...it was someone I've known for a long time.
"Hey! How's it going? Have you voted yet?" I said.
"I'm not voting. I'm just really burnt out on the whole political process," they said.
"Oh," I said, weakly. "I'm really sorry to hear that." And the person was gone.
I've never been good with a snappy comeback, but this is a new low. I think it's lower than the time I was getting mugged and eventually yelled, weakly, "Let go of me!" But at least I hit that person as hard as I could. Now I just keep thinking of all the things I could've said, e.g., "You're too burnt out to fill in a circle with a pen so we don't have a goddamn monster running the country?" Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.
I am now doing penance via last-minute phone banking for Obama. It is really easy to sign up—click on #3 over here.
My Twitter feed this morning was full of whiners: People who say the lines to vote were too long, Washington voters whining about how they didn't get a sticker when they voted, Republicans whining about a mural next to a polling place in Pennsylvania. But then I read stories like this and I get a lump in my throat:
A Chicago mom-to-be didn't let being in labor stop her from doing her duty as a citizen on Election Day.
With contractions five minutes apart, Galicia Malone stopped at Precinct 88 in Chicago to cast her vote on her way to the hospital, according to the Cook County Clerk's Office.
Malone, 21, was determined to vote in her first presidential election, even though her water had broken.
Galicia Malone is my American hero today.
Diligent Slog reader Erin wrote to us yesterday to ask what kind of election night TV-watching parties are taking place on Capitol Hill. Surprisingly, there are a lot of things going on, most of which involve alcohol, bars, and election results. We've rounded up a few below in case you're still in the dark:
Neumos Election Night Party
Kicking off at 5:00 p.m., this joint venture with Moe Bar and the Washington Bus will include lots of booze and some huge screens to watch results on. It's 21+, sorry kids.
This vegan Madison Valley standby has a list of election cocktails, and will be watching the results roll in on the TV.
The Rose is having a party. At their bar. Surprise! It starts at 3:00 p.m., and offers tacos, beer, and music.
On what may be the day that Washington State legalizes marijuana, KNDU in Tri-Cities reports that D.A.R.E. officers say they're done teaching kids about pot. Video is after the jump:
While we all gear up for tonight, ready to celebrate the election results/wail and gnash our teeth about the election results, why not do something nice?
In New York, the Occupy movement has been occupying Sandy, leading the charge to help folks who are still in deep water/deep shit:
So how did an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, best known as a leaderless movement that brought international attention to issues of economic injustice through the occupation of Zucotti Park in the financial district last year, become a leader in local hurricane relief efforts? Ethan Murphy, who was helping organize the food at St. Jacobis and had been cooking for the occupy movement over the past year, explained there wasn’t any kind of official decision or declaration that occupiers would now try to help with the hurricane aftermath. “This is what we do already, “ he explained.
If you want to pitch in and do something useful instead of just wringing your hands, check out the Occupy Sandy site for real-time updates on what they need. Items requested as of now: blankets, candles, flashlights, food, batteries, diapers (adult and children's), wipes, gloves, masks (rated at least N95), rubber boots, shovels, warm clothes (gloves, jackets, etc.), and more. "General" clothes are apparently not needed at this time. Just the warm stuff.
People helping each other. That's what it's all about.
This is the first presidential election King County will conduct entirely vote-by-mail, so it's hard to make apple-to-apple turnout and early voting comparisons. But if you're wondering about how much of the vote will be tallied in tonight's first and only ballot drop, it is fair to expect quite a bit more than years past.
For example, in 2010, King County Elections tallied only 254,261 ballots on election night out of the 766,477 that were ultimately cast in the US Senate race between Patty Murray and Dino Rossi. That's only 33 percent. But working from yesterday's ballot return statistics and assuming a turnout of about 84 percent, King County is on pace to report over 60 percent of the final vote at 8:15 p.m. tonight.
There are 1,181,700 registered voters in King County. As of the close of business yesterday, King County Elections reported 608,905 ballots verified. I'm waiting on confirmation on whether these are ballots that have simply been received and signature matched, or whether that number represents ballots that have actually been scanned. About 10,000 additional ballots have been received and set aside as "challenged" due to missing or mismatched signatures.
Either way, in past elections the number of ballots counted Tuesday night somewhat correlated with the number of ballots on hand Monday morning, and given the streamlined operations I witnessed yesterday at the county's new ballot processing facility in Renton, there is every reason to expect King County Elections to far exceed past performance. And tonight's ballot drop will be further padded by thousands of accessible voting machine results. So 608,905 strikes me as a conservative estimate of tonight's totals, especially considering that it doesn't include the processing that is being performed today.
