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Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Recounting the Senate race: An Epilogue

Well, the recount is over. It finished last Friday with essentially no change to the optical-scan machine-announced election night results.

Our group initiated a statewide recount of the Senate race here because we felt the announced results differed widely from pre-election expectations, exit polls, and because we felt there was a strong possibilty of fraud, given the stakes at play in this election with the balance of power in the United States Senate in question.

Our system here works. The recount showed that.

Alaska has optical-scan machines, but Diebold does NOT have anything whatsoever to do with the programming of the tabulating computers in those machines. A worker in the Division of Elections programs the memory cards here and no one else has access to those cards or that software.

Bipartisan teams check the process at every level of the counting. Essentially, as it stands right now, our system of counting votes is impregnable to fraud, unless someone were extremely determined and/or had inside access.

We raised the required $10,000 deposit for the recount in record time, just barely getting the required signatures of registered voters and the deposit in to the Division of Elections a few minutes before the deadline.

Then, we asked the state to hand recount 10% of the 439 precincts in the state. They agreed to do that, in addition to rerunning the ballots through the machines for a statewide recount. Since some of the rural precints were already hand-counted on election night (not all precincts have the optical-scan machines), those precincts were left out of the pool, because they'd already been hand-counted. So effectively, we got to count about 15% of the precincts.

Those results were essentially the same as the machine count. There were maybe 2 or 3 precincts with a difference, and the difference in each case was 1 or 2, perhaps 3 votes all told.

If we'd recounted the entire state by hand, that result would have differed from the machine count by maybe two or three dozen votes at the very most, and probably a lot less than that. This is out of nearly 311,000 votes cast for our Senate seat.

The bottom line: Our system of counting votes works.

What doesn't "work" (at least beyond reproach) is our system of registering and verifying voters. It's basically alright, if you're a registered voter at a stable address who doesn't vote absentee. However, there are some glaring problems that need to be addressed, and our group will be writing up a white paper to be posted on our site that addresses the problems we notice during the recount (e.g., it is possible, though not very likely, to request an absentee ballot, get it in the mail, vote, return it by mail to the DOE, and then vote at your regular polling place and no one would be the wiser unless and until they checked the voter rolls and absentee lists).

What it all means is this: nearly 150,000 of my fellow Alaskans essentially voted to endorse nepotism. Frank Murkowski names his own daughter to fill out the remaining two years of his Senate seat after he's elected to the governor's mansion in 2002, and almost 150,000 Alaskans have no problem with that.

It goes to show the power of incumbency (in this case that of our senior Senator, Teddy Warbucks) and the ability of the Rove machine to grease the skids to ensure that LISA! won the state outright.

One thing is for certain: if a guy like Tony Knowles, a popular two-term former governor whose views and outlook is close to that of the majority of Alaskans, can't win here, we're royally fucked.

Another thing that is certain about all this: Lisa Murkowski will never, ever, have and independent voice all her own. Karl Rove and Ted Stevens now own her lock, stock and barrel and that's that. She'll do what she'd told, vote the way she's told, and march in lockstep with the fascists who've now hijacked her party.

The sad this is, I bet that at some level at least, she's quite well aware of that.

You've made your bed with them, Lisa. Now go sleep in it.

The rest of us will soldier on without you.

We don't need or want you.

Saturday, December 18, 2004


Winter Solstice party

I went over to my friend Tom's place, a little over a mile up Goldhill Road from me, to attend his annual Winter Solstice party. He was also celebrating the (more or less) completion of the addition to his house, a project he's been working on since May.

I spent much of this afternoon screwing around with a snowthrower, clearing a driveway. I kept having mechanical issues with it, so finally I just gave up after the track came off the wheel again. I was looking forward to Tom's party.

So, I went down to Gullivers Books to purchase a presents for him and his wife. I bought a couple novelty items, a fork and a spoon, each had a telescoping handle that could stretch two feet long. I then went over the the West Fairbanks Fred Meyer, bought a cheap stapler (for a couple bucks or so), grabbed two paper bags, and then put each present in its own bag.

I was ready. I drove over to the party, all set and ready to go. The place was filling up when I got there, about 6:30 or so. He had the new arctic entryway all done, so I put my shoes and coat in the pile and came in.

Tom was in the back, showing off his new addition. When last I saw it, the opening in the old wall that would be the main entrance was marked out, but not cut yet. There were no walls (yet), the bay window was in place (sort of) and there was no drywall up yet, among many other things.

Now, the only thing left for him to do is lay down the flooring. I was quite impressed with the new addition and told him so. We marveled at the layout and he told us where he's going to have his bike room set up (he'll even have a ramp going up to the back door so he can ride his bike right into the room after one of the bike club's Tuesday rides in the summer.

I gave him his presents and told him that he'd better watch out with that Santa dude and not get on the guy's bad side or else. He assured me he would.

Then it was time to eat. I adjourned to the food table and partook of the Unkempt Joseph's (sloppy joe's) on one end, deviled eggs on another, and chips and dip in between.

I talked to our mutual biking buddy, Dave James, about bikes politics, and the like and milled around. After a while, our fearless Tuesday Night Bike Ride leader, Douglas Burnside, showed up. He and I talked about his amazing car stereo system and how much he'd invested in it (in the thousands of dollars, I can't remember the exact figure). He has quite the award-winning stereo system, I might add. I've sat in his car after a Tuesday ride and been amazed at the quality of the sound reproduction from the speakers and amps.

After an hour or so of milling around, Tom announced it was time to light the bonfire. He had a pile of old brush and scrap wood from the addition, laced with fuel oil for this purpose.

We walked out and he took a lighter to the top of the pile. We wondered why he was doing that but wondered no more after the fire got going and the fuel oil started lighting up.

We had to step back several feet once the fire got going strong. Other people started drifting out to watch and talk as we added fuel to the main fire from satellite piles around it. It got hot enoug that snow in the trees around the fire started melting and dripping. In fact, it felt a lot like rain!

The fire burned on and on and down. We added the rest of the wood to it. Some of the kids discovered that the sawdust pile on one end of the fire was laced with fuel oil. When they kicked sawdust up in to the fire, BOOM!! and a bright flower of fire burned briefly before dying out.

The fire was dying down, and I was getting tired, so I bade Tom my farewells and went home.

'Twas a good solstice party at Tom Clark's place this year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


My first post

I was just trying to comment on Phoenix Woman's blog and I ended up having to create a blog of my own to do it.

Thus is born Letterman's Lair.

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