Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Shifty-eyed politicians, vote-counting fish stories

Whenever a politician tells you he is an honest man, check quickly that your wallet is still in your back pocket. Abe Lincoln followed that principle.
This article describes the fog of rhetoric surrounding a Florida election recount, with politicians navigating by foghorn. Facts are optional.
Senators seek inquiry into GOP's Duval acts,
6/20/2007, J. Taylor Rushing, Capital Bureau Chief, Florida Times-Union
The U.S. Justice Department has been asked to investigate whether there were intentional efforts by the Republican Party to suppress Jacksonville's African-American vote during the 2004 election.

The request, by Democratic U.S. Sens. Edward Kennedy and Sheldon Whitehouse, suggests the Senate Judiciary Committee has uncovered e-mail evidence supporting an investigation. Kennedy and Whitehouse are members of the committee...

"It's malicious and absolutely untrue that I tried to do this," said [Tim] Griffin, the former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas who resigned two weeks ago during the controversy over U.S. attorney firings.

But Jacksonville's African-American community praised news of the request and eagerly backed an investigation. Juan Gray, board chairman of Jacksonville's chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said black leaders have long suspected Republican foul play in both 2000 and 2004.

"I'm delighted that we have congressional oversight," Gray said. "It's way overdue."

NAACP Jacksonville Branch President Isaiah Rumlin said he was personally unaware of the specific voter suppression tactic suspected by Kennedy and Whitehouse but said there were "significant problems" before and during the election.

"We wouldn't be one bit surprised, and we welcome an investigation," Rumlin said. "If there's evidence out there, that needs to come forth. Just because I don't recall this specific tactic doesn't mean it didn't happen."

Kennedy and Whitehouse accuse the Republican National Committee of "vote caging"...

Both Hightower and Scheu, who was the interim supervisor of elections during the 2004 election, note they participated in daily meetings with local black leaders in which the subject of caging was never raised.

  1. DOJ investigation requested but without evidence from anyone in Jacksonville -- Rumlin: "If there's evidence out there, that needs to come forth."  No offense to Mr. Rumlin, but probable cause is a normal part of an investigation.
  2. Community leaders suspected foul play but nobody mentioned it in daily meetings with election supervisors.

Knowing a bit about pollwatching on election days, I would tend to believe the men and women from Jacksonville, not so much Rumlin or Hightower but the people at the polls: clerks, inspectors, deputies plus pollwatchers independent of the government. Unfortunately, nobody bothered asking them; the article mentions no pollworkers or pollwatchers. Least credible are the senators from D.C., neither of which is actually from Florida. What have Senators Nelson and Martinez got to say? That would be nice to know. Who benefits from the investigation? Some bigshots in D.C. or regular voters in Jacksonville? As always, when a politician shifts his gaze toward you, hold onto your wallet.

But Florida being what it is, there is probably a mare's nest of foolishness shared equally by mules and elephants ←the Theresa LePore tradition. If anyone has YouTube footage of a pollworker stuffing secret ballots into his socks or a pollwatcher nagging a voter like somebody's mother in law, then I hope punishment is savage: forcible conscription to work another election!