"Americans can feel the vital organs of their democracy shutting down."
A disturbingly on-point turn of phrase from Bill Curry's smart advice for Democrats at Salon.
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It's been happening for years now. On the day after elections like last Tuesday's, media figures begin navel gazing to figure out how pre-election polls, created by dozens of independent pollsters using dozens of different methodologies, could all find the same thing but turn out to be so wrong once the election results are in.
The presumption is that the results are always right, and if they don't match the pre-election polling, its the polling that must be wrong, as opposed to the election results.
On Wednesday morning, after Tuesday's mid-term election surprise in which Republicans reportedly won handily in race after race despite pre-election polls almost unanimously predicting much closer races or outright Democratic victories, FiveThirtyEight statistics guru Nate Silver declared "The Polls Were Skewed Toward Democrats".
His analysis of aggregated averages from dozens of different pollsters and polls this year found that the performance of Democrats was overestimated by approximately 4 percentage points in Senate races and 3.4 points in gubernatorial contests. Silver's assessment relies on a "simple average of all polls released in the final three weeks of the campaign," as compared to the (unofficial and almost entirely unverified) election results reported on Tuesday night. He doesn't suggest there was anything nefarious in the polling bias towards Dems this year, simply that the pollsters got it wrong for a number of speculative reasons.
Citing the fact that nearly all of the polls suggested Democrats would do much better than they ultimately did, when compared to the reported election results, Silver asserts it wasn't that the polls were more wrong that usual, per se, but that almost all of them were wrong in a way that appears to have overestimated Democratic performance on Election Day.
"This year's polls were not especially inaccurate," he explains. "Between gubernatorial and Senate races, the average poll missed the final result by an average of about 5 percentage points --- well in line with the recent average. The problem is that almost all of the misses were in the same direction."
Silver is much smarter than I when it comes to numbers; I'm happy to presume he has the basic math right. But he seems to have a blind spot in his presumption that the pre-election polls were wrong and the election results were right. That, despite the lack of verification of virtually any of the results from Tuesday night, despite myriad and widespread if almost completely ignored problems and failures at polls across the country that day, and despite systematic voter suppression and dirty tricks that almost certainly resulted in election results (verified or otherwise) that were skewed toward Republicans...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Election 2014 Environmental Democalypse Now: get ready for the Republican hegemonic hellscape; Climate denier caucus now in charge; PLUS: At least one note of very good environmental election news... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Energy storage breakthrough revealed; Fracking frenzy brings fears of boom-bust cycle; Peak water in U.S.; New Koch Industries video: "we rearrange your polar bears"; End the GMO madness: try mandatory labeling; GOP wins deal blow to US climate change leadership internationally; Maine's shrimp season cancelled for lack of shrimp ... PLUS: The biggest loser in this election is the climate - and the children of 2100 ... and much, MUCH more! ...
[This article now cross-published by Salon...]
For some reason, this tweet of mine, from about 4am on Election Night, has become very popular...
Man, those Democrats really suck at all that massive voter fraud they do.
— Brad Friedman (@TheBradBlog) November 5, 2014
Perhaps we can chalk up its popularity to the joke it makes of right wing groups like "True the Vote" which has, since its dubious inception, received and spent a fortune over the years tripping over its own wingnut feet to publish fake "voter fraud!" data, find itself tossed out of courts, harass legal voters attempting to cast legal votes, and otherwise make repeated jackasses of themselves by attempting to perpetuate the well-worn, but fact-shy Republican hoax that there is a massive Democratic voter fraud epidemic at our polls.
TTV was made even more famous lately when they were cited, by name, by 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge Richard Posner, a very well-respected Reagan-appointed conservative jurist, in his recent opinion on Wisconsin's Photo ID voting law. In Posner's devastating, must-read dissent decrying such discriminatory laws, the most well-cited legal scholar of the 20th century, according to the Yale Law School's Journal of Legal Studies, described the group's "evidence" of voter impersonation fraud as "downright goofy, if not paranoid," citing "the nonexistent buses that according to the 'True the Vote' movement transport foreigners and reservation Indians to polling places" to illegally cast a ballot.
The solution to the pretend problem that TTV lies to its followers about, is, of course, polling place Photo ID restrictions that, as Judge Lynn Adelman of the U.S. District Court in Wisconsin wrote in striking down that state's discriminatory, unconstitutional law after a full trial earlier this year, serve only to "prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."
So the group's newest embarrassing failure to uncover virtually any "voter fraud" at the polling places it monitored in dozens of states during Tuesday's mid-term general elections --- with an army of righteous and disinformed civilian wingnuts armed with a brand-new smart phone app --- comes as little surprise. It is, however, kind of amusing...
Well, that was interesting.
On this week's "day after" KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast I was joined by old friend Matthew Segal, co-founder of OurTime.org, to discuss whether the failure of young voters to turn out was really to blame for the results of Tuesday's red tide mid-term elections, or whether it was something else entirely. (Yes, we're looking at you, Democrats.)
Segal, by the way, became activated to help young voters while trying to vote as a student at Ohio's Kenyon College in 2004. He was one of 1,300 students who waited 10 hours or so on line, some until 4am on Wednesday morning, to try and cast a vote in the Presidential Election on one of two available voting machines at the polling place that year.
Speaking of voting machines, and voter suppression, and voter disenfranchisement, and election fraud, and unverified results, we also take a broad, early look at all of the other issues and failures --- beyond the horse race --- that may have played a part in Tuesday's surprising outcome, even as we're still trying to make sense of data and curious reports that are still coming in.
We hear from a bunch of callers on all of the above, and Desi Doyen joins us as well to discuss some of the implications of the GOP U.S. Senate takeover on the environment and climate change...
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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
It was a very long night here last night (just scroll down the marquee at right to get an idea), and now I'm scrambling to try and make enough sense of things to coherently put together today's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio. Wish me luck.
So, for the moment, I just want to re-re-re-remind that, historically, many problems from Election Day and, more specifically, in the tabulation of results, don't come to light until the days (or even longer) after Election Day. I'm already getting buried with various tips about various problems that folks had voting yesterday and, perhaps more disturbingly, issues and failures at the polls themselves. Trying to look through as much as I can, confirm what I can, debunk what I can and/or and make sense of it for you as best as possible.
For now then, I'll just drop this fun paragraph from a poster at Slashdot, as it points to a few issues we've covered over the past 24 hours, as well as a few that we have not...
While most of the media is reporting the huge Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate tonight, and the big GOP wins in a whole bunch of Governor's races, Reuters notices that there were a lot of problems for voters across the country today...
Although a full picture of the problems was not yet clear, officials and voting rights advocates reported machine failures in North Carolina and Texas, polling breakdowns in a key Florida county and an overall increase in the number of people reporting they were turned away for lack of proper identification.
They go on to summarize election problems and failures in a bunch of states, most of which we covered in one form or another earlier today (including many more). But we missed this really bizarre case of still-unexplained very dirty tricks out of Chicago earlier today...
After several conversations with the poll workers as to why I would not vote on unverifiable machines, I said I was prepared to sit here and wait for the ballots that were "in route".
They had already broken down the stands for the paper voting and there were 5 other people in the last of the line when at 8:10, a worker showed up with the ballots. Karma win!
Not sure what that means politically, but we like the "Karma win!" St. Louis County has been notoriously terrible at forcing voters to use 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems over the years, even though all Missouri voters are allowed to vote on paper ballots --- if they know to ask one.
Good work, Carey! Thank you for fighting for a verifiable vote --- especially in Missouri and particularly in Ferguson!
UPDATE 7:09p PT: A family member of ours from St. Louis County, MO calls to say that paper ballots ran out in many locations, and that voters are still in line two hours after polls have closed. If you were in line as of poll close at 7p CT, you are still allowed to vote. Keep waiting, St. Louis voters!
UPDATE 12:44a PT: A few more strange details about all of this, reported by local media today, seem worth noting here for now...
While we've been covering multiple cases of on-screen vote flipping by the 100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) systems, another electronic vote-related system failure, relating to the state's Electronic Voter ID (EVID) system, has also emerged in the state of Florida.
The state Democratic Party filed an emergency Motion for Ex Parte Relief [PDF] earlier this evening seeking to compel Broward County election officials to keep polls open until 9:00 p.m. They alleged, among other issues, that an "EVID system throughout the day has prevented voters from being able to update their address on the day of the election, as they are permitted to do by law."
Instead of being allowed to vote, voters were "asked to present themselves at the Supervisor of Elections office in order to update their address and return to the polling place at a later time to vote a regular ballot." That and other issues may have prevented the lawful casting of ballots in an extraordinarily close Governor's race...
Arkansas Times' Max Brantley reports tonight there are "Voter suppression reports from all over," including a "steady stream of complaints...from voters who say election officials around Arkansas demanded a photo ID before they could vote today."
"The law requires election officials to ask your identity --- name, age address. But they may NOT require a photo ID. That's unconstitutional," he writes.
In fact, the Arkansas GOP's Photo ID voting restriction law was struck down by the state Supreme Court after it was found in violation of the state constitution's right to vote provisions in October.
Brantley writes that, nonetheless, "reports come in that high-handed officials are requiring the photo ID and performing checks of driver licenses against voter books, which also is not allowed. This is not universal at all polls. Some have gotten the word"...
Zach Roth and Trymaine Lee of MSNBC highlight a number of the problems at the polls being reported so far in various states today.
"Voters in Connecticut, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Alabama and other states all encountered potentially serious problems casting ballots as Americans went to the polls Tuesday," they report. "The issues included malfunctioning machines that caused long lines, problems with statewide voter registration systems, missing voter lists, and delays processing voter registration applications. Meanwhile, voter ID laws and other strict voting measures kept others from even attempting to make it to the polls."
Here are the key portions of their problem reports from each of those states...
By our count, Virginia is now the 7th state to report touch-screen voting flipping in the 2014 election (though we may have missed a few in Pennsylvania and elsewhere).
During Early Voting, prior to today's mid-term, we've covered 100% unverifiable touch-screen votes reportedly flipping on screen in Texas (D to R), in Illinois (R to D), in Tennessee (NO to YES on anti-choice initiative), in Maryland (R to D) and in Arkansas (unclear which direction the votes were flipping in several different counties), and in North Carolina, where votes were said to be flipping from D to R in the crucial, neck-and-neck U.S. Senate race there.
Now, "Republicans and Democrats alike" are reporting votes flipping in a U.S. House race in Virginia Beach and Newport News, and one of the Republican candidates involved has supplied a video tape of the flipping votes cast on the town's Diebold AccuVote touch-screen systems...
We first ran this helpful list back in 2012. We've slightly updated it for the 2014 mid-term elections. Please share it around wherever you can...
First and foremost:
So far, in the run-up to Tuesday's mid-term election, we've covered 100% unverifiable touch-screen votes reportedly flipping on screen in Texas (D to R), in Illinois (R to D), in Tennessee (NO to YES on anti-choice initiative), in Maryland (R to D) and in Arkansas (unclear which direction the votes were flipping in several different counties.)
Now, votes are reportedly flipping from Democratic to Republican in the "toss up" U.S. Senate race in North Carolina, a crucial contest if Democrats have any chance of hanging on to the majority in that chamber. The "down to the wire" contest is also reportedly turning out to be the most expensive Senate race in U.S. history.
So can supporters of either candidate actually have any confidence at all in results to be reported after the close of polls on Tuesday in the Tar Heel State?...
Over the weekend we noted a few of the heartbreaking stories about some of the born and raised Texans and 93-year old veterans and others who are now being turned away from the polls, unable to vote for the first time, many of whom have also been unable to obtain a supposedly "free" Election Identification Certificate (EIC) from the state, though not for lack of trying, in most cases.
That's all thanks to the Texas Republicans' new Photo ID restrictions at the polls. Before the new law, the state, since 2003, already required ID for every single voter at the polls without a problem. But they've now changed the law to make it much harder to vote, by requiring a small handful of very specific types of state-issued Photo ID to vote in the Lone Star State. The law will help to suppress the votes of some 600,000 registered voters who disproportionately tend to vote for Democrats, as determined during a year-long trial process finding the law "purposefully discriminatory" and an "unconstitutional poll tax".
Though the U.S. Supreme Court did not disagree with the findings of the U.S. District Court that the law is likely to disenfranchise thousands of perfectly legal voters, they allowed its use this year anyway, because the lower court's findings were determined too close to the start of voting to change the rules. (A reason that that Justices Ginsberg, Sotomayor and Kagan rightly found absurd in their stinging dissent.)
While state-issued Photo ID like hand-gun permits are now allowable for voting, Photo IDs issued by the state university system are not. The voter disenfranchisement resulting from that new law is already becoming clear, even if it's largely lost amongst the "horse race" coverage offered by much of the media...
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· RAW STORY
· Sanoma State's
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