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Election Day Registration, No Photo ID Requirement Will Help Boost Turnout In Tomorrow’s Iowa Caucuses

Tomorrow, when Iowa Republicans gather across the state to vote on their party’s presidential nominee, one important tool will be available to boost turnout: election day voter registration.

Though Iowa, unlike most states, permits those who haven’t registered (or just need to update their file after a move, for instance) before election day to do so when they show up at their precinct during regular elections, the Huffington Post notes that the Iowa GOP is in charge of setting the rules for its own caucuses.

Despite nationwide efforts to make voting more difficult, the Republican Party of Iowa decided to buck the trend and allow for on-site registration. In doing so, however, they necessarily undercut the argument being made by GOPers in many other states that election day registration (EDR) invites fraud. (Of course, voters are 39 times more likely to be struck by lightning than commit fraud at the polls, and EDR actually helps prevent already-miniscule levels of fraud.)

Residents of just nine states currently enjoy EDR: Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. However, in a number of these states, the GOP-led war on voting has targeted EDR for repeal, most notably in Maine. Republicans in the Maine legislature passed a bill ridding the state of EDR, only to see the popular program reinstated by referendum in November by an overwhelming 61%-39% margin.

Election day registration will certainly help boost participation in tomorrow’s Iowa caucuses. A 2001 study found that states which employ election day registration (EDR) boost their voter turnout rate by 7 percentage points, without partisan gain for either side. The study found that poorer and less educated voters benefited the most from EDR. ThinkProgress spoke with a number of Maine voters who also lauded the ability to update their registration if they’ve recently moved, particularly because most residents are at work during the day and unable to visit the election clerk during normal business hours.

Had the Iowa GOP followed the lead of their brethren in Maine and elsewhere, thousands of Iowans who will cast their vote tomorrow with the help of election day registration could have been turned away from the polls.

Update
Brad Friedman also points out that the Republican caucuses will not require voters to present a photo ID in order to cast their ballot, a requirement GOPers around the country pushed vigorously in 2011.

By: Scott Keyes, Think Progress, January 1, 2011

January 2, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Iowa Caucuses | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Iowa Caucuses Are Un-American

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s in Iowa that the first presidential caucuses are charming. Iowa doesn’t feel like a place where big money and fancy suits win electoral contests (and it’s not; one of the most endearing characteristics about former Republican Rep. Jim Leach was that he wore sweaters under his suitcoats). But without the down-home nature of Midwestern Iowa setting the mood, the caucuses by very definition feel disturbingly un-American.

Caucuses aren’t really free elections. They’re meetings at which group dynamics and peer (or nonpeer) pressure is present and can have an impact on who wins the day. There is no privacy, no secret vote. Friends or married couples who might have deceived each other about whom they were voting for won’t be able to keep the lie alive in a caucus. That might be laudable on some Dr. Phil meter of honesty, but it’s not good for the electoral system. Free and fair elections demand secret ballots.

Watching a caucus can be fascinating to the outsider, and can provide insights to observers and campaign workers alike about who has what constituency group. At the Nevada caucuses in 2008–one of them held, appropriate, at a casino hotel ballroom in Las Vegas–the division was stark. The housekeepers, many of them Latina, huddled on one side of the room, cheering for Hillary Clinton. The showgirls and other younger casino workers gathered in smaller clusters for Barack Obama. It provided an interesting visual, and one that backed the polls: Clinton had a loyal following among Hispanics, and had earned support from those female wage-earners, despite official support for Obama from the casino workers’ union. But there was something very creepy about the public display of individual support, especially since it wasn’t voluntary. There is no opportunity, in a presidential caucus, to give a private endorsement of any candidate.

Iowans have been doing this a long time, and are no doubt used to giving up the opportunity to cast a secret ballot. Will it make some voters feel pressured to support one candidate or another? Will some feel isolated, casting a ballot for a Jon Huntsman or even a falling Michele Bachmann, fearful of looking silly for backing a candidate now seen as having little chance of winning the GOP nomination? Public protest and free speech are honorable, and are American rights. But so is choosing to be quiet about one’s political views.

 

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, January 2, 2012

January 2, 2012 Posted by | Democracy, Election 2012, Voters | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Bain Capitalist”: Mitt Romney Haunted By His Victims

During Mitt Romney’s Senate campaign 17 years ago, the Republican politician was faring quite well against Ted Kennedy, right up until voters started hearing from some of Romney’s victims.

