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(Another reminder that photo ID laws don't address real problems with the voting system. - promoted by desmoinesdem)
In his press conference in January Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz said voter fraud cases were "getting prosecuted all over the country." This must have been one of them. The convict is the Indiana Secretary of State, Charlie White, a Republican. He has stepped down from office.
This one would not have been prevented even if White had shown his ID. He probably did show his ID, given that Indiana has a recent voter ID law.
I'm Matt Schultz, and I'm running for Iowa secretary of state because I'm worried about the future of my children and the future of your children and grandchildren. It's time for new leadership in Des Moines, and I'm prepared to stand up and fight for fair and honest elections. Vote early, vote often might be the Chicago way, but it's not the Iowa way. I'm Matt Schultz, and I approved this message because I'm a conservative Republican fighting to protect the most important right of all: your right to vote.
Like Schultz's first ad, this commercial raises the specter of voter fraud without any evidence that this has been a problem in Iowa.
When Schultz says, "Vote early, vote often might be the Chicago way," the visual is a smiling Barack Obama in front of Obama/Biden campaign signs. The hint is sure to play well with Republican primary voters, many of whom may believe the 2008 election was stolen. That's easier to accept than the reality of a Democratic presidential candidate clobbering the Republican.
Journalists should ask Schultz if he really believes (as this commercial implies) that Barack Obama got where he is because of Chicago-style election fraud. Then they should ask him to prove that "vote early, vote often" has happened even once in Iowa during the past decade or two.
When Schultz says "I'm Matt Schultz, and I approved this message," the visual shows the words, "TRUST BUT VERIFY." Schultz used the same Ronald Reagan catch phrase in his first ad, although the Republican icon's famous words have nothing to do with voter fraud.
Your unintentional comedy of the day comes from Polk County Republican Party chairman Ted Sporer's blog, commenting on Schultz's commercial:
The only reason to oppose photo ID for voting is to perpetuate fraud. No other good faith explanation is possible. Although we are lucky to have the rarest of animals, an honest and competent Democrat, serving as Iowa's SoS, Mike Mauro's Democrat colleagues are your more garden variety and ethically challenged L/S/Ds.
As I discussed here, photo ID laws threaten to disenfranchise large numbers of voters (the 12 percent of the population lacking a photo ID) in order to solve a virtually non-existent problem (impersonating another voter at a polling place). That's why advocacy groups who work to protect "the most important right of all, your right to vote" almost universally oppose photo ID laws.
In case you were wondering, L/S/Ds means "Labor/Socialist/Democrats" in "the real Sporer" lingo.
Schultz may pander his way to his party's nomination, but his rhetoric ignores a fact that even Sporer grudgingly acknowledges: Secretary of State Mike Mauro is honest and highly competent. No one active in politics today has done more to safeguard fair and honest elections in Iowa than Mauro.
IowaVoter uses humor to raise valid concerns about this bill. Quite a few people could be tipped off about the early voting results, and if they leak the information, some candidates could gain an advantage on election day. Lots of state legislative races in Iowa were decided by very narrow margins last November, and it is not uncommon for a local or county-level race to be decided by a handful of votes.
I can't see any public interest served by this bill. Even though early voting has grown in Iowa, with about a third of the electorate casting early ballots last fall, we still got our election results promptly.
Mr. desmoinesdem pointed me to this site, which shows that only California and Colorado allow early ballots to be counted before election day. Many states don't allow them to be opened until after the polls close on election day (Iowa law currently allows counting to begin the morning of election day).
I can understand why many would support early counting of absentee ballots in a huge state like California. Even though California election officials were allowed to start counting on October 25 of last year, some had hundreds of thousands of votes still uncounted after election day. But California has three counties more populous than all of Iowa, six more counties with at least 1 million residents, plus another 12 counties that have more residents than Iowa's largest county (Polk).
There is no logistical need for county auditors in Iowa to open the early ballots before election day. I would rather wait a few more hours for the final results than open the door to political mischief by insiders.
