Daily Flog: Monkey-wrenching the vote -- count on it

If the presidential election next Tuesday results in a fairly close call, expect battalions of lawyers to sweep across the country to lob thousands of court challenges and counter-challenges — particularly if McCain is the loser.

Who has to show IDs? Who doesn't? What kind of IDs? Photo IDs?

How many of the newfangled vote-tally computers will crash? How many blue screens of death will pop up in red states?

How many white males will actually click "ENTER" for a black man?

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How many Negroes will the GOP allow to vote?

How successful will the GOP be in assuring that long lines of would-be voters will be even longer so that some of them will give up in frustration because it's a workday and they have to get to their jobs (or find new ones) or go home to take care of their kids because the U.S. foolishly schedules its votes on weekdays instead of weekends, as many other supposedly less-democratic countries do?

How many challenges will there be to the unprecedented flood of mail-in votes in the nation's most populous state? See the Sacramento Bee's report this morning, "Flood of absentees may delay election night results":

An election that's already considered historic may pass yet another milestone: the first time more Californians cast votes for president by mail than at polling places.

How many mail-in votes will be tossed into dumpsters?

Reports of voter woes are already flooding in from all parts of the U.S. — including right here in the nation's most populous city ("VOTE CHAOS: MELTDOWN LOOMS AT CITY'S POLLS," New York Post).

The more confusion, the more opportunities for tricksters like Karl Rove and Hans von Spakovsky (and probably Dick Cheney, as he did in 2000) to do some more monkey-wrenching. They've set the stage by already complaining loudly about "voter fraud."

Don't dismiss that. Yes, Richard Daley's Democratic machine fixed elections years ago in Chicago, but these days top GOP officials are the experts on the subject of voter fraud.

Actually, the GOP was quite active in voter fraud back in the day. You don't even have to go back to the blatant abrogation of Southern blacks' voting rights half a century ago.

Before Arizona lawyer and Republican operative William Rehnquist became Chief Justice of the United States, he personally blocked blacks and Latinos from voting in South Phoenix. That was in 1964, the year of the historic Voting Rights Act, which was supposed to halt that sort of thing.

For details on Rehnquist's supreme insult to democracy, see "Just our Bill," a December 2000 column by Dennis Roddy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Roddy's piece is a must-read every four years. Here's an excerpt:

In his confirmation hearings for the court in 1971, Rehnquist denied personally intimidating voters and gave the explanation that he might have been called to polling places on Election Day to arbitrate disputes over voter qualifications.

Fifteen years later, three more witnesses, including a deputy U.S. attorney, told of being called to polling places and having angry voters point to Rehnquist as their tormentor. His defenders suggested it was a case of mistaken identity.

You think the disputes in 2000 over chads in Florida were frustrating? Wait till you see the fights in '08 over results tallied by the shaky, largely untested computerized vote-tally machinery. And instead of infamous obstacles like the poll tax, we have a poisonous mix of mystifying, widely different voter-ID rules state-by-state, county-by-county to sort through.

Even if the presidential election isn't close, many of the Congressional contests will be, with powerful Republicans like Kentucky's Mitch McConnell in danger of being tossed down Capitol Hill — and lawyers trying to regurgitate them back up.

Is there a lawyer in the House? Oh, there will be plenty for that chamber's ousted incumbents.

The only hope for the GOP is to immediately pay off all our mortgages. Doubtful.

Meanwhile . . .


Scotsman: 'How will US vote? Much of it has.'

Daily Star (Beirut): 'Public losing confidence in Afghanistan's future -- survey'
"Afghans are increasingly pessimistic about their country, with security, unemployment and high prices dominating concerns, according to an annual mood survey released Tuesday. The proportion of people who said they were more prosperous today than under the 1996-2001 Taliban government had also 'decreased significantly,' said the Asia Foundation poll."

AP: 'Authors, publishers settle suit against Google'

Global Network Initiative: 'Diverse Coalition Launches New Effort to Respond to Government Censorship and Threats to Privacy'

CircleID: 'The Global Network Initiative'

Dallas Morning News: 'Early voters report obstacles at polls'

Herald (Scotland): 'Financial crisis: Parents in Scotland struggling to pay bills'
"Almost three-quarters of parents are finding it harder to pay their bills than a year ago, a survey today revealed."

Herald (Scotland): 'Oil giant BP reveals massive 150 percent rise in profits'

ReliefWeb: 'Haiti: Tropical Storm Hanna, Gustav, Ike OCHA Situation Report No. 26'
"Urgent action is required to respond to the 'worst disaster in the last 100 years' to strike Haiti, said the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, warning that aid agencies remain far short of the millions they need to help the country recover from four hurricanes.
"Mr. Holmes described the situation in Gonaives as 'dramatic and grim' Water had receded from most of the city, but people still had to deal with large amounts of mud. The main streets had been cleared, but thousands of people were still in shelters, mainly schools. The conditions in those shelters were not good. People were returning to the city, but could not live in their houses."

The Age (Australia): 'Barack's a BMW, McCain's a Ford'
"If presidential candidate Barack Obama was a car he would be a BMW while John McCain would be a Ford, a survey of American voters has found.
"Vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin would be a Budweiser, while her opponent Joe Biden would be a Samuel Adams."

China Digital Times: 'Who Owns Tibet?'

Caijing (China): 'Advice for the Next U.S. President'

China Digital Times: 'Chinese Media Censorship'
"Ying Chan, director of Hong Kong University’s journalism program, presents a recently published collection of fifteen essays from some of China’s top journalists. The essays touch on many issues ranging from classic censorship to the rise of blogs."

Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi): 'Details unclear on voter ID rules'

N.Y. Times: 'Consumers Feel the Next Crisis: It’s Credit Cards'

Washington Post: 'U.S. Markets Surge As Credit Starts to Thaw'

L.A. Times: 'Hollywood may not be recession-proof this time'

Washington Post: 'Accuracy Of Polls a Question In Itself'

L.A. Times: 'Iraq's blast walls become canvases'

N.Y. Daily News: 'Big meltdown in N.Y. pension funds'

N.Y. Review of Books: 'The Glories of Yiddish' (Harold Bloom)

Dawn (Pakistan): 'Islamabad and Kabul agree on contacts with militants'

Publishers Weekly: 'Authors, Publishers, Google Embrace Settlement'

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