On June 7 Jon Stewart dedicated a segment to South Carolinian politicians, thanking them for distracting us from the unpleasantness in the news of the day. Stewart’s focus was on the rather frequent accusations and instances of adulterous behavior among the State’s elected officials. Hilarious, to be sure, but had he waited a couple of days, The Daily Show host could have added the curious election of Alvin Greene as the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2010.
An unemployed 32-year-old black Army veteran with no campaign funds, no signs, and no website shocked South Carolina on Tuesday night by winning the Democratic Senate primary to oppose Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). Alvin Greene, who currently lives in his family’s home, defeated Vic Rawl, a former judge and state legislator who had a $186,000 campaign warchest and had already planned his next fundraising event.
Everyone was caught off guard by Greene’s primary win, his opponent not least among them. Following his loss by a 2-3 margin, Rawl told Charleston’s The Post and Courier newspaper he regretted not looking further into Greene’s background during the campaign. The oversight is forgivable considering that Greene didn’t mount a campaign. “I never met him, never saw a sign, never saw a bumper sticker,” Rawl said.
Info that would have been helpful before election day
The AP reported June 9 that Greene had been arrested last November, the charge of felony obscenity remains pending.
South Carolina Democrats have already asked him to step down on the grounds that, if convicted, state law would prohibit Greene from holding office. Greene has declined to comment on the charges, and appears intent to press on with his non-campaign.
But the criminal charges against Greene aren’t the most peculiar aspect of this political episode. Politicians, after all, have been known to overcome such inconvenient embarrassments. What’s bizarre about Greene’s election is that by all appearances, he is in no way prepared to assume the office he pursues.
Meet Alvin Greene
Consider this June 10 clip from Countdown with Keith Olbermann. The host begins with a brief synopsis on the controversy, some of which is mentioned above. But at 2:12 of the clip, Olbermann interviews Greene . It’s one of the most surreal moments I’ve ever seen on television:
Is Greene a “Plant”?
As Olbermann mentioned, South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn has called “shenanigans” and is calling for an investigation.
Via The Hill, June 10:
“I would hope the U.S. attorney down there would look at this,” Clyburn said about Greene’s qualifications for the ballot, also pointing to Greene’s having allegedly tried to pay the fee to run for Senate in cash, despite being unemployed.
“I think there’s some federal laws being violated in this race, but I think some shenanigans are going on in South Carolina,” Clyburn explained. “Somebody gave him that $10,000 and he who took it should be investigated, and he who gave it should be investigated.”
Whether or not Greene is a plant, Republican or otherwise, has yet to be determined. If he is a plant, as the Congressman maintains, it’s going to be difficult to prove.
Investigation Complicated by Paperless Voting
Tom Schaller of FiveThirtyEight has gone over the polling data and has turned up some irregularities — and not just in the SC Dem primary — but ruled out GOP voters crossing over to vote for Greene in South Carolina. This begs the question: where, then, did the votes come from?
One possible answer: The Electronic Voting system used in South Carolina, as Brad Friedman explains, “Malfunction and/or programming error with [Election Systems & Software] systems is neither unheard of, nor particularly rare… “
Given the well-documented history of malfunction by ES&S iVotronics and its central tabulating system, along with similarly well-documented scientific reports of how easily those specifics systems can be manipulated — most easily and directly by election insiders — it’s sounding more and more like there is a serious problem, of some type, in South Carolina’s electronic voting system…
(Visit Friedman’s TheBradBlog for an exhaustive amount of information regarding the perils of e-voting for democracy)
Friedman also highlights a glaring disparity between absentee ballots, for which there is a paper trail, and the returns from “100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (…) voting machines at the polling place.” Among other instances of potential fraud across the state, Lancaster County absentee ballots had Rawl over Greene by an 84-16 per-cent margin. Greene prevailed there by 17 points on election day.
Two lines of inquiry should be pursued if the truth behind Greene’s win is to be discovered. First, Clyburn is right that the source of Greene’s $10,400 filing fee needs to be investigated. This appears to be the sum total spent by the Greene campaign, and as the candidate stressed to Olbermann in the above interview, the margin of victory indicates that it wasn’t due to “luck”. If there was no campaign, and it wasn’t luck, then what was it?
Second, discover, if possible, the causes behind South Carolina’s voting irregularities. Were they due to malfunction or manipulation?
It stands to reason that without running a campaign, there should be no expectation of victory… unless there’s a ghost in the machine. Find the ghost and the source of the funds, and you’ll likely find a connection between the two.