Monday, November 07, 2016

Electionland: The Process

If events warrant--and they probably will--I'll keep updating this post on the ongoing election process.
[At the moment blogger is having problems with italics. I'm aware, but past experience suggests to wait it out.]

Updates Monday:
In 1972, stories that the TV networks were planning to project the winner of the presidential election when the East Coast polls closed, raised a small furor.  I was one of the first to write about it, in the Boston Phoenix.  The argument against it was that voters in later time zones would feel discouraged and not vote, potentially altering the outcome.  In later races, this proved to be the case.  But the networks soon decided not to make their presidential projection until the West Coast polls were closed.  And they still do it that way.  Even in the era of exit polls, most journalism outlets comply.

But now, an online outfit called VoteCastr, in conjunction with the online magazine Slate, will start projecting battleground state races on Election Day morning, before any polls are closed.  This is raising a stink again. (Make that two stinks.)

Washington Post: "State leaders, voting experts and advocates say they are preparing for an unusual level of confusion and chaos Tuesday as voters cast their ballots in a historically bitter presidential race.

"Early voters in some states have faced hours-long lines the past several days. Democrats have filed a flurry of last-minute lawsuits alleging voter intimidation by Donald Trump supporters. And there have been some heated polling site confrontations between Trump voters and Hillary Clinton backers.

"Election monitors are especially worried this year about the specter of voter intimidation after calls by the Republican candidate for his supporters to stake out polling places and watch for fraud.Election officials in Pennsylvania and Arizona have become so concerned in recent days about potential intimidation that they issued advisories spelling out what types of threatening behavior are banned and the exact dimensions of buffer zones surrounding polling places."

TPM: "Federal judges in North Carolina and Pennsylvania ruled in favor of the Republicans in lawsuits brought by the states' Democratic parties against their GOP counterparts, the Trump campaign, Trump ally Roger Stone, and Stone's group Stop The Steal.

Democrats had asked the courts to intervene in what they described as vigilante voter intimidation tactics. U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles, in Greensboro, N.C., and U.S. District Court Judge Paul Diamond, in Philadelphia, issued decisions Monday declining to get involved.  Both judges said the Democrats hadn't brought forward enough evidence to show the Republicans were planning voter intimidation activities."

Politico suggests that even losing these suits is good for Dems because stories about them raises awareness in possibly affected groups of voters--who don't want to let the bullies win.

TPM: US Supreme Court denied reinstating the restraining order against Trump campaign election tactics deemed voter intimidation in Ohio.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that such tactics are illegal under existing Ohio law.

NYTimes: "The Justice Department said Monday that it would deploy more than 500 people in 28 states on Tuesday to monitor Election Day practices and guard against intimidation and disruptions.

The number is a sharp decrease from the 2012 presidential election, when the Justice Department had more than 780 personnel in place on Election Day at the close of what was a much less tumultuous campaign.

Officials placed blame for the shrinking federal presence on a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that limited their ability under the Voting Rights Act to deploy observers in jurisdictions – mainly in the South – with a history of voting discrimination."

SundayPolitico story released Sunday is headlined:
Media launches joint war-room to spot voting problems:

"After spending 2016 trying to outmaneuver each other and deliver the next big break, hundreds of newsrooms are now engaged in unprecedented reporting partnerships to uncover barriers to voting and debunk fake news that can cause chaos and confusion on Election Day.

The biggest of the new alliances is Electionland, a project involving more than 400 newsrooms across the country casting aside competitiveness to share real-time data and tips on everything from reports about long lines and voter intimidation to hoax tweets suggesting stuffed ballot boxes."

Electionland has already been on the job and has broken several stories. Another new organization focusing on election day is Votecastr.  It's not clear from the story which media outlets are using these services, except the New York Times, USA Today and many local papers and sites.  CNN and AP are specifically not using Electionland.

On Sunday, the Republican majority on a federal court of appeals panels lifted the injunction ordered by a federal judge "barring Donald Trump's campaign and its allies from Election Day actions that could intimidate voters looking to cast their ballots in the battleground state of Ohio."  Late Sunday, Politico reported that Democrats applied to Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (who oversees that federal district) to reinstate the injunction for election day.

However, this was considered unlikely to succeed since Kagan probably would involve the rest of the supremes, and overturning the appeals court ruling would require 5 of the current 8 Justices.

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