Strangers on the A Train, Celebrating Obama

Impromptu Victory Party for Obama on the A-Train


A woman called Tamika from 145th St. single-handedly catalyzed a party on the downbound A Train last night. Pretty soon, she had everyone on the train doing shots from the same bottle of lime-flavored vodka and cheering.

New people would get on, and she’d welcome them into the fold.

I love New York!

More photos of the Obama victory celebrations and election day in New York. I’ll be adding new images to these sets as I process them, so be sure to check back later.

Obama Wins, Harlem Celebrates

Obama Wins, Harlem Celebrates

As soon as CNN called the election for Barack Obama, I grabbed my camera and took the A Train to Harlem. Where else would you want to be when America elects its first black president?

When I arrived at W. 125th St. and St. Nicholas Ave, hundreds of people were already celebrating in the streets. The crowd was predominantly black and the median age was about 35–but there were people of all ages, colors, and classes on the street–parents with infants, trade unionists, teenagers, college students.

I’ve never been prouder to be an American and a New Yorker.

See more photos of last nights festivities in my Obama Victory set.

UNITE HERE, There: NC Poll Captain Reports 90-95% Turnout in Precinct

gold-star.thumbnail.jpgExciting report from North Carolina: Christina R. Bowers, captain of Precinct 25 in Charlotte reports that 90-95% of the registered voters in her rolls have cast ballots today.

Congratulations to the voters of Precinct 25 and Bowers’ team.

Thanks to Elana for giving me the news. Just to clarify, Elana’s with UNITE HERE, and Bowers is with the Democratic Party. 

Voters Inexplicably Dropped from Ohio Rolls

Election Protection is getting reports of Ohio voters whose names have mysteriously vanished from the voter rolls:

We are receiving many reports from frustrated Ohio voters who have been inexplicably dropped from the lists of registered voters.

Voters in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) and Franklin County (Columbus) are reporting that:

  • after voting from same address for years, they suddenly have disappeared from the list at polls
  • they received a voter registration card/notice of registration and precinct, as recently as this fall — yet are not on the poll registry
  • they are on the statewide database (DB) but not on the poll registry

Unfortunately, the first two issues occurred repeatedly in 2004 and 2006, but have not been corrected. Cuyahoga County was the scene of various problems with the voter-registration database in recent elections. Experts say these kinds of problems can stem from mischief, programming errors, database corruption or rogue code. Whatever the cause, they disenfranchise legitimate voters and interfere with an efficient, fair and accurate election process.

 Again with Cuyahoga County. It’s not clear from the news bulletin how many reports EP has received 

PA Voters May Be Forced to Cast Provisional Ballots, Despite State Law

pennsylvania-flag.thumbnail.jpgAbove the Law has disturbing news from Pennsylvania. Some voting machines have broken down and voters are casting their votes on paper ballots. According to ATL’s Elie Mystal (link fixed), voters are being told that their emergency votes on paper will be counted as provisional ballots, not as ordinary votes. This is a problem because provisional ballots frequently go uncounted:

But once again, voters are being told that their paper ballot (which they are using because of a machine breakdown) will be counted as provisional instead of regular.

Counting those ballots as provisional is a violation of state election law. As we understand it, all paper ballots should be counted as regular ballots if voters are using them because of a machine breakdown. [ATL]

Counting paper ballots as provisional is a violation of Pennsylvania election law, according to Mystal.

We’ll keep an eye on this story.  It’s possible that poll workers are inadvertently giving out bad information, or that voters are misinterpreting what they’re being told. 

Can any of our legal eagles confirm that it emergency paper ballots must be counted as regular votes in PA if they are used because of broken voting machines?

UNITE Here, There: Battleground North Carolina

north-carolina-election-1.thumbnail.jpgElana called from a car in Charlotte, North Carolina to report that this is shaping up to be a remarkable election day. Union organizers have noticed that they’re not the only ones giving rides to the polls today. People who aren’t affiliated with any campaign are spontaneously stepping up and offering rides.

