- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2006

Election month

“This year more voters than ever will cast ballots early. The result may be that we get the final election results late,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“It’s possible we won’t know which party controls either house of Congress for days or even weeks because of all the disputes and delays caused by absentee ballots,” Mr. Fund said.

“Thirty states now allow anybody to cast an absentee ballot without having to give an excuse for missing Election Day. That’s up from just 20 states six years ago. Several other states also allow early voting at government buildings or even grocery stores. This year, it’s expected that over one in four Americans will vote before Election Day.

“In states such as Washington, California and Arizona, more than half the ballots are likely to be absentee. In California, more than 1 in 5 voters have signed up to receive absentee ballots for every election. Oregon has gone even further. In 2000, it abolished polling places, and everyone votes by mail.

“If control of Congress hinges on a few close races, don’t expect to know the final outcome on Election Night. While early votes cast on electronic machines are easily integrated into the totals from traditional polling places, paper absentee ballots are typically counted only after the others.

“In Florida, Pennsylvania and some other states, ballots will come in for days because they are legal if postmarked on or before Election Day. Provisional votes, which are cast when a voter doesn’t show up on registration rolls, can also slow down the process. Generally, officials have up to 14 days to determine if a vote is valid. Maryland officials barely met that deadline after [problems] with electronic voting machines dramatically increased the number of provisional votes cast in its primary last month.

“In some supertight races, a flood of absentee ballots could delay the results for weeks.”

Seeking presidency

Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican and chairman of the House Arms Services Committee, announced plans yesterday to run for president in 2008.

“As I finish my final two years as chairman of the Armed Services Committee and serve you, I am also going to be preparing for a run for president of the United States,” Mr. Hunter said at a press conference in San Diego.

Mr. Hunter, 58, raised his profile among conservatives as co-author of legislation to construct a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The announcement allows Mr. Hunter, who was first elected to Congress in 1980 and is running for re-election on Nov. 7, to begin raising money for his presidential campaign, Reuters news agency reports.

Sale price

America’s liberal elite turned up their noses at the $500,000 price tag to celebrate Bill Clinton’s 60th birthday, Britain’s Daily Mail reports.

The weekend of activities included photographs taken with Mr. Clinton during a round of golf and three days of cocktail, brunch and dinner parties. The Rolling Stones performed a concert for the former president Sunday night at the Beacon Theater in New York.

“I’d like to welcome President Clinton,” singer Mick Jagger told the cheering crowd. “And I see she’s brought her husband.”

“Wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea sent out about 10,000 invitations to Hollywood tycoons, movie stars, captains of industry and Wall Street — with all proceeds to go to the former president’s charitable foundation,” the Daily Mail reported.

The minimum price, with inferior concert seats and no brunch, was set at $60,000, but many rich Democrats sent their regrets and prices were drastically slashed to $12,500 for one reception and the concert, or $5,000 for just the Stones. Tickets eventually dropped to $1,700 — about four times what the Stones normally charge for the best seats.

“It is all highly embarrassing for Bill and Hillary,” a friend of the couple told the Daily Mail. “When they created the idea, they thought it would go like wildfire. What’s not going to please some who did come up with $500,000 is finding regular Stones fans there who got last-minute tickets on the Internet.”

Those “last-minute tickets,” The Washington Times has learned, went to a couple dozen die-hard Rolling Stones fans who were selected from a fan club to play extras in a documentary Martin Scorsese is filming about the band.

Seems Mr. Scorsese was looking to film a younger, hipper crowd than that offered by the friends of Bill and Hillary.

Lynne vs. Wolf

The Media Research Center reports that during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer aired twice on Friday’s “The Situation Room” and again on Sunday’s “Late Edition,” second lady Lynne Cheney turned the tables on the cable network and bluntly asked if Mr. Blitzer wanted the U.S. to win in Iraq: “What is CNN doing running terrorist tape of terrorists shooting Americans? I mean, I thought Duncan Hunter asked you a very good question, and you didn’t answer it. Do you want us to win?”

Mr. Blitzer replied: “The answer, of course, is we want the United States to win. We are Americans. There’s no doubt about it. You think we want terrorists to win?”

The vice president’s wife was referring to an Oct. 23 segment with Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, in which he criticized the network for airing footage of insurgent snipers killing Americans. Mrs. Cheney, who appeared live during the 5 p.m. EDT hour of the Oct. 27 edition of “The Situation Room” (a segment re-run at 7 p.m.), continued her harsh analysis of CNN, Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org. “Why,” she wondered, “are you running terrorist propaganda?”

Lieberman backer

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg praised Sen. Joe Lieberman’s independence yesterday, saying the three-term Democrat is willing to work across party lines in an era of partisan gridlock.

“I think the voters of Connecticut understand they need proven independent leadership. Joe Lieberman provides that,” Mr. Bloomberg said at a press conference after greeting commuters with Mr. Lieberman at the Stamford train station. “I think people of all parties are just tired of the political bickering.”

The event was a chance for both men to showcase their bipartisan credentials, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican who shares Mr. Lieberman’s independent streak in a city considered Democratic turf, is trying to help Mr. Lieberman reach Republican and independent voters as the race closes. Mr. Bloomberg emphasized yesterday that he is not laying the groundwork for a 2008 presidential bid.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce @washingtontimes.com.

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