At 81 percent turnout (which is what Secretary of State Sam Reed is projecting statewide), that would be 63.6 percent of total ballots cast. At 84 percent turnout (about what we saw in 2008), that would be 61.3 percent. At 87 percent turnout (which is what some observers are optimistically predicting given the pace of early returns), that would be 59.2 percent.
By any scenario, that's right in line with the 60 percent ballot drop Reed is projecting statewide, so we're sure to have a much better picture of winners and losers than we've had on election nights past.
But keep in mind that this also changes the expectations for tonight's ballot drop. For while we won't be able to account for any trend in late voters, Dems and progressive ballot measures can't count on the usual come from behind dynamic we've recently seen thanks to slow returns in King County. For the first time in years, we appear to be on pace to tally returns at a rate comparable to the state as a whole, and if that turns out to be true, tonights results should largely reflect the final results in all but the very closest statewide races.
UPDATE: Barbara Ramey at King County Elections emails me that "we expect to include at least 500,000 ballots in the count tonight." That would amount to over 50 percent of total ballots cast given an 84 percent turnout, short of my projection, but still far better than past years.
All day today on cable news, pundits are predicting what's going to happen in the presidential race. They don't know what's going to happen. They're blowhards and they're doing what they do best: breathing so hard they hyperventilate (fact!). And in Washington State, other blowhards are making other blowhard-y predictions about the governor's race. But they don't know, either. They're just making shit up. Recent polls show gutless Democrat Jay Inslee up by one point to three points over Republican and serial-fuzzy-math-user Republican Rob McKenna, but none can match a Slog poll.
In this Slog poll, you aren't making shit up. You know what's going to happen. Your vote with others synthesizes the prescience of many pundits—you're like the Nate Silver of aggregating America's consciousness—into one, big legally binding prediction!
Democrats: Are you super-scared about voter fraud yet? Here, via Wonkette, is a bit of terrifying voter fraud porn that's circulating the internet this morning showing a voting machine that refuses to let you vote for President Obama:
It's probably just a busted touch screen, but I bet some of you are still hyperventilating!
Republicans: Are you super-scared about black people yet? Here, also via Wonkette, is a bit of scary Fox News video showing a black guy standing in front of a polling place, opening doors for people and wishing them a good morning. Terrifying footage below:
Black people holding doors open for white people? What's next—race war?
Nearly 4,000 people have signed a petition to outlaw the harvesting of giant Pacific octopus off Alki, after two divers released pictures last week of another diving pair emerging from a popular dive spot with a live, giant Pacific octopus and throwing it in the back of their truck. Noting that Alki's Seacrest Park is "regularly home to 1-2 Giant Pacific Octopus (GPOs)," the petition points out that people are only restricted to harvesting one octopus a day, "meaning a single ambitious diver could effectively decimate the entire Alki GPO population in a matter of days."
We request that the Washington Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and/or the City of Seattle (1) establish a GPO harvest-free zone encompassing the marine environment surrounding Alki Seacrest Park, and (2) begin evaluating the long term consequences of limiting GPO harvesting in Washington State.
And here's a closeup look at the giant pacific octopi that call Cove 2 home:
Liberals have a rare opportunity today to do something they signally started in the landslide election of 2008: finish the job. Bill Clinton’s victory was vitiated by the inclusion of Dick Morris and quickly revenged by Kenneth Starr, leading to his replacement in 2000 by George W. Bush, a man who exactly nobody thought was qualified to be president of the United States, probably including Bush himself.
In retrospect, of course, George W. Bush was Pericles of Athens compared to Mitt Romney, who far more than Bush has revealed the true face of contemporary American right-conservatism in all its coercive ugliness: a blizzard of shifting policies; the deployment of ignoramuses to spread disinformation and discontent on cable airwaves; and the naked Randian appeals to race and class hatred. The most anti-American of American presidential candidates has run the most un-American of campaigns.
And that, by rights, should be it. Romney’s campaign has been so ugly, so founded on lies and nothingness, that nobody should want to vote for the man. But somehow, it’s a close race. From Day One of the Romney campaign, real conservatives pretended there was an explicit threat from Obama’s “fundamental change.” They imbue whole conspiracies into Obama’s offhand “voting is the best revenge” remark, when for the Right, “revenge” is precisely what this election is all about. For them and their constituents, it’s payback time: payback for the thought that taxes should be fairer; payback for the death of Osama bin Laden; payback for the policies of FDR; payback for America’s changing demographics. They’ve long used the civil-rights movement — which after all was directed precisely against bigots– and the Vietnam-era “pro-war” movement — which arose in opposition to the foreign policy of the Democrats led by George McGovern— as wedges with which to crack the larger social structure and now, so close to realizing the ultimate expression of their “critical theory” — that everything about un-wealthy America stinks — they and their media allies are doing their best to swing an last election for Romney.
