The GOP War on Voting
September 3, 2011 6:43 AM   Subscribe

The GOP War on Voting

"Republicans have long tried to drive Democratic voters away from the polls. ``I don't want everybody to vote,'' the influential conservative activist Paul Weyrich told a gathering of evangelical leaders in 1980. ``As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.'' But since the 2010 election, thanks to a conservative advocacy group founded by Weyrich, the GOP's effort to disrupt voting rights has been more widespread and effective than ever. In a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council – and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states introduced legislation this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process...

"To hear Republicans tell it, they are waging a virtuous campaign to crack down on rampant voter fraud... After taking power, the Bush administration declared war on voter fraud, making it a ``top priority'' for federal prosecutors. In 2006, the Justice Department fired two U.S. attorneys who refused to pursue trumped-up cases of voter fraud in New Mexico and Washington, and Karl Rove called illegal voting ``an enormous and growing problem.''...

"A major probe by the Justice Department between 2002 and 2007 failed to prosecute a single person for going to the polls and impersonating an eligible voter, which the anti-fraud laws are supposedly designed to stop. Out of the 300 million votes cast in that period, federal prosecutors convicted only 86 people for voter fraud – and many of the cases involved immigrants and former felons who were simply unaware of their ineligibility. A much-hyped investigation in Wisconsin, meanwhile, led to the prosecution of only .0007 percent of the local electorate for alleged voter fraud...

"The real problem in American elections is not the myth of voter fraud, but how few people actually participate. Even in 2008, which saw the highest voter turnout in four decades, fewer than two-thirds of eligible voters went to the polls. And according to a study by MIT, 9 million voters were denied an opportunity to cast ballots that year because of problems with their voter registration (13 percent), long lines at the polls (11 percent), uncertainty about the location of their polling place (nine percent) or lack of proper ID (seven percent).

"Come Election Day 2012, such problems will only be exacerbated by the flood of new laws implemented by Republicans.
posted by Blazecock Pileon (263 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
Here in Maine, we're fighting back. (self-link)
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 6:50 AM on September 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


This seems pertinent.
posted by Max Power at 6:52 AM on September 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


"The real problem in American elections is not the myth of voter fraud, but how few people actually participate.

This is not the real problem.

Our situation will not be improved by having more people vote for Kodos.
posted by Trurl at 6:54 AM on September 3, 2011 [21 favorites]


I have a simple solution to America's political mess (not that simple solutions are ever that simple). Mandatory voting by law.
posted by thebestusernameever at 6:55 AM on September 3, 2011 [16 favorites]


Oh yeah, and turn voting days into full national holidays. I don't understand all these patriotic holidays, when the most patriotic thing to do is to participate in the republic by voting!
posted by thebestusernameever at 6:57 AM on September 3, 2011 [101 favorites]


It suits the Tea Party, apparently.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:59 AM on September 3, 2011


Vote Scorched Earth. It's the only way.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:01 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Makes me wanna holler.
posted by cashman at 7:04 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I maintain my same opinion on the issue.
posted by Riki tiki at 7:04 AM on September 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


Mandatory voting by law.

Fix a broken system by requiring everyone to participate in it?

What is this: health care insurance?
posted by Trurl at 7:05 AM on September 3, 2011 [15 favorites]


The way to fix this problem is to fix finance reform. Everyone gets public money and maybe capped contributions from individuals. No corporations. Then it is in the interests of all politicians to get as many actual humans interested in them as possible.
posted by DU at 7:09 AM on September 3, 2011 [22 favorites]


Mandatory voting by law would actually improve things slightly, as it would prevent extremists from hijacking low-turnout elections. But in general we have three major institutional problems (at least):

* malapportionment in both the House and the Senate that shifts representation away from the places where people actually live towards mostly empty land in the interior of the country
* the Senate, which in addition to the malapportionment problem also has a series of built-in gridlock machines that prevent all hope of passing good legistlation
* a presidential governmental system that increasingly has a parliamentary political parties, resulting in an opposition party that has both the desire and the opportunity to sabotage the governing party and prevent them from accomplishing anything.

It's stunning that with those three built-in institutional advantages the right-wing STILL needs to cheat to win.
posted by gerryblog at 7:10 AM on September 3, 2011 [25 favorites]


The most blatant plan: move unregistered voters from their states and relocate them in Washington, DC where nobody gets to vote. "Taxation Without Representation" as the Washington, D.C. license plate says.
posted by noaccident at 7:12 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Only registered voters get to financially influence elections and only those elections they can vote in.

