Don’t Invalidate Your Ballot!

     I learned something very interesting last week when I went for a training session for election workers. It seems that you can unwittingly invalidate your ballot by making "distinguishing" marks on it. People have been known to initial their votes, draw little flowers or hearts or smilie faces, etc. Anything that would make your ballot identifiable as yours can lead to the ballot being declared VOID. The rule reads like this on our training materials (this is in Maine, and may be specific to the local voting procedures, but is based on the state election rules): 

Voided Ballots:   A voided ballot is a ballot that has been voted with distinguishing marks.

     The reasoning for this is that someone could flip through the stack of the ballots and pick out that one ballot and know who cast it.  The warden who led the training session told us that if the mark is on or beside the vote for a particular race on the ballot, only that race will be declared void. This didn’t make a lot of sense to me considering the reasoning, but that is apparently the way it will be carried out.

     If someone marks up their ballot this way and they are using a machine to accept ballots, the void ballot will be kicked back out and the voter may have an opportunity to redo it. But the election worker cannot technically tell them not to put hearts and flowers on it, that would be telling the voter "how to mark his or her ballot" and that is strictly not allowed.

     So try to resist that urge the pretty up your ballot or jot comments on it and



Update on Abaarso Tech donation information

Update on Abaarso Tech donation information (the original post is outdated)

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One reason I support Barack Obama

I’m really ticked off,really offended by the things being said about “real Americans” bySarah Palin and others at her campaign rallies. It’s stupid and sickeningthat they are willing to use that kind of emotionally charged hate-mongering totry to further their campaign, but I’m sick of talking about her. I wantto talk about good stuff for a change. The following article illustrates one ofthe biggest reasons I support Obama and I hope people will read it and feelgood about the very likely outcome of this election.


Rebranding theU.S. With Obama


The other dayI had a conversation with a Beijing friend and I mentioned that Barack Obamawas leading in the presidential race:

She: Obama?But he’s the black man, isn’t he?

Me: Yes,exactly.

She: Butsurely a black man couldn’t become president of the United States?

Me: It looksas if he’ll be elected.

She: Butpresident? That’s such an important job! In America, I thought blackswere janitors and laborers.

Me: No, blackshave all kinds of jobs.

She: What dowhite people think about that, about getting a black president? Are they upset?Are they angry?

Me: No, ofcourse not! If Obama is elected, it’ll be because white people voted forhim.

[Long pause.]

She: Really?Unbelievable! What an amazing country!

We’re beginning to get asense of how Barack Obama’s political success could change globalperceptions of the United States, redefining the American “brand”to be less about Guantánamo and more about equality….




Dear Somebody

Somebody commented:

Hey,just out of curiosity,have you noticed the frenzy of hatred and the lies thathave been hurled at Palin since she dared accept the nomination for VP? Youwould be bending over backwards to support her if she was a liberal like yourself.


Dear "Somebody": Well, actually no, I haven’tnoticed anything of the kind. Could you give some examples withdocumentation? 


What I’ve seen is a whole lot of media attention, resultingin a huge amount of information being dug up about her, much of it being spunone way or another. But not invective and lies. She’s doing more lyingabout her past and record than the media or the opposition. She pretends tohave been exonerated in the investigation into her firing of the public safetycommissioner in Alaska (Troopergate) . In fact, although she was found to havebeen within her rights as governor to fire the commissioner, she was clearlyfound to have abused her position and violated state ethics law.. It reminds meof George W. Bush, who skated into the presidency without ever being called onthe carpet for having been arrested 2, possibly 3 times as a young man (howmany people do you know have EVER been arrested, let alone 3 times?). Justbecause someone gets away with something doesn’t make them innocent; Palin’sactions don’t reflect the record of a responsible leader.


In another ridiculous twisting of the facts (i.e. lie) Palinand McCain have implied that the investigation was begun by the Obama campaignby labeling it as a witch hunt by Obama supporters, although it was abipartisan investigation – itwas launched a full 2 months before McCain announced her as his running mate. The Democratic state representative who initiated the action was indeed an Obamasupporter, but he would have had to have a crystal ball to predict that Palinwould be on the ticket opposing Obama.


