Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Time, Energy, and Voter Fraud

I'm so deep in the bubble that I have no idea what's really happening in this election.

Oh, I have a front row seat, sort of. But my change in job title this year means that I'm doing a lot less of some stuff that I used to do - taking routine calls and waiting on routine voters - that gave me a constant opportunity to take the public pulse and temperature.

Now I'm only dealing with the extra complicated problems, and that's not a reliable enough sample set to make any judgments. It's also a bit draining, and after getting home and catching up on the day's events I have no energy left for writing (I'm really forcing this right now and I'm sure it shows.)

My only bit of wisdom: If you want a sense of how Johnson County will turn out, watch the turnout at next week's Iowa Memorial Union satellite sites (all week). That's when we'll find out what's happening with our biggest variable, young voters. The Iowa outcome is still in doubt and as I've said before, history will judge this election by the Hillary over Trump margin, and the third party, write in, and non votes don't contribute to that margin.

I'm definitely too busy to be doing any voter fraud.

Elections are once again an election issue. I'm also too busy to write much about it but I will share some good background. Let's start with my boss.

"If you look at all the facts, it has been almost proven that any voter fraud has been proven non-existent in Iowa," Weipert said Tuesday morning. "I don't understand why the candidates and campaigns are going after us...Let us run the elections, that's why we are elected."

Even without all the checks and balances, it would be really really hard to steal an election. The best piece I've seen on that comes from GOP election law attorney Chris Ashby. Read the whole thing but I'll break down the summary paragraph.

To rig an election, you would need (1) technological capabilities that exist only in Mission Impossible movies, plus (2) the cooperation of the Republicans and Democrats who are serving as the polling place’s election officials, plus (3) the blind eyes of the partisan pollwatchers who are standing over their shoulders, plus (4) the cooperation of another set of Republicans and Democrats — the officials at the post-elections canvass, plus (5) the blind eyes of the canvass watchers, too. Then you’d still have to jedi-mind trick lawyers, political operatives and state election administrators, all of whom scrub precinct-level returns for aberrant election results, and scrutinize any polling place result that is not in line with what they would have expected, based on current political dynamics and historical election results.

Point 2: In Iowa poll workers have to be very closely balanced by party - an ongoing challenge in a 2 to 1 Democratic county, but we manage (with a lot of help from the Republicans). 

#5 is most interesting to me. You'd have to know exactly where to steal, exactly how much to steal, how much to steal and exactly how much you could get away with stealing, on a statewide or nation wide scale.

If degenerate gambler Hunter Thompson were still alive he could paint the analogy: a massive point shaving scheme.

Only you have to pull it off not just in one game but across an entire Saturday college football schedule, and you'd have to beat the odds in over half the games. You'd have to know every player on every team to spot the ones with ethical weaknesses or miscellaneous vulnerability to threats. They'd have to by random chance be placed on exactly the right teams and in exactly the right positions. Leaving the analogy and going back to the point for a moment, Philip Bump in the Washington Post:

You can't predict which state will be key. If you're going to rig the vote, you need to do it in a number of places at once -- which increases the risk, complexity and number of people involved. Adding a thousand votes in Florida would have made the difference, but that's only because George W. Bush won enough votes in other states to get him close to 270. You need to be able to predict the results in every swing state, or you need to rig votes across a broad geography. That's far harder than it seems at first blush.

Back to the analogy, the mistakes would have to be small enough to escape attention. You could get away with ONE missed field goal, but not four, especially if the kicker has been flawless all season.

And you'd go in knowing that there would be a near certainty of the player being caught. So you'd have to offer considerations big enough to get them to keep their mouths shut through long jail terms and permanent unemployability.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Special Raspberry Beret Package Up For Bid At JCDems BBQ

UPDATE: Current leading bid Brent Oleson, $125

The Johnson County Democrats are having their annual barbecue Sunday from 4 to 7 at the Johnson County Fairgrounds. I came close to abandoning one of the BBQs recent traditions: the auction of an official Deeth Blog Raspberry Beret as part of the silent auction.

It's been a tough year for the beret. It's coasting on past writing glory rather than current output, as life is giving me less time to write this year. Worse, of course, is the untimely loss of The Artist himself (though that DID put the song back on the charts for a week).

But when I learned that our guest speaker was a Minnesotan, Senator Amy Klobuchar, I knew I would have to pay Prince an appropriate tribute. That will take more than just the beret. To REALLY honor Prince, you need the music.

So here it is: the 2016 Prince Rogers Nelson Memorial Raspberry Beret Package.

Included with the beret is a suitably framed original vinyl copy of Around The World In A Day, Prince's 1985 album that featured "Raspberry Beret" as the first single.

