back to article Iowa: How the vote was won

It's 5am on election day. I awake late from a short, fitful nap. I decided I would need all the symbols of authority I could muster, so I put on my best suit, a heavily starched white shirt, an Armani tie and, spoiling the whole look, running shoes. Another PEO, an eccentric sculptor, gave me a decorative badge he fashioned from …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
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    Now *that's* the true face of corruption

    Trying to subvert the vote in an organized manner is about as bad as it gets. Slinging dirt and spamming the electorate is not very nice, but interfering with voting - not cricket. Can't believe that that party hasn't been outlawed long ago... Mugabe come back, we miss your honesty!

    And props for subverting the subverters. Well done, that man!

  2. Dave
    Thumb Up

    Well Done.

    And well reported.

  3. W


    Nice article.

    Compared to the UK method of (as I understand it) being registered on the electoral roll by a certain date or forfeiting your vote, it sounds like (organised) chaos.

    That's not to say that it's any less or more fair. There's obvious merit in allowing folk to make a last minute decision to vote. Although, as pointed out, this is potentially open to abuse.

    <joke>But...if we all had a lovely card linked to a central register, we could use those as irrefutable id, eh?</joke>

    Just one other thing: Rather than simply spoiling the ballot paper, I like this notion of a Write In vote, even if it is used as as a "none of the above" spoil. There's something to be said for bothering to register your dissatisfaction in all the available candidates rather than simply not voting.

  4. Nick Palmer
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    Well done, Pete!

    Your articles have been fascinating, and I hope that you'll have some other subject to return with.

  5. Alex Gollner
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    Thanks for this article

    I know we're supposed to be a cynical old bunch of readers, but I want to commend the writer for an exciting story about an aspect of the election I knew nothing about.

  6. Joe K
    Thumb Up


    Well done that man.

    Though, i can't believe those fuckers can get away with that shit. What a rotten, diseased example of a so-called Democracy.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Well done Pete

    Congratulations to you from across the pond, good article, excellent work.

    shit, 25% of the vote wiped out is a large figure, i hope there are prosecutions.

    Oh, and just for your amusement i must repeat what i heard on Radio 4, -

    When Obama mentioned, about McCain :

    "He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. "

    (our correspondent said...)

    "I'm sorry, but i just can't help thinking somewhere near the top of that list has to be "Brunch with the Palins"...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    A Title,

    I love the smell of impartial journalism

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Democracy is not a game.

    For a country so proud of being a democarcy, it sickens me to see the type of fraud that would put a third world, tin pot dictatorship to shame. The people who carry out this fraud appear to be proud of their actions and see it as part of the game.

    PEO Pete, you should be proud that you were able to thwart the actions of these cheats, yet there should be some national shame that you had to do this at all.

  10. Paul Murphy

    'My work here is done'

    It's a good phrase, and you have earned it by the sounds of things.

    The voters may not have known who you are, but I hope they thanked you for helping them be part of their future.


  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The world needs more people like you!

    I take my hat off to you!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Moral: Vote early, vote often

    Sorry, I couldn't resist. Yes, poll workers must be scrupulous. I wish it were that way in ALL polling places. In the past elections, they have changed polling places quite a few times, and while on the way to my NEW polling place I passed by another precinct polling place.

    Now if union elections were held to the same scrutiny everyone would be happy. Sadly the incoming congress' agenda isn't in that form. Thankfully the majority in the US Senate isn't overwhelming (over 60/40, no that isn't the tin/lead ratio for solder!).

    Time will tell if this "change" guy will actually change anything. Sorry he won't be able to use that slogan to get re-elected!

    Oh, to have Mrs. Thatcher and Mr. Reagan back in office! Just to let you know where my political bent is. Sorry, I can't help it!

  13. Why
    Thumb Up

    Nice Job!

    People got to have their say!

  14. Chris
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    Facinating, and well written but....

    I don't think it's really fair to characterise the guy sent from the Republicans to watch you as necessarily "an agent of the GOP's voter suppression army".

    Arguably the were doing just what you were - assiduously applying the rules and ensuring that noting was going amiss. They spotted unusual activity, they went to investigate. They didn't try to intimidate you, did they?

  15. Dan
    Thumb Up

    don't need a title

    icon says it all

  16. MrT
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    Nicely told...

    It's nice to read such a story - I hear stories from friends who volunteer as election officers to staff the ballot stations and it strikes me that the volunteers are the ones who care - are the GOP poll watchers paid(-off) staff?

