When Does “Poll Watching” Become Voter Intimidation

I live in a state (New Hampshire) where it is OK to carry a gun to your polling place. This is WRONG on so many levels. Not the least of which is that some polling places are in school or churches. I vote in a church. The last thing I want to see as I enter a church for any reason is someone carrying a gun.

Do I think that the USA needs some sensible gun laws? yes. BUT- I am also a believer in the 2nd amendment. My family has a long proud history of hunting and I have a number of my immediate family members in law enforcement. I own a rifle. DO I want to see people “patrolling” outside polling places with guns? Out side schools? Churches? This NEVER ends well. Just because it is your RIGHT does not make it a good idea. New Hampshire doesn’t have a helmet law for motorcycles but I still wear my helmet every time I go out.

If you feel that the election is rigged I think you are sadly mistaken. And if it is truly rigged- It’s NOT going to happen at the voting booth. If you are a person who is contemplating “Poll Watching” just take a second and think how you would feel if the roles were reversed. You show up to cast your vote. A number of people who do not LOOK like you, are not part of your same economic group, possibly feel very strongly that you are gaming the system or are out to steal the election are out front. Armed with rifles and side arms. Asking your name as you enter.

How are you going to feel?

Call it what it is. Voter intimidation. Voter suppression.

Can You Carry a Gun to a Polling Place?

Last Saturday in Pennsylvania, after claiming that the election will be rigged as he is wont to do, Donald Trump said:

You’ve got to go out. You’ve got to go out. And you’ve got to get your friends. And you’ve got to get everyone you know. And you got to watch your polling booths, because I hear too many stories about Pennsylvania. Certain areas. I hear too many bad stories, and we can’t lose an election because of you know what I’m talking about.

Last Sunday on CNN, Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani laid it out in case that dog whistle wasn’t sufficiently audible to mere humans:

There are a few places, and not many in swing states … where they have been notorious for stealing votes. Pennsylvania, Chicago. There have been places where a lot of cheating has gone on over the years. … Dead people generally vote for Democrats, rather than Republicans … what they do is, they leave dead people on the rolls, and then they pay people to vote those dead people four, five, six, seven, eight, nine times.
In short, Trump has tasked his supporters to be “election observers” who will keep “Crooked Hillary from rigging this election” by hanging around polling places and protecting the integrity of the vote.

Some of Trump’s supporters appear awfully happy to sign on. This past weekend the Boston Globe spoke to some of them, including Steve Webb, a 61-year-old carpenter from Fairfield, Ohio, who told the Globe, “Trump said to watch your precincts. I’m going to go, for sure … I’ll look for … well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American.” And what will Webb do if he finds any? “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”

What seems like a throwback to the Jim Crow era—visions of armed “poll watchers” scaring voters under the guise of keeping the process clean—suddenly looks to be the nightmare scenario for the 2016 election. And Donald Trump’s insistence, as recently as the third debate, that voting is “rigged” and that he might not accept election results if he loses, only creates more incentive for poll watchers to frighten voters.

What seems like a throwback to the Jim Crow era suddenly looks to be the nightmare scenario for the 2016 election.

Voter intimidation, roughly defined as any concerted effort to coerce the voting behavior of a group of voters, is a federal crime. “Whoever intimidates, threatens, coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other person to vote for, or not to vote for, any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate, Member of the House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, or Resident Commissioner, at any election held solely or in part for the purpose of electing such candidate, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both,” reads 18 U.S. Code Section 594.

So what is legal? Certainly every state allows for volunteer poll watchers, and has a legal right to do so. Almost all poll watchers are volunteers designated by specific candidates, parties, or election officials to monitor procedures and events at voting precincts. They are trained and briefed on the law. But laws vary by state and, according to this report in ProPublica, in 46 states the laws permit private citizens to challenge a voter’s registration on or before Election Day. In Wisconsin, the report adds, “any voter can challenge someone’s ballot based on the suspicion that they are not qualified. The same goes in Virginia, Oregon and South Carolina.”

An expansive report from 2012 by the public policy organization Demos makes clear how much polling challenges can vary. In some states, challenges may only be from other voters registered in that precinct; some must be written; some must be filed only in certain time periods.

A yearslong and meandering lawsuit challenging some poll-watching behaviors was filed by the Democratic National Committee and ended in 1982 with the Republican National Committee signing a consent decree that precludes the party from engaging in so-called ballot security efforts, especially in areas where racial or ethnic makeup could itself be considered a reason for the activities. The RNC tried and failed to have that decree lifted in the courts. Professor Rick Hasen warns that there is at least some problem holding the RNC responsible for the conduct of Trump voters acting without the RNC’s cooperation and consent. Whether a court might find a connection between Trump’s suggestions, the nondenouncement by the RNC, and the actions of Trump supporters at the polls is by no means clear.

