Tag Archives: North Carolina

ALERT!! Confusing North Carolina Ballot Leaves off Votes for President!!

I Voted sticker

'I Voted' US Flag sticker

Please contact ALL your friends and family in North Carolina and alert them to the confusing ballots with which some voters have already encountered difficulties, particularly among new voters and the elderly.  Voting the straight Democratic party ticket on the ballot DOES NOT include voting for the President!!

RALEIGH, N.C. — “I was sure I voted for president, but then a friend told me that a straight-party vote in North Carolina includes every office except president. That made me really mad,” Linda Chavis told OffTheBus.

Politically speaking, Chavis didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. She is a volunteer “crew chief” for the Obama campaign in Raleigh who did not notice the separation between the straight-party vote and the presidential vote on North Carolina’s poorly designed ballot in 2004. “I thought I voted against George W. Bush, but it turned out I didn’t vote for president at all. It’s an issue today because we’re still using the same confusing ballot,” said Chavis.

Chavis wasn’t the only dumbfounded voter in 2004. A Duke University researcher estimated that more than 90,000 people who voted in North Carolina inexplicably did not cast a vote for president. That’s 60,000 to 70,000 more than researchers would expect.

“One way to measure the impact of ballot design on voter confusion is the Residual Vote Rate. That’s the difference between the number of ballots cast and the number of valid votes for president cast,” said David C. Kimball, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. In the last two presidential elections, the number of lost votes for president was “about twice as high in North Carolina as the national average,” Kimball told OffTheBus.

“I would guess that most — if not all — of this difference can be attributed to North Carolina’s confusing ballot,” said Lawrence Norden, an attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. In North Carolina, a straight-party vote counter-intuitively does not include a vote for president. Voters must make a separate mark under the Presidential Contest box.

On Election Day 2008, there will probably be more voters than there were in 2004, and many of them will be first-time voters. “I believe as many as 100,000 votes for president could be lost this time around,” Norden told OffTheBus.

This year’s butterfly ballot?

It is important that ballots are easy to understand. Remember what happened with the butterfly ballot in Florida? When just a couple of hundred votes (out of 5.8 million cast) separated George W. Bush and Al Gore?

The ballot design flaw disproportionately impacts three groups who are likely to be heavily represented in the election this year: new voters, the poor, and the elderly. On the internet, poll workers in the Tar Heel State have “twittered” for help in explaining the ballot on election day. Some less sympathetic bloggers have replied that if people can’t understand the ballot, they shouldn’t be voting.

Elections are held to get instructions from the public, they are not literacy tests,” said Norden. “If something confuses people and it can easily be fixed, then it should be.”

Think of it this way. “Imagine if confusing road signs were causing traffic accidents. Sure, a few people might say, ‘What’s wrong with those new drivers, those elderly drivers — why can’t they figure out the signs?’ But before there were more fatalities, surely the government would replace the confusing signs with symbols that people can easily understand,” said Norden.

Early voting started a week ago, already there are problems

“We’ve already had reports that people don’t understand the ballot instructions,” a Democratic Campaign official in North Carolina told OffTheBus. Speaking off the record, he said that the Board of Elections is “supposed to be educating voters at the polls, but so far the results are uneven. The word’s not getting out consistently. Simply handing out a blue piece of paper isn’t all that effective.”

Adding to voter confusion, the GOP intends to challenge the legality of certain new voter registrations on Election Day, something they are already doing in Ohio. “This year I think we’re going to see more first-time voters — young people and minorities — than ever before, and as first-time voters, they are likely to be challenged,” sociologist Wayne Baker, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, told OffTheBus. Baker blogs the election at OurValues.org.

If two percent or more of North Carolina voters unknowingly “skip” the presidential contest, it may very well have an impact on the outcome. In 1992, George H.W. Bush narrowly defeated Bill Clinton in North Carolina by getting 43.34 percent of the vote versus 42.65 percent for Clinton. Polls indicate that this year the presidential race in North Carolina might be similarly close.

The Brennan Center recently rated North Carolina among the six best prepared states for voting system failures such as machine breakdowns and programming errors. The state’s preparedness for hardware and software problems improved dramatically after their touch-screen machines failed in Carteret County in 2004 and more than 4,000 votes were lost. “I’ve been telling less-prepared states they don’t want to become another North Carolina, waiting for a meltdown to improve their practices. And I don’t want North Carolina to be another North Carolina. I hope the ballot design flaw doesn’t throw the results of its presidential contest into doubt,” said Norden.

VotersUnite.org recommends that people in North Carolina avoid straight-party voting.

Confusing North Carolina Ballot Leaves off Votes for President!!


Obama Support Runs Deep in Western Europe

Journalist John C. Freed, writing for the International Herald Tribune, examines the differences in Western European support for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama versus the reasons Americans support Senator Obama for president.

PARIS: While support for Barack Obama is broad and deep among Europeans, their reasons differ substantially from Americans who support him for president, according to a new poll for the International Herald Tribune.

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive for the IHT and the news channel France 24, reflects the overwhelming support in Western Europe for Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, over John McCain, the Republican. And the main reason on both sides of the Atlantic is the same: Obama’s capacity for change from the policies of President George W. Bush.

But from there the two continents differ. Respondents in the five European countries surveyed are far more likely to cite Obama’s personality or his youth, while Americans are more likely to cite his approach to health care and the economy.

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Update: Palin Explains What Parts Of Country Not “Pro-America”

Graves of American soldiers killed while fighting in Iraq, in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Graves of American soldiers killed while fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Update: John McCain’s campaign attempts to explain Gov. Sarah Palin’s statement about how much she loves to visit the “pro-America” parts of the country, but the clarification only further insults the suburbs and cities of America.  Guess she believes that the rest of the country outside of small towns don’t work in factories, teach children, contribute to food production or fight and die in America’s wars?

The McCain campaign is seeking to clarify a remark reported from a Sarah Palin fundraiser in North Carolina yesterday in which the Alaska Governor declared that she loved to visit the “pro-America” areas of the country — implying, implicitly, that there were some parts of the United States she viewed as not pro-America.

The reporter who broke the story, the Washington Post‘s Juliet Eilperin, sends over the following, extended quote from a more detailed version of the pool report.

“We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C. We believe” — here the audience interrupted Palin with applause and cheers — “We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans. Those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us. Those who are protecting us in uniform. Those who are protecting the virtues of freedom.”

Not sure how much this helps Palin out. Is the VP candidate saying that small towns are more authentically American than, say, suburbia or cities?

As Eilperin writes: “The upshot? Washington D.C. is neither ‘real America’ or ‘pro-America.’ Other parts of the nation? It’s unclear, but if you live in a small town, you’re probably patriotic from Palin’s point of view.”

Palin Explains What Parts Of Country Not “Pro-America”