Friday, January 27, 2017

Donald Trump, You are a LOSER When It Comes to Appearance


Donnie, Donnie, Donnie. What is with the way you look? It's horrible. It's embarrassing.

You should take GQ's sartorial advice. Really. Pick up the red phone and give them a call. Now, before you put on your absurdly long tie. Just set the tie down and back away. Slowly.

First, what's with your hair? It does not seem to attach to your scalp anywhere. Grown men do not wear their hair like this. And the color! It seems to change from Oompa Loompa to fluorescent orange to mandarin to kumquat to tangerine. Can't you just pick one color not found on earth and stick to it?

Then there's your face! Don't stick out your lower lip so much and for god's sake wash off that Cheeto dust! We know you love food that's bad for you, sure really!

As GQ pointed out, your pants are baggy and wrinkled. Your jacket is oversized and usually unbuttoned and the sleeves of your shirt are too long.

Who dresses you? Whoever it is, the moment you assume full evil dictator powers, you should have them taken outside and shot.

Donald, you do not look Presidential. You barely look human. Watch the GQ video. Watch it over and over. I know you probably are doing that right now because it pisses you off-- but for the sake of the country, heed their advice.

Donald Trump, You Are a LOSER!

Let's face it, Donnie, you are a loser. Loser, loser, looooooser!

Only a small percentage of people like you. Many despise you.

You look a mess-- Bozo has nothing on you.

Your brain is not good-- your IQ is not what you would have us believe it is, Believe me.

You are a bald-faced liar. You cannot talk for two minutes without telling a whopper.

Your character is not good. You are a huckster and a cheat. Trust me on this.

You are a swindler. A loer serial swindler. You, and not Hilary, should be in prison.

Your judgment is not good.

Your attention span is tiny. You can't even listen to the critical daily Presidential briefings.

Your speech is incoherent.

You have no impulse control.

You are mentally ill. You have all the diagnostic critieria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder and seem to be in the early stages of Alzheimer's.

You are not kind.

You are not funny.

You are not wise.

You are a fascist.

You are a racist.

You are a sexist.

You are a bully.

You are an inciter of violence.

You are a traitor. You put Russia's interest before the interest of the United States. What is with this bromance with Vladimir Putin?

You are a braggart. You cannot talk about anything without winding up talking about yourself. Most of what you say about yourself is a lie.

You are a serial abuser of women.

You are a child of privilege. You inherited millions of dollars. You are not a self-made man.

You are a loser at business. If you had simply invested the tens of millions your father gave you in the 1970s you would have more money today.

You have a small dick. Face it. Otherwise you wouldn't be so obsessed with comments about your small hands.

You are a loser as a husband. You cannot seem to keep a marriage together.

You pretty much bought two of your three wives from the Eastern bloc.

You are a loser as a father. You have raised at least three narcissists. It's too early to tell about your younger offspring.

You are a loser as a negotiator. You are not able to even deal with the President of Mexico. We all saw you sitting there looking meek when you visited last year.

Your fucking Make America Great Again hats are made in China.

You are an ignoramus. You don't read. You know nothing.

You are insecure. That's why you talk yourself up so much. You are a loser man-child who at bottom despises himself.

The reason you call other people losers is because you are such a big fucking loser yourself.

Donald Trump, you are a LOSER, LOSER, LOSER!

LOSER, LOSER, LOSER, LOSER, LOSER, LOSER!

LOSER.

And a sore one at that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Science

Ibn al-Haytham, the Muslim scholar who, hundreds of years before
Englishman Francis Bacon, developed a scientific method

If you drive a car, use a cell phone or computer, wash and dry your clothes and bedding in machine, and are in fact alive because you would have died of a horrible childhood disease were it not for antibiotics, you are enjoying the benefits of science. Were it not for science you would be huddled in a hovel, pockmarked with scars from smallpox and suffering from rickets, trying to stay warm and alive.

Science can be used for good or evil, but the knowledge it provides is your friend.

The roots of science originated with the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who championed the empiricism and the inductive method. If you don't know what those are you fucking should and should go and look them up before you open your mouth and make a fool of yourself.

The scientific method was formulated by Muslin scholar Ibn al-Haytham in the late 10th and early 11th centuries. In the 13th century English friar Roger Bacon used the empirical method in his studies of optics, but it was another Englishman, Francis Bacon (no relation, or at least not close enough to count) who in the late sixteenth century formulated the method of accumulating knowledge we call science.