Also included: The Around The World In A Day sheet music book.

The barbecue runs from 4 to 7 Sunday.  Klobuchar is scheduled to speak early.  If she wants to honor her fellow Minnesotan with a big bid, you'll have time after to outbid her.

I'll take advance bids starting at $75 (this IS a fund raiser, and I put a few bucks into this, though of course the beret was the cheapest part) through any means of communication. As for the BBQ itself, tix are $25 each, $40 for family.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

What Republicans Should Be Saying Today

Republicans, feel free to copy, paste, and release.

From: Rep. Joe Conservative
To: Press
Re: Trump Remarks

As you know I endorsed Donald Trump several months ago during our national convention. I had many concerns about both his character and his rhetoric, but I remained silent as I thought that defeating the Democrat Party's nominee was more important. 

With the revelation of Trump's remarks from 2005, I can no longer stay silent. I am deeply sorry that I lacked the courage to speak out during our primaries or upon his nomination.

I urge Mr. Trump to suspend his campaign immediately, so we can begin to repair the damage to our party. 

But it is realistically too late to remove his name from the ballot. At this point, he can only be stopped by defeat, and merely withdrawing my endorsement and my personal vote is not enough.

A third party or write in vote is also not enough. History will judge our party and more importantly our nation by Trump's margin of defeat.

Therefore, I have made a difficult and painful decision. To assure Donald Trump's defeat I will vote for Hillary Clinton. I urge my supporters to do the same.

I disagree with Secretary Clinton on nearly every major issue. Four years of her presidency will be a severe setback for conservatives.

The Republican Party has recovered from mere defeat before and will again, and a Republican Congress will limit the damage. 

But one day of a Trump presidency will disgrace our party beyond redemption. 

In the next four weeks I intend to work as hard as possible to elect every Republican down the ticket, from Senator Mossback and myself to the state house and courthouse. 

For the next four years I will oppose President Clinton when possible, work with her when necessary, and help build an inclusive Republican Party that lives up to our values and ideals.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Vote Often and Often for Hillary

Zach Wahls demonstrates the best way to take a ballot selfie: the OUTSIDE of the envelope, I was really not expecting it, but people have really really strong feelings both ways on the issue of ballot selfies.

Most people in most states only get two shots at voting for a presidential candidate: the primary and general elections. But This is Zach's SIXTH Hillary vote of the year, and that's not too far out of line. I cast my fifth vote for Hillary on Thursday, and no, I don't get an employee discount at work. I know dozens of people who have cast five presidential votes this year just in my county.

The multiple votes are a by-product of Iowa's caucus system, which chooses delegates based on presidential preference at multiple levels of conventions. Any reasonably determined Iowan can attend all four levels: precinct caucus, county convention, congressional district convention, and state convention. I say "reasonably determined" because often, the election to the next level is determined by who wants it the most and how tired everyone else is.

Wahls squeezed in a sixth vote as a Clinton national delegate. That's a lot harder, because those prized national convention slots are few and the competition is intense. Now we're down to a few dozen, rather than hundreds, of people - and only Democrats, because Iowa Republicans only vote for president at the caucus, and don't break into preference groups at at conventions.

But even with his national delegate win, Wahls still did not maximize his votes.

A VERY determined person could cast a SEVENTH vote - in the electoral college. In Iowa, the nominations for those slots are made at the district and state conventions. As I keep reminding people, you're just a CANDIDATE for elector unless your ticket carries the state. The electoral college nominations are considered less of a prize than a trip to the national convention, but the slots are fewer, just six in the whole state compared to a few dozen national delegates. (I ran at my district convention and lost.)

Theoretically, there is a way to cast EIGHT votes for the same person. Not within the calendar year, but in less than 365 days. This would ONLY be possible for a newly elected member of the House of Representatives.

True election geeks know that, if the electoral college deadlocks, the House chooses the president. It's only happened twice: 1800-01 and 1824-25.  What's more obscure is that the Constitution prohibits federal office holders, including members of Congress, from serving as electors.

So you'd have to thread the needle just right: Be a Democrat. Get elected, for the first time, to one of just four House seats in the state, by either beating an incumbent or winning a rare open seat. The Democratic nominee wins the state BUT the electoral college is deadlocked which has not happened in 192 years. Cast vote number seven as one of the state's six electors in December. Get sworn into Congress in January, and then vote on the new president in the House for your eighth vote, less than a year after caucus night.

Your Powerball odds may be better, especially since if you were spending all those Saturdays at conventions instead of at parades and on call time, your chances of winning that congressional election are slim. But I'm telling you there's a chance.