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October 21, 2008

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the only "systematic effort" that is going on now, is another installment of the bi-annual GOP witchhunt for "voter fraud".

Third, a lot of news stories I've read have said that ACORN submitted fraudulent registration cards without noting that ACORN is often required by law to return all registration cards, even the ones filled out for "Mouse, Mickey". (This is to prevent them from discarding, say, all the people from a party they don't like, leaving the people whose cards they threw out believing that they had registered when in fact they were not.)

It's worth mentioning that this is exactly what the Republicans have done - mounted voter registration campaigns, collected the forms and then thrown away all the Democrats. Result: hundreds of D voters turning up to the polls on election day, confidently expecting to be allowed to vote, only to be told "no, you're not registered". (no link, but it's in Greg Palast, "Armed Madhouse")

yeah, it's the same ol crap they pull every election. but this time, the ACORN/fraud ploy might be a key component of McCain's last hope to win.

A little disappointed that you didn't look into Ohio, because from what I can tell, that's the state the wingers are getting the most worked up over.

Speaking of possible liberal malfeasances: anyone got the scoop on those protestors in Colorado who ran in front of Palin's motorcade? My browsing at work is -- or at least, should be -- limited...

The only interaction I've had with ACORN is at the local trolley station here in El Cajon, CA. A guy walked up to me and asked me if I was registered to vote. I told him, "Yes, I am." He then said I could register again, it wouldn't hurt anything, and he could make some money from it.

It seemed okay to me, so I started filling out the form. The party of registration was already filled in for Democrat. I asked him why, and he said he only gets paid for the Democratic registrations, but if I wasn't a Democrat, I could just submit a new registration a few days later with my real political party.

It just seemed odd to me. Is this normal?

Yes, John, that is normal. Most everyone in America registers as a democrat - but it is usually with a small "d". But don't worry, you don't have to re-register later with your real party. You can simply vote McCain-Palin on election day and everyone will know you are in the Idiot party (note the capital I).

The charges that ACORN is trying to perpetrate some sort of systematic fraud are, of course, baloney. That said, these charges pop up regularly with regard to ACORN and I really wish they would rethink their methods. I understand why they pay people to collect registrations, but it just causes huge headaches for everyone else.

Here's all you need to know about ACORN (from the http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/17/AR2008101703360_2.html?hpid=topnews?xid=rss-page&sub=AR&sid=ST2008101702930&s_pos=>Washington Post):

The Republicans filed the case "with the express intent to disenfranchise voters," a federal judge said.

The feds are saying that ACORN acted legally and tthe Rescumulans didn't. Period.

"You can simply vote McCain-Palin on election day and everyone will know you are in the Idiot party (note the capital I)."

Without getting sidetracked into a debate on the merits or demerits of this opinion, it seems to fall into the category of simple abuse, with no other content, and hence in violation of the posting rules.

"Rescumulans"

See my previous comment.

Gary's right. The posting rules require civility, and frown on making sweeping generalizations about entire political parties. Think about how likely you'd be to get into an interesting conversation with someone who referred to you as a Dhimmocrat.

Please don't do this.

The posting rules require civility, and frown on making sweeping generalizations about entire political parties.

They make it difficult when they (the party, not an individual) filed the case "with the express intent to disenfranchise voters". Then they cry foul over ACORN's totally legal registration. If that's not scum, I don't know what is.

They make it difficult when they (the party, not an individual) filed the case "with the express intent to disenfranchise voters". Then they cry foul over ACORN's totally legal registration. If that's not scum, I don't know what is.

Then go ahead and call the action scummy. Call the specific Republican party officials who did so scummy. Those are both justified. But it's a big step from there to calling every Republican a scum.

Oh, not the posting rules! And please, not in defence of the poor, put upon, republicans. We are eight years and many election cycles past having to pretend that this is some aberration or "just a few bad apples." Its the workings of the actual party. Its how they have operated from Rehnquist on up. Its how party operatives, low level hatchet men, and future Supreme court justices make their bones. Voter suppression is the main form of Republican party political activity after campaigning and lobbying. And some might argue that it comes before campaigning and lobbying. I'm sorry if some Republican voters don't like it--but they can just change parties. This convenient and polite aphasia is just absurd.

aimai

aimai: I have no problem with anyone saying that the Republican Party leadership, or its operatives, or it as an organization, are bad in any number of ways. But "Republicans", just like that, refers to all of its members, and calling all of them idiots is wrong, and also unlikely to convince.

