You are currently viewing all posts written by Ilona Idlis. Ilona Idlis is an undergraduate journalism major and political science minor. She is an AmeriCorps Jumpstart tutor and an officer of the Young Democrats, UW chapter. Having only worked at school publications in the past, Ilona is very excited to contribute to the Seattle Times and watch the election unfold in person.
November 6, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Update: Reports have confirmed that the Pennsylvania voting machine in question has been taken out of commission.
Multiple states across the country have tried to preempt voter fraud this election cycle. Largely driven by Republican legislators, these preventative measures have been decried as attempts at voter suppression, specifically of groups who tend to vote Democrat. Now, a video posted by a Pennsylvania voter threatens to not only prove the existence of voter fraud, but expose it as a direct Republican Party ploy for more Romney/Ryan votes.
The video, linked below, shows the poster attempting to select the Obama/Biden ticket on an electronic voting machine in central Pennsylvania, only to have the Romney/Ryan tab above it highlighted instead. The user, who mentions his background as a software developer in the video’s description, tried to determine if this was a screen calibration error. To test if the signals were simply swapped, he selected the Romney/Ryan tab on purpose and waited for the Obama/Biden tab to light up instead. It did not. He then tried to see if the touch pad sensor was off by half an inch, and selected the Jill Stein tab below the Obama one. As intended, doing so only highlighted the Green Party choice. No matter how the voter poked and prodded, he was unable to select the Democratic presidential ticket.
Unfortunately, his attempts at troubleshooting the voting machine happened off screen and the video shows only the original rerouted vote for Romney/Ryan. That’s enough ambiguity for any one to raise an eyebrow. But whether this is an isolated machine glitch or a plot to alter Democratic votes into Republican ones in a swing state, a larger, national conversation about electronic voting is overdue. Hundreds of comments have voiced speculations about the video on both YouTube and Reddit, but other than the overwhelming cries of “OH DEAR GOD REPORT THIS TO AN AUTHORITY,” users are engaging in some serious paper ballot nostalgia.
Voter fraud, or just voting machine malfunction?
In this case, it appears to be the latter. It is now being reported that the voting machine in question has been taken out of service.
The topic of electronic voting machines has often stirred debate: while there are efficiencies, there are also inevitable glitches that all machines–voting or otherwise–encounter.
September 9, 2012 at 7:15 AM
UW Election Eye spent five days on the ground covering Democrats at their national gathering. Here are some reflections and photographs.
CHARLOTTE — The Democratic National Convention was supposed to end in President Barack Obama’s address to a live audience of 70,000 at Bank of America Stadium. It did not.
A last minute change shifted the venue from the enormous football field to the much smaller Time Warner Cable Arena, shorting some 65,000 people of a chance to see the President. The DNC cited a stormy weather forecast and consequent safety concerns as the reasoning for the change. It did indeed rain in the afternoon, and quite heavily at that, but Obama’s speech wouldn’t have started until late evening. Critics claimed the DNCC abandoned the stadium for fear of bad TV — inclement weather would have kept people home and left unsavory empty seats in view of the cameras. Either way, the thousands who’d earned their community viewing credentials by volunteering their time at the DNC weren’t pleased. The President called the change disappointing and promised to return to Charlotte and speak to the left out before November 6th.
Despite the complications, nothing dampened enthusiasm inside the Arena on Thursday night. Every single seat, floor to nosebleeds, was filled and the Fire Marshall shut the venue doors to keep out more. Celebrity speakers like Scarlett Johansson, Eva Longoria and Foo Fighters entertained, but surprise guests like former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords packed the real punch. Her recital of the Pledge of Allegiance brought the house to an intense emotional release. The photos below recount some scenes from the DNC’s political theater.
We were located to the right and above the stage. The sides of the venue’s second tier were filled with private, catered suites for big donors, proving that even if money shouldn’t buy an election, it can certainly get you prime seating for a convention. In between the private rooms and encircling the back of the huge podium, were desks and chairs for news outlets. Like the rest of the Arena, the press section was standing room only. The photo above captures our line of sight — press room screens play a CNN live broadcast, showing an audience member waving a “Ready for Joe” sign, while the real Vice President addresses the nation in the background.
