Political Animal


October 24, 2012 11:35 AM The Partisan Usages of Election Incompetence

By Ed Kilgore

Remember my post from Monday suggesting that “mistakes” made by local Republican election officials in places like Ohio might be worth watching? Get a load of this, from the New York Times:

A Republican-run election board in a northern Ohio county sent out voting instructions to several precincts with the wrong date for Election Day and an incorrect description of the polling place location, leading state Democrats to suggest foul play in a presidential race that could be decided in a handful of states like Ohio by tiny margins.
The Ottawa County Board of Elections sent a mailer to three precincts last week referring to Election Day as Nov. 8, instead of Nov. 6, and said their new voting place was in a building on the east side of the high school rather than on its west side.
The Ohio Democratic Party issued a statement saying, “This error is deeply troubling.” A party spokesman, Jerid Kurtz, said it was “paramount that voters not be misled” and asked the board not only to issue a correction but also to review all its correspondence with voters from the past year.

Now I don’t know for a fact that the affected precincts are heavily Democratic, though the reaction of Democrats suggests it might have been. But in any event, this kind of crap happens every cycle. It’s worth remembering that voter suppression comes in forms other than new laws or voter purges and the direct hassling of people trying to vote outside polling places. Sometimes it comes in the form of befuddled local election officials whose “mistakes” just happen to benefit the party that has put them in office.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on October 24, 2012 11:49 AM:

    I wonder why it is that these errors in dates are always AFTER and election day, and not BEFORE, like, you know, someone can go, find out they're there on the wrong day, and still come back and vote.

    I wonder why that is?

    Also, too, if you're on the board of elections, shouldn't you presumably know how to use a calendar and know how to proofread, you know, or else, SOME PEOPLE MIGHT FECKIN' WONDER WHY THE FECK YOU'RE IN THAT FECKIN' POSITION IN THE FIRST FECKIN' PLACE!!!!!

  • Leopold Von Ranke on October 24, 2012 11:49 AM:

    Been working in VOter Protection for the Ohio Democratic Party since '02. This is nothing new.

  • mb on October 24, 2012 11:50 AM:

    I experienced an attempt to suppress my vote in 2004 when I showed up to vote while looking suspiciously like a hippie. I was new to the town (Clinton, MS) and the signs at the poll were ambiguous about which precinct was to vote where. I gave a little old lady poll volunteer my address and asked where I was supposed to vote. She feigned ignorance and then sent me on a wild goose chase around town. Finally, I got someone at the county to answer the phone and discovered that I was at the right place to begin with.

    I went back and cast my useless vote for John Kerry. The little old lady was still there and gave me an uncomfortable, funny look. There is no doubt in my mind that she was perfectly aware, from the beginning, where I was supposed to vote based on the nearby address I'd given. It was a blatant attempt to discourage the wrong type from voting.

  • Bokonon on October 24, 2012 11:53 AM:

    This Ohio county isn't the only place that this same exact "mistake" has happened on the watch of GOP election officials. What is more basic than the date of election day? Connect the dots.

    Shave 500 votes there, 1000 votes here, and drive enough other people onto provisional ballots? Then you have yourself a win instead of a lost election ... or at least a recount (and a dispute).

    The GOP's lead architect of voter suppression - Hans von Spakovsky - is on record in the current issue of the New Yorker magazine, predicting that there will be as many four recount battles during this election cycle, each of which will be equivalent to the 2000 election mess in Florida. Coming from von Spakovsky, I take that as a promise, not an idle thought.

  • jjm on October 24, 2012 12:12 PM:

    Well, I once lived in what was then the richest township in the USA (on the Philadelphia Main Line.) When the primaries were on, I asked for a Democratic ballot. The poll workers were very nice, but they were sorry that they had none. "No one has ever asked for one before."

  • SecularAnimist on October 24, 2012 12:20 PM:

    Ed Kilgore wrote: "But in any event, this kind of crap happens every cycle"

    Ed, "this kind of crap" stole the Florida election in 2000, putting George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in the White House, and stole the Ohio election in 2004, giving them a second term.

    And make no mistake, that's exactly what the Republicans are planning to do this year, in multiple states.

  • T2 on October 24, 2012 12:21 PM:

    these kinds of "irregularities" (AKA Voter Fraud -the real kind) are being noticed all across the country...Florida being notable. You'll see that these flyers with the wrong voting day, etc. are popping up not in states like Texas where the outcome is not in doubt, but in key states that can tip the election with just a few hundred cheated votes, as was the case in 2000 Florida. The reason the GOP yells Voter Fraud at the top of their lungs demanding Voter ID cards is classic Rovian misdirection...the GOP, no surprise here, is the entity causing a fraudulent vote - cheating is how they win. And winning is all that counts.

  • MCD on October 24, 2012 12:27 PM:

    Sometimes it comes in the form of befuddled local election officials whose “mistakes” just happen to benefit the party that has put them in office.

    I'm pretty sure you also need a set of quotation marks around "befuddled".

    The people responsible should be forced to knock on every door in the precinct and make sure each registered voter is aware of the correct information.

  • beejeez on October 24, 2012 12:36 PM:

    Black Ohioans would be well advised to prepare for anything on voting day: long lines, ID challenges, bureaucratic runarounds, even outright physical intimidation. If they feel discouraged, I suggest they think about how much worse off they'll be next time if their preferred candidates lose. I hope white voters will speak up if they see evidence of voter suppression.

  • schtick on October 24, 2012 1:43 PM:

    The fear I have is that with all the voter suppression and misinformation that we end up with another 2000 and the teapub SCOTUS appoints the teapub candidate. At this late stage in the game, I can't afford to move out of the country and if the teapubs get in, I couldn't afford to live. What a catch 22.

  • Peter C on October 24, 2012 3:52 PM:

    Our election systems are seriously broken and Republicans are blatantly cheating. They make 'mistakes' which publicize the wrong election date in Spanish with the correct date in English. They officially push for purges of the rolls which target Democratic voters. They create confusion and long lines INTENTIONALLY. Yet, we 'trust' them to count the vote correctly?????

    We need a VVPAT (voter verified paper audit trail) system with regular rigorous audits.

    Only a very decificent system of morality engages in strategic election fraud of the type that the Republican party regularly flouts.

  • Doug on October 24, 2012 4:49 PM:

    IF the various Republican SoSs, election boards and what have you, hadn't already shown their willingness to disenfranchise people suspected of not being Republican voters; IF I say, that were the case, THEN I'd agree with Mr. Kilgore's last sentence.
    It hasn't been and so I don't.