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July 11, 2004 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Transparent grab for power or genuine threat?
posted by Fuka (123 comments total)

 
They're floating a trial balloon here. If enough people squawk about this, then they'll shelve it.
posted by bshort at 11:01 AM on July 11, 2004


NO. FUCKING. WAY.
posted by trondant at 11:01 AM on July 11, 2004


These "officials" should read the constitution. The states' legislatures are specifically charged with the appointing of electors as they see fit. (Article II, Section 1)
posted by falconred at 11:02 AM on July 11, 2004


One good way to squawk is to write your representative.
posted by bshort at 11:04 AM on July 11, 2004


if this happens they'll have to postpone the elections again because of the revolution in the street.
posted by fuq at 11:08 AM on July 11, 2004


Wow. And I thought before all of this they weren't even trying to pretend...
posted by jearbear at 11:10 AM on July 11, 2004


What's the big fear here?

That if Kerry is ahead in the polls they'll uncover a "threat" or a "ploy" and delay until Bush is out front? Or does anyone actually believe the Bush admin would force an Al Queda attack in order to bolster his numbers?
posted by mathowie at 11:14 AM on July 11, 2004


Definite trial balloon material. I think Newsweek (beware the popup) gets the credit for the scoop.

As much as I hate Bush, I think this idea has merit. If there were an attack three days before the election I'd rather have a few weeks of cooling off than have a crazy vote. And while I think democracy has been seriously threatened in the US, particularly after the theft of the 2000 election, I don't think we're so far gone that a temporary postponement of an election would lead to a serious abridgement of the electoral process.
posted by Nelson at 11:14 AM on July 11, 2004


fuq: see, I'm afraid that they're going to terrify everyone enough that the average person will be too busy cowering under the bed to foment revolution.
posted by bshort at 11:14 AM on July 11, 2004


mathowie: yes, apparently, some do believe that.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:17 AM on July 11, 2004


While my first reaction to this was HOLY SHIT my second was it would be a bit irresponsable to not have a plan it place.

Also note that no where is it mentioned that the end of the current terms (because we're voting for more than just the president come november) would be pushed back. We have until the fist week in January to vote without it effecting anyone's term in office.
posted by Mick at 11:18 AM on July 11, 2004


bshort, but what about those rebel flag "no fear" and "ain't skeered" decals on pick-up trucks? maybe i have a poor understanding of america...
posted by fuq at 11:20 AM on July 11, 2004


Nelson, we've never postponed elections in the past, even when we were fighting a real war.

This all seems very similar to when, after 9/11, Guilliani wanted to get both of the Mayoral contenders to promise to delay their entry into office by a couple of months to let Rudy keep working on things. That didn't go over so well, and set some people against him.
posted by bshort at 11:21 AM on July 11, 2004


the first one
posted by Grod at 11:21 AM on July 11, 2004


Cicero! Declare your Ultimate Decree! Catalina's up to something, don't y'know.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:30 AM on July 11, 2004


fuq - I guess I'm afraid the rednecks would end up siding with Bush :-) After all, isn't he a good 'ol boy?
posted by bshort at 11:31 AM on July 11, 2004


How many of us are prepared to get arrested for refusing to leave the polling place on Election Day without being allowed to vote?

Of course the real tin-foil-hat crowd must be wondering why this matters, since Diebold will control the voting outcome anyway.
posted by ilsa at 11:35 AM on July 11, 2004


It's prudent to plan and it's also prudent to question those people who make these kinds of plans.
posted by rks404 at 11:37 AM on July 11, 2004


Soaries is a weird guy; he was nat'l director or something for Jesse Jackson's "Operation Push" in the '70s, and he's a preacher man, and now he's Bush's appointed elections guy, but he's come out for open-sourcing voting machine code, but then he's against voters verifying paper records.

I agree that the Supreme Court would have to ride roughshod over states' rights to allow the feds to - but they did that in Bush v. Gore.

Anyway, can you imagine the degree of unrest we'd have in this country if Bush postponed the election? And at this point, with bin Laden still at large in Afghanistan or Pakistan and Bush's Iraq war ever more clearly irrelevant to (or counter-productive in) preventing terrorism, I'd think that if there were an attack on the US Bush would want to get the elections over with before bin Laden could take credit.
posted by nicwolff at 11:38 AM on July 11, 2004


Do I think Bush will actually postpone the election or fake a terrorist attack? I have no idea.

Do I think this is a bit of fearmongering to scare people? You bet your rear, and I don't like it one bit.
posted by jopreacher at 11:38 AM on July 11, 2004


whoops - "to allow the feds to" delay the elections
posted by nicwolff at 11:39 AM on July 11, 2004


I guess they remember what happened in Spain.
posted by rainking at 11:39 AM on July 11, 2004


what rks said...the true test of how likely all this is will be how low Bush is in the polls come October (and how desperately they want to stay in power).
posted by amberglow at 11:42 AM on July 11, 2004


Let me explain the nature of power. Those in power tend to want to stay in power. And they will do any underhanded, probably immoral and definitely hypocritical thing to do so.

This goes double for Dubya.

Look at what he did in the last election. His minions rigged Florida so that uncounted numbers of black voters were turned away from the ballots. They rigged it.

What won't they do?

So, to summarize, a President with no legitimacy who was appointed into office by a partisan Supreme Court after rigging the election wants the right to postpone an election? Yeah, naked grab for power, at least for those with eyes to see.
posted by geekhorde at 11:43 AM on July 11, 2004


It's not just al Qaeda to be worried about. We have our own homegrown terrorists, after all.
posted by homunculus at 11:49 AM on July 11, 2004


Hunter Thompson says: My final prediction for today is that the U.S. will not send any teams to the Olympic Games this year. And the World Series will also be canceled or at least postponed for a National Security emergency that will never be explained in public until long after George Bush is gone from the White House, which will happen in early November -- or at least before Groundhog Day next year.
We are all going for a very wild ride for the next few months. So good luck and drink all the cold beer you can get your hands on for as long as necessary to guarantee victory and lasting peace in the nation and the world.

posted by amberglow at 11:57 AM on July 11, 2004


We didn't cancel the presidential election of 1864, held during the American Civil War. It's a bit difficult, then, to rationalize suspending elections even if some 9/11-scale attack were to occur.

