Campaigns prepare for voting irregularities
Both presidential camps have lawyered up with thousands at the ready in states across the country to challenge voting irregularities or demand a recount if the numbers don’t go their way.
It’s a political strategy observers say is the new reality in presidential politics, a lesson learned from the 2000 election when Bush v. Gore went all the way to the Supreme Court.
Former President George W. Bush was eventually declared the winner, 36 days after the outcome was challenged in Florida, by a mere 537 votes.
It’s an eventuality Republicans and Democrats were prepared for in subsequent elections, but the results never came close.
However, with President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney running neck-and-neck in the polls, the Republican National Committee (RNC) isn’t taking any chances.
“Of course we expect a clear win tonight,” said RNC spokesman Tim Miller. “But the campaign and RNC has the resources prepared and ready if the election heads to a recount tomorrow, we are also monitoring voter irregularities throughout the country today.”
Duane Gibson, a Republican lawyer from Washington who participated in the contentious recount in Miami after the Bush/Gore campaign said he’s not surprised at today’s mobilization.
“I would expect the campaigns to have a fleet of people on both sides go in there and make sure there is no funny business, that the votes have been counted accurately and they have an honest tally,” Gibson said. “There’s a lot at stake for the country.”
“But hopefully, Gov. Romney has made a sufficient case to America and we won’t need to do that again,” Gibson said.
If some state totals are too close to call, expect a long evening before a winner is declared in the presidential race. With expected machine malfunctions and a high voter turnout, expect to wait in long lines outside of polling precincts.
Meanwhile, complaints of voter intimidation and fraud have already surfaced today at some polling stations in Pennsylvania.
A member of the New Black Panther Party has been standing guard, unarmed, in front of a polling place in Philadelphia. In the 2008 election, party members holding nightsticks and reports of intimidation prompted an investigation by the Justice Department but the probe was later dropped prompting criticism the Obama administration was racially biased.
It’s also been reported that court-appointed GOP poll inspectors were forcibly removed from 15 voting stations in Philadelphia and replaced by Democrats. The action forced a judge to order the inspectors be reinstated.
Democrats have accused Republicans of inflating the issue of voting fraud, and mounted a successful effort to block the requirement of identification at polls in several states.
Interestingly, the son of a Democratic congressman in Virginia, Rep. Jim Moran, was forced to resign last month after he was videotaped giving advice on how to use fraudulent utility bills as identification to cast illegal votes.
Also in Virginia, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is investigating how some voter registration cards collected by a company linked to the Republican Party ended up in a dumpster.
Numerous incidents have been reported during early voting in several states. The FBI has opened an investigation into letters received by Florida Republican officials claiming they were not eligible to vote and would be committing fraud if they cast ballots.
Perennial election day antics including phone calls urging voters to cast their ballots at the wrong polling place or even the day after the election on Wednesday have already been reported in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson complained during a stop in Ohio Monday that voting irregularities were already taking place, and the cruelty of forcing voters to wait in line outside in the cold for up to six hours.
“He compared it to the epic waits endured by South African voters after the fall of apartheid in 1994, when people stood in long, winding lines to vote for Nelson Mandela, among other candidates,” The Washington Post reported.
“These long lines are gallant, but they’re also repressive,” Jackson said.