President Donald Trump has criticized the growing number of states refusing to pass on voters’ details to his commission on electoral fraud.
The president tweeted: “What are they trying to hide?”
At least 20 states have said that they will not or only partly comply with the request, citing privacy concerns.
Democrats fear that the commission may be used to justify tightening voting procedures – changes which could make certain groups less likely to vote.
The groups most affected by so-called voter suppression tend to vote Democrat.
However, it is not just Democrats who are opposed to the collection of such data by the federal government.
Mississippi’s Secretary of State, Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said in an official statement that his reply to the commission would be “they can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from”.
Kentucky’s Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes, said she would not be releasing “sensitive personal data to the federal government”.
She said in a statement: “Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country.”
The panel, described by President Trump as “very distinguished,” is chaired by Vice-President Mike Pence.
On June 28, its vice-chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, sent a letter to the 50 US states and the District of Columbia requesting details from voter rolls including: names, addresses, dates of birth, political affiliation, last four digits of social security number, voting history since 2006, criminal convictions and military status.
The information would be used “to fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting,” the letter said.
Many other states, including Alabama, California, Connecticut and Minnesota have said they will not send the information, or will only send information that is already publically available.
Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied any Russian interference into the presidential election.
According to the Washington Post article, President Obama was told early last August by sources deep within the Russian government that President Putin was directly involved in a cyber campaign to disrupt the election, injure Hillary Clinton and aid a Trump victory.
Image source AP
The Post said Barack Obama secretly debated dozens of options to punish Russia but in the end settled on what it called symbolic measures – the expulsion of 35 diplomats and closure of two Russian compounds. They came in late December, well after the election.
The paper reported that Barack Obama was concerned he might himself be seen as trying to manipulate the election.
The Post quoted a former administration official as saying: “From national security people there was a sense of immediate introspection, of, <<Wow, did we mishandle this>>.”
Measures President Obama had considered but which were not put into action included planting cyber weapons in the Russian infrastructure and releasing information personally damaging to Vladimir Putin.
President Trump tweeted on June 23: “The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?”
The president followed that up with two more tweets on June 24, the second saying: “Obama Administration official said they “choked” when it came to acting on Russian meddling of election. They didn’t want to hurt Hillary?”
Donald Trump repeats the argument in an interview with Fox News, which will air on June 25.
“If he had the information, why didn’t he do something about it? He should have done something about it. But you don’t read that. It’s quite sad.”
Allegations of collusion between the Trump team and Moscow officials during the election have dogged the president’s first five months in office.
Donald Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations, calling the investigations a “witch hunt”.
It’s been a long slog of a campaign and many Americans – whether their favored candidate won or lost – are just relieved it’s over. Here are 10 signs Election Day has been and gone.
1. No-one cares about Ohio
Once every four years, the state finds itself at the centre of the political universe, before dropping off the map. Ohio is often the butt of American jokes – seen as the embodiment of a Midwestern backwater. But as the election draws near, the world’s media descends, and commentators talk breathlessly about how “it’s all about Ohio”.
“People enjoy it,” says Fred Andrle, a former talk show host in Ohio. Most of the time, “we are considered fly-over people”.
Ohio law student Andrew Gordon-Seifert, 24, appreciated the attention – not least from the candidates themselves. But he says: “There’s a sentiment of cynicism – they realized how important we are to getting elected, but will they be there for us in the future?”
2. Mattress ads back on television
There were more than one million campaign ad airings in this presidential campaign – almost double that in 2008 and 2004. It has been a bonanza in terms of ad revenues for TV stations, but now the adverts have returned to staple subjects like mattresses, a dog’s arthritis or erectile dysfunction. Answering the phone has become a whole lot easier for those in swing states too – if there is a call, it is probably a real person.
3. The polling addicts are in detox
There are lots of “poll junkies” out there, says self-confessed addict Daniel Hamermesh, who teaches economics at the University of Texas at Austin and Royal Holloway in London. With a habit of checking the latest polls at least four times a day, he set himself the target of going cold turkey up to Election Day. He lasted just three days.
“I fell off the damn wagon,” he says.
But with the election over, he says he’s coping fine: “The thing that caused the addiction is gone – it’s as if there has been a tobacco blight, and the tobacco is gone,” he says.
“My wife is happy to have me back more full-time.”
4. All the news is about this cliff thing
Lots of things get put on ice during election season, but this one will have to come out of the freezer soon. The “fiscal cliff” refers to a deadline of December 31st for Congress to agree on spending levels and tax rates. The Fitch ratings agency recently called it the “single biggest near-term threat to a global economic recovery”. The word “bipartisanship” is one that has come out of the deep-freeze in the last couple of days. It will be needed.