America needs to reach down and find a pair.
posted by SPrintF at 11:59 AM on July 11, 2004


Echoes of the R Document?
posted by bluedaniel at 12:01 PM on July 11, 2004


can you imagine the degree of unrest

Sure can. Undoubtedly comparable to the last time a presidential election was stolen.
posted by mwhybark at 12:03 PM on July 11, 2004


Or does anyone actually believe the Bush admin would force an Al Queda attack in order to bolster his numbers?

Force al-queda to attack? I don't think this administration is taking any chances. If it comes down to it, they will probably plant something themselves, and arrest a bunch of middle-eastern men.....Who's going to argue with them? The media?

By the time anyone actually figures out what happened, Bush will be in his 4th term.....unelected, of course (which never stopped him before).

/tin foil hat off...
posted by Rastafari at 12:11 PM on July 11, 2004


Welcome to the concept of El Presidente George "Dubya for Life" Bush.
posted by FormlessOne at 12:21 PM on July 11, 2004


Definite trial balloon material. I think Newsweek (beware the popup) gets the credit for the scoop.

This isn't quite true, but I can't find the damned link that proves it. Earlier this week, before today's story, there was already a story out somewhere about U.S. elections officials wanting to discuss what sorts of contingency plans might be needed.

But, like I said, I've looked everywhere for the link to that earlier story and I'm not having any luck yet.
posted by theonetruebix at 12:21 PM on July 11, 2004


Homeland Security Department spokesman Brian Rochrkasse told the magazine the agency is reviewing the matter "to determine what steps need to be taken to secure the election."

Says it all, really. Question is - securing the election from someone, or for someone?
posted by FormlessOne at 12:25 PM on July 11, 2004


I found the earlier pre-Newsweek story. It was an AP piece from June 25. Many copies via this Google News search.
posted by theonetruebix at 12:28 PM on July 11, 2004


In Spain, the Partido Popular (that went from absolute majory to the opposition) keeps saying that they lost the election because of the train bombings of March 11st. I don't know what would be the reaction of the electorate in the USA, leaning hard to the right and reinforce Bush? Step back and give Kerry the presidency? Very hard to tell, but in any case, when the Madrid attacks happened I wanted to vote, I didn't want any kind of delay...
posted by samelborp at 12:37 PM on July 11, 2004


Although my suspicions point toward this being a fearmongering, attention grabbing technique that they release on a day when fewer people will hear about it, I'd like to think it out a bit.

The interests in postponing it would be twofold:

1. Make sure the elections are held in a safe and orderly manner and that there's no threat during the vote.

2. Preventing people from voting in a reactionary way - like in Spain

#1 seems like it wouldn't need a federal law. If there's a large attack in the days around the election, I can't imagine the state legislatures would proceed ahead. Especially if a large amount of the population is still in a state of emergency.

#2 has much more relevance. I'm not sure if delaying an election would even affect the outcome really. If the Spanish elections were held today instead a of a few months ago, would the results be any different? Maybe if the race was close even after the bombing, but chances are that a bombing will solidify the people against the incumbent.
posted by destro at 12:45 PM on July 11, 2004


so they
a). haven't fixed Florida in 4 years.
b). decide to introduce this 4 months before the election.

While I agree it is a valid concern, this valid concern has existed for close to 3 years and should be somewhat complex, or the very least not be hammered out overnight (Patriot Act anyone)? I try to be rational and dont like to wear the tin-hat, but this is really getting out of hand...
posted by dig_duggler at 12:53 PM on July 11, 2004


2. Preventing people from voting in a reactionary way - like in Spain

who says voters in spain were reacting? since when is this a fact? what a load of horseshit.
posted by quonsar at 12:56 PM on July 11, 2004


My own take is different: If George II's administration is smart (and politically, they are), they'd have everything to gain from people voting in reaction to a terrorist attack--or perhaps a played-up (and trumped-up?) threat of attack: American voters are more likely to rally behind the chief in times of crisis.

It's conceivable that if there were a played-up threat with no attack, then GW would be seen as the boy who cried wolf--but I doubt it.
posted by adamrice at 12:57 PM on July 11, 2004


2. Preventing people from voting in a reactionary way - like in Spain

The vote in Spain was a reaction to the incumbent's hackneyed attempts at placing the blame on Basque separatists rather than admitting that it was al Queda..

But who knows, the US populace seems to react differently than the rest of the world to a lot of events. In some countries the citizens actually get upset about election day shenanigans...
posted by crank at 1:02 PM on July 11, 2004


we've never postponed elections in the past, even when we were fighting a real war.

I know you mean national elections, but it is very pertinent that New York's mayoral primary election of Sept 11 2001 was ordered postponed soon after the attacks.

I think you have to have a plan, just in case. The question, though, is what are their parameters? I can see postponing an election if an attack occurs on the day. But a week before the election? A month?
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:03 PM on July 11, 2004


Just for argument's sake, let's suppose that al Qaeda was considering attacking the US on the eve of the elections; on the supposition that the outcome in Spain was one they found favorable. (I'm not at all convinced of the latter -- unlike the Afghan war, the Iraq war is hugely beneficial to al Qaeda -- they can now operate in Iraq, and it's a giant recruiting poster for them worldwide. Neither of those things were true before the invasion, so influencing Spain to leave -- if they did --- is not an obvious win for them.) But just supposing the above were true, then having a plan in place that implies terrorist attacks will not sway the election might, act as something of a deterrent. But delaying the election will not prevent such an attack from having an effect. The effects of 9/11 are still felt, and the effects of this hypothetical attack will not be what is predicted, whether the election is held 3 days later or 90.

