Did Walker Really Win or Did Republicans Steal Another Election?

Friday, June 15th, 2012

(By Fay Paxton, cross-posted at The Pragmatic Pundit)

When the Republicans started to echo concerns about voting fraud a few days before the election, I said to myself, “here they go again.”  Then the underhanded robocalls started in an attempt to discourage Democrats from going to the polls. It was the preamble to a race they expected to lose and that old tired game they play, setting in place the idea that if the other guy wins, his victory is illegitimate.   They were preparing the public, just in case the anticipated turnout was so huge, they couldn’t steal enough votes to save Walker’s seat.

Of course, I could be completely wrong, but when the race was called and people were still voting (so they’d go home) and there was a huge disparity between exit polls and actual results, my suspicions actually increased.  Afterall, exit polls measure how people say they “actually” voted; the disparity between exit polls and the actual vote count should be minimal.

We’ll never know, because Wisconsin votes on mostly paper ballots that are tabulated by computer optical-scan systems like the ones  which, in 2005, were hacked to entirely flip the results of a mock election.  There is no way to know if the results reported by the computers reflect what the actual ballots say  because in Wisconsin no hand verification is done,  other than for Presidential elections, without both a recount request and an order from a judge.

I thought about what Mark Crispin Miller wrote in his book entitled: Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too:

“the Republican Party did whatever it could do….. to cut the Kerry vote and pad the Bush vote….like the various cyber-scams pulled off in a tight complicity with..corporate vendors of electoral infrastructure…. the disappearance of innumerable Democratic registration forms, countless absentee ballots and provisional ballots, as well as multitudes of would-be ‘felonies’ never committed or committed by somebody else, or for no given reason whatsoever….

Democratic precincts got far too few machines, and those machines kept breaking down, or turning Kerry votes into Bush votes, with long, long lines of would-be voters stuck for hours (or, as often happened, giving up and not voting); while pro-Bush precincts tended to have plenty of machines, all working well, so that voting there was quick and easy.

And then there were old-fashioned dirty tricks meant to scare people into staying home, or to send them to the wrong address, or to get them out to vote a day too late. There was also outright bullying, intimidation and harassment….the oldest methods of mass disenfranchisement, just as obvious in 2004 as they were in Dixie after Reconstruction…..”

I write about Dixie after Reconstruction. The tactics used today to gain control of the electorate are eerily similar to the Mississippi Plan adopted by Southern whites to reduce Black voting strength more than a century ago. One method was to place restrictions at the point of registration.

The Republicans are waging a campaign to control every facet of the government. In order to guarantee success, they lie, cheat and steal elections.  Here’s a friendly wager…if the Republicans are successful in November, Citizens United will be overturned;  they won’t need it anymore.

These are just a few of their hat tricks:

From The Brad Blog

The votes of more than ten million voters could be affected by a newly revealed failure in the voting systems set for use in Florida, Wisconsin, New York and Ohio in this year’s Presidential election, and in more than 50 different jurisdictions in Wisconsin during next month’s historic recall elections.

According to a report released by Election Systems & Software, Inc., the private company which manufactures, sells, services and programs the systems, their systems may overheat when used over several hours and that they then may miscount and/or incorrectly discard anywhere from 30% to 70% of votes scanned by the machines.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, February 27, 2012

Board of Elections does nothing as hundreds of Bronx votes go missing

In the September primary, the scanner processed 103 ballots and made errors on 69 of them, a failure rate approaching 70%.  In the November general election, the scanner handled 289 ballots and misread votes on 156 of them, a 54% failure rate.

The Palm Beach Post

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Recount shows wrong winners declared in two Wellington election races

BlackBoxVoting.org

5/12 – TENNESSEE CAUGHT RED HANDED

Four hundred and eighty-eight voters….all but four lifelong Democrats, and nearly all Black, had their voting history erased by Shelby County election workers….

The Sacramento Bee

GOP in California hired “professional con artists” who turned in thousands of fraudulent voter registrations.

The Orange Country Register
April 16, 2010

Petitioners conned voters into switching to the GOP

This should be encouraging:

ThinkProgress

Last year, Mitt Romney began paying Nathan Sproul (Associates to Lincoln Strategies), a political consultant with a long history of destroying Democratic voter registration forms.

In Oregon and Nevada, Nathan Sproul’s company was investigated for destroying Democratic voter registration forms. The Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign paid Sproul $7.4 million for campaign work.

In Nevada, people who registered as Democrats with Sproul’s firm found their names absent from the voter registration rolls.

This list could go on and on, but you get the point. Besides, it’s nothing new:

The New York Times
September 15, 1905

Philadelphia assessors removed 52,493 from the registration list…. Their names were put on the lists by fraud in 1904.  The action of the assessors substantiates the charge made by opponents of the Republican ring in Pennsylvania that there were at least 50,000 unlawful registrations a year ago.

