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The two seasons of an election

Depending on whom you ask, the race for governor is either a near tie, or DFL candidate Mark Dayton has a comfortable lead. According to the Associated Press, a poll by Minnesota Public Radio News and the Humphrey Institute has Dayton with a comfortable 12-point lead over GOP candidate Tom Emmer. And yet a SurveyUSA poll has Emmer behind Dayton by only 1 point. “Talk about whiplash,” Hart Van Denburg of City Pages says. Nate Silver of The New York Times and says the the sorts of results produced by groups like SurveyUSA tend to favor Republicans, because of their use of robocalls. (How? He explains here.) Silver gives Emmer only an 11.3 percent chance of winning the election.

Mark Zdechlik of Minnesota Public Radio analyzes the results of the poll they commissioned, and summarizes it thus: “More than half of Minnesotans prefer a smaller government with fewer services but two-thirds think higher taxes are needed right now to balance the state budget.” In an informal survey taken by this writer, Minnesotans also felt they could stand to lose some weight but also felt like a slice of cake would be a really good idea.

We are exiting the time of mudslinging — although, in the gubernatorial race, it’s mostly been done through independent groups with no direct relationship with the candidates, as Baird Helgeson of the Star Tribune points out. But there are two seasons in the election cycle, and when the season of tossing dirt ends, the season of accusations of voter fraud begins. There’s a national campaign against voter fraud, spearheaded, in part, by the Tea Party, and it has a local branch, headed up by Minnesota Majority, the North Star Tea Party Patriots, and the Minnesota Voters Alliance. MinnPost’s Sharon Schmickle looks at the efforts here. As Andy Birkey of Minensota Independent points out, these groups will be aggressively policing for voter fraud, despite the fact that it is exceedingly rare. They’ve also been passing out fliers of a handcuffed man and apparently have been targeting DFL districts, which Rep. Keith Ellison decries as an example of intimidation. “Our proud history of civic participation is under threat from shadowy groups who are attempting to scare people away from the polls,” Ellison says. “In reality, Minnesota’s voter protection laws are strong, and our state has many organizations and tools to assure that people can exercise their right to vote — free of intimidation.”

Ellison was speaking at an impromptu news conference following and announcement by Minnesota Majority that it will be filing a lawsuit to allow voters to wear Tea Party T-shirts and buttons with the words “Please I.D. Me” into polling places. Mike Kaszuba and James Walsh of the Strib have the details. “I hope the cameras catch you screaming and yelling, because I feel intimidated right now,” Ellison said.

Why couldn’t they wear their T-shirts and buttons? Well, according to Andy Birkey, it’s a violation of Minnesota law, which prevents judges and voters from wearing political materials in polling places. According to Minnesota Majority, the pins, which show a watchful eye, and the T-shirts, which have slogans such as “Don’t tread on me,” “Liberty,” “We’ll Remember in November,” and “Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Government, Free Markets” (along with the Tea Party logo), do not endorse a specific candidate or political party and are, therefore, outside the purview of the law.

So far, the only demonstratable fraud in this election has been a fake Facebook page set up for Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher. As MinnPost’s Joe Kimball details, the prank site was friended by numerous local politicians and media folk (including Kimball), despite including the following statements:

  • Political Views: Supreme Overlord
  • Religious Views: I am God
  • Favorite quotation: “Let’s create a police state that the entire state of MN can enjoy! – Me”
  • Interests: Banning Stuff, Anti-anarchism, Corruption, Wasting Money, Spy Cams, Police state

On the subject of the Tea Party: Michele Bachmann. Thursday, the representative had her second debate with challenger Taryl Clark (and challenger Bob Anderson, who we can’t help but imagine as a mouse in a knight’s outfit waving a needle at Bachmann). It was, as the AP puts it, “feisty.” Now, the actual content of their debate will surprise nobody who has watched television for the past few months — Clark accusing Bachmann of representing her district poorly, and Bachmann accusing Clark of wanting to raise taxes. But they got heated enough to talk over each other, repeated themselves in an automaton-like fashion when they felt their opponent was misrepresenting them. “I voted no on adjournment. I voted no on adjournment,” Bachmann said at one point. “No, I said I would oppose. I would oppose,” Clark said later. Nate Silver is currently giving Bachmann a 98.5 chance of getting re-elected, so for those Minnesotans who are tired of hearing about her antics — well, sorry folks. For those who enjoy hearing about her antics — well, strap yourselves in for two more years.

In arts: LOL/OMG reports that rapper Eyedea, who died unexpectedly recently, has been given the gold standard of musician memorials in Minnesota: A star on First Avenue.

In sports: The Pioneer Press reports on Brett Fravre’s ankle injury, noting that he’s out of his walking boot but it’s uncertain if he will be able to play on Sunday. If he does, it will be a remarkable recovery, at least by this writer’s standards. But, then, this writer got a hangnail Monday and so has been dictating his Daily Gleans to a transcription service in India whose staff members are very skilled, although occasionally idiosyncratic.

We’ll see you again Monday at The Glean. Nomoskaar.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/29/2010 - 05:02 pm.

    Nah…, because they’re not interested in “fraud.” They’re interested in voter intimidation.

    Minnesota’s election system (as our most recent senatorial election demonstrated to the nation) is very tight and very well managed.

    There is NO need for these yayhoos to invade polling places. I hope they keep the police busy ushering them off to Bob Fletcher’s and Rich Stanek’s jails for a few hours to consider how illegal it is to try to prevent your fellow citizens from voting just because you don’t like poor people.

    Despite their massive efforts to find someone, somewhere guilty of it, there has been virtually NO voter fraud in evidence in Minnesota. The only illegal voting they did find amounted to mistakes by a few paroled felons whose parole officers failed to tell them that they were still ineligible to vote until after the had met the requirements of their parole.

  2. Submitted by William Pappas on 10/30/2010 - 04:55 am.

    The Tea Party zealots led by “grass roots organizers” like Brian Mcclung, Pawlenty’s former Chief of Staff, have considerable resources in the form of corporate cash, secretly available for the first time due to the Citizen’s United ruling. They have a very real ability to disrupt the polling places. I will make sure my precinct is free of intimidation and am willing to resort to civil disobedience to ensure their efforts at intimidation are legally banned.

  3. Submitted by Ralf Wyman on 10/30/2010 - 02:43 pm.

    Claiming that the Tea Party is not part of the GOP is absurd. Michele Bachmann is a Tea party leader and an elected GOPer. The Tea Party endorses GOP candidates but not DFL candidates. They are engaged in partisan electoral activities. Nuff said.

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/01/2010 - 10:42 am.

    Election integrity watch may have already hit paydirt.

    No wonder leftists are upset…

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