I truly doubt it would act as a deterrent. If Al Qaeda's motive truly is that it hates America and freedom, then influencing us to disrupt or abandon our democratic institutions is a gigantic victory for them. Just as passing USA-PATRIOT act was like pinning a medal on them, canceling or postponing our elections, and the internal confusion and suspicions that would release, would be a massive Al Qaeda victory. So if history is any guide, the Administration is probably going to go for it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:05 PM on July 11, 2004


So let's get this straight...Bush is running on the "war-president/ only one who can successfully protect the homeland" platform.....yet, they know the time of a likely attack (November) and who the perpetrators will be (Al Qaeda), and still can't do anything to stop it. But we should vote for him anyway. It just doesn't make sense...!
posted by h00dini at 1:10 PM on July 11, 2004


I get so tired of people who have absolutely no concept of Spanish politics, except for recognizing that that little "Ansar" * guy was a willing participate in the Illegal Iraq Oil sweepstakes, claiming offhandedly that the Spanish people are reactionary voters. Take a look at Spain's record on voting, there has never been lower than 68% voter turnout, the 77% turnout in the last general election was not the highest, it reached 80% in 1982 when the Socialist party and Felipe González won an absolute majority. The average Spaniard is much more informed politically than the average American and evidently much more active.

Aznar and the PP were dropping like a rock in the polls long before the election due to the obviously illegal war, the Prestige disaster, a Nation wide strike after some very unpopular labor legislation was pushed through the parliament with ZERO debate and general anger from the left over its anti gay, anti-social security, anti-universal healthcare and pro-religion in public schools agenda (just to name a few issues off the top of my head). The PP had made it a central characteristic of their administration to deny debate in the parliament, to insult all the other parties and to drag the entire political process through the mud in every way imaginable. They actually enjoyed doing this very much. Rajoy, Aznar's successor, ran one of the worst campaigns I have ever seen; he basically clammed up and sweated like Nixon in front of the cameras (literally) during the last 2 weeks before the election. His campaign handlers thought that if he just didn’t make any mistakes they would win, so they told him not to talk about any issues (the PP of course refused to hold any presidential debates) and to limit himself to insulting his opponent with cheesy one-liners. Meanwhile ZP (Zapatero) ran a steady and dignified campaign, his numbers slowly growing as they had been for the prior 18 months, no insults, just his political project.

Did the terrorist attacks affect the Spanish people? Of course it did. Did it affect the election? Not as much as the government’s media manipulation that came after the terrorist attack. Why were the vast majority of people so convinced that the government was lying? Because they had already lied about so many other things (sound familiar?). Currently we are in the middle of a commission that is studying the terrorist attacks (our commission came much quicker than in the US) and the testimony given by the police and armed forces is damning Aznar and his government for obviously manipulating the media, claiming that the attack was by ETA instead of al-qaeda even after having found overwhelming evidence that the attack was made by the radical Islamic group. After all of the lies for the war, during the prestige disaster, the arrogance and undermining of the political process and endless other incidents during the 4 years that they had the absolute majority the fallout from the attack was simply the final straw in a long line of failures by the former government. The last two years of the PP's absolute majority the "centrist" mask fell from its face and the true hard right wing "francoist" nature of the administration became painfully obvious. Hubris is another word that comes to mind.

Aznar now lurks behind the scenes, a defeated man snarling from behind the skirts of the Bush regime, pretending that he still controls his party, but every time he speaks in public Rajoy and the PP have to scramble to cover up the embarrassment that he creates. As anybody who follows politics in any country knows, trends are more important than snapshots of popularity. The PP lost the election because the entire left wing, not just Al-queda, was mobilized against it.
/rant


*Bush, with his usually lack of coherence referred to Aznar as Ansar (a kind of duck in Spanish) on at least one occasion (the same occasion where Josep Pique, then the Minister of Exterior for the Partido Popular, was literally bowing to Bush as if he were a royal personage). Later, his brother Jeb came to Spain to sell the war, alluding to rewards that woud be given to " the great Spanish Republic" for participating. Spain is a Consitutional Monarchy. Must run in the family.
posted by sic at 2:08 PM on July 11, 2004


My apologies if I have misinterpreted the situation in Spain. I believe that Aznar would have lost the vote anyhow as well.

Still, I think it is valid to say that the bombing to made a considerable effect on the election. In the U.S., if the election is as close as it was in 2000, an event like the bombing could change the outcome.

I don't think people should generally vote under distress unless necessary, and a bombing could set people off one way or another. But this is something that the state legislatures can handle. No need for federal control.
posted by destro at 2:24 PM on July 11, 2004


I voted for Bush last election and planned to vote for him this November, but this little news item sent a thrill of fear down my spine. Watch this guy. Watch him very carefully.
posted by Faze at 2:25 PM on July 11, 2004


How many of us are prepared to get arrested for refusing to leave the polling place on Election Day without being allowed to vote?

Well, we poll workers actually have to know how to grab everything up and haul butt in case of things like bomb threats (one of our local polling places had to do just that last year.) So I doubt it would be worth your while to stay if WE left.


I think is is extremely wise to have contingency plans, but I also think it would be much wiser for states to be in charge of contingency.

Look, the administration is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. We haven't yet had a Democratic post-9/11 administration so we don't know if a liberal White House would be suggesting some of the same things that make people nervous. it is a hard job to try to protect a free people these days without robbing them of the freedoms in the process.
posted by konolia at 2:30 PM on July 11, 2004


"Transparent grab for power or genuine threat?"

Interesting that coming up with a plan to move an election date can only be a negative thing.

