Bomb Scares, Belligerent Tea Partiers and Last-Minute Disenfranchisement – This Election Is Already Ugly
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In Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, a majority of Republicans believe that Democrats will steal this election and a majority of Dems are convinced that the GOP's going to do the same. It's a sign of how deeply compromised our democracy has become.
Credit for this sorry state of affairs goes to the right-wing fabulists who concocted the specter of widespread in-person voter fraud simply to pass ID laws that depress turnout in Dem-leaning constituencies. Also thank a number of recent Secretaries of State bent on decreasing the vote for partisan gain -- folks like Katherine Harris, Ken Blackwell and John Husted.
Blame the constant stream of BS stories hyped by the conservative media – endless dogs and dead people voting. And the Supreme Court for intervening in 2000. Save some ire for Wally O'Dell and Diebold in 2004, and a little bit for lefty bloggers who turn every voting glitch into a major threat to our elections. This widespread distrust is already bearing fruits, with a series of nasty incidents at early voting places.
In Orange County, Florida, which Obama won by 90,000 votes in 2008, the final day of early voting was interrupted for 3 hours when police discovered two “ suspicious packages,” one of which they destroyed in a controlled detonation.
At the Huffington Post, Dan Froomkin writes:
If Election Day goes anything like the past 17 days of early voting in North Carolina, here's what you can expect at your local precincts on Tuesday:
Belligerent citizens demanding the right to personally inspect the voting process and yelling "shut up" at the top of their lungs when election officials tell them that only official poll observers can do that.
Official poll observers who have been improperly trained by the groups they represent and think it's their job to interrogate voters rather than just watch.
Long lines, which means that a lot of people end up waiting outside the designated no-electioneering zones, getting harangued by campaign workers.
Shouting matches between Republican and Democratic campaign workers -- and sometimes voters standing in line -- that can involve name-calling, threatening gestures, and the summoning of law enforcement.
A guy driving a tractor-trailer bed filled with effigies of Democratic officials, including President Barack Obama, with nooses around their neck. (Federal officials are looking into that one, which took place at an early voting center in Eastern North Carolina on Thursday.)
Police were called when a County Commissioner in Manatee County, Florida, became belligerent with poll-workers who asked her to refrain from campaignig for her son within the no-electioneering zone.
In Wisconsin, they're trying to avoid a repeat of the chaos that aggressive poll-watchers created during the recall. The Wisconsin Journal:
“Some of the observers felt they needed to try to intimidate our workers or the voters, and that just won’t be tolerated this time,” said Diane Hermann-Brown, past president and current communications chairwoman for the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association. “Badgering isn’t going to be an option. There won’t be any third or fourth chances. You’re going to deal with it, or you are out.”
Conservatives have complained the Government Accountability Board has placed too many restrictions on where observers can stand, and who they can question, but election agency director Kevin Kennedy said a proper balance has been struck between the rights of observers, the privacy of voters and the need to keep lines moving when turnout is heavy.
Meanwhile, the Romney campaign is itself training Wisconsin poll-watchers -- to mislead voters about their rights.