Sunday, May 13, 2007

And It Gets Even Worse

Even Democrats may be prepared to throw Marion County Clerk Beth White overboard as the finger pointing begins in earnest. The Star's Brendan O'Shaughessy has an excellent front-page investigative report into what went wrong in this past Tuesday's election. The startling findings make clear that White knew she had serious problems well in advance of Tuesday's election. O'Shaughnessy writes how White failed to sound the alarm even as late as the night before when she knew she was short election inspectors:

It was nine hours before polls were scheduled to open when the full scope of an election disaster months in the making finally hit home for Marion County Clerk Beth White.

Exhausted from the scramble to find more than 900 poll inspectors, White stood in a Downtown union hall surrounded by a sprawl of boxes stuffed with election material. They should not have been there.

Poll inspectors had not shown up to claim ballots, poll lists and instructions for more than 200 precincts. There was no contingency plan for a breakdown of that magnitude.

"I was heartsick," White said in an extensive interview on what went wrong during Tuesday's primary. "It was shaping up to be a disaster."

Yet White still didn't sound the alarm, just as she hadn't in previous weeks, when signs of the crisis were emerging.

O'Shaughnessy observes that White's office made a change in the way inspectors are recruited. In the past, the controlling county party recruited election day inspectors. This year, Democrats decided to cede this responsibility to the clerk's office, which turned out to be a major mistake. On this score, O'Shaugnessy tells us White knew at least two weeks prior to the election the process of finding inspectors was not going well. He writes:

Post-election analysis reveals warning signals at least two weeks before Tuesday. The list of potential inspectors was in constant flux, as volunteers dropped out in the weeks before the primary. Inspectors never were assigned for at least 33 precincts.

By the time training ended Sunday, more than 350 inspectors had not collected their materials. But White, a Democrat who was elected clerk in November, did not appeal for the public's help. Nor did she seek help from Republicans, who had run elections for the past 36 years in Marion County. In past elections, the GOP had often asked for Democrats' help in filling many spots in the final week.

White said that option never occurred to her . . .

The resulting debacle Tuesday left thousands of voters frustrated as dozens of polls opened late because of missing inspectors, incorrect ballots or the wrong keys for counting machines. Five precincts never opened, disenfranchising more than 3,200 voters.

One of the problems O'Shaugnessy discovered was White's office's inability to understand the meaning of the word "no". Judy Archer explains how she received phone call after phone call over the past several weeks. "In the past three weeks, she said, she received numerous mailings and at least three calls reminding her to pick up materials for the more involved role of inspector at Robin Run Village, a retirement center in Pike Township," O"Shaughnessy writes. "The last call came at 11 p.m. Monday, she said. She again told the caller it was a mistake." "No one ever asked me to be an inspector, and I never said I would," said Archer, who did work Tuesday as a clerk. "I tried to make it clear I had another job, but they weren't listening."

The lists from which White's office were working were inadequate to say the least. O'Shaughnessy reports that White's office at first refused to release the lists to him because she said she feared people on the list would be unfairly blamed. When she did finally produce the lists, White conceded to O'Shaughnessy that the lists were "unorganized and inaccurate."

There are signs the Peterson administration is trying to shift as much responsibility to White's office for the election day fiasco as possible. "It was so chaotic that Keira Amstutz, Mayor Bart Peterson's policy director and chief counsel, was listed as an inspector despite her plans to campaign with the mayor Tuesday," OShaughnessy writes. "She said she was still getting calls Monday about an assignment at the polls." "[Marion Co. Democratic Chairman Mike] O'Connor said they thought letting the clerk handle the inspectors would make the process less partisan and more organized." "We have some role in the blame here," he said. "Clearly, I didn't ride herd enough on the process." "I wasn't aware of the scope of the problem" he adds.

Again, I will repeat my concern of the lack of care local Democrats have shown concerning the voters who were completely denied an opportunity to participate in last Tuesday's election. It is simply inexcusable that they aren't insisting on a revote in those five precincts which never opened on Tuesday. Frankly, I'm surprised the Republicans haven't pushed this issue. The idea of prosecuting the inspectors who didn't show, as suggested by GOP Chairman Tom John, is simply ludicrous in light of all the latest disclosures. The only person guilty of failing to perform their election responsibilities is Beth White.


Wilson46201 said...

