Shenandoah County GOP

Election Legal Round-up

The polls haven’t even opened yet, and yet the litigation continues. The NAACP is still pushing to extend polling hours across the Commonwealth. From WVEC

The NAACP has asked a federal judge to step in to extend Virginia’s voting time by two hours.

The group also alleges there aren’t enough voting machines, especially in minority-heavy districts. And the group wants paper ballots available in case lines are too long.

Gov. Tim Kaine says it’s not necessary to have the extra time and he says he doesn’t have the authority to do it.

The NAACP had withdrawn its request for a hearing on Thursday after receiving new information from state officials about the placement of election day resources. At the time, NAACP officials said a new hearing before the election was unlikely.

But after assessing the updated information, the NAACP concluded preparations were still insufficient and on Friday requested a new hearing.

“We went back and looked at the numbers, and it’s still the same old bad news. We’re still seeing disparities between black and white precincts,” said Ben Jealous, national NAACP president.

State Elections officials have stated anyone in line at the 7:00 p.m. deadline Tuesday will be able to cast a vote.

Meanwhile, both parties are gearing up for a fight once the votes are counted. From the Washington Post:

Lawyers could be present at almost all of Virginia’s 2,349 precincts to monitor the process, protect voters’ rights and challenge voters suspected of fraud, officials said. They also will be involved in extraordinary attempts to identify party supporters who have already voted so that those who have not can be contacted and urged to do so.

Lawyers have long played a part in the electoral process. But given the heightened intensity of the race and the unprecedented turnout expected, voter protection has taken on added importance, even attracting lawyers to Virginia from out of state, officials said. That is especially true, they say, in the wake of the contested 2000 presidential election in Florida, when Bush vs. Gore moved from the voting booth to the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We’ve never done anything like this before where it’s been this comprehensive,” said Gerry Scimeca, spokesman for the Virginia Republican Party. “With the heightened number of new registrants, Election Day poll watching is taking on an added urgency.”

A training manual that the Virginia Democratic Party distributed to hundreds of lawyer volunteers instructs them on the Obama campaign’s get-out-the-vote effort, called the “Houdini Project.” Lawyers will periodically enter into a database the names of those who have cast ballots so that campaign staff can contact those who have not voted, almost in real time.

It’s going to be a fight folks, and we have to fight in. Join us at our Strasburg Headquarters or at United Country Real Estate in Mt. Jackson tomorrow for phone banking from 10 until 6:45. 

Every. Vote. Counts.


Election News
October 15, 2008, 4:12 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Election 2008, Technology and Politics

Interesting things going on in the lead up to the Election. Some people have gone so stir crazy that they’re arguing if you should be able to wear your McCain-Palin button in the voting booth:

The ACLU of Virginia today urged the State Board of Elections to allow voters to wear T-shirts with political messages when they vote Nov. 4.

Electioneering is prohibited within 40 feet of the polling place, and some registrars have interpreted this to mean a ban on wearing T-shirts and lapel stickers that promote a candidate.

I’m sort of torn on this. On one hand, I can’t really see how it makes sense when we’re going to express ourselves via the ballot why we can’t express our other right to free speech. I can see why they would want to create a perimeter around the polling place where no persuasive messages can be, but the campaign’s logo? Still, I’m sure there’s someone out there who votes by the logo……at any rate, the State Board of Elections said no:

Virginia voters won’t be allowed to wear clothing featuring John McCain or Barack Obama when they head to the polls on Nov. 4.

The State Board of Elections on Tuesday voted to ban clothing and hats as well as buttons and other paraphernalia that directly advocate the election or defeat of a specific candidate or issue.

The American Civil Liberties Union argued that the ban violates the First Amendment’s right to free speech. The board, however, said it has to weigh that against the right to vote free of undue influence or the tension that candidate advocacy might create.

I’m glad that they got that one figured out, but a recent report seems to indicate that their may be more serious problems waiting for voters at the polls on Election Day:

The Advancement Project, which advocates the need for voters to vote efficiently, specifies Fairfax County and Alexandria as being among the worst resourced and ill-prepared jurisdictions in the seven battleground states examined.

