Thursday, December 29, 2011

Polls, polls, polls: Slowly I turn, "Niagara Falls"


2012
  • Unaligned N.H. vote a test for Mitt Romney- Independents could change the momentum in GOP (By Sarah Schweitzer, Boston Globe) Undeclared voters - who are commonly called independents, and who account for more than 40 percent of New Hampshire’s registered voters - don’t appear poised to derail Romney’s longtime lead over his rivals in New Hampshire. With 39 percent of the overall vote in the UNH Survey Center/Boston Globe poll released Sunday, he had a comfortable margin, and significant support among the independents. Among those independents who have declared their allegiance, 32 percent say they back Romney.
  • Youth vote won't return for Obama in 2012, report says (By Perry Bacon Jr., the Grio) In a report on Wednesday, Curtis Gans, director of the Washington-based Center for the American Electorate, predicted voter turnout overall (as a percentage of the eligible voting population) would be lower than in 2008 or 2004. He argued those two elections fired up voters, particularly Democrats, in a way neither party will in 2012.
  • New Iowa Poll May Understate Paul’s Support (By NATE SILVER, NY Times/ FiveThirtyEight) The recent Public Policy Polling survey, for instance, estimated that 24 percent of Iowa caucus participants are currently registered as independents or Democrats and will re-register as Republicans at the caucuses. This month’s Washington Post/ABC News poll put the fraction at 18 percent. There is room to debate what the right number is but it will certainly not be zero, as the CNN poll assumes.
  • Democrats Lag in Voter Registration (By LAURA MECKLER, Wall Street Journal) Today, far fewer people are registering, and the enormous Democratic advantage among new voters in North Carolina has vanished, according to new data from Catalist, a group with Democratic ties that studies voter rolls. That illustrates a broader challenge for the president's party. Democrats still hold an overall registration advantage in many states, but Obama campaign officials and other Democrats say it is important to bring new Obama voters onto the rolls—both to replenish voters who drop off and offset possible losses among independent voters, who have been skeptical of Mr. Obama's job performance.



The electoral system has morphed to the point where the vast majority of congressional general elections are no longer relevant


OPEN PRIMARIES

  • Linbeck: Holding Congress accountable through primary elections (By Leo Linbeck III, Alliance for Self-Governance, Special to the Star-Telegram) Today, voting in the general election is not enough. The electoral system has morphed to the point where the vast majority of congressional general elections are no longer relevant. Because more than 80 percent of congressional seats are in one-party districts, the decision is not made in the general election -- it is made in the primary of the party that controls that district.
  • Libertarians and Greens seek to intervene in top two open primary lawsuit (Posted By Damon Eris, IVN) Two candidates and two voters from the Green and Libertarian parties are seeking to intervene on the side of the plaintiffs in Chamness v. Bowen, one of three lawsuits pending against California’s top two open primary system. In their motion to intervene, filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month, the Greens and Libertarians argue that unless the top two primary system is struck down, they will be deprived of their rights to participate in the June primary election (of their respective parties), as well as the November general election.
  • Political reform 'godfather' ignites career in Bakersfield (BY DIANNE HARDISTY, Bakersfield.com) Portrait of Robert Stern, Center for Governmental Studies at Stanford: Primary elections will now see all candidates for an office on a single ballot, regardless of political affiliation. The top two vote-getters (even if from the same party) will advance to the general election. "I started out as a big proponent. But after I studied it, I was undecided. I barely voted for it," said Stern, who believes the "jury is still out" on the affect the top-two primary system will have on reforming the political process. "The affect is likely to be more on Democrats than Republicans."

Independents 2012: Don't Bet Your House


2012
  • Unaligned N.H. vote a test for Mitt Romney - Independents could change the momentum in GOP (By Sarah Schweitzer, Boston Globe) Undeclared voters - who are commonly called independents, and who account for more than 40 percent of New Hampshire’s registered voters - don’t appear poised to derail Romney’s longtime lead over his rivals in New Hampshire. With 39 percent of the overall vote in the UNH Survey Center/Boston Globe poll released Sunday, he had a comfortable margin, and significant support among the independents. Among those independents who have declared their allegiance, 32 percent say they back Romney. 
  • Youth vote won't return for Obama in 2012, report says (By Perry Bacon Jr., the Grio) In a report on Wednesday, Curtis Gans, director of the Washington-based Center for the American Electorate, predicted voter turnout overall (as a percentage of the eligible voting population) would be lower than in 2008 or 2004. He argued those two elections fired up voters, particularly Democrats, in a way neither party will in 2012.
  • New Iowa Poll May Understate Paul’s Support (By NATE SILVER, NY Times/ FiveThirtyEight) The recent Public Policy Polling survey, for instance, estimated that 24 percent of Iowa caucus participants are currently registered as independents or Democrats and will re-register as Republicans at the caucuses. This month’s Washington Post/ABC News poll put the fraction at 18 percent. There is room to debate what the right number is but it will certainly not be zero, as the CNN poll assumes.
  • Democrats Lag in Voter Registration (By LAURA MECKLER, Wall Street Journal) Today, far fewer people are registering, and the enormous Democratic advantage among new voters in North Carolina has vanished, according to new data from Catalist, a group with Democratic ties that studies voter rolls. That illustrates a broader challenge for the president's party. Democrats still hold an overall registration advantage in many states, but Obama campaign officials and other Democrats say it is important to bring new Obama voters onto the rolls—both to replenish voters who drop off and offset possible losses among independent voters, who have been skeptical of Mr. Obama's job performance.

