We’ve seen it a thousand times or more. There’s a close election, a real nailbiter as it comes down to the wire, and the Republican candidate is ahead by a few votes. Then someone looks in a car trunk or a disused closet or behind the nightstand in a local roller-sheet motel, and — mirabile dictu! — there’s a lost ballot box or a McDonald’s takeout bag simply stuffed with ballots! They must be counted! Every vote should count!

Astonishingly enough, those ballots are always easy to count. The circles are uniformly blacked out or the chads fully punched, in distinct contrast to the ones that come directly from the polling place. Even more astonishingly, they’re all for the Democrat; and, purely by coincidence of course, the Democratic Party has lawyers already on site with writs in their briefcases, ready, willing, and able to go to Court to insist that every vote be counted, and every vote counts.

There’s nobody like that on the ground for the Republicans, of course, and calls to the RNC go unanswered or get “sorry, you’re on your own.” Ballot counting proceeds, with solemn sorting into Party-labeled piles, and what do you know?

The Democrat wins.

Every time.

If tea partiers are serious about all this, they need to address it. Poll workers are almost all volunteers, and poll watchers always are. Volunteer, and go and do it. This is something you can do if you’re old or not physically fit — poll workers and watchers get to mostly sit down, and the job mainly involves looking through the rolls for people who don’t remember what precinct they’re in or helping people fill out confusing ballots. It isn’t strenuous. It’s a little more strenuous to be a ballot counter, but not so much so that it requires a body builder.

Those who are a bit more intrepid, but who don’t find themselves able to do phone calling and polling or visiting potential voters, can do some detective work. Find out who has charge of the ballots — who is supposed to collect them from the polling places and transport them to the counters. Learn who they are, where they live, and where they work, and who their friends and assistants are. Then, on election night, follow them around with your cell phone camera at the ready.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to establish chain of custody. If ballots are found, you need to be able to tell where they came from. If ballots are lost, you need to have some idea where to look.

No kidding: This might be dangerous, especially in places with established machine politics but really anywhere you go. When a minion of the Democratic Party shows up with a bag of ballots with the ink still dry, and you offer to identify the smoke-filled room they were manufactured in, it’s going to create dissatisfaction and irritation. Be prepared.

The Republican Party Establishment has shown itself totally unwilling to shift their arses in any way that might resolve the matter, so if anybody’s going to do anything it will have to be tea partiers. The upside is, you might learn something. It would be delightfully different — possibly even <sneer>newsworthy</sneer> — if, just once, the thousand or so previously-unsuspected ballots turned out to be for the Republican, now wouldn’t it?

Nahh. Nevah happen.