The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press
By almost every conceivable measure Americans are less positive and more critical of government these days. A new Pew Research Center survey finds a perfect storm of conditions associated with distrust of government – a dismal economy, an unhappy public, bitter partisan-based backlash, and epic discontent with Congress and elected officials.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/12/voting.jpg caption="Over the past 10 presidential elections, the candidate who won among independents usually won the office, based on exit polls."]
John Avlon, author of "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America," railed this week on CNN against partisans on the far right and far left "that are always trying to divide rather than unite us."
He said on CNN's "American Morning" on Friday that "they really have developed a disproportionate influence over our politics that ends up drowning out most folks in the middle." He continued, "If independents could realize that there are more independents than Democrats or Republicans, I think we could help bring politics back to the center."
Fact Check: Are there more independent voters than Democrats or Republicans?
How do they influence elections?
- The CNN Fact Check Desk combed through a CNN poll to find the answer.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/10/19/afghanistan.election.fraud/art.karzai.afp.gi.jpg caption="Incumbent President Hamid Karzai had agreed to a presidential runoff against his opposition rival."]
Afghan electoral officials declared incumbent President Hamid Karzai the winner of the 2009 presidential election Monday, after canceling this weekend's second round of voting.
Observers say Karzai's real test will be whether he can form a government that is seen as legitimate in the eyes of the Afghan people and the international community.
The Independent Electoral Commission made the announcement after they canceled Saturday's presidential runoff following the withdrawal of opposition candidate Abdullah Abdullah.
A runoff could have been held with just one candidate, but commission president Azizullah Lodin said electoral officials decided to cancel the second round of voting for several reasons, including security and money.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/13/minnesota.senate/art.coleman.franken.gi.jpg caption="GOP Sen. Norm Coleman, left, and Democrat Al Franken are in a battle for a Minnesota Senate seat."]
Media Matters for America
Any day now, a three-judge panel in Minnesota will rule on Norm Coleman's lawsuit to overturn the results of the state's Senate election recount, which was completed in January. The complete hand recount concluded that the incumbent Republican lost to challenger Al Franken by 225 votes. Coleman demanded a full court case; today, almost nobody, including Coleman's own attorney, thinks the Republican will prevail in the judges' upcoming ruling, which follows a tedious seven-week trial.
End of story, and after a drawn-out, 18-week process, Franken will finally be seated in the U.S. Senate, right? Wrong. If Franken prevails as expected before the three-judge panel, Coleman will then have 10 days to file yet another appeal, this one to the Minnesota Supreme Court. If Coleman loses there as well, Republican leaders in Congress are encouraging him to not give up his legal challenge and take his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could create a scenario in which the Minnesota election might not get decided until the fall - almost a year after voters went to the polls - even if the Supreme Court refuses to hear the appeal.
Wall Street Journal
In his election-night victory speech, Barack Obama said he would be a president for all Americans, not just those who voted for him. But as a candidate he didn't campaign with equal vigor for every vote. Instead, he and John McCain devoted more than 98% of their television ad spending and campaign events to just 15 states which together make up about a third of the U.S. population.
Today, as the Electoral College votes are cast and counted state-by-state, we will be reminded why. It is the peculiar mechanics of that institution, designed for a different age, that leave us divided into red states, blue states and swing states. That needs to change.
The Electoral College was created in 1787 by a constitutional convention whose delegates were unconvinced that the election of the president could be entrusted to an unfiltered vote of the people, and were concerned about the division of power among the 13 states. It was antidemocratic by design.
Under the system, each state receives votes equal to the number of representatives it has in the House plus one for each of its senators. Less populated states are thus overrepresented. While this formula hasn't changed, it no longer makes a difference for the majority of states. Wyoming, with its three electoral votes, has no more influence over the selection of the president or on the positions taken by candidates than it would with one vote.