The assessor’s lists show that in ten wards of Philadelphia the number of votes cast for Roosevelt Electors last November was 5,541 greater than the number of legal voters in those wards.

If Republicans are really concerned about “the sanctity of the vote”, why didn’t they enforce their new rules during their own primaries? Perhaps Romney wouldn’t have been able to steal Ron Paul’s votes. In fact, why didn’t they pass national voter’s registration when they held the House, Senate and Presidency from 2001 to 2007? Who would have balked, half the nation thought they’d stolen the White House for Bush anyway. How hard could it be? Everyone has a social security number and they count every American in the country. And why do we have to register anyway? And what difference does it make which party one aligns with?

If they were really concerned about “the sanctity of the vote”, they’d fix elections and promote access to the process, instead of suppressing it.  They wouldn’t legislate against recounts, but would instead welcome them in order to assure accurate elections;  but fairness and accuracy are not the goal.

Maybe, I’m just a cynic, but I won’t believe Walker really won until I can count the votes myself.

We Must Start Playing For Keeps, and Other Lessons From the Wisconsin Recall

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

There can be no sugar coating the fact that last Tuesday’s recall elections in Wisconsin were a tough loss and massive disappointment. But the results in Wisconsin have also galvanized some lessons that it is important for Democrats and progressives to take to heart so that future political fights can turn out more favorably.  In addition to being a great reminder of why we all must vote in every election, here is what Winning Progressive thinks are the three most important of such lessons.

1. Getting Money Out of Politics is THE Issue

The Wisconsin recall elections are perhaps the most blatant example to date of how vast sums of campaign cash can impact and corrupt our political system.  Scott Walker is still sitting in the Governor’s mansion because of a massive financial advantage.  Walker’s campaign had more than $29 million, plus over $18 spent by outside groups, for a total of at least $47 million of mostly out-of-state money that it used to purchase a flood of advertising, voter suppression robo-calls, and GOTV efforts.

Such spending undermines the legitimacy of our democracy by demonstrating that money, not people, run the system.  It also makes progressive change much harder to achieve, both because corporate interests can always swamp an effort at progressive political change with a flood of opposition money, and because even the most progressive of politicians are limited by the need to raise large amounts of money in order to stay in office.  If we want politics to respond to the interests of the people and advance progressive values and policies, the Wisconsin recalls demonstrate just how critical it is that we get money out of politics.  That means reversing Citizens United and other Supreme Court decisions equating corporate political spending with speech and pushing for publicly financed campaigns.  It also means recognizing that achieving those goals will take a massive, focused effort by progressives, and that we have to support whichever candidate in an election is best on issues of campaign finance even if they are far from perfect.

2. We Must Start Playing For Keeps

Walker’s first two years as Governor of Wisconsin have been a textbook example of the GOP’s strategy of using government policy to dismantle the infrastructure of the Democratic Party and the progressive movement.  Walker attacked public employee unions because they are the largest remaining sector of the labor movement, which provides substantial organizing and financial support for the progressive movement.  And he pursued voter ID legislation in order to reduce the number of people from Democratic-leaning groups who will be able to vote. And this strategy, which is being repeated by the GOP throughout the country, is supported by virtually all elements of the conservative movement, which realize that dismantling the infrastructure of the left will serve all of their interests. In short, the right is united behind a well-coordinated effort to achieve complete political victory over the left.

Progressives and Democrats have nothing close to the kind of unified effort aimed at political victory. Instead, many of us on the left are motivated by interest in a particular issue rather than an adherence to an overall progressive movement. And too many progressives appear more interested in attacking some Democrats for being too centrist than in taking on the right, while too many moderate Democrats appear more interest in distancing themselves from progressives than in challenging the GOP. As a result, folks on the left spend most of their time working on individual policy issues or engaging in infighting rather than building a progressive movement that will advance all of our goals.

Progressives and Democrats have to start playing for keeps just like the GOP has been doing. That means we need to realize that, regardless of our policy differences, liberals, progressives, and Democrats are all in the grand scheme of things on the same side.  Because if we do not, the right is going to roll all of us.

For progressives, that means realizing that Democratic elected officials are virtually always substantially and materially better than Republicans, even if those Democrats are not as progressive as we would like. And for establishment Democrats it means understanding that progressive activists play a critical role in advancing our shared interests and that, therefore, their activism should be encouraged, not shunned. And for both groups, it means realizing that our real political enemy is the conservative movement, not each other.

