Warcraft-playing Maine senate candidate wins, despite opponents anti-orc smears


Remember Colleen Lachowicz, the Democratic candidate for the Maine senate whose GOP opponent attacked her for playing World of Warcraft?

She won.

Here's Robert Long on the Bangor Daily News:

Gamers from around the world soon rushed to her defense, making more than $6,300 in contributions via the website ActBlue to two political actions committees that supported her campaign. Those donations prompted the Maine Republican Party to file a complaint against Lachowicz with the Maine Ethics Commission.

The commission determined Nov. 1 that Lachowicz, a Maine Clean Election Act candidate, did not coordinate with the PACs for the fundraising and voted 5-0 not to proceed with an investigation.

As of Tuesday, outside groups had spent more than $184,000 on the contest, according to Maine Ethics Commission figures. That’s the fifth highest amount of outside spending for a 2012 Maine Senate race, according to the commission’s data. Of that total, more than $81,000 was spent to oppose Martin.

‘World of Warcraft’ candidate vanquishes opponent in Waterville (via Kotaku)

Too bad Megatron didn't win the elections

"All Hail Megatron!," a photograph by Justin Rampage shared in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool. He explains:

Goofy Photoshop that I made based off of this original reddit post by BergerKing80. You can also download a Facebook timeline header image created by redditor nerdwithme. reddit, Imgur.

Update: Justin first posted this on Laughing Squid.

Modern political ads are bo-RING


Election night's over, and in the Vintage Ads group, spuzzlightyear's closed it off with ten magnificent political ads from times gone by. Here are a couple of my favourites.

various political ads....

Read the rest

Donald Trump calls for revolutionary overthrow of American government


He deleted it, but Wil Wheaton saved it for posterity.

Electoral College college

It's time for some American Democracy 101. Every election cycle, it frustrates me to no end that most news outlets spend an inordinate amount of time talking about the latest polls without explaining the significance those polls actually have on the outcome of a presidential election that isn't truly decided by the voters. My Halloween wish this year was for someone to explain the electoral college to me, and Twin Cities journalist Frank Bures has obliged*.

This piece has actually been around since 2000, but I think it's a nice explanation of what the electoral college is, where it comes from, and why it's going to matter to you tonight.

The only votes that count in this election will be cast in mid-December by the 538 members of the electoral college. That's who you and I will vote for on November 7: electors for Bush or electors for Gore, and their votes are the currency of presidential politics. Each state gets as many electors as it has representatives and senators. In all but two states, the winning party takes all the state's electoral votes.

...At first, in several states, there was no popular presidential vote. For decades after 1787, in states like Delaware, New York, and Georgia, the legislatures chose the electors. In South Carolina, there was no popular vote for the chief executive until 1860. But today, party loyalty prevents electors from acting as the free agents envisioned by the founders. In 99% of the cases, the electoral vote is a formality.

...Electors tend to be either ordinary people—teachers, carpenters, middle managers, retirees, and lawyers' or party activists sent to the state capital for half an hour of raw power. Some, like Marc Abrams, a 1996 Oregon elector I talked to in the course of researching this article" are blasé about choosing the most powerful man on earth. They voted in a room in the Capitol basement. It took about twenty minutes, and hardly anyone noticed they were there. When I asked Abrams how it felt, he said, "It was sorta cool. "

Read the full story at Byliner

*Of course, I also wished for all the children of the world to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace. And for a million dollars to be placed, in my name, in a Swiss bank account.

Image: doris day, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from velvettangerine's photostream

Ohio GOP Secretary of State orders secret, last minute, unaudited software updates to voting machines

Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has asked voting machine giant ES&S to install last-minute, unverified, custom firmware updates on the state's voting machines. This is highly irregular, and the details of it are shrouded in secrecy and silence -- the few, terse statements from Husted's office on the matter have been self-contradictory and unhelpful. On Salon, Brad Friedman tries to untangle the mess, and concludes that it's impossible to say what the new software in Ohio's voting machines actually does, nor why unaudited, unapproved software should be added to voting machines in a critical swing-state at the last minute, but that it's highly suspicious and possibly illegal.

I’d like to have been able to learn much more before running anything on this at all, frankly. But the lack of time between now and Tuesday’s election — in which Ohio’s results are universally believed to be key to determining the next president of the United States — preclude that.

So, based on the information I’ve been able to glean so far, allow me to try to explain, in as simple terms as I can, what we currently know and what we don’t, and what the serious concerns are all about.

