," but the Supreme Court has gotten there, anyhow, through the 14th Amendment. Then this:

But the Court has also recognized that the right to vote, unlike some other individual rights that are exercised in essential opposition to the state, is a right that has meaning only in a highly regulated social context. A vote is not merely one individual’s casual expression of political opinion at any particular time on any particular subject. Votes count, and because they count they must be sought and given in a structured environment that allows the votes of all other proper voters to count....

Maximizing voters’ access to the process is just one part of the compelling interest the state has in regulating the architecture of elections. Preventing voters from voting more than once, preventing otherwise ineligible voters from voting, and preventing other kinds of election fraud, is part and parcel of this same compelling state interest, as the Burdick Court expressly recognized when it included the words “fair and honest” at the very beginning of its litany of state interests in structuring elections. Professor Chemerinsky had it only half right, and perhaps not even that, when, in the aftermath of the controversy of the 2000 election, he wrote “What good is the right to vote if every ballot isn’t counted?” (Erwin Chemerinsky, Fairness at the Ballot Box, 40 TRIAL—APRIL 32 (2004).) A complete description of the state’s interest in regulating elections should have included something like, “What good is the right to vote, even if every ballot is counted, if the votes of duly registered voters are diluted by the votes of people who had no right to vote?”

Yes, that Erwin Chemerinsky. "Smart guy," huh? Well, yes, since only a smart guy would rate highly enough to be quoted at all.

The relevant provisions under HAVA are 302(a), which requires provisional balloting for those who aren't on the voting roles at the precinct, and 302(b), which requires first-time voters to show ID either when registering or when voting for the first time.

The Judge then briefly summarizes the history and reasoning behind the three issues at stake: 1) not allowing provisional balloting for those who've requested an absentee ballot, 2) counting only the Presidential vote for ballots cast in the wrong precinct, and 3) requiring ID to vote. The Plaintiffs are asking to overturn all three rules on the statutory grounds that they conflict with HAVA, and the second and third on the grounds that they're unconstitutional.

The judge also points out that, although the ruling is likely to be "permanent" for purposes of this election, it is in fact calling for a preliminary injuctions, so certain other requirements must be met. You want to know what they are? Read the opinion.

The judge found that the first requirement probably does violate HAVA. Having found that, there's no need to evaluate its Constitutionality. It's enjoined. Why? HAVA 302(a) is intended to preserve the right of people not on the precinct list to vote. Congress didn't specifically exempt those who had requested absentee ballots. Nor did it suggest that states may impose their own sets of restriction. Therefore, they must be allowed to vote provisionally.

The last two do not violate HAVA. Congress invites the states to impose stricter ID requirements.

With regard to precincts, the judge basically agreed with the intervenors that Common Cause was trying to elimiate precinct voting (a jurisdiction written into the Colorado Constitution), and that this was radically at variance with what HAVA was trying to accomplish. In fact, the conference committee specifically deliberated on this issue, and came to the conclusion that it wanted to preserve precinct voting.

The Constitional claims are a little more fun. With regards to the ID requirement:

It is also not just a matter of registration fraud. Several witnesses testified that many county registration lists have not been purged for many years, and therefore likely contain the names of many deceased and otherwise no longer eligible voters. The presence of those ineligible voters’ names also raises the spectre of voter fraud.

It may or may not be true, as Plaintiffs claim, that as an historical matter actual voter fraud has been rare in Colorado. But the state has a legitimate, indeed compelling, interest in doing what it can to make sure that last month’s fraudulent or no-longer-eligible registrant does not become next month’s fraudulent voter. Ms. Davidson and local election officials testified that once a fraudulent regular ballot is cast, and the voter’s identity forever divorced from the ballot, there is no way to remedy the fraud. The fraudulent vote will count. That is, election fraud must be detected before fraudulent regular ballots are cast and fraudulent provisional ballots are counted.

