Friday, October 31, 2008

Voting hopes not fears

You can count me among those who won't be scared into voting for Republicans in the General Election. I've done my research, checked the facts and it's the Democrats who look good to me.

From Barack Obama and Joe Biden at the top of the ticket, through Mark Schauer for Congress in the 7th district and Pam Byrnes for State Representative, we're blessed with excellent candidates. I'm convinced that they will work to make sure our country and state get through these challenging times in the best possible shape. The Democrats running for Washtenaw County offices will do the same for the county.

There are great candidates on the non-partisan section of the ballot, too. One whom I think deserves special mention is Judge Diane Marie Hathaway, a candidate for Michigan Supreme Court Justice who will bring much-needed change. She is tough, fair and impartial, and will protect middle-class families and fight special interests.

It's unfortunate that the campaign which is now drawing to a close has brought out the worst in many Republican candidates and campaigners. I'm hoping that on November 5 we will put all the ugliness behind us and unite to do the important work that lies ahead.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tips for a smooth Election Day, Nov 4

My wish for Election Day, November 4 is that when it's over we'll learn that every U.S. citizen who is registered to vote was able to have her or his voice heard by casting a valid vote, in person at the polls or by absentee ballot. Perhaps my wish is a bit unrealistic, but it's my wish just the same.

Here’s what I think we can do to help make the voting and ballot counting process go smoothly, despite what is likely to be a record voter turnout:

Check to make sure you are registered. Go to, click on "Are You Registered?" and enter your information by name or driver's license number. If you are registered, you will see a message confirming it and your polling place will be shown along with other relevant information.

Have you moved recently? If so, please note that registered Michigan voters who have moved within 60 days of the election may still vote at their previous address if they did not register to vote at their new address by the October 6 deadline. This also applies to voters whose homes have been foreclosed upon. Voters in default on their mortgages but living in their homes may still vote without restriction.

Before you go to vote, preview your ballot at by using the "Are You Registered" button and then clicking "View My Sample Ballot" on the page that comes up. Write down your choices and take them with you to the polling place.

If you can arrange it and afford it, ask for a day off so that you won’t have to vote during the most crowded times, or so that you can help others get to the polls by arranging rides or babysitting for them.

If you have a flexible schedule, go to the polls mid-morning or mid-afternoon to reduce the crowds for those who are trying to vote before or after work.

Request an absentee ballot if you are eligible - anyone 60 years or older is automatically eligible, complete it and mail it in right away. Absentee ballots count the same as those filled out at polling places. If you are a first-time voter, be sure to visit and click the "Absentee Voting" button for information about your situation.

If it's very near election day and you still have your absentee ballot and are planning to use it, make sure that you or someone you've authorized gets it to the clerk at the location printed on the return envelop before election day if you possibly can. If for some reason you decide to go to the polling place to cast your vote on Election Day, take your absentee ballot with you.

Take ID when voting in person. Take your driver's license, state ID card or other valid photo ID with you to your polling place. Go to and click on the "Voter ID" button to find out what kinds of photo ID are acceptable.

At your polling place, remember that no campaigning is permitted within 100 feet of the polling place. That means that you’ll need to make sure all campaign clothing, buttons and literature are out of sight while you are inside that 100-feet limit.

And, please turn off your cell phone as soon as you enter the voting area and refrain from making or receiving calls until you are outside again. Yes, talking on the phone about the candidates or proposals is considered campaigning, and ringing cell phones are likely to distract fellow voters and slow things down.

If you encounter any problems at the polls, be patient with the election inspectors who are there to help voters and see that the election laws are followed. There are procedures, some of them time-consuming for the voter, that must be followed in cases such as when a "provisional ballot," rather than a regular ballot must be used. If you make a mistake on your ballot, ask for assistance right away and you’ll be able to correct it.

If we all take the time to get ready and with some good luck, we'll have a smooth, clean election November 4.