I am not going to digress into an explanation of science and how it works, but know that it is science that has provided humanity with the knowledge and technology that has led to the modern world.

Scientists are not perfect and are as subject as anyone else to personal, non-evidence based beliefs, but the scientific method is a precious tool and only a fool disregards or disbelieves the body of knowledge that, thanks to science, has accumulated since the time of Francis Bacon.

Science, on the other hand, IS perfect. That is not to say it is not messy-- it certainly is-- but it eventually advances our knowledge. Differences of opinion and contradictory data are resolved by additional applications of-- you guessed it-- science and we understand the world and ourselves a little better.

What I'm working up to is this: you should give little credence to those who deny science. Make all the fun you want of climate scientists, but you disregard their data at your own peril.

Damn it, I am educating again! No more! I am now going after Trump!

Repurposing

When I launched this blog in 2012 my intention was to shine light on the crimes, misdemeanors, and general bad behavior of politicians without regard to political party. I attempted to shine the light of reason on the bad behavior, buttressing my arguments with facts which I sourced.

I did not set out to skewer only Republican politicians, or even primarily Republican politicians, but when it came in hypocrisy, divisiveness, and knownothingness, Democrats and politicians of minority parties just couldn't hold a candle.

As, during the recent presidential campaign, the bad behavior of Republican politicians ramped up to unbelievable levels, as I came to understand reason came to play no role whatsoever in the beliefs of their followers and I was wasting my time and effort in trying to educate, I grew increasingly frustrated-- and this showed in a loss of steam, just as I was building a case about voting rights and responsibilities. I pulled the plug in August of last year.

I now relaunch this blog. Unlike its previous incarnation (posts are still up, folks!), I will no longer play nice. My new target is not politicians in general, but the corrupt and nepotistic administration of Donald J. Trump. I will be pulling no punches.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pulling the Plug


When last I was in this space I was working hard to build a case about the almost total lack of voter fraud in this country. Voter fraud, of course, is multiple voting by an individual or voting in a district in which one is not registered or otherwise voting fraudulently. It is rare, rare, rare, not an issue at all and certainly not one to excite the passions of conservatives to the point they should pass bills in many states to ostensibly stop voter fraud but actually targeting Democrats and especially racial and ethnic minorities. There is no frigging voter fraud to amount to, certainly dozens of cases at most in a country with hundreds of millions of citizens-- and if you believe otherwise I won't say you're a fool, but I will say you have absolutely no regard for data, for facts, or for common sense and are easily misled.

I was then going to build a case for ELECTION fraud, meaning systematic attempts to prevent people from voting by gerrymandering, passing absurd voter ID laws, or intimidating or misleading voters. There's one HELL of a lot of election fraud going on, and I was going to document it.

But just as I was ready to wind up the there-is-no-voter fraud-problem-in-this-country part of my clever plan I ran out of steam. I just couldn't make myself come here-- for months and then for years. I wasn't sure why. Now I know why.

The problem was I was absolutely wasting my time in a country which has perfected and excused buffoonerly, in which lies have come to have precedence over truth, in which boasting and bluffing trumps (pardon the intentional pun) data, and in which facts mean nothing at all. That was why I was psychologically unable to proceed.

So this is my last post. It makes no sense to talk sense when nonsense is the political currency of the day. When politicians go out of their way to out-absurdify one another (and yeah, I'm not sure adsurdify is a word either, but if it isn't it should be), when there is no regard for and a disdain for data, for the truth, it's time to exit stage left.

Maybe I'll check in again when the no-nothings have earned their Darwin Awards.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Voter Suppression: The Real Problem: II: Changing and Shortening Voting Hours

NC Governor Pat McCrory: “We didn’t shorten early voting, we compacted the calendar.”

In recent years extended voting hours and early voting processes have allowed voters who work long hours or who will be traveling on election day to cast their vote. In this decade Republicans have been successful in shortening the hours in which polling stations are open.

Those most affected by these cuts are working people-- and especially those who work long hours. In other words, voters likely to vote for Democrats.

I could cite dozens of insteances, but let's choose just two. For examples, I've selected cases that don't sound all that bad at first glance.

In June, 2012 Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal agreed with the legislature to shorten voting hours on Saturday election day. The difference wasn't much-- just one hour. Polls would open at 7 am instead of 6 am-- but for people working on weekends with early shifts that left no time for voting.