As Garrett Epps notes here, three other civil rights statutes, which are largely underused, also protect against racial voter intimidation and bar conspiracies to deny voting rights in various ways. Election lawyers argue that these statutes should be given real force in this election if racially motivated vote suppression happens.

And that brings us, inexorably, to questions about jurisdictions with open carry laws. Does bringing a gun to a polling place in and of itself constitute voter intimidation? What if a poll watcher decides to bring a gun she is otherwise authorized to carry while she is challenging voters? And what if the pistol packer is not actively challenging voters but claims she is merely engaging in peaceful First Amendment speech?

The first part is easy: While some states expressly prohibit guns in the polling place, many more are silent on the question. Restrictions are up to the states. If the statutes regulating firearms and those regulating voting places don’t forbid it, carrying is legal. Individual instances of intimidation would be resolved on a case-by-case basis in the courts, either by injunctions before Election Day or civil rights suits brought after.

The latter scenario is actually trickier, because demonstrating your love for the Second Amendment is unlikely to get you much traction under the first.

Whether carrying a gun to a polling place is protected as an expressive act has not been settled by the courts. But in other contexts, cases from Michigan, Ohio, and a decision from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals all seem to suggest the simple act of carrying a weapon, without some additional expressive component, may not be a protected expression at all. And even if it were, the right to engage in First Amendment activity is, ironically, diminished the closer you get to a voting booth.

Most states prohibit “electioneering” in some form in or near any polling places. Electioneering restrictions can be as narrow as prohibiting advocacy (like wearing buttons or T-shirts) for a candidate or ballot measure and as broad as limiting discussion of partisan topics (Delaware) or attempting to influence the actions of a voter (New Hampshire). Some electioneering restrictions hint at a history of bought votes and voter intimidation—that’s why loitering near the polls is off limits in seven states. Others seem antiquated: like, don’t offer a Montana voter alcohol or tobacco outside the polling place.

All of these restrictions are constitutional. In a 1992 case called Burson v. Freeman, the Supreme Court held that the states have a compelling interest in preventing voter fraud and intimidation, an interest they can protect by limiting political speech in the final moments before a vote is cast. Against this constitutional backdrop, a symbolic speech argument—featuring the demonstration of a love of guns—is unlikely to fare well.

There’s ample legal precedent for considering the polls sacrosanct. How that sanctity affects the right to carry a gun may be a question coming to a court near you in 2017.

It’s useful to recall here that the court in Burson upheld a Tennessee law barring electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place, reasoning that the 15 seconds it took to walk that distance should belong to the voter alone, with as little interference as possible. After this campaign season, 15 seconds of peace before we vote seems like the least we deserve

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You Knew Who Trump Was When You Endorsed Him, Republican Leaders

Source: You Knew Who Trump Was When You Endorsed Him, Republican Leaders | Huffington Post
You knew. You all knew. You knew the whole time who and what Donald Trump is.

Mike Pence. Paul Ryan. Mitch McConnell. Ted Cruz. Chris Christie. Newt Gingrich. Orrin Hatch. John McCain. Marco Rubio. Virtually all of you.

You heard every terrible thing he said. You watched every inexcusable thing he did. You knew Trump is a race-baiting, xenophobic, misogynistic, authoritarian con man. You knew about his insatiable appetite for power, his bottomless need for affirmation, his dangerous impulsiveness and uncontrollable temper. You knew he was a huckster who ruined businesses and lives. You knew he debased your party, and you personally. You knew.

You knew he waged a racist campaign against the president’s legitimacy. You knew he called immigrants rapists. You knew he advocated forbidding Muslims from American soil. You knew he said a federal judge wasn’t qualified because Mexican blood flowed through his veins. You knew he besmirched the parents of a dead soldier. You knew he mocked prisoners of war. You knew he courted white supremacists. You knew he admires dictators. You knew he incited violence. You knew he lies ― blatantly, shamelessly, ceaselessly.

You knew all of that, and you asked Americans to elect him president anyway. Shame on you. You knew.

Your condemnations are and have always been empty. Your sudden rush to abandon Trump ― after what’s merely the most recently uncovered manifestation of his hatred for women ― is motivated by the same venal cowardice that led you to support him in the first place.

You knew Hillary Clinton isn’t the monstrous caricature you spent decades depicting. You knew she is ― like each and every one of you ― an ordinary politician, in all the ways that word has positive and negative connotations. You knew she would govern in a perfectly normal way.

You knew this, but you told voters she was more dangerous than Trump. More evil. A greater threat to the republic. And this, after so many of you spent the presidential primary campaign warning the U.S. that Trump is exactly who he appears to be. But you fell in line. You knew, and you endorsed him anyway.

