Filed under: Election 2008, Election law and process, Local Government and Politics, State Government and Politics
As reported on Monday, Attorney General Bob McDonnell has been working on making sure that every military absentee ballot is counted. He delivered on his promise yesterday with his ruling on the matter. From the Virginian Pilot:
The state should count the absentee votes of military members and other Virginians overseas even if they do not provide the address of the person who witnessed their vote, state Attorney General Bob McDonnell said Monday.
In an opinion to the State Board of Elections, McDonnell said a federal law designed to lower barriers to overseas voting effectively overrules a state law that requires the listing of a witness address on some absentee ballots.
“The conduct of federal elections is a federal function and states have no inherent or reserved powers over federal elections,” McDonnell wrote.
The State Board of Elections agrees. From the Virginian Pilot:
The three-member state board unanimously agreed to allow those votes to be counted; they amount to about 130 ballots across the state, said Secretary Nancy Rodrigues.
Noting that the flap has generated considerable attention, Rodrigues defended local registrars, who had been criticized for “carrying out the law.”
I think it should be pointed out that the Obama campaign issued a press release Monday stating that they felt these ballots should be counted. Kudos to them for also believing that our soldiers sacrifice far too much to not have their vote for commander in chief counted.
Election Day is just around the corner. But you didn’t seriously think that, after a record breaking two year campaign with both historical and financial firsts, that you would just stroll in and cast your vote, did you? Susan Beaver Thompson at the Herald sat down Shenandoah County registrar Lisa MacDonald to discuss the massive workload the office is seeing and what changes should be expected for long-time voters:
There are 25,849 residents registered to vote as of October 20. McDonald says that there have been 1,222 new voters registered in Shenandoah County since January 1. This, she says, is actually a little less than the number of new registrations in 2004 on the same date. (In 2004, there had been 1,496 new voters registered thus far.)
Requests for absentee ballots, however, are up this election cycle. “We are running a little higher than in 2004,” McDonald notes. So far, in 2008, there have been 881 absentee voting requests.
Shenandoah County uses optical scanning machines with paper ballots, and one tabulator at each precinct. Each precinct also has one Touchscreen voting machine which is handicapped accessible. It is capable of an audio vote for the blind, and the screen can be magnified for those with poor eyesight. Anyone may request to use the Touchscreen machine. Voters can write-in candidates on all machines.
Some Shenandoah County poll locations have changed:
• all Woodstock voters will now vote at Central High;
• voters who live in Starsburg will now vote at Strasburg High; and
• voters who live outside of the Strasburg town limits will now vote at Signal Knob.
In all seriousness though, Lisa should be applauded for her dedication and hard work in ensuring a fair and orderly process. She has been beyond courteous in my dealings with her and has always gone the extra mile to get the information I needed (even when it was right in front of my nose). It’s people like her that are able to lift themselves above the heated rhetoric and debate of the campaign season to ensure that both sides receive a fair hearing that make our democracy possible.
Filed under: Election 2008, Local Government and Politics, State Government and Politics, Strategy and Tactics
Remember the talk earlier this year of Governor Kain quickly reviewing applications for the reinstatement of voting rights? Well, he’s doing it, and so far nearly 2600 non-violent felons have had their rights restored:
Under a process set up by former Governor Mark Warner, felons convicted of non-violent crimes can apply to have their voting rights restored, and earlier this year, Kaine promised he would speed up a review of those applications in time for the registration deadline.
However, Delegate Bell in Albemarle doesn’t see it the way the Gov does:
“With Warner and Kaine, what used to be a thirteen-page application is down to a couple of lines,” remarked Bell. “And it says, ‘what were you charged with when were you charged? Do you want your rights back?’ With those things satisfied they check your criminal record, and we’re seeing a much quicker application process and not much review of the felons when they’re trying to get their votes back.”
