Thursday, October 30, 2008

Everyone needs to take a deep breath


South Carolina is abuzz with political rumors. The press has widely reported the South Carolina NAACP's concerns about possible voter intimidation, citing rumors about arrests being made at the polls, wrong polling dates and the like. What is not widely reported is the rumors being spread in Republican circles to deter Republican voters.

One rumor that I have heard from several different sources is the the Obama campaign plans on busing in voters around 4:30 PM on election day, so to clog the polling places. As the rumor goes, when people who work for a living get off work and stop by to vote, the long lines will deter them from voting, presumably for McCain, as they have to pick up the kids from daycare, and go on with their lives.

Another rumor is that postal service employees supporting Obama are returning military absentee ballots to the sender without attempting to deliver. Again, more than one person has relayed this rumor to me and lamented about a service member whose ballot was returned to his county election commission.

Yet another rumor is how if Obama does not win, African Americans will go on strike around the country and try to bring businesses to a halt. I call this the "hey, white guy, vote for Obama or else," rumor.

The above rumors start as any rumors do, by someone who appears credible telling it to someone respected by others. That respected person, out of sincere concern, tells the rumor to help people he cares about. Then, the rumors take off. The passions are brought to a boil.

I encourage everyone, on both sides, to take a deep breath. First, there is absolutely no indication that law enforcement will be arresting people at the polls for just showing up. Further, and perhaps more interesting, there is no indication that Republicans started that rumor. Second, the Obama campaign seems to be hellbent on getting its voters to vote early via the absentee ballot, not show up at the last minute to intimidate potential McCain voters. Third, I can not believe, just for a handful of votes, that postal service employees on a wide scale would risk their jobs and possible criminal charges by fiddling with the mail.

There is one more rumor to note that has some Republican voters worried. There are over 300,000 new voters in South Carolina this year. Rumors are flying that all of those voters will punch the strait ticket democrat button. If they do, of course, it is over for McCain. No Republican has won South Carolina by that margin since Richard Nixon versus George McGovern in 1972. However, registered voters do not result in votes. The number who show up the polls or who are legally able to vote might be much smaller. The doom and gloom rumor seems geared to make Republican voters discouraged and keep them home.

That said, there are some problems McCain has in South Carolina and there are some things Obama has done in this election overall that might forever change how Presidential elections are carried out.

I will address McCain's problems and Obama's game changing campaign in another post. However, again, take a deep breath. Regardless what happens next Tuesday, you will still have to get up and go to work, pay your bills, and go to your kids games or recitals. You will still have to live with and work with your neighbors who might vote differently than you do.

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