Ten signs Election Day is over
5. You only read Buzzfeed for pictures of cats
Once upon a time, Buzzfeed was a site devoted to cats playing the piano, photos of kids with weird haircuts, and 90s nostalgia. But then Politico whiz-kid Ben Smith came on board just in time for the drama of the 2012 election. Suddenly the site known for articles like This Grandma And Her Cat Are The Cutest Best Friends Ever and 9 Most Controversial Salads was a must-read for political junkies, with trenchant articles from a stable of talented reporters, putting forward a mix of breaking scoops and in-depth features. They’re probably still doing all that stuff, but now that the election is over, you’re more interested in those salads.
6. Joe Biden stops emailing you
You can open your inbox without it being full of emails from the candidates or their campaign teams, usually exhorting you to dig deep into your pockets or give up some time to get people out to vote.
Mitt Romney’s final email on Election Day began with the words: “Friend, Polls are open for a few more hours. Your vote, and your outreach efforts, will determine the outcome. America’s future is up to you.”
7. Celebrities go back to selling you their perfume, not their political views
Celebrity endorsements have been a staple in American politics for some time, and this year was no exception. Barack Obama managed to muster a longer line-up, with more A-listers, but the celebrity moment of the campaign definitely goes to Clint Eastwood for his soliloquy to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention. That may well be remembered, but the B-and-C-listers will vanish back into oblivion.
8. Election tat is piling up
It will be decades before the bog-standard mugs, badges, bumper stickers and posters of this campaign gain any significant value as collectors’ items, says Steve Ferber an expert on political memorabilia. Campaigns have begun to charge for things which used to be given away for free, he says. There has also been an “amazing increase” in buyers from abroad, he says – especially from the UK, Germany and Australia, who are keen on Barack Obama items.
9. You can say what you like on Facebook
Election time can create some awkward moments with friends and family on the other side of the political divide. Student Andrew Gordon-Seifert says most of the political chat among his friends was on Facebook, and things could get testy at times, with inflammatory political posts, and angry ripostes. He took care about what he would say politically – both online and in person – to keep the temperature down. Now it’s over, “we can get back to not being so divided”, he says.
10. The talk is all about 2016
In-between the fierce recriminations and soul-searching among the Republican Party, is speculation on who will run for the presidency in 2016 (Hillary Clinton versus Jeb Bush, is Politico‘s prediction). This future-gazing actually begins a few days before Election Day, says Karlyn Bowman with the conservative think tank, American Enterprise Institute.
“We’re polled out. Everyone is so exhausted, that people just want to turn to something new,” she says.
Many who live and breathe politics are now – with their source of sustenance suddenly gone – feeling a little deflated now, she says.
But the main sentiment is a kind of collective phew: “Everyone will say a prayer – not just for Thanksgiving, but that the campaign is over.”
Staten Island residents were guided to a polling site in the dark this morning by flares as problems mounted for New York voters across the city struggling with power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy.
With hundreds of temporary polling places in operation across the battered East Coast, voters in the Midland Beach neighborhood of Staten Island lined in pitch black to cast their ballots in outdoor tents as police officers stood guard.
In Rockaway Park in Queens, voting was reportedly delayed because of a loss of power and in New Jersey tens of thousands of e-mail voters were thrown into panic after they were told they had to send in hard copies of their ballots as well – with no exceptions.
Across the East Coast problems were compounded by near freezing temperatures early this morning at temporary polling stations and New York’s MTA said it was providing free ‘voter shuttles’ today for people in the Rockaways, Staten Island and Coney Island whose normal polling stations were destroyed or damaged in last week’s storm.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged city residents to check the Board of Elections website to discover any polling changes as government officials struggled to ensure that everyone who wants to vote can.
“Vote. It is our most precious right,” said Michael Bloomberg on election eve.
However, with the myriad of problems presenting residents with barriers to vote, some are simply not bothering.
“We’ve got too many concerns that go beyond the national scene,” said Staten Island resident Paul Hoppe – who lost his home in last week’s massive storm which claimed over 100 lives across the nation.
Staten Island residents were guided to a polling site in the dark this morning by flares as problems mounted for New York voters across the city struggling with power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy
Across New Jersey almost 100 polling stations across the state are without power as the Lieutenant Governor performed a U-turn last night and said that the state does need email voters to submit hard copies of their ballots by mail immediately.
The move which allowed no exceptions for victims of Sandy caused massive confusion, as earlier in the day Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno had told county-level officials to accept e-mailed ballots until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
However, the security risks inherent in voting remotely was deemed a danger that could compromise the result and the Lt. Gov was forced to issue new advice to beleaguered voters across the state who are keen to vote.
The confusing about-turn was designed to relieve the damage caused by flooding and winds from Hurricane Sandy, which has made hundred of polling locations unavailable nationwide.