The Associated Press reports that so far Kaine has restored the voting rights of more than 2600 non-violent felons. Analysts point out Democrat Presidential candidate Barack Obama co-sponsored legislation in the Senate that would allow all ex-felons to vote. Some legislators say the issue isn’t restoring rights to felons, it’s how leaders go about doing it.
“The question of course is if they’re doing it with careful review or if it’s a much quicker process of ‘OK here you go’ and that’s what I think is causing some concern,” said Del. Bell.
Something to keep an eye on as we go forward with this election. Of course, the Democrats seem to be pulling out all the stops. Not only is Kaine expediting these applications, but Democrats have been very, very active on college campuses, encouraging students to register where they go to school, and according to some sources, asking students to knowingly commit perjury by handing them forms that have been pre-checked to indicate that the student is not registered elsewhere even if the student states that they are. This has happened several times in Harrisonburg, and is of great concern. Of course, this is to say nothing of ACORN and other leftist groups widespread attempts to sway the election through registration fraud.
Filed under: Election 2008, Local Government and Politics, Party Politics, State Government and Politics, Strategy and Tactics
Folks, if you didn’t believe it before, please know that we are officially a battleground state. Now how exactly does this differ from years past?
Well, for starters, expect the paid advertising (radio, tv, and direct mail) to be ramped up in a big way. Already both campaigns are spending about $300,000 A DAY on paid television advertising right now. And the Democrats are lavishing the state with attention:
Yesterday, with a Navy ship as a backdrop, Obama drew thousands to a rally in Newport News on the banks of the James River, his second large event in Virginia in a week. His running mate, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), was scheduled to make appearances today in Roanoke and Henrico County in suburban Richmond but canceled because of a serious illness in his family.
There are now about 60 Democratic offices open across the state, including Senate candidate Mark R. Warner‘s. They are staffed by thousands of volunteers and about 200 paid workers.
“This is absolutely the largest, most comprehensive, most aggressive presidential campaign I have ever seen in Virginia,” Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee said.
And right now, we’re being outspent on the airwaves:
Obama’s efforts in Virginia are apparent on the airwaves.
From mid-June until last week, Obama spent about $9 million on TV ads in Virginia, compared with McCain’s $5 million.
Obama is now spending about $250,000 a day on local network TV in Virginia, compared with McCain’s $30,000, according to Evan Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks ad buys.
The TV advertising imbalance is being partially offset by the Republican National Committee, which began a $33,000-a-day media buy in areas of Virginia outside the Washington market, Tracey said.
McCain spent heavily on local network TV in Northern Virginia earlier in the year, but he has pulled advertising from those stations and is bolstering his presence in Hampton Roads.
Fortunately help is on the way, with 12 new offices opening recently and paid staff increasing to fifty. Meanwhile, down in Southwest virginia, both campaign’s supporters are duking it out:
Roy Mabry, a businessman here in Russell County, is unfettered in his optimistic belief that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama can win in Southwest Virginia.
Says the Obama-button-wearing Mabry: “I haven’t seen any Republicans. I believe we done run them out of town.”
Not to be out-enthused by a Democrat, retiree Glenda Short of neighboring Dickenson County, who keeps a minimum of six signs in her yard touting Arizona Sen. John McCain for president, says Republicans in the mountainous region are giddy over the prospect of helping their candidate take the state.
“Everybody wants yard signs. A gentleman stopped by the other day and said he wanted one but couldn’t find any, and my husband said, ‘Here, take one from our yard.'”
Southwest Virginia is conservative country, a place where President Bush swept up 60 percent of the vote in 2004, compared with 54 percent statewide.
Folks, there’s an enthusiasim in the air and an interest in this election that hasn’t been seen in a Presidential election for some time. People KNOW that both campaigns want their votes and are listening to both sides. John McCain will ultimately be the one who seals the deal; we can push people and must be good advocates for him both to our friends and families and in letters to the editor, but it will be his values and beliefs that people will decide upon. For us, the mission is to drive those people out to the polls.