That's the compelling-interest part. Here's the "chilling effect" part:

Nor do I think it likely that Plaintiffs will be able to demonstrate that the identification requirement is discriminatory or will have disparate impacts.... Plaintiffs’ suggestion that the identification requirement will “chill” people without identification may be true (though there was absolutely no credible evidence of that), but then again it may also “chill” fraudulent voters. Whether one kind of chill justifies the other is precisely the kind of public policy choice that must be made by legislators, not by judges legislating under the cover of strict scrutiny.

After all of last year's attention paid to the 9th Circus, I had forgotten that actual judicial restraint lives on.

As for the precinct requirement:

In what must surely qualify as one of the understatements of the year, even Plaintiffs’ own witness, a Denver election official, testified that allowing voters to vote in any precinct they wished “could be problematic.”

...At the moment, if I were to try to design a system that maximizes the chances that fraudulent and ineligible registrants will be able to become fraudulent voters, I’m not sure I could do a better job than what Plaintiffs are asking me to do in this case—allow voters to vote wherever they want without showing any identification.

Judge Hoffman's decision has averted one of the worst-case scenarios, one of people voting without ID in multiple precincts, possibly casting provisional ballots in multiple counties. There are still holes in the system, but not ones addressed by this case.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Symposium Answer 

Why Vote For Bush? (In 250 words or less)

Terrorism is the defining issue of the day. Simply put, the President is serious about pursuing the war offensively, and about pulling the rug out from underneath the terrorists. Kerry is not. Vice President Cheney is serious about aiding in that war. John Edwards is not. President Bush supports Israel against the "international commnunity". Kerry would support the "international community" over Israel.

The "ownership society" is the best, most American adjustment we can make to a changing world. Kerry will get our fingers chopped off trying to turn back the clock. Bush will propose changes to give you more control over your life and its decisions. Kerry will reserve those decisions to the government. Bush may be allowing the government to spend too much. But "fiscal conservativsm" doesn't mean raising taxes to choke off a recovery. And it certainly doesn't mean engaging in class warfare, while making sure you pay a lower rate than the middle class.

Senator Kerry is a late-twentieth-Century, September 10th liberal: he mistrusts both American power and the American people.

President Bush trusts both.

Radio Shot 

It looks as though I'll be representing the Rocky Mountain Alliance in a radio guest shot on Lea Live Radio on Friday, October 29. The subject will be voter registration fraud, and potential ballot fraud. I haven't been told when I'll be on, but the show runs from 9:00-10:00 AM Mountain Time. The show does have live streaming now, as well.

Now, I have to stay on top of the story...

Judge Upholds ID 

Judge Morris Hoffman has thankfully upheld the ID requirement for voters in Colorado. So you can't show up and claim to be your neighbor.

Hoffman overturned the rule that those who had requested an absentee ballot could not vote provisionally, but did require them to sign an affadavit that they had not returned the absentee ballot. Hopefully, this will discourage the casual miscreant. Still, someone could show up and vote provisionally as someone else, a determined liar being a determined liar. Remember, provisional ballots require no ID, as long as they are not first-time voters.

Finally, the judge upheld the Secretary of State's ruling that those who vote outside their home precinct will only have their vote for President counted.

This ruling seemed in line with the way the judge was questioning both counsel and witnesses, although I also thought that the administrative burdens of cross-checking provisional ballots with absentees would prove decisive the other way.

For those of you who are interested, the decision is available here. It's large, 117K.

UPDATE: The Secretary of State's Office has issued a press release celebrating the decision, and encouraging people who have requested absentee ballots to vote that way. They call it a "minor adjustment," although they felt strongly to go to court to prevent it.

Personally, I think this is a beneficial decision, although I'd like to have a chance to read through the opinion before deciding if it's a good one. Scanning it, Hoffman seems to have grounded it in US and Colorado Constitutional history. Despite his assertion as I walked in that "there really is no such thing as legislative history," he in fact quotes Senator Bond about HAVA, and tries to determine what Congress was trying to accomplish, not what he believes to be morally correct.