As to your second statement, Somebody, if she were aliberal, obviously she wouldn’t be running on the Republican ticket;Republicans apparently consider liberals to be some kind of alien monstersinstead of their wives and next-door neighbors and brothers-in-law as theyactually are. So I presume you mean she’d be on the Democratic ticket. In whichcase, she wouldn’t be running: Obama would never pick someone so completelyunsuited to be president even if she was a liberal. However let’s say she wason the ticket. I would be disappointed at such a pick, but it would not havethe huge potential for disaster that her actual vp candidacy has: McCain is oldand has serious health issues and his VP must be considered a candidate for thepresidency. Obama is young, fit and healthy and his VP will be twiddling histhumbs for 8 years.

Sarah Palin COUNTER RALLY in Bangor Thursday

Whether you are a Democrat or not, whether you supportBarak Obama or not, if you are offended by the frenzy of hatred and lies beingwhipped up by this poor excuse for a vice presidential candidate, here is anopportunity to voice your objection:



“Sarah Palin is coming toMaine, and so it’s time to mobilize! Come show Palin and McCain thatMaine will stay blue this election! The Maine Democratic Party will hold arally near the entrance of the Bangor International Airport Thursday morning, October16th—meeting at 7:15 a.m. in the Airport Mall Hannaford Parking Lot.Bring your homemade signs and your friends, relatives and coworkers! For moreinformation, contact your local MDP office.”…..


This notice received from

Maine Democratic Party | 16Winthrop St | Augusta | ME | 04101

McCain agrees with me now and then

E-Mail This



U.S. / POLITICS   | October 11, 2008
McCain Draws Line on Attacks as Crowds Cry ‘Fight Back’

As the polls have shown Barack Obama gaining ground, John McCain has been veering from message to message.

When a man told him he was “scared” of an Obama presidency, Mr. McCain replied, “I want to be president of the United States and obviously I do not want Senator Obama to be, but I have to tell you — I have to tell you — he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared” of “as president of the United States.” The crowd booed loudly at Mr. McCain’s response….

Copyright 2008  The New York Times Company | Privacy Policy



McCain is clearly not by nature the sort of person to say nasty, disgusting things about his opponent and now he’s having to walk a fine line between appealing to his most rabid supporters and acting like a decent human being. I’m glad to see that he has allowed his better nature to prevail on many occasions, but frankly he’s just paying the price of being a Republican in this era created by the likes of Karl Rove. Bush never seemed to balk at indecent measures against his opponents; Cheney reveled in them. And Sarah Palin appears to be the synthesis of them both.

Too bad for McCain that he is running now after 8 years of Bush/Cheney ugliness. If he had been the nominee in 2000, I believe he might have won easily because disillusioned Democrats would not have found him repellent. And Sarah Palin would not have been on the VP radar whatsoever. With no one to stoke their fires of hatred, perhaps the rabid right would have felt more pressure to behave themselves in public.

Pot Calling the Kettle Black Department

OPINION   | October 6, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist:  The Wright Stuff

………………Palin also made clear that she was eager for the McCain-Palin campaign to be more aggressive in helping the American people understand “who the real Barack Obama is.” Part of who Obama is, she said, has to do with his past associations, such as with the former bomber Bill Ayers……….I pointed out that Obama surely had a closer connection to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright than to Ayers — and so, I asked, if Ayers is a legitimate issue, what about Reverend Wright?

She didn’t hesitate: “To tell you the truth, Bill, I don’t know why that association isn’t discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that — with, I don’t know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn’t get up and leave — to me, that does say something about character. ………..”…………….

Copyright 2008  The New York Times Company | Privacy Policy  

Yes, it says something about character to me too: Yours, Ms Palin. The fact that you believe that people shouldn’t associate with anyone who has opinions and views that differ from their own or that might be “controversial” says way more about you than about someone who has demonstrated his good character time and again.

If you want to be judged by your associations, can we talk about your husband’s membership in the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party? You only have to go back to 1991 (not the 70s) to see the anti-American speech of the AIP’s founder Joe Vogler: ““The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government.” You can’t distance yourself from them, Ms. Palin: you attended their convention in 2000 and apparently addressed it in 2008 (what’s with that blue parka by the way? You just stop by the office on your way to a hockey game? Is governor a full time job in Alaska?)

Can we discuss the views on marriage of that poor shlub (“I don’t want kids.”) that’s being dragged into marrying your daughter?

Oh, am I getting too personal? Sort of like judging someone by the words of one of their church’s pastors, eh?