This is different for us. We’re not used, as a committee, to having to work extra hard to get our votes out. But things are different now. We are not just part of a sea of red; we are working against a sea of blue in Fairfax county. We must work to offset the big margins the Obama people are counting on up there to win.
WE NEED YOUR HELP.
Get out those yard signs. Make a few calls. Write a letter. Now is the time. We all have busy lives. The people in the Republican Committee of Shenandoah County give alot to this community. But to win this thing, we have to always keep in mind the task facing us. It won’t be easy. Some of us may have to leave our comfort zone. But we HAVE to do it.
The Obama people are working hard here in Shenandoah County. They are, to be honest, beating us. They’ve made over 3,000 calls this election. If every member of the Committee made just 50 calls, we could easily meet that goal and then some. This is new, this is different. But people WANT to be asked, people WANT to be engaged (at least those who aren’t misanthropes, and some misanthropes do vote, but don’t let them discourage you). When I went door to door, only one gentleman refused my questions, and did so rather politely. That’s his choice. But my choice is to go out there and keep trying. Every. Vote. Counts.
We have phone banks every Tuesday night in Mt. Jackson and Strasburg. Craig Orndorff can arrange door to door knocking at any time, and walking is planned for October 18th in Strasburg. Visit www.shenandoahgop.com to see how you can help and where you can pick up signs, and call Craig Orndorff at (540) 436-3530 if you’re interested in helping in any way.
As we go out there, remember these words from John McCain’s speech at the RNC:
I’m going to fight for my cause every day as your President. I’m going to fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank Him: that I’m an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth, and with hard work, strong faith and a little courage, great things are always within our reach. Fight with me. Fight with me.
Fight for what’s right for our country.
Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.
Fight for our children’s future.
Fight for justice and opportunity for all.
Stand up to defend our country from its enemies.
Stand up for each other; for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America.
Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. Nothing is inevitable here. We’re Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.
Filed under: Election 2008, Local Government and Politics, Strategy and Tactics
From the top-notch electoral analysis site fivethirtyeight.com comes this little tidbit about just why our get out the vote efforts, though certainly different here in Shenandoah County, are absolutely crucial this year:
Twelve to one.
For every twelve voters who you talk to at their doors, one voter goes and votes who would not otherwise have voted. If you’re asking: “how can I be most effective in helping my candidate win the election?” then an organizer’s answer is going to be: knock on doors.
In a Yale study by Donald Green and Alan Gerber on the effects of doorknocking in local elections, they concluded that a conservative estimate was that “12 successful face-to-face contacts translated into one additional vote.”
This figure, moreover, is a conservative estimate. When calculating the effects of actual treatment, we regarded any conversation with a member of the household as a “contact.” Only about half of these conversations occurred directly with a subject in the treatment group; the remainder involved urging a housemate to vote and requesting that this message be passed along to the intended subject. Had we restricted the definition of contact to direct conversations with the subject, the apparent effects of canvassing would have been much greater.
Although the study aimed at local elections, the principle is sound. Face-to-face contact is the single most important effort a volunteer can contribute to his or her candidate.
Let’s do a little math. 12 face-to-face contacts is one new voter who would not have otherwise voted that you personally generated. You just doubled your own vote by speaking at the door to twelve voters. Of course, then it comes down to contact rate — how often is the person home that you’re trying to reach. A very low contact rate is probably 10%, and that happens. A very high contact rate can be 50%. Average is in the 25% ballpark. On average, you’d have to knock on 48 doors to generate 12 face-to-face contacts and one additional vote. 48 doors is a pretty standard, approximate walk list.
So if you go out one four-hour walk shift every weekend between now and the election, you’ve generated — on average — six extra votes from people who would not otherwise have voted for your candidate.
For those of you who still refuse to believe, here is the full study. Studies exist out there for phones and direct mail as well.
I’ve been saying it for four years, and I’ll say it again: Face to face contact with voters matter. Campaigning is a two part process: the campaigns use mass media (including the press and paid media, like radio and cable ads) to make the case for their candidate, but its the priority of the grassroots to make sure that people get out there and vote once the case has been made. Phones are a little less effective, but the studies show: outreach works, and it matters.