“We are concerned that they do not have enough polling place resources,” says Jim Freeman of the Advancement Project. “There may not be enough machines, enough privacy booths, enough poll workers.”

The report says that the Virginia jurisdictions may face extremely long lines, and may not be able to accommodate all voters in the allotted 13 hours. The report also says the jurisdictions lack an adequate number of poll workers to compensate for the potential increase in turnout.

The lack in resources is expected to have a disproportionate affect on high-minority precincts, where the numbers were lower than low-minority precincts. The report states that a mis-allocation of resources could violate the Voting Rights Act.

Closer to home, registrars are trying to assuage fears of corruption at the polls:

Virginia Board of Elections Deputy Secretary Valerie Jones said the commonwealth has not experienced major issues mostly because of the tight scrutiny officials apply in approving the registrations.

“In Virginia, once we get an application, we have to verify that the Social Security number on the application matches with one of our databases,” she said. “We also look at the date of birth, if it has a legitimate address and if that person has been convicted of any felonies.”

Jones said she was not aware of any recent issues of mass registration fraud in Virginia, and said if officials suspect anything, they report the incident immediately to the authorities.

As local registrars’ offices continue sorting though the hundreds of applications submitted before Monday’s deadline, they too say they don’t see registration fraud as an issue here.

Mary Alice Downs, the registrar in Waynesboro, said while there were indications a few weeks back that some people were creating a small number of fraudulent applications, their system of cross-checking the information kept them from going through.

“We even have duplicate checks that make sure someone’s Social Security number isn’t used multiple times,” she said. “That was a problem in Ohio when people were registering more than once.”

Staunton Registrar Amanda DiMeo said the relatively small size of the locality is one of the reasons she has not seen any indication of registration fraud.

“I’ve heard some issues in areas like Norfolk where groups have to meet quotas in registering people and it’s easier to make up an address,” she said. “But here, we really haven’t had any issues fortunately because we are not targeted like that.”

Still, vigilance will definitely be needed in securing the ballot this fall, not just from seasoned election officials but also from concerned election officials. Go to our volunteer page to sign up to be a poll watcher or click here to get involved with the McCain-Palin campaign’s Election Day Operation effort, particularly if you legal training. People are needed around the country, but with Virginia at ground zero, I’m sure opportunities are available here.

Gilmore Warner Debate Wrap-Up
October 7, 2008, 4:00 pm
Filed under: Election 2008, MSM, Strategy and Tactics, Technology and Politics

I missed the debate myself on Friday night, but here’s some good press from that night for Gilmore, plus complete articles from around the state. I’ll post the audio when I find it:

Tim Craig at the Washington Post:

Although it’s difficult to know how many people were watching, Gilmore delivered a strong performance by framing it as a contrast between two candidates with differing views of the bailout.

Gilmore came out strongly against the $700 billion plan, arguing in a concise way that it amounted to government run amok. Warner supported the bailout, saying it was needed to prevent economic turmoil. Warner tried to pin the need for Congressional intervention on lax oversight by the Bush administration and “greed” on Wall Street.


For once, Warner’s efforts to turn the contest into a referendum on Gilmore’s record as governor was overshadowed by an issue of more immediate concern. The only thing anyone who watched the debate will probably remember tomorrow is the word “bailout.”

It remains unclear how Virginia’s electorate views the action taken by Congress today. Members of the Virginia delegation say they have been deluged with phone calls and letters from people opposing it, but there are also plenty of investors in Virginia who have been nervously watching their 401 K plans.

The reason the bailout may works for Gilmore as an issue is that it fits neatly into his message since June that he will be a friend of the “working men and women of Virginia” while Warner is aligned with the elite.

The blue collar workers who Gilmore envisions can carry him to victory are probably the same voters are most likely to be opposed to the bailout, creating a potential hurdle for Warner in rural Virginia.

Fredericksburg Freelance Star:

The just-passed $700 billion financial bailout in Congress dominated last night’s debate between U.S. Senate candidates Mark Warner and Jim Gilmore.