Playing for keeps also means prioritizing good policy ideas that help to build the progressive movement. Examples include policies that make it easier for people to vote, that rebuild the labor movement, and that create paths for more immigrants to become citizens of the US.  Now we have to make sure not to mimic the Republican approach of prioritizing building the conservative movement and undermining the progressive movement no matter what the merits of the policies being promoted are.  But where we have a large number of policies that are justified on their own merit, prioritizing the pursuit of those policies that also provide political benefit is an appropriate and necessary step.

3. We Should Encourage, Not Discourage, The Type of Activism We Witnessed in Wisconsin

It has been disappointing to hear Democrats such as Barney Frank and Ed Rendell call the Wisconsin recall effort a “mistake.”  Yes, the effort fell short of its ultimate goal of replacing Walker.  But the recall put the State Senate back in the hands of the Democrats, at least for the next five months.  And more importantly, the effort fired up Democrats and progressives like they have not been in quite a long time, leading to months of sustained protest, the collection of nearly 1 million signatures in the petition process, and the inspiration of progressives throughout the country.  Progressive change is always a long, hard struggle that includes many victories and setbacks along the way.   The activism that we witnessed in Wisconsin over the past two years is the necessary core for sustaining progressive efforts through such struggle and ultimately for advancing the progressive cause.  As such, we should be thanking the folks in Wisconsin who took on the conservative juggernaut and came up short only after an onslaught of out-of-state campaign cash, and encouraging others in the progressive movement to use the Wisconsin effort as an inspiration for further grassroots organizing throughout the US.

 

Weekend Reading List

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

For this weekend’s reading list, we have articles on the role we all must play in achieving progressive change, lessons to learn from the Wisconsin recall, how the media is aiding conservative efforts to destroy community colleges, state efforts to reduce rates of imprisonment, the disastrous impacts of federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and how far off the tracks today’s GOP has gone.

 

Creating Change is the People’s Job – A good overview of how, if we want to create a society governed by progressive values and policies, we progressives — not just the president — have to be the agents of change in our society.

7 Lessons Democrats and Progressives Should Learn From Wisconsin – How the Wisconsin recall election, despite not being successful in ending Scott Walker’s reactionary reign, shows the value of grassroots organizing, focus, and voting.

The Washington Post, PBS, and the Koch-Funded American Enterprise Institute Attack Community Colleges – how the Washington Post and PBS Newshour have interests in private, for-profit colleges and, at the same time, are aiding right-wing organizations in trying to undermine our nation’s system of community colleges.

States Take Sizeable Steps in 2012 to End Overincarceration – An encouraging overview of efforts in seventeen different states throughout the country that have taken steps this years to begin reducing their astronomical prison rates.

U.S. v. Jamel Dossie - an interesting federal district court decision explaining how federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws have created an unjust system marked by unnecessarily harsh prison sentences, the undermining of due process rights, and the exclusion of promising alternatives to incarceration.

The Truth About American Politics – an overview of three new books documenting how extremist today’s Republican Party has become and how that extremism is destroying our political system.

 

 

A Citizenship Lesson from Wisconsin

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

(By Fay Paxton, cross-posted at The Pragmatic Pundit)

Oddly the lesson to be learned from the failed Wisconsin recall has little or nothing to do with the recall or Wisconsin.  Recalls are hard.  Many people, even people who might agree that an official is rotten to the core, simply don’t believe in recalls.  They believe the idea silences the voice of a legitimate election and upends the democratic process.  In fact, according to CBS News exit polls, sixty percent of Wisconsin voters said recall elections are only appropriate for official misconduct. While twenty-eight percent believe they are suitable for any reason and nine percent think they are never appropriate.
I completely disagree with the declarations by political pundits that Wisconsin is a preview of the November elections; at least where voters are concerned.  A recall election is a totally different animal.  When you consider the results of the CBS News exit poll, 69% percent of voters had misgivings about the recall election as a legitimate means of expressing political discontent.  It seems if we had been armed with that data beforehand, the results would have been anticipated.  On the other hand, it will be impossible to determine to what extent the huge amount of campaign cash influenced the outcome, since most voters claim they had made their decision before the flood of cash even reached the state.

Was this a victory for the united citizens of Wisconsin or for Citizens United?  Whatever, it only reaffirms what I have always believed…outsiders should not be able to influence the outcomes of state elections.  The Wisconsin recall should have been coordinated, supported and influenced by Wisconsinites only.  But that’s another argument.

This is about the lessons we can take from Wisconsin.  First and foremost, Wisconsin validates the importance of voting…not just sometimes, but everytime.  Many voters only show up at a polling place during a national election, ignoring the elections closer to home that actually have a greater impact on their lives.  Scott Walker cruised into office in 2010 as did Republicans across the nation because Democrats stayed at home.  Democrats didn’t vote.  One million fewer voters showed up at the polls in 2010 than in 2008, in Wisconsin alone.