NY Times Invitation to Dialogue: Time for a Third Party?



THIRD PARTY
  • Invitation to a Dialogue: Time for a Third Party? (LETTER NY Times) A centrist third party could prosper in today’s political environment and end the stalemate in Washington. There is a large body of moderate Republicans, disaffected Democrats and dissatisfied independents looking for the kind of political home that this party could provide.
  • Is California Ready for a Third Party? (By Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, NBC Southern California) The implementation of California’s new “top-two” primary could allow an early test. Will candidates filing for legislative and Congressional offices choose to list Americans Elect as their “party preference” on the ballot?” Can these candidates, unlike those of California’s long-established third parties, overcome the major parties’ massive registration edge and make it into the November run-off?
  • Third Party Hazy as California Smog (By Larry Gerston, NBC Southern California) The unfortunate aspect of this charade is that someone will actually appear as a candidate in states where the "party" has qualified--someone who has not gone through the public vetting process known as primaries and caucuses. In a state with a closely fought race, that person could get enough votes to sway the outcome one way or another.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sameh Abdelaziz: After Spring, any thing can happen!

by Sameh Abdelaziz

After Spring, any thing can happen!

Even optimists are starting to have second thoughts about the Arab Spring, which is quickly turning into blood showers. The numbers of dead and injured are astounding and the prize so far is confined to three bad possibilities. An extension of a dictatorial corrupt regime such as the case in Egypt, the election of an Islamist party that the West don’t understand nor trust, as the case is in Tunisia, or an endless insane killing as the case seem to be in Syria, Libya, and Yemen. This bleak picture is unfortunately true.

Consecutive American administrations based its policy in the Arab World, on the need for stable regimes that can maintain the critical oil supply, while ensuring the safety of Israel. The American partners in this policy have been corrupted and autocratic regimes that control their countries with iron fists.

The premise of stability was shattered on September 11. However, instead of reassessing our policies and trying to understand the cause and effect we started an endless debate about an imaginary clash of civilization. None of our think tanks stopped to argue that in the age of the internet there is only one civilization with different levels of restrictions imposed on its inhabitants.

This year, our politicians were shocked, as usual, to discover that the people of the Arab World, wearing headscarfs or jeans and sometimes both, demanded freedom and were willing to die for democracy. The so-called Arab Spring surprised the world and especially America.

In the case of Egypt, after a few days of confusion, the American government supported at least publicly handing Mubarak’s power to the second in command, a junta of Egyptian generals. In Libya, our government participated in the physical removal of Gaddafi. In Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria Obama’s administration shut in different degrees their eyes on the ongoing brutality.

Ten months after the initial spark, demonstrations are igniting once again in Cairo's Tahrir Square. The Syrian revolution that started peaceful is sliding slowly into an armed conflict, and Yemen is disintegrating. The Arab revolutions are moving to a next phase that is impossible to defined, but will clearly reshape the region and impact American interests for years to come.

The first step to deal with this challenging environment is to understand that stability built on autocracy is over, because the genie is already out of the bottle. The options left for America in the Middle East are either to stand idle, which will definitely elongate people’s struggles, or to support the revolutionary movements to the dismay of some old allies.

In such turning points, history can provide NO guarantees. But, logically an elongated struggle will most likely bring extreme religious factions. These extremists are already presenting themselves as the alternative to the secular institutional corruption supported by America and the West. On the other hand, a shorter struggle can enable the real actors of the revolution, mostly liberals and moderate Islamists, to provide a reliable alternative.

It is in America’s interest to support a peaceful and speedy power transfer.

America has developed the Egyptian military apparatus over the last forty years and even handpicked their leadership. This influence is the result of 1.3 billion dollars in military aid that goes mainly to buy loyalty through fancy long training engagements and huge commissions permissible by Egyptian laws. This is the time to use this capital.