However, voting experts were unanimous that her advice was incorrect: “You must have a paper ballot backup,” said Penny Venetis, a professor at Rutgers University School of Law in Newark.
“Voters’ e-mails can be modified or interfered with – without their knowledge – coming into the county election computers,” said Andrew Appel to NJ.Com, a computer science professor at Princeton University.
“E-mail voting is completely untrustworthy and insecure unless it’s backed up by paper ballots that a voter signs and sends in.”
Larry Norden, a voting-rights advocate for New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, said the email option wouldn’t be viable for voters still without power.
“My biggest concern about all this is confusion. These places need to take statewide action to make sure people who have been displaced know there is some way they can vote,” said Larry Norden.
Meanwhile, problems for voters not affected by Sandy began to mount during the early morning.
Voting machine problems have caused delays and long lines at one polling station in a heavily populated Indianapolis suburb.
Hamilton County residents had to wait nearly 30 minutes to vote at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers because voting machines weren’t operating when that polling site opened Tuesday.
WTHR-TV reports that by the time the problem was fixed a half-hour later the school’s gym was filled with voters and the line spilled out the door.
The heavily Republican county north of Indianapolis saw other polling station problems, but those were quickly fixed.
Hamilton County Election Administrator Kathy Richardson says cards used to clear tallies from machines before voting begins were improperly programmed. Some 500 machines in about 150 polling places had to be reset once those cards were reprogrammed.
Because of the turbulent counting process and new regulations about proper ballot submissions, there is a distinct possibility that the country will not know the next president for days or weeks after they cast their votes.
A half-dozen problems are at the top of the list for political analysts, who are zoning in on new voter identification requirements and provisional ballot measures in a number of states as two legal issues.
The hurricane may play a role in any potential battle over a close popular vote, as would any machine malfunction issues that inevitably arise every election.
The final two problem areas come from a group of civilians from a subset of the Tea Party who are intent on serving as extra minders at polling stations to look out for fraud, and the onslaught of lawsuits that has already begun in Florida over the deadline for early voting.
Echoes of the mess created in Florida back in 2000 are already flashing before pundits’ eyes as the Democratic Party filed lawsuits calling for an extension of the early voting deadline because of excessive lines this weekend.
Though the early voting period officially ended on Saturday, the Democrats challenged- and were quickly rebuked by- Republican governor Rick Scott by demanding the deadline was extended.
The lawsuits were rejected, and now the focus turns solely to Tuesday.
Ten of lesser-spotted things about American presidential politics and about 2012 campaign.
1. Why is Election Day always a Tuesday?
Even though America’s voter turnout is among the lowest in mature democracies and more than a quarter of people who do not vote claim they are too busy, efforts to move elections to weekends have failed.
The Tuesday after the first Monday in November was set as presidential Election Day in 1845.
In the mid-19th Century, the US was an agrarian nation and it simply took a lot of time for farmers to drive the horse and buggy to the nearest polling place.
Saturday was a workday on the farm, travel on Sunday was out, and Wednesday was a market day. That left Tuesday.
2. The sunglasses thing
Politicians are almost never photographed wearing sunglasses, especially during election campaigns and even at leisure.
Barack Obama plays golf with the sun glaring in his eyes, and this summer, Mitt Romney was photographed on the back of a jet ski on a lake in New Hampshire, bare-eyed though his wife Ann wore sunglasses.
If a person’s eyes are hidden, people trust them less, says Parker Geiger, an Atlanta executive image consultant.
“You just don’t get a sense of the individual,” he says.
“There’s no eye contact – that’s how you build trust. Sunglasses put a barrier between you and the other person. They say eyes are the windows of the soul, and if I can’t see your soul how can I trust you?”
3. In Nevada, you can vote for “none of the above”
The US state of Nevada allows voters to mark “None of these candidates” on the ballot.
The option has been on the ballot since 1976 and plenty of voters have used it.
In 2010 after a particularly brutish campaign for a US Senate seat, 2.25% of voters chose “None” rather than pick incumbent Democrat Harry Reid or Republican challenger Sharon Angle. Harry Reid won.
4. Thumb jab
Featured in the three presidential debates were Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and… Obama’s thumb.
At the debates, the president frequently jabbed his hand, with his thumb resting atop a loosely curled fist, to emphasize a point.
The gesture – which might appear unnatural in normal communication – was probably coached into Barack Obama to make him appear more forceful, says body language expert Patti Wood.
“It’s a symbolic weapon,” says Patti Wood, author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma.
“Speakers are coached to do it to look strong and mighty and to grab the attention of their audience, and in a political speech to emphasize strong points and to look like you are powerful.”
And on a subconscious level it’s phallic, she says. “It’s sexually male. Men put out their thumb and it says <<I am a man>>.”