You spent the last 8 years saying, “NO” to everything the President said. You have blocked every piece of policy. You held the country hostage like spoiled brats who could not get their way.

You did all of this in service of ideology.

Your voters elevated Trump nearly to the White House, and he may yet make it there, in spite of everything. They did so because you have primed them for Trump for more than half a century. Half a century of barely concealed appeals to racism, of fomenting fear and hatred and coaxing the worst instincts out of enough voters to gain power. Years of nurturing ― on AM radio and cable TV and the internet ― a propaganda machine that encourages ignorance, mistrust and anger.

You have lost control of the golem you created.

You made promises you knew you couldn’t keep, and your voters finally lost faith in you. Now, they’re turning on you.

They follow a man who doesn’t even share your beliefs. You’re learning just how little those voters cared about conservatism and how very much they cared about stomping their boots on the throats of people who don’t look like them or love like them or think like them. You made this possible by making villains out of African-Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ people, the poor.

When this is all over, you may win your own re-elections. You may retain control of Congress and of governors mansions, state legislatures, county councils and school boards all across the nation. You may sigh in relief that you survived. You may even ― and not terribly long from now ― regain the presidency and resume carrying out your agenda. Your own careers may be successful.

But history will condemn you. History won’t forget your callowness. Because you knew.

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Funny Obama Memes



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Retrosi, Adolfi Family Origins

A decade ago I was able to reconnect with my family on my fathers side in Italy. Since then I have been over to see them once or twice a year. This really makes me one of the luckiest people in the world. I have my Mother’s side of the family in Sweden next on my list!

My Great Grandfather (my grandfather’s father) Angelo Retrosi immigrated to the USA from, Alatri Italy.

My Grandmother’s father came to the USA from Veroli Italy.

Alatri and Veroli are 2 mountain top towns in the same region about 1/2 way between Rome and Naples. You can look across the valley and see one from the other.

To my Retrosi and Adolfi family- Here are photos from the last couple of trips. If you are ever interested in joining me on a trip, let me know. I am happy to take you.

Photos of Alatri and Veroli


Veroli from Alatri



Alatri from Veroli



Alatri from Cousin Daniele’s House






Stephanie and Michaelina Retrosi


Major Gate of Alatri. Aligned with the rising sun of the summer solstice


Paul, Tony, Sergio, Daniele Retrosi


This Cross was built on a hill outside of Alatri by Family Retrosi. A US Bomber was supposed to drop a bomb on Alatri. One of the bombardiers knew there were no military targets in Alatri and dropped the payload outside of town.

Grapes with Alatri in the background



The Gate of Veroli (SPQV is a Latin phrase Senatus Populous Que Veroli)



Yes- A Car CAN drive up this street


The Cemetery in Veroli’s oldest church


Oldest Church




Cousin Antonio taking photos

Just some random photos

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Donald Trump Is Going To Be Elected

Source: Donald Trump Is Going To Be Elected

Donald Trump is going to be elected president. And we deserve him

The American people voted for him a long time ago.

They voted for him when The History Channel went from showing documentaries about the Second World War to “Pawn Stars” and “Swamp People.”

They voted for him when The Discovery Channel went from showing “Lost Treasures of the Yangtze Valley” to “Naked and Afraid.”

They voted for him when The Learning Channel moved from something you could learn from to “My 600-lb Life.”

They voted for him when CBS went from airing “Harvest of Shame” to airing “Big Brother.”

These networks didn’t make these programming changes by accident. They were responding to what the American people actually wanted. And what they wanted was “Naked and Afraid” and “Duck Dynasty.”

The polls may show that Donald Trump is losing to Hillary Clinton, but don’t you believe those polls. When the AC Nielsen Company selects a new Nielsen family, they disregard the new family’s results for the first three months. The reason: when they feel they are being monitored, people lie about what they are watching. In the first three months, knowing they are being watched, they will tune into PBS. But over time they get tired of pretending. Then it is back to the Kardashians.

The same goes for people who are being asked by pollsters for whom they are voting. They will not say Donald Trump. It is too embarrassing. But the truth is, they like Trump. He is just like their favorite shows on TV.

Mindless entertainment.

Trump’s replacement of Paul Manafort with Breitbart’s Steve Bannon shows that Trump understands how Americans actually think. They think TV. They think ratings. They think entertainment.

We are a TV-based culture. We have been for some time now. The average American spends 5 hours a day, every day, watching TV. After sleep, it is our number one activity.

More shockingly, we spend 8.5 hours a day staring at screens — phones, tablets, computers. And more and more of the content on those devices is also video and TV.