Barack Obama is an imperfect standard bearer—there really can be no such thing as an perfect standard bearer—but today we are proud to vote for him. Morons who have no credentials have predicted either a Romney or Obama victory. Some idiots have even predicted a Republican retake of the Senate, despite the breathtaking tactical stupidity of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, both of whom needlessly stated the Republican platform in public, with cameras recording them. But, should Romney win, he won’t simply assume the vote was a mandate for putting America back to work, and then do his corporate-turnaround thing. (Part of the reason for that is that it is unconstitutional to outsource the entire United States army to China.) If Romney wins, if his victory is within the margin of Ohio Republicans to cheat, Mitt understands that a considerable portion of his vote was not only anti-Obama but anti-Obamaism, that it was a repudiation of everything Americans stand for. And, most important, that going forward, it’s a call to substantially reduce Americans’ influence on the body politic.
As a child of Watergate, I can't help but get suspicious whenever I hear news like this:
"Early this morning, the Seattle headquarters office housing the Washington State Democrats, Organizing for America, and Jay Inslee for Washington was the site of a burglary. The Seattle Police Department is currently investigating, and no further details will be available until the conclusion."
Organizing for America is, President Barack Obama's reelection campaign, and this is his Washington State campaign headquarters. But of more immediate concern is how this break-in might adversely impact the the GOTV campaign for Inslee and other close down-ballot races.
No word yet of what was taken, because as they say in their press release above, the state Dems aren't releasing any details. But, you know, history tells us we shouldn't put anything past the GOPers.
It's sorta like a graphic novel (er, graphic short story?) and sorta like a pop-up book—I'm sure there's a name for this kind of thing already. Whatever you call it, it's soothing to take a break from the supercharged U.S. media and look at the past few months from the Guardian's perspective. Even if only for a few seconds. Then it's back to the grind.
Speaking of which, here's a heartening poker comparison from Nate Silver:
All of this leaves Mr. Romney drawing to an inside straight. I hope you’ll excuse the cliché, but it’s appropriate here: in poker, making an inside straight requires you to catch one of 4 cards out of 48 remaining in the deck, the chances of which are about 8 percent. Those are now about Mr. Romney’s chances of winning the Electoral College, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast.
As any poker player knows, those 8 percent chances do come up once in a while. If it happens this year, then a lot of polling firms will have to re-examine their assumptions — and we will have to re-examine ours about how trustworthy the polls are. But the odds are that Mr. Obama will win another term.
Posted last night and moved up.
I spent two evenings last week calling the top 25 individual donors to Preserve Marriage Washington, asking them to explain, in their own words, why they decided to commit money to the campaign to stop gay marriage.
Preserve Marriage Washington has been using a clever blitz of commercials about gay lifestyles being taught in school—combined with the reassuring message that voters can oppose gay marriage without being a bigot. That line of attack has been driven largely by the National Organization for Marriage, which contributed over $1 million to the effort. But what do the everyday folks who oppose marriage really believe? What are they afraid of? Do they believe they’re not bigots?
The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission lists all donors to initiative campaigns. I reached seven of the top local donors, told them I was a reporter, and wrote down what they said:
Contribution to reject R-74: $12,000
Why did McDonald, a retired resident of Mercer Island, contribute such a large sum to Preserve Marriage Washington? “Marriage is marriage, between a man and woman,” he began in a boilerplate of circular logic. “The truth never changes. This is a redefinition of marriage.” He says that his belief is “Biblical and biological, also. Marriage has to do with creating a family, bringing forth children.”
What harm would there be to his marriage if R-74 were approved? “I’m not worried about my marriage,” he said. “I’m worried what the government would do.” What would the government do—is there harm? “Unlimited harm,” he says. Can he describe any examples? “No,” he said.
“I don’t have an issue with gay people,” McDonald went on. “It’s not based on bigotry.” I asked him why not.
“I would say I’m not going to get into that argument. Because what is discrimination on one side is not discrimination on the other side. And you really have to form your own conscience on that.”
Contribution to reject R-74: $2,500
Curtiss Wikstrom, who lives on Orcas Island, describes himself as a live-and-let-live kinda guy. But if Washington voters legalize gay marriage, he intoned, they'll open the floodgates for persecution of Christians who are trying to to preserve their moral conscience. Also, gay sex is a problem.