Here's another example. In North Carolina, the voting schedule was reaarranged. In keeping with the law the total number of hours the polls were open remained the same, but seven days of early voting was eliminated. Republican Governor Pat McCrory infamously said, “We didn’t shorten early voting, we compacted the calendar.”

Doesn't sound like much, does it? But cumulatively, millions of voters have been disenfranchised by Republican-led efforts to suppress voting by shortening polling hours and early registration.


Sources:

Jindal agrees to shorter election day voting hours. (2012, 12 June). WWLTV News. Read it here.

Isquith, Elias. (2013, 20 November). North Carolina’s GOP governor: “We didn’t shorten early voting, we compacted the calendar.” Salon. Read it here.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Falling All Over Themselves...

We interrupt this series of posts on election fraud to remind our readers Republicans are still queuing up in their attempt to say the most inaccurate, inane, and insane things possible. Here are just a few examples.



On Tuesday, 8 October Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-FL) equated lesbian mothers with drug users, calling them dysfunctional and atypical households that get in the way of a child's education.

Baxley is the father of Florida's unfortunate stand your ground law and has sponsored voting laws designed to keep students and renters from voting.

Sources

Equality Florida wants Rep. Baxley to apologize for statement regarding gay parents. (2013, 8 October. Miami Herald Blog. 

Florida Voter Law Designed To Keep Students, Renters From Voting, GOP Politicians Admit. (2012, 18 December. Huffington Post.


In an appearance on a radio show with Jan Markell, Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN), referring to President Barack Obama's decision to provide small arms and anti-chemical weapons gear to vetted Syrian rebels, claimed he supports Al-Quida (a strange, assertion since it was Obama who brought down Usama Bin Laden) and went on to say it was proof the "end times" are here.

This happened and as of today the United States is willingly, knowingly, intentionally sending arms to terrorists, now what this says to me, I’m a believer in Jesus Christ, as I look at the End Times scripture, this says to me that the leaf is on the fig tree and we are to understand the signs of the times, which is your ministry, we are to understand where we are in God’s end times history.
Source

Isquith, Elias. (2013, 7 October). Bachman: Obama supports al-Quida and "end times" are near. Salon.


I could go on and on an on-- but let's just wind up with this one:


Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) voted to shut down the government last month. On Wednesday, 2 October, he confronted a park ranger at The National World War II Memorial (which was closed due to the shutdown):



Texas Republican Congressman Randy Neugebauer grabbed some viral attention Thursday after confronting a park ranger at the World War II Memorial in Washington, asking her how she could deny veterans access to the memorial and telling her that the National Park Service “should be ashamed” of its actions this week. 
Surrounded by media, Rep. Neugebauer confronted the ranger: “How do you look at at [veterans] and say— how do you deny them access? I don’t get that,” he said
“It’s difficult,” the ranger responded. “It is difficult. I’m sorry, sir.” 
“It should be difficult,” Neugebauer shot back. “The Park Service ought to be ashamed of themselves.” When the ranger responded that she wasn’t ashamed of doing her job, the congressman added, “Well, you should be.” (Jessup, 2013).

Source:  Jessup, Meredith. (2013, 4 October). Rep. Randy Neugebauer "should be ashamed." The Blaze.


These are but three examples of hundreds of crazy talk I could have cited. Who elects these people? Oh, that's right... asshats.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Voter Suppression: The Real Problem: I. Purging Voter Rolls

Now we come to the REAL problem with voting fraud-- voter suppression.

Voter suppression is an attempt to influence an election (or many elections!) by discouraging or preventing people from voting. It differs from political campaigning, which is an attempt to influence voters' choices.

Why disenfranchise voters? Well, obviously you target the voters you think most likely to vote against you!