I did think at the time that the state had had the hardest time making their case on the absentee-provisional conflict, and that they needed to do more to prove that the number of hand-counted ballots would overwhelm the clerks. My guess was that they had slid through, but the judge evidently felt otherwise.

More when I get a chance to read the opinion.

Aggressive Pursuit of Registration Fraud 

I may have been too hasty in my assessment of Secretary of State Donetta Davidson's refusal to seek a special prosecutor for the registration fraud. Both the Post and the Rocky have reports this morning that additional manpower will be brought to bear on the problem. Also Ken Salazar will recuse himself from legal issues regarding the election over the next two weeks, and, one presumes, until the election is settled here in Colorado. Instead questions will be handled by a team of attorneys, one Democrat and one Republican.

This is good news on the retrospective front, and assures that Salazar, who had a clear conflict of interest in interpreting election law, will be out of the process for the duration.

The bad news is that it's not clear that this closes very many of the at-the-polls loopholes that still exist in the process. The worse news is that neither paper seems to know enough about the process to ask those questions, or to be able to present the issue in an informed way to voters.

Still, it looks as though the ground is being prepared to immunize the electorate against Democratic charges of disenfranchisement. David Harsanyi features an interview with an indignant black woman, upset that Democrats' tactics may backfire, discouraging blacks from participating in the process. And Nicol Andrews notes that "Democrats aren't above cheating," provoking a sputtering, vaguely incoherent response from the local Kerry-Edwards campaign.

It's good to see these traditional charges finally being dealt with.

Losing Registrations - It's Not Just for Democrats 

Sure, Ted Kennedy was quick to jump all over unsubstantiated reports of Democratic registrations being lost in Nevada. Here's a case of a Republican registration being lost in El Paso County. No evidence of malice, just evidence that it's a two-way street.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Hey, Blue! 

I've gotten a couple of emails and comments asking about my safety and sanity working the polls under the "supervision" of Fair Vote Colorado, and Mark Grueskin's minions. Don't worry, I've faced worse: I used to umpire high-school baseball. You think these guys are bad. I can see you've never had to face the wrath of deluded parents who think that third strike you just called robbed their budding Babe Ruth II of a glorious major league career.

How ironic, though, that the nickname for umpires is "Blue."

Kerry's "Secret Plans" 

Apparently, John Kerry has this thing about secret plans. He has his own secret plan to end our involvement in Iraq. He claimed in Iowa that Bush has a "secret plan" to reintroduce the draft. He claimed in Wisconsin that Bush has a "secret plan" to have us all drinking soy milk, or something. And now, in Florida, he claims Bush has a "secret plan" to privatize Social Security.

(He seems to be tailoring his "secret plans" to his audience, which I guess is a good way of boosting his Return on Rhetoric. What I want to know is, why is the draft such a big deal in Iowa?)

Contest Idea: What Bush Secret Plans will Kerry unveil in your state?

Also, the Post is reporting that Kerry is encouraging his supporters to voter early, starting tomorrow. The Post repeats the campaigns line that this is to avoid a repeat of Florida 2000, but I'm not really sure how that would help in reality. More likely, Kerry sees his support cresting, and it trying to lock-in votes before second thoughts set it.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Road Trip 2003 

Why Mary Cheney? 

A number of blogs have been speculating on why Kerry-Edwards brought up Mary Cheney's lesbianism. Some claim that it's attempt to drive a wedge into the Evangelical community, to discredit the Bush-Cheney ticket with them. Others claim that it's an attempt shore up their own base, by reminding them of who really likes gays.

I don't buy either explanation. In the first place, I can't see too many evangelicals deciding that, "hey, Mary Cheney's gay. I think I'll vote Democrat." There are about 14 leaps of login involved in that kind of decision, and the President was nothing if not solid on social issues during that last debate.

As for the flip-side of that coin, the Democrats already have huge percentages of the gay vote that going to vote on that basis. See: the reignited boycott of Coors, and Andrew Sullivan, for starters.

