Monday, October 06, 2008

Vulnerable Voting

In their desperation, McCain and Palin are following the Karl Rove playbook of turning to fear, smear and lies.

If, as the economy crumbles around them, they are left to hammer away at Obama’s passing relationship to a reformed ‘60s radical, what else might their campaign be prepared to do to seize power?

The obvious answer is the proven Rovian ace-in-the-hole of rigging the election results.

Listening to the latest raving of Palin and McCain got me to sit down with Black Box Voting’s “Tool Kit 2008, “ a little 72-page booklet that tells how we can help ensure a fair election. Many of the problems cited in the Tool Kit don’t apply in Oregon because of our mail-in voting.

Then again, just enough do to give me the creeps.

And then, of course, even if Oregon can conduct a clean election, what we do here doesn’t matter if other states scam the results. Significantly, the book lists several “swing states” that also happen to be “problem states” when it comes to voting irregularities and abuses.

Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire and Indiana are notable among them.

Here in Oregon, our own Multnomah County is singled out as a “watch county.”

As it turns out, I’ve been registering voters in Multnomah County at our Hillsdale Farmers Market. Over the past four weeks we have registered more than 100 and sent dozens of others off with registration forms to be filled out later or by others.

Most of those we have registered have actually re-registered, having changed addresses since the last election. That said, quite a few are new to the state. One couple from California didn’t know that they don’t report to a polling place on election day, that the ballots are mailed.

The spooky part of our experience is that even the seemingly simple registration process can get murky.

For instance, the registration form asks for a driver’s license number as a form of verification. At the market this past Sunday, someone raised the question about what they should do if they left their driver’s license at home. I cited the form, which states that if the registrant has no driver’s license they should mark a box stating that. Instead they should use the last four digits of their social security number.

But that doesn’t precisely address the situation of the person who HAS a driver’s license but simply doesn’t have it (and hence the number) with them.

I replied that I’d check with the elections office but directed the person to provide the last four digits of the social security number and simply not blacken the box indicating that they don’t have a driver’s license.

When I turned in the forms today at the elections office, the clerk said they preferred that the person take the form home and fill in the driver’s license number.


Nothing in the directions to amateur registrars indicates this “preference.”

So, somewhat unnerved, I asked, what about those who filled out the form using the SS# because they didn’t have their driver’s license with them?

I was assured they’d be OK.

After reading the “Tool Kit” and the various ways elections administrators screw up registrations, I have my doubts.

Any Oregonian reading this might sleep better tonight after a visit to the Secretary of State’s web site to check on your status.

After you’ve done that, you can make yourself wobbly again by going here to look at Black Box Voting’s 2008 Tool Kit.

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