A sea of enthused delegates held eye-catching signs to create good television, and it was not by chance. Orange-vested volunteers handed out prepared signage to delegates during speech breaks. The placards’ content corresponded with the desired message tied to a particular speaker. Keynote speaker Julian Castro’s address, on Tuesday evening, was accompanied with blue “Forward” and red “Not Back” posters. First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech was greeted with skinny, vertical “We Love Michelle” placards. For the President’s nomination acceptance finale, the audience raised hundreds of “Thank You” signs (above).
The Washington delegation had prime seating throughout the convention, to the immediate left of the stage.
The families and close friends of Thursday’s big speakers were seated immediately in front of the podium, granting easy backstage access and prime television shots. In the above photo the Vice President tells Dr. Jill Biden (in a blue dress) she’s the love of his life while First Lady Michelle Obama (in the purple patterned dress) looks over and smiles. The seating order was later rearranged for the President’s speech to feature his daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama, in the first row.
Michelle Obama introduced her husband for his speech, and when he came on the two shared a hug and kiss to the crowd’s applause.
The firing of confetti cannons marked the end of the President’s speech and the DNC. While the colorful paper fell, the First Family embraced and posed for pictures on stage.
The occasion called forward fashion from some. Political fashionista and Mississippi delegate Kelly Jacobs pulled out her best gown for the final night of the DNC. The ensemble (left) was a floor length dress crafted from the iconic Obama Hope poster. The letters were bejeweled and the outfit was completed by red, white and blue heels. Members of the Washington delegation showed some sartorial creativity, too. This delegate (right) wore a Styrofoam rendition of the Evergreen State and its claims to fame. Included on the 3D map were a miniature apple, coffee cup, plane, seafood, Mount Rainier and more. The straw hat that served as the base was decorated with campaign buttons, including a “Jay Inslee for Governor” pin.
Outside the Time Warner Cable Arena, major networks set up publicly accessible stages and broadcast with a live audience background. MSNBC placed its studio in the center of a mall, two blocks from the Arena. Access was granted to all, but required a security bag check. In this photo, Chris Matthews and guests participated in an episode of Hardball, right after the DNC let out. FOX News Channel set up its stage outside Charlotte’s NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Chris Matthews invited actresses Rosario Dawson and America Ferrera (far right) on the show to discuss the President’s comments on immigration reform and the Dream Act. During commercial breaks, Matthews ventured into the audience and interviewed colorful constituents. After completing the filming, the host and his guests posed for the boisterous crowd.
It was three days of political theater. It’s impact is not yet clear, though the first waves of polls suggest a positive bounce in public opinion for the President. Eight weeks to Election Day.
All photos by Ilona Idlis.
September 6, 2012 at 4:42 PM
CHARLOTTE – On Monday, the Washington State delegation held a reception at Mac’s Speed Shop, a Southern cuisine restaurant and bar, to celebrate the beginning of the Democratic National Convention. Amid the mingling delegates, sat two of our state representatives: Joe Fitzgibbon of the 34th L.D. and Marko Liias of the 21st L.D. Both are some of the youngest politicians in the Evergreen State’s legislature and both are attending a national convention for the first time. They shared their enthusiasm about reelecting President Barack Obama in 2012.
“[I'm here] because this is a historic election,” Liias said. “I’m a young person and I’m also a gay American, so on both fronts, I’m excited that the President cares about my generation and he cares about my family and protecting our civil rights. So I’m excited to be here to celebrate.”
Liias considered the DNC an opportunity to share an authentic Democratic image while the world watched.
“We get a lot of air time at the convention,” he said. “We can tell our story while people are listening and push back the lies of the Republican Party.”
(President Bill Clinton extended his speech by 23 unscripted minutes to do just that last night.)
Fitzgibbon insisted that he was more excited about Obama in 2012 than he was four years ago.
