Breaking: Ohio Battleground State: Voter Registration Problems, Voting Machines Breaking Down. Global Research Reporter Michael Welch
When Prof. Bob Fitrakis visited Ward 55B, in the largely black inner-city district this morning he indicated improvements over the 2004 elections. No significant line-ups, or frustrated voters in evidence at that time.
The Driving Park Polling Station, not too far away, also with a high African American population seemed mostly immune from significant interference. However, one concern raised by Suzanne Patzer, Executive Director for the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism is that voters are being given provisional ballots at times when there are large turn-outs.
Provisional ballots are supposed to be used in the event where the voter’s ID is not sufficient at securing their residence in the district in question. According to Patzer, voters in past elections would fill out the provisional ballots and their ballots would be ignored.
According to one of the officials overseeing the Driving Park polling station, 47 provisional ballots were given out to voters, after less than a thousand had arrived. Patzer claimed this was an unusually high number.
Black Americans tend to favour Democrats.
Later in the day, starting around 5:30pm Columbus time, reports to Fitrakis’s group started to come in indicating voting machine problems. These machines carried tape rolls which would independently track each vote. An election monitor at The Godman Guild Association station on East Sixth street in Columbus, a poor area of town located in the downtown area reported the paper rolls had run out.
There were similar reports all around town, including reports of touchscreens on the machines ‘freezing’ when pressed.
Officials told the monitors they didn’t have enough technicians to oversee the effort to repair the machines.
Contacts in other states are reporting similar problems.
Bob Fitrakis explained to this reporter that a certain amount of simple incompetence cannot be ruled out. But when pressed, he indicated that malfunctioning machines in districts that were majority black would discourage voters waiting in line and play to the advantage of Trump.
Nine Ways the U.S. Voting System Is Rigged But Not Against Donald Trump
DONALD TRUMP IS right — the U.S. voting system is totally rigged!
It’s not rigged against him, though. It’s rigged against people without much money, and people who are members of any number of minority groups.
Some of the rigging is by design, and dates all the way back to the Founding Fathers. Some of it is simply a byproduct of an economic system where the top 0.1 percent have almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Some falls somewhere in between.
Add it all up, and it constitutes a gigantic obstacle to regular people using their purported power to run our purported democracy.
Here are some of the ways in which the voting system is rigged, few of which are ever discussed in American elections — which some might say constitutes its own kind of rigging.
- You have to register to vote.
Between one-quarter and one-third of American adults, up to 50 million people, are eligible to vote but aren’t registered to vote.
That’s ridiculous. Why do American adults have to take a special, extra step to govern themselves?
Many other countries, including France, Italy, Chile, Israel, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, all register everyone to vote automatically. Not coincidentally, they have much higher voter turnout than we do.
The unregistered are younger, poorer and less white than registered voters. They’re also more likely to support progressive political policies, such as a higher minimum wage and a financial transactions tax.
The good news is that five states — Oregon, California, West Virginia, Vermont and Connecticut — now have near-automatic voter registration, and many other states are considering it. Hillary Clinton has called for the federal government to push all states to make it happen.
- Election Day is a work day
The less money and power you have, the harder it is to take time off from work to vote.
Many states now have early voting, but some do not. Even if you can vote early, the rules are different everywhere and often change. We should expand and standardize early voting but also, as Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed, make election day a national holiday.
- Gerrymandering and geography
In 2012, a slight majority of Americans voted for a Democrat for their congressional representative. Nevertheless, 54 percent of the elected representatives were Republicans.
This was thanks to both gerrymandering and the tendency of Democratic voters to live in dense cities. Currently Republican state legislatures use computer software to pack Democratic voters into as few districts as possible, creating the characteristically bizarre gerrymandered shape. But computers can also be used to create districts that look “fair” — i.e., compact and contiguous — and these would still put Democrats at a disadvantage because Democrats have by choice packed themselves into a few small places.
This is a problem that may not have an easy answer. Gerrymandering is to some degree in the eye of the beholder. Cities are probably going to remain highly Democratic. Some people believe it would be best to turn states into “multimember districts,” so that if the state sends seven representatives to the House, everyone in the state would get seven votes and would choose their top seven candidates.
- Many felons can’t vote.
6.1 million Americans can’t vote this year because they’ve been convicted of a felony. 2.2 million of them are African American; in Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia more than 1 in 5 black adults can’t vote.
No other country works like this. The solution here is simple: As in France, Germany, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Peru, Poland and Romania, everyone should be eligible to vote, including those convicted of felonies and even those currently in prison.
- Voter suppression.
Paul Weyrich, one of the founders of today’s conservative movement, cheerfully explained in 1980 that “I don’t want everybody to vote. … Our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
Republicans have taken this perspective to heart for decades, and are doing their best again in 2016 to reduce the number of people voting. Popular methods include purging voter rolls of eligible voters, reducing polling times and places, requiring photo ID to vote and voter intimidation.
- No Instant Runoff
Instant runoff voting, which was recently used in the London mayoral election, lets third-party supporters vote for their first choice without fear they’ll act as spoilers and help elect their least favorite candidate.
Here’s how it works: Voters rank as many candidates as they like in the order of their preference, from first to last. If a candidate gets a majority of first choice ballots, he or she wins. If not, the last place candidate is eliminated – and his or her votes are distributed to the candidates who were the secondchoice of the eliminated candidate’s supporters. And so on. (If this sounds confusing, a Minnesota Public Radio video explains it in a clever way using post-its.)