Based on averages from other precincts, I'd estimate less than 240 voters in those 5 non-opening precincts couldnt vote. Would a new election in those 5 precincts make a difference? Were any in Councilmanic districts with extremely close races? If so, a serious case could be made for doing a special election in that precinct. Otherwise, having five 'special elections' just for formality makes no sense. No outcomes would change.

On Friday I did stop by the Election Board to research the 2003 Primary precinct-by-precinct returns but the sole (and newbie) clerk couldnt find where Sadler had stashed that blue-bound computer printout. I was trying to extrapolate from the 2003 turnouts how those 5 precincts would have performed in 2007. Oh well...

By the way, the five were:
9-2, 14-5, 16-4, PI-57, WY-49.

indyernie said...

“White said Sadler made it clear she wouldn't offer more help”

“O'Connor said they thought letting the clerk handle the inspectors would make the process less partisan and more organized“

Arrogance and ignorance go hand in hand within the democrat party.

It‘s obvious that if a federal investigation should happen the democrat party is going to throw Beth White under the bus. Mayor Peterson and Mike O’Connor are distancing themselves from White.
Skunks will always show their stripes but who can blame them.

Anonymous said...

Ernie, I don't know where you get your information.

I personally spoke to the Mayor Friday. His pain and empathy for Beth White was palpable. I've known him for 15 years. He doesn't throw friends under the bus.

Sometimes I wish he WOULD, but he doesn't. Those who know him well, will tell you, that politically, it's his Achilles heel.

Otherwise Carl Drummer would be political worm food.

Wilson46201 said...

The only detailed precinct-by-precinct Primary results I could find online (using the uncontested Coroner's race) was 2000. Extrapolation can be done to 2007 ---

9-2::R=27, D=15, T=43
14-5::R=12, D=20, T=32
16-4::R25, D=11, T=36
PI-57::R=58, D=33, T=91
WY-49::R=15, D=7, T=22

224 votes were cast in the 2000 Primary in those "missing" 5 precincts.

Wilson46201 said...

My bad! The D in 9-2 was 16, not 15.

Anonymous said...

So I guess Wilson is saying a little voter disenfranchisement is better than a lot of voter disenfranchisement.

And even with the 240 voters, that's still 240 more people that were impacted than by voter ID.

I'm looking forward to getting back on the air Monday.

Wilson46201 said...

I'm saying clearly that the accidental and unintentional voter disenfranchisement is an order of magnitude less than originally feared and reported.

240 is a lot less than 3100.

Anonymous said...

I would have been very unhappy if I could not have cast my vote against Bart on primary day.

Anonymous said...

Ignore Wilson.

Wilson46201 said...

Ignore anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Wilson - you also have to add in those that showed upt vote in all of the other precints that were CLOSED and they could not vote because of no inspector, no machine, no ballots, ect ....

I know several voters who tried to vote and could not and could not make it back to the poll before 6 PM.

That number may be 100's or 1000's .

And I bet if a judge asked those who could not vote to show up there would be more than the ZERO who came forward who said they could not vote due to voter ID.

Anonymous said...

Hate to rehash an old argument, and you're probably right about the numbers of non-voting Tues. because of precincts closed, vs. Voter ID no-votes, but:

Voter ID was never, ever needed. It was and is a scam, perpetrated by those who want to suppress voter turnout. Plainly and simply.

There never were any cases of voter fraud proven, when Rokita was asked. Either on the state level, or on this fancy national commission on which he just served.
It was overkill of the first order.

Voter ID shifted the burden of proof from the state to the individual. I don't want non-registered voters voting, but it rarely, if ever, happened before, and the standard of proof you demand for Tuesday's situation, if applied to Voter ID, would be astonishing. Not one case of voter fraud unprosecuted in Indiana. And they looked--hard.

And for the record, I've posted it here a few times, but I know a whole family of Russian Jewish emigrees, who are so proud of their citizenship certificates signed by arch-right federal Judge Barker not long ago. They don't drive because the traffic here intimidates them. (How they navigate on IndyGo is fodder for another thread here, Gary, but I digress) There are the parents, three grown children, and a couple teenagers, all eligible to vote. All earning decent wages, super-proud of their new citizenship, all living in the same neighborhood. They have no state IDs because the country they left provided no birth certificates. They do, however, have their citizenship papers. They took the classes, and probably know more about our system of government than half the people posting here.