I deeply understand the desire to avoid a government by fiat, but to see contingency as only negative strikes me as foolhardy. The only benefit one gets from having no plan is that your response to attack is potentially random from the point of view of the attacker. This is a tenuous benefit at best since it still provides potential benefit to the attacker.
posted by rudyfink at 2:30 PM on July 11, 2004


Free beers for sic, mwhybark and George_Spiggott for presenting the clearest thinking on this thread.
posted by tomharpel at 2:34 PM on July 11, 2004


I still don't understand what is to fear from holding the election after a supposed terrorist attack. Bush might lose?

Is avoiding a Bush defeat a matter of national security now?
posted by sic at 2:36 PM on July 11, 2004


BTW thanks for the beer tomharpel, I'll drink a toast to you and to the regime change in November ;)
posted by sic at 2:43 PM on July 11, 2004


So let's move 9/11 back a year and the attack takes down the World Trade Center on the morning of the 2000 presidential election.

Clinton is forced to say "I have no authority to postpone the election and nobody really knows how to go about it, game on!"

A major democratic stronghold (the New York City area) is thoroughly distracted from such prosaic matters as voting. Voter turnout in New York City is under 5%, and doesn't climb out of the single digits anywhere in the tri-state area. Across the country people are glued either to there TVs or one of the great Metafilter threads of all time.

Poll workers don't show up at their locations. City and state government is in gridlock trying to figure out what is going on, whether their jurisdictions are at risk and are diverting all branches of their government to preparedness and disaster relief for New York City.

Around the country most places are not able to see their voter turnout climbs out of the teens.

The returns are dominated by early voters on the East Coast and absentee ballots (which tend to lean Republican). Those in time zones where voting opened after the attacks become single issue elections as people try to respond to attacks they are sure mean something but are still speculating about all the essentials. All they know is they want a president who will respond forcibly and this further tilts towards the Republican (by reputation of party, not necessarily force of the specific personalities).

Florida swings clearly to Bush. New York state still goes to Gore (and Hillary gets her new job), but exteremely depressed turnouts erase the already slim plurality for Gore in the popular tally. Several other close states swing to Bush.

A president most of us hate is elected with a clear electoral majority and popular plurality. But less than 20% of eligible voters voted and we are now all saying "it was completely asinine that we continued with that election under those conditions! We were robbed!"

I doubt so many would be saying "we voted during the Civil War, we can vote during a terrorist attack."

But maybe I misread things.
posted by obfusciatrist at 3:08 PM on July 11, 2004


Maybe we should just move the election forward a few months...
posted by fatbobsmith at 3:21 PM on July 11, 2004


Labor Day elections would be good--we're all off that day anyway.
posted by amberglow at 3:26 PM on July 11, 2004


OK, so what if it was a natural disaster? We have those. They are infrequent and unexpected but devastate anything from a few small communities to large cities and even states for days/weeks/months. Yes, after 9/11, we were freaked-out about what was going on, and there was sadness, stress, frustration, anger, on a national level, but in reality, life went on everywhere that wasn't directly effected. My husband and I went to work that day, and the next, and did all the things we always do in the same ways that we always do them. Had it occurred on or just before election day, it wouldn't have effected our ability to walk across the street to the school and apply pencil to paper, or the ability for my district, my state to tally our votes. Only the actual areas effected by it would need to postpone elections until they had their alternative plan in place and active. The state of Hawaii already has such a plan. I'm sure most states do, or they should.

What I am trying to say is that while the emotional state of the country was higher than it would be if a natural disaster hit California or wherever causing major damage, it wouldn't actually effect the ability for the rest of the nation to vote ... only people's reasons for going or not going to the polls. Hell, some people can't be bothered to go if it's raining. I don't think, overall, outside the range of the truly physically effected areas, I think voting could continue elsewhere without much actual change in voter habits. I know who I am going to vote for well before election day, and while some people may "panic vote" and switch sides, I'm willing to bet the numbers would be equal.
posted by Orb at 4:08 PM on July 11, 2004


Clinton is forced to say "I have no authority to postpone the election and nobody really knows how to go about it, game on!"

Yes, that's how it would happen. New York would drop it's emergency relief efforts to man polling stations.
posted by destro at 4:34 PM on July 11, 2004


Just out of curiosity, what would happen if the two candidates were both killed--terrorist attack, natural disaster, they both drop dead of natural causes, before the elections, but after the conventions? Do their running-mates take over? What if they, too, die? Do we have contingency plans for these unlikely events?

I'd feel a lot more comfortable if our administration would couch their 'feelers' in terms like the above questions rather than any attack, anywhere within our borders.
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:42 PM on July 11, 2004


Or does anyone actually believe the Bush admin would force an Al Queda attack in order to bolster his numbers?

Does anyone actually believe that, based on their track record, this administration would not capitalize on and take advantage of such an attack in any way possible for their own political advantage, were it to occur?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:45 PM on July 11, 2004


George W Bush: Because the only way to defeat Terror is with Pithy Jingoisms.
posted by quonsar at 5:03 PM on July 11, 2004


Does anyone actually believe that, based on their track record, this administration would not capitalize on and take advantage of such an attack in any way possible for their own political advantage, were it to occur?

There is a difference between actually causing an attack and capitalizing on it- and yes, I have no doubt that Bush would capitalize on it. Then again, that's exactly how politcians win elections. They MUST capitalize on what's going on- if they didn't, they would never win an election. Hell, Kerry's capitalizing on the war by being so adverse to it.
posted by jmd82 at 5:19 PM on July 11, 2004


"[T]he federal government has no agency that has the statutory authority to cancel and reschedule a federal election.

NO SHIT. Because the federal government has no constitutional authority to cancel and reschedule a federal election.
posted by azazello at 5:32 PM on July 11, 2004


can you imagine the degree of unrest

Sure can. Undoubtedly comparable to the last time a presidential election was stolen.
Like in this picture, right?