No, I think it was a play for the middle: Republicans are hypocrites. Republicans oppose gay marriage, therefore they hate gays. But Cheney's own daughter is gay! Don't you see? Don't you see how hateful these people are, that they'd even go against the interest of their own family? They're still counting on the idea that Cheney is Darth Vader, that he must oppose gay marriage (even though he's pretty liberal on that subject).

It won't work.

It's argument, if it can be called that, at a symbolic, impressionist level, appealing to people's impressions of Republicans. It was reinforced when Elizabeth Edwards tried to spell it out for people: the Cheneys are ashamed of their daughter, she said.

The Cheneys have responded with dignified fury, which every parent will appreciate. I am always hesitant to demonize potential Presidents. Should they win, they'll have to lead the country. But Kerry really, "isn't a good man."

I have written before that Thomas Dewey lost in 1948 in part because he was an aloof jerk, evidenced by his stiffing a bunch of schoolchildren here in Denver. This was John Kerry's Thomas Dewey moment. We didn't see it in 1948, because there wasn't national television and the polling wasn't as good or as constant. But we see it now.

Welcome Hugh Hewitt Readers! While you're here, check out the posts on vote fraud here in Colorado.

No Special Prosecutor 

Secreatry of State Donetta Davidson will not seek a special prosecutor to look into the voter registration fraud here in Colorado.

State GOP attorney Mike Norton claimed Democratic Attorney General Ken Salazar has a conflict of interest in the investigation because he is running for U.S. Senate.

Davidson said there was no evidence of a conflict of interest and that Salazar is actively looked into claims that multiple voter registration forms have been filed under a single voter's name.

She said she saw no reason for Gov. Bill Owens to ask Salazar to step aside.

It looks as though Davidson is terrified that if she had asked for a special prosecutor, the Democrats would have screamed that she was in some way trying to influence the Senate race. Leave aside the obvious self-interest in such a charge. Isn't there at least an appearance of a conflict of interest? I realize that Salazar wouldn't want to make an admission that there might be politics involved in criminal investigations, but this is a pretty special case.

I would also remind readers that Salazar's office failed to file even so much as an amicus brief in defense of the Secretary of State in the Common Cause case.

Mrs. Davidson is the Judge Ito of the Colorado government. Perfectly capable of handling the boat while things are calm, completely thrown off by the perfect storm of a contentious election, massive voter registration, widespread registration fraud, and quickly-changing rules.

She started out trying to plug holes in a system that was open to abuse, and now has gone into full retreat in the face of bullying and scare-mongering by the other party.

A Citizen's Guide to Voter Fraud 

This morning, the two Denver papers have a total of 8 stories, plus at least one opinion column, on the issue of voter fraud. Most of the press coverage, though, is focused on registration fraud. I don't the time to pick apart Susan Greene's hit piece on the Secretary of State, or conspiracy-mongering by Democrats. Or ACORN's apparent inability to learn from its mistakes.

It's time to move from registration fraud to the potential for voter fraud. The AG's office is correct when they say that 40 registrations doesn't give a citizen the voting power of his whole neighborhood. So how do we move from registration fraud to actually upsetting a close election?

A large part of the threat is volume. There are now about three different streams of hand-counted ballots: 1) absentees, 2) provisionals taged under HAVA, where the existence of the registration needs to be checked, and 3) the same-day registrants, where the voter registration information needs to be confirmed.

If Common Cause wins, people who've requested absentee ballots will also be able to cast provisional ballots. So there's yet another form of cross-checking that has to happen.

They're expecting hundreds of thousands of each, at this point, which is going to make proper transcribing and recording difficult, even if we assume that everyone's honest, but tired. The Adams County Clerk admitted as much in an article in the Rocky the other day. (I have no idea what the rules are for poll-watchers at the clerk's office for the counting of provo and absentee ballots.) The possibility of a couple of clerks getting punchy and losing sight of what they're doing is probably greater here than any organized systemic vote-stealing, at least this year. But if we re-institutionalize massive hand-counting, we re-introduce all the pencil-lead-under-the-fingernail stuff that $10 million electronic ATM voting machines are supposed to eliminate.

