6 biggest voter 'screw-ups' of 2010
The midterm elections are still several days away, but already allegations of fraud and voter intimidation are flying. Conservatives, led by Tea Partiers, say the Left is behind an "epidemic" of cheating that could alter the results, while Democrats are accusing the Right of using scare tactics to suppress minority and poor voters. (Watch Michelle Malkin allege widespread voter fraud.) Here's a look at six cases that have fueled suspicions in the heated final days before Election Day:
Nevada: The voting machine that likes Harry Reid
The issue: Several early voters in Clark County, Nev., complained that electronic voting machines were automatically checking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's name. Suspicious conservatives note that Reid's son, gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid, is a county commissioner there, and the pro-Democrat Service Employees International Union is responsible for maintaining the allegedly faulty machines. Republicans have also accused Reid of cheating by offering free food to anyone who votes.
The reaction: Okay, so there is no hard evidence of fraud, and this might just be a glitch as election officials insist, says Rick Moran at American Thinker. But even Democrats have to admit "this is a convergence of coincidences" that looks mighty suspicious. And the free meals? "It's hard to buy an election with a hamburger," Reid quips.
Minnesota: A Tea Party "bounty" on illegal voters
The issue: A Tea Party group in Minnesota is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone committing voter fraud. Similar efforts are popping up in Wisconsin — where billboards in Milwaukee show people behind bars under the words, "We Voted Illegally"— and in Texas.
The reaction: These "private efforts to police the polls" are bad for democracy, regardless of their intent, says voting rights expert Wendy R. Weiser, as quoted in The New York Times. Making baseless challenges to people's right to vote can scare them away from the polls. It also happens to be against the law.
Illinois: Are soldiers being deprived of their right to vote?
The issue: Thirty-six Illinois counties missed the deadline for sending absentee ballots to members of the armed services and other overseas voters. The Illinois State Board of Elections and the U.S. Justice Department ordered six local election offices to extend the deadline for late ballots until Nov. 19.
The reaction: What a "travesty," say the editors of Investor's Business Daily. Obama's Justice Department is essentially looking the other way in what amounts to a "deliberate attempt to steal a close race for both governor and U.S. senator" by "disenfranchising its servicemen overseas," because as a group they "tilt Republican."
Nevada: A campaign to disenfranchise Hispanic voters?
The issue: Liberal groups say Tea Party-backed Senate candidate Sharron Angle is aiming to keep Latino voters away from the polls by "villifying" them in ads attacking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's record on immigration and by declining to condemn a series of Spanish-language radio ads telling Hispanics to show Democrats their disapproval staying home on Election Day.
The reaction: It seems clear Angle and Republican-backed groups such as Latinos for Reform are trying to suppress the Hispanic vote, says Julianne Hing at Color Lines, but it could backfire, because "polls suggest that Latinos have been galvanized by the anti-immigrant race-baiting ads that Republicans have been rolling out."
Colorado: Were 6,000 voters "purged"?
The issue: A federal judge declined to reinstate nearly 6,000 new voters whose registrations were canceled because of glitches with the addresses on their forms. Common Cause of Colorado, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, and the Service Employees International Union asked to have the voters reinstated.
The reaction: Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin said the Democratic-leaning organizations were trying to "foist some 6,000 shady voter registrations on the state."
New York: A Democratic insider is ousted as elections chief
The issue: In last month's primary, several New York City polling sites failed to open on time because of problems with a new computerized voting system, and a furious Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared the handling of the election "a royal screw-up." But even highly critical watchdog groups expressed alarm when the head of the embattled Board of Elections, longtime Democratic loyalist George Gonzalez, was fired a week before the midterms. The reaction: "The voters of New York don’t need sacrificial lambs," says Neal Rosenstein of the New York Public Interest Group, "but fundamental change in the way the board is administered."