Not that campaign finance reform is possible. Our betters won't allow it.
posted by warbaby at 7:13 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why do we vote on a single Tueday when most of the population has to work? A country interested hearing the voice of democracy would vote for a week or more, with mandatory paid time off to go vote, thus ensuring that everyone's voice is heard.
Then again, a country interested hearing the voice of democracy wouldn't allow private corporations to maintain control of the electronic voting infastructure and shield its workings and results behind propritary software.

Pretty clear what kind of democracy we live in.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:17 AM on September 3, 2011 [47 favorites]


Fix a broken system by requiring everyone to participate in it?

What is this: health care insurance?


The whole problem is that campaign money is used primarily for voter turn-out and voter suppression (negative ads). How would the use of corporate money change everyone voted? Would more or less money get pumped into the system if there was less effectiveness to those dollars?

Right now parties just talk to their base and ignore everyone else. Would candidates actually have to inform the general public? Maybe not, but to me that is an interesting possibility. And no, voting is not the same as health care, but requiring everyone to vote would be a true public option for sure.
posted by thebestusernameever at 7:21 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a simple solution to America's political mess (not that simple solutions are ever that simple). Mandatory voting by law.


I think we're quite lucky in Australia with mandatory voting, them having convince us not just to vote for them, but to actually go and vote - yech, I couldn't stand that.
posted by the noob at 7:21 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]



It's the right wing religionist version of Democracy in America
posted by notreally at 7:22 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


As long as we're tossing suggestions out there...I want the primaries to be completely funded by the political parties, and not by tax money.

We don't have open primaries here in Indiana. You have to declare for one party and can only vote on that party's ticket. This makes the primary a party function and, thus, should be fully-funded by the parties.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:24 AM on September 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is something which has been going on for ages. Look at the purging of voter rolls a few years ago using fuzzy matching of names and addresses rather than requiring an exact match. The Republicans will do any dirty trick in the book they can imagine to keep people from voting.

Rachel Maddow has been covering this issue for months.

Sadly, I'm not sure the disinfection power of sunlight can prevent these laws from being passed and enacted. At some point we're going to find there are thronging masses pushing for their rights, and things will get ugly.

Sometimes I think that day can't come soon enough.
posted by hippybear at 7:25 AM on September 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


I think we're quite lucky in Australia with mandatory voting, them having convince us not just to vote for them, but to actually go and vote - yech, I couldn't stand that.

Australia was exactly what I had in mind in suggesting mandatory voting. I'm sure it is not perfect, but certainly avoids some huge problems.
posted by thebestusernameever at 7:25 AM on September 3, 2011


Mandatory voting by law.

Really? What's to prevent me from writing in "Mickey Mouse" on every ballot? Or will they check my ballots now, see that I've decided to circumvent their law, and throw me in jail?

This really isn't an option.
posted by King Bee at 7:27 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's to prevent me from writing in "Mickey Mouse" on every ballot?

What's to prevent you from doing that now?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:28 AM on September 3, 2011 [33 favorites]


Nothing, but there isn't a law on the books that says I need to go to place X on day Y and write something down or I'll get fined/remprimanded/arrested.
posted by King Bee at 7:31 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


This really isn't an option.

Of course it's an option. It's not even a pie-in-the-sky fantasy; it works fine in Australia. It won't solve all the problems (see my post above!) but it would solve the problem of extremist fringes dominating a partial electorate.
posted by gerryblog at 7:31 AM on September 3, 2011 [17 favorites]


Well during the last presidential election I heard from a lady whose daughter had moved to Hawail and neglected to move her voter registration.


Yup, someone here voted under her name during the election. I doubt very seriously the gal flew back one day from the islands to cast her ballot. And no, we don't ask for voter ID here. I used to be a poll judge and all people have to do is state their address. If you don't personally know who lives at that address you are up crap creek....and not only that, but because of early voting people could go to the board of elections to vote and they sure as heck can't put a face to an address.


Then AFTER the election the board of elections did a massive purge of the voter list, cleaning up problems. Hmm.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:32 AM on September 3, 2011


Well during the last presidential election I heard

Well that's all the proof of a systematic problem I need.
posted by gerryblog at 7:33 AM on September 3, 2011 [40 favorites]


This seems pertinent.
posted by Max Power at 6:52 AM on September 3 [1 favorite +] [!]


It's always interesting to see the historical criticisms that Oligarchy-practicing city-states had for Athenian democracy, because they-

Wait, WHAT?!

Ohhhh, right, The Onion, god bless that beloved satirical institution, I mean for an American political writer to want to deny suffrage based on a lack of wealth, thus repealing a reform of the Jackson Administration would be-

Excuse me? Come again? That was real? Like, seriously, really real?