These are some of the thugs who staged a riot at the Miami canvassing board and shut down the recount. Most of these thugs are present or past employees of Congressional Republicans. The riot was led by Rep. John Sweeney of upstate NY. All of these thugs - and their Congressional bosses, led by Tom DeLay - should be prosecuted for criminally interfering with a federal election. (1)
posted by sequential at 5:39 PM on July 11, 2004


I'll qualify my position. I think the federal government should not have the power to postpone an election except if authorized by the Supreme Court in extraordinary circumstances - yes, that includes a terrorist attack on the election day.

On an unrelated tangent, I also think that any military action authorized by the commander in chief without either a declaration of war or an express treaty with the country on whose territory the action is taking place is both unconstitutional and a war crime.
posted by azazello at 5:44 PM on July 11, 2004


does anyone actually believe the Bush admin would force an Al Queda attack in order to bolster his numbers?

It's not inconceivable.

America needs to reach down and find a pair.

Indeed. It's always embarrassing to be affiliated with cowards.
posted by rushmc at 5:46 PM on July 11, 2004


...and I approve this message.
posted by homunculus at 5:51 PM on July 11, 2004


Could be something similar to "Wag the Dog?" If I remember the movie correctly...government fabricating something so that it benefits, while pulling the wool over the eyes of the innocent populace.
posted by Beansidhe at 6:00 PM on July 11, 2004


I should look into buying stock in aluminum foil.
posted by konolia at 6:13 PM on July 11, 2004


If September 11, 2001, instead happened on Election Day, 2004, don't you think it might call for a postponement, or cancelation of voting? I bet the same people criticizing this would criticize the authorities if no such contingency was planned for.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:18 PM on July 11, 2004


"I should look into buying stock in aluminum foil."

Why, is Halliburton considering making a play for Alcoa?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:18 PM on July 11, 2004


You guys are so ripe for an "auto-coupe", it's not even funny.
posted by signal at 6:30 PM on July 11, 2004


Yes, that's how it would happen. New York would drop it's emergency relief efforts to man polling stations.

Yes, that is exactly my point. It wouldn't happen, and polling stations would be unmanned in most places.

But apparently the vote is supposed to go on.
posted by obfusciatrist at 6:40 PM on July 11, 2004


It's the lead story on CNN.com now.
the actual story's here.

If it's up to the states regarding the election, what does it mean when most statehouses have Repub. governors? And if it's up to the Congress, what does it mean that both houses are controlled by Repubs?

And, most importantly, where can i get an absentee ballot, just in case?
posted by amberglow at 8:35 PM on July 11, 2004


As a former NY'er let me point out that there was a city election scheduled for 9/11/01, and that it was postponed when the planes hit the towers.

That said, I see no reason to delay a national election on account of an incident of similar scale. At most they should delay the affected region for a week, and not publicize the actual vote counts until the region had gone to the polls.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:36 PM on July 11, 2004


If September 11, 2001, instead happened on Election Day, 2004, don't you think it might call for a postponement, or cancelation of voting?

As trondant so eloquently put it earlier in the thread:

NO. FUCKING. WAY.

But apparently the vote is supposed to go on.

Yes. I wouldn't be opposed to using the 14th Amendment to adjust the number of electors if truly large numbers of people were prevented from voting, but the vote must go on.
posted by Ptrin at 8:46 PM on July 11, 2004


Maybe we should just move the election forward a few months... posted by fatbobsmith at 5:21 PM CST on July 11

Labor Day elections would be good--we're all off that day anyway. posted by amberglow at 5:26 PM CST on July 11


I would be totally cool with us moving the elections up...but the suspension of elections, not so much. That should be a states rights thing. Even if, gods forbid, there were another event on the scale of 9/11, that doesn't impact the ability of everyone in non-involved states to vote.

As to the impacted state/states, here's my thinking...someone who knows more about election law will probably correct me...but, at the time the Constitution was written, there was no such thing as instant communication. It must have taken weeks, or even months for votes to be tallied and the electoral selections made. Ergo, that same amount of time must still exist now. Thus, a state could, if necessary, delay their elections for a period of X time, and still be able to contribute polling data before the electoral college. (Don't even get me started on the whole electoral college thing...)

So, it seems to me that no reason for a federal level ability to suspend elections exists.
posted by dejah420 at 8:52 PM on July 11, 2004


If Bush isn't man enough to win the election on his merits, then it looks like the scenarios we all feared might come true are actually being planned. We can no longer be sure that they won't stage an attack in order to have an excuse to halt the election. Scalia wouldn't dare stop it again, so other means must be found.--from Left Coaster

It really would mean that the terrorists have won.
posted by amberglow at 9:01 PM on July 11, 2004


and a roundup from tons of blogs here
posted by amberglow at 9:05 PM on July 11, 2004


I don't think people should generally vote under distress unless necessary, and a bombing could set people off one way or another. But this is something that the state legislatures can handle. No need for federal control.

FWIW, contingency plans would need to go down all the way to a County level (at least in Texas) for some kind of disaster like this. Think about it: county-level. There are over 3,000 counties in the US today (3,086, to be exact). Discussing contingency plans is one thing. Doing so publicly on a Federal level is another thing entirely.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:08 PM on July 11, 2004


As I said: glad all of yoos are in here and not outside in the real world.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:09 PM on July 11, 2004


dejah420: There is a delay already built in as you suspect. The citizens of each state elect electors, who vote in the electoral college, in the November general election. Those electors meet in their respective states on the Monday after the 2nd Wednesday in December (in this year, that's December 13) to cast their ballots for president and vice president. Those votes are then sealed and sent to the president of the Senate who reads them before both houses of Congress on January 6.

amberglow: The way I read that article we're trying to keep the terrorists from "disrupting our democratic process" by disrupting our democratic process.
posted by AstroGuy at 9:09 PM on July 11, 2004


yup AstroGuy: It does exactly what Al Qaeda wants us to do. Bush/Ridge/etc must be getting paid by them or something to keep on helping them this way.
posted by amberglow at 9:16 PM on July 11, 2004


Amberglow: stay in here. Whatever you do, DO NOT VENTURE OUTSIDE METAFILTER!
posted by ParisParamus at 9:31 PM on July 11, 2004


It'll never happen.