To briefly review, Romney got very rich running a private-equity firm, Bain Capital, which broke up companies and laid off American workers. He had considerable success orchestrating leveraged buyouts, seeking taxpayer subsidies, flipping companies quickly for large profits, and making money for investors, even when the employees of those companies were deemed collateral damage.

In the 1994 campaign, this mattered. Many of Romney’s victims drove to Massachusetts to protest the Republican’s campaign, and Democrats put together a half-dozen ads featuring laid-off workers who said they suffered while Romney lined his pockets at their expense.

It proved effective in 1994, and Dems hope it will work again in 2012.

A former employee of Bain Capital, GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney’s former company, said Sunday that Romney’s decisions cost him and many others their jobs.

Randy Johnson said Sunday that the former Massachusetts governor’s decisions as Bain’s CEO put him out of work.

Romney was the chief executive officer of Bain Capital in 1992 when the company purchased American Pad & Paper, or Ampad, and oversaw the management of that company and others.

Ampad went bankrupt in 2000, and investors netted over $100 million from the deal, according to the Boston Globe.

Johnson told reporters yesterday, “I really feel that he didn’t care about the workers. It was all about profit over people.”

For its part, the Romney campaign recently began arguing that critics of Bain Capital’s layoffs are borderline communists, trying to “put free enterprise on trial.”

Between this and Romney’s agenda — take away health care coverage from millions, tax breaks for the wealthy, free reign for Wall Street, more foreclosures — the “man of the people” routine may prove to be a tough sell.

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, January 2, 2011

January 2, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Battered In Iowa, Gingrich Plans To Rip Romney In New Hampshire And Beyond

The morning after the Des Moines Register‘s final Iowa pre-caucus poll put Newt Gingrich in fourth place and falling, the former Speaker of the House attended mass at St Ambrose Church in Des Moines and then rode thirty-five miles due north in his bus to Ames for an event at the West Towne Pub. The event was billed as a meet-and-greet with voters, but in truth it was more of a full-blown media clusterfuck: the ratio of reporters/pundits/TV personalities (David Gregory, David Brooks, and the inestimable Al Hunt were all in the house) and photographers/cameramen to actual Iowans was roughly ten-to-one. As Gingrich and his wife, Callista, made their way slowly through the jampacked bar, he seemed giddy and slightly gobsmacked by the extent and intensity of the attention. “I’ve never seen so many reporters in my life,” Gingrich marveled. “Don’t you all have anything else to do?”

A fair question, to be sure, especially in light of Gingrich’s standing in the race. One explanation is that his schedule—unlike that of his rivals, all of whom were farther afield today—took him to venues within easy driving distance of Des Moines, which is ground zero for the lazy (or, in the case of Impolitic, skull-splittingly hung over) schlubs who constitute the campaign hack pack. But two other explanations also account for the media scrum. The first is that Gingrich’s unpredictability raises the potential payoff of trailing him around. And the second is the sense among many in the press and the political class that, despite the stunning collapse he has suffered in Iowa, Gingrich may still have the best (and possibly the only) chance of tripping up Romney in what is looking increasingly like a waltz to the Republican nomination.

First a word about that collapse, which has been apparent for two weeks and the Register‘s poll confirmed. As recently as the second week of December, Gingrich was in first place in Iowa, polling north of 30 percent. Today, the stats gurus for the local broadsheet—who have historically produced the most reliable caucus surveys—find his support just barely in double digits (12 percent over a four-day sampling last week, 11 over the last two of those days). The Register also found Romney in first place, with 24 percent; Ron Paul in second with 22 and Rick Santorum in third with 15 (though if you only count those most recent two days of sampling, their positions are reversed, with Paul fading to third with 18 percent and Santorum surging to second with 21); and Rick Perry flatlining in fifth with 11.

The cause of Gingrich’s downward spiral is clear enough: the relentlessly brutal and brutally relentless negative-ad barrage inflicted on him in Iowa since his surge in late November and early December. Indeed, something like half of the vast number of spots that have run here in that time frame have been assaults on Gingrich. The primary source of those spots has been the pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future, which has spent something like $3.5 million on the effort. Gingrich has done nothing to disguise his ire at this turn of events; as the MSNBC host Alex Wagner has described his recent countenance, “The Teddy Bear is angry.”

