Pay close attention.

Last night around 5:22 Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) Democrats received an urgent message. This was at the point when it looked like partisan poll challengers would not be allowed at the ballot boxes. Republicans, it appeared, had shifted strategy: now they were shifting as many of their folks as possible into paid slots as Republican employees of the Board of Elections! (I don’t use exclamation points often. They are literary effluvia. But these people are bastards. Extraordinary measures are called for.)

They would be credentially “Special Inspectors.”

“These Special Inspectors can do much of the same mischief as designated challengers — only now they are [Board of Elections] employees.  The Democratic BOE members are 61 slots short.  We need 61 Democrats to take a training TONIGHT at 6:00 P.m at the BOE building at 30th and Euclid. “

These heroes of democracy rushed to the Board of Elections meeting set for 30 minutes hence. Apparently they were duly credentialled, disaster averted.

Then everyone, Democrats and Republcians, left.

Then Republican head of the Board of Elections, Michael Vu, announced: “Republicans! Republicans! I’ve been asked to tell you not to leave. Make sure you stay.”

Experienced political infighters know what that’s all about. Keeping a meeting going after all your rivals have left: it was a technique cherished of Stalinists.

Who knows what happened next? The point, technically, is moot: since partisan challengers are now allowed in Ohio, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, the “special inspectors” are no longer necessary.

Or maybe the point is not moot. Maybe the “special inspectors”–cue the “Dragnet” theme music!–will show up all the same, armed with whatever orders they received under cover of night after all the Democrats left, who knows what.

Investigating. Watch this space.