In terms of this election, a Jill Stein voter who loathes Trump and lives in a swing state can’t vote for Stein without helping Trump. With instant runoff voting, such a Stein supporter could rank Stein as his or her first choice, Clinton as his or her second, and Trump last or not at all.
There is a built-in bipartisan consensus against any such move, however, since it would weaken the two-party duopoly that runs U.S. politics.
- The Senate
The Senate hugely magnifies the power of small states. Deep red Wyoming, population 582,000, has two senators. So does deep blue California, with a population of 38.8 million, 66 times greater than Wyoming’s.
That is so rigged!
The Senate’s ability to slow or stop change is why it was created in the first place. As James Madison, the main author of the Constitution, put it in 1787: “Our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation” and “protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.” The Senate, Madison said, should be the part of the government designed to do this.
- You can’t vote for the Federal Reserve
The U.S. economy is like a car with two gas pedals and two brakes. Congress controls one of each, but the Federal Reserve controls the others.
Its seven governors are appointed by presidents to 14-year terms. Even worse, the Federal Open Market Committee, which controls interest rates, is made up of the seven governors plus five members who are presidents of the regional Federal Reserve Banks. The regional presidents are chosen in a process that’s largely controlled by banks.
- Corporate America is more powerful than politicians
As John Dewey, one of America’s most important pro-democracy philosophers, wrote in 1931, “politics is the shadow cast on society by big business.”
This could be seen most clearly in the 2008 Wall Street bailout. Not only did the biggest banks have the power to destroy the U.S. economy in a way no politicians ever could, they easily forced the entire political system to stop everything and give them what turned out to be trillions of dollars.
On a smaller scale, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump hope to slash the tax rate on multinational corporations even though I’m guessing this is not one of your top priorities.Whew, that’s a long and depressing list. But don’t give up: That list used to be much, much longer, yet regular people have been successfully fighting to shrink it for 240 years. There’s no reason to believe we can’t make it shorter still or eventually eliminate it altogether.
So go vote! There’s a reason this list exists, which is that democracy is powerful and dangerous and lots of people want to limit it. Don’t let them.
American Liberals Unleashed the Trump Monster
The earth has been shifting under our feet for a while, but all liberals want to do is desperately cling to the status quo like a life-raft. Middle-class Britons are still hyperventiliating about Brexit, and now middle-class America is trembling at the prospect of Donald Trump in the White House.
And, of course, middle-class Americans are blaming everyone but themselves. Typifying this blinkered self-righteousness was a column yesterday, written before news of Trump’s success, from Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland, Britain’s unofficial stenographer to power and Washington fanboy. He blamed everyone but Hillary Clinton for her difficult path to what he then assumed was the White House.
Well, here is some news for Freedland and American liberals. The reason Trump is heading to the Oval Office is because the Democratic party rigged the primaries to ensure that a candidate who could have beaten Trump, Bernie Sanders, did not get on the ticket. You want to blame someone, blame Clinton and the rotten-to-the-core Democratic party leadership.
But no, liberals won’t be listening because they are too busy blaming Julian Assange and Wikileaks for exposing the truth about the Democratic leadership set out in the Clinton campaign emails – and Russia for supposedly stealing them.
Blame lies squarely too with Barack Obama, the great black hope who spent eight years proving how wedded he was to neoliberal orthodoxy at home and a neoconservative agenda abroad.
While liberals praised him to the heavens, he poured the last US treasure into propping up a failed banking system, bankrupting the country to fill the pockets of a tiny, already fabulously wealthy elite. The plutocrats then recycled vast sums to lobbyists and representatives in Congress to buy control there and make sure the voice of ordinary Americans counted for even less than it did before.
Obama also continued the futile “war on terror”, turning the world into one giant battlefield that made every day a payday for the arms industry. The US has been dropping bombs on jihadists and civilians alike, while supplying the very same jihadists with arms to kill yet more civilians.
And all the while, have liberals been campaigning against the military-industrial complex that stole their political system? No, of course not. They have been worrying about the mass migrations of refugees – those fleeing the very resource wars their leaders stoked.
Then there is the liberal media that served as a loyal chorus to Clinton, trying to persuade us that she would make a model president, and to ignore what was in plain sight: that Clinton is even more in the pocket of the bankers and arms dealers than Obama (if that were possible) and would wage more, not less war.
Do I sound a little like Trump as I rant against liberals? Yes, I do. And while you are busy dismissing me as a closet Trump supporter, you can continue your furious refusal to examine the reasons why a truly progressive position appears so similar to a far-right one like Trump’s.
Because real progressives are as frustrated and angry about the status quo as are the poor, vulnerable and disillusioned who turned to Trump. And they had no choice but to vote for Trump because there was no one aside from him in the presidential race articulating anything that approximated the truth.
Sanders was ousted by Clinton and her corrupt coterie. Jill Stein of the Greens was made invisible by a corrupt electoral system. It was either vote for Clinton and the putrid status quo, or vote for Trump and a possibility for change.
Yes, Trump is very bad. He is as much a product of the plutocracy that is now America as Clinton. He, like Clinton, will do nothing to fix the most important issue facing humankind: runaway climate change. He is a climate denier, she is a climate evader.
But unlike Clinton, Trump understood the rising popular anger at the “system”, and he was articulate enough to express it – all it took was a howl of pain.
Trump isn’t the antithesis of liberal America. You liberals created him. You unleashed this monster. It is you in the mirror. You stayed silent, you took no stand while your country was stolen from you. In fact, you did worse: you enthusiastically voted time after time for those who did the stealing.
Now the path is clear and the route fast. The precipice is ahead, and American liberals are firmly in the driving seat.