It's obvious that the DRE or "touch screen" machines don't offer a paper trail and we can clearly see with DRE's in a recount, all we get are tapes re-run and their totals accepted as "recounted." There are few, if any, changes in a recount on this type of voting machine.
Before the November election our Committee sent out an email suggesting Democratic voters use the paper ballot or optical scan voting machines. We all knew the election was going to be close and if there were to be a recount, a paper ballot was the best choice of getting our votes counted.
What I didn't know then, however, was the propensity for the optical scan machines to kick out or not count the many votes we are now seeing being counted during the AG recount. After some discussion with election officials yesterday who know these machines, it is possible to count the "under votes" on election night or at the very least have them be counted during the Electoral Board canvasses. The optical scan machines simply need to be programmed differently. However, I'm told that would require a change in the law.
It is my understanding that all "write-in" votes are segregated from the other ballots in the optical scan machines. Each of those votes has to be recorded on the precinct level election paperwork and the person who received the vote has his/her name recorded. The optical scan machines could also be programmed to segregate any over or under votes in the same manner. They could then be forwarded to the electoral boards for review for a voter intent determination. By doing so, the "under votes" being counted yesterday and today could have been included in the certified results sent from each locality to the State Board of elections.
Today, we may be facing a very similar fork in the political road. Republicans are going all in for State Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg. Should he win, it will almost guarantee that the 2017 Governor's race will be between Obenshain and Northam. Ben Tribbett has already expressed concerns about Ralph Northam as the Gubernatorial nominee in four years. In my opinion, choices are good and Virginia Democrats would do well to keep their options open.
Furthermore, if Obenshain wins, he'll have four years building a record to run on in 2017. Cuccinelli lost the race for Governor by being too extreme during his time in the AG's office, waging a war against science at the University of Virginia and prioritizing defending bans on sex in court. We can hope that Obenshain is that stupid, but we should fear him finding un-offensive issues like human trafficking, drugs, and defending the elderly that hide his conservatism from the public eye in 2017.
Without Obenshain, the Republicans will be in disarray in 2017, as the growing discontent expressed from Republicans like Bill Bolling and Tom Davis will be aired out in the open by more members during any nomination fight. The party could do some soul searching and come up with a moderate nominee in 2017, but more likely an effort to run a moderate will result in a bloody, brutal primary (or convention).
We need Mark Herring to win. How could that happen?
In 2001, Democrats broke back into the Governor's Mansion in Richmond after eight years with Mark Warner trouncing Mark Earley. Along the way, Warner helped Richmond Mayor Tim Kaine win as Lt. Governor, but he couldn't get Donald McEachin over the finish line against Jerry Kilgore. More importantly, the Warner-Kaine victory came despite a Republican landslide at the House of Delegates level, mainly due to the new Republican gerrymandering. As Democrats look to sweep at least the top two spots in Virginia on November 5, how are their chances in the House of Delegates looking?
Under the new Republican-drawn lines, Obama won only 45 House of Delegates districts, despite his statewide victory. Tim Kaine won an additional six and was close in several more. Although McAuliffe could poll as high as 52%, the internal polling indicates that there will be some variance compared to Obama's similar statewide victory in 2012. Let's look at this regionally.
In the House of Delegates, Democrats have released three internal polls showing our candidates well positioned to make gains. But there are also signs that the wave on election day may crash upon hostile shores down-ballot. All that, and MORE, to be discussed in this, the first of a multi-party diary analyzing what we know so far about the Virginia election.
First, the good news for Virginia Democrats. Terry McAullife's position in the latest NBC4/NBC News/Marist poll shows him expanding his lead against Ken Cuccinelli, up 46% to 38%, with Libertarian candidate Sarvis receiving 9% of the vote. That's up 3 percentage points from the pre-shutdown Marist poll.
It's only one poll of many, but it can't be good for the Virginia GOP that both McAullife and Sarvis are gaining in the polls while Cuccinelli is flat. The only "good news" in the last few weeks for Republicans may have been their ability to exclude Sarvis from the debates, limiting his exposure, but he's still polling in the high single digits.