(I'm reprinting the above in case you missed my letter on this topic in the Chelsea Standard and Dexter Leader on October 9, 2008.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Republicans' fake claims of impending voter fraud

It is entirely unjustified to point to a relative handful of problematic voter registration cards out of millions collected and scream "danger! vote fraud!" If someone who was hired to register voters cheats the organization that hired them by faking cards with names and addresses they've made up or copied from the phone book, what you get is useless registrations - not fraudulent votes.

In the words of Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:
Let's be clear about what this is. These are random stories about fake registrations. The Drudges and Fox scoundrels of the world seem to think that if someone fills out a voter registration card for Mickey Mouse, that Mickey Mouse might show up and cast a vote they're not entitled to cast. It doesn't, and there is zero evidence of any voter fraud or anything that would make voter fraud more likely. The level of lying, bad faith or at best ignorance of the people making these claims is really beyond imagining. This isn't vote fraud. There's no evidence of vote fraud. Nothing. This is an effort of a losing political party to a) lay the groundwork for challenging their defeat at the polls b) lay the groundwork to pass laws to make it harder for poor people and minorities to vote.
I'm disappointed that some people who claim to be real journalists seem unable to see through the fake outrage about voter registration irregularities. We need to focus on the potentially much greater problem of people who are eligible to vote being purged from voter rolls and challenged at the polls.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Does "Maverick" equal "Mean Spirited"?

Shame on John McCain and Sarah Palin. In TV ads and on the campaign trail, they've been whipping up fear and hatred of their opponents. Where are the positive statements with specifics about how they would address the issues that are important to us? It would be fitting for Senator McCain to be judged by his own words from the 2000 Presidential Primary campaign.
MCCAIN: "Uh, I, I just have to rely on the good judgment of the voters not to buy into these negative attack ads. Sooner or later, people are going to figure out if all you run is negative attack ads you don't have much of a vision for the future or you're not ready to articulate it." [The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 2/21/2000]

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Senator Obama explains why we need a rescue plan

Here's a link to Senator Obama's address to the US Senate before yesterday's vote on the bill to rescue our financial system.

Senator Obama's explanation is the best one I've heard. He convinced me that "this is not just a Wall Street crisis, it's an American crisis. And it's the American economy that needs this rescue plan."

After laying out just what is at stake, Senator Obama gave a realistic assessment of the difficulties ahead and expressed his confidence that we, the American people, are up to the task of setting things right. He said:
I do not think this is going to be easy. It's not going to come without costs. We are all going to need to sacrifice. We're all going to need to pull our weight, because now, more than ever, we are all in this together. That's part of what this crisis has taught us.

But in the end of the day, there's no real separation between Wall Street and Main Street. There's only the road we're traveling on as Americans. And we will rise or fall on that journey as one nation and as one people.

I know that many Americans are feeling anxiety right now about their jobs, about their homes, about their life savings. But I also know this -- that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis, that we are always have.

During the great financial crisis of the last century, in his first fireside chat, FDR told his fellow Americans that: "There is an element in the readjustment of our financial system more important than currency, more important than gold, and that is the confidence of the people themselves." Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan. Let us unite in banishing fear. Together we cannot fail. We cannot fail -- not now, not tomorrow, not next year.

This is a nation that's faced down war and depression, great challenges and great threats. And at each and every moment, we have risen to meet up these challenges -- not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans -- with resolve and within confidence, with that fundamental belief that here in America, our destiny is not written for us, it's written by us. That's who we are and that's the country I know we can be right now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Republican Joe Schwartz endorses Mark Schauer for Walberg's seat

I remember Joe Schwartz's days as an excellent public servant. Until 2006 he was our 7th district representative in Congress. Then the "Club for Growth" ran Tim Walberg against him in the primary election with the same kind of misleading ads it's using against Mark Schauer this time around.

They fooled a lot of people in 2006. So, I'm glad to hear that Joe Schwartz is doing his part to prevent a repeat by endorsing Mark Schauer as the best candidate to represent the real interests of the 7th district. Here's a link to Schwartz's announcement.

I urge you to do your part in making sure we don't get fooled again - spread the word that Mark Schauer is OUR candidate.