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The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Monday, November 04, 2002
California Scheming

Scott Koenig has a mixed slate of endorsements for California statewide races, picking both Democrats and Republicans. Amazingly enough, I'll be going more Democratic; in fact, I'll vote the full slate - although I would probably have gone for Riordan if he had been on the ballot.

Scott does make specific arguments for the Republicans he backs that are worth addresing. He criticizes Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, running for re-election, as "a loyal soldier to Governor Davis". Actually, the tensions between Davis and Bustamante are considerable, and will likely grow in a second term, when Davis will be a lame duck and Bustamante will be campaigning for his job. Bustamante's rival, Bruce McPherson is a nice enough guy and a political moderate. I won't be heartbroken if he wins, but he isn't going to.

Tom McClintock, running for Controller, is the only Republican candidate who might break through and actually win, although it would be a mild upset. He's a far right Republican with ties to the Christian Coalition. His opponent, Steve Westly, is that rare creature, a dot com zillionaire who is still rich - he made his money in Ebay, whose stock price never fell badly. Westly has sought to make hay of his opponents right wing positions in the campaign, but in fact it's hard to see how a controller could do much mischief in these areas. McClintock is a fiscal conservative with expert knowledge of the state budget, so if he sticks to the Controller's job, assuming he gets elected, he might actually do quite well. Westly has far less background in state government, but his business skills and general smarts should be an adequate substitute.

My strongest disagreement with Scott is for Secretary of State, which flows from his position on Proposition 52. Prop 52 would allow election day voter registration, while increasing penalties for election fraud. Democrat Kevin Shelley supports it; Republican Keith Olberg is opposed. Scott claims that elcetion day registration would lead to massive fraud, but there seems to be little evidence backing that assertion. Six states currently allow same-day voting, and there is no evidence that fraud has increased in any of them. What it has done is open up the process to less conventional candidates - same-day voters are credited with providing the margin of victory for Jesse Ventura.

Meanwhile, it was recently noted that the thousands of voters, primarily black, who were illegally purged from registration lists in Florida before the 2000 election have still not been reregistered. Mark Kleiman points out that Jeb Bush has essentailly guaranteed his re-election by installing an inadequate number of voting machines in heavily Democratic Broward County. The machines are being used for the first time, and early voting has shown that it takes on average 13 - 15 minutes for a voter to cast a ballot. Only 5,265 have been installed, meaning only about 23,000 votes per hour can be cast in a county with over 950,000 registered voters. Given that some machines will surely fail, and some will be empty during slow periods, the actual numbers figure to be even lower. Paper ballots to supplement the machines have been barred by the Secretary of State. So the biggest threat to a Bush victory, heavy voter turnout in Broward, has been rendered physically impossible. Florida continues to prove that state of the art election theft doesn't require election day registration.