Two observations from mid-way through the 2010 preferential primary.
First, on a personal-experience note, there were six people ahead of me when I arrived at my polling place. Eavesdropping (because what else am I going to do?), I heard one say “Democrat for today” when asked which party’s primary he wanted to participate in. Two people later, I heard “No, I’m voting in the Democrat one today,” in response to being asked “Republican ballot, right?” Then the person right in front of me spelled it out even more clearly, saying “Oh, I’m voting in the enemy primary today; gotta try to get the right people to run against.”
The weird thing is, the first two people (for whatever reason) gave off a vibe like they were voting Dem to vote against Blanche Lincoln. The third, however, I would bet my life was voting for Lincoln because she thinks Lincoln would be an easier target come November. All of which raises two questions:
(a) Have we all grossly underestimated the number of Republicans who are going to vote in the Democratic primary? I figured there would be a few, especially in areas without hotly contested Republican races in U.S. House primaries (i.e. AR-04, where Glenn Gallas and Beth Anne Rankin are only fighting to see who can get pummeled by Mike Ross in six months), but I assumed races like Timmy! Griffin v. Scott Wallace would keep many AR-02 red voters from taking a blue ballot.
(b) If we have underestimated, which candidate does that help in the AR-Sen Democratic race? Conventional wisdom would suggest that anyone voting in the Democratic primary solely for strategic reasons would vote for Blanche Lincoln, as every poll shows her getting trounced by John Boozman. On the other hand, I could see some fiscal conservatives, people who are staunchly anti-HCR, and other loons like this guy voting against Lincoln because of her record in those areas. Thoughts?
Secondly, and as I am sure you’ve all heard/seen/read by now, apparently the senior Senator from Arkansas had to fill out paperwork and cast a provisional ballot because she had previously requested an absentee ballot be sent to her home in Virginia. According to her campaign:
“Sen. Lincoln requested an absentee ballot in the event she would be called to Washington for critical votes,” Lincoln campaign spokesman Katie Laning Niebaum said. “Pulaski County Court Clerk Pat O’Brien confirms this is not uncommon among voters who are unsure of their status on Election Day. Senator Lincoln and her husband are happy to cast provisional ballots in person at their home precinct today.”
You’ll forgive me if I don’t totally buy the “in the event she would be called to Washington for critical votes” excuse. Why? Because here are the criteria for requesting an absentee ballot:
To be qualified to vote an absentee ballot, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- You will be unavoidably absent from your polling site on election day, OR
- You will be unable to attend your polling site on election day due to illness or physical disability, OR
- You are a member of the U.S. armed forces, merchant marines or the spouse or a dependant [sic] family member, OR
- A U.S. citizen domiciled in Arkansas but temporarily living outside the territorial limits of the United States.
And here’s the application for an absentee ballot in Pulaski County saying the same thing. “[W]ill be unavoidably absent” sure doesn’t sound to me like “I might not be there, and I just want to cover my butt” would qualify as a reason for requesting an absentee ballot, at least not under a strict reading of the requirements. (Notable: The application for an absentee ballot also states that “IF YOU PROVIDE FALSE INFORMATION ON THIS FORM, YOU MAY BE GUILTY OF PERJURY AND SUBJECT TO A FINE OF UP TO $10,000 OR IMPRISONMENT FOR UP TO 10 YEARS.”)
Also, the stories say that Ms. Lincoln’s husband had also requested an absentee ballot and was also forced to vote provisionally. Even if we want to believe Lincoln’s excuse about possibly having to jet back to Washington, that wouldn’t seem to cover her husband; nothing in the requirements says “I need an absentee ballot because my spouse will be unavoidably absent.” So what was his reason for thinking he would be unavoidably absent? And what happened that suddenly made him not be unavoidably absent?
I won’t hold my breath for answers to these questions.