“Now President Obama has a track record that we could be proud of,” explained Fitzgibbon. “At the time , we were excited about his rhetoric and his ability to make us feel inspired, and now I’m more inspired by the affordable care act than by a great speech at the convention. I’m inspired by the stimulus package that took us out of the recession. I would rather be motivated by the things that he’s actually done.”
After days of speeches recounting the Obama administration’s victories and the POTUS’s address only a few hours away, I’m sure the rest of the Washington delegation feels the same.
September 6, 2012 at 4:04 AM
CHARLOTTE — President Bill Clinton’s address at the Democratic National Convention last night won over the delegates in attendance and pundits watching. Here are some views of people who were there, “How did Bill Clinton’s speech impact President Obama’s chances of reelection?” The answers of the partisans are no surprise, but nonetheless revealing.
Lisa Henka, California
“Bill Clinton is a rock star. He can say things that nobody else can get away with saying and he says it with charm and grace and straight talk. The guy was amazing. Everybody from our whole delegation from California was just eating up every word and the rest of the country listens to what he has to say.”
Seeta Begui, Florida
“He unified the body. Anybody who was sitting on the fence has no business sitting on the fence. He basically told us the truth about education, economy, job creation. If you’re not a millionaire, you should be voting for Barack Obama because we are going to be building this economy from the middle class down, not the top down.”
Allison Holland, Alabama
“I definitely think [it influenced independent voters]. He talked about the economy. I know that’s the issue that everybody wants to know—what’s going to happen? What are you all going to do to help the situation? He broke it down in a way nobody else could, besides Barack.”
Denise Gore, Florida
“I think anywhere he speaks is going to be a plus for any candidate who’s running on the Democratic platform. He energizes the base. He was an excellent former president, who left our country millions of dollars of surplus. He just helps our party naturally. “
Seth Daniels, California
“I think he did an excellent job at explaining to the American people what all the problems are with the Romney/Ryan budget and he also inspired all the people in this hall to go out and work in their communities and get their families and friends out to vote. I think he did as good a job as he could have done. That was one of the best speeches I’ve ever seen in my life. ”
Tammy Knightfleming, Alabama
“Michelle’s speech was very passionate. It brought families together and made you think about real-life issues. Bill Clinton, tonight, laid out the facts. What we’re facing as a country, as a nation, why we need to reelect Barack Obama as our President.”
Jake Young, Ohio
“I think it definitely helped because it laid down the framework for tomorrow’s acceptance speech by President Obama. It clearly identified the two choices between the far Republican right, whose sole goal is to defeat President Obama and say “No,” where as it showed the future ahead for Obama’s next four years.”
September 5, 2012 at 5:46 PM
CHARLOTTE — Fellow Election Eye contributor Amber Cortes and I are stationed at the Time Warner Cable Arena and poised to tweet on Sandra Fluke’s, Elizabeth Warren’s and President Bill Clinton’s speeches in real time. Connect with their quotes and our live commentary by following @UWElectionEye and the #electioneye hashtag. The Democratic National Convention Twitter surge begins at 6 p.m. Pacific time.
September 5, 2012 at 2:00 PM
CHARLOTTE – Dr. Jill Biden dropped by the Youth Caucus at the Democratic National Convention today for an unexpected visit in the last half hour of the meeting. The Second Lady was swarmed by cameras and cell phones, but took the time to pose with teenage delegates and shake hands with the audience before speaking from the podium. Her speech was quite short, thanking the delegation for its support and complimenting Michelle Obama on last night’s address.
“I want you to know how much Joe and I and Barack and Michelle appreciate everything that you’re doing for our campaign all across America,” Biden said.
Taking a cue from the First Lady, Biden mentioned needing student loans and grants to complete her higher education.
“We understand what many of you are facing,” she said. The line fits with the DNC’s key themes: painting the Obama administration as in sync with average Americans and casting the opposition as out of touch with their struggles.
