What to Expect When You’re Electing: Here’s What I’ll Be Watching for Tuesday

[Updated and bumped to the top.]

I will be blogging and tweeting all day about election developments, but expect things to heat up as polls close.

Unless there is some natural or human-made disaster or a massive electronic voting problem somewhere, election day itself likely will be relatively quiet. No doubt we will hear reports about votes being ‘flipped” by electronic voting machines because of calibration error, random stories of long lines (though I expect this to be far less of a problem than on presidential election days, where turnout is much higher). If there are long lines, expect there to be calls to keep polls open, and potentially even a lawsuit filed here or there (and no doubt opposed) to extend polling times.

The real action will come in the evening as the polls close. There will be delays in some places with reporting of votes, which will lead some people to suspect some kind of chicanery (especially if the late reporting areas are from one’s opposing party). Only later in the evening (or the following morning) will it become clear enough if an election is within the margin of litigation.

To be close enough to go to a recount or litigation, generally we are talking votes within the hundreds or less (or perhaps a few thousand in a larger jurisdiction).  That could happen anywhere. I fear it most happening in the Florida governor’s race—not only because of Florida’s politicized electoral system. Thanks to changes after 2000, the Secretary of State is a political appointee of the governor. A recipe for disaster.

Next I fear a contested gubernatorial election in Wisconsin. The state administers elections much better than Florida does, but there is still considerable variation and in some places administration is weaker than others (I opened The Voting Wars with Kathy Nicholas and those suddenly found votes in Waukesha County.)

Things will also get heated if control of the Senate is in play—if Alaska is late with the counting, if La. and/or Ga. go to a runoff.

In that case, expect members of the fraudulent fraud squad to point to voter fraud as behind any Democratic victory, especially in Colorado.  Expect Democrats to complain of voter suppression in Texas and beyond.

All we are left to do at this point is to utter the Election Administrator’s prayer.

(title of post courtesy of Stephen Colbert.)

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