And they cannot vote. Because of this stupid law. Which disappointed them. (The mom even cried.) They asked me how to vote, and I told them I'd be glad to make sure they got to the polls, but they needed photo ID. They were shocked. They have none, except Job IDs and library cards, etc.

And it should disappoint you: they're rabid George W. Bush fans, sure to vote straight Republican. (Go figure, but it's their right...or, it would be, if not for Rokita and his minions screaming "Fraud!" at every street corner)

Careful with that wedge whacker; it can smack you in unintended ways.

The entire voting process is effed up, way too difficult to register and too complicated for ordinary pollworkers to decipher most of the machines, paperwork and rules. It's intimidating, which is why it's going to continue to be difficult to find workers.

We desparately need: fewer (about 50 would work) polling places in the county; same-day registration, weekend voting, cyber voting. The systme needs to match, in a secure fashion, the pace of today's average citizen.

The system we now have matches horse-and-buggy mentality. And one party has historically been responsible for making sure the voter laws are not changed.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Anon 3:48, you lost me on that one. If they are U.S. citizens, they had to provide birth records of some sort during the immigration process. Also, they can obtain a state ID card for free from the BMV even if they don't have a driver's license.

indyernie said...

"Ernie, I don't know where you get your information."

If Mayor Peterson were in support of White he would be defending her, where is he?

Star interviews? NO.

Radio talk shows? NO.

TV News? NO.

I get my information from the local news agencies.

Other than his initial comments he has remained silent.
Someone will be required to pay. It won't be Peterson or O'Connor.

Peterson's silence is deafening.

indyernie said...

Posted by Matt Tully
On Tuesday, the wonderful folks in The Indianapolis Star library pulled a collection of old clips for those us of who were working on election-related stories and columns. The clips included past Democratic responses to then-Clerk Doris Anne Sadler's handling of previous elections.

Here are the Top Five Quotes from former Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy and current Chairman Mike O'Connor.

5. "If the clerk has to conduct it from the jail cell, this election will go on." Ed Treacy, October 2003

4. "Evidently, the people who oversee voting in Marion County are content to let the same chaos that took place in Florida happen in Indianapolis this November." Mike O'Connor, September 2003

3. "It's an absolute and total embarrassment to spend $11 million (on a new voting system) and not be able to conduct an election." Ed Treacy, October 2003

2. "The problem is there is such a basic lack of understanding of how an election is put on. (Sadler) does not even have an Election Day strategy to think of backup programs in case things go wrong." -- Ed Treacy, May 2004

1. "It's just another sign of the basic incompetence of the clerk's inability to administer an election. ... "I can't trust anything she does. I don't trust her. I don't trust her employees. I don't trust her vendor." -- Ed Treacy, May 2004

From the party that knows how to do it better.

Talk about putting ones foot in ones mouth.

Mike, Ed try mustard, that old sock will taste much better.

Anonymous said...

3:48 you are WRONG!!! The Ghetto Mafia used to bring in the buses and tell seniors who to say they were, they'd also bring in bums who were 'bribed' with some cheap wine....and if anyone was questioned about ID, they'd whine, throw pens, and call in "downtown democraps" to try & intimidate the inspectors....and what could be done? Challenge, you say? Right! -Like that meant anything (cough cough).

Voter ID is the BEST thing to, to vote out the incompetent democraps and prosecute criminals.

...and speaking of prosecuting criminals, where is Ed Treacy? Why isn't he on his soap box demanding the indictment of Beth White and all those no-show inspectors????????????

Anonymous said...

Ern ie, you're just wrong about the Mayor. Period. It's a stupid point to argue, but you're not correct. you are right to be angry about Tuesday. Me, too. But try to hold back the rampant speculation. For what it's worth, whether it was 240 or 3000, it's too many.

Gary, the immigrants to whom I refer arrived here without birth certificates. They cannot get free state IDs because they don't have enough "points" without the birth records. They tried. Well, the mom and dad tried.

To get into the citizenship class, they told me, they needed a local sponsor, and after a background check, they were let in. They are so proud of their citizenship.

What they have is a lease, utility bills, work ID cards, and their citizenship certificate. They lack sufficient photo ID. That's what they were told, and I called BMV on their behalf, and was told the exact same thing.

They are NOT alone, by a long shot.

Anonymous said...

I found the statements by Marion County Democratic Chairman Mike O'Conner quite fascinating.

If Chairman O'Conner did indeed cede total control over staffing election day polling places the I WANT TO SEE FACTUAL EVIDENCE.

