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Voting in Gambier

by BillG on November 3, 2004

Gambier is a tiny town in rural Knox County, about 90 minutes northeast of Columbus. It’s where Kenyon College is and where my son cast his first vote. He tells me that there were only two machines for 1300 registered voters. There was an unprecedented turnout and one of the machines was frequently going out of service. Waits were up to 9 hours long.

Doubtlessly, needlessly long lines disenfranchised some Ohio voters. This is inexcusable. Does it help explain the apparent Bush victory? I doubt it.

What I saw on the street in Columbus was that the Republicans were better funded, better organized, and smarter about mobilizing their voters. I bet they also knew more about their people than the Democrats. The Democrats were polling, whereas the Republicans conducted a census. The Republicans were probably more successful in tailoring communications to individual voters and I’m sure they had a plan to get each one to the poll.

What will the Republicans do next with this machine? Rove and Norquist have been candid about plans for a political realignment. They are likely to have some success. Can the Democrats continue to block hard right judicial appointments? I also expect organized political pressure to bring the media into conformity.

Voting in Columbus

by BillG on November 2, 2004

Bush people were everywhere on our street this morning. German Village has narrow, brick-lined streets, and traffic backed up for blocks as they came in. Leaders with walkie-talkies were marshalling them to their assignments. They respected my lawn sign and were contrite when I complained about the W04 placard that had been placed on my windshield. This is an amazing effort.

Voting itself was anti-climatic. I got in line at 6:30AM, voted at 8:00AM. No challengers or operatives in the poll itself. Very quiet and neighborly (as befits Ohio). Ohio law forbids even wearing buttons in the polling place.

Columbus 11/1/2004

by BillG on November 2, 2004

Drove back to Columbus today, listening to Bill Clinton’s My Life on CD. It’s only six CDs, an abridgement and – judging from the reviews – an improvement of the book. The reader is… Bill Clinton. He is, of course, a terrific storyteller (double entendre intended).

When I got home, I found a Republican encampment across the street from my house. Apparently the law firm that owns the building is giving them the parking lot, and perhaps office space. Lots of strangers milling around. There are over 30 cars with W stickers, and 6 white vans (there are probably more about, because one van is numbered ’10’).

Is this HQ for South Columbus? Or just for my precinct (we and they are about a block north of the church where we vote)?

I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with this. Just experiencing shock and awe at the resources they are deploying.

In Pittsburgh, on the border

by BillG on October 31, 2004

I drove from Columbus to Pittsburgh yesterday. For non-US readers: Pittsburgh is the major city in western Pennsylvania (PA). Kerry probably needs PA to win, and he must do well in Pittsburgh to carry PA.

We used to live right on the border between the largely Jewish Point Breeze neighborhood and Homewood, the African-American neighborhood that John Edgar Wideman writes about. I mean literally on the border: every family south of us was white, and my next door neighbor and most other families to the north were black. A terrific place to live. I once saw August Wilson walking down the street. Our neighbor Sarah is Henry Aaron’s sister-in-law, and my son played chess with him when he visited. Well-kept secret: there are American cities where blacks and whites get along just fine.

Anyway, John Kerry signs are dense on both sides of the border. No surprise: If he can’t carry the East End of Pittsburgh, I want my contributions refunded. However, when you cross in to Homewood, there are suddenly multiple signs on each block saying “Protect your vote. If you have a problem, call {number redacted}.” People are ready.

Ohio Vote Challenges: 10/29/04

by BillG on October 30, 2004

I will try to summarize the current state of play in the Ohio voter challenges. If an attorney will read this summary and post about any errors in the comments, he would be doing me and any readers a real service. Thanks to the great commenters on my last post for some of these pointers.

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The view from here

by BillG on October 29, 2004

Election notes from Columbus, OH. Last week, John Kerry was in Katzinger’s, the deli around the corner from my house. Tonight he and Bruce Springsteen are at Ohio State University (OSU).

10/28/04 2:33 PM EST. I get a robot phone call from Ken Blackwell, the (Republican) Ohio Secretary of State. Big deal: Clinton called last night. If Ohio is Florida 2004, Blackwell will be Katherine Harris. I know you are thinking, “Das eine Malals Tragödie, das andere Mal als Farce,” but Harris nailed farce, so Ken has his work cut out for him. He reminds me that I can only vote in my correct precinct and asks if I know where this is (Me: “Yes.” Ken: “Excellent. Goodbye”). Some Ohioans view this an attempt to suppress the vote by getting people to worry about where they should go. That seems paranoid.

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Hello, world

by BillG on October 29, 2004

Let me intoduce myself. I am Bill Gardner and I live in Columbus, Ohio. I asked the Crooked Timber folks if I could guest blog on the election. I am a new Ohio voter, having just moved to the Ohio State University faculty last year. It’s possible that Ohio could prove to be the Gettysburg of the 2004 vote. If so, Columbus would be Cemetery Ridge. I’ll try to tell you what it looks like from here.

I don’t have any qualifications for this, other than being fascinated by this place and time. I’m a quantitative psychologist doing medical research in the OSU Pediatrics Department. I don’t know anything about philosophy, economics, or political theory (or cold temperature physics, or…). I’m such a dork that when I had the chance as a college freshman to take a class on The theory of justice from Rawls his own self, I passed because I thought his voice would put me to sleep. If only that was the worst educational choice I ever made.