I’ve just stopped by Columbus, Ohio’s 28-E, a precinct in the diverse suburbs east of the city. Most people in the steady lunchtime line were black. Add this to my small pile of anecdotes from Virginia, which has memorably huge lines in Northern Virginia and Richmond. And add something else—the absence of any presence from True the Vote, the independent, conservative, poll-watching organization that grew out of the Tea Party.
Before I got to the polls, True the Vote had an announcement: It was going to have trouble policing Ohio’s Franklin County. In order to watch the polls and potentially challenge voters, you have to either 1) be a member of a major party or 2) get five possible watchers to sign a form saying they can do it. True the Vote filled out the forms, but the Franklin County Board of Elections rejected them, explaining that the documents might have been falsified. True the Vote, predictably, called this “a final, desperate attempt to deny citizens their right to observe elections.”
But Democrats remained sort of worried that the True the Vote crew would show up anyway. The people on the forms didn’t pick up when I called. They didn’t show up in east Columbus. A Democratic poll watcher, Phil Hart, sat sketching a table while a Republican poll watcher, Chris Walsh, was checking his phone. They’d both heard the True the Vote “falsification” rumor and found it amusing. “Wouldn’t that be ironic!” Hart said. Neither of them was challenging any voters.
We’re going to see more paranoia before this ends. I’m listening to Rush Limbaugh as I drive, and he’s informing listeners that a test page put up at Cincinnati.com, a list of early votes that was just written for fun to check the system, is possibly legit. “It has Romney up by 90,000!” Limbaugh said. True the Vote may be wasting the precious time of Tea Partiers who could be getting out the vote. Limbaugh’s at least serving as a distraction.