  17. jai

    very interesting

    like everyone else, i found the report most interesting, and an insight into the american voting process that i had no idea existed, very interesting

    somehow, i doubt you'd find anyone here in the UK with anywhere near the same enthusiasm and excitement for the task

  18. Chad H.
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    Great Article

    I seriously hope El Reg keeps this guy on. Great articuls and very insigtful

  19. Anonymous Coward
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    Well done

    I wanted to join in with the others to say a job well done for protecting the very rights people often take for granted or, worse, don't bother exercising.

  20. Richard Crossley
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    Why can they do that?

    Why can US parties purge the voters from the electoral register (or whatever it's called Stateside). Shouldn't that be handled by the local authorities?

    In the UK you have to complete a voter registration form every year. Updates can be made to it and provided you're registered by a certain date you can vote. The parties can't say, "We don't like this person because they might vote against us." and remove them from the register.

    Well done for rescuing the voting rights of so many.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Now I'm kind of sad that I didn't bother to vote, even though my county went blue and my man won anyway.

  22. J
    Thumb Up


    Thanks again, Pete, for the great work and the great articles too. I hope El Reg has paid you nicely. :-)


    <joke>But...if we all had a lovely card linked to a central register, we could use those as irrefutable id, eh?</joke>

    We do have that in my country, Brazil. Actually, we have several of them, and are slowly unifying them into one or two. One is the voter ID card, which you can get when you turn 16, but MUST have when you turn 18. This is your perpetual registration and cannot be cancelled unless you fail to vote in more than 3 consecutive elections without justification (voting is mandatory there) -- and if you lose your voter ID like that, you are in all kinds of trouble, like no passport, no social security rights, etc..

    @Facinating, and well written but.... Chris

    Well, yeah, at that moment the GOP watchers had to follow the rules, there and then. So in a sense you are right, and those guys specifically might not have known of the previous fraud themselves. But I think Pete is right, in the sense that his frantic work doing EDRs was most surely needed at all because the "suppression army" had messed with people's registrations to begin with -- and the poll watchers are part of that whole effort, surely.

    It's amazing how easy it is to commit this type of fraud (in my book, voter disenfranchisement IS fraud) in America, what a shame.

  23. yeah, right.

    The real fraud

    The real fraud is allowing local governments to "purge" voter records in order to benefit one party or another. Notice how it's never the probable Republican voters who get purged, but invariably the probable Democrat voters.

    I hope this next administration fixes the gaping fraud loopholes in the American system, because right now that system is the laughingstock of most people I've talked to. A system that allows the election of partisan voter oversight? A system that allows partisan control over voter registration? A system with county-by-county rules and enforcement that differ on who gets to vote for national elections? That's just insane.

  24. Stuart Van Onselen

    Chicken Littles

    For the last few days, I can't read discussions even on apolitical sites (much less The Register) without coming across some poor oppressed soul bemoaning the horrors that will befall the land now that Obama has been elected.

    But what AC@12:57 and millions more like him/her don't seem to grasp, is just how astronomically immense is the institutional inertia inherent in an organisation as massive as the US Federal Government & Tentacles.

    Obama simply cannot radical massive change even if he has all eight years to do it. Even Bush, for all his trying, could not transform the US into a de-jure (as opposed to de-facto) fascist, theocratic, corporatist kleptocracy. All he could do was point the Ship of State in that direction, and hope McCain or someone else could keep it on course after him.

    Similarly, Obama can merely start things in motion and hope for the best. And if his changes turn out to be too radical for the very conservative American public to handle, they can easily vote him out, and replace him with another Rich Old White Guy, who will then rapidly slow the country's terrifying descent into a free, open, secular democracy.

    So no, the unions won't take over from the corporations as the real controllers of the country. No, he will not be able to seize all your penis substitutes (sorry, you call them "guns"). He will not be able to strip every last cent from the wealthiest 1% to give to the poor. In fact, poor people will still die on the streets like flies, for lack of affordable health-care.

    So, all the Regressives who are having a collective cow at the thought of a non-Rich Old White Guy at the reins of power, should just chill! Ride it out, just like the Liberals had to for eight years.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Not a Democracy!!!

    America is NOT a democracy! America is a Constitutional Republic.

    Democracies are dangerous. Essentially 51 people out of 100 telling the other 49 what to do. America's founding fathers knew that. Somehow we have forgotten that fact.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Vote counting

    "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."

