by WaltSorg

Ask any football or basketball coach. It’s a lot easier to win if you can write your own rules. Today the shrinking base of the Republican Party holds onto power by writing rules giving it a built-in advantage in elections. And it works.
Michigan Democrats received more votes for Congress and more votes for the state House of Representatives than Republicans. But Republicans, thanks to the aftermath of 2010, changed the rules sufficiently so that they maintained their stranglehold on Michigan government.
The minority party is running the show, and Democrats can’t do much about it. Even a petition drive is fraught with challenges, because Republicans in the Legislature have become masters at gaming the system to prevent citizens from forcing a referendum.

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by Joanna S. Kao

Election turnout is often cited as an indicator of the strength of the mandate of winning candidates, but it can be a misleading statistic: Turnout is usually measured as a proportion of registered voters rather than of those eligible to vote — and census numbers show that more than 70 million U.S. citizens of voting age are not registered voters.

Al Jazeera kept a close watch on voter turnout Tuesday, mindful of the possible impact of new voter ID laws in more than 30 states that critics feared would discourage or prevent voting by poorer Americans.

Turnout proved to be lower than previous years in all but 10 states, but the reasons for that decline are many: Some states lacked competitive races to draw voters to the polls; others cut polling hours or reduced early voting periods. And, in some states, new voter ID laws could have kept some voters away. Public opinion polls such as the one released by Gallup earlier this week suggested that fewer Americans cared about this election than in previous years.

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by Allison Jackson

“There’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won.”

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett made that remark more than three years ago and it still holds true today — only the gap between the richest and the poorest has gotten even wider.

Here’s how bad it is: Oxfam now calculates that the 85 richest billionaires on the planet, including the likes of Carlos Slim, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, have as much money as the 3.5 billion poorest people.

And for all the talk about the urgent need to address income inequality, the mega-rich just keep on getting richer.

How much richer?

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by Lee Fang
In the midterm elections, Republicans appear to have won their largest House majority since the Hoover administration. Republicans won on the weakness of Democratic candidates, a poor resource allocation strategy by Democratic party leaders, particularly DCCC chair Steve Israel, and an election narrative that did little to inspire base Democratic voters. That being said, in many ways, the game was rigged from the start. The GOP benefitted from the most egregious gerrymandering in American history.

As Rolling Stone reported, GOP donors plowed cash into state legislative efforts in 2010 for the very purpose of redrawing congressional lines. In the following year, as the tea party wave brought hundreds of Republicans into office, newly empowered Republican governors and state legislatures carved congressional districts for maximum partisan advantage. Democrats attempted this too, but only in two states: Maryland and Illinois. For the GOP however, strictly partisan gerrymandering prevailed in Ohio, Pennsylvania Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, Tennessee and beyond.

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From Jonathan Simon:

It’s actually much worse than Lee Fang thinks. (See below)
In E2012 in Pennsylvania, the Democratic House candidates won a majority of the statewide vote and still only managed to win 5 seats out of 18. The gerrymandering is considerably more effective than
Fang’s E2014 example suggests.
 
Bear in mind that the pretty much unstoppable ALEC plan now is to gerrymander the presidencyby allocating Electoral College votes by CD rather than statewide winner-take-all (and note that, on the surface, it is hard to argue with the fairness of this “reform”) in all of these presidential-blue states where they got state legislative control.
So you can kiss the US House and White House goodbye  for the rest of our lifetimes. I am not exaggerating in that statement.
It’s little understood that, even if they tried to be just as ruthless, the Democrats cannot match the GOP in gerrymandering because their constituency is crowded into urban centers, which makes it much
easier to create c.100% Democratic CDs than 100% Republican CDs, which is the vote-diluting aim of the gerrymander. All ALEC has to do is gerrymander the Electoral College in, say, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania and we can forget about electing a Democratic
president.
We are watching Rove’s oft-stated plan for Permanent Republican Rule come to fruition. Rigging was an essential component of its development, but—at least on the US House, presidency, and state
legislative fronts—at this point it should be pretty much self-perpetuating. We’re oh so fucked;  let’s at least tip our hats to the bastard.
But—more important—let’s face the grim reality of what he and his troops (with the full-supine acquiescence of “losing” candidates, the Democratic Party, and virtually the entire journalistic caste,
including the progressives) have done to this nation’s voting system, and let’s do something about it. 
 