God only knows how long voter suppression has gone on-- almost certainly as long as there has been a vote, but such barriers certainly harken back to the days of Jim Crow, when Black voters weren't allowed to vote. In the early days of the Civil Rights struggle, when Southern states were required by the Federal government to allow Blacks to register, they were often prevented by arbitrary measures; for instance, they might be required to show they could read and write and, if they could, pass a test before being allowed to register-- when, that is, their attempts to register weren't met with violence.
From 1868 to 1888, the principal techniques the states used to suppress the African American vote were violence and massive election fraud.From 1888 to 1908, Southern states legalized disenfranchisement by enacting Jim Crow laws; several states amended their state constitutions and passed legislation to impose literacy tests, poll taxes, property ownership qualifications, "good character" tests, requirements that voter registration applicants "interpret" a particular document, and grandfather clauses that allowed otherwise disqualified voters to vote if their grandfathers voted (excluding many African Americans whose grandfathers had been slaves). Many of these provisions initially were upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in early litigation from 1875 (United States v. Cruikshank) through 1904. During the early 20th century, the Supreme Court began to find such provisions unconstitutional in litigation of cases brought by African Americans and poor whites. States reacted rapidly in devising new legislation to continue disfranchisement of most blacks and many poor whites. Although there were numerous court cases brought to the Supreme Court, through the 1960s, Southern states effectively disfranchised most African Americans.(Wikipedia, Voting Rights Act of 1965). 
In these postmodern times voter suppression is less likely to be about physical intimidation and more about organized efforts to disenfranchise large numbers of voters-- and it takes many forms.
Purging of Voter Records

People die or relocate, so there's a legitimate reason for governments to periodically review voting rolls and remove those no longer present or who have lost their right to vote-- but such purges have proved to be a potent political tool in the hands of Republicans. We most likely would have have had a second-term George W. Bush Presidency had Florida not aggressively purged thousands of voters (the list contained 173,000 names!) judged likely to vote Democratic in the Presidential election.

 Florida, whose governor at the time was Jed Bush, W.'s brother, contracted with a company called ChoicePoint, which marked law-abiding citizens without criminal records as felons and took great liberties with names-- if your name was even remotely similar to a felon, you were toast. No surprise, ChoicePoint was run by an assortment of high-donating Republican stars.
But if some counties refused to use the list altogether, others seemed to embrace it all too enthusiastically. Etta Rosado, spokeswoman for the Volusia County Department of Elections, said the county essentially accepted the file at face value, did nothing to confirm the accuracy of it and doesn’t inform citizens ahead of time that they have been dropped from the voter rolls.

“When we get the con felon list, we automatically start going through our rolls on the computer. If there’s a name that says John Smith was convicted of a felony, then we enter a notation on our computer that says convicted felon — we mark an “f” for felon — and the date that we received it,” Rosado said. “They’re still on our computer, but they’re on purge status,” meaning they have been marked ineligible to vote.

“I don’t think that it’s up to us to tell them they’re a convicted felon,” Rosado said. “If he’s on our rolls, we make a notation on there. If they show up at a polling place, we’ll say, ‘Wait a minute, you’re a convicted felon, you can’t vote. Nine out of 10 times when we repeat that to the person, they say ‘Thank you’ and walk away. They don’t put up arguments.” Rosado doesn’t know how many people in Volusia were dropped from the list as a result of being identified as felons. (Palast, 2000).
Officials in the various draw upon a wide latitude of methods, with no oversight:
Wendy Weiser, an elections expert with New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, said, "What most people don't know is that every year, elections officials strike millions of names from the voter rolls using processes that are secret, prone to error and vulnerable to manipulation. (Wikipedia: Voter Suppression).
Democrats, minorities, and especially Black Americans were disproportionally affected by Florida's voter suppression. A report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has this to say:
Disenfranchised voters are individuals who are entitled to vote, want to vote, or attempt to vote, but who are deprived from either voting or having their votes counted. The most dramatic undercount in the Florida election was the uncast ballots of countless eligible voters who were wrongfully turned away from the polls. Statistical data, reinforced by credible anecdotal evidence, point to the widespread denial of voting rights. It is impossible to determine the extent of the disenfranchisement or to provide an adequate remedy to the persons whose voices were silenced by injustice, ineptitude, and inefficiency. However, careful analysis and some reasonable projections illustrate what happened in Florida. 
The disenfranchisement of Florida’s voters fell most harshly on the shoulders of black voters. The magnitude of the impact can be seen from any of several perspectives:
  • Statewide, based upon county-level statistical estimates, black voters were nearly 10 times more likely than nonblack voters to have their ballots rejected.
  • Estimates indicate that approximately 14.4 percent of Florida’s black voters cast ballots that were rejected. This compares with approximately 1.6 percent of nonblack Florida voters who did not have their presidential votes counted.
  • Statistical analysis shows that the disparity in ballot spoilage rates—i.e., ballots cast but not counted—between black and nonblack voters is not the result of education or literacy differences. This conclusion is supported by Governor Jeb Bush’s Select Task Force on Election Procedures, Standards and Technology, which found that error rates stemming from uneducated, uninformed, or disinterested voters account for less than 1 percent of the problems.
  • Approximately 11 percent of Florida voters were African American; however, African Americans cast about 54 percent of the 180,000 spoiled ballots in Florida during the November 2000 election based on estimates derived from county-level data. These statewide estimates were corroborated by the results in several counties based on actual precinct data.
Poor counties, particularly those with large minority populations, were more likely to possess voting systems with higher spoilage rates than the more affluent counties with significant white populations. There is a high correlation between counties and precincts with a high percentage of African American voters and the percentage of spoiled ballots.
Here are some illustrations from the same report:

  • One potential voter waited hours at the polls because of a registration mix-up as poll workers attempted to call the office of the supervisor of elections. The call never got through and the individual was not allowed to vote. A former poll worker herself, she testified that she never saw anything like it during her 18 years as a poll worker.
  • A poll worker in Miami-Dade County with 15 years of experience testified, “By far this was the worst election I have ever experienced. After that election, I decided I didn’t want to work as a clerk anymore.”
  • A poll worker in Palm Beach County testified that she had to use her personal cell phone to attempt to contact the election supervisor’s office. Despite trying all day, she only got through two or three times over the course of 12 hours.
  • A Broward County poll worker testified that in past elections it took about 10 minutes to get through to the elections supervisor. During the course of the November 2000 election, she turned away approximately 40–50 potential voters because she could not access the supervisor of elections.
  • A Boynton Beach poll worker explained how his precinct workers turned away about 30–50 potential voters because they could not get through to the supervisor of elections. He was successful only once during an eight-hour period.
Sadly, voter suppression continues in Florida-- and surprisingly, Republicans have admitted its purpose is to disenfranchise Democratic voters!
Floridians endured election chaos and marathon voting lines this year, largely thanks to reduced early voting hours, voter purges, and voter registration restrictions pushed by Republican legislators. In an exclusive report by the Palm Beach Post, several prominent Florida Republicans are now admitting that these election law changes were geared toward suppressing minority and Democratic votes. 
Former governor Charlie Crist (R-FL) and former GOP chairman Jim Greer (R-FL), as well as several current GOP members, told the Post that Republican consultants pushed the new measures as a way to suppress Democratic voters. Crist expanded early voting hours in 2008 despite party pressure, but Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) targeted early voting almost immediately when he took office in 2011. Scott’s administration claimed the new laws were meant to curb in-person voter fraud, despite the fact that an individual in Florida is more likely to be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud. (Shen, 2012, citing The Palm Beach Post).
Florida isn't the only state in which this type of voter suppression is occurring:
In 2008, more than 98,000 registered Georgia voters were removed from the roll of eligible voters because of a computer mismatch in their personal identification information, leading registrars to conclude that they were no longer eligible Georgia voters at their registered addresses. At least 4,500 of those people must prove their citizenship to regain their right to vote, but opponents say that could be an impossible burden to meet. For example, the state of Georgia gave college senior Kyla Berry one week to prove her citizenship in a letter dated October 2, 2008. Unfortunately, the letter was postmarked October 9, 2008. However, Berry is a U.S. citizen, born in Boston, Massachusetts with a passport and a birth certificate to prove it. (WIkipedia: Voter Suppression).
When one party is eager to register voters and other other does its best to stop people from voting, what does that say about the second party?

Exactly.


Sources

Kam, Dara, & Lantigua, John. (2012, 25 November). Former Florida GOP leaders say voter suppression was reason they pushed new election law. The Palm Beach Post.

Palast, Gregory. (2000, 4 December). Florida's flawed "voter-cleansing program". Salon. 

Shen, Aviva. (2012, 26 November). Florida Republicans admit voter-suppression was the goal of new election laws. ThinkProgress.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. (2000). Voting irregularities in Florida during the 2000 Presidential Election.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Voter Registration Fraud Is Not a Big Problem and Doesn't Affect the Vote

We've shown voter fraud is rare in the United States. There simply aren't hordes of ineligible voters registering and voting. It's just not happening-- although right-wing news sources would have you believe it is.

Before we leave voter fraud, we'll talk about organizations that register voters and laws that allow same-day registration of voters.