. . .I think I need to lie down.
posted by Ndwright at 7:34 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Nothing, but there isn't a law on the books that says I need to go to place X on day Y and write something down or I'll get fined/remprimanded/arrested.

I still don't understand. What is it about mandatory voting that will prevent you from writing in a candidate?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:34 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


We don't have open primaries here in Indiana. You have to declare for one party and can only vote on that party's ticket.

I'm increasingly becoming convinced that the "open primary, top two move on to the main election" is really a Republican strategy to stack the tickets in their favor. It's long been known that the rabid conservatives are the ones who turn out in the largest numbers for primary voting. With that being the case, it's easy for the Democratic candidates to be driven off the main election ticket entirely. It's an unfair system and needs to be changed.

But then, I'd be all for overhauling the system in general to allow for proportional representation, so I may not be the best person to ask about these matters.
posted by hippybear at 7:34 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yup, someone here voted under her name during the election.

I'd need better evidence for this happening than mere rumor.
posted by hippybear at 7:35 AM on September 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Well that's all the proof of a systematic problem I need."

Well, that's all the proof of an inability to know the difference between "systematic" and "systemic" that I need.
posted by tomswift at 7:36 AM on September 3, 2011


Really? What's to prevent me from writing in "Mickey Mouse" on every ballot? Or will they check my ballots now, see that I've decided to circumvent their law, and throw me in jail?

Here is Australia's "throw em in jail" solution for not voting:

http://www.aec.gov.au/faqs/voting_australia.htm#202

Because it is a regressive fine (A$20-A$50), it actually would make it easier for more affluent people not to vote. I would say that giving the poor extra incentive to participate in democracy is a very good thing for them.
posted by thebestusernameever at 7:36 AM on September 3, 2011


What is it about mandatory voting that will prevent you from writing in a candidate?

If it's perfectly acceptable to hand in a "joke" vote or a blank ballot, why have mandatory voting at all?
posted by King Bee at 7:36 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, that's all the proof of an inability to know the difference between "systematic" and "systemic" that I need.

My kingdom for a ten-second edit window, tomswift. I noticed that one second after hitting the button.
posted by gerryblog at 7:37 AM on September 3, 2011


Then AFTER the election the board of elections did a massive purge of the voter list

And that's odd, because most voter list purging happens BEFORE an election, usually using fuzzy logic rules to remove people from the polling lists who have names similar to (but who are not) felons who have had their voting rights removed.

It's a pretty standard tactic, has been going on for many election cycles. Odd that exactly where you live does it differently.

I'll need better evidence for it.
posted by hippybear at 7:37 AM on September 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Here we have mail-in ballots, easy registration and a two week voting period. We still have crap candidates and campaigns that bear no relation to reality.

And I have held my hand two different ballots mailed to the same voter this recent primary, one at her home address and one at a PO box.

As long as there is McDonalds and reality TV, the voters will be pacified. And there is always the exemplary violence against the underclass to deter any activism. Step this way to the free speech zone.
posted by warbaby at 7:37 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I doubt very seriously the gal flew back one day from the islands to cast her ballot. And no, we don't ask for voter ID here.

When I was still registered in NH, I did exactly that -- timed trips back home around important events, like family gatherings and voting day. They don't require ID in NH either, thank the various gods.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:37 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


King Bee, (1) proposals for mandatory voting typically include a requirement for a "none of the above" option as well (2) there are two hundred million voters in this country and most of them are going to take the civic responsibility seriously. The noise of a few people writing in Mickey Mouse isn't going to break the system.
posted by gerryblog at 7:38 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


If it's perfectly acceptable to hand in a "joke" vote or a blank ballot, why have mandatory voting at all?

I guess I still don't see much of a connection between mandatory voting and restrictions on who you can vote for. One could ask why have voting at all, whether mandatory or voluntary, when it is already acceptable to write in a "joke" candidate.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:40 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


If it's perfectly acceptable to hand in a "joke" vote or a blank ballot, why have mandatory voting at all?

Because simply having the legal compulsion in place will result in a higher quality reflection of the electoral results wished by the populace in general. Those who cast joke or blank ballots don't give a fuck, but that's an acceptable segment of the populace and they have their voice in the form of their jokes or their blank ballots.
posted by hippybear at 7:41 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


If it's perfectly acceptable to hand in a "joke" vote or a blank ballot, why have mandatory voting at all?

The point is that you have to go to the polls or send in something on a write in ballot. I am sure that Mickey Mouse will receive additional support, but my guess is that when push comes to shove, most people will vote for actual candidates.

The idea that people are stupid and irrational is not compatible with democracy in general.
posted by thebestusernameever at 7:41 AM on September 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yup, someone here voted under her name during the election.