How can you have a mayoral election if a good percentage of a city's population has been evacuated. Obviously, the NYC election had to be postponed, simply because an election would have been impossible.

On the other hand, a national election could have taken place, easily (although it would have sucked for manhattenites). Only a few million people would have been unable to vote, in a solidly blue state (i.e. their votes wouldn't really have mattered anyway in a presidential election)

---

And from a rational perspective, it would cost a fortune, a fortune born by state and city governments. It'll never happen for that reason alone.

I do favor a method for allowing locations that have had catastrophic problems (including national disasters) vote later, however.
posted by delmoi at 9:33 PM on July 11, 2004


There is no terrorist act that could possibly disrupt all nine million square kilometers, 230-odd million voting citizens, in twenty thousand cities, across five timezones and hundreds of thousands of voting stations.

It's simply impossible. Or if not impossible, then all of you are going to be dead anyway, and the election won't matter a damn.

Terrorists can't lay a finger on the United States. Hell, the worst ever terror attack on the United States killed only about three thousand people. More people die of wholly natural causes every day than have ever been killed by terrorism in the States.

The United States needs to quit seeing itself as a whimpering bitch chihuahua being raped by the Al-Queda rottweiler. No matter how badly bin Laden wants to fuck you over, he's nothing but a little mayfly.

It's worth nothing that countries where terrorism is a real threat, and countries where voting itself is to risk one's very life, still manage to pull off elections.

America, grow some balls.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:48 PM on July 11, 2004


Amberglow: stay in here. Whatever you do, DO NOT VENTURE OUTSIDE METAFILTER!

Don't you worry, PP: If I have to crawl thru rubble to vote, i'm going to. If i have to personally escort frightened people, I will. If i have to stand guard at my polling place myself with a bat to help keep the polls open, I will. (and most officials here are betting that any attack will happen either just before or during the Republican convention in Aug. anyway--are you attending, PP?)

We'll still have an election here in the event of an attack, or in a refugee camp, or anywhere we're evacuated to.
posted by amberglow at 9:48 PM on July 11, 2004


During the RNC, I will be attending Park Slope--as usual. During the DNC, same thing. I'm sure the pandering and bad music at both events will make me equally depressed.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:09 PM on July 11, 2004


well, you'll miss Ronnie Reagan at the DNC, and a parade of pro-choice moderates at the RNC
posted by amberglow at 10:15 PM on July 11, 2004


Amber, for a second I thought you meant they were going to taxidermy the old bastard and wheel him around the DNC in a Weekend at Bernie's stylee. I have to say: I'd support that.
posted by dhoyt at 10:44 PM on July 11, 2004


Maybe we should just move the election forward a few months...

better yet, why not have them, say, this saturday. and get this shit over with

I thought you meant they were going to taxidermy the old bastard and wheel him around the DNC in a Weekend at Bernie's stylee


he can even run the country that way! come to think of it, anyone check the pulse on dubya lately?
posted by mr.marx at 11:17 PM on July 11, 2004


"Dubya" has never had a pulse. You need a heart to have one.
posted by interrobang at 12:29 AM on July 12, 2004


Hrm, wasn't this trial baloon floated earlier on Metafilter as well.

With all due respect to the New Yorkers here, most of the United States got out of bed on 9/12, downed a few more cups of coffee to make up for the lack of sleep, and walked right into work to do the jobs that needed to be done. By all means, it sucked, but it was what needed to be done.

I can see moving elections if we are talking about something on the scale of 9/11 on election day. But that really isn't the trial baloon being floated here.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:23 AM on July 12, 2004


It seems to me that announcing a plan to postpone elections in the event of a terrorist attack pretty much ensures that we will have a terrorist attack. I am not suggesting that this was the purpose of announcement (I think they are just trying to look prepared), but it was a foolish thing to do -- to suggest that the terrorists have the ability to effect our electoral process.

We are truly a terrorized populace.
posted by moonbiter at 1:35 AM on July 12, 2004


What moonbiter just said.
You do have to look prepared, I guess, but damn, this is like waving a red cape at a bull.
Then again, even if, as I suspect, AQ has no interest in fucking with elections, an attack now could look like it was brought on by this loose talk.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:44 AM on July 12, 2004


"We are truly a terrorized populace."
If not by one thing, then another.
posted by donfactor at 3:58 AM on July 12, 2004


i called this two years ago. the bush administration will totally facilitate a terrorist event and then say that the country is too unstable for a possible transfer of power. i doubt seriously that it will happen on or near election day. they need a couple of months to capitalize on the situation and get knee jerk legislation passed. my bet is that it's going to be boston at the end of the month.
posted by centrs at 5:27 AM on July 12, 2004


centrs - that's one possible scenario, yes.

"They are going to attack" - but "we won't be like Spain" (metafilter post, May 25, 2004)

Says Condi Rice, "The hard thing about terrorism is that they only have to be right once, and we have to be right 100 percent of the time. And nobody can be certain there won't be another attack. But, of course, we are concerned about the election cycle."

Indeed, they are.
_______________

"I deeply understand the desire to avoid a government by fiat, but to see contingency as only negative strikes me as foolhardy. The only benefit one gets from having no plan is that your response to attack is potentially random from the point of view of the attacker." (rudyfink) - rudyfink, US Presidents now have - during "National Emergencies" which they themselves declare and define - the power of kings.

