Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Just off the AP wire, the real story on Drudge's bogus <$NoAd$>Philly voter fraud story ...

An army of zealous, partisan political operatives descended on polling locations around the state Tuesday, looking for any signs of voting irregularities, and election officials planned to spend the day investigating fraud allegations.

Republican observers in Philadelphia lodged some of the earliest complaints, claiming that voting machines in the city already had thousands of votes recorded on them when the polls opened at 7 a.m.

City election officials and the district attorney rushed to some of the precincts in question, and quickly said the GOP poll watchers had gotten it wrong.

Deputy City Commissioner Ed Schulgen and Cathie Abookire, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Lynne Abraham, said the observers had pulled the numbers from an odometer that records every vote ever cast on the machine in every election - and not the counter that records how many votes will be counted for this election.

"It's absolutely ridiculous," Schulgen said.

Ridiculous or not, rumors of widespread fraud quickly made their way on to the Internet and circulated nationally.

Of course, it didn't 'make its way' onto the Internet. It was planted there as part of the Republicans' battle plan today. And how surprising that these good souls just happened to misread the machines in the heavily African-American neighborhoods in Philly. Imagine that.

Democracy starts at home.

Catching up with the liars ...

This statement just released by Marge Tartaglione, Philadelphia City Commissioner, the official responsible for overseeing elections in the city.

"Recent press reports have stated that machines in at least one precinct were not properly calibrated to ensure an accurate accounting of the number of votes cast."

"These allegations are completely unsubstantiated and have no factual basis whatsoever."

Like I said, don't fall for the head games.

Before we get started today, a quick election day survival guide.

First, the final polls are trending to Kerry. I'm not just speaking about the public polls, but the private ones -- specifically the Republican ones. Does that mean Kerry will win? No, not necessarily. It's too close for that. But the Bush campaign has a lot of incentives to try to get this one into overtime. And we'll see various bogus stories and funny-business throughout the course of the day.

To start with, for instance, don't rely on right-wing agit-prop sites for your news about alleged instances of 'voter fraud'. Wait till you hear real information from real news outlets.

The GOP is going to be pulling this stuff through the course of the day trying either to use it to ramp up their suppression activities or lay the groundwork for challenges to what some are starting to fear won't be good results. (For more on how that works, see Josh Green's always invaluable expose of the Rove election shenanigans playbook.

Second, exit polls.

Exits come out in a several batches over the course of the day. Democrats, on average, tend to vote later in the day than Republicans. Not always, but that's the pattern, for fairly straightforward demographic reasons. And for that reason their exit poll numbers tend to get better over the course of the day. That was strikingly so in 2000. So if you see less than perfect numbers plastered around in the early afternoon, don't let that rattle you.

As we've been saying, this is all about the ground game. So get out there and vote and do the GOTV work for whomever it is you're supporting, and don't get flustered by any through-the-course-of-the-day mind games.

Federal judge rules South Dakota Republicans and Thune campaign workers must stop trying to intimidate voters on Indian reservations in the state. Specifically, folks from the Thune camp may not write down license plate numbers of Indian voters or follow them home from the polling places.

Speaks for itself.

The excuses begin ...

In tomorrow's Washington Times, Cliff May says that if Bush loses it will be because of "UN manipulation" behind the al Qaqaa story.

That, and of course liberal media bias.

In Michigan, phony phone calls using homophobia to suppress the black vote and others telling people to go to the wrong polling places. And the polling place shenanigans are happening in Ohio too. All according to the Detroit Free Press.

Down, dirty and desperate till the last moment.

Democracy starts at home.

I guess I'm a bit late with this recommendation since tomorrow the polls don't matter anymore, or at least not by early evening. But here's another excellent blog for polling analysis -- especially because it's by a guy who -- unlike most of us who chatter about polls -- actually knows what he's talking about.