Wow. I'm a member of the Idiot party?

You do know I'm a Democrat, don't you? I was just asking because that was the only time I had any contact with a member of ACORN and didn't know. Plus it was about a *decade* ago.

Really, with friends like you, who needs enemies?

I'd love a post from one of our Republican friends on how http://www.alternet.org/election08/103670/the_10_dirtiest_election_tricks_the_republicans_have_tried_so_far/>these tactics appall him and how he regrets how he can no longer support his party.

They've called on Obama to denounce Wright or Ayers or whoever gets their up a tree this week -- all I ask is for a bit of reciprical action.

I ain't holdin' my breath.

Here's your reciprocal action, maybe:

"And I’ve also been disappointed, frankly, by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently, or his campaign ads, on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about. This Bill Ayers situation that’s been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign. But Mr. McCain says that he’s a washed-out terrorist. Well, then, why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that, because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow, Mr. Obama is tainted. What they’re trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that’s inappropriate."

From the transcript of Colin Powell:
http://www.clipsandcomment.com/2008/10/19/transcript-colin-powell-on-meet-the-press-endorses-barack-obama-october-19/ endorsement of Obama.

Regarding ajay's statement near the top of the thread, this will give you a good idea what he was referring to:
http://open.salon.com/content.php?cid=31789
And I really tried to do the link following all the directions. I don't have typepad and that may be the problem.
Anyway, it is interesting that McCain is paying this group again this year.

RE: blanket condemnations of Republicans.

This is something that I have been struggling with.

I am very angry and would like to condemn all Republicans who vote for McPalin because it would feel good. I'd like to tar and feather them, scream at them. throw dog doo doo on their front steps. put nails in their driveways,I'd like to see their retirement accounts vanish down a black hole and their jobs go to Mexico and their children grow up to be Democrats.

On the other hand I know some wingnuts who are wonderful people. The lady who puts in forty hours a week unpaid to manage the no kill shelter for dogs where I volunteer is a wingnut, for example. I don't want bad things to happen to her. Except that I would prefer that her children grow up to be Demmocrats, but other than that I wish her no harm. (Harm from her point of view)

I do not think that it is possible to come up with a reason for voting for McCain that is intellectually honest and ethical. One way ro the other the decsion to vote R this year reflects badly on the individual who makes that decsion. And people are responsible for what they do. Tremendous harm has nbeen done by the Republicans, of which voter surpression is just one of many, many expamples, and I think that my anger at those folks who STILL support the party of oligarchy, white collar crime and religious fanatics is justified. On the other hand...

I guess the moral of this is that people can be very much at fault for one aspect of how they manage their lives and yet be bery much a hero in some other aspect. Not a profound insight, I realize, just something I need to keep in mind.

So I'm not going to actually put nails in anyone's drive way or dog doo on their steps. I will, however, say what I think politley but also very directly and bluntly to any Republican who raises a political issue with me. I wont start a fight but I sure as hell am primed to end one.

I am very angry and would like to condemn all Republicans who vote for McPalin because it would feel good.

I used to feel that way, but I've found that reading up on the irrational voter literature has helped me relax a bit. The truth is that most people make voting decisions in fundamentally irrational ways. Most Americans are grievously misinformed when it comes the facts about political issues but educating them doesn't help since better informed people simply warp facts to fit their predetermined voting narrative.

I like to think of voting as falling in love. We all have friends who have fallen in love with...the wrong person. Sometimes it ends badly, but sometimes, despite the fact that their relationship violates the laws of man and God and causes incalculable suffering, they manage to keep it together. Love is mostly irrational. Telling my friend that his wife is bad news just isn't going to work out, but more importantly, it is unfair to expect him to do act rationally in such matters. And when all the bad stuff that I predicted would happen when he first started dating her actually happens, he's not going to leave her. She's a part of him, maybe they have kids, and he is loyal to her. And that's OK. I don't expect people to be fully rational when it comes to leaving their marriage. Sometimes people are, but that seems more the exception than the rule.