HF 670 is worse than a solution in search of a problem--it's a solution that could spark allegations of fraud and misconduct every time we have a very close election outcome. The Iowa Senate should reject this bill. If they pass it, Governor Culver should veto it.
Last weekend my fellow Iowa blogger 2laneIA published a comprehensive diary on Congressman Steve King's "greatest hits." Click the link to read about King's suggestion that we electrify the border fence with Mexico like we do "with livestock," his prediction that terrorists will be "dancing in the streets" if Obama becomes president, and his pride in working to scale back funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (which he calls Socialist Clinton-style Hillarycare for Illegals and their Parents). I mentioned a few more low points for King in this post.
10:12 a.m.: King gives the first of what will be two speaking opportunities, this one the longer, for nine minutes. He lays out several versions of the words "liberal" and "socialist" in describing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. He mentions the ACORN group and earns a big "Booooo." King said a Google search of "Acorn Fraud" gets you 2 million hits of possible stories.
King said it's not a stretch to link Obama to the ACORN group, since he worked for them in voting matters. "Obama is ACORN... When I see Obama, I see ACORN branded on his forehead," King said.
King has embarrassed Iowans with his bigotry and extremism for too long.
A few years back I sent a small donation to Bev Harris's group Black Box Voting, which was investigating alleged electoral fraud. Since then I've been on their mailing list. I haven't donated again because I have read about controversy surrounding the group and the alleged evidence they have produced.
The latest fundraising letter from Black Box Voting arrived in my mailbox today. The letter opens with this passage:
Black Box Voting has been examining checks and balances for the Iowa presidential caucuses.
What we have found is grim: The Iowa caucus system lacks critical checks and balances. In reality, political party machinery controls procedures, documents, voting machines (yes, the machines are used in the caucuses in many locations), and chain of custody. This means that political party machinery has ultimate control over results.
-Unlike publicly run elections, Iowa caucuses are not subject to Iowa public records laws.
-Results for the caucuses come in precinct by precinct, but Black Box Voting has learned that these results are not committed properly into permanent public records at the time they are announced and a complete set of the recinct results can be very difficult to obtain. Even when individual precincts are carefully monitored by attendees, tracking down discrepancies for the whole chases a moving target--that is, if you can get a detailed accounting at all. Not acceptable!
-Use of voting machines in caucus and upcoming primaries: Manipulation of voting machines can achieve wholesale alteration of election results. The mechanisms are easier to understand when you watch the detective story as it unfolds in the HBO documentary Hacking Democracy. (See below). Computerized voting is locked into 2008. Paper trail? Necessary, but doesn't guarantee honest elections. Manual spot checks? Nice, but don't guarantee honest elections. The biggest risk is insiders, who have access to voting machines and ballots.
The letter goes on to say that Black Box Voting has designed a "Caucus Watch Project" for Iowa citizens. They don't give details in this letter--it seems that you would have to fill out a slip promising to volunteer in order to find out what they have planned.
I am not going to send them money or volunteer for this "caucus watch." First of all, I am not aware of voting machines being used in any precinct caucus. Someone correct me if I am wrong about that, but at the caucuses I've attended, individuals count people in each group and report the numbers to the precinct chair, who calculates the delegate equivalents using a pen and paper or a manual calculator.
No one fills out a ballot or feeds any paper into a voting machine that I have seen.
Second, I think this fear-mongering about "insiders" tampering with the caucus results is unfounded. The caucus is public, and the results at each precinct are announced to all who are present. I will be "watching" my precinct in my role as precinct captain for the Edwards campaign.
Precinct captains will report the results of their caucuses to the various campaigns, which will keep track of how many county delegates their candidate has won from the precincts.
I think it would be hard for party insiders to alter the results at the county level without one or more campaigns becoming aware that they were being cheated.
That said, I do agree with Black Box Voting that the Iowa Democratic Party and the Iowa Republican Party should make precinct-level results publicly available to allay any suspicions about the process.
Side note: has anyone out there seen this HBO documentary Hacking Democracy? I am interested, but I don't want to send Black Box Voting a contribution of $45 or more (they are giving away the DVD to all donors at that level).