Friday, August 22, 2008

This'd be a good weekend to start getting involved.

Yes, I know, you're waiting for a text message. And all eyes will be pointed at Springfield, IL. But are you just going to lounge around the house all weekend, watching CNN, reading blogs, and waiting for your phone to vibrate?

How about hanging with a sitting Senator? Or attending an opening reception with a future Congressman? Or both?

From the mailbag:

Senator Sherrod Brown will join Nancy Garland, her volunteers, and Barack Obama's Campaign for Change at the launch of a day of joint canvassing in Gahanna. After Nancy and the Senator talk with the volunteers, everyone will head out to knock on doors in the surrounding neighborhoods.

The canvass will be begin at 11:00 AM out of Seeker's Coffee House and Café, 800 Creekside Plaza, on Saturday, August 23.

Want to meet a campaign, catch some excitement, help build a Democratic Majority in the U.S. House, but aren't really up for the door-knocking? Sunday afternoon's for you:

Robinson's “New Energy” Campaign Headquarters –
Meeting and Grand Opening

Please join us for a campaign meeting and opening reception at our new headquarters this Sunday!

This is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the campaign, talk with David Robinson and his campaign team, enjoy some food and beverages and take home a yard sign, bumper sticker and literature.
August 24, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
6849 Flags Center Dr., Westerville
Directions: From I-270 (northside of Columbus) take Cleveland Ave N., turn west (left at first light) onto Schrock Rd. Then turn left into the Flags Center (just before the first light). You will find the headquarters at the back-right of the center in a two-story building. Look for Robinson yard signs.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Follow Through Thursday

1) The allegations made against petition circulators for the Payday Lenders have faded to the back burner. Every entity collecting signatures for the referendum effort is required by law to file a 'Form 15' with the Secretary of State. Lisa Renee at Glass City Jungle tried to get the SOS to tell her who had filed the forms, and was given a pretty silly runaround. I can sympathize. In the meantime, although the consortium of Ohio Newspapers that is rating the truthfulness of political ads this season has seemed somewhat more subjective and capricious in their ratings than I would like, they have consistently rated the Payday Lenders as among the most dishonest advertisers on the air.

2) Despite my suspicions of polite dismissal, The Franklin County Board of Elections has, in fact, updated their front page with a modified version of the identification requirements. My main concern was with the Drivers' License Address issue, and most people will still find it unclear that a current and valid DL does not necessarily display the current address, and that the displayed address is irrelevant. It does remove the language regarding current addresses on Military IDs. The net effect, however, seems to more tightly link address information to the non-photo forms of ID. Which is an improvement, but still somewhat unfortunate, because most forms of photo Identification DO require a current address. There is a specific exception for Driver's Licenses and State ID's that does not apply to something like a passport that might otherwise meet the requirements. This is the new BOE webpage text:

Voters must bring identification to the polls in order to verify identity. Identification may include current and valid photo identification, a military identification, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document, other than this reminder or a voter registration notification, that shows the voter's name and current address. Voters who do not provide one of these documents will still be able to vote by providing the last four digits of the voter's social security number and by casting a provisional ballot...
This is the section of law ORC 3501 (aa) that I feel is still not being communicated well:
(AA) “Photo identification” means a document that meets each of the following requirements:

(1) It shows the name of the individual to whom it was issued, which shall conform to the name in the poll list or signature pollbook.

(2) It shows the current address of the individual to whom it was issued, which shall conform to the address in the poll list or signature pollbook, except for a driver’s license or a state identification card issued under section 4507.50 of the Revised Code, which may show either the current or former address of the individual to whom it was issued, regardless of whether that address conforms to the address in the poll list or signature pollbook.

(3) It shows a photograph of the individual to whom it was issued.

(4) It includes an expiration date that has not passed.

(5) It was issued by the government of the United States or this state.
I know that I'm repeating myself, but I'm convinced that a significant number of provisional ballots are cast due to this particular misunderstanding of the law, and that a non-trivial number of people skip voting because they believe that they don't have a valid ID conveniently available, when in fact they do. I've emailed Mr. Stinziano to ask why the BOE prefers not to clarify this issue.

3) I hand entered the table of mock voting results that the consultants from Sagata and Lextant wouldn't give to me. So far, thankfully, no big red flags. I'm uncomfortable with their sampling logic (but that's an argument that goes far beyond this study, and they're certainly not out of the mainstream), but there is nothing in the data that gives a strong indication that their estimates are biased in a particular direction. There's not really enough data to reliably test whether or not income, education, voting experience, and age matter separately and/or together to influence voting time, so assuming that these things don't matter is actually better than simply guessing that they do. In fact, the few times where statistically significant differences appear, they aren't where you'd expect. The take-home: ratchet-back my alarm volume a notch. If and when I have time to play with the other tables, I'll update again.

David Goodman Makes a Case

State Senator David Goodman has introduced a bill that will make more DNA evidence available to more convicted felons, without compromising their rights. In addition, the bill would require videotaping all interrogations from the time Miranda Rights are read, and that all lineups be administered by officers who are unaware of which person is the suspect.