Gilmore, a Republican, cast himself as a candidate who would protect the taxpayer. He hammered the point that he would not have voted for the bailout bill and believes it to be fiscally irresponsible, bringing it up as part of his answer to nearly every question.

“I’m telling you, it was wrong. It is wrong and I would have voted no,” Gilmore said. “Sure, there’s a crisis and there are problems that have to be dealt with, but not this way.”


Gilmore said he will oppose earmarks, the money for local projects lawmakers slide into bills. The revised bailout bill contained a number of earmarks.

Washington Post:

The race has largely centered on the opponents’ records as governor, but the financial rescue package provided Gilmore with a new way to emphasize the differences between them and highlight what he called his fight for the taxpayer.

Gilmore attacked Warner for his support of the emergency economic plan signed by President Bush, and he told a statewide television audience that he would have saved taxpayers’ money by not handing it to “Wall Street high rollers.”

“The next bailout is on the way,” Gilmore said. “Who is going to stand up for the taxpayers?”

The differences between the two former governors, who have never held federal elective office, were clear in both their leadership styles and on the issues. They repeatedly interrupted each other in a series of feisty exchanges, but Gilmore was by far the more aggressive, returning to the nation’s growing financial crisis at almost every answer.

“Don’t talk down to me,” Gilmore snapped at Warner at one point. “Don’t tell me I don’t understand. You don’t understand.”


Gilmore said he opposed the plan because it rewards individuals and businesses that took risks with their money.

“This bailout is wrong. It is wrong,” he said. “I can say, I would have voted no. I would have protected the taxpayer. Mark Warner would have not.”


Gilmore accused Warner of being a “flip-flopper” because he changed his stand from last year, when he said troops should start to leave in January 2009. Gilmore said the troops should stay as long as needed.

On energy, Gilmore insisted that the only way to reduce the price of gas is to drill along the nation’s coastlines and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and to encourage coal and nuclear power sources. “I say we go get that oil,” Gilmore said.


Gilmore said he wants illegal immigrants to be deported. “People who are here illegally have to obey the law,” he said


Gilmore touted his record trimming the car tax and balancing the budget as well as other successes, including increasing the number of teachers in public schools.

“There was never a budget shortfall in Virginia,” Gilmore said. “The law does not permit that.”


The two also clashed on potential Supreme Court nominees. Gilmore said he would vote to confirm justices who support overturning Roe v. Wade; Warner said he wants to protect the landmark abortion case.

Lynchburg News-Advance:

Gilmore repeatedly steered the debate back to the bailout, replying to a question about Congressional earmark funding by listing interest groups that get tax breaks in the financial rescue package.

“Listen to some of them — Puerto Rican rum producers, wooden-arrow producers, Hollywood — everything was put in this bill to buy votes to get it passed,” Gilmore said.


Gilmore condemned the $700 billion rescue plan signed earlier in the day by President Bush. “It’s not right to take $700 billion of money from taxpayers, men and women who work hard everyday, and put it in the arms of the high rollers of Wall Street,” he said.


Gilmore denounced legislation before Congress that would strip requirements that workers vote on secret ballots in union certification elections. Warner appeared open to the bill but declined to say whether he would vote for it.

Gilmore’s constant criticism of the Wall Street rescue seemed to auger a new campaign focus. Previously, Gilmore stressed a “drill here, drill now” energy policy, urging oil production off U.S. shores and in Alaska. He did not mention energy until he responded to a question.

Polling Chaos
September 23, 2008, 10:01 am
Filed under: Election 2008, Polling, State Government and Politics, Technology and Politics

Obama +2…Tie…..McCain +2……Obama +4……McCain +9. If you’re like me, you’re probably starting to get a headache from all the different polling results on the presidential race here in Virginia. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again–polling is as much an art as it is a science. I’ll try to write a post soon about how to be a careful consumer of polls in this “silly season,” but for now here’s some food for thought from the RTD:

Some supporters of Sen. Barack Obama, puzzled by why he can’t mount a big lead over Sen. John McCain in a difficult environment for Republicans, say the pollsters are missing younger, pro-Obama voters who have cell phones only.