And, just to pre-respond to those supposed journalists who have shown a proclivity for reading comprehension issues, let me be clear: No, this does not mean I am charging that there is a conspiracy to rig or steal the Ohio election. While there certainly could be, if there is, I don’t know about it, nor am I charging there is any such conspiracy at this time. The secretive, seemingly extra-legal way in which Secretary of State Husted’s office is going about whatever it is they are trying to do, however, at the very last minute before the election, along with the explanations they’ve given for it to date, and concerns about similar cases in the past, in both Ohio and elsewhere, are certainly cause for any reasonable skeptic or journalist to be suspicious and investigate what could be going on. And so I am …

One thing that Friedman doesn't say is that this all wouldn't be such a problem if voting machines produced voter-verified paper audit trails of their actions. That is, after you vote, the machine could print out a paper record of your vote, move it into position in front of a plastic widow so you could verify the vote, and then move it along into a locked audit-box. Virtually every other kind of digital tabulating device does this, from EEGs to ATMs to cash-registers. The technology is trivial. And it would give us the ability to verify, after the fact, whether the votes had been correctly counted and transmitted from each machine.

Update: Friedman updates via Twitter: "The machines in question are the tabulators. The machines already have 'paper trail'."

Is the GOP stealing Ohio?

Ad for Canada's CCF party, 1957


Here's a 1957 political ad for Canada's Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, the forerunner to the modern left-leaning New Democratic Party (now the official opposition). The CCF are responsible for Canada's national health care system and many other progressive reforms (all under assault by Harper's government). I like the first point: "Your vote counts just as much as a millionaire's. Be sure to use it."

Vintage political ad: Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, 1957

Voter suppression: targeting the poor, the old, and students


The Atlantic's Andrew Cohen describes the seven-hour early voter lines at polling stations in Democratic strongholds like Miami, where Republican officials like Governor Rick Scott has reduced the number of early voting days, making it harder than ever for working people with marginal incomes to vote.

When the remaining restrictions were challenged in federal court, a George W. Bush appointee said there was no proof that the reduced hours would "impermissibly burden" minority voters. How many hours in line must a Florida voter wait before the burden upon her becomes an "impermissible" one? If Florida's election officials, and its Republican lawmakers, and its state and federal judges, all were required to stand in line for seven hours to vote those long lines would go away forever. You know it, I know it, and so do those officials.

How about Ohio, another "battleground" state governed by partisan fiat. Its election rules are administered by a secretary of state, Jon Husted, who just a few years ago was the GOP speaker of the state house. Like their counterparts in Florida, Ohio's Republican lawmakers sought to restrict wildly popular early-voting hours around the state. And again the federal courts blunted the impact of their new rules. So what has Husted done? He's focused his energy this weekend ginning up ways to justify discarding provisional ballots cast by his fellow citizens.

These are just two recent examples. There are more. But they all have a few core things in common. In each instance, elected officials are making it harder for American citizens to vote and to have their votes counted. And in each instance, the partisan restrictions are designed to impact the elderly, and the poor, and students. The Constitution gives power to the states to handle elections. But what we are seeing is one party's systemic abuse of that power to disenfranchise likely voters of another party. Don't believe me? Let's go to the videotape.

In Pennsylvania, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai was caught on tape this summer boasting about his colleagues' success: "... First pro-life legislation -- abortion facility regulations -- in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done." In Ohio, the Republican Party chairman of Franklin County, which includes Columbus, was even more blunt. Doug Preisse said, "I guess I really actually feel we shouldn't contort the voting process to accommodate the urban -- read African-American -- voter turnout machine."

No One in America Should Have to Wait 7 Hours to Vote (via Waxy)

(Image: It's a long, long line to vote early today here in Columbus, Ohio., by finneganlatimes/Michael Finnegan )

Warren Ellis on the dismal American election

It's been so long since Transmetropolitan ended that I sometimes forget how totally incandescent Warren Ellis is when he's talking politics. His latest Vice column, "My Last Column About the Presidential Election (Really)," was a good reminder.


President Obama's fairly grim, toothless, meandering and perfunctory presidency gained excellent contrast from an assemblage of GOP candidates so demented and corrupt that even to so describe them would be an insult to the many hard-working demented and corrupt politicians extant today. It was an array of desperate, shambling criminals (and Jon Huntsman, who presumably was there on a bet) that may have been unprecedented, even in the stinking cesspool of American politics, in its lunatic evil. The "winner" of the GOP race was always going to be the one who didn't shit themselves on stage. But the GOP itself couldn't win, because, of the bunch running, the best you could hope for was a candidate who didn't shit themselves on stage.