In so far as Mayor Peterson is concerned Beth White is exendable, Mike O'Conner is not.

I DO NOT believe for one second that O'Conner turned his job over to the Clerk. If he did then there is most certainly documentation (letter, fax, mail) that he did so.


As sources have indicated to me, O'Conner does not have the documentation supporting his story any more than Beth White had a list of inspectors.




Anonymous said...

AI- I think the R move to call for prosecutions was just to call Beth's bluff about people not showing up. It wasn't until after that it became clear that there was no actual list of inspectors. The problem was not volunteers failing to show up, but that there were not enough Inspectors to begin with...
As to holding new elections where the polls didn't open- I would actually go a bit farther and also re-open the polls that opened late in the afternoon. This raises a lot more issues about election integrity and fairness, so I'm not wedded to the idea, but for now, that is what I would do. I can see no reason not to immediately decide for new elections at least in the five and Ds and Rs should support that without question. The question is not about whether it would change any of the results. No candidate has the right to be elected, but every citizen does have the right to vote. One, one hundred or one thousand citizens- irrelevant- the right of each qualified citizen to vote is absolute and not dependant on any aggregate formula.

Anonymous said...

If you don't have your life together enough to be able to secure an ID to prove who you are, then you have no business voting. The only people voter ID laws will disenfranchise are those who should not be voting.

Carson's machine can help their "constituents" get ID cards instead of cigarettes, alcohol, and free lunches.

Anonymous said...

Beth, I would have gladly helped you by being an inspector, or whatever task you needed completed. You probably didn't call me because you have no idea who I am, even though I attended many of your fundraisers and even allowed you to put a sign in my yard when you asked me for permission.

You've forgotten those who supported you and now we're going to reciprocate.

Good luck Little Flower neighbor.

Anonymous said...

9:33, just so you know the facts:

Prior to the Rokita Voter ID law, you showed up at the polls, announced who you were, signed in, and it was up to the State (County Clerk, voting officials) to challenge you if they believed you were not who you indicated you were.

Now, that burden has shifted.

It was not necessary. There was no fraud. There is urban myth, and a few prosecuted cases, but Rokita & Co. looked statewide to find massive voter fraud. They found none. Zip. So, we pushed ahead anyway with this ridiculous law. Bird hunting with a cannon.

There is nonsense, with this clerk, and past clerks, but I don't think any of it was out-and-out Election Day chicannery.

Now, there WAS the prior clerk(s) doing everything they could, ahead of the election, to disenfranchise voters. Lots of it. Do we really need to go through it again? And the immediate past clerk spent a lot of our county general fund legal dollars defending those stupid positions in court. They all lost.

None of that diminishes the need for a complete overhaul and a compelte coming-clean for last Tuesday. What happened was unforgivvable. It cannot happen again.

I was an Inspector. I personally showed up at the Election Board office to confirm my training class, and I saw the list myself. It was crude, but it was voluminous. That was two weeks out.

Anonymous said...

Gary, I just got done listening to Amos, who hosted Beth White, today from 130P until 2.

Amos posited that "the reason y'all havent heard from the NAACP, Concerned Clergy [thump!-thump!] is that there werent that many Blacks IN those precincts! I guess 25% in Pike, and the 15 to 2% Black voters who were denied, dont pay dues to the NAACP and their 'ONE vote denied is too many'.

Beth White was on. The phone calls she received HAD to have been screened; 2 dealt with 'how do I become an inspector', one was an Independant questioning the use of the term 'disenfranchisement' in a Primary election, and the only negative caller was a Dem judge who had been '
talked to rudely' by party officials. Very much of a softball Q and A. White DID say that although she didnt ask the Republicans for help [with a LOT of advance notice of an impending shortage of inspectors], that "the actions of the Republicans prior to the election wasnt conducive with their being able to help". WTF??? She didnt consider using them, but since they supposedly wouldnt help, it didnt matter that she didnt ask??? Tortured 'logic', and ass-covering/deflecting at best.

So yeah..ol' Amos [he who was shouting that 'Republicans try and block Our vote! [thump-thump!] and Beth..are the best representatives of the debacle: Pointing fingers at everyone But themselves and their party. LOL What a maroon.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:20 pm, what exactly is a "maroon". Just wondering......

Anonymous said...

Lori - you obviously were a deprived child.

Bugs Bunny. "What a maroon!" - Looney Tunes talk for "What a moron!"