So far, lines are manageable, perhaps because there has already been such a heavy early voting turnout. Elana says that a lot of her members opted for early voting because they work shifts. 

Photo by Elana Levin: Tamika Miller door-knocking in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina today. 

UNITE HERE!, There: Battleground North Carolina


My good friend Elana Levin is in on the ground in North Carolina with UNITE HERE. Elana and her colleagues in the Change to Win coalition are working hard to close the deal for Barack Obama in this unlikeliest of battleground states:

Never in a million years did I think I’d be spending Election Day 08 in North Carolina with the state a tossup. Though UNITE HERE has deep roots in the state, North Carolina has some of the lowest union density in the country. Yet here I am in North Carolina, "embedded" in an enormous mobilization of union members who are volunteering for Barack Obama, Kay Hagan, Larry Kissell, Bev Perdue and other Democratic candidates. With the Presidential candidates running neck-and-neck here for the first time since Carter, there is nowhere else I’d rather be.

We’ll be checking in with Elana throughout the day. Please help by digging and recommending her diary.

This election is historic in a lot of ways, including the role of organized labor. North Carolina has not historically been heavily unionized state, but Change to Win is making big inroads for Obama here and strengthening alliances with Democratic politicians like Kay Hagan.

Stay tuned.  

Laurie Coleman Sells Insurance?

lauriecoleman.thumbnail.jpgAccording to separate lawsuits filed in Texas and Delaware last week a wealthy Republican donor funneled $75,000 from a Texas oil services company to Sen. Norm Coleman through the insurance company that employs Norm’s wife, Laurie.

The Texas lawsuit asserts that the insurance company did no work for the oil services firm. and that a so-called "consulting" agreement was allegedly just a ruse for shifting money to the Colemans.

In a press release issued Friday, the Hays insurance company acknowledged that the oil services firm is a client but denied that any of the proceeds went to Laurie Coleman. 

According to the lawsuit, the Hays company is not licensed to write insurance in Texas. However, Hays also provides risk consulting services, in addition to writing insurance. 

Everyone agrees that Laurie Coleman has been associated with the Minnesota-based Hays Companies in some capacity since 2006.

Coleman’s financial disclosure forms say that Laurie drew an undisclosed salary from the Hays Companies in 2006 and 2007. 

Coleman and the Hays Company appear to contradict each other about the details of Laurie’s employment. Coleman has stated that Laurie is an employee of Hays. According to Hays Companies, "Laurie Coleman, who is fully and legally licensed to sell insurance in Minnesota, has been an Independent Contractor for Hays Companies since 2006."

This afternoon, I asked a Hays spokesman to confirm that Laurie was not on salary. He told me that the press release "reads for itself." Which implies that Laurie is not an employee, according to Hays Co. 

Minnesota records show that Laurie Coleman obtained her Resident Insurer Producer’s License on October 7, 2006.

Laurie Coleman is 51 years old and reportedly spends a great deal of time in California, pursuing her career as an actress. Coleman has been described in the media as a model, a ballerina, an actress, and an entrepreneur. Search as I might, I could find no mention of Coleman ever being described as an insurance producer, apart from the claims that have emerged in the wake of the lawsuits. 

Laurie Coleman has been aggressively promoting her Blo & Go hands free hair dryer. Available evidence suggests that this is a heavily LA-centric enterprise. The patent for Coleman’s invention is held by a company called Holster, Inc. of Los Angeles. Holster shares an address with Turk Entertainment, Laurie’s talent agency, which also lists Blo & Go as a client.  

It is interesting that the middle aged performer with a growing business would decide just two years ago to become an insurance producer. Coleman does not appear to be licensed to produce insurance in California, or Texas.  

The Hays Company is a privately held insurance company based in Minneapolis. Its president, James C. Hayes of Long Lake, MN has given $33,100 in political contributions since 1999, all but $3400 went to Republicans. Hays has given $7450 to Norm Coleman since 2002. Other Hays executives have also donated significant sums to Coleman and other Republican candidates.