Before departing, Biden asked the hall to take the convention’s enthusiasm back to their home towns and college campuses and recruit their friends into the President’s reelection efforts.
Surprise guests appeared in multiple caucuses this week, including a Michelle Obama visit to the African American Caucus this morning. The two hour meetings usually feature over a dozen speakers, but they are rarely announced in advanced. The appearances of top-tier guests are held in utmost secrecy.
“We really didn’t want anyone to know that was happening beforehand,” said Youth Caucus Chair Jason Rae. ”We wanted people to feel involved. [When] you have high-level individuals, the spouse of the vice president, wanting to come and speak here today — it shows that they value young people.”
Rae hinted at hosting another famous speaker at tomorrow’s second Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Caucus.
Watch the video of Dr. Biden’s speech below.
September 5, 2012 at 7:00 AM
CHARLOTTE — There was much that the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Caucus celebrated when it convened for its first meeting during the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday. For the first time, all 50 states, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico, sent an official LGBT participant. Over a dozen hailed from Washington state alone.
Together, the delegates, alternates and other sanctioned staff counted 535 strong and made up 8% of the total delegate count. Couple that with the over 30 LGBT members of the national committee and the largest transsexual delegation, and the Democrats have the most gay-friendly political convention in American history.
“We wouldn’t have needed a room this size a few years ago,” quipped speaker Tammy Baldwin to the packed hall. Baldwin, an LGBT Wisconsin state representative, is running to become the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate in 2012.
September 4, 2012 at 5:00 PM
CHARLOTTE — It’s hard to capture in words the energy that arises when thousands of like-minded people come together in one place, for one purpose. From the chants of “Four more years!” to the Barack Obama pins on every collar, the Democratic National Convention is full of patriotic energy.
This city helped to celebrate the DNC by staging CarolinaFest — an open to the public, multi-block fair filled with food, music and all sorts of red, white and blue knickknacks. The event shut down traffic in a third of downtown and packed the streets with pedestrians, activists and vendors. Below are just a few photos of Monday’s street party.
Legacy Village was the first attraction to greet visitors. Occupying an entire block, the area offered educational activities and an introduction to local charity projects. Craftsman House United — a collaboration of multiple charities — displayed an in-progress house to the right of the entrance. Volunteers will keep construction going during the DNC and donate the house to a veteran in need after Thursday.
September 3, 2012 at 12:25 PM
CHARLOTTE–Many delegates at the Democratic National Convention show their patriotism and partisan leanings with an Obama 2012 button or two or twenty. Kelly Jacobs, though, takes DNC fashion to a whole new level.
Jacobs is a Mississippi delegate who sees herself as a “political fashionista,” and she spent two weeks making unique dresses for each day of the convention. The public convention begins tomorrow but there are internal meetings underway, and she displayed today’s ensemble–a silky flag dress bearing tribute to U.S. troops–during the CarolinaFest parade this morning. We spotted her by her sparkly, figurine-bedecked hat, while she courteously accepted never-ending photo requests on the main floor of the convention center.
This is Jacobs’ third DNC. We’ll be sure to look for her other patriotic creations in the days to come.
September 2, 2012 at 7:15 AM
UW Election Eye is sending two reporters to the Democratic National Convention as we kick off our stretch run of analysis of the 2012 electoral campaign. In weeks to come we will dive into other key campaigns and political mosh pits.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — We steward our resources with great care on this blog. After being a bit less active in our posting this summer, we are set to take off again beginning …. now.
Thanks to supporters, we have enough funds to travel a couple times over the final 10 weeks of the 2012 election season. Our first trip comes this week: two of us, Amber Cortes and me, will report on the Democratic National Convention. Later in September our colleagues will travel to conservatives’ Values Voters Summit, and in October we will make at least one swing through some presidential battleground states. Always we will keep an eye on Washington state politics as well.
Right now, our eyes are on the DNC in Charlotte. This town of just over 750,000 — more than 20% larger than Seattle — is nicknamed The Queen City in honor of Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, who named the city. The Democrats come here after the Republicans held their convention last week in Tampa.