I’m quite confident that the American administration is able, if not so willing, to advise/ pressure the Egyptian generals in private to share power with a civilian leadership representing all the major political factions. Such a move will bring immediate calm to the explosive situation in Egypt and should be a first step towards a complete and real power transfer to elected civilians. The new Egyptian administration might be less loyal to America than Mubarak and his cronies, but the people of Egypt and the rest of the Arab world can and will support America if the American administration is smart enough to support freedom and democracy.

A resolution to the Egyptian crisis will serve as a model to bring back stability to other countries within the region. America should support the Arab revolution because of principles, but it is also good for business.


Sameh Abdelaziz is an Egyptian American born in Alexandria. He immigrated to the US in the late eighties, and works as an IT manager. He blogs on OpEd News.

Mass. Coalition of Independent Voters Hits the Street With Request: Congress Should Hold Hearings on Status of Independent Voters!

Evelyn Dougherty is a clinical therapist in the Boston area, and key organizer for Massachusetts Coalition of Independent Voters.


LETTER by Evelyn Dougherty: Thoughts on what is going on in Washington (Taunton Gazette) (Also in Jewish Journal North Shore) In the course of an hour, dozens signed postcards.  Among them were a political science student, a mom, a grandfather and several peace activists. Members of our group, MA Coalition of Independent Voters, have already met with Congressman Michael Capuano to ask for his help in bringing about hearings and have requested a meeting with Scott Brown.

The Unity of Independent Voters: Not a Partisan Pleasure

Randy Schultz, writing for the editorial page of the Palm Beach Post, doesn't see dissatisfaction with the major parties as a uniter of independent voters. He's got some interesting observations here about the need for organization -- the "volunteers who staff phone banks, stuff envelopes and drive voters to the polls," the stuff of electoral politics in America.

But unity? In my opinion, unity is not a declaration of belief in some abstract principle. Unity gets built person by person, partnership by partnership, challenge by challenge. That's how organization gets built and what organization is. That's the very (revolutionary) foundation of our country. Our founding fathers (and mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, cousins, and neighbors and their mothers, etc.) did not come together over a neat programmatic issued by an established authority on July 4, 1776.

But the naysayers never tire of saying that independents don't stand for anything and Mr. Schultz is dead wrong when he says "nothing really unites them."

What unites independents - now (at least) 40% of the electorate - is, well, their independence. But if that isn't enough for you, for starters there's also the visceral distaste for partisanship that has clear partisans, according to USA Today, leaving the parties to the tune of 2.5 million since 2008.

And what's organizing independents right now is the fight for a nonpartisan level playing field for anti-party voters to participate in our political system. That's a big cultural change for America, one that is badly needed if we are to continue to progress as a people and as a nation.

And it just might not mean a third party.

Jackie Salit and independentvoting.org have been organizing independents on the ground since the implosion of the Reform Party. And they are having success. They have affiliates in 40 states, a small but very committed staff that raises around a million dollars a year to train activists all over the country, conduct grassroots campaigns such as the current push to get Congress to hold hearings on the second class citizenship of independent voters who are denied ballots in primaries in 33 states, and generally seeks to "diminish the regressive influence of parties and partisanship by opening up the democratic process."

Ultimately Mr. Schultz's message is: stay in the party system.

If people vote with their feet, the message is: We beg to differ!

THIRD PARTY

Schultz: Forget third party. Demand major change from major parties (Opinion blog, By Randy Schultz, Editor of the Editorial Page, Palm Beach Post) One big problem is that all those No Party Affiliation voters became disaffected for different reasons. Some think that the Democrats are too liberal. Some think that the Republicans are too conservative. Some would register with the Cynics Party, if one existed, because they can't stand either major party. Some are younger voters who, because the parties' old identities have shifted, don't identify with Republicans or Democrats. In other words, nothing really unites them.

INDEPENDENT VOTERS

Voters leaving Republican, Democratic parties in droves (By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY) A USA TODAY analysis of state voter registration statistics shows registered Democrats declined in 25 of the 28 states that register voters by party. Republicans dipped in 21 states, while independents increased in 18 states. The trend is acute in states that are key to next year's presidential race. In the eight swing states that register voters by party, Democrats' registration is down by 800,000 and Republicans' by 350,000. Independents have gained 325,000.

Donald Trump Is Now in the Lock Box

New York election law makes the term 'byzantine' seem like a good thing. The Empire State has what's called a "lock box," which is a rule that requires voters to register in a party almost a year before the next primary election -- actually the rule sets registration time by the general election, but in fact the biggest impact in on the ability of voters to vote in a primary election. If you change parties, you must wait until after the next general election to be recognized as a member of your new party.

