Stories by Sarah Kliff

  • Voting Snafus, Afternoon Edition

    By Sarah KliffEarlier today, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida were all in the running to become the problem state of 2012. Where do we stand a few hours later? Pennsylvania has improved and largely dropped off the voting-disaster radar, while Florida and Virginia remain the states to watch. Between those two, it looks like Florida has pulled ahead of Virginia as the most troublesome.  As of 3:30 this afternoon, the Election Protection Hotline had received over 52,000 calls from voters reporting problems. Here's how their voting experts sum up the issues:Florida: This morning, calls trickled in to the Election Protection Hotline from Florida. Now, the Voting Rights Project’s Jon Greenbaum is talking about “massive breakdowns.” In 35 precincts scattered across 15 counties, optical scan machines have gone haywire. At first, poll workers were following the protocol for handling scan ballots: putting them into safe “lock boxes” so that they could be scanned and counted when the...
  • How Sarah Palin Has Helped Pro-Choice Activists

    Sarah Palin is well known for rallying her base, getting social conservatives behind the Republican ticket. But there’s another constituency that she has gotten plenty excited lately: the big pro-choice groups. The Alaska governor and Planned Parenthood have dramatically opposed views on abortion--and that’s exactly what has made her a great uniter for the pro-choice movement....
  • Study: Why Food Is Addictive for Some Women

    Using milkshakes and brain scans, researchers find that some women are genetically predisposed to get less enjoyment from eating and may overeat to compensate.
  • Palin! The Musical

    College campuses have, since 1988, played host to the presidential debates. And those college campuses are traditionally littered with unnecessarily high numbers of a cappella singing groups (more than18,000 students singing at 1,200 campuses, to be precise). So it was only a matter of time before the twain would meet: introducing two presidentially themed, a cappella tunes, "I've Got a Crush on Joe Biden" and "I've Got a Crush on Sarah Palin," courtesy of Washington University's After Dark singing group here at the St. Louis debate site.According to one reporter at the student newspaper here, After Dark found out that they would be performing on the "CBS Early Show" yesterday, wrote their lyrics last night and practiced this morning, before the show went live at 5:30 a.m. Working in a short time frame, they did a pretty admirable job. One particularly choice lyric, from the Palin confessional:...
  • Disaster Relief Still Lags Behind for Kids

    Within hours of hurricane Ike's landfall in Texas, San Antonio officials had compiled precise statistics about their evacuee situation. They knew the city would need to care for 5,303 people (561 of whom had special medical needs) and 642 pets, including a turtle named Nibbles. But there was one key group for which they had no figures: children. "No one knew" how many, says Kate Dischino, a staff member with nonprofit Save the Children, who's been working in the shelters.The oversight is by no means unique to San Antonio; disaster-relief experts say kids are rarely counted in evacuations. It's symptomatic, they say, of a larger problem: three years since Hurricane Katrina there are still no national guidelines for how to protect children in disaster areas. "There are myriad issues with children, from preparedness and recovery to repatriation to communities" that remain unaddressed, says Gregg Lord, a senior policy analyst with the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George...
  • Palm Beach Braces For Second Voting Crisis

    During the 2000 election, Palm Beach, Fla., resident Sandy Blank watched, horrified, as her county became a mess of butterfly ballots, hanging chads, erroneous votes for Pat Buchanan—and a national punch line. (The Onion rechristened the state "Flori-duh.") The voting disaster inspired civic activism: Blank become a Palm Beach poll worker. "I wanted to change things," she says. Instead, six weeks before the presidential election, the situation there is as messy as ever, and a botched primary in late August only underscored the threat of another calamity. In that primary, roughly 3,500 votes went missing; then, after an audit, there were more ballots than voters, which should be impossible. But this is Palm Beach. "It's a crisis of confidence," says Blank, reporting a paltry 3 percent turnout at her polling station.Voting-technology experts say that Palm Beach represents a checklist of how not to run elections. The county—with an assist from the state government—responded to the 2000...
  • Assessing Obama’s Odds in the Show Me State

    Sarah Kliff has been following Joe Biden on his current swing through the Midwest. Here's her dispatch from Missouri:(AP Photo / Charlie Niebergall) ST. LOUIS, Mo.--When it comes to presidential elections, Missouri knows winners. Since 1904, the Show Me State has voted for the eventual president in every contest except 1956. With such a strong track record, it’s not a state you take lightly--as the candidates know all too well. Yesterday, John McCain and Sarah Palin swung through the state, and Joe Biden followed today with appearances at the University of Missouri in Columbia and a suburban high school in St. Louis. Missourians are pretty clued in to their special status, too. “Missouri is a battleground,” Representative Russ Carnahan told Biden's crowd in St. Louis. “We are going to work here like it determines the presidential election, because it does.”Can the Democrats flip Missouri this year? The state has gone Republican in the last two elections, but Democrats say Obama is...
  • The RNC's Youngest Delegate on Palin's Daughter

    By Sarah Kliff At 17, Mike Knopf is the youngest delegate at the Republican National Convention. He's also the same age as Bristol Palin, Gov. Sarah Palin's daughter--revealed yesterday by the McCain campaign to be five months pregnant. "I've known a couple of people who it's happened to, and surprisingly it really isn't that bad," says the high-school senior from Dubuque, Iowa. Below, excerpts on his take on what it means for young conservatives: ...
  • Battle Over Seattle Plastic Bag Tax

    Economist Peter Nickerson, 56, is a proud resident of Seattle, arguably the capital of green America, so it almost goes without saying that he supports aggressive environmental policies. He'd like to see his city make public transit free to reduce vehicle emissions. He wants to ban pesticides in rivers where salmon swim. He's a devoted recycler who even composts his own trash. Surely, then, he must love Seattle's new bag tax? (Starting in 2009, it would require drug, grocery and convenience stores to charge 20 cents per disposable bag.) Actually, Nickerson thinks it's a terrible idea.A tiny tax with big environmental potential would seem like a natural fit for Seattle. Other U.S. cities, such as San Francisco, have banned certain disposable bags; Seattle would be the first to tax them. "We know it won't solve global warming," says Mayor Greg Nickels, "but a small change in behavior can make a big difference." According to a city survey from late 2007, though, 63 percent of...
  • Tickets: Buy, Barter … Beg

    A mid-August lottery for seats to Barack Obama’s Thursday night acceptance speech left many Coloradoans without a seat. But in the spirit of the nominee’s campaign, ticketless supporters haven’t given up hope. Instead, they’ve turned to the Denver Craigslist to buy, barter and beg for tickets. “NEED Obama/Democratic Credential/Ticket-PLEASE!!!” is among the dozens of desperate pleas that have hit the site’s “wanted” page in the past week. Posters range from from a high school student lamenting a lack of connections to a Canadian flying in for the event on the chance of scoring some access. They’re all willing to pay big--the going price seems to be somewhere around $500--and some are willing to barter. One poster last Sunday offered up his two “Daily Show” tickets for a chance to see Michelle Obama speak. So far at least one Obama fan has gotten lucky: Dan Pailas, a life-long Democrat from Boulder, put up a listing in mid-August and, last week, scored a ticket for a mere $75. “The...