Even if people were rational when it came to voting, we'd still get it wrong. Almost no one has learned how to analyze policy in a rigorous manner. Most of the population is functionally innumerate. Most people are ignorant of the basic facts of recent political history (yes, Clinton really did reduce the deficit and yes, Bush really did introduce a massive and expensive new entitlement program). We don't expect people to make good decisions about quantum physics or cryptography because most people have no training in the principles and no knowledge of the basic facts. People can't do a good job, so there's no point in getting mad at them when they don't. Just think of your friends who made bad relationship mistakes against your advice.

Despite legitimate anger, I still think that ObWi aspires to be a place for civil discussion, and that there is a value in maintaining standards along those lines.

It's not about whether or not the anger is justified, it's just that perhaps we can agree to put some expressions of that quite possibly righteous anger on hold for the sake of the betterment of this ongoing discussion.

Personally, I need to hear dissenting views. Contrary to my deep suspicions, I am in fact wrong on (rare) occasion ;)

It helps to have people around of (mostly) all political and ideological persuasions to help me to hone my own conceptions of the world.

oh bollix

Oh I wasn't trying to justify rudeness on this site. I was just mulling over the problem of how to like people who behave in a way that I find offensive. I can be too judgmental.

"I don't have typepad"

What does that mean, John? "Typepad" is the service that the blog is published on.

In any case, HTML is HTML, and the only reason it wouldn't "work" for you is if you're making typos, or misunderstanding the directions. See?

It helps to have people around of (mostly) all political and ideological persuasions to help me to hone my own conceptions of the world.

It doesn't help. It just wastes time debating people with idiotic ideas who won't be budged from their ideas by any argument, no matter how well stated, because debate is not what they are looking for.

It does not help to have flat earthers around, and the average flat earther is infinitely more serious and respectable than someone who claims that Sarah Palin is ready to assume the presidency of the united states on a moment's notice if the need arises.

It does not help to have people around who think otherwise. Not one bit.

"I do not think that it is possible to come up with a reason for voting for McCain that is intellectually honest and ethical."

Here is the principled case for voting for McCain:

McCain has far more experience at the federal level than Obama -- over twenty-five, as compared with Obama's slightly less than four.

On policy, McCain is far more classically conservative -- small government, reduced regulation, lower taxes -- than Obama.

For folks to whom it's important, McCain has actual military experience, and acquitted himself well, if not heroically, during his time as a prisoner of war, in the face of brutal treatment.

You, personally, may not find these to be a sufficient basis for voting for McCain. I do not. However, there are folks that do, and it's a credible point of view.

What I personally find reprehensible in the Republican party of the last 40 years is their consistent history of criminality in office, and their deliberate exploitation of class resentment for their own electoral advantage.

There are folks, however, who are simply and sincerely conservative in their political outlook.

Those folks aren't scum, or thugs. They just have a different idea of what's most important than I do, or perhaps a different understanding of how to make the important things happen.

As far as I'm concerned, Nixon, Atwater, Cheney and 90% of his staff, Atwater, Aisles, Rove, Scalia, and a generous handful of others can go straight to hell. I'd settle for Bush just going away.

That leaves a few dozen million other folks who identify as "conservative". They're not going anywhere. We better learn to live with them.

Thanks -

It does not help to have people around who think otherwise. Not one bit.

Speaking only for myself, I found my grasp of scientific philosophy and biology immeasurably helped by arguing with creationists. Sorta like handling the idiot freshmen in the Bio 101 class.

"It doesn't help."

I'm impressed that you: a) can speak for all human beings; b) have no need to hear ideas different from your own.

At least one of these propositions is, however, wrong.

As the idiot who violated the posting rules on his first post, let me apologize to John and the ObWi community. It was late here in London (read: had a few) and I thought that John was offering up a fictitious anecdote about ACORN, particularly the "Is this normal?"

Of course it isn't normal! And so I replied.

