A lot of people right now are freaking out over what's going on in Ohio:
A last-minute directive issued by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) could invalidate legal provisional ballots....This directive could be blocked by the courts, though quite possibly not until after Election Day (though before provisional ballots are counted on November 17). But, yeah, it's a big stumbling block for Obama.
The directive, issued Friday, lays out the requirements for submitting a provisional ballot. The directive includes a form which puts the burden on the voter to correctly record the form of ID provided to election officials. Husted also instructed election officials that if the form is not filled out correctly by a voter, the ballot should not be counted....
According to a lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates, this is "contrary to a court decision on provisional ballots a week ago and contrary to statements made by attorneys for Husted at an Oct. 24 court hearing."
Indeed, it also appears directly contrary to Ohio law....
Of course, if you believe the electoral vote map at Talking Points Memo, Obama is on track to win 303 electoral votes -- which means he'd get 285 even without Ohio. That would be a satisfying conclusion to this election on a couple of levels: it would be nice if Husted's vote-suppression efforts were for naught, and it would be amusing if all that effort put into Ohio by both campaigns turned out to be irrelevant.
But let's imagine the worst case: that what Husted is doing works. Would we have a repeat of 2000?
I don't think Republicans would find thievery quite so easy this time. In 2000, Democrats were outlawyered and outpropagandized -- my sense is that Team Obama and the Democrats aren't going to let the former happen this time, and are ready to fight on the latter in a way that Al Gore's Democrats weren't.
The public would feel differently as well. Back then, Republicans' post-Election Day shenanigans benefited a guy Americans didn't know a lot about, but thought was a nice fellow they'd like to have a beer with. Now, they look back and see those shenanigans as the beginning of a horrible eight years. If Democrats and liberals say "Remember 2000," the public will remember 2000 through January 19, 2009. That won't help Romney.
(And nobody likes Romney very much. He seems like a guy who would scheme his way to the presidency. He lends an air of sleaze to the Republicans' doings, in a way that Bush, with his Jesus-'n'-patriotism earnestness, didn't in 2000.)
And if this goes all the way to the Supreme Court, as I'm sure it will? Well, during the Court's health care deliberations, everything I read about John Roberts said that he really, really cares about the reputation of the Court and he really, really thinks Bush v. Gore was a black mark. Me, I still think he's an ideologue and a GOP hack -- but I think he feels he has to parcel the ideology out carefully, in order to preserve his credibility and the credibility of his fellow partisan hacks. He saved the health care law so the Court will have credibility when it guts affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act in the near future -- that's how I think he's approaching this. In any case, I don't think he wants the court to throw another election to a Republican.
And if I'm wrong about that? If Romney does sleaze his way into the White House? I think we're going to have a much angrier group of Democrats in Congress than we did in 2001. I think Harry Reid, in particular, is going to feel particularly emboldened if Mitt Romney -- whom he clearly hates with the fury of a thousand suns -- comes into office under a cloud. I think he and other Democratic leaders will make a moral case for massive resistance to Romney and the GOP. I think they'll fight back. And I think the public will accept that, and much of the public will cheer them on.
In short, I think it will get ugly for Romney right away, and stay that way. Which is a good thing.