Trump leaving the GOP?...not in a New York minute (By Kerry Picket, Washington Times) Trump could run as an independent, even if he was still a registered Republican. He would just need that party's permission and meet that state's particular requirements from whatever line he chooses to run on. For example, if he wanted to run on the Independence Party line in New York state, he would need a Wilson-Pekula (a New York legal term granting permission to run on a party's line that you are not a member of) from that party.

Clooney's Ides of March: How we elect our officials, not who we elect

I have not yet seen 'The Ides of March' -- the George Clooney movie that captures the corruption of today's political system. Hoping to see it this weekend or next. In the meantime, here's a nice quote from Clooney: "I think the secret to the film has been the fact that Republican and Democrats who work within the political system who have seen the film have all felt that it's really a discussion about how we elect our officials, not who we elect. I think that's why it's had the success it's had."

From 'The Ides of March' could have voters playing politics (By Gary Goldstein, Special to the Los Angeles Times)



Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays from The Hankster!

The Hankster

Happy Holidays
and Best Wishes
for a healthy, developmental and independent
New Year
from The Hankster!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Utah's own Abel Maldonado--Sheryl Allen

I think Utah may have found it's own Abel Maldonado. Sheryl Allen who appears in this KCPW radio program was a Republican representative in the Utah legislature. She did not run for re-election in 2010 but instead ran as a Republican Lt. Governor with Democrat Peter Corroon for Governor. Corroon did not support open primaries and predictably lost. In this program Allen indicates that just like the 17th amendment allows the people to directly elect US Senators, the voters now are plentifully informed and grown up enough to vote directly on who will appear on the general election ballot.

kcpw.org podcast link 15DEC11

Thursday, December 15, 2011

rounding


PHOTO: Mike Pickering

Independent voters should not be silenced in primary elections


INDEPENDENT VOTERS
  • Independent voters should not be silenced in primary elections (Jeremy R. Stinson, Gazette.Net Maryland Community News Online) Independent voters in the IndependentVoting.org network — a national association of independents with organization in 40 states — are spearheading a campaign to persuade Congress to hold hearings on the second-class status of Independents and to shed light on the ways that partisanship has become so hard-wired into the political process, the American people can’t be heard.
  • Poll: Independents Are Angry, Despairing (By Steven Shepard, National Journal) Twenty-nine percent of respondents have “a lot” or “some confidence” that the federal government will make progress over the next year on the most important problems facing the country. But among independents, just 18 percent express that level of confidence. A whopping 80 percent of independents say they have “not much confidence” or “no confidence at all” in the federal government to make progress next year.
  • Anger With Congress Reaching New Levels (By Ronald Brownstein, The Atlantic) In recent decades, the closest America has come to a true "throw the bums out" election was the scandal-shrouded, recession-colored redistricting year of 1992, when 13 Republican and 30 Democratic House incumbents were ousted and another 65 members retired. This survey highlights the possibility that incumbents in both parties could face similar risks in 2012, another redistricting year shaped by economic and political discontent.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kelleher’s Account of Cyber Bullying in Connecticut Confirmed!

December 11, 2011
The Charleston Gazette
http://sundaygazettemail.com/News/201112110045
By Phil Kabler

CHARLESTON, W.Va. • • •

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant isn't one to get bullied very often, but does admit she felt set up at a recent conference on Internet voting in New Britain, Conn.

Tennant was invited to the symposium to discuss West Virginia's pilot project to allow members of the military and others living overseas to vote in statewide elections via the Internet. She noted that 2010 tests of the system had worked flawlessly, and were well received by the participants.

After her presentation, two other panelists, MIT professor Ron Rivest and University of Michigan professor Alex Halderman, teamed up against her, blasting Internet voting, contending it is impossible to design a secure, hacker-free online voting system.

Rivest, according to news accounts, called Internet voting an oxymoron, like "safe cigarette."

Political scientist William Kelleher, who has an Internet blog "Internet Voting for All," titled his account of the exchange, "Cyber Bullying in Connecticut."
Not being a computer expert, Tennant said she could defend online voting from a policy standpoint, but not on the technical issues.

Tennant said, at first, she assumed that the panel was balanced, and that there would be computer experts who could offer a positive perspective on online security, but said she quickly realized the panel was stacked against her.

Nonetheless, Tennant stands by her position that states should continue to pursue online voting as a way to assure that residents serving on active military duty overseas don't end up being disenfranchised.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.

******************************
William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
Political Scientist, author, speaker,
CEO for The Internet Voting Research and Education Fund, a CA Nonprofit Foundation
Email: Internetvoting@gmail.com
Blog: http://tinyurl.com/IV4All
Twitter: wjkno1

Author of Internet Voting Now!
Kindle edition: http://tinyurl.com/IntV-Now
In paper: http://tinyurl.com/IVNow2011