Now, in the light of day, I have to admit that I have never encountered anyone from ACORN. They may be a vast vote fraud machine. They may only register Democrats. So I apologize again for assuming the comment was insincere.

The Son of Cain has his own voter registration fraud problem it seems:
Huffington via truthout:
http://www.truthout.org/102108K>link
Has there been any attack by his campaign yet that could not be used against him too with at least as much justification?
Next thing we will hear is that he exchanged Xmas card with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ;-)


The perfectly reasonable complaint about ACORN, (One of them, at any rate.) is that they have long operated a system for registration which generates large numbers of fraudulent registrations. Yes, some of their registrations get separated out for the attention of elections officials as possibly fraudulent, and some as presumably valid.

But who's to say how honest they are about which registrations go into which stack? Or for that matter, who competent they are at it?

And, no, fraudulent registrations are not the same as fraudulent votes. But registrations that somebody knows are not going to result in legitimate votes are the raw material of absentee ballot fraud; You're far less likely to get detected if you know in advance none of the people you're generating absentee ballots for are going to try to vote themselves.

At any rate, the very least that can be said of ACORN is that they're wasting a huge amount of elections officials' manpower, during a time when they don't have that manpower to spare, rather than cleaning up their own system.

If I were running a burglar alarm company, and for reasons of perfectly honest incompetence I year after year subjected the police to enormous numbers of false alarms, you can be damned sure I'd get in trouble. Why shouldn't ACORN?

By the way, the italics termination html is NOT working.

Whether it is an attempt of voter fraud, incompetence or an employee from ACORN trying to fill out a quota it leaves a bad taste in regards to voter registration as well as fear of stealing an election. Integrity has been thrown out of the windown. Why is ACORN still allowed to continue?

But who's to say how honest they are about which registrations go into which stack? Or for that matter, who competent they are at it?

Who's to say they aren't?

But to answer your question more directly: a federal judge. [See also Michigan and Ohio.] Which means that the real question is: why are you defending corrupt Republican practices over a fictitious quibble?

To wonkie's question above: I found out earlier this year that one of my good friends from college, whom I always thought was one of the sensible Republicans, is a McCain blogger. Having read her work, I'm really torn; I've known this girl (woman, really, but old habits die hard) for over a decade and we've shared a lot of good times, but reading her political writing... it disturbed and disgusted me on a visceral level.

To be blunt: I genuinely don't know if I can continue being her friend.

I realize that this is the heat of the election, that this is a virtual banality compared to the reality of our friendship, that I should rise above it and this too shall pass... but I've got to be honest, I don't know if I can. As I've said before on these pages, "tolerance" is not an absolute; there are things that a tolerant society should not tolerate, and she's perilously close to advocating for those things.

Right now, all I know for sure is that I stayed up until 5am a few nights ago worrying about this. But if any of you have any experience with this sort of thing, well, feel free to offer your advice.

die, italics. die.

But if any of you have any experience with this sort of thing, well, feel free to offer your advice.

I have a number of conservative family members, including one uncle who was the head of his local John Birch Society chapter back in the day, and a sister who voted for Bush twice because he is a godly man.

We just don't talk about politics.

If you value your friendship with this woman, maybe you just want to avoid reading her blog.

These are kind of hairy times. IMO we'll be lucky to get through the next couple of years without things breaking pretty ugly.

The more we can all keep our heads, the better.

Thanks -

Anarch: Don't read her blog and don't discuss politics with her. Talk about the fun times you had in college and wine or food or movies or (non-political) books or family stuff or whatever else. Maintain a friendship only between her non-political self and your non-political self. Your political selves can't get along. That's my thinking. I do it all the time, with some effort, of course.

I swear I started typing before Russell's comment showed up.

Anarch, you don't have to renounce your friendship on account of your friend's support for McCain. But what makes you think she won't renounce yours, on account of your support for Obama?

--TP

Maintain a friendship only between her non-political self and your non-political self. Your political selves can't get along.

What hairshirthedonist and russell said.

The temptation to judge people (and if deemed necessary to shun them) based on their political beliefs is a tempting siren song. But the notion that not all of life is political and there is a refuge from politics in which people live their lives and create things of value is one of the ideas which distinguishes us from totalitarian thinkers.