Further, emergency contingency plans - of the most extreme sort and designed for the most extreme contingencies - have long been in place.
___________________

"So let's move 9/11 back a year and the attack takes down the World Trade Center on the morning of the 2000 presidential election." (obfusciatrist) - This is not an apt comparison. Americans now expect further terrorist attacks, and so the reaction to a pre-Nov election attack would not be quite so predictable.
____________________

The real question - and issue - here is one of control.

Contingency planning is NOT the issue (see comment below).

The effect of a pre-Nov. election terrorist attack - which political party that would benefit - is very much open to question. But, with temporary suspension of the election, those results could be skillfully gamed to mitigate any possible benefit to the Democrats.

This scenario I'm describing does NOT require any collusion between the Bush Administration and Al Qaeda. Indeed, I could make a case that Karl Rove is in fact afraid of the political fallout from a pre-Nov. election attack and so has been moving, for months, to inoculate the Bush Administration against the political fallout of such an attack.

This election suspension trial balloon makes far more sense in that light - if the American people can be persuaded to buy an election suspension, then - if an Al Qaeda attack does occur, the Bush Administration can use ensuing the 1-6 month grace period to game the postponed election - and, if the attack has benefited the republicans, swing public opinion back towards Bush through the "War on Terror".

It's quite simple, I think.
posted by troutfishing at 5:49 AM on July 12, 2004


my bet is that it's going to be boston at the end of the month

I think the same thing, but probably for a different reason: I think Al Qaeda likes having the Bush administration in office because of it's inept handling of the GWOT. A good way to ensure that the current opposition doesn't replace it is to kill them.

Black thoughts, and I hope a) I am completely wrong, or b) any assaults are thwarted with minimal casualties.
posted by moonbiter at 7:33 AM on July 12, 2004


"Transparent grab for power or genuine threat?"

All of the above? I think it's safe to assume that this administration will do whatever it takes to win this election, and if tampering with the date of the election can change the results, they will seek the power to tamper.
posted by Outlawyr at 7:44 AM on July 12, 2004


"They are going to attack" - but "we won't be like Spain"

Yes, God forbid what has happend in Spain happens in the US, because Spain has plunged into chaos ever since the change of government.

The Bush administration is truly pathetic, how anybody can take this stuff seriously is beyond me. We had no "terrorist emergency plan" in Spain, we held the election as planned with huge voter turnout, there was a change of government and now life goes on. Period. There was no breakdown of civil society because Bush's ally lost the election, no social upheaval, no "end of days" scenario. Just a change of government. It happens, for fuck's sake. GET OVER IT. No party rules forever.

I wonder if the right wingers on this message board would be in favor of suspending elections if it was Bill Clinton proposing extending his administration, perhaps indefinitely....

Yeah, right, this is so transparent
posted by sic at 7:44 AM on July 12, 2004


I agree with several above. If we were the Coalition in Iraq, we would simple vote early, in private, with few witnesses and declare Bush the winner.

Just like sovereignty....if they say it's so....it's so! Sounds like elections in any tinpan dictatorship or nation run by your local communist regime.

And concerning Spanish elections. I have always thought those claiming the election was affected by the bombing are very frightening. They didn't give enough credit to the voters and gave far too much credence to the bombers.

Finally, who says we aren7t already voting under durress? I'm scared shitless!
posted by charms55 at 7:51 AM on July 12, 2004


What if there was an earthquake, say above 8.0, affecting much of the west coast, on November 1. Homes destroyed, power out, thousands dead, hundreds of thousands hurt, really, really bad. Would we pospone the election for the rest of the country?

I doubt it.

Would a terrorist attack of similar magnitude to 9/11 really change things any more than such a massive earthquake? I don't see it.

Shit has happened during every national election -- fires, floods, wars -- and those have all been folded in to the result, without so much as a hiccup. Come on. What is this Bushit about, really?

It seems like pure fear-mongering to me. Welcome to Election 2004.
posted by mooncrow at 7:57 AM on July 12, 2004


I wonder if the right wingers on this message board would be in favor of suspending elections if it was Bill Clinton proposing extending his administration, perhaps indefinitely....

The most I would be in favor of extending it is a week, for whomever is in office. However, I still think elections with electoral college should be left up to the states themselves to choose whether or not to postone their elections. Only problem is if some states delayed the election, we'de have to put a hold on releasing polling results from the states.
posted by jmd82 at 9:22 AM on July 12, 2004


By the way, False Premise Alert: the recounts conducted by the major press organizations all found a win for Bush. Moreover, when NBC announced Gore the winner an hour before the polls in western Florida closed, most estimates are that the republicans lost an additional 10,000 voted. Moreover, a study of the supposed "disenfranchisement of blacks" due to certain criminal background issues, found that more whites than blacks losts their votes.

So, Mr. Conspiracy and Me, and all you dellusionaists: get over it.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:33 AM on July 12, 2004


Dear Pastor Soaries,
I've been following your preparations for suspending elections with great interest, particularly now that it seems like Our Leader is incapable of breaking the 50 percent mark in the polls. Voting may be a right in this country, but with rights come responsibilities. If the People cannot be responsible for voting correctly, it is up to fine, Godly men like yourself to protect them from themselves. ...
--patriotboy does it again : >
posted by amberglow at 11:03 AM on July 12, 2004


you know, one of the reasons the PP lost in Spain was because they lied about who was responsible...why wouldn't that happen here?
posted by amberglow at 3:54 PM on July 12, 2004


How "postponed" was the eventual outcome of the last election? It was something like 36 days before we knew who the winner was (and watched the loser get into office).

I'm not so sure I wouldn't rather have a pushed-back date for other reasons. Do we really want a Bush who knows he's leaving working hard all through November and December to okay some horrible legislation or to pardon Kenny Lay? I'd rather vote as late as possible so he devotes more time to attempting to get elected instead of running our lovely country into the ground.