    - Joseph Stalin

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Nice article . . .

    even though I'm calling bullshit on it.

    In a county that's 75% democrat as most urban Iowa counties are, there is no purpose in republicans throwing voters off the rolls. They'd have to throw most of them off, which generates a backlash. I'd be a little more credulous if the county was one of those 51% democrat counties, but in Iowa, you'd have to work to find one. In rural areas, the odds are exactly the opposite. The author acts like every single voter that was dropped was a democrat. That's a serious allegation. Where's his proof? It should be easy to find. Just go to a rural county, and see if people are getting dropped there, too.

    Personally, the people who are abusing their power to deny people's right to vote need to be found and prosecuted, or at the very least, lose their job due to the abuse of public trust. If the author is unwilling to participate in finding these people who generate such a horrible workload for him, when there is such an obvious payout in publicity as well as the chance to put a nassty old republican in prison, then I have to ask myself "why not?".

    Personally, I smell more playing to the fear and paranoia of the crowd than anything else.

    The only thing an article like this does is generate hatred against them wicked republicans. Divide and conquer, baby!

    Most of the republicans I've met that work with the election process take their job very seriously, and would want to fix whatever's broken here, if for no better reason than to clear their party's name. My guess is that there is a broken system somewhere that ought to be fixed, but the lovely pissing match that the breakage generates makes more democrats more likely to vote in a democrat county governed and administered by democrats, and so it won't get fixed.

    Why would election officials and people in power in a county that has been 75% democrat since Hector was a pup even be from a different party? That doesn't add up -- it'd be awfully easy to put someone in the political minority out of a job in such a county for such an obvious case of fraud. It would be awfully easy to take a study, figure out who is accountable for the registrations where, create a chain of custody, and where it breaks, fix it. If democrats are in power, why aren't they doing something so obvious?

  28. M A Walters

    @AC re Not a Democracy!!!

    That's all good, as long as 1 person does not end up telling 80 out of the same 100 what is "good for them". At least something like that seems to be happening here in the UK.

    Reminds me of "The Greater Good" out of Hot Fuzz (the movie).

    PS The AC comment @ 10th November 2008 16:04 GMT is mine, not sure why it got AC'd. Must be the case of twitchy fingers.

  29. Petrea Mitchell
    Thumb Up

    Thank you

    This article and the one that preceded it were gripping reading. Good luck with the writing career!

  30. J-Wick
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    Nice work....

    Thanks for putting in all that time & effort to keep things fair & transparent...!

  31. Scott
    Thumb Down


    It's always the same thing, evil Republicans are purging the rolls of Democratic voters, but there could never be such a thing as voter fraud, all those phony registrations don't matter. Those of us living in the US have been hearing these stories for years, and not buying very much of it.

  32. Rich

    How to do it properly

    We had an election here in NZ (the wrong side won, but that was the voters being dumb, not the fault of the system).

    Voting takes 5 minutes. You can vote at any polling station - mine was on the corner of my street. If you vote outside your electorate it takes a tiny bit longer as they need to send the votes off to your hometown for the count, but it's still really straightforward. It's a more or less completely paper system (not sure if they have scanners) and gets a provisional result by midnight or so.

    Voting is voluntary but registration is compulsory. You get chased when you move based on mail redirects and stuff. We get around 92.5% enrolment and the Electoral Enrolment Centre run campaigns in shopping malls and so on before election day.

    I don't see why the US can't do the same.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Voter Suppression Army

    "I don't think it's really fair to characterise the guy sent from the Republicans to watch you as necessarily "an agent of the GOP's voter suppression army"."

    Why not? Their aim is not to enforce voting regulations fairly, as would a neutral observer, but to prevent people voting Democrat. It's not in their interests to prevent someone likely to vote Republican from doing so illegally. That is why partisan representatives should not be allowed to interfere with elections.

    The US election process is laughable, with voting regions being manipulated to favour certain parties and campaigns actively applying pressure on certain demographics to prevent them voting - combined with electronic voting, poorly designed ballots and the vicious smear campaigns in the media, it does a poor job representing the country. There needs to be a lot more accountability. The US should also restrain from criticising the election process of other countries until their own is in order.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At the risk of repeating what's already been said

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

    I read this article first (hadn't seen the previous one). Having gone back to read Volume 1, I notice someone else had already written what I was going to say here: there are echoes here of Zen and the Art of (insert favourite) here. In my book that is a *good* thing.