There are times when I find it useful to remind myself of a fairly well known quote from Solzhenitsyn that seems appropos when a political discussion is generating more heat than light:

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart.

During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and sometimes it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish. One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. But his name we ascribe the whole lot, good and evil.

Now to forestall the inevitable Godwin's Law counterargument, I think this logic does not apply at all times and in all places, but I think the bar has to be set very high before it no longer applies.

Anarch: I think there are two different questions wrapped up in your predicament.

The first is: should you stop being friends with her because she supports McCain? There I think the answer is: no. You can stop talking politics, you can ask her, in a calm moment, why she thinks as she does and try to learn something, but good friends are not so common that they should be tossed away lightly. Or so I think.

The second: you write that "reading her political writing... it disturbed and disgusted me on a visceral level." I don't know why this is. If it's just because she supports McCain, then what I said above goes. But it could also be that what she wrote is genuinely vicious or hateful or something.

So let's suppose, to make things extreme, that she wrote things that were racist, or advocated violence against Democrats, or something similarly horrible. Then, it seems to me, it would really be worth asking whether you could be friends with her. But not on the grounds that she supports McCain; after all, if she had advocated violence against Republicans, you'd probably have the same qualms.

Here I think a lot depends on the specifics, but in any case, I would think that there are things someone could write that could make me question that person's character, and my friendship with them. It would not be because that person was a Republican, though.

It's not about whether or not the anger is justified, it's just that perhaps we can agree to put some expressions of that quite possibly righteous anger on hold for the sake of the betterment of this ongoing discussion.

I will do my best, but I trust that those on the other side of this debate understand where the "righteous anger" is coming from and make allowances.

If those who still identify as Republican "play nice" and debate in good faith, I'll try not to let the loathsome behaviour of thir party leaders infuence my posts. But I trust that they will at least acknowledge that the leader's behaviour has been loathsome.

Just a quick comment and then I will leave this alone. Anyone who has ever been involved in voter registration programs knows that a certain percent are going to be fraudulent, duplicative or illegible.

It doesn't matter what group is handling the registration. The best estimate I have seen of what percentage of the registration that ACORN collected were fraudulent is between 2-3%.

That really isn't that many. Also they have actively participated in prosecution of those who perpetrated the fraud.

But my final comment is I prefer a system in which a possibly ineligible voter may vote over one where eligible voters are not allowed to vote. And there is little doubt that the Republican Party has been actively involved in trying to make sure the latter happens, so long as the possible voter is likely to vote for a Democrat.

And my comment is that Democrats cheat by having people, (Frequently 'people') vote who aren't legally entitle to, while Republicans cheat by trying to prevent people who are legally entitled to vote from voting.

They're both forms of cheating, and neither is more noble than the other.

If I had to express a preference, I'd say I like the Republican form of cheating better, because you notice it happening, and so have a chance to do something about it. Adding illegal votes is ever so much more insidious.

Depending on your party affiliation, you may regard that as a feature, not a bug.

Brett: the problem is that there is very little evidence that there is any appreciable amount of voter fraud. Check the links in the post. There really isn't.

Democrats cheat by having people, (Frequently 'people') vote who aren't legally entitle to

Are there any other imaginary criminal conspiracies that you think Democrats engage in? Do you know about the one where all Democrats are in league with space aliens trying to steal your soul? Granted, that might not be a problem for you, but others are really worried. You should look into it.

And my comment is that Democrats cheat by having people, (Frequently 'people') vote who aren't legally entitle to, while Republicans cheat by trying to prevent people who are legally entitled to vote from voting.

Yes, even leaving cheating out of it, Democrats generally seek to get more folks, of whatever persuasion, into the voting booth, while Republicans have a history of the opposite.

I take your point way upthread about the quality problem associated with ACORN's GOTV efforts. I don't know if it's preventable or not, or if it just comes with the territory when you try to register folks.

I do know that I'm still waiting for the example of a fraudulent registration created with the knowledge and deliberate participation of ACORN, or for the example of the person illegitimately registered through ACORN's efforts who actually showed up and cast a vote.