By the way, False Premise Alert: the recounts conducted by the major press organizations all found a win for Bush. Moreover, when NBC announced Gore the winner an hour before the polls in western Florida closed, most estimates are that the republicans lost an additional 10,000 voted. Moreover, a study of the supposed "disenfranchisement of blacks" due to certain criminal background issues, found that more whites than blacks losts their votes. - ParisParamus

If you actually found some sources on this, I'd love to read it. I don't distrust you; everything I've read, though, indicates the exact opposite of what you said. I'm not even sure what "major press organizations" means, but if you're referring to the Murdoch empire, it wouldn't surprise me. If I remember correctly, reputable press found that Gore had won the election by a substantial margin. Furthermore, the issue wasn't so much the "disenfranchisement of blacks" but just "disenfranchisement", particularly of those whose names sounded similar to criminals - which is what I guess you were referring with "certain criminal background issues" Please let me see your source on this as well.
posted by hoborg at 4:30 PM on July 12, 2004


that should be " criminals' "
posted by hoborg at 4:31 PM on July 12, 2004


I'll do the research. The most recent, immediate source was, in fact the New York Post.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:41 PM on July 12, 2004


The very same Post that declared an "exclusive", that Gephardt was Kerry's chosen running mate?
posted by troutfishing at 5:44 PM on July 12, 2004


Just saying.
posted by troutfishing at 5:44 PM on July 12, 2004


Yes, an apologized the following day. When was the last time you admitted you were wrong.

Bush's most persuasive advocates? His opponents. You know, I don't like either, but if I need to chose sides between amoral Hollywood vulgarians and Tom DeLay, I'll go with DeLay. Or, at least John McCain.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:47 PM on July 12, 2004


Couldn't the same thing that happened in Spain happen in USA?

Terrorist bombing of something, Bush comes out and says its the evil muslims, even though there is some evidence it was white supremacists, more evidence then comes out that shows Bush knowingly lied, swings voters away, he loses election.
posted by Iax at 7:50 PM on July 12, 2004


With all due respect to the New Yorkers here, most of the United States got out of bed on 9/12, downed a few more cups of coffee to make up for the lack of sleep, and walked right into work to do the jobs that needed to be done. By all means, it sucked, but it was what needed to be done.

Yeah well the New York and DC surrounding areas definitely weren't working that day, and that's 3-4 states. Sure, some of you might go and vote even if the bombs are raining down, but most people won't. It's arrogant to think that these people should miss out on the democratic process because they fear for their own safety and because nobody will move the date.

That said, the rest of the country can go ahead and vote and let that particular state's legislature move the date a day or two.
posted by destro at 7:56 PM on July 12, 2004


ParisParamus - I admitted I was wrong today. It's probably a healthy once-a-day thing, I'd guess.

Have you seen the new Spiderman movie ? It's a really well done movie with a wholesome (to my sensibilities) and deeply moralistic core about the importance of doing the right thing - regardless of personal cost.

The New York Post had to admit it's mistake the next day - the entire world was laughing.
posted by troutfishing at 7:56 PM on July 12, 2004


Iax - Yes, I'd say that scenario you've spelled out compares to the Spanish election.
posted by troutfishing at 7:59 PM on July 12, 2004


Bottom line, this announcement is a sign of fear, a sign of weakness. And here I thought that this Administration was all about not showing weakness. I though that was supposed to be one of their merits.

Instead of warning us that we may have to postpone elections because of Al Qaeda, it would seem a bit wiser to announce that neither rain, nor snow, nor terrorist attacks will deter us from undertaking the popular vote, one of the founding principles of our Republic.

The one time I want the Administration to talk tough, they don't. Go figure.
posted by moonbiter at 8:04 PM on July 12, 2004


Or, at least John McCain.

McCain is a tool.
posted by rushmc at 9:11 PM on July 12, 2004


U.S. has no plan for election delay due to terrorism.
posted by tomplus2 at 5:59 AM on July 13, 2004


Rice was lying--she does that really well. This wouldn't have gotten out if it wasn't a real possibility. (plus, that article says they've taken no steps about it, not that they won't take steps about it)

This reinforced the useless and political recent terror warning from Ridge, and continued to knock Kerry/Edwards and Ken Lay's indictment from the front page, as well as the Senate's intelligence report. With this and the constitutional amendment thing, the 24-hour news networks are all set for the week. Next week, it'll be another wedge issue and another terror warning.
posted by amberglow at 9:49 AM on July 13, 2004


Oh, the New York Post, that unbridled fount of journalistic integrity. One of the many festering boils on the face of News Corp. Let's have a flip through the sections, shall we?
A - "News"
B - Gossip
C - Sports
D - Opinion
E - Business
F - Real Estate
G - Entertainment
H - Lifestyle

I'm just impressed they have "news" in there at all.
I'm looking forward to the references nonetheless, unless you'll be pointing to a a statshot from USA Today or a quiz from Cosmopolitan.
posted by hoborg at 2:18 PM on July 13, 2004


Joe Conason in the Observer: Bush Camp Could Gain From A Postponement
posted by amberglow at 11:54 AM on July 14, 2004


Joe Conason reads my Metafilter comments.

"This election suspension trial balloon makes far more sense in that light - if the American people can be persuaded to buy an election suspension, then - if an Al Qaeda attack does occur, the Bush Administration can use ensuing the 1-6 month grace period to game the postponed election - and, if the attack has benefited the republicans, swing public opinion back towards Bush through the "War on Terror".

It's quite simple, I think.
posted by troutfishing at 5:49 AM PST on July 12 "


But, he's too smart to ever admit it.
posted by troutfishing at 8:25 PM on July 17, 2004


Running Scared: Jonathan Raban on how the White House's obsession with secrecy has turned America into a nation of conspiracy theorists

posted by amberglow at 7:24 PM on July 21, 2004


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