    Thank you, El Reg.

    And thank you *lots*, PEO Pete.

  35. Neoc
    Thumb Up

    After reading this...

    I cannot re-iterate how glad I am Australia has the AEC (Australian Electoral Commission). Basically put, it is a completely separate entity who is responsible for running public elections on any level. THEY maintain the voting rolls, THEY do the counting (with outside observers present, of course), etc...

    There has often been (ok ok - every election) accusations of dirty tactics from all parties in Oz, but since the creation of the AEC there has *never* been an accusation of electoral vote tampering by the political parties.

    I hope the AEC continues to do the wonderful job it has done so far. <knock on wood>

    As a side-note, I often wondered why you have to register to vote in the US if you are not *required* to vote. Down here, voting is "optionally mandatory". In other words, you do not have to vote to register (you could spend your entire life without stepping into a polling station) but if you *do* register to vote you will be required to vote; if you do not, you need to show cause or pay a fine.

  36. Joe Zeff
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    We do things better in California

    I helped run the polls in California for over a decade, and I can tell you that we have a better system: only a member of the precinct staff can challenge a voter; only on personal knowledge, and only for a very limited number of reasons. If a poll worker wants to keep somebody from voting because of their party, they're just out of luck. And, if you get a provisional ballot, you don't have to "go down to the auditor's office and fight to get it accepted." They're all processed automatically, by checking the voters rolls and other records.

    In all my years, I only saw one provisional ballot that I was sure would be thrown out. The "voter" had told us that he had moved out of the precinct almost a year ago, had never bothered to re-register but insisted on voting anyway. California law says that you can only vote in your old precinct if you moved after registration closed for that election. (about six weeks or so) I let him vote a provisional, but noted his statement on the outside so that whoever processed it would know he'd admitted that he was ineligible.

    Kudus to the writer for doing his job well, under trying circumstances. By seeing to it that as many people in his precinct were able to vote, he Did The Right Thing. I only hope that precinct workers in heavily Democrat states like Illinois returned the compliment and allowed Republicans to vote.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    One AC calling BS on the AC...

    "In a county that's 75% democrat as most urban Iowa counties are, there is no purpose in republicans throwing voters off the rolls."

    I can't find a single county that went over 70% for the O. Lots of 50-60%s on both sides of the line. If most urban Iowa counties are 75% Dem. they're not very *good* Democrats. Are you sure you've got the right state?

    And the purpose, even in the Dem. majority counties, is to lower the total state Dem. total. EV are awarded by state, not by county. Are you sure you've got the right country?

    Given that you've predicated so much on that 75% figure which, if in some sense is correct ISN'T for the important Pres. election, I'm going to just ignore those dependent statements. ie, the last 2 paragraphs.

    "The author acts like every single voter that was dropped was a democrat."

    No he doesn't....

    "Where's his proof?"

    OTOH, the Republicans showing up implies it. Unless you want us to believe the GOP, with it's record, showed up because too many Republicans seemed to be voting?

    Sure, you *could* view the GOP as selfless defenders of democracy against the teeming urban hordes, who're just champing at the bit to commit electoral fraud. In pretty much the same way you can believe that most counties are 75% Dem.

    (Yet, in the GOP's defense, a preventative-strike IS more or less stated Republican policy.)

    "It should be easy to find. Just go to a rural county, and see if people are getting dropped there, too... If the author is unwilling to participate in finding these people who generate such a horrible workload for him, ... then I have to ask myself "why not?"."

    1) How do you know the author isn't?

    2) There's an obvious answer: He has better things to do.

    2.1) Or he doesn't have the time.

    2.2) Or he doesn't consider himself a liar.

    2.3) Or he doesn't share your bizarre beliefs about Iowa.

    2.4) Or he's paid attention to the GOP's previous actions.

    2.5) Or ... well, that's enough.

    3) Why should either or you? An absence of voters being dropped would only imply it IS the GOP up to no good. The presence of voters being dropped doesn't clear the GOP - maybe the Dems. are just as bad, or maybe it really is just the system. But, in either case, the article is about what the author experienced at his polling place: Voters trying to vote, GOP shows up to see about stopping them. (Did you catch mention of the poll watchers lending him a hand? I didn't.)

    Aside from the erroneous facts all you seem to be offering here are ad hoc speculations on the author's actions, character, and the state of other counties. Speculations you do nothing to resolve - it's just FUD. Or, to put it another way, bullshit!