If you want to help make a major difference in this race, join as at 10 A.M. and again at 3 p.m. for Door to Door in Strasburg. We’ll meet at our headquarters at 183 E. King Street. We’ll try to make it out rain or shine–ponchos will be provided.
Filed under: Election 2008, Local Government and Politics, Strategy and Tactics
Probably the biggest part of my job as office manager (yes, I’ve taken on another task) for our County headquarters is working with Amy Tisinger and Suzanne Curran to make sure all sign requests are taken care of (by the way, if I didn’t get to you last night, so sorry, but I got lost in St. Luke). People have been clamoring left and right with the new enthusiasim that Palin has brought to the ticket–which is much to my chagrin, as for the last few weeks we’ve only had a small supply of McCain signs. However, thanks to some intrepid efforts we finally have a small stock of McCain-Palin signs, with more on the way.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are having some issues getting signs here in Virginia:
Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is spending millions of dollars on television ads in Virginia, staffing 43 offices and sending the candidate and his running mate, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., to every corner of the state.
But Obama has apparently overlooked one important element of a successful campaign in Virginia: stocking up on those venerable lawn signs.
Across the state, Democratic officials are clamoring to get hold of free Obama yard signs but are being told that none are available or that they have to buy them from the candidate’s Web site. It can take weeks to get them delivered.The frustration of volunteers and Democratic officials over the campaign’s inability to provide the signs is nearing a boiling point in some parts of Virginia.
As signs for GOP nominee John McCain sprout up in neighborhood after neighborhood, some Democrats are starting to fear that their failure to win the lawn sign war could in a small way cut into Obama’s ability to carry Virginia.
“I think they might be missing the boat,” Chris Graham, chairman of the Waynesboro Democratic Committee, said in an interview. “We have so many people coming in, and they just want a sign. ….. Signs are a big deal for our people.”
Kevin Griffis, an Obama spokesman, said the campaign hasn’t put a priority on lawn signs, noting that they don’t vote on Election Day.
Mr. Griffis is right; yard signs don’t vote (except in Chicago). However, what they DO do is create a small bit of ownership in the campaign for the individual in the yard sign, and it starts that conversation between neighbors, particularly in subdivisions. Once you get that conversation going, you can churn out some votes. So they do create a human connection, however small, for the campaign, which can be absolutely crucial as the campaign draws nigh. It also starts that conversation to see if there’s something more, however small, that the person can do.
However, the Obama campaign would rather you work BEFORE you get your sign:
Obama’s Virginia campaign did receive several thousand Obama-Biden signs two weeks ago. But it decided to distribute them only to volunteers who went door-to-door last weekend.
“After you knock on just 40 doors, make sure you stop by the office in your area to pick up your free Obama-Biden yard sign,” Steve Hildebrandand, Obama’s deputy campaign manager, wrote in an e-mail to Virginia supporters.
The e-mail offended some.
“Earn your signs? Give me a break,” Chris Duckworth, an Obama volunteer from Chantilly, said in interview. “You should be honored that I would put the sign in my yard. Is he such a celebrity that I have to earn the right to put a 29-cent sign in my yard? ….. We should be saturating the neighborhoods with this stuff.”
Fortunately, we DO have signs available. Our campaign HQ at 183 E. King in Strasburg is open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday and each evening starting October 1st, with Saturday hours from 10 a.m-8 p.m. We will also be distributing them at our rally on Saturday, and will be putting a few at United Country Real Estate in Mount Jackson starting Monday. We will also have a few at all the events scheduled on on our Calendar of Events as well. If for whatever reason you can’t make it to anything, please give Craig Orndorff a call at (540) 335-9428.
Thanks for hanging in there, and please know that so many people are looking for yard signs that they are driving all the way from WEST VIRGINIA to the Harrisonburg office to find them.
Filed under: Election 2008, Local Government and Politics, Strategy and Tactics