Voter registration drives, and especially same-day registration results in a higher turnout of voters. Now you might think this a good thing-- unless you're Republican. Then you might not, for minorities and urban voters are the ones most impacted by registration drives and same-day registration. Since these voters tender to vote Democratic, Republicans do everything they can to not only do away with same-day voter registration, but to erect barriers that make it more difficult for voters to pre-register. We'll talk about that in the next post. For now, let's look at the flip side of this effort to disenfranchise voters.

One way to stop voters from registering is to attack those who try to make it easier for them to sign up. This is exactly what happened with the ACORN scandal.

And what was the ACORN scandal?

The nonprofit ACORN was a nonprofit that worked on behalf of low- and moderate-income families (the acronym stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Between 1970 and 2010 ACORN engaged in community building at grassroots levels across the nation; this included helping citizens register to vote, but also campaigns for better housing, schools, neighborhood safety, health care, and job conditions.

In 2009 conservative activists Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe released a series of videos which were edited to "prove" ACORN workers advised their clients to avoid paying taxes and hid criminal activities.

That wasn't true:
Independent investigations were made by state attorneys general of Massachusetts and California, and the U.S. Attorney of Brooklyn, New York; their reports were released beginning in December 2009 and extending through April 2010. The attorney general's office in Massachusetts and the U.S. Attorney for Brooklyn concluded that the ACORN workers had committed no criminal activity and that the videos were "heavily edited" to present material out of context and create a misleading impression of activities.
The California Attorney General granted immunity to O'Keefe and Giles in exchange for their raw videos shot at three California ACORN offices. Its comparison of the raw videos with the released versions found that the published videos had been heavily edited to misrepresent the workers and the situations so as to suggest criminal intent and activity. The California report was followed by one by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which reported t
here was no evidence that ACORN workers had misused government funds or participated in the criminal activities represented in the videos.But, ACORN was effectively destroyed by then. (Wikipedia: ACORN 2009 Videos Controversy).
The ruse worked, however, ACORN was destroyed and can no longer register voters who might vote Republican.

Organizations on both the left and the right which register voters can find themselves with overenthusiastic workers who manipulate the process. This is rare, however, and it's in the interests of the organizations to show such abuses down quickly-- and they do. In some cases-- on both sides-- workers are motivated to forget forms in order to get paid. This isn't supposed to happen, but it does. The numbers of people doing this are small, and the numbers of cards they forge tend to be small. But in some cases politically motivated people forge considerable numbers of cards. More often than not, they're caught.

Outside of often unbelievable allegations about ACORN I found more instances of Republicans being taken to justice for fraudulent voter registration than Democrats. So yes, it's a problem-- but it's not coming from voters.

And here's the rub. It's not as if people are voting those registrations. In some cases they might, but it's exceedingly rare. It doesn't affect the vote.
What about widely publicized stories of registration fraud? 
Those cases are always very easily caught, very frequently by the very organization that's overseeing the work. And there's absolutely zero evidence that anyone who has put any false information on a voter registration form has actually voted using that information. Problems with voter registration [are] different than fraud at the polls that ends up impacting the election. (Zalan, 2012, quoting Tova Wang)
The problem, Wang says, isn't about voter registration fraud, but about voter suppression. And she's right.

If you see statistics that seem to prove there is widespread voter fraud or widespread voter registration fraud, know they're false. Check out this entry at Snopes.


Sources

Wang, Tova. (2012). The politics of voter suppression: Defending and expanding Americans' right to vote. Cornell University Press.

Zalan, Kira. (2012, 24 April). The myth of voter fraud. U.S. News & World Report.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Reality Check: Voter Fraud

Let's take a pause in this series about voter fraud to see how Republicans and Fox News have been misleading the American public, persuading many Americans there are huge numbers of people voting illegally. We've already shown that to be untrue.

Voter Fraud Watch: Illegal Voting Reports in Ohio. (2012, 6 November). Fox News. Read it here.

Voter Fraud Watch: Group Claims Unions in Nevada Registering Illegal Immigrants to Vote. (2012, 6 November). Fox News. Read it here.

Barnes, Ed. (2010, 12 July). Felons voting illegally may have put Franken over the top in Minnesota, study finds. Fox News. Read it here.

The articles, which are clearly meant to drive white voters to hysteria, sometimes have a kernel of truth, but the claims made are overstated, deliberately misdirecting, and often simply untrue. Let's look at the Barnes article as an example of all three: overstatement, misdirection, and downright lying.