Every single one of these is an excellent idea. Barring some unknown poison pill (I haven't read the bill's text yet), I'd endorse this bill as strongly as anything I've seen come through the legislature in recent years.

Typically, when you see a high-profile bill introduced in the summer of an even-numbered year, the sponsor is trying in part to increase their re-election chances in November. Senator Goodman is actually not up for re-election this fall.

He is, however, on the ballot as a judicial candidate for the 10th (Franklin County) Court of Appeals. There are a number of reasons to hope that he is unsuccessful in this run, the main one being that it gives the GOP a big procedural advantage in holding on to a swing Senate district in 2010. Another would be that it would mean a victory for the previous target of a damn-the-facts-full-outrage-ahead attack by Bill O'Reilly.

On the other hand, having judges who are strongly, concretely, and publicly in favor of... justice, well, I can't say that's a bad thing at all. Ball's in your court, John Connor.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


For the second time in less than a year, U.S. Representative from Ohio has passed away. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a staunch Democrat and the first African American woman from Ohio to serve in the House, has died following the rupture of a brain aneurysm.

Ms. Jones would have been in Denver next week, at the nexus of almost every major political story. As a superdelegate from the archetypal swing state, as a woman who had supported Hillary Clinton, and as an African American now pledged to support the first African American major party nominee for president, she had become an integral part of the narrative this election cycle.

Of course, things like election cycle narratives seem pretty trivial at times like these. My condolences go out to everyone whose life she touched.

UPDATE 2: I want to apologize for the prematurity of the original post, and now that Congresswoman Jones' has in fact succumbed to the effects of an aneurysm, I reiterate my sympathy for her family and friends.

UPDATE: Although the link to the Plain Dealer still works as of 3:10pm, the PD and other major news organizations are now reporting instead that Rep. Jones is in critical condition, but alive. I will not be commenting further until the information coming from Cleveland is more reliable.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And if drilling does go on the table?

Pat Tiberi has been making the rounds, trying to strike a pose that makes him look reasonable on energy. He says he favors an "all of the above approach" that includes drilling, conservation, and innovation.

While that does, in fact, sound reasonable when put that way, there are a couple of reasons that Pat's position is a little less appealing than he makes it out to be. The first is that his favored "all of the above" approach includes things like removing regulations regarding nuclear waste and putting oil refineries on public land.

The second is that there is no evidence that Tiberi would consider a bi-partisan effort to create an "all-of-the-above" approach. John Boehner, who plays Emperor to Tiberi's Vader, just made this proclamation about a Democratic plan that includes drilling:

While the Speaker now claims to embrace a comprehensive energy plan that includes more conservation, more innovation, and more American energy production, the fact is her new effort appears to be just another flawed plan that will do little to lower gas prices.
What Boehner is saying here is that he won't vote for anything but his "flawed plan that will do little to lower gas prices." And with that, we can see just how much the GOP actually cares about energy independence.

h/t plunderbund.

My Own Beeswax

Perhaps my cynicism is more than a bit unfair, but these are the email exchanges I've been having regarding the issues in my last post:

1) Attempting to get the summary data for the voting machine report (just the data already publicly reported)
From the BOE:


Iʼm told we only have the pdf. version. Youʼd have to contact the researchers for the other formats.


From me to the researchers:

I'm sorry to be a nuisance, and I realize that part of the problem is that I'm emailing all three of you simultaneously, but is it at all possible to get a copy of the tables from the Voting Machine report in something other than a scanned image format?
From Researchers to me:


Would a pdf format work for you? You want Word? I am not sure we are sharing the Word.

Thanks for your interest


My Reply:

I was hoping for something from which I can copy and paste. I don't need the text of the report, and although I'd be thrilled with source data, all I'm asking for is the data in the tables. Although I could easily be wrong, the PDF on the BOE's website appears to be scanned from a hard copy. Regardless, I have been unabvle to extract the text from the tables. A PDF created directly from the Word document would work just fine, as would the tables from Word (or whatever format they were created in). If I have to type the table data in by hand from the published report, I can do that, I just thought there would be an easier way,


Researcher's Response:


I appreciate your interest and passion. However, I am working full time at [name of large famous company] for the next two weeks and my partner, [other researcher's name], is on vacation. I am not sure we can support your interests right now.

Best wishes,


2) Meanwhile, on the independent topic of misleading voter identification info on the website:

Mr. Sullivan,

Thank you for your comments regarding the language of R.C. 3503.28(A)(1)(6), as posted on our webpage. Your comments will be shared with the Board members of the Franklin County Board of Elections and taken under consideration.

Thanks, Michael

Michael Stinziano

Director, Franklin County Board of Elections


I'm feeling dissatisfied on multiple fronts, but I'm open to the idea that I'm being unreasonable, and that my requests are actually being considered as seriously as they happen to merit. Any opinions?