“Penetration of the rectum is bad for them,” Wikstrom said. “It’s unhealthy… Some other things they do that are unhealthy, too... Of course I believe they're immoral. They are unhealthy.”
In states like New York and Florida, your Instagrammed photo of your vote for Barack Obama is illegal. In Washington it is not.
Gizmodo has a comprehensive list of states where it is and is not a misdemeanor to photograph a ballot.
Now that we know we'll have a Democrat in the fucking white house for four more years—Eeeeeeeeee!—it's time for the local stuff. Starting any minute now, the results for Washington State—gay marriage, marijuana legalization, the governor, the attorney general, legislative district, whole trout, new cars—will begin to trickle in RIGHT OVER HERE. Want just state executive races, look here. Looking for just ballot measures, look here. King County results are over here.
A story about measuring starlight...
Astronomers using data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have made the most accurate measurement of starlight in the universe and used it to establish the total amount of light from all of the stars that have ever shone, accomplishing a primary mission goal.
"The optical and ultraviolet light from stars continues to travel throughout the universe even after the stars cease to shine, and this creates a fossil radiation field we can explore using gamma rays from distant sources," said lead scientist Marco Ajello, a postdoctoral researcher at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics...
As you read the article, I recommend listening to Model 500's "Starlight."
The total sum of starlight in the cosmos is known to astronomers as the extragalactic background light (EBL). To gamma rays, the EBL functions as a kind of cosmic fog.
Huh. I guess you don't get what you pay for. After spending a record $4.2 billion on the 2012 presidential and congressional elections, President Obama will still be in the White House, Democrats will still hold about 53 seats in the Senate, and Republicans will still hold a majority in the House. Well played, consultancy class—enjoy your new vacation homes!
Obama Leads Romney 28 to 14! In the electoral equivalent of Groundhogs Day, Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location, New Hampshire tallied the nation's first ballots. Yay for them.
Republicans can't do the math. A few more polls have yet to trickle in, but as it stands Nate Silver's model predicts a 313-225 electoral college victory for President Obama, with a 90.9 percent chance of winning, while Darryl at HA predicts a 309-229 win for Obama, with a 98.8 percent chance of winning.
I predict Mitt Romney will sweep all 792 electoral college votes! There. Now can I get a job as a highly paid conservative pundit?
Long lines at polling places nationwide. Long lines are being reported at polling places today in Florida, Ohio, Missouri, New York, and throughout the nation. Because, you know, Democracy is messy or something.
Hey America, no lines to vote in WA, no voter suppression, and always a paper trail! Hmm. Maybe it's time for national vote-by-mail?
Biden launches 2016 presidential campaign! When asked at his Delaware polling place whether this was the last time he would ever vote for himself, a smiling Vice President Joe Biden replied "No, I don't think so."
I sure hope Maine doesn't steal our thunder by being the first state in the nation to approve same-sex marriage at the polls. Well, actually, I guess I do hope Maine steals our thunder. But, you know. In any case, a new poll shows same-sex marriage up by 4 points in Maine.
US home prices jump most in 6 years. Home prices rose 5 percent year-to-year in September, yet more bad news for Romney's efforts to bash the "Obama economy."
And in non-election news: A new study shows that the proposed coal trains could delay traffic in downtown Seattle and Sodo by an additional 3 hours a day. Of course, reelecting Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark might be our only hope of stopping these trains, so I guess it's kind of an election related item after all.
And finally Nate Silver explaining to Stephen Colbert why he'd rather vote for Ebola than a pundit:
A Minnesota couple is accused of starving their 8-year-old adopted son. The boy was so malnourished his bones protruded and he weighed as much as a child half his age. The complaint was filed Friday against Mona and Russell Hauer, who are charged with six felonies, including neglect and malicious punishment of a child. According to the complaint, Mona Hauer brought the boy to Mayo Clinic Health Systems-Mankato on Oct. 9 [and] said the boy had eating issues and had been regurgitating his food for months..... The boy told officials the couple made him sit at the table and drink a liquid diet while the rest of the family ate. He said at times he was so hungry he ate dirty food from a compost site. He also told doctors he didn't brush his teeth and regurgitated his food "because he wanted the taste of food and he did not know when he would eat again."
According to Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogota, a sidewalk is not related to a street as much as it is related to a park. A street is all about transportation, movement from point to point. A sidewalk is much more than that. It is a public space; and a public space, to use Peñalosa's words, is...
