Small Victory for Obama in Alaska

20 11 2008
US PRESIDENT
Total
Number of Precincts 438
Precincts Reporting 438 100.0 %
Times Counted 325054/495731 65.6 %
Total Votes 323820

Baldwin and Castle AI 1652 0.51%
Barr and Root LIB 1575 0.49%
McCain and Palin REP 192631 59.49%
Nader and Gonzalez IND 3757 1.16%
Obama and Biden DEM 122485 37.83%
Write-in Votes 1720 0.53%

Obama did not win in Alaska. Polls had him on an average of about 11 points behind in the weeks before the election. Alas, the numbers reflected in the polls turned out to be worse for Obama in the general election. At one point it looked like McCain-Palin took a whopping 65% of the vote.

With all the excitement of the Senatorial race, all anyone could think about was Begich vs. Stevens. First Stevens up, and Begich down. Then separated by 3 votes. Then Begich up and Stevens down. Begich more up. Uh-oh, Stevens gaining. Begich up again. It was dizzying, and everyone’s laser-sharp focus was trained on those returns.

But there’s one small victory that hasn’t been talked about much. After the whopping 90,000 votes that were counted in Alaska after election day, there was a shift in the presidential race. After the final tally, McCain-Palin won by 59.49%. LESS than 60%. And we can even round down to 59%! I’ll take it.

2008 McCain/Palin 59% Obama/Biden 38%

2004 Bush 61 – Kerry 35
2000 Bush 59 – Gore 28

Obama won the hearts of more Alaska voters than any Democrat in recent memory. And McCain-Palin, despite their surface appeal, with the Alaska Governor on the ticket, frankly, didn’t do all that well comparatively. I’m looking forward to 2012. I think we’re headed in the right direction.





Palin and the Crack in the Door.

12 11 2008

door

Alaska, bar the door! Here’s the latest little gem from Governor Sarah Palin. For six weeks we couldn’t get her to talk, and now we can’t get her to stop!

“You know, I have — faith is a very big part of my life. And putting my life in my creator’s hands — this is what I always do. I’m like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I’m like, don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is. Even if it’s cracked up a little bit, maybe I’ll plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it, but don’t let me miss an open door. And if there is an open door in ’12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door.”

Can somebody out there help me shove this huge heavy dresser over there in front of that door? EErrrrrgggghhhh.

For more thoughts on Palin’s crack in the door, the Alaska vote, and the future of convicted Senator Ted Stevens, check out Rachel Maddow and her guest, fellow Alaskan blogger and radio journalist Shannyn Moore! Here’s the LINK.

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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.





I Voted!

4 11 2008

vote11

I feel better.  I thought about voting early, but my usual polling place is generally pretty quiet, and I do love the festive feeling of voting on the day, so I waited.  Then I kept thinking….what if my name isn’t on the voter rolls?  I checked to make sure it was….but what if something happened AFTER I checked?  What if I get hit by a bus before election day?  What if my car runs into the ditch and I don’t make it in time?

So it was with great relief today that I walked into my polling place to finally vote.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  The poll worker who checked me in was a woman of color, and I had such a stupid smile on my face that I made her smile back in spite of herself.  There were 12 polling stations set up, and no line.  I dodged behind the curtain and just looked at the ballot for a minute.

I filled in Mark Begich, then Ethan Berkowitz, then my local race.  I saved Obama-Biden for last.  I took a deep breath and really thought about what it took to get to this day, not only all the incredible work that has gone into this particular election, but also to have a viable African-American candidate on the ballot as nominee for the President of the United States.

I hope to see a woman in that spot too, some day.  But I want to vote for a woman who has earned her place on the ticket through her own intelligence, principles, work ethic, determination and grit, not someone who got picked as a strategic calculation, and a poor one at that.  I looked at Palin’s name on the ballot.  After my deep breath, I filled in the Obama-Biden oval carefully…being sure not to leave one little white space.  Then I double checked to make sure I filled in the right oval, and didn’t make a horrible mistake because of my reverie.

Then off to the optical scan machine to watch my ballot get sucked into the little slot.  Number 555.  Pretty good turnout so far.  I’ll be back later to photograph the paper tapes they are required to post in the window.  In 2004, we had some precincts in Anchorage with a 220% voter turnout.  Not again.

We should be getting the first returns from the east coast within the hour!

vote2





And Now for Something Completely Different.

6 09 2008

Yes, there is life beyond Palin. It may seem hard to believe, especially here in Alaska, where the media is swarming on the small town of Wasilla like ravens on a dumpster full of french fries. (Trust me, it’s a good metaphor)

As everyone in the Lower 48 + Hawaii is finding out, the cast of characters in Alaskan politics is full of…well…characters:

Walt Monegan, the noble Police commissioner who said, “I’d gladly die for the governor, but I would never lie for the governor”

Chuck Kopp his non-vetted replacement who famously proclaimed, “I am not a sex harasser!”