Perhaps you can fill me in.

Republicans do worse when lots of people vote. Take whatever lesson you like from that fact.

Thanks -

I take your point way upthread about the quality problem associated with ACORN's GOTV efforts. I don't know if it's preventable or not, or if it just comes with the territory when you try to register folks.

Well, you could compare the suspicious rate of other voter registration efforts to ACORN's. From what I hear, ACORN's is actually lower than any other effort, partisan or non-partisan.

(If you're comparing to signature gathering efforts in general, I'm pretty sure ACORN is a lot lower....)

And let's not forget that there's a difference between fradulent registrations and fradulent votes.

Hi Russell,

You wrote:

There are folks, however, who are simply and sincerely conservative in their political outlook.

Those folks aren't scum, or thugs. They just have a different idea of what's most important than I do, or perhaps a different understanding of how to make the important things happen

Howefer a great many of them have voted for scum and thugs over and over and over.

And at this point the scummy thuggery is just freaking obvious. No intellectually honest way to deny it. Ignorance is not an excuse.

That's waht makes me mad.

But the truth is that i am not going to be nasty gto anyone who isn't nasty to me first. As for Anarch and his frined, it is probably a failing in my characgter but i don't think that I could be friends with someone who said things which I found disgusting a visceral level. I could be an amiable acquaintance with such a person or a cooperative soworker or a helpful neighbor but not a friend.

I resent the opinion that ACCORN should stop paying its voter registration workers.
If ACORN was flooded with appropriate volunteers they might change their strategy, but they probably aren't.
Appropriate volunteers are ones who are not white, who are not middle class, and who are not well educated. ACORN is trying to register poor people who are different from and rightfully suspicious of middle class people. I, a typical overeducated obiwan reader, have tied to do organizing in the inner city with very limited success. Unlike me, poor people are often too busy to volunteer. They need to be paid for their time.

Anarch,

Two of my oldest friends are Republicans. One, a mentor really, has become so disenchanted that he is contemplating voting Libertarian or even perhaps for Obama. The other, somewhat closer to your case I imagine, I had a row with in 2004 and I haven't spoken with since 2007. I don't know whether I can offer you any useful advice but if you want to talk about it offline, drop me a note. r a l at m s b i t . c o m

Howefer a great many of them have voted for scum and thugs over and over and over.

wonkie -- I hear you.

I post here, but I almost never talk about politics with anyone but my wife and a very, very small handful of friends. I don't talk with other folks because I may end up yelling at them. That's not a hypothetical concern, I've found myself unloading on folks in situations where it was, frankly, kind of rude.

Not constructive.

So, as a personal discipline, I try to keep in mind that people's political views and behavior are not the whole of their being, and I just STFU when topics turn to politics. If I need to, I just walk out of the room.

Once in a while, there's an opportunity to have a fairly honest conversation, and when that happens, I'm all for it.

But generally I just shut up.

For good or ill, we all have to live with each other and get along as best we can. By and large, none of us are going anywhere.

Sometimes, for me at least, the best way to make that happen is to treat most social environments like the proverbial Thanksgiving dinner -- don't talk about politics, don't talk about religion, just pass the potatoes and say "Thank you very much".

But I do hear what you're saying.

Thanks -

If I had to express a preference, I'd say I like the Republican form of cheating better, because you notice it happening, and so have a chance to do something about it. Adding illegal votes is ever so much more insidious.

Let us know how your efforts to prosecute Diebold go. They cheated, everyone saw it happen, and what was done? They got more contracts.

Pardon me if I fail to be impressed with your reasoning.

Um, guys?

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/24/us/politics/24acorn.html?_r=2&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin&oref=slogin>Acorn's voter tally exagerated.

Ok, I'm going to start laughing when I hear about how careful ACORN is; They had a rejection rate of something like THIRTY PERCENT on the registrations they submitted. That's not care, that's throwing any old garbage at the wall, and hoping some of it sticks.

"They had a rejection rate of something like THIRTY PERCENT on the registrations they submitted."

Because they are legally forbidden to reject any.

Nice to hear voters referred to as "garbage."

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