“...for living, doing business, kissing, and playing. Its value can’t be measured with economics or mathematics; it must be felt with the soul... In my country, we are just learning that sidewalks are relatives of parks – not passing lanes for cars.”A street has less soul than a sidewalk:
Mother Jones is maintaining a map of voter suppression around the country. This could wind up being the most important map you'll see all day.
UPDATE: And here's what you can do to help bring marriage equality to Washington state.
Dixville Notch, that weird little New Hampshire town that is only famous for being pathologically insistent on voting first in every presidential election, has voted. Obama and Romney both received five votes.
Okay, before you read any further, just chill. If you haven't yet mailed in your ballot, do so now, or deposit it in one of the 15 drop boxes located throughout King County, by 8 p.m. tomorrow. You have until tomorrow to mail your ballot, but remember, it must be postmarked by election day, so you are best off taking it to a post office.
And if you've lost your ballot or never received it, that's okay too. You can actually print a new ballot online, or if that seems weird, you can vote in person today or tomorrow at one of the county's 5 accessible voting centers. And if they give you any guff, just ask for a provisional ballot—that's your right.
This isn't Florida. Our election officials actually want you to vote.
But how do you know if your ballot has been counted? That's easy too. Just click through to the King County Ballot Tracker and type in your name and birth date. What... your ballot's not been received? When did you mail it? If it's been more than 4 days, you might want to give KC Elections a call (206-296-VOTE ) or try one of the options listed above. If it's still awaiting signature verification, don't worry. I'm going to explain the entire process below.
One of the things I like about The Verge is that it's a tech website that doesn't get swept up in providing free advertisements for tech companies. They write knowledgeably, and they write well, about tech culture. Another thing I respect The Verge for is the fact that they're willing to take stands that Gizmodo, Engadget, and all the other hack tech press sites aren't wiling to take. Case in point: They just published an essay by Nilay Patel titled "Why I'm Voting for Barack Obama."
It starts like this:
Last year, I quit my job at AOL and Engadget to join a small internet publishing startup and build what would become The Verge and Vox Media. After a lot of hard work, I am proud to say The Verge has been a success — we have hired, invested, and grown during what remains a massive recession.
Our ability to succeed is why I believe President Obama should be re-elected. The Verge exists only on the internet, and Romney's position on net neutrality and network access represent a grave threat not only to our future, but to the entire technology industry. Both candidates have insisted that this election is a referendum on the future of the economy; the GOP's platform would hand control of the internet economy to a small handful of entrenched corporations with a long history of crushing innovation in the name of control. Bluntly, a vote for Romney is a vote for the worst of AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast.
Given the libertarian leanings of tech aficionados, I think The Verge is going to lose readers over this editorial. And I think the people behind The Verge knew they were going to lose readers over the editorial, but they ran it anyway. I love that Republicans are already in the comments saying things like, "Why is the Verge getting so political? I wish a tech blog could be just that," and "I vote to keep politics off this site." Get a load of this concern trolling:
I just don’t understand why The Verge needs it feels it needs to step into the muck of political discourse. This place has been a relatively a nice place. But I guess everyone needs to get involved publically with their opinions for some reason.
This is the classic Republican complaint, that people with opinions unlike theirs should just shut up—funny how they don't feel that way when they're busy pretending that Kid Rock is a real star—but it makes even less sense than usual in reference to The Verge. Technology is very political. Everything is political. Patel's editorial is smart, considerate, and impassioned. That's the best kind of politics.
We've been crushing up amphetamines and stirring them into Paul Constant and Dominic Holden's food in the Stranger cafeteria for months now. That's the secret. That's why they have been able to produce a super-human amount of writing and reporting and features and analysis and jokes on Slog and in the printed paper and on Twitter for the last however-long-this-election's-been-happening. But after tomorrow? After tomorrow it will be time to sedate them a bit. Or at least let them put their feet up and have a nice repose by the fire. Drinks and books in hand.
Which is why they are going to be the special guests at the silent-reading party on Wednesday, when—pray to God! I'm looking at you, Florida!—the election will be but a distant memory. To usher us all into the next chapter in our lives, there will also be the very pleasant sounds of a harp played by the very pleasant Will Bielawski, a reading-party favorite.
If you don't know what the reading party is, start here. As usual, it's in the Fireside Room at the Sorrento, it starts at 6 pm, goes until 9 pm, there's a $5 Maker's Mark Manhattan on special throughout, you bring whatever you want to read and read it to yourself while everyone else does the same, it's all ages, and it's free.
Paul will be reading Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. I will be reading Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth. And Dom? "I will be reading The New York Times," he says. And you? What will you be reading?