Ten of lesser-spotted things about American presidential politics and about 2012 campaign
5. Job titles are for life
Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts for four years – and he left office almost six years ago. Yet he is still addressed as Governor Mitt Romney, as if that were a title of nobility rather than a political office.
The US has only one president at a time, but Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are always referred to as President Clinton and President Bush – even in the same sentence as Barack Obama.
And during the Republican primary campaign, Newt Gingrich was routinely referred to as Mr. Speaker – even though he was the Speaker of the House for four years and left that post nearly 14 years ago.
As odd as it sounds to hear “Presidents Clinton and Obama” from a news presenter’s mouth, the perma-title is acceptable, traditional and appropriate, says Daniel Post Senning, author and spokesman for etiquette arbiter Emily Post Institute.
“It really shows the esteem that we hold those offices in – that this is a democracy, and those are such important positions that it becomes like a professional title,” he says.
“I liken it to when a judge or a doctor retires. They’ve invested a lot in their professional identity and many retain the use of their professional title.”
6. Election loser can still win the White House
Four times in American history, the candidate with fewer votes has wound up with the presidency.
That is because the winner of the presidential election needs to capture a majority of electoral votes, which are apportioned to the states by population and for the most part awarded in winner-take-all state contests.
The national presidential election is effectively 51 separate contests (50 states and Washington DC), with the winner of 270 electoral votes taking the presidency.
Most recently, in 2000 George Bush won half a million votes less than Al Gore but took 271 electoral votes for the victory.
It is entirely conceivable that the person sworn into the White House in January will once again be the man with fewer votes.
One scenario envisioned by analysts – Barack Obama could piece together enough states to win the electoral college and hence the presidency, while Mitt Romney wins populous conservative states like Texas and Georgia by a wide enough margin to take the national popular vote.
7. It could be a dead-heat – with a President Mitt Romney and VP Joe Biden
American politics is at its most partisan and polarized in more than a century, many analysts say. But it could get much, much worse – Mitt Romney could be elected president and Joe Biden re-elected vice-president.
Under the US constitution, if the electoral college (the sum of delegates from each state – 270 and you’re president) ends in a tie – and there are several scenarios under which this could occur – the election is sent to the 435-member House of Representatives.
This is currently Republican-controlled and is unlikely to change hands, so they would choose Mitt Romney.
But under the same clause, the Democrat-led Senate would choose the vice-president – Joe Biden.
Joe Biden might then be tempted to undermine Mitt Romney at every turn.
“A historic tie, which would spur demonstrations that would make the healthcare battle look like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, seems a logical conclusion of the bitter partisan paralysis here and the bottom-feeding campaign,” wrote New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd on Tuesday.
8. Why the obsession with “folks”?
“Folks here in Iowa understand this – you cannot grow this economy from the top down”- Barack Obama, 17 October.
“I know that a lot of folks are struggling” – Mitt Romney, 10 October
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney use the word “folks” far more often than the word is typically heard from the lips of men with their socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.
The word, which finds its origins in the Old English, is in the US historically associated with the South. That’s a stereotypically less-pretentious region that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney are from.
The word used as such is roughly the same as “people”, but warmer and more inclusive, says Grant Barrett, editor of the Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang.
“American politics is a southerner’s game,” says Grant Barrett.
“It’s a talker’s game and Southerners are talkers. At the national level we have often been dominated by Southerners.”
9. Only a third of the US matters
On 6 November, the election will effectively be decided by less than a third of the US population.
Most of the states in America, including four of the five most populous, are so solid in their support for the Republicans or the Democrats that the candidates do not bother campaigning there.
Instead, each side chalks up those safe states in their tally and fights over the remaining handful of swing states on their path to 270 electoral votes.
The election is thus decided by the roughly 30% of the US population which lives in the swing states.
For the 70% of Americans who live in California, Texas, Georgia, New York, Illinois and the 35 other safe states, their votes count toward the electoral college total, but they cannot be said to be relevant in deciding the election.
10. In North Dakota, you can vote without registering to vote
The only state where it is not necessary to register in order to vote is North Dakota.
Although it was one of the first states to adopt voter registration in the 19th Century, it abolished it in 1951. The North Dakota State Government website says the move can be explained by the state’s close-knit, rural communities.
“North Dakota’s system of voting, and lack of voter registration, is rooted in its rural character by providing small precincts.
“Establishing relatively small precincts is intended to ensure that election boards know the voters who come to the polls to vote on Election Day and can easily detect those who should not be voting in the precinct.”
People coming to vote must be US citizens over the age of 18, who have lived in the precinct for at least 30 days, says Al Jaeger, the North Dakota Secretary of State. And people still need to produce identification, if they are not known to officials.
“I don’t see any difference with any other states, except that we don’t have voter registration, but it’s the same result. It might be an oddity but it has the same purpose. Our elections have a great deal of integrity.”
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