Even some pollsters raise another uncertainty about the plethora of Virginia polls — whether all of the respondents who say they back Obama will vote in November for the nation’s first black major-party nominee.

Nearly 250,000 first-time voters have registered in Virginia this year, and 42 percent are under the age of 25. The overall gain has pushed Virginia’s voter rolls to 4.8 million people.

Coker said if the sample for a poll includes the number of young voters in proportion to the population, the absence of cell-phone users doesn’t matter. He said exit polls taken during the 2004 presidential election showed no difference in voting behavior between landline and cell-phone users.

Polls are weighted to match the demographic composition of the electorate, Coker said.

The Pew Research Center’s Scott Keeter, a former pollster at Virginia Commonwealth University, found that cell-only respondents are significantly more likely to support Obama. But he said they also are substantially less likely to be registered to vote and, if registered, less likely to go to the polls.

A Pew survey in June found that Obama held a 48 percent to 40 percent advantage over McCain among cell-phone users and a 46 percent to 41 percent advantage among landline users.

The Gallup organization, one of the oldest and most respected polls, says it does account for cell-phone users. About 15 percent of households now use cell phones only.

Residents of those households tend to be younger, more minorities and more transient, the Gallup organization’s Web site says.

Those would be more likely to be Obama supporters.

Since Jan. 2, Gallup has been including cell phone-only households in all of its telephone surveys, the Web site says. The most recent national Gallup poll, taken Friday, shows Obama leading by 5 percentage points.

Coker said the Obama campaign should be more worried about the so-called “Wilder effect” or “Bradley effect.”

The phenomenon was named for Virginia’s L. Douglas Wilder and California’s Tom Bradley, black office holders who saw substantial poll leads disappear on Election Day. This resulted in a theory that some voters are embarrassed to tell pollsters that they will not support a black candidate.

In 1982, Bradley, the mayor of Los Angeles, led in the polls but lost California’s election for governor.

Two days before Virginia’s 1989 election for governor, Wilder led his Republican opponent, J. Marshall Coleman, by 15 percentage points, according to one poll. Wilder won the election, but it was so close there was a recount.

In an interview last week, Wilder, now Richmond’s mayor and an Obama backer, said the public polls were wrong in 1989. Wilder said his own campaign’s internal polling showed the contest was much closer.

McCain Matinee
August 6, 2008, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Election 2008, Multimedia, Strategy and Tactics, Technology and Politics

Two new ads out:

If you have dial-up and need to kill some time, check on the Washington Post’s latest article on Virginia’s new status as a battleground state. Yes, the MSM is running this story into the ground, and yes, you’ve probably already caught it, but if you read it on dead tree, you probably didn’t see all the fancy maps and graphs!

Seriously though, this will be a great resource as the race continues to develop. 

Tech Talk

There’s been alot of talk these days about how Democrats are winning both the youth vote and the technology battle. I will grant that Obama is generating alot of energy amongst youth voters and are using blogs and other tech tools in a manner that Republicans had an edge with in 2004, but Republicans are starting to re-think their internet and messaging strategies. Here in the Commonwealth, Jeff Frederick’s election as state chair was seen as a call to not only refocus efforts to rebuild our technology efforts but also to find pragmatic solutions to Virginia’s issues that don’t betray our core conservative principles. 

Here are some ways that Republican groups and candidates nationwide are harnessing Web 2.0 to reach out to young, professional, technologically oriented voters:

-John McCain’s campaign has launched McCain Nation, a set of tools to help McCain supporters meet and organizing locally

-The RNC has launched a toolbar that integrates directly into your web browser that will not only keep you up to date on the latest GOP news, but it will also let you raise money simply through searching the web. Very interesting.

-The CRNC has launched an effort tracking four College Republicans as they travel coast to coast traveling only through Republican Districts (although they make a few detours to neighboring competitive districts). They are tracking their journey through blog posts and twittering (a technology through which you can keep a group of friends up-to-date via cell phone texts and web posts).