If you spend 5-8 hours a day, every day, for years and years doing the same thing it has an impact on you. For the past 40 years, we have devoted 5-8 hours a day staring at a screen — every day. And we haven’t been watching Judy Woodruff. We have been watching reality TV shows. That is what we love. That is what we resonate to. “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

The French may love food. The Italians may love opera (and Food!). What we love is TV. We are TV culture. It defines who we are. As a frequent  International traveler I spend a great deal of time explaining that what they see on TV about the USA isn’t real. Now, I’m not so sure.

In the 1950s, early television was allowed, with many restrictions, to be an observational guest at political conventions. They were quiet “flies on the wall,” carefully and quietly commentating on what they saw way down below. They did not get involved in the process. Today, they ARE the process. Today, political conventions are nothing but carefully directed TV shows. Likewise “debates.” They exist only to entertain a TV audience. TV and entertainment now dictate everything political. It is a never-ending show. The biggest reality show on air.

And Donald Trump is great TV.

He knows how to entertain.

He understands ratings.

Hillary Clinton is crap TV.

She may be smarter, better prepared, a better politician and possibly the most qualified candidate we have ever seen. It won’t matter. She is terrible entertainment.

That’s just how it is. Depressing, but true.

He is Kim Kardashian. She is Judy Woodruff.

Who gets better ratings?

Who would you rather watch for the next four years?


In 1825, the great French gastronom Brillat de Savarind said, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” Today, in America, we can safely say, “Tell me what you watch, and I will tell you what you are.”

And what do we watch?

It isn’t “PBS NewsHour.”

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My Anniversary

lessons-learnedToday is my Anniversary. It’s been 26 pretty amazing years. I can truthfully say that I love Steph more today than when we were first married. This is going to be a different year as we are now “empty nesters”. I never doubt her love but I wondered- with out kids in the house for the first time in 21 years, would she still like me?


25 years!

In the last 26 years I have learned a lot of lessons. Some of them the hard way. Here are 26 Lessons to share today

1. Marriage will teach you more about yourself than you bargained for. Consider this a gift.

2. Don’t complain about the cooking when your spouse is the cook.

3. When people say marriage is hard, believe them.

4. Never start the day off nagging or complaining.

5. An unwillingness to quarrel about something doesn’t mean you agree with it.

6. Establish early on whether the question “do these pants make me look fat?” is a true yes or no question.

7. Clean is a relative term.

8. Generosity may be the key to all happiness.

9. Admit your shortcomings. They’re obvious anyway.

10. Express gratitude often.


11. Give up all hope of being perfectly understood.

12. Being right will eventually lose its appeal.

13. Be the first to apologize. Really. It’s not as painful as it sounds.

14. It’s idiotic to stay up late arguing about being too tired to have sex.

15. Pay more attention to what you’re doing to make things go badly and pay less attention to what your spouse is doing.

16. If you’re going to complain about something, come to the table with a suggested alternative.

17. Your definition of sexy will change over time. New definition: me cleaning the house.

18. If you want something, recognize and accept that it’s your job to ask for it.

19. Disappointment is inevitable. Life gets a lot easier once you accept this.

20. Sometimes you’re going to do your unfair share. It’s not worth whining about.

21. Forget the nonsense about not going to bed angry. Get some sleep. Chances are things will look different in the morning.

22. There’s no end to how much you can love someone if you let yourself.

23. Accept apologies graciously.

24. Being happily married is not the same as living happily ever after.

25. There are no guaranteed divorce-proofing moves. All any of us can do is be a husband or wife our spouse would be foolish to leave.

26. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you have all the time in the world.


BONUS. “In love” pales in comparison to love


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I wasn’t Ready

It seems like yesterday I moved into my first Dorm at UNH. Jill was across the hall and Catherine was next-door, Christine was down the hall a bit. I was the only guy in that wing of the dorm that first semester. The first thing the women that lived in that wing did was take down the sign that said “Women’s” bathroom and put up “Co-ed”. MUCH APPRECIATED!

Today we became empty nesters. I AM NOT READY! Our oldest is in her last year at the University and we dropped off our youngest there a few hours ago. He was so excited setting up his dorm room. Then could not wait to go and meet people. So confident. I am proud.


I dropped him off and drove home. I went up and looked in his room. It’s been his room for the past 17 years. I remember every paint job, every bed, every poster. Now it is full of ghosts and memories. How many times did I carry him up to bed? How many times did I bust him reading with a flash light? How many times did I step on a lego when I went in because he had a nightmare? I’d give anything to do it all again. I sat on his bed, looked at the awards on the walls, the bibs from his races, I remember each one. I am not worried about him or his solder sister. I know they will be fine. I just miss them.

So yeah, I am having a harder time than I though I would. Since 1995 I have been a Dad with kids to take care of. I know it will get easier. I know that this is what is supposed to happen. I know this is because I did my job as a parent. But it still sucks.


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