Dirty Tricks in Florida
They're starting early
Gordon Sasser first got the feeling that something strange was going on when the telephone pierced the silence of a weekday afternoon at his house on the swampy fringes of Tallahassee, northern Florida.
An automated voice had some surprising news: did he know that he could now cast his presidential vote by phone, and could do so right now, using the keypad? Mr Sasser's suspicion that somebody was trying to trick him into thinking he was casting a vote - presumably so that he wouldn't cast a real one - was far from unique.
James Scruggs, another Tallahassee resident, remembers a similar unease about the young woman who phoned him at home, insistently offering to collect his absentee ballot to ensure its safe delivery.
Then there was the elderly woman who called the local elections office last week to register her husband for an absentee vote. According to office staff, as she hung up she made a point of thanking them: she wouldn't have thought to get in touch about her husband, she said, if it hadn't been for their helpful call the night before, when someone had taken her own details, assuring her that she was now registered and would receive a ballot.
But the elections office makes no such calls.
Not to mention:
The US election officially began in Florida yesterday, as early voting sites opened across the state - though in Duval County, a Republican-run area with a large African-American population, that too is a subject of dispute. Only one early voting site, far from densely populated neighbourhoods, has been made available for the entire county.
"One location for a county of 831 acres - that's the most asinine thing I've ever heard," said the Rev William Bolden, a Jacksonville pastor who is among many to detect a pattern in the controversies.