  38. John

    Massive respect

    Massive respect to your work ethic and your desire to re-enfranchise. I am saddened to hear of both sides gaming the system (and HAVA seems wide open).

    Also thought I'd mention the voting "booths" used for paper ballots that were made in Northern Ireland. I feel sorry for anyone from the US who had to use them. Yes they fold up and are very light and easy to carry and store and yes they are wheelchair friendly, but Nothern Ireland has used them at the last two elections (maybe more) and I don't think they give much privacy.

  39. Keith T
    Thumb Up

    Sedition and treason?

    Great job!

    Real heroes are those like you who give quietly behind the scenes to benefit their country. Which is what you did. (That you didn't use a gun and didn't kill any foreigners takes nothing away from the merits of what you did.)

    Sadly it seems some people are mistaking the idea of being "anti-Democratic" with being "anti-democratic".

    It is one thing for honest Republicans (and I'm sure there are many) to fight the Democratic Party, but it is sedition and treason to work to topple America's status as a democracy.

    It is as much sedition for some civilian group to come along and try to topple voter supremacy in the governance of a democracy as it would be for a military group to do the same thing.

    You are in the USA, not the USSR, not the People's Republic of China. Major political groups are not supposed to even attempt rigging elections in a strong democracy.

    In any democracy you get a few odd-balls and conspiracies to try to subvert the power of the electorate. We've had this here in Canada, and they've had it in my homeland, the UK.

    It is the collective shame of American voters that they allow such a system of open widespread corruption to continue unpunished for so long and into the present time.

    The USA is pretty much like Canada. Same bunch of immigrants, same traditions. Historically we used to have a lot of this kind of fraud. In the UK it was even worse. It was a true monarchy, a dictatorship like Saudi Arabia is today. The early days of parliament were hardly any better, with few people owning land, and only male land-owners allowed to vote. This was all rooted out and corrected decades ago.

    We now have uniform federal registration and voting laws for all federal elections.

    It is simpler for Canada in federal elections, because people are voting for just one thing, their MP. (And in provincial elections they are only voting for their one member of the provincial legislature.)

    We have no other elections nor referendums occurring simultaneously. So we can use simple paper ballots counted by hand.

    For municipal elections, there are usually multiple elections occurring at once, and sometimes there are referendums. (In our most complex city, Toronto, we might have been able to vote for more than 2 elected offices at once. I think typically we vote for mayor, city councilor, and a few school board representatives. So 7 people in municipal elections.) These votes are collected on paper form and read by an optical reader that sounds similar to what you use in Iowa.

    Hopefully with Obama in the Whitehouse, and Democrats in control of both houses, US federal law will be amended to ensure that voting in the USA, our good neighbours to the south, is democratic and fair in future.

  40. Keith T

    mandatory voting versus optional voting

    Neoc, I think Australia is in the minority of democracies that make voting semi-mandatory or mandatory.

    I don't know about what individual Americans think, but from my US History and Canadian History classes in high school, the reasoning is that if someone needs to be pressured into voting they probably haven't researched the candidates and issues. They'd just be voting for the party or for how the candidates name sounds.

    So having completely voluntary voting means a greater percentage of voters are informed voters. That is the principle anyways.

    Having an impartial branch of the civil service running elections is a great idea.

    We're now trying that in Canada.

    Unfortunately that branch of the civil service seems to be rather openly biased against our conservative party. We have a conundrum because we don't know how to correct this. So far this has only been a problem with election spending laws being applied differently to candidates from different parties. A difference of a few percentage in how money is passed between federal parties and riding associations. There hasn't been any disenfranchising of voters or noticeable voter fraud.

  41. Rab S


    Why so many people congratulating such a biased article? Just like the first one, full of sly little digs at the other side?

    But oh no the blues are without sin...its those dam reds that are breaking the rules...makes me fucking sick...

  42. Kevin

    @Neoc - voting in Australia

    > As a side-note, I often wondered why you have to register to vote in the US if you are

    > not *required* to vote. Down here, voting is "optionally mandatory". In other words,

    > you do not have to vote to register (you could spend your entire life without stepping

    > into a polling station) but if you *do* register to vote you will be required to vote; if you

    > do not, you need to show cause or pay a fine.

    Neoc, I think you have it slightly wrong. There are two separate laws. One says that anybody who would be eligible to register must do so (basically citizens over the age of 18). You are required by law to be on the electoral role.

