Wednesday, November 14, 2012

GOP not making themselves look good in Arizona election vote counting

Cochise County, Ariz., is getting national attention these days for more than the sights on this century-old postcard.

I am a Chicago native, and I’m aware of all the nasty little stories that get told about voter fraud in my hometown. I’m also aware of the degree to which there are elements of truth.

Such as one of the tactics used in the olden days by the Democratic organization at polling places. It occurred on some occasions that one voting machine would be tampered with in ways that it might not properly record votes.

POLLING PLACE WORKERS would keep their eyes open for the neighborhood wiseacres – the ones who couldn’t be trusted to vote the “proper” way. When they showed up, they were the ones who would be directed to the flawed voting machines.

I’m not saying those people wound up voting for someone they didn’t intend to. But what often could happen was that their ballot would come out flawed. It would be spoiled through no fault of the voter.

Which means that as a spoiled ballot, it would be disregarded. Some crafty political hack could interfere with the potential for votes for the opposition.

Why do I feel compelled to share this moment with you now?

IT WAS THE thought that popped into my cabeza when I read of the vote-counting still taking place in the Arizona Second Congressional District where the Republican incumbent, Rep. Ron Barber, has a narrow lead over his Democratic challenger, Martha McSally.

Nobody has declared victory or defeat, and we’re down to provisional ballots – those that were allowed to be cast on Election Day even though some poll worker questioned the validity of whether the person was properly registered to vote.

In the case of provisional ballots, the person is allowed to mark the ballot – but it does not get counted until after it has been verified that the person is properly registered. It is supposed to allow for someone to not lose their vote in the event there are Election Day errors in the records of who is to vote.

Yet in this particular election, officials were in court in Cochise County, Ariz., on Tuesday to try to get a judge to stop the inclusion of provisional ballots from one particular precinct.

WOULDN’T YOU KNOW it? That particular precinct in the county near the U.S./Mexico border has a particularly large Latino population.

If this precinct consists of people who are like their counterparts in other parts of the country, it is likely to swing heavily toward the Democratic candidate.

And this particular election is so close, that one precinct coming in overwhelmingly for McSally could be enough to put her over the top.

Hence, we’re getting the legal battle, where we have Republican-allied attorneys seriously stating that including the votes creates the potential for “fraud and ballot tampering.”

SPECIFICALLY, OFFICIALS ARE arguing that these particular provisional ballots were not sealed in the way that they were supposed to be when they were transported from the polling places to the county elections department for tabulation.

Which makes me wonder if someone, hoping to discount a number of votes they thought might go against their preferred candidate, decided to skip a step or two in the process before sending the ballots off.

Heck, if they don’t get counted, they can’t hurt you. That might be the theory at work here.

Although I must confess that I don’t know anything firsthand about this particular election. It’s just that I get suspicious whenever it comes to Election Day vote counting – particularly when it gets to people who don’t want cast ballots being included.

THIS PARTICULAR EFFORT has the support of the National Republican Congressional Committee – which is trying to get as many GOPers in the House of Representatives as possible. Which means we have some fairly-significant Republican types leading this effort to try to associate Latino votes with “vote fraud.”

So excuse me when I get skeptical of some Republican officials saying they learned a lesson last week about how they need to reach out to more Latinos so they can remain relevant politically.

For I’m sure there are just as many others who, in their hearts, remain as “unreconstructed” on this ethnic issue as they were the day their families fed them such thoughts.

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