Without Sarvis, the Marist poll has McAullife up 52% to 43%. That 52% may be a good approximation of McAullife's ceiling in these closing days of the campaign.
In 2005, Jerry Kilgore ran an offensive, dirty campaign against Tim Kaine. The tax increases passed by the Republican General Assembly divided Kilgore's party; his campaign was a bumbling effort to avoid attacking the turncoats that helped Mark Warner while also promising to roll back the historic revenue increase that provided for a significant investment in public education. Usually if you can't say anything nice, you're not supposed to say anything at all, but Kilgore instead found that his only message was to go negative against Tim Kaine. We all remember the October ad referencing Hitler and Tim Kaine's religious and moral objection to the death penalty.
Kilgore's fate was sealed, but only narrowly. Russ Potts, a moderate Republican exiled by his party's primitive proto-Tea Party wing, provided a vehicle of protest for moderate Republicans fed up with Kilgore. Polling as high as 4 to 5 percent in the month before the election, Potts received just over 2% of the vote. It might not sound like much, but it's the highest showing for a third party candidate for Governor of Virginia since William Story's 13.38% in 1965 as a Virginia Conservative (ignoring Henry Howell's 49.28% in 1973 when the Democrats did not run a candidate). A minor shift of other swing voters to Tim Kaine, based primarily in the suburban counties across the Commonwealth, made up the rest of the margin of victory over Kilgore.
In 2013, the Republican Party of Virginia has replaced the country bumpkin Kilgore with the Tea Party zealot Ken Cuccinelli. Faced with a signature legislative accomplishment, Cuccinelli turned hard right against Governor Bob McDonnell's transportation plan. This split could have provided an opening for Bill Bolling to run as an independent, a choice that Big Bill is probably regretting right now as he watches the no-name Sarvis polling in the double digits. Like Kilgore, Cuccinelli cannot run on any legislative accomplishments from Richmond, and now finds himself without a popular Governor to latch his campaign to. When you don't have anything positive to say about yourself, the only campaign tactic left is to attack your opponent and drag them through the mud.
Last year I wrote about a regulatory change proposed by Cuccinelli's office that, under his concept of due process, required just about anyone mentioned in an elder abuse case be notified. There was broad and overwhelming objection to this policy change expressed during the Regulatory Town Hall Process comment period. A public hearing was set for April 17, 2013 (by coincidence, the day of Shad Planking). Instead the hearing was cancelled and, despite the fierce objections of social services professionals, the policy was placed in force. One size fits all in Ken's world. Except, no responsible professionals are willingly going to follow a narrow-minded dictate that places their clients' welfare in jeopardy.
Adult Protective Services (APS) professionals found a hole in the policy and, statewide, drove their cases through it. Notification was required when there was a finding. Simple enough. In cases of abuse where the victim was unwilling or unable to charge the perpetrator, the social service professional simply classified the allegations as unfounded. Done; except that for about three months while this policy was in full force, adult abuse findings were significantly underreported. In the face of strong behind the scenes opposition to the policy by the Department of Social Services, it has been amended, then effectively rescinded.
State Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26th), Republican candidate for Attorney General and self-styled champion of the elderly has privately indicated interest in the issue but would find himself at odds with the head of the statewide ticket if he publicly addressed it. So with leadership in lock-step, it is certain that the potential Republican administration under Cuccinelli would bully its way through "principled" blunder after blunder, forcing state employees to choose between what is right and what will preserve their jobs.
The APS professionals chose what was right and have prevailed for now. But no doubt it will not be so certain a result under a Governor Cuccinelli.
One fifth of pregnancies end on spontaneous miscarriage. Several decades ago, one-fourth of all pregnancies ended in miscarriage. But your 21st century radical Republicans want to criminalize nature and, thus, a very large number of women. You would think that if they couldn't conjure up basic decency, sympathy, and fairness, they would understand this flies in the face of even most conservatives. Women who miscarry often endure painful labor, they are figuratively dropped off a hormonal cliff, they are in most cases overwhelmed by sorrow and loss. But instead of humanity, these guys (emphasis GUYS) offer up tracking women into the criminal justice system. Some justice. Talk about kicking someone when she is down.