    Then, there is a second law that says that if you're on the electoral role you are required "to attend a polling place". That's what most Aussies don't know. We talk about voting being compulsory, it's not. It's perfectly alright to go to the polling place, state your name (we don't have to show id, just state our name and address and attest that we have not already voted), have it crossed off the list, receive your ballot papers and do what you like with them (maybe you can't take them with you but you can place them in the box unmarked, you may even be allowed to refuse to take one but most officials would probably have a problem with that).

    The thing I find interesting is that the US system doesn't cope with a large voter turnout. Elections are on work days and voting is not compulsory so a high turnout overwhelms the system.

    Australian elections are on Saturdays and almost every public school or church or similar is a polling place. Queues rarely exceed a few minutes and you can attend any polling place with your electorate/ward/etc. So much more civilised.

    But I agree 100% with Neoc - the AEC is a great thing to have. And also having federal law govern a federal election helps as well. In the US every state has its own way of participating in a federal election. That's just plain weird. And I have no idea what this concept of political parties purging voter roles is all about. Here the AEC does the lot. And they do it well.

  43. Dave
    Thumb Down

    Give Me a Break!!!

    The democrats are notorious for stuffing the voter rolls with dead people, homeless and anyone who is willing to lie to vote twice. My mother in law is a typical Democrat. In Arizona it was common for the Women's League of Voters( a democratic organization) to spill coffee, loose or otherwise marr votes from Republican districts - oops, I spilled my coffee, I will have to throw these out - was common. The 'Evil Republicans' believe in one vote per person and tend to be annoyed at these tactics. The obvious vilification of republicans by this author is reprehensible!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Nice work, indeed

    Well done. To outsiders the US system looks downright scary.

    To extend what Neoc said. In Oz you register, and only change registration if you change address. Despite what 99.9999999999% of bogan dunderhead Aussies think, voting is not compulsory in Oz - attendance is. You turn up, get marked off the roll, get some ballot papers and then vote (or not).

    And the voting system is all pencil and paper, with the votes being counted by AEC staff and volunteers/part-timers. Even better, it is consistent nationwide (with the exception of some electronic voting trials being done here and there), so you don't have a situation where one state - can you hear me Florida? - buggers the election because its machines are rooted.

    Regular voting (ie not pre-poll/absentee) is done on a Saturday, and the polls are open from 8 - 6. The election is almost always called before 10pm Eastern time.

    Feel free to steal our system. It might cost a bit to run, but it works.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    re: Voter Suppression Army

    Obviously, you operate under a different version of vote suppression. Maybe you were asleep in your civics class?

    In the Real World, if you are in the majority, and your candidates do NOT get elected, then there is a problem. In the wacky world of Iowa elections, if you are in the majority, and there are people from a different party present at the polling place, and your candidate gets elected, then your votes are being suppressed. All's I can say is WTF? Your anarcho-syndicalist commune will never get anywhere with those awful people who have different opinions present. Maybe you can call them names and they'll go away. Me, I'd call them either foolishly optimistic, or conscientious as the odds of over a third of all democrats staying home in this election was about as close to nil as you can get. You can't even gerrymander most of the areas around Des Moines -- there are no republicans to speak of there. (for those non US-ians, gerrymandering is the process of having elected officials arranging political districts in such as a way as to ensure enough of their party members are in their district to get them re-elected -- it's a totally screwed up way of doing things, but that's America -- both parties do it.)

    Most likely, they were watching for people fraudulently registered by ACORN, but I'd have actually liked to see Mickey Mouse and the other fictional characters they registered show up. I'd like to get Donald Duck to start a fight with Mickey -- he's been needing an ass-kicking for a long time, and Donald seems like he's ready to take him on in a pants vs no-pants death match.

    You fail to understand what an observer is. The republicans are not there to suppress democrat votes. They are there, just like the democrat observers, to make sure that anybody that wants to vote and is entitled to vote can do so. After the election, they then are not able to complain that the vote was stolen from them. The democrats actually *want* them there -- at least the ones with brains. It's pretty complicated, but anyone trying anything would find himself about hip-deep in lawyers, as that's who most of the observers are.

