Election laws usually prohibit campaigning within a certain distance from a polling location on Election Day. Usually, all it takes is a word to the precinct judges to get violations from overeager campaigners straightened out. Democrats in NY-23’s special election called the cops, as the New York Daily News’ Elizabeth Benjamin reports:
I just got off the phone with former state Democratic Chairwoman June O’Neill, who informed me the police had been called to at least two polling sites in St. Lawrence County due to overzealous electioneering (O’Neill called it “voter intimidation”) by Doug Hoffman supporters.
“We’ve gotten reports that people are standing there, covered with Hoffman stickers and yelling anti-choice stuff at voters,” said O’Neill, a St. Lawrence native who has been running the party’s GOTV effort for Bill Owens in NY-23. …
O’Neill also said she had received anecdotal reports of problems at polling sites in Gouverneur, which is Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava’s hometown. But she couldn’t immediately confirm this.
O’Neill couldn’t confirm it, but she didn’t mind whining about it anyway to the media. Benjamin does what reporters should do, which is to follow up with officials in the area to confirm O’Neill’s complaints. The elections commissioner in St. Lawrence, a Republican, doesn’t appear nearly as “wee-wee’d up” as O’Neill:
“If people are electioneering within the marker and don’t stop when we ask them to, our inspectors are instructed to call law enforcement to assist them. I don’t think anybody was arrested.”
This appears to be a strategy for someone who believes their side will lose. O’Neill called the media to cast doubt on the election, based on … loud campaigning a little too close to a polling location. It’s akin to blaming a loss in a football game to an offsides call in the second quarter. It may make the complainant feel better, but to everyone else they look like a very poor loser.
Frankly, I consider the story here to be that Hoffman’s supporters have organized effectively and still have more enthusiasm than Bill Owens and the Democrats. If they’re scaring the Democrats in NY-23, they must be doing something right. Maybe the Democrats understand how local GOP leaders have felt for the past two weeks after their disastrous pick of Dede Scozzafava.
Meanwhile, Jim Geraghty’s hearing some interesting anecdotal evidence about turnout in New Jersey:
A trusted source tells me that as of noon, total turnout in the GOP the swing districts in NJ is significantly outpacing turnout in Democrat districts. The turnout ratio is not quite two to one, but it’s not that far from it.
Now, this should NOT be interpreted as ipso facto evidence that Chris Christie is going to win. Democratic districts may have more voters show up later in the day. This isn’t an exit poll, and we have no idea how the folks in any of these districts are voting; we just know that they’re showing up and voting.
Turnout appears low in Newark, too. That’s big trouble for Jon Corzine if it continues. It also means that last-minute appeals to keep precincts open past normal poll-closing times won’t work, which should mean fewer shenanigans on the ground.