Drew Griffin | BIO
CNN Investigative Correspondent
The Indiana secretary of state has not only found ACORN submitted hundreds and hundreds of fraudulent registration forms, but is now asking for investigations by the U.S. Attorney and the local prosecutor for possible felony violations by the group.
As we reported three weeks ago, the ACORN voter registration drive in northwest Indiana was fraught with problems, more than 2,000 voter registration forms turned in by ACORN were no good.
Now the Indiana secretary of state says his review of the ACORN submissions leads him to the opinion ACORN did indeed break the law. In a letter to the U.S. Attorney, the FBI and the local lake county prosecutor, Indiana’s republican secretary of state Todd Rokita says there is credible evidence that ACORN, “its officers, agents and employees, through direct action, conspiracy or inducement” – violated four Indiana state election laws, violated Indiana’s racketeer and corrupt organizations law, and violated federal election law.
Editor’s Note: Share your early voting experiences with CNN. Send your pictures, video, and iReports.
CNN Supervising Producer
This election, CNN is running a voter hotline. We are already getting calls from around the country about problems and concerns that voters are having as they try to register, vote absentee, early vote or get information.
The hotline has generated over 10,000 calls so far and we've reported on some of those problems both on CNN and on the CNN Political Ticker
Of the top issues, a third of all of the problems called are about registration issues. After that, the next highest category is integrity issues which pertains to concerns people have about making sure their votes count. Absentee ballot issues make up 15% of the calls, problems with voting machines 9.5% and accessing poll locations have generated 9% of the calls.
We are hearing problems from around the country.
If John McCain isn't the next president, it won't be for lack of trying—he's called Barack Obama everything from a terrorist to a socialist. And yet, with a week to go, it is increasingly clear this election is Obama's to lose. Which leaves McCain with one last tried-and-true tactic: Steal the thing.
For all the talk about the "Bradley effect," the margin of error may not be the one created by whites who won't put their votes where their polling mouths will. Barack Obama's more serious hurdle may be winning big enough to make up for the votes that never actually get cast or counted.
Watchdogs have spent the fall charting a map of battleground states for the building fight over voting rights. These are the places where battles over the legalities of voting will be waged right up to Election Day—and God forbid, could go on for days and weeks thereafter. They are the places where an eight-year-long tug of war between those who want to make voting more accessible and those who want to make it still more difficult will climax.
"Some problems are unavoidable," says Daniel Seligman of the Pew Center on the States' Electiononline.org. "Somewhere in this country a machine is going to screw up. Somewhere a voter is going to be asked for an ID who doesn't have to show it. But these problems can be magnified." So last week, Seligman and his colleagues at Pew put together their own list of states where the confluence of new voters, Republican shenanigans and official negligence could blow those unavoidable problems up into this year's Florida or Ohio.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/23/art.vert.votingbooth.jpg width=292 height=320]Hill Harper
Participatory democracy only works if we participate. That means knowing the rules and watching out for tricks.
Since January, excitement has been building around this historic presidential campaign. But now our nation faces a crucial test as Election Day approaches—some states now have strict identification requirements for voters, a move that could stymie the anticipated growth in political participation.
Whatever the motive for the tougher voter requirements, public officials, civic leaders, activists and media outlets must work to ensure that voters in their states understand the rules about what constitutes proper identification at the polls. It would be a serious blow to our democracy if droves of voters, perhaps excited for the first time about their participation and choices, are turned away at the polls. Given the low voter turnout rates we have witnessed over the past 30 years, our democracy cannot afford to disillusion people participating for the first time.
And given the current economic crisis, it is more important than ever that the American people participate in the voting process and feel vested in selecting the path for the nation's future. This is especially true for those who believe that change is needed in Washington and that our current public officials and representatives have not necessarily acted in the best interest of our families, our communities or our future.
Editor's Note: Hill Harper currently stars in the hit television drama CSI: N.Y. and is the best-selling author of "Letters To a Young Brother and Letters To a Young Sister."