    I've been to Iowa. It's not vote suppression. It's incompetence, sloppy recordkeeping, and overwork. If that feeds your sense of righteous indignation enough to go out and vote, fine by me. You're entitled to your opinion. But you aren't being oppressed, and this stuff about republicans out there to steal your vote is just high drama. It's not believable in counties that have elected a straight string of democrats by margins like 70% since the thirties. Reading this article was like hearing a building super complain about lousy building maintenance in his building. It's your responsibility -- why not *fix* the problem instead of complaining?

    Help! Help! You're being oppressed! Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

    Oh, and hey, 'better in California'? It's done pretty much the same way in Iowa.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "The Republican headquarters sees the early statistics online and objects.........They think a massive, coordinated fraud is occurring"

    Well it is, assuming they are talking about themselves.

    For the AC who calls bullshit, bear in mind that approximately 25% of the total number of voters in the precinct had to be re-registered. Although PEO Pete can't say what he saw, I am guessing that the proportions of these are massively Democrat. Even in a heavily Democrat area of support, had these votes not been allowed to stand then it could have swung the result.

    I'm sure that some day the Republicans will find a way to change the legislation again, or in a different way, so that they can (allegedly) cheat their way to another election victory.

  47. BETH

    @ AC calling BS

    I really hope you're not American because that would show a piss poor understaning of toss-up states like Iowa. While the author's county may be heavily democratic, and the outlying rural areas heavily republican, the state as a whole is very close to 50/50. And Iowa rewards its electoral votes based on the majority vote state-wide. So... a purge in heavily democratic counties is *exactly* what the GOP would aim to do. It would almost certainly boot off more democrats than republicans (just based on the odds) and potentially swing the statewide vote.

    Also, it is well documented that the GOP *do* engage in voter caging, and have effectively stopped people who have tried to vote from doing so. On the other hand, the scandal linked to democrats is that of alleged false registrations. While there have been false registrations, there is no voter fraud unless the fake people show up to VOTE. Is that way of registering people inefficient and prone to abuse and error? Certainly. But IMO that is a lesser evil than one American trying to tell another American that s/he has no right to vote. That is despicable and ought to be prosecuted harshly any time it occurs, regardless of party.

  48. Alan Fisher


    do the evil Republicans always get so hissy whenever it's pointed out that they 'might' have done something wrong? I see this author being very bipartisan here and not a Democrat at all...Republicans are great at embroidering the facts though, I have noticed......

    Fact is, 25% purged - author stated he knew not why.

    Fact is, Republican Poll Watchers turned up and watched him like (haha) hawks, looking for mistakes

    fact is it looks likely something shady was going on and the GOP wanted so badly for Obama NOT to win.....hmmmm

    Fantastic article once again by the way Pete, I'm duly impressed and inspired!! Well done!

  49. Anonymous Coward

    @How to do it properly

    "We had an election here in NZ (the wrong side won, but that was the voters being dumb, not the fault of the system)."

    Sorry sunshine, but you've made two mistakes in a single sentence.

  50. James Pickett

    Good day's work

    I'm not sure whether to be relieved or appalled. Both, probably.

    I wonder what the real majority would have been without voter de-registration and biased voting machinery? Funny how the GOP only wants democracy when it plays their way...

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    the only reason that the GOP needs to watch a worm like this, is because they and they alone are responsible for voter fraud and impropriety. their battle cry has been "Vote and Vote Often". groups like Acorn, mire the election process from a clear cut, voice of the people to a situation reminiscent of the "Boarder ruffians" during the civil war!

    "Day of" voter registration is a sham.

  52. Matt Clary

    Things could have been different

    "I turn away a few EDRs due to inadequate ID"

    Had Obama lost, you would have been accused of partisanship and disenfranchising voters. That is their modus operandi.

    Some pertinent links. All you guys hear about is what our media allows you to hear.

  53. Gordon Grant
    Thumb Up

    Good Article

    I always wondered how the US voting system worked and this was a facinating incite to the inner workings of the system and author trying to be fair and impartial to both parties.

  54. Neoc

    Aussie voting

    Re: "Despite what 99.9999999999% of bogan dunderhead Aussies think, voting is not compulsory in Oz - attendance is. You turn up, get marked off the roll, get some ballot papers and then vote (or not)."

    I stand by what I say... turning up and refusing to put in a ballot *is* voting. A "none-of-the-above" option.

    Re: "gerrymander"

    I live in QLD, so trust me I am quite aware of gerrymander. Anyone else remember Joh and the Nationals in the 80s? Then the AEC stepped in and stepped on some toes ^_^.

    As FJF stated, feel free to steal the concept - it works for us.

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