And, she knows this how? Did she review the poll records looking for her daughter's name for some wild reason?

I'm sorry, but this really sounds like yet another "real world corruption" story that conservatives love to repeat ad-nauseum without any actual proof this actually happened. Like "Welfare Cadillac".
posted by Thorzdad at 7:48 AM on September 3, 2011 [32 favorites]


Hippybear, the mother of the woman in question called me directly (my husband was actively involved in the topic, don't want to get more specific than that for personal reasons.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:48 AM on September 3, 2011


My refusal to participate in American "democracy" is an act of political speech.

Don't infringe me, bro.
posted by Trurl at 7:48 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


proposals for mandatory voting typically include a requirement for a "none of the above" option as well

Isn't not showing up tantamount to showing up and filling in "none of the above"? Why does there need to be another law?

What I think should happen is that employers should be forced to allow their employees to vote if they want to. A lot of polling places have hours that coincide with people's workdays, and they actually can't go vote without risking being fired. More affluent people don't have this problem, obviously. Maybe everyone should get paid half-days on election days or something. I don't know.

Blazecock, you're saying that it is a good thing to have a law saying everyone has to show up to a specific place on a specific day and do something with a piece of paper. It doesn't even really matter what they do with it, they just have to be there to do it. I don't get it.

The idea that people are stupid and irrational is not compatible with democracy in general.

That's unfortunate, because a good number of us have those qualities.
posted by King Bee at 7:48 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


My wife was turned away from the polls on the day of the Senate recall election in our district due to a (DMV) mistake on her driver's license. The kicker being Wisconsin's Voter ID law doesn't take effect until next year. I called the "Voter Protection Hotline" and there was a poll watcher waiting for her on her second attempt, she was allowed to vote the second time around despite refusing to allow the poll worker to take her D/L. This could start getting ugly.
posted by MikeMc at 7:49 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


And fwiw having been a poll judge I know how easy it would be to commit voter fraud that way. I have lived in another state where you were required to produce a voter id card and was stunned it was not the case here.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:49 AM on September 3, 2011


Isn't not showing up tantamount to showing up and filling in "none of the above"? Why does there need to be another law?

Well, one difference is what happens if none of the above wins.
posted by gerryblog at 7:50 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


One last comment here and I'm done-in any case where there was a question whether or not a voter was qualified to vote we would always allow them to vote a provisional ballot, which is what should have happened with mikemc's wife.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:50 AM on September 3, 2011


Well, one difference is what happens if none of the above wins.

I actually hadn't considered that. That would be fantastic!
posted by King Bee at 7:51 AM on September 3, 2011


malapportionment in both the House and the Senate that shifts representation away from the places where people actually live towards mostly empty land in the interior of the country

I get the Senate, but how is the House malapportioned? It is based on population. There is, of course, a reason for the way things are done. In a broken system though, that reason doesn't really matter much anymore. The House is supposed to be the chamber that is most responsive to the whims of the electorate, what with re-election every two years and the Senate, not so much (re-election every six years).
posted by IvoShandor at 7:53 AM on September 3, 2011


Well during the last presidential election I heard from a lady whose daughter had moved to Hawail and neglected to move her voter registration.


Sounds like the usual GOP apocryphal scare story to me. Add in Hawai'i to make it sound like and even bigger slacker scam, probably run by the Kenyan anti-colonialist faction of the Obama Conspiracy.

The whole problem with the Tea Bagger mind is its susceptibility to pure stories that sound outrageous and impossible but hit all the right buttons. Heck, it's the whole problem with religion, now that I think about it.

What crap. Even if it happens occasionally, which I do not concede, it's a trivial effect compared to the thousands of votes that Voted ID laws (etc) will suppress.

What we all know is that Tea Party right wing ideology is false consciousness, stewed with racism, authoritarianism, bigotry and theocratic impulses, and foisted on the ignorant by corporate shills who are laughing all the way to the bailed out bank.
posted by spitbull at 7:54 AM on September 3, 2011 [22 favorites]


Australia was exactly what I had in mind in suggesting mandatory voting. I'm sure it is not perfect, but certainly avoids some huge problems.

Mandatory voting is only a very small piece of the puzzle. Before you can get such wonderful things like a centre-left party calling a lot of the shots you need to have the infrastructure in place for the 15% of hard liberal voters to have their voice heard and reflected in the representation.

The thing is, in Australia we do have a right wing and centre-right wing parties fighting it out for executive control. But we usually have a large minority of the population voting for hard centre-left and it keeps the bastards in line.

Until America gets some form of better PR or at least preferential voting so that truly liberal candidates can strike out in liberal districts (the five bay area counties, Santa Cruz, DC, Portