It’s all over but the shouting in the New Hampshire recount, and the results, I would have to say, are mixed at best. On one hand, Hillary Clinton won fair and square, and there were not major inaccuracies in the count. On the other hand, the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office reportedly treated the recount request, and the ballots themselves, in such an offhand manner that it was hard for observers (biased ones, admittedly) to believe they weren’t trying to hide something.
Electronic memory cards were missing. Ballots were kept in open boxes. Gee, I always thought of New Englanders as neat by nature, but according to the accounts I’m reading, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, a very prim-looking guy, was treating the cornerstones of democracy the way a distracted teenager treats his homework. I’m surprised we didn’t hear the line, “the dog ate my ballot.”
Meanwhile, we have Brad Friedman of Bradblog and Bev Harris of BlackboxVoting.org straining hard to find voting machine problems, but ultimately having to admit that “Most of the big reports are election administration failures. Administration failures are those failures that cannot be blamed on voting machines or the voters or poll workers. They are those failures that fall directly in the laps of clerks or registrars or boards of elections. Not enough paper ballots at the precinct is an administrative failure.”
One of the administrative failures was ballots in California that seemed rigged to cause independents to disqualify
themselves from voting in the Democratic primary by failure to mark the right box on the ballot. Also in California, many people who intended to register as “Independent” were instead registered by the Board of Elections as “American Independent,” which is George Wallace’s old party, and were thus barred from voting in the Democratic primary. Another was that, in Green Party primaries, conducted by Republican and Democratic officials, there were (somewhat predictably) major glitches
that may have been negligence and may have been malice–like ballots not being sent to rural counties in Arkansas, or Illinois’ decision to print a green stripe on Democratic ballots and a brown stripe on Green Party ballots, and fail to inform polling officials of the Green Party ballots’ existence, so that many Green Party voters were given green ballots instead of Green Party ballots.
Hey, guys, everybody knows the Dems are the ones with the brown stripe! But seriously, until we have a Green Party hefty enough to have representatives in the Board of Elections, we are not going to get any respect from the big guys. They are so insecure, and with such good reason…By the way, in case you hadn’t heard, the Greens are splitting between Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader like the Dems are splitting over Hillary and Barak.
But there have been no reports of weird results from the voting machines, no complaints of voter intimidation. Of course, it is just a primary, but would Diebold really skew their machines for Hillary? Considering the amount of attention that’s on this issue right now, the odds and consequences for getting caught probably look unacceptably high.
Here in Tennessee, we had faith-based voting, which is what you have to call voting on touch-screen machines. This may be our last video poker election, though! More on that in a minute.
Faith-based voting brought a big win for the faith-based candidate, Mike Huckabee, who wants to put Jesus in the Constitution, just like they did in The Handmaid’s Tale. He hasn’t said if he wants to change the name of the country to The Republic of Gilead. Tennessee also went for Hillary Clinton, in a pattern that I find very disturbing.
Obama won big in all the urban counties, including Williamson, which is usually considered a conservative hotbed–I guess what Dems there are around Franklin are liberal ones. In rural, redneck Tennessee, however he rarely polled
more than 20% of the vote, and there were counties in which John Edwards did better than Obama.
Couldn’t have been because he’s white, now, could it?
What I infer from this is that racism is not dead in Tennessee, and I don’t think that bodes well for Obama’s chances should he win the nomination. If he doesn’t get the nomination, I’m not sure Hillary will be able to win the election, because she’s going to have to squash a lot of people’s hopes to prevail.
Here’s a couple of numbers for you: so far, approximately 17 million people have voted for Democratic candidates in the primaries, and only 11 million have voted for Republicans. I’m sure that if the Dems try hard enough, they can blow that lead.
And of course, John McCain is now the Republican front-runner, and the buzz on him is that a lot of conservatives and evangelicals won’t vote for him, so he can’t win, either. This is kind of a backwards way of arriving at the conclusion that the 2008 Presidential election is a no-win situation, but really it is. Whoever wins the election is inheriting a bankrupt, spendthrift country that can’t get out of a war it has no moral justification in pursuing and no money to pay for, a country that almost singlehandedly (through our prostitution of China and widespread promotion of “the American way of life” is pushing the planet into a heatwave the likes of which have not been felt since there were crocodiles in Greenland.
Phew….let’s not talk about that now…it’s almost too horrendous to contemplate…can we have a little good news? Even if it’s just a little?
OK, how’s this…as I said earlier, it looks like Tennessee is going to be able to dump its touchscreen voting machines, hopefully by next fall’s election, if the feds co-operate. (Downside: more toxic high-tech junk!) In spite of tremendous, almost inexplicable resistance by Tennessee Election Commissioner Riley Darnell, who acts like his salary gets paid by Diebold rather than Tennessee taxpayers–and hey, maybe it is, how would we know? In spite of resistance from the state’s election officials, and the same goes for them, a small group of committed citizens talked to enough legislators and got enough other citizens to talk to their legislators to get a bipartisan bill to the floor of the Tennessee House that calls for Tennessee to switch over to optical scan voting machines by 2010 at the latest, and this year if the feds come up with the funds. New Jersey Representative Rush Holt is pushing a bill through that will make funds available to states to switch back from the touchscreen machines mandated by Bush’s Helping America Vote Republican Act of a few years past. It’s not perfect, but it’s an improvement that, hopefully, can be improved upon.
Speaking of improving on the improvements, the next step after verifiable voting in Tennessee is getting somebody on the ballot who’s worth voting for. Current ballot laws in the state map out a tortuous and unlikely pathway for third parties to get a named ballot line–that is, for candidates to be identified on the ballot as being members of the Green Party, just for example, rather than as “independent.” A recent court case in Ohio ended with the Federal Sixth Circuit Court declaring that Ohio’s law, which is quite similar to Tennessee’s, is in violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The Green Party of Tennessee has joined with the Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party to initiate a lawsuit to overturn Tennessee’s ballot roadblock, and we have every reason to believe that the decision will be handed down in time for the November election.
It’s a little step, but it’s the first one we can take, and whatever we do, we can only do it one step, one day at a time. I hardly even see how it connects with changing the big picture, considering the resistance even a relative lightweight like Barak Obama met out in the hustings of Tennessee.
Perhaps all that’s left for us at this point is to meet the coming catastrophe as gracefully as we can, because it’s becoming obvious that politics-as-usual is going to prevail in the short run, and politics as usual is as capable of dealing with what’s headed our way as the Polish cavalary was capable of stopping the blitzkreig. And we, with our scattered little Green Party here in Tennessee, are metaphorically even more powerless than the Polish Cavalry. But we have a vision, and a call to live that vision–so what else can we do?
music: Eliza Gilkyson, “Milk and Honey”