ELECTION DAY IS HERE!
An old clergyman noticed that prominent members of his congregation would doze off every time he preached. This was hard on the old man’s morale. So he decided to institute a new policy. During the Sunday homily, several deacons would walk the aisles, each with a long birch stick. When a deacon noticed that a member was sleeping, the deacon would reach down the pew with his stick and briskly tap the member on the shoulder. One Sunday the chairman of the board of elders fell asleep during the sermon. The deacon who was on duty tapped him, but to no avail. The deacon tapped him again . . . again . . . and still again. Finally, the elder looked up and declared, “Hit me again, because I can still hear him!”
The presidential campaign of 2012 has drawn to a close, thankfully! During the long course of the campaign, including Republican Party primaries, my attention became rather lackluster, to say the least. I often felt like screaming, “Hit me again, until I can’t hear the stuff anymore!” This campaign has reminded me of some of the parties to which I was invited in college. They promised to be far more exciting than they were.
Barack Obama’s rhapsody concerning how hard he’s worked and all that he’s accomplished for the American people is laughable, especially when interpreted from the perspective of what he guaranteed them in 2008. This man promised transparency in government and the end of politics as usual. He promised a decline in unemployment, a decrease in the deficit, comprehensive immigration reform, and an enlightened foreign policy. The fact is that not only has he failed to deliver on these promises, but his presidency has been shrouded in scandal, the chief of which is what happened in Benghazi, where four Americans were killed. The world is now a much more dangerous place than it was when he took office, and the American people are suffering a greater burden economically than they have in years. This appalling record is what may be termed a “train wreck.”
But I am not letting Mitt Romney off the hook either. His campaign justifiably emphasized jobs and the economy, and did so because they constitute President Obama’s Achilles heel. Yet there are many other concerns which underlie the economic one, concerns which the Governor all but ignored. What about unrestrained immigration and the cultural havoc which has followed in its wake? The illicit traffic across this country’s southern border reminds the history student of when barbaric Goths invaded Rome. We know of Mr. Romney’s strong position during the Republican primaries on border security, but there wasn’t much of an emphasis upon that during the campaign, was there? What about the millions upon millions of dollars which the Romney campaign received from corporate interests and especially from Wall Street? Does anyone really think that the Governor intends to do anything to alienate those interests, even when they run counter to the common good? He can also speak all he wants about bipartisan leadership, but when lobbyists on K Street have a firm grip upon the future career of Congressmen, talk of bipartisanship becomes empty rhetoric. I continue, needless to say, to be troubled by Governor Romney’s performance during the third debate, where he failed to insist that President Obama answer hard questions concerning Libya. The Libyan issue involves credible allegations of dereliction of duty and a subsequent cover up. The issue rises to a moral level that renders the Governor’s “play it safe” posture close to cowardice. If a man’s character allows him to remain silent in the face of such an outrage, I wonder what else he is willing to ignore in silence. Mr. Romney’s actions smacked more of opportunism than of presidential leadership.
Because the President’s record has seriously compromised his ability to lead, and the Governor’s “etch-a-sketch” political persona has portrayed him as a devious flip-flopper, I think that the election will be extremely close. A clear leader has not emerged. In a former blog, I stated that “Obama is Toast,” and I am still inclined to believe that he will lose this election. But Hurricane Sandy, along with Governor Chris Christie’s extravagant tributes to the failed President, abruptly curtailed the Governor’s momentum. Each was unforeseen at the time of my previous blog. I don't presently have a strong feeling one way or the other what will happen in this election.
As I have also suggested in other offerings, we should not be shocked if the outcome of this election is influenced by fraud. In 2000, the presidential race was also a dead heat. The election came down to Florida, and George W. Bush was proclaimed the winner of the Sunshine State’s electoral votes. His popular vote margin of 537 votes there was at best fictional. There were too many anomalies in the casting and counting of ballots to render the outcome reliable. An excellent book on the rich, but infamous tradition of voter fraud in America is Tracy Campbell’s work, Deliver the Vote. It covers the various discrepancies in the Florida vote of 2000, and I recommend the book to you.
Perhaps you are not aware of the following facts: For 67 percent of American voters, voter-marked paper ballots are the standard voting method. This year, in 2012, paperless voting will account for most or all election day ballots in 11 states. 6 of the states have paperless electronic voting statewide. These states are Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, and South Carolina. In the 5 remaining states, most voting is recorded electronically without a paper trail, and these states are Indiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia. In 4 more states, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, and Mississippi, voting machines without a paper trail are in use in certain areas.
First, it should be unnecessary to remind anyone of the sundry ways in which fraud can enter into the electoral process through voter-marked paper ballots. Just ask former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman who lost his seat to Al Franken in 2008 by 312 votes. Over a thousand felons, who were disqualified from voting, cast ballots for Franken in that race. There were many other irregularities in that contest as well. The seat, in short, was stolen from Coleman.
Second, it should also be noted that paperless voting is a precarious matter. It’s as if we go to a supermarket, buy a heaping basket of groceries, and receive a small, un-itemized slip stating the amount we owe. Faith in the system is fine, but verifiability is better still, don’t you think?
An incorporated paper trail in voting machines is frequently hailed as essential to their integrity, although still not a feature universally in use. When in use, problems still remain with a machine-generated paper record. Some of them are the following: (1) the paper trail cannot be on a continuous roll of paper, since this sacrifices the voter’s right to privacy by allowing each ballot to be reconstructed; but, on the other hand, if the paper trail is made up of separate sheets of paper, the integrity of the trail may be easily compromised by handling the sheets, (2) a paper trail necessitates a printing device, which can jam, run out of ink or paper, or otherwise fail, (3) in the event of a dispute over electronically generated records, a paper trail takes priority, meaning that many of the problems associated with fraudulent paper ballots then come into play, (4) in situations where there is a complex ballot, a voter may forget how he or she voted and claim the paper trail is mistaken, (5) if a machine is untrustworthy, then the paper trail it generates is untrustworthy as well, (6) a paper trail generates a piece of paper which has never been marked by a voter and so may not, legally and constitutionally speaking, be a “ballot,” (7) paper recounts entail immense expense, and are often beyond a local or state candidate’s capacity to defray, and (8) paper trails cannot be verified by disabled voters, who must count on a stranger to help them, thereby compromising the privacy of the vote.
Voter fraud is a looming possibility in a close election. Make no mistake about it! It matters little whether the ballots are filled out on paper by hand or whether they are cast on a machine (with or without a paper trail).
The conclusion of this election could very well constitute another glaring footnote in the history of election fraud in America. I hope not, but we shall certainly see.
November 6, 2012