The prior chair of the Florida Republican Party (2006–2010) and former governor Charlie Crist (2007–2011) have both told the Palm Beach Post that they didn’t push voter ID laws and the like in order to reduce fraud (there is none)—they did it to suppress turnout. The more people voting, the better Democrats do. They invented the fraud concern as a “marketing ploy.” Both men are on the outs with Florida Republicans, and this probably isn’t helping them make up. →
The only press coverage that Goode is getting for his wacky fourth-party presidential bid is for the possibility that he may be a spoiler for Romney in Virginia. This is another story in that vein. If Romney does lose Virginia by Goode’s Tuesday tally, a lot of people will be upset, but I’m pretty confident that Goode will not be among them. This is his fourth political party in the past decade—if need be, he’ll just join a new one. →
Jason Flanary, failed 2011 candidate for the Virginia Senate, had Twitter all a-flutter over the past few days after sending bajillions of really nasty anti-Obama SMS messages to mobile phones in total violation of federal election law. “VP Biden mocks a fallen Navy Seal during memorial. Our military deserves better” and “Obama believes killing children is a right until the umbilical cord is cut” were two of the messages. Flanary, a Republican, is on the board of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, and ran against Dave Marsden for Senate, garnering 46% of the vote. The Romney campaign says that they didn’t know the first thing about what Flanary was up to. Apparently Flanary’s company, ccAdvertising, is in the habit of sending out millions of illegal SMSes in the days before elections, in an effort to influence election outcomes. I’m pretty sure this story will have an unhappy ending for Flanary. →
Basically it’s a net gain for Fluvanna Republicans. The good news is that Morton finally found that election fraud she was so concerned about. →
Approximately 437,237 Philadelphia residents will not be able to vote under Pennsylvania’s controversial new voter ID law. Statewide, it’s 1.6M people, or one in five voters. This law was pushed strongly by Republicans and—damnest thing—it’s mostly Democrats who are disenfranchised by this law. It’s no wonder that the U.S. Attorney General is investigating whether the law violates the Voting Rights Act. →
Pennsylvania is defending their voter ID law in court, and they’ve just dealt themselves a serious blow. In a filing, they’ve admitted that there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states,” as well as that “in person voter fraud is [not] likely to occur in November 2012 in the absense of the Photo ID law.” They’re preparing to disenfranchise 750,000 voters for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Well, not NO reason—those 750,000 folks are liable to vote for Obama. →
Let’s put on our best surprised faces. There is one interesting bit. Republicans support voter ID laws no matter how much they dislike non-whites. The biggest variable comes among Democrats, among whom it’s the racists who support voter IDs. →
- CJR: The Shorter-Form Journal
This clever analysis of Wall Street Journal article lengths over the years shows that, under Rupert Murdoch, articles have gotten quite a bit shorter.
- The Washington Post: Five myths about voter fraud
There are some important and interesting facts about voter fraud here. A member of the Commission on Federal Election Reform figures that requiring that voters show ID will prevent between 1,000–10,000 legitimate votes from being cast for every 1 illegitimate vote that is stopped. 25% of African Americans do not have valid photo IDs. In Wisconsin, 55% of black men do not have valid photo ID. Fraudulent voting is stunningly, stunningly rare.
- mental_floss: 14 More Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent
In Tagalog, "layogenic" describes somebody who is beautiful from a distance, but unattractive up close. In Thai, "greng-jai" is the feeling of not wanting to put somebody out by taking them up on an offer to do something for you. I love these.
- Sunlight Foundation: Use the Net!
Both Sen. Jim Webb and Mark Warner are still filing campaign finance reports with the FEC on paper. They've presumably each got small staffs who do all of their data collection and number crunching on computers, only to them print out their campaign finance reporters, snail-mail them to the FEC, who have to scan them in and key them in again. The result is a huge waste of federal dollars and a significant delay in making those reports public. The rest of the world—including every last member of the House of Representatives—long ago moved to electronic filing. What's the deal with Webb and Warner?
- PhysOrg: Study shows voter turnout can be increased with simple word change
This small-scale study found a substantial increase in voter turnout by asking people to be a "voter," rather than to "vote." No doubt this logic will be put to work on a larger scale within the next couple of election cycles, and that demonstrate whether this theory stands up or not.
- BusinessJournalism.org: When visualizing numbers gets ridiculous
A journalism pet peeve of mine is when reporters provide numbers without context. "The state spent $34.4B last year." Is that a lot? How did that compare to the prior year, or ten years prior? Or they'll put "$1M" next to "$1B." That's not helpful—use the same unit for comparison, listing "$1M" and "$1,000M." But some have gone too far the other way, providing meaningless visualizations. "That's enough dollar bills to stretch to the moon and back." What is the reader to do with this knowledge? Better to just use numbers to express numbers, and let their context provide context.
There are three constitutional amendments on the ballot on Tuesday that are worth bringing up here, if only as a form of education (for all of us). Here are some quick notes on each of them.
The first is a bit of Dillon Rule busywork:
Shall Section 6 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to authorize legislation that will permit localities to establish their own income or financial worth limitations for purposes of granting property tax relief for homeowners not less than 65 years of age or permanently and totally disabled?
Give permission to localities to provide exemptions to their own taxation structure? Duh. Yes.
The second is a widows-and-orphans unfunded mandate:
Shall the Constitution be amended to require the General Assembly to provide a real property tax exemption for the principal residence of a veteran, or his or her surviving spouse, if the veteran has a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability?
I don’t think that the state has any business ordering localities to stop taxing some people. Should localities offer such a tax break to veterans? Sure, it strikes me as a good idea. But if the state wants to reduce taxes for veterans, they should reduce their own revenue, not localities’.
The third could increase the state’s rainy day fund:
Shall Section 8 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to increase the permissible size of the Revenue Stabilization Fund (also known as the “rainy day fund”) from 10 percent to 15 percent of the Commonwealth’s average annual tax revenues derived from income and retail sales taxes for the preceding three fiscal years?
Note that this doesn’t actually increase the rainy day fund—it just allows more money to be socked away there if the state deems it necessary. I find it much harder to know how to vote on this one. On the one hand, sure, why not increase that cap so that, if it does look like it’ll be a good idea to save up more quickly, it’ll be possible to do that. On the other hand, why 15%? Why not 10%? Or 20%? Or 50%? Was there something wrong with 10%? I’d like to assume that there’s some logic behind these particular numbers, but much like “three-strikes” laws, I fear that there’s not.