Election Eve in Alaska. Again. Sort of.

11 11 2008

Alaska’s election is not over. There is no rest for the weary. The giant bottle of Tums still sits just to the right of my keyboard.

But, tomorrow, a chunk of the 91,000 outstanding ballots in Alaska will be counted.

For days, the count has been frozen. Sen. Ted Stevens leads Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich by about 3,000 votes with roughly 30 percent of the ballots remaining to be counted, including:

• 61,000 absentee votes.

• More than 20,000 questioned ballots.

• 9,500 early votes.

Of those, at least two-thirds of the absentee votes and nearly all the early votes are expected to be counted Wednesday, said Division Director Gail Fenumiai.

Election workers began poring over questioned ballots Monday in Anchorage, a process that will likely continue through the final count, which is expected Nov. 19.

Meantime, absentee votes are still arriving in the mail and precincts are sending in more questioned ballots.

Here are the squeakers:

With a little more than 90,000 ballots left to count:

U.S. SENATE: Sen. Ted Stevens (R) leads Mayor Mark Begich (D) by about 3,257 votes.

STATE HOUSE (District 19): Pete Petersen (D) leads Rep. Bob Roses (R) by 136 votes.

STATE HOUSE (district 27): Rep. Bob Buch (D) leads Bob Lewis (R) by 67 votes.

 

<!–[if !supportEmptyParas]–><!–[endif]–> Bev Harris, election guru from Black Box Voting was on KUDO today, urging Alaskans and all Americans not  to “get complacent.According to Harris, when numbers don’t’ add up, when books don’t reconcile, we need to act. She points out the dangerous mindset of only caring about election issues when it appears as though the outcome of the race will be affected.  Regardless of the closeness of the race, or whether our candidate is ahead, we need to challenge these anomalies on principle.  Every vote should count, and be counted properly regardless of the other votes surrounding it.   And just because the leadership changes, don’t assume the problems get fixed.

So, what about Alaska?  Harris was circumspect, but indicated that there were several red flags, and things which would need closer scrutiny….after the final numbers are in.  The thing that concerns her most of all is the fact that all Alaska votes are counted on a central tabulator in Anchorage.

This particular system, explains Harris, has “a number that you never see, an internal number that identifies which candidate is which.As absentee votes come in, and are counted, this number can be manually flipped back and forth by the individual operating the machine. Harris characterizes this type of system as “reeeally dangerous” because there are no checks & balances.

The fact that Bev Harris calls our system “really dangerous” is enough to make me think I may not sleep well tonight.

In addition, when an Anchorage voter votes in the polling place, there’s a tape at the end of the day that is associated with each particular voting machine.  With absentee voting there is no voting machine tape. Totals can literally be adjusted as they come in. A manual entry screen allows anyone with access to the machine to type over the old totals and make new ones. Scary, but true.

So, what do Alaskans need to do?  Harris has counseled an engaged group in Alaska to get audit logs, and copy information from the database as often as possible during the counting process.  Why?  Because it is our right to do so, and because we KNOW that they were tampered with in Alaska in 2004.  We just don’t know who did it.  There are eyeballs in the right places this year, but vigilance by all citizens is critical.

There is much we don’t know.  But we DO know that Bev Harris and Black Box Voting is paying close attention to our results.  And while she has said that  in Alaska “there are some very interesting issues to be looked at”, she’s playing her cards close to her chest until the numbers are all in.  More than half the uncounted ballots will be tallied tomorrow, and the final numbers are due in on November 19th, one week later.

We wait and watch.

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Bev Harris Today on KUDO – Alaska’s Strange Election Numbers.

11 11 2008

Tune in today to KUDO 1080am.  Bev Harris from Black Box Voting will be on in the first hour to talk about Alaska’s strange strange election numbers.

Also discussed will be Sarah Palin’s upcoming trip to Florida for the Republican Governors Conference.

To get the live stream, click HERE.





Palin Ignores Mosquitoes at Her Peril.

11 11 2008

Turns out there was just too much in that little 9 1/2 minute interview to cover in one day. This is installment #4 in picking apart Sarah Palin’s interview by the Daily News and KTUU in her Wasilla home on Sunday.

I found this particular question to be quite fascinating…probably because I was involved personally in the incidents discussed. I covered extensively the protest rallies in Anchorage that occured while Palin was on the campaign trail. I’ll recap, just to clarify:

1) Alaska Women Reject Palin – This rally happened at the Loussac Library and had about 1500 attendees, mostly women. Nobody had ever seen anything like this. Anchorage rallies usually manage to round up a couple dozen people…if they’re lucky. This was epic. There was a sea of homemade signs slamming her positions on reproductive rights, aerial wolf hunting, troopergate, global warming and croneyism. Anyone at that rally knew that something had awakened in the Alaskan people, that had resulted in something unexpected – an engaged citizenry.