People often say, “I can’t deal with politics”, or “I don’t like politics” or even, “I don’t understand politics”.  Politics is not just about government, it is about governance.  Politics determines who gets the bottom bunk in a shared bedroom and who gets the last pork chop at dinner.  Like it or not, politics is interwoven into every phase of your life, your philosophical and religious beliefs.  Politics is about power.  The power you possess in your vote,  activism and engagement.  When you fail to vote, you give your power away.

Sadly, many will become discouraged by the recall results.  Still others will be resigned to believe that ordinary citizens have no voice in the shadows of Citizens United, but it’s a common-sense calculation that united citizens can prevail.  Don’t be deterred by all the Republican bluster about their “Wisconsin defeat”.  If you think back, they were quiet as a mouse after being turned back in Ohio.  The score is even, but citizens can win.  Citizens simply need to unite for the wellbeing of their families, friends and neighbors, just as the wealthy and corporations have united against citizens, their families and friends.

Know the issues. It is your armor against relentless deceptive rhetoric.  That doesn’t mean you must become a political guru, but know what is important to you, your family, your life.  That’s what you should vote for…neither party, nor ideology, but that which best expresses and answers your needs.  And finally, remember the words of motivational speaker Denis Waitley,

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

Voting Guide for the Wisconsin Recall Election

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Tuesday, June 5 is the day that Wisconsin voters have the opportunity to restore the state’s tradition of honest, progressive government by electing Tom Barrett as Governor and recalling Scott Walker.  Walker thinks you won’t vote – it is up to you to prove him wrong.  Here are some tips for election day:

* Know Where to Vote – Find your polling place by clicking here.  The polls are open from 7am to 8pm.

* Know Your Rights – the voting rules for the recall election are described here. Three key points are:

- you do NOT need a photo ID to vote

- you can register to vote at the polls on election day, so long as you bring a document with your name and voting address

- If you encounter any problems with voting, report them immediately by calling 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)

* Know Your Vote – if you are undecided, or if you know of voters who are undecided, keep in mind three key points:

- Jobs: Wisconsin under Walker was the only state in the union to lose jobs, with 23,900 jobs disappearing between March 2011 and March 2012

- Money: Walker has already spent more than $28 million trying to buy the election, with 70% of that money coming from out of state.  By contrast, Tom Barrett has raised $3.8 million, more than 70% of it coming from within Wisconsin.

- Ethics: The John Doe investigation of alleged illegal activities of Walker associates while Walker was Milwaukee County Executive continues to get closer to Walker himself, with Walker’s closest aide Tim Russell now apparently cooperating with the investigation

Weekend Reading List – Wisconsin Recall Edition

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

For this weekend’s reading list, we are focused on the June 5 Wisconsin recall election, with two editorials explaining why Tom Barrett should be elected Governor of Wisconsin on June 5, and articles regarding current Gov. Scott Walker’s abysmal record on jobs, the harm Walker’s policies have done to women’s rights and freedoms, Walker’s divisive governing style, and the ongoing criminal investigation into Walker associates and likely Walker himself.

This election is coming down to turnout.  If you live in or near Wisconsin, please help Tom Barrett win the recall election on June 5 by volunteering at one of the Wisconsin Democratic Party recall offices and signing up to volunteer on election day.   If you are unable to make it to Wisconsin, you can make phone calls to Wisconsin voters by clicking here.

 

Tom Barrett For Governor- the Cap Times editorial explaining why Tom Barrett is “precisely the right candidate for governor at precisely the right time for Wisconsin.”

Why Tom Barretta former political columnist offers his views of how Tom Barrett has the temperament, integrity, and commitment to bringing people together that Wisconsin needs.

Walker’s Jobs Record and Unmitigated Disaster – an explanation of how Wisconsin under Scott Walker has had the worst job performance of any state in the union, and a debunking of Walker’s misleading efforts to claim otherwise.

Walker’s Divisive Policies Hurt Working Women and Their Families – an overview of the Scott Walker GOP’s policies, such as the repeal of a law designed to help ensure equal pay for equal work, that hurt women’s rights and freedom in Wisconsin.

Document Suggests Walker Stalled Inquiry – a newly released document suggests that Walker, when he was Milwaukee County Executive, worked to stall the John Doe investigation into alleged illegal activity by associates of Walker.  Walker has publicly claimed that he launched and has cooperated with that investigation.  A good overview of the people targeted by that investigation, including apparently Walker himself, can be found at this site.

An Autocratic King Scott Damaged State - a Wisconsin historian explains how Scott Walker’s my-way-or-the-highway approach is so out of step with Wisconsin’s long and proud tradition of open and honest governance.