Monday, October 29, 2012

Early Voting Is Easy!


I voted early today for the first time in my life. Not because I needed to, but because I wanted the experience of it (partly so that I could blog about it here afterward). It really wasn't at all difficult. All I had to do was show up at my local city hall, get in line, fill out a ballot form with my information and signature, and then I was issued a ballot which is identical to the one I have always been issued in the past. The only difference was that it was accordion-folded so that I could fit it into the early voting envelope after I was done.

Presto! It took me all of ten minutes! The hardest part of the entire process was walking in the front door, since the City of Greenfield insists on placing its entrance doors at 90-degree angles away from the face of city hall, and besides that places them in areas which are hell and gone away from the main parking area. But if walking around the ornamental shrubbery was my most difficult task during the process, that's pretty doggone easy!

This is a discovery which the entire nation is making en masse. It is partially in response to the fact that most Americans simply aren't going to change our minds prior to November 6th anyway, and so choose to vote now before suffering from a heart attack or getting hit by a bus. But also it's in response to the stupid, stubborn efforts at voter suppression, done in the disguise of voter I.D. Minorities are voting now, while they still have time to deal with any needless road blocks or have hoops they need to jump through.

And it's a powerful social trend! When I asked the city clerk if they'd been busy with early voting this year, she told me, "You know, it's been election day for six solid days so far!"

There are three things I have to say in response to this rather encouraging phenomenon:

First, I predicted months ago that voter I.D. would backfire. This is one important reason why. Not only are young people and minorities pissed, but they've now been given a tool with which they can fight back, at their own leisure, and on their own timetable. The only problems may come on election day itself when all the procrastinators decide they'd better vote at the last minute. Then there may be some problems. But they won't nearly be as bad as they might have been had early voting not been in place. In fact, its safe to say that if efforts to block the vote with I.D. requirements would succeed in letting Mitt Romney steal Pennsylvania and Ohio, we'd be looking at a national race riot! So all you dittoheads can sleep safely in your beds on November 6th, knowing that your racism failed, and therefore blackey isn't coming to your driveway to smash your windshield in.

Second, I'd previously come out in favor of voter I.D., not only because it is always a good idea to ensure against voter fraud, but because it might not affect polls in a pro-Republican way. I have since been forced to revise my opinion. Voter I.D. could have been a good thing. A voter shows up, has no I.D., so then is redirected to another table, where that person is asked to provide some information, sign their name, provide a thumb-print, have his/her photo taken, and then gets issued a new voter I.D. card and can then go vote. That's the way it should be done, anyway. But, no! Instead, guardians opposed to "fraud" want instead the ability to say to certain voters, "No I.D., then get the fuck out!" What bullshit! Where everybody votes, everybody wins, I say.

Lastly, this means that the polling numbers are skewed. I know, I know, you've heard Republicans saying that the poll numbers which used to so clearly favor Obama were skewed, and now you're hearing something similar from a liberal, so what else is new, right? But actually, I mean that the poll numbers we see today usually evaluate something called "likely voters." In other words, people that are likely to go and vote. With the new trend towards early voting, that demographic has shifted, and I'm not entirely certain that all pollsters have caught on to this fact. With more early voting going on, more minorities and young people are now "likely" to vote. And with those voices added to the polling numbers, the numbers have suddenly shifted!

That makes far more sense than saying, as Karl Rove did three weeks ago, that the polls were "counting too many Democrats."

Plus there are other polling number problems. Failure to include cell phones is a major concern with accuracy, because young people, blacks and Hispanics all predominantly use cell phones exclusively of land lines. Yet Rasmussen and (I believe) Gallup have failed to call such numbers when polling. Toss their numbers out, and Obama suddenly has a two-point lead. Then there is the fact that State polls are more accurate than national polls. Why? Well, for starters, if you get a call at 6:30 P.M., and it's a local number, you are far more likely to answer than if the number has an area code you are not familiar with. (Caller I.D. is yet another new technology which tampers with the poll numbers!) If one just tallies the state polls together, one finds that Obama again has a more than two-point advantage. This is why statistician extraordinaire, Nate Silver, on his blog, fivethirtyeight.com, makes his weighted average of the polls as this:

Obama: 48.3
Romney: 46

A 2.3% advantage going into the final week. And that's before we even figure in the early voting paradigm shift, as well as Hurricane Sandy.

Oh, yes! I predict Hurricane Sandy will have a positive effect for Obama. Say what you will about the man, but Obama is cooler under fire than Romney, and that plays in his favor.

So, that about does it for this rant. Obama, I predict, will win.

And I am going to dance, dance, dance all over the right-wing trash-talker graves when he does!


Eric

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