Bleary-eyed clerks in the Colorado county with the most voters are spending nights and weekends inspecting hundreds of scrawled signatures and splotchy Social Security numbers in an attempt to head off massive voter fraud in Colorado....

The checks are time-consuming and tedious. And the onslaught of voter registration applications and applicants for absentee ballots is straining the office as never before, Miller said. The office is handling 107,000 absentee-ballot requests on top of a jump of 10,000 new voter registrations in less than a month.

"I have never seen anything like this," said [Susan] Miller, [the county's director of elections], a Jefferson County clerk for 15 years.

This is just for registration. Provisional and absentee ballots will be processed under much greater time pressure.

But wait, there's more!

By definition you can show up and vote provisionally without id. Election judges are not always from the precinct they're judging, which means they don't know the people involved. (I'll be an election judge at South High School, where I know no one.) It would be easy to show up and vote as yourself, regularly, and as your neighbor, provisionally. Then when your neighbor shows up, he has to vote provisionally since there's already a record of his having voted. The clerks now have 12 days to figure whose ballot is real. (This is the hypothetical that the judge kept throwing out at the hearing.)

If Common Cause wins, you won't need ID to vote regularly, meaning someone could pull this trick a few times, and there won't even be a paper trail. Your neighbor could still vote provisionally, but even if they decided he really was who he said, the clerk couldn't undo the fraudulent ballot.

Finally, there's the issue of HAVA-tagged voters. You can register by mail without any ID, but if you're a first-time voter, that registration will be "tagged" under HAVA. To vote even provisionally, you'll need ID. But the last four digits of your SSN suffice to remove the tag (and are considered ID by mail). The county clerks have no way of checking those numbers effectively. So it's possible to register and vote for the first time without ever showing ID.

Clerks don't validate any of this information, although they do check to make sure that the address exists in their county. They do check for duplicate information, meaning name/address/birthday combo. But someone could use similar names with different birthdates. The Post Office will almost certainly deliver those registration cards. ("Harsanyi" doesn't have this problem, but when I first moved here, I lived in the same apartment complex, not even the same building, as a Boris Sharf. I got his mail often enough that I went by to make sure he wasn't getting my paychecks. Even now, when I've moved and he's died, I occasionaly get mail for his widow, Sima, who's also moved.)

After the election, all this may be checked, on the way to the statewide computerized list, but then it's too late. The Secretary of State testified that once a ballot is turned into a vote and "cast into the stream," as he put it, there's no way to retrieve it. This is good for privacy, but it makes prosecutions harder.

The fact that some forms of ID are merely name-address identifiers without pictures, like a utility bill, where several names can be listed, probably adds permutations that I don't have time to ferret out. Again, watch the large apartment buildings are probably vulnerable to an attack this way, somehow.

As for absentee ballots, if you are already registered, you can change your registration without any ID, just a signature, by mail. Obviously, you can also change your neighbor's registration by mail, without ID. And the mailing address for the absentee ballot can be a PO Box. Or you could change his residence to a new precinct, or new address. He'll be notified, but there's a good chance he'll throw that out with all the other junk mail, 4 or 5 months out. Or that he won't bother to or be able to make the correction.

I would guess that that's the intent of some of the registrations that have been showing up with offices and PO Boxes. First-time voters can't vote absentee, so it won't work, but then, criminals try to pay for things with $40 bills, too.

Bottom line: we have all sorts of ad-hoc rules for all sorts of contingencies, but no system. A quick meeting with the county clerks isn't going to create a system, just unified rules.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

State of the State 

It's all vote fraud, all the time! The latest news pretty much fits the ongoing patterns.