(One way to start is to obtain, read, recommend, and discuss my book about this: CODE RED: Computerized Election Theft and the New 
American Century. The pressure is going to have to come from the
public, and it will come only with a heightened and broadened awareness.  There is so much consciousness to be raised and so little time.)
I, for one, will not cast another vote in the United States until it is counted observably; and I will write and speak about it with every ounce of eloquence and passion I can muster.
 
That’s my takeaway from E2014. I am done being a fucking sheep.


JS


by Brad Friedman

It’s been happening for years now. On the day after elections like last Tuesday’s, media figures begin navel gazing to figure out how pre-election polls, created by dozens of independent pollsters using dozens of different methodologies, could all find the same thing, but turn out to be so wrong once the election results are in.

The presumption is that the results are always right, and if they don’t match the polls, its the polls that must be wrong, as opposed to the results.

On Wednesday morning, after Tuesday’s mid-term election surprise in which Republicans reportedly won handily in race after race despite pre-election polls almost unanimously predicting much closer races or outright Democratic victories, FiveThirtyEight statistics guru Nate Silver declared “The Polls Were Skewed Toward Democrats”.

His analysis of aggregated averages from dozens of different pollsters and polls this year found that the performance of Democrats was overestimated by approximately 4 percentage points in Senate races and 3.4 points in gubernatorial contests. Silver’s assessment relies on a “simple average of all polls released in the final three weeks of the campaign,” as compared to the (unofficial and almost entirely unverified) election results reported on Tuesday night. He doesn’t suggest there was anything nefarious in the polling bias towards Dems this year, simply that the pollsters got it wrong for a number of speculative reasons.

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by Victoria Collier

Our article in Truthout last week, Top Ten Epic Reasons Why You Should Give a Sh*t About Voting, elicited quite a few comments from readers voicing concern that ballots may not be correctly or honestly counted by our “black box” computer voting systems – and we would never know.

The Internet is already roaring with stories of visible attacks on democracy so far in the 2014 elections: 40,000 mostly minority voters purged from Georgia’s voter roles and thousands more in 26 other states, up to 600,000 Texas voters disenfranchised due to new Voter ID laws, and the attempts to override the electoral college in gerrymandered blue states like Michigan.

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NAPLES, Fla. – The Naples Daily News asked local residents how they voted at polling precincts in Collier and south Lee counties. We asked about these races and amendments: Estero incorporation, Florida governor’s race,  Collier County School Board District 3 race and Amendment 2. Here are our unofficial exit polling results.

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by Brad Friedman

The Pulaski County Election Commission has received a dozen reports claiming voting machines are changing people’s votes. Three of the 12 reports came from North Little Rock voters who voted at Laman Library.

Bryan Poe, Pulaski County’s Director of Elections, said the commission is asking voters to be extra cautious.

“We’re not the only ones that have experienced something like this. I’ve heard reports from Lonoke County, Franklin County, and I have also heard reports from Maryland, Illinois, Tennessee and Texas,” Poe said. “They would go to select one candidate and it would select a different candidate for them. That’s generally an issue that occurs with the calibration of the machine.”

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by Cory Bennett

States have abandoned electronic voting machines in droves, ensuring that most voters will be casting their ballots by hand on Election Day.

With many electronic voting machines more than a decade old, and states lacking the funding to repair or replace them, officials have opted to return to the pencil-and-paper voting that the new technology was supposed to replace.

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