Archive - Oct 2008

October 31st

How to Win an Election

At the end of the day, in this case, Tuesday, November 4th, you win elections by getting more of your supporters to go to the polls and get their votes counted than your opponent does. Although there are many different ways of reaching that goal, they all boil down to either getting more of your supporters’ votes counted, or getting less of your opponents supporters’ votes counted.

Of course to vote, you must be registered, so you may want to get as many of your voters registered, or challenge the registration of as many of your opponents supporters as possible. This year has seen massive voter registration drives, and the organizations that have run these drives are now trying to get the newly registered voters out to vote.

In areas where voters do not often make it to the polls, it is important to call through lists of all your likely supporters on election day to make sure they get out to vote.

Beyond that, you need to have a message that inspires your supporters to get out and vote. The Obama campaign has done a good job of this. They have a video which captures this well:

The newswires are picking up the stories. The 109 year old daughter of a slave voting for Obama. The stories of elderly black people who never voted because they didn’t feel safe voting or feared that their vote would not be counted, but who are voting for the first times in their lives for Sen. Obama.

This takes us to the other side of winning an election. If you can’t motivate enough supporters to get out and vote, you can try to dissuade your opponent’s supporters from getting out and voting. This is one of the reasons negative advertising is effective. It isn’t because you will change your opponent’s supporters into your supporters. It is enough to get them discouraged, to get them to think that all politicians are the same, and simply not to vote.

However, for some people, even that is not enough. Some people attempt to try and suppress voting through intimidation. Of course, this is against the law. A recent press release from Project Vote sums it up this way

Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 states that no person “ whether acting under color of law or otherwise,” shall intimidate, threaten, or coerce any individual for voting or attempting to vote, or for attempting to assist others to vote.

They go on to talk about the manufactured hysteria about voter fraud to “goad law-enforcement into intimidation and politically motivated investigations into eligible voters” How effective are these efforts? Repeatedly, they are being turned back by the courts. The Greene County Ohio Sheriff Gene Fischer had sought voter registration information on 302 new voters. The Dayton Daily News quotes Ellis Jacobs of the nonpartisan Miami Valley Voter Protection Coalition saying, "What the sheriff was doing was not investigating voter fraud, but voter intimidation". It is unclear if charges will be pursued.

It is a different story in New Mexico. The RNC General Counsel has been challenged to come up with a single case where a fraudulent vote was cast because of voter registration fraud. He has not been able to come up with any cases.

However, the New Mexico Republican Party came out with a story in the middle of October claiming that 28 people voted fraudulently in the June Primary. They listed the names of ten people then claimed had voted illegally. ACORN has contacted all of them, and found that the voters were properly registered.

Now, three different organizations have brought suits against Republicans in New Mexico. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a lawsuit on Monday in Federal Court on behalf of two Hispanic women who felt they were being harassed when a private investigator, Al Romero came to their houses investigating the case. Romero had been hired by Pat Rogers, who advises the New Mexico Republican Party. Rogers is also named in the lawsuit.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a related suit in state district court. Peter Simmons, the executive director for the ACLU claims that the party obtained unauthorized access to voters’ private information.

In Pennsylvania, the Republican Party had requested a preliminary injunction ordering ACORN to turn over a list of 140,000 voters it had registered in the state. The court ruled, however, that the petitioners failed to convince the court that they would prevail on the merits of the case.

In many ways, it all boils down to two key emotions, hope and fear. You can use hope to get your supporters to the polls in record numbers, or you can use fear to try and keep your opponent’s supporters away from the polls. Fortunately for our democracy, trying to scare voters away from the polls is illegal and the courts are starting to crack down on it. Let us hope that we see record voter turnout this year.

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October 30th

Woodbridge CT State Legislative Races

Over the past few days, the mailers have been piling up about on our kitchen table about the State Legislative races in Woodbridge, CT, and I thought it was time to offer a few comments about them.

Woodbridge is in the 114th Assembly District. Our State Representative is Themis Klarides and she is being challenged by Marc Garofalo. We moved to Woodbridge a little over a year ago, and to the best of my knowledge, I’ve not met Ms. Klarides, but I’ve met Marc several times. He’s bright, energetic and is running a great campaign.

So far, he’s knocked on over 2,500 doors in the district. Will it be enough to over take a popular incumbent? We shall see. Ms. Klarides was unchallenged in two of the past five elections. Most recently, she won by a margin of over 3,000 votes, getting over twice as many votes as her opponent. However, in 1998, and 2000, Ms. Klarides won by much smaller margins, 605 votes and 1742 votes respectively.

Besides the strong door knocking, Mr. Garofalo has sent out several mailers, and is perhaps being able to have a closer race due to the public funding of campaigns in Connecticut.

His mailings talk about his leadership, is community service, and provides endorsements from notable people around the district. The Marc Garofalo for CT State Representative website is well done, and while according to various web metrics, it doesn’t get a lot of traffic, it is reported to be the busiest website of the State Legislative candidates in Woodbridge.

There are almost no attacks on his opponent, with one minor exception. He has a page that links to different political sites. Included on this page is a link to a YouTube video put up by the CTHouseRepublicans, of Themis Klarides which makes her look like a bit of an airhead.

The mailing for Ms. Klarides that we received lists a few endorsements but doesn’t have much else to say. Her website isn’t as good as Mr. Garofalo’s. Yet she is very popular, and has a good chance of getting re-elected. We’ll see if Mr. Garofalo can pull off an upset.

Over on the State Senate side, Woodbridge is part of the 17th State Senate District. Sen. Joe Crisco has been in that seat for 16 years. In the past five elections, he was unopposed once, faced only a candidate from the Working Family party in one election, and in the other elections one by pluralities of 7,174, 15,797 and 23,086. However, this year could be a very different race. Sen. Crisco’s Campaign Election Program form was signed by the secretary of his campaign treasurer, which is not allowed, and he is not receiving public money for his campaign.

His opponent, Tamath Rossi is receiving public financing and has used it to send several nasty mailings. The ones that I’ve seen lack any descriptions of why Ms. Rossi would be a good candidate. There are no references to any leadership or community service. There is not serious discussion of issues or how she would make Connecticut and Woodbridge a better place. Instead, it is negative politics that is so damaging to our country.

I went online to find out a little bit about Ms. Rossi and found a blog post at Derby Politics saying Tamath Rossi is a Hypocrite. The post talks about her working for Tort Reform, but then suing Wallingford when she bumped her leg on a bleacher.

The big question is if Ms. Rossi, who appears to have nothing going for her other than $85,000 of public funding for her campaign can defeat an incumbent who has done a lot for the district but isn’t receiving public funding.

So, as we head into the final weekend of the campaign, I’ll do what I can to help Marc Garofalo and Joe Crisco and then I’ll watch with interest the results on Tuesday.

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Fermentation Lock

This is a brief video of the fermentation lock on our carboy full of Cider.  It has been going for about four and a half days.

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