Study finds... Whose study? Minnesota Majority, a conservative group. They claimed to have matched voting records to lists of felons.
The final recount vote in the race, determined six months after Election Day, showed Franken beat Coleman by 312 votes -- fewer votes than the number of felons whose illegal ballots were counted, according to Minnesota Majority's newly released study, which matched publicly available conviction lists with voting records. 
But check this out:
The problem with this assertion—from a new book by The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund and George W. Bush Justice Department attorney Hans von Spakovsky—is that it is not just factually wrong, according to Minnesota Supreme Court records, the Minnesota prosecutor who investigated most of the cases, and some of the country’s top election scholars, but it is intended to rile a segment of the Right that thinks it is patriotic to demonize voting by non-whites and disrupt voting for everyone else.
“There is no basis in fact, whatsoever, in these inaccuracies propagated by the Minnesota Majority here, none,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Wednesday. “After the most closely scrutinized election in Minnesota history in 2008, there were zero cases of fraud. Even the Republicans lawyers acknowledged that there was no systematic effort to defraud the election, none.” -- Rosenfeld.
Twenty-six ineligible felons registered to vote in Minnesota. Of those, one-third didn't vote. That's hardly a surprising number, since most felons don't realize they can't legally vote while on parole or probation.
 [Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota's] November 2010 report found only 26 voter fraud convictions across the state at that time. They were all ex-felons who registered to vote but never voted (32 percent) or who voted (68 percent) before restoring their voting rights. This distinction is very important because it further debunks the GOP’s voter ID case.
Yes,voter fraud exists. No, it's not widespread. No, its not frequent. When it does happen, it's generally due to a misake. There is no fraudulent intent. There are no hordes of voting illegal immigrants, felonious voters, or dead people voting. There just aren't.

Source

Rosenfeld, Stephen. (2012, 8 August). GOP Voter Fraud Hucksters Latest Lie: Felons Made Franken U.S. Senator. AlterNet. Read it here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gerrymander Blues

Both Republicans and Democrats gerrymander, and in hopes of either getting all their voters into one district or carving out a district that will disenfranchise a large number of voters of the other party by making them a minority, both have made their share of ridiculously-shaped districts. You can see a bunch of them in the previous post.

How well does gerrymandering work? Check this out.
...since the GOP not only flipped the House in 2010 but totally controlled 21 state governments, including Pennsylvania's, it allowed the party to master post-census congressional redistricting around the country. On Nov. 6, Democrats won the popular vote by 500,000 votes nationally but took just 201 of the 435 U.S. House seats. In Pennsylvania, Republicans took hold of 13 of 18 congressional seats while being outpaced by 75,000 total votes. Mr. Obama won 53 percent of the state's vote, but Democratic candidates won 28 percent of the seats. -- McNulty, 2012
McNulty also wrote:
Tasked with resetting congressional lines after the 2010 census, Republican mapmakers in Harrisburg took that reality and ran with it. They made the five seats Democrats eventually would win on Nov. 6 solidly Democratic, going by voting performance statistics kept by Cook Political Report. They wrangled the district lines of three GOP seats near Philadelphia -- most notably District 7, which stretched across parts of five counties -- to make them more Republican. Finally, forced by population losses to cut one seat, they combined two outside of Pittsburgh to make Democratic incumbents Jason Altmire and Mark Critz run against each other in the new District 12.
That's how it recently worked on the national level. It works that way at state and local levels as well.
This process has worked so well for so many politicians that the New York Public Interest Research Group reports that in 2008 more than half of the state’s 212 legislators were re-elected with more than 80 percent of their districts’ votes. In 57 districts, the incumbents ran unopposed.
Gerrymandering is a huge threat to the idea of one man (or woman), one vote. It's both legal and effective, and it disempowers millions of voters, removing their ability to choose their political leaders. It's institutionalized corruption, perpetrated politicians who, as the New York Times editorial states, have a clear conflict of interest. -- Editorial, New York Times
Those interested in voting reform should remember: a very real problem with the voting process begins and ends with gerrymandering.


Sources

Gerrymandering, pure and corrupt. (2009, 11 November). Editorial, New York Times. Read it here.

McNulty, Timothy. (2012, 26 November). How gerrymandering helped GOP keep control of House. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Read it here.

What Gerrymandering Looks Like

To see how some preposterously gerrymandered districts, click here.