First, it's someone responsible finally admitting that maybe full speed ahead into dead calm waters at night in winter isn't the best strategy for getting across the Atlantic in one piece:

Adams County Clerk and Recorder Carol Snyder said she processed about 3,300 provisional ballots in the 2002 election.

That wasn't a presidential election, and it was before the massive effort to register voters.

Snyder said she expects to get at least twice as many provisional ballots in November, but she has the same amount of time to process them.

Extra temporary workers have been processing voter registrations, recruiting election judges and preparing for the election since June, Snyder said.

More will be added if it becomes necessary, she said.

"We worked 18 hours a day in 2002. I don't know if I can ask my staff to work 24 hours a day for 12 days," Snyder said.

Overtaxing her staff could lead to errors, Snyder said, and in a close race, every vote can make a difference.

Gee, maybe we ought to be paying attention to that scraping sound on the side ofthe ship, after all.

Then, it's Democrats waving the Bloody Chad. I received an unrequited fundraising email from Al Gore, containing this gem:

We were forced by the limitations of our campaign funding to make a series of tough choices -- including a decision to go for it in Florida and scale back in Ohio. If we had been able to pay for a full TV ad campaign in all of the key battleground states, we might not have lost Ohio by a thin margin. And of course, even though I think we won Florida, well, you know what happened there.

Remember. Every recount showed him losing. There was no statistical evidence that blacks were disenfranchised at a higher rate than whites. The networks - all four of them - were the only one guilty of vote suppression, with their early call with the polls still open in Republican counties out west. But he thinks they won Florida. Must've been the brownshirts.

And it's not like Mike Feeley's bitter or anything, either:

"Donetta has a history of ... incompetence in administering elections. It's plainly obvious that she's not prepared to administer this one," said Democrat Mike Feeley, a former congressional candidate who sued Davidson over her reluctance to count provisional ballots in 2002. "If Colorado becomes Florida this year, you can lay the blame right at the feet of Donetta Davidson."

Naturally, any warning that illegal voting is, well, illegal, got a
nasty response from Democrats
. (How long before they start calling Secretary Davidson the "Red Queen."

"This is the classic move by Republican tacticians: create an environment of fear that discourages voters from showing up on Election Day, for this is the only way they know how to win," said Sue Casey, Kerry-Edwards 2004 Colorado state director.

Casey said the tactic had worked for Republicans in Florida in 2000.

"And now that they see Colorado slipping out of their previously firm grasp, they are bringing this tired tactic to the Centennial State."

These same Democrats had just been handed a golden gift by the Secretary's same-day registration rules. Trying to fix it so that we just look the other way while "vote early, vote often" is resurrected is contemptible.

The rules are confusing, and still up in the air, pending a court case. Final election judge guides haven't been issued, for instance. But Ms. Greene goes over the top here twice. First, the Secretary's office has issued a list of acceptable ID, so counties need not worry about that. Then this:

The "patchwork quilt" of election procedures, as some watchdogs call it, is not only confusing to voters, it may be illegal.

In the 2000 Bush vs. Gore case, the Supreme Court ruled that voting procedures must be consistent within each state. That ruling was echoed two years later when a judge sided with Feeley, who sued Davidson over disparate ways of counting provisional ballots in Colorado's new 7th Congressional District.

Of course, Bush v. Gore itself said that it was not to be used as precedent.

Look, I know this stuff is confusing. Worst case, which is starting to look like most likely case, is that we end up with a wildly permissive set of ad hoc rules, rather than a system. The good news is that if they get settled 3 days before the election, maybe the bad guys won't be able to figure out how to game the system in time.

Election Judge 

Paperwork is in the mail. I'll be an election judge at South High School this November 2.

Dear God, what in the world have I gotten myself into?

An AP Reporter We Can Trust 

The guys at Powerline have done Yeoman work exposing the misdeeds of the Associated Press. I'm glad to report that the fraud case is getting good coverage from the AP's reporter on the story, Jon Sarche. I've met Jon both at the court hearings and at the SecState's press conference yesterday, and he seems like an unbiased, stand-up guy. His reporting seems to hit the key facts, given his word limit, and I can't detect any leanings.

