VOTER EXPERIENCES THREAD. From a correspondent in a heavily Republican district in Ohio: We've got five statewide initiatives on the ballot, and the minimum wage one is the only one that the Democratic party has taken a stand on. It's issue 2. On my machine, Issue 2 began at the bottom of the page and said simply "constitutional amendment" (although with a few more words) and continued on next page. The only thing the next page had was Yes and No. No description of the initiative. A poll worker brought me a paper description, but she wasn't concerned when I asked what was going to happen to all the rest of the people who use that machine. Also, there were eight machines in the room for two precincts (same as when we used punch cards). At one point while we waited in line, three of them were down. A tech guy fixed them all, but then he left. I was very happy that the first race on the ballot allowed me to vote against Ken Blackwell. And this had nothing to do with Diebold's machines,...

    HURRY UP AND WAIT. It's safe to assume just about anyone with even a passing interest in politics is anxious to see what happens today, but it's worth taking a moment to remember that, in some of the very close races, it's possible we may not know the results tonight, or even tomorrow. [E]lection experts warn that the number of voters forced to cast provisional ballots Tuesday because of eligibility questions could delay some results in tight races for days or weeks. New statewide voter databases, strict ID requirements and other factors may increase the percentage of voters whose paper ballots must be reviewed by local officials. If there's a question about a voter's eligibility, he or she will still be able to cast what's called a "provisional ballot," the validity of which will be determined after other votes have been tallied. It's likely to come up with a voter goes to the wrong precinct, lacks required ID, is listed by a slightly different name than appears in state databases,...

    VA VOTE SUPPRESSION : As Sam pointed out yesterday the Republicans last minute vote suppression and misleading phone calls and other shenanigans could swing some close races where the margins are minuscule. And wouldn't it be appropriate if one of the offenders was neo-confederate George Allen ? Well, sure enough, the Richmond Times Dispatch reports : The FBI is looking into possible voter intimidation in Virginia's hard-fought U.S. Senate contest between Republican incumbent George Allen and Democrat Jim Webb. The FBI is staying mum at the moment as to what this is really all about. But, VA Sec of State Jean R. Jensen said in a written statement "Voters should not be intimidated or deceived by phone messages purporting to be from election officials." Unfortunately at this point the damage to democracy may already have been done and there's no way to ameliorate it after the fact. According to the Times Dispatch : The In a written statement issued by the Webb campaign, state Democratic...

    RUMORS, RUMORS. Just got off the phone with a friend of mine who's running a Democratic campaign in heavily Republican Colorado Springs. He passes along this delicious tale about disgraced Reverend Ted Haggard , he of the methamphetamine-and-gay-hookers infamy. Apparently, the Sunday before the story broke, Haggard held a gigantic candidate forum. The good pastor was running around the church, meeting and greeting, irrepressibly enthusiastic. "This wasn't some I-feel-the-spirit corniness," my friend says. "I mean, he was bouncing off the walls, going, 'Are you pumped up? Are you ready for the election? Wooooo!!!' My first thought was, 'This guy is seriously on coke.'" When my friend read about Haggard's fondness for the methamphetamine, he thought, "Oh, ok, that makes some sense." Has anyone checked Haggard's office for signs of a laboratory? --Spencer Ackerman

    BRING ON THE LAWYERS. Roll Call reported last week that in addition to the parties, candidates, and voters who've been gearing up for today, the lawyers are also ready to go to work -- if they have to. With an usually high number of competitive House and Senate contests on tap this Election Day, lawyers, consultants and strategists are already beginning to mobilize for what could be a divisive and expensive aspect of the post-election process: recounts. The fact that many states will be using increasingly controversial electronic voting machines -- in some cases, for the first time -- increases the likelihood that some results will be in dispute. "Most cycles there are three or four races that are unresolved in the days immediately following the election," said Chris Sautter , a Democratic recount consultant and lawyer. "Because of the large numbers of races in play this cycle -- combined with the changes brought on by the Help America Vote Act -- there will be a greater number of...

    THE COMING CONSTITUTIONAL SHOWDOWN. I didn't manage to get in on yesterday's orgy of electoral predictions, but I do agree with AEI's most honest analyst, Norman Ornstein , as to what will happen when Democrats take the House: a showdown between the White House and Congress over executive privilege. Dick Cheney has already said he would "probably not" appear if he is subpoenaed. John Holbo thinks the crisis would take the form of: 2-years of semi-successful executive branch stonewalling, followed by Bush proving himself his father�s son in at least one way � by handing out a bunch of Christmas pardons, meaning the guilty are never brought to justice, and even the truth about what happened is never officially investigated to the fullest extent. And the Constitutional framework is, in this way, brutalized in one final way even as the door hits Bush�s ass on the way out. Maybe so, but I think it is more likely that the House will threaten to cut off funding unless Bush cooperates, he...
  • OR ELSE! From...

    OR ELSE! From the Rev. Rob Schenck , president of the National Clergy Council (the folks who tried to pick a fight with the government of the District of Columbia by putting an 850-lb. Ten Commandments monument in their front yard without getting a permit), I received an urgent message in my e-mail box bearing this title, "Christians Must Vote Today or Else": If Christians don't show up to vote today, babies will continue to die in abortions, fewer children will grow up in married homes, many more will grow up with two daddies or two mommies, God will ultimately be purged from the public square. In short, America will soon look like godless Europe. It's that simple. Good pastry and lots of jazz clubs . From the good reverend's lips to God's ears, say I. --Adele M. Stan

    PREDICTIONS. Matt 's House call (and overall sentiments) track with mine . Meanwhile, over here he's pretty shrill, while in his column today he's pretty gloomy about the prospects of us leaving Iraq soon regardless of today's election outcome. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • AH, GOOD.

    AH, GOOD. Take a look at this brief report by Kate Burson from a polling place in my hometown, St. Louis. Burson's post underscores Genevieve Smith 's point that, when it comes to e-voting machines, technical and logistical snafus may be as much of a danger as their vulnerability to tampering. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • The Problem of Takings and Environmentalism

    We've all heard about the problem posed by "takings," when the government passes regulations that prevent property owners from developing their land. Well, the NYT has a piece about efforts by Maine residents to prevent a property owner from doing what she wants with her land, but it never discusses it in the context of takings. That is because the property owner is an environmentalist who wants to turn the land that she has bought into a park and exclude uses like logging and snowmobiling. Of course the link between "takings" and environmental regulation is nonesense. The government takes actions all the time that raise or lower the value of property. Adults understand these risks when they buy property. Unfortunately, the media has chosen to treat the "anti-takings" crew as a serious property rights movement, instead of just a new approach to undermining environmental regulation. --Dean Baker