What the Teddy Bear has not done, however, is fight back—not in any effective way, at least. But at Gingrich’s second event of the day—another meet-and-greet at another sports bar, this time in Marshalltown—he indicated that his passivity is about to disappear. After chatting and taking pictures with voters for about an hour, the candidate decided to conduct an unscheduled media availability. Among those present was another MSNBC host, Chris Matthews, who more or less took control of the proceedings, goading Gingrich by suggesting that he had let Romney’s super-PAC “kick the shit” out of him.

More than any other candidate in the race—more than most politicians, period—Gingrich is perfectly happy to address process questions, adopting the mien of a hardened political consultant. Comparing himself implicitly to John Kerry, Gingrich complained that he had been “Romney-boated” by the negative ads. “I probably should have responded faster and more aggressively,’’ he admitted. “If somebody spent $3.5 million lying about you, you have some obligation to come back and set the record straight.”

Then Gingrich went on, incredibly, to lay out his post-Iowa strategy. “New Hampshire is the perfect state to have a debate over Romneycare and to have a debate about tax-paid abortions, which he signed, and to have a debate about putting Planned Parenthood on a government board, which he signed, and to have a debate about appointing liberal judges, which he did,” Gingrich said. “And so I think New Hampshire is a good place to start the debate for South Carolina.”

So there you have it: Gingrich, who trails Romney badly in the Granite State, plans to use the week between the caucuses here and the primary there to rip Romney a new one; and in doing so, weaken him in South Carolina, where Gingrich (for the moment) is polling strongly and is at the head of the pack.  Now flush with a decent fundraising haul in the last quarter of 2011—around $9 million, he claims—Gingrich apparently intends to take to the airwaves to make his case, in addition to hammering Romney as a dreaded (and self-described, albeit long ago) moderate in the two debates scheduled for this weekend in New Hampshire.

There is, no doubt, something deeply ironic (or even wildly hypocritical) about this putative strategy being outlined by a guy who continues to insist that he is waging a “relentlessly positive” campaign, and who says that he is pinning his hopes of exceeding expectations in Iowa on the possibility that voters here will rise up and repudiate the Romney camp’s negativity towards him. But in politics, consistency is the hobgoblin of … well, almost no one, and least of all Newton Leroy Gingrich.

The more salient and remarkable fact, however, is that Romney has somehow managed to have been the GOP’s de facto frontrunner through all of 2011 and yet never faced sustained negative attacks from his any of his rivals. Romney has improved as a candidate in many ways, but on this score, he has simply been lucky. Barring some strange twist, that luck may be enough to help him win a victory in Iowa on Tuesday night that was barely thinkable a few months back. But if the Angry Teddy Bear has his way, Romney’s luck—at least on this front—is about to reach its end.

 

By: Published in Daily Intel, January 1, 2012

January 2, 2012 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , | Leave a comment

Recall Of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Appears Inevitable

A recall of controversial Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker now appear inevitable. In just 28 days, activists collected 507,533 signatures. Organizers have until January 17 to collect 540,208 signatures, which is equal to 25% of the state’s 2010 general election turnout. To be safe, recall advocates have set a new goal of 720,277 signatures by the deadline.

The recall efforts success has propted the Scott Walker’s campaign to take aggressive action to invalidate signatures. Walker sued his own Government Accountability Board, arguing the proceedures adopted by the board to review signatures aren’t agressive enough. Without citing any concrete evidence, Walker alleged to Fox News that there was massive fraud in the signature gathering effort. The case is still pending.

Nevertheless, Walker has changed his tone in recent days and acknowleged making mistakes in pursuing his an anti-union effort in his first few days in office. Walker told the LaCross Tribune that “that he’s made mistakes in how he’s gone about achieving his agenda” and “he regretted not having done a better job of selling his changes to state government.” Walker also said he regretted his statements on a phone call with a man pretending to be billionaire David Koch. He said his comments on the call, where he referred to his plan to undermine collective bargaining as “dropping a bomb” and admitted he considered planting troublemakers among the protesters, were “stupid.”

Assuming the final signatures are collected and verified, a recall election is expected in the late-Spring or Summer.

 

By: Judd Legum, Think Progress, December 31, 2011

January 2, 2012 Posted by | Collective Bargaining, Democracy, GOP | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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