The mystery victory of Alivn Greene in South Carolina's senatorial primary defies explanation. A pattern of voting irregularities has emerged, including 25 precincts where the reporter number of votes cast for Alvin Greene exceeds the number of persons voting. Later, that was apparently discovered to be a mistake. We get lots of mistakes in SC and lots we can't explain.
Image, Right, Vic Rawl (wearing red tie, white shirt) with supporters at campaign kickoff.
I was with Vic Rawl when he posted a You Tube video announcing he was considering challenging Jim Demint's reelection. I was at the event where we all realized something had gone terribly wrong last Tuesday. I was not in charge, but Vic Rawl was a decent man I was happy to support.
More on the campaign in "there's more."
South Carolina uses the discredited touch screen voting machine. http://www.flcv.com/... There is no paper trail for voting. The only record of the votes cast is found in the memory of the machine. This is the system Florida bought to replace the hanging chads and later junked in favor of a marked paper ballot, scanning system. The reason the touch screen system was junked were repeated occassions on which unexplainable results appeared, undermining the entire process of governance, even for the winners.
The problem with any machine which stores information only in volitile computer memory is that are several ways to change the results. Code can be inserted into the machine to change the results by flipping votes from one candidate or party to another. This can be done over a computer network from a remote location if the machines are connected to such a network. Such code can delete itself just as your own computer deletes huge amounts of data in ordinary operation.
Vic Rawl won the hand marked, paper absentee ballots by large margins in every county of the state. The votes for unknown Greene don't correlate with African American voters or other factors.
In Kershaw County, where Vincent Sheheen ran a well funded campaign for Governor with strong African American outreach, Greene outpolled Sheheen. Kershaw is Sheheen's home county.
Active African American leaders can't find significant numbers of African American voters in their communities who voted for Greene or even knew his candidacy existed.
Vic campaigned hard. He traveled over 20 thousand miles, attended over 80 events, including many focused on the African American community. He has the support of some of the state's unions. A quarter of a million robo calls were sent out, including one voiced by Congressman Spratt. Active phone banks made thousands of personal calls prior to the election. African Americans were actively involved with the campaign as both paid staff and volunteers.
All of this was built on a two year long effort to build the Democratic party in South Carolina, including deploying the votebuilder database and training hundreds of people on how to use it. Regional offices were opened. OFA, DFA and Wellstone campaign and organizing trianing was conducted for hundreds of people.
The volume of advertising and bulk mail necessary to reach the number of voters who allegedly voted for Greene would have cost a large portion of the Rawl campaign's hard won treasury. It would have diminished the funds remaining to challenge DeMint.
Of course this campaign was not against DeMint, but the cluster of right wing organizations which have targeted South Carolina's low cost, vulnerable politics for takeover so that life here can be transformed into a corporatist demonstration project. DeMint is central to their plans.
If they can get what they want here in South Carolina, they'll be trying to bring it to your state later.
No one seriously suggested it was necessary to spend 100 thousand dollars making sure Greene was defeated in the primary in May.
While phantom candidates have been planted on the Democratic ballot before, no one thought there would be enough Republican cross over voting to put a plant on the general election ballot in November when the Republicans were holding a dirty, sex charged campaign for Governor.
South Carolina has open primaries and has had significant cross over voting events in the past, including "Operation Chaos" where right wing radio broacasters send Republicans into the Democratic Presidential primary to vote for Obama to stop Hillary Clinton, believing Obama could not possible win the general election.
I cannot today account for what happened on Tuesday. It may be outright election fraud conducted by someone over an internet connection from the other side of the planet paid by some third party. Those responsible state that couldn't happen, but I doubt anyone in South Carolina can actually review the code of the programming for the voting machines.
It may be fraud, random ballot order voting, something else or a combination of factors.
I do know this for certain, the active, committed elements of the Democratic Party in South Carolina, black and white, sought out a replacement candidate for the US Senate when Chad McGowan was considering leaving the race in January.
Vic Rawl, a decent man with a genuine love of justice and a belief that all people should be treated fairly agreed to take that challenge on. He worked long and hard under conditions more discouraging that our brothers and sisters in blue states can possibly imagine.
This is a state where people can and are fired from their jobs for having Democratic bumper stickers on their car. One Rawl volunteer had placed a magnetic backing on their bumper sticker and peeled it off their truck when they were on the job.
A group of dedicated people joined Vic's campaign. Many, laboring under their own challenges, such as unemployment and living without healthcare, worked long hours. Other Democrats across the state promised to become involved when the slate was unified after the Governor's nomination was decided. It would hve been the strongest Democratic ticket in decades.
The national media, which ignored Vic's decent, substantive campaign, eagerly dove into this election when Greene won, extending the humiliating story line that South Carolina is a degenerate, asylum of incompetence and randy excess. I was shocked to see some of my own web video on MSNBC, a rough, homemade effort from the very start of the campaign. It wasn't the best video online of Vic.
Had even a fraction of this attention been extended to the Rawl campaign when it mattered, a far better funded and larger campaign would have been able to prepare for the primary. Of course, if this was done by computer, that might not have made any difference.
In South Carolina the best you can do with what you have often isn't good enough. There are plenty of people here ready to attack everything a campaign or volunteer does.
It took over a week for the local paper to report on Vic Rawl's announcement that he was considering a run for the US Senate back in February. That item was buried deep in the paper. The reports on Greene have been splashed across the front pages.
This has been bad for South Carolina. If we have learned that money is important in politics, I can assure you everyone in the Rawl campaign already knew that. If it proves that votes can't be securely or reliably tabulated on machines without a paper trail, we knew that too.
What we insisted on believing was that a dedicated group of people, who worked long and hard, would at least get a real chance to challenge Jim DeMint. It had taken three months to get the campaign to the point where people in the state and across the country were beginning to understand that DeMint could face a meaningful challenge.
Victory over Jim DeMint will be a difficult challenge, but an unchallenged Jim Demint is a difficulty for America. He's relentlessly dishonest about government. He is part of a right wing wrecking crew that has proved, since the election of President Obama, that breaking things is easier than building them. It is a strategy which considers every citizen who is rendered bitter and frustrated to be an achievement.
Ultimately men like DeMint have a view of the world where nothing matters but what is bought and sold. A sense of worth or happiness which doesn't originate in the transfer of money is an obstacle to them. The family, community and small scale civic and religious institutions are just something to level. Theirs is the world of BP, the multimillion dollar megachurch and a Walmart full of goods made by slave labor.
Vic Rawl was a man ready to challenge DeMint. Vic had people supporting him and a more than nominal amount of resources. Whatever really happened here, Vic and those people deserve to be applauded for their effort. More money and more people would have produced a better effort, but that does not mean that these people didn't do all they could.
Like me, they continue to labor on towards something decent and better for their state while many of their peers refuse to even vote any longer.
Today, those good, hard working people are in incredible pain. Some now believe a lifetime of struggling against long odds has been wasted. Many wish they could be somewhere else. We've seen many wonderful people leave, making the work here ever harder. Nothing hurts more than the awareness that progressives across the nation are insulting their efforts and leaving them all for dead, which aligns the people we believed where our allies precisely with the right wing arrogence we struggle against.