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2) Alaskans for Truth Rally – This rally happened at the Park Strip in downtown Anchorage, and had approximately 1800 attendees. The focus of this rally was to hold our Governor accountable for her actions, and to demand the immediate resignation of Alaska State Attorney General, Talis Colberg. Colberg advised state employees that they could disregard legislative subpoenas, and they did. Sarah Palin had promised to cooperate with the Legislative investigation, and she didn’t. The organizers were wondering if that first rally was an anomaly. They wondered if they could pull off a repeat. They did, and more. Speakers included local activists, progressive media, Republicans, representatives of the Native community and the Alaska State Troopers, and even Walt Monegan’s mom. The other purpose of this rally was to show support for former Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan, independent investigator Stephen Branchflower, and State Senator Hollis French, all of whom had been mercilessly and unfairly slandered in the media by Palin and her mouthpiece, Meg Stapleton.

This rally got much more media coverage than the first one, and resulted in Mudflats having its busiest day ever, with more than 1/3 of a million hits in 24 hours. It was covered by the Anchorage Daily News, CBS, national blogs, local blogs and all local TV stations. The national coverage was not massive, but it was significant, and it’s doubtful that this went unnoticed by Palin, and it certainly didn’t go unnoticed by her staff still in Alaska.

So, yes….I was curious to see how Palin would answer this question.

Q. Governor, were you aware that during the campaign there were some large protests in Anchorage against your candidacy, as well as your handling of the Walt Monegan issue? What do you think about that and what can you do to bring those people back?

Palin: To bring those people back in terms of…..and I wasn’t aware of the protests ’til like after they happened. I’d hear about it. A friend emailed me or somethin’ sayin’ there were placards out there saying whatever they’d say. (waves hand dismissively) I think that’s the nature of a a national level campaign also some you know they evidence of that the opposition to our ticket on the national level that that’s going to be expressed here on the local level too.

The thing that really got me was the hand wave. She brushed us away like a mosquito. An annoyance. Not worthy of even breaking out the flyswatter. I hope this will be Palin’s big mistake. She underestimates those who have defected. Her approval ratings went from over 90% when she was first elected, to about 60% now. When one third of your supporters turn, it can make life difficult, especially when that 30% is angry, riled up, and out to change things.

An interesting thing has happened during this election, especially for progressives. All of a sudden, we feel like we’ve made a difference. We feel like we’ve taken our country back from the brink of something that no longer looked like the America we learned about in grade school. We have ushered in to office, the first African American president, who is a northerner, an educated, literate man with progressive ideals, and we’ve done it $5 or $25, or $100 at a time. We’ve seen a grassroots movement that actually shaped not only the future of our nation, but the future of the world. It feels pretty good.

My hunch is that this feeling is not going to help the likes of Sarah Palin. Why? Because people feel empowered to make change. I don’t know if Alaskans will sit idly by while our Governor charges the state per diem to sleep in her house, or charges the state for her children’s one way tickets and fancy hotel rooms, or while political appointments are based on religious idealogy and/or presence in the Wasilla High School year book. I don’t know if we’ll be willing to swallow an administration that fires people and sullies their reputations because of a personal vendetta. I don’t know if Alaskans will forget the “other” Sarah Palin who incited cries of “Kill him!” when she said that our President Elect was “palling around with terrorists.” I don’t know that Alaskans were able to deposit their permanent fund checks, and their energy rebate checks this year, and square that with watching our Governor sling accusations of “socialism” like it was a four letter word, and “spreading the wealth” like it was a moral crime.

Who knows. Maybe I’m wrong. Alaskans have surprised me before….like when they voted en masse for a convicted felon.

But anyone who lives here, does not underestimate the power of a mosquito. There’s a joke that the mosquito is the Alaska State Bird. And when you get a whole lot of them agitated and looking for blood, you can definitely affect some kind of change in behavior. I’ve seen a giant bull moose standing in water up to its nostrils just to get relief from big black clouds of those pesky little creatures. So why not a state government?

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Bed Time in Alaska – Open Thread – Mudstock Miami?

11 11 2008

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Good night all!

A few little things….

There is new Mudgear in the Mudflats Shop! Do you heart moose? Do you heart Mudflats? Do you have a Moose-Free kitchen? Go check out the new products!

Anyone interested in a Miami Mudstockon Thursday? Lila, the Mudflatter who attended both Mudstock I in Pittsburgh, and Mudstock II in Chicago is going to be in Miami on Thursday night…the same time that Sarah Palin will be at the Republican Governor’s Convention just a few blocks away! I know this isn’t much notice, but if you’re interested, post a comment in this thread. It could be pretty amazing if a pack of Mudflatters infiltrated the convention! 😉

Also, a shout out to my wonderful niece, who, on Election Day, left the Emergency Room in Pennsylvania, with kidney stones, to go stand in the rain for over an hour to vote for Obama. She showed gumption, grit, and swing-state guilt! Sarah Palin might have even said she was “wired for the mission!” Way to go!

And a good thought to all veterans out there on Veteran’s Day.