As we slide down this slippery slope to Election Day, it appears that this election may be too important for the voters to decide, as there seems to be no one candidate in the lead. The big guns of the two parties are now marshalling their forces to manufacture every vote they can.

The time for reason and logic are way behind us now. The time for a civil debate of the issues is long gone, buried under a bog of mud and slime. Other than the Red Sox reversing the curse, there has been no long anticipated ‘October Surprise’, which would give the average voter a legitimate chance to come out and toss the election one way or another with little or no conviction. No convenient terrorist attack, no Osama Bin Laden beheaded on the White House Lawn, No photographs of a coked-up George Bush machine-gunning fleeing Texas sharecroppers with his National Guard jet fighter.

Election 2000, The Sequel: “Steal it, Fair and Square!”

Karl ‘Rasputin’ Rove and his political Inquisition partner Dick Cheney realize they are going to have to steal it fair and square.

However, the Democrats are not going to sit idly by and allow the forces of the Dark Side to walk away with the most important prize in the history of the world, namely the White House and the power that goes with it. There will be no limp-wristed eleventh hour attempts such as the universally mocked ‘Mike Dukakis rides a tank episode’. Senator John Kerry didn’t kill people years ago and forget all about it.

The taste of political blood is in his mouth and he likes it. No doubt images of swift boats careening down the rivers of ‘Nam are flashing back as the young gun lieutenant living on the edge comes to mind. Complain all you like about John Kerry’s record in South East Asia, but he didn’t back down then and he’s not backing off now. A John Kerry Corps will be in the streets and at the polls on November 2nd, armed to the ideological teeth and looking for a fight.

Caught in the cross- fire will be the hapless and helpless voter. The first volleys have already been fired.

Forget the Red Sox, Is There A GOP Ballot Box Black Box?

What we can expect next Tuesday is the worst; a winner take all political knife fight, the tip of the blade poised on the throat of the electorate.

Up for controversy first is the technological fact of electronic voting machines. These are ATM like devices that will account for about 30% of the votes next Tuesday. Given the notion that computers are everywhere, it seems natural that their use could only streamline the system and reduce nasty stuff like hanging chads and butterfly ballots. But there are some problems with the system.

Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc., a major supplier of many voting machines has made no secret of his doing everything he can to get the President reelected. A sure conflict of interest seems to be present here, and it gets worse. Voting machine manufacturers are not allowing anyone to inspect the integrity of their systems as they fear industrial espionage and the like. There is also no protection from any sort of hacking, or against a tech from simply tampering with the machine and its record of votes.

Manufacturers are fighting attempts to allow machines to issue a printed receipt of the vote, a so-called paper trail. Without this paper trail, a recount in any close or contested election is not possible. The election official will have to take the word of the machine.

While the state of Nevada requires a paper trail, Georgia and Maryland do not. Monday in Florida, a federal Judge threw out a lawsuit requiring the state to issue the paper records, claiming no Constitutional grounds and also saying that touch screen machines ‘provide sufficient safeguards’.

Even so, the voters may not get close enough to a poll in any case.

Hey, Ho! Where’d You Go, Ohio?

The Columbus Dispatch has reported that many registered voters in Ohio have been getting telephone calls from bogus election workers informing voters that their precincts have changed or their polls have been moved to a different location. This scam is designed to kill votes in certain areas. Dozens of voters called the Board of Elections to report the calls. One wonders how many hundreds (or thousands) didn’t get the word and will be wandering willy-nilly across the political landscape come election day, unable to cast a vote.

Of course, a voter may arrive at the polls on Election Day only to discover that he or she does not exists. In several battle ground states republicans are being accused of simply destroying democratic registration forms. Arizona based Sproul and Associates, a consulting firm hired by the Republican National Committee has come under investigation in Oregon and Nevada and under fire in West Virginia and Pennsylvania . It is alleged that the canvassers the company hired were told to register only Republicans, and ‘get rid of’ any forms completed by Democrats. One Minneapolis hire quit after being told that if he registered democrats he would be fired.

Nathan Sproul, former chief of the Arizona Republican Party and Christian Coalition branch office, denies his company’s wrong doing. The RNC has paid Sproul and Associates $500,000 since July.

The RNC has complained that Democrats are behind these accusations Spokesman Heather Layman responded that Democrats operate to confuse declaring that their strategy could be reduced to the following slogan: “If no sign of voter fraud exists, make it up, manipulate the media into covering baseless charges and spread fear.”

But voters may be disqualified in the courts as well. The Ohio Republican Party has formally challenged the authenticity of 35,000 voter registrations across 65 counties. The contested registrations are voters with incorrect mailing addresses on their voting records.

Local election officials have until October 31st to investigate the charges, and are struggling to meet the Halloween deadline. Many democratic organizations have registered more than 600,000 new voters in Ohio alone, many with forged signatures, faked names, and other bogus information. The RNC seems to be taking no chances.

It’s Poll-Watcher-Palooza, Folks.

But even if the voter runs these gauntlets, he or she now has one more obstacle ahead, this one human and not administrative. Both Democrats and Republicans in many swing states have hired thousands to monitor the election. Most will be paid $100.00 to watch the voters themselves. From Arizona to Wisconsin election officials are preparing for a herd of politicos who will be challenging the authenticity and qualifications of voters them selves. Most states have just such laws in place, so these polling police cannot be kept away, but until this year they were rarely and seldom used.

Officials are terrified that Election Day polling activities can be slowed down for hours, with many voters discouraged or intimidated and frightened away. The Republicans claim they are there to weed out the bad voters, the Democrats claim they will be present to protect them.

These challengers will have the right to check if voters are over 18, US citizens, and a resident of that particular county for the required time.

And the nightmare gridlock could just be under way with weeks of recounts, court battles, and confrontations erupt. It seems that no matter the outcome, this election will never really be over.

Trick or Treat? Halloween Numbers Are Scary!!!

Since the end of the Democratic convention the poll numbers have closed ranks and refused to be moved. Here at Alt we track a dozen individual private sector and University polls, and given an occasional anomaly, the conclusion in the numbers is consistent. The Rasmussen Report, one week before the election, shows an astonishing 47.8% for Bush; an identical 47.8% for John Kerry with 1.5% responding ‘other’ and still 2.9% not sure.

The Democracy Corps Poll reports John Kerry slightly ahead with 49% versus George Bush’s 47%. A look to Reuters/Zogby gives an excellent example of a political ‘flip flop’ showing Bush in the lead with 49% to John Kerry’s 46%, but factor in the usual 3% or so margin of error and the poll becomes moot.

As they used to say in Chicago, vote early and vote often!!

By Grady Hawkins

It’s just a few days until the American electorate is called upon again to elect the next President and Vice President and these United (sic) States. This election is too close to call. It is also the most important election since Abraham Lincoln’s reelection bid in 1864. It is no exaggeration to claim that Jimmy Carter’s conclusion as he spoke at his party’s convention that we are voting for the soul of America is correct.