Which is exactly what the Republican party got. A man who's only coherent when he's lying. Any solid political points he might have made have been washed away in a tide of dissembling, flipflopping and outright bullshitting. Broad swathes of the party fail to summon enthusiasm for him. The Koch brothers, who could surely have amassed mighty forces to Romney's advantage, have provided only perfunctory support. And his mealymouthing about Big Government have put him on the wrong side of not only New York but also New Jersey, whose well-liked Republican governor Chris Christie has been effusive in his praise of the President even as Romney was being pelted with his own words about disbanding the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

My concern is this. The radical elements in the GOP will be able to claim that Romney was never their guy, and will take the next four years to place some genuine nutters, with serious backing, in line for the 2016 candidacy. Not the scrag-ends and barrel-scrapings they slapped on to the stage for this year's farce. The idea of the Democrats being conscious and organised enough to have a real player in place for 2016 – because there's no way in hell they can run Joe Biden -- is kind of funny.

My Last Column About the Presidential Election (Really)

Obama granted fewer pardons than any other modern president

"A former brothel manager who helped the FBI bust a national prostitution ring. A retired sheriff who inadvertently helped a money launderer buy land. A young woman who mailed ecstasy tablets for a drug-dealing boyfriend, then worked with investigators to bring him down." All denied clemency by President Obama, along with hundreds more. A ProPublica data review shows he has granted pardons at a lower rate than any other president in our era: about 1 of every 50 individuals whose applications were processed by the Justice Department, compared to 1:3 for Ronald Reagan and 1:8 for Bill Clinton.

4 year old is tired of hearing about Bronco Bama, Mitt Rominey, and the elections

Elizabeth Evans says, "This is my four year old daughter, Abigael, after hearing one too many mentions of the election."

"The election will be over soon," Elizabeth tells her child in the video.

Video Link.

(via David Carr)

XKCD's massive map of Congress's political leanings since the start

Just in time for election season, XKCD's Randall Monroe has busted out another of his amazing, wall-sized infographics, this one depicting the swings to the left, right and center of the senate and the house, through all of US electoral history.

Congress

Colbert to Trump: I'll pay $1M to your favorite charity if you let me put my balls in your mouth

Stephen Colbert has raised the stakes on Donald Trump's offer to donate money to a charity of Obama's choice in exchange for his school transcripts and passport details: Colbert will divert $1M from his SuperPAC to Trump's favorite charity if Trump allows Colbert to put his balls in his (Trump's) mouth.

Steven Colbert makes $1 million dollar charity offer to Trump to “stick his balls in his mouth”

Voter fraud is a fraud

The New Yorker's "Voter-Fraud Myth" by Jane Mayer is a good, fair, investigative piece tracking the rise of the Republican orthodoxy that says that voter fraud is rampant, and that it favors Democrats. Mayer makes a reasoned, factual case to show that there is no substantial voter fraud problem (much-vaunted incidents like the scores of dead voters in Georgia were later revealed to not have a single verifiable instance of a dead person voting). Mayer also shows how anti-fraud measures disproportionately target young people, poor people, and visible minorities. This is a great piece to refer to when discussing the subject with friends who've been convinced that voter ID laws amount to anything other than partisan voter suppression.

Von Spakovsky offered me the names of two experts who, he said, would confirm that voter-impersonation fraud posed a significant peril: Robert Pastor, the director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management, at American University, and Larry Sabato, a political-science professor at the University of Virginia. Pastor, von Spakovsky noted, had spoken to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about being a victim of election fraud: voting in Georgia, he discovered that someone else had already voted under his name.

When I reached Pastor, he clarified what had happened to him. “I think they just mistakenly checked my name when my son voted—it was just a mistake.” He added, “I don’t think that voter-impersonation fraud is a serious problem.” Pastor believes that, compared with other democracies, America is “somewhere near the bottom in election administration,” and thinks that voter I.D.s make sense—but only if they are free and easily available to all, which, he points out, is not what Republican legislatures have proposed. Sabato, who supports the use of voter I.D.s under the same basic conditions, says of the voter-impersonation question, “One fraudulent vote is one too many, but my sense is that it’s relatively rare today.”

Hasen says that, while researching “The Voting Wars,” he “tried to find a single case” since 1980 when “an election outcome could plausibly have turned on voter-impersonation fraud.” He couldn’t find one. News21, an investigative-journalism group, has reported that voter impersonation at the polls is a “virtually non-existent” problem. After conducting an exhaustive analysis of election-crime prosecutions since 2000, it identified only seven convictions for impersonation fraud. None of those cases involved conspiracy.

The Voter-Fraud Myth

Shocking, vicious attack-ads from the dirty presidential race


Redditor Aspirin742 and his six-year-old daughter Elissa are both contenders in a hard-fought election for President of their house. The campaigning has gotten really ugly.

My 6 year old daughter and I are having an election for President of the House (imgur.com) (via Super Punch)