Real vs. Fake Voting Issues May Mean Paper Ballots and Hand Counts Again

Casablanca   Hillary Clinton on a book tour and Donald Trump on his maiden voyage at the United Nations where he could take advantage of the opportunity to plug one of his branded properties across the street and threaten to annihilate a small country, reminds all of us that the American election was nearly one year ago last November. It’s officially fall again on the calendar no matter how warm it seems in country after country.

Amazingly, we are still talking about the election. For many it seems just like yesterday. Special Prosecutor and former FBI chief Robert Mueller is starting to let subpoenas fall like so many leaves all over Washington, D.C. as he tries to determine the impact the Russians had on the election and how deeply connected they were to the Trump campaign apparatus. In fact just yesterday, a year too late, the Department of Homeland Security alerted twenty-two states that they had reason to believe that their voting systems were being hacked before the last election. The twenty-two states that were confirmed by the Associated Press through calls to all 50 state election commissions were the battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

Meanwhile the President quickly tweets that none of this had any effect on the election. Who knows, maybe he’s right, but rather than spending his time tweeting about it, maybe his energy would be better spent at this point making sure election systems are protected and secure. Instead, he has an Election Commission ostensibly chaired by Vice-President Pence but really nothing more than another platform for Krazy Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State and putative gubernatorial candidate there to claim there was voting fraud in order to prevent more people from having their constitutional right to vote in the future. Something is just plain backasswards about all of that.

Kobach and his fake election integrity commission just got caught in one of his standard partisan stunts when they held a hearing in New Hampshire where he then unilaterally preempted the outfit before they could meet by claiming that there were over 5000 fraudulent voters that were sufficient enough to have theoretically made the difference in both the last Senate and Presidential outcomes in that state. When pulled short by the Election Commissioner in the state and the outrage in his own fake committee because he was discounting the fact that students are allowed to register and vote in New Hampshire since they spent the majority of their year there and almost all of votes he was claiming to be illegal were in college towns, like a schoolboy he essentially just said, “my bad.” What a farce!

We need a real election commission to look at real problems like how to secure and protect the ballot, not the Trump-Kobach program of how to prevent people from voting. Let the Russians play with that, while Americans figure out how we get the maximum votes and make sure they are counted fair and square. Some states have canceled contracts for new computer voting systems. Are we going to end up going back to paper ballots and hand counting, while Trump tweets and Kobach acts out for the headlines, and no one pays attention to the real problems in protecting our elections and voting systems?

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The Zombie Apocalypse of Republican Health Care Proposals

Newark  I don’t really watch these “living dead” zombie shows, but I’m starting to get the picture by following the various Republican proposals to “repeal and replace” the Obama Affordable Care Act. Here’s my question though? In the movies and television shows are each generation of zombies more disgusting and worse than the ones that came before them?

Certainly that is the case with the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill to take one more shot at this for the right wing before they would have to obtain more than a simple majority of Senators to push these horrors onto the American people. September 30th is the “expire by date” on the Republicans ability to make mischief with 50 votes, rather than having to go bipartisan with a super-majority.

Let’s look at this version of the healthcare apocalypse though.

A spokesperson for Kaiser Healthcare said it was almost impossible to imagine a bill so bad that it hurt even more people and that had less support from anyone.

Blue Cross/ Blue Shield, AARP, and other insurers, who have been largely silent in earlier versions of the bill, have all mobilized to oppose this version because they argue it will wreck havoc with insurance markets by destroying a national system and making it a state by state battleground.

Thirty-six states will immediately get less money from the Graham-Cassidy bill, if it succeeds. The pain will be especially pronounced in some of the blue states like New York, California, and Oregon, and generally in those states that expanded Medicaid for their citizens, but even the fourteen states that might see themselves as “winners,” have to understand it’s only temporary. By the 2020s part of the impact of this bill is not the simple devolution of healthcare responsibilities and the money that pays for them from the federales to the states, but a cutting of Medicaid dollars period, which will create a huge hole in state budgets everywhere and reduce many red states in the South to the healthcare delivery standards of third-world nations.

Economists argue that even the sponsors of the bill don’t seem to have a clear idea what’s in the language. For example, Cassidy and Graham have claimed it continues to protect those with preexisting conditions, but reading the bill it’s just not in there.

There is no cost estimate on the bill from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office nor is there a score on how many will lose coverage under this bill. The best estimate is that 30 million will be pushed off of insurance.

So, why are we worrying that this zombie may end up ruling our world, rather than having a stake driven through its heart? God knows, but it seems to be just a case of politics divorced from the impact of health and harm to the public. The Republicans are so desperate to fulfill an absurd promise that they willing to pretend a mangy dog is Lassie on the way to save you.

If there’s something you can do, do it now, before this zombie stalks the land and leaves million dead or dying.

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