Mark Caserta: The energized party wins in November
As we approach what I believe to be the most important presidential election in our history, it's becoming more evident that our nation is equally divided in their support for the presidential candidates. The party for which more members become energized and make their way to the polls will win.
Policies, plans and platitudes being fair game in the political arena, history has shown that certain entities are not above rancorous attempts to achieve an unfair advantage for their candidate.
In the months leading up to the 2004 and 2008 election, both parties went to extremes to register voters. Individuals tenuously linked to the non-profit organization ACORN were accused of submitting false voter registration forms and of failing to submit some valid ones they had received.
In 2008, voter intimidation reared its ugly head as members of the New Black Panther Party were captured on video standing in front of a polling place in Philadelphia on Election Day wearing military gear apparently to discourage some people from voting.
The vulnerability of the voting machines themselves continues to threaten the integrity of elections. According to BALLOTPEDIA, an interactive almanac of state politics, several states employ the direct recording electronic method in their voting systems and do not require a voter verified paper audit trail.
Richard L. Hasen, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, and author of "The Voting Wars," believes the risk of another debacle like the 2000 Bush/Gore election is high. "Elections are not well funded in this country, and the people running them are not professionals," he told The New York Times. "There are different rules in every district. When there is a razor-thin election -- and we may have one in November -- there is room for chicanery."
As if these worries weren't enough, I'm very uncomfortable with the role of the media and the political polls and what I feel is a politically motivated attempt to suppress the conservative vote through manufactured futility.
Polling isn't as simple as calling a thousand people and tallying the numbers. Polls are "scientifically" weighted to align with the estimated turnout of a particular demographic of likely voters.
All of the 2012 polls are using some variant of the 2008 election turnout as a model for weighting respondents. But 2008 was no ordinary election. Blacks, for example, usually cast about 11 percent of the vote, but in 2008, they made up 14 percent. Another example is the young voter. According to the Pew Research Center, around 50 percent of voters ages 18-29 usually vote Democrat. But in 2008, 66 percent voted for Barack Obama.
Using 2008 numbers for weighting 2012 polls provides Democrats a manufactured advantage that could dissuade some Republican voters by making them believe Obama's re-election is a done deal.
Don't allow a skewed political poll to discourage you from voting! Get engaged. Do your homework and ignore the media. Yours may be the deciding vote this year.
Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.