Now, if only we can trust his editors.

Our Favorite Local Columnist on Vote Fraud 

David Harsanyi of the Denver Post comes through with a hard-hitting column this morning, taking the Secretary of State to task for crumbling under pressure and permitting, in evident violation of state law, same-day registration.

Unlike most reporters here, Harsanyi has actually taken the trouble to talk to a county clerk, Robert Balink, of El Paso County, where Colorado Springs is located.

"I know that people want to disrupt the election process," explains Robert Balink, El Paso County clerk and recorder. "They want to throw it to the courts; they want the judges to make decisions to determine the outcome of certain elections."

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

What, No Debate Report? 

For those of you just tuning in, sorry. I was in a Business Strategery class this evening, so I missed the whole thing, although I did follow it on Hugh's live blog. It sounds as though Bush did well on the economic issues, and killed on the social questions. So for the moment, it might be prudent for the Kerry campaign staff to go back to calling him "Senator," rather than "President." Just a thought.

Secretary of State's Press Conference 

I just came from a press conference at the Secretary of State's office where she tried to regain control of the vote fraud story. Unfortunately, it looks as though she only made things worse.

Ms. Davidson asserted that she had been "left out of the loop" in the prosecutions and investigations of voter registration fraud, based on suspicious registrations submitted in April. She's now called a meeting of all 64 county DAs for Sunday to discuss the matter. In the meantime, she wasn't able to provide any comprehensive numbers on how many suspicious registrations had been forwarded to DAs or to the AG's office. All of this looks like a panicked attempt to reassure voters of about a problem of undetermined size, being pursued fitfully at best by law enforcement officials.

The AG's representative was Democrat Don Quick, the Deputy Assistant AG, who's running unopposed for Adams County DA this fall. He claimed that the problem was partisan, rather that it was money-driven. He also claimed that since the cases were largely dependent on detailed handwriting analysis, they would take a very long time to finish. When Deborah Sherman of 9News asked about county clerks who claim they were told by the AG's office "not to worry" about registrations they had found, that it was being taken care of, Quick just responded that he couldn't do anything about bad forms that hadn't been forwarded to him.

When I asked him about the fact that some ID at the polls didn't identify the presenter, merely validated an address, he said that I should as the Secretary about that. Which is fine as far as it goes, but fails to address the kind of evidence he's going to need to successfully prosecute vote fraud after the election.

One point that was valid, that many reporters seemingly failed to grasp, was the difference between stopping an invalid registration of vote, and prosecuting that crime. The registration can be stopped, or the ballot disallowed, immediately, preserving the integrity of the election, while the investigation and prosecution of the crime can take much longer.

Here's the 9News report. While Mr. Quick is speaking, note the yarmulke-laden fellow behind him. That's yours truly.

The reporters seemed to focus on two points: the number of bad forms. At the same time, they were entirely focused on the question of registration fraud. Only one reporter, I think from WB2, tried to ask questions about the walk-up registration process which looks like a gaping hole in the system. Several reporters, before the press conference actually started, were openly accusing her of dodging them and of trying to shift blame and attention to the AG's office. I got the impression of a woman caught in a surprise hurricane, desperately looking for a brick building, not from her demeanor, but from her announcements and actions.

Ms. Davidson did have some useful plans for after the election. If voter fraud is found, she'll pursue a grand jury option. She will push for the Secretary of State's office to be given investigative powers. And she'll convene a task force to recommend changes in the law to the General Assembly. All of which does nothing to address the problem of vote fraud in the upcoming election.

The fact is, the reporters are looking at the wrong problem. While it's good to see that they're finally realizing that the threat of vote fraud is real (sorry, Mr. Spencer), as usual, they're looking at the water that's already several miles downstream. Susan Rogers is correct when she distinguishes between voter registration fraud and vote fraud. The former has been proven to have happened. Why are we not worrying about preventing the latter?

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