Mike Wooten, the trooper in Troopergate who has a list of offensive deeds, but was axed by whom Palin wanted to axe for what many feel is personal revenge.

Stephen Branchflower, the rock solid non-partisan investigator, and Thomas Van Flein, his nemesis and the private attorney now representing Palin. Palin’s new private attorney.

And the whole supporting cast of children, children’s boyfriends, extended family, ex-coworkers, the almost fired librarian saved by the outraged masses at the last minute*, the fired police chief, and of course, Palin herself – the lip-sticked pit bull moose-skinning gun-toting mother of 5 (or 4 say some), who either rose like a star, or flimflammed her way to the top…depending who you ask.

But, yes, there is a whole political landscape outside the governor’s little world. There is big news developing with two of those characters who haven’t been discussed much lately – Don Young, and Sean Parnell.

Don Young. That’s him up there standing in front of the giant portrait of himself, wearing an Alaska state flag bolo tie. When people who don’t know about Don Young ask about Don Young, they are met with one of three reactions: the eye roll, the head shake/chuckle combination, or an expletive. It never fails. He is absolutely indescribable, but I’ll try. He is a cocky, loud mouthed, angst-ridden, bloviating, jaw-dropping bully. He looooves pork, and people that love pork, love him. He’s a porketarian of the highest order. His annual fundraiser is even a pig roast and he’s proud of it. The grill at the event is usually a $30,000 barbeque donated for the event by Veco corp, the now defunct oil services company whose president and vp have plead guilty to felony counts of bribery and agreed to dish the dirt on what feels like half the Republican politicians in Alaska…and one Democrat just for the heck of it. Many are either on their way, or already in prison.

Don Young himself is currently under investigation by the FBI, and has spent more than a million dollars from his campaign fund on lawyers and hasn’t even been indicted yet. All of this does not keep Alaskans from voting for him. He’s been holding Alaska’s lone seat in the House of Representatives since 1973, and most Alaskans just look upon him as an inevitability, like snow. He just keeps coming back, no matter what you do. And besides, we’ll overlook a lot, as long as we get our pork.

The last time Don Young was up for reelection, the Democratic challenger (a woman, and Alaska native) Diane Benson got 40% of the vote. While this may not sound like much in other elections, 40% against Don Young with a progressive female candidate on the ballot was huge. This proved that Young was vulnerable. Smelling blood in the water, hoards of lower level politicians began circling the wounded bloviator.

This time around, he may go down. State legislator Ethan Berkowitz, a rising Democratic star, stand a very good chance of unseating him in the upcoming election. Progressive Alaskans are doing the happy dance all over the state. For them, it is a dream come true. But…there’s one more hurdle to overcome. The hurdle is named Sean Parnell. Sean Parnell is what many like to call a ‘Palin-bot’. He shares Palin’s idealogy, and is “supportive” of her administration. Translated, this means whatever she says goes, and he doesn’t argue. Critics say he’s an empty suit and an empty head. He also doesn’t like to show up at debates, or give interviews…too uncomfortable (sound familiar?). BUT, he has Sarah Palin’s ‘full support’, which is enough for many in the state.

Berkowitz doesn’t fare as well against Parnell in the polling, and it might be a tight race if that was the match-up in November. Parnell might very well swoop into office exactly like Palin, by getting the anyone-but-the-incumbent-as-long-as-I-can-still-vote-Republican vote. That’s a big slice of the pie up here.

I went down to Convention Central at the Egan Center in Anchorage on primary night, just to watch the returns. And, as many predicted, the race of the night turned out to be Young vs. Parnell. We all bit our nails, drank $8 beers at the bar in the corner, chomped peanuts and watched the big board. At times there were only four votes separating the two candidates. Progressives stopped doing the happy dance and started worrying. Many Democrats and independents I know voted for Young, simply to assure that he would stay in the race long enough to be taken down by Berkowitz. (The Alaskan version of Rush Limbaugh’s operation Chaos, urging Republicans to cross over and vote for Hillary). They will be happy they did. At the end of the night, only about 150 votes separated the two candidates, with Young holding a razor thin lead over Parnell, and hanging on by his fingernails.

Then the absentee voting began. There were 25,000 votes to be counted. The result? After more nail-biting ups and downs and the Division of Elections working into the night, Young maintains his lead by a scant 239 votes. With still more absentee ballots to be counted from overseas, this is about as close as it gets. The last of the absentee ballots will be rounded up by Wednesday, and it’s anyone’s guess. There will likely be a recount.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that the Division of Elections is under the purvue of none other than…the Lt. Governor, Sean Parnell? Oh, it’s true. Who said life beyond Palin would be boring?

Now that you’ve welcomed a new Alaskan eccentric into your political world, please sit back and enjoy this little homage to Don Young from TPM Muckraker who refers to Young as a “one man mud wrestling match”. Enjoy.

*correction from previous post