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US Elections: It’s all over but the shouting

So I went off and voted. I’m in a true-blue, majority Hispanic precinct here near Los Angeles. No point jimmying anything or intimidating anyone because the results here are never even close. Nice poll workers–several below seventy this time!–and everything working smoothly.

The funniest thing here is that in California the voters decide. We’re supposed to decide four pages worth of water board officials, harbor masters, dogcatchers, judges, referendums on everything, and the occasional Governor and such. These ballots are the size of young tablecloths, bigger than some tabloid newspapers. The voting “booth” is a little fold-up plastic table with privacy screens, and the surface is several inches shorter. The ballot is too big to lie flat in there, so it curls up against the screens and generally tries to escape. You can’t fold it because the paper is optically scanned afterwards and has to be undamaged. You know you’re in trouble when the ballot no longer fits in the voting booth.

The news from elsewhere is not so good. Machines malfunctioning in Democratic-leaning precincts all over the place. Lines out the door at seven in the morning. People waiting to vote, standing in the rain, and finally having to bag it because Democrats do have to work. When have I seen this movie before?

Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo [1] is doing much to keep track of the enormous number of irregularities at their Election Central [2]. They’ve already pointed out that there’s a nationwide pattern in the repeated, harassing phone calls to people in contested districts. The robocalls seem to come from Democratic candidates, but are actually from Republicans, although that fact is hidden. (Illegally so.) Of course, the convictions for all the cheating will come months, more likely years, after the election. The election, meanwhile, is trashed. The law needs to be amended to disqualify cheaters, something even the sports world has no trouble understanding.

The thing I find most curious about the “false flag robocalls” is that the Republicans are the party that has always blocked any legislation to limit the plague of telemarketers and spammers. After all, they wouldn’t want to reduce the profits of their contributors. That’s bad enough. Now it appears that not only are they aware of how screamingly annoying these pests are, they’re willing to use it to cement their dictatorship. And there I was, thinking the Devil was supposed to be a man of wealth and taste.

But the really hair-raising news comes from Greg Palast [3], as it so often does on this issue. In an article for The Guardian’s comments section, he points out that the Republicans have been making a concerted effort to strike millions of likely Democratic voters off the rolls. They’ve been quietly at it for months. How successful they’ve been, we’ll find out today when the poor blighters go to the trouble of showing up at the polling place, only to be told that they’re not wanted.

I’ve said it before [4] and I’ll say it again, democracy can’t work unless we make sure of it. It requires a good voting process in which everyone can participate, and a well-informed electorate. Our local dictators-in-training are working very hard for the opposite, as dictators do. So could the international community please send enough observers here to help this struggling democracy?

Update, November 26th
Any time would be good for you lot to send observers. Hello? Hello?
NYTimes article about tens of thousands of votes electronically vaporized [5], and that’s just the ones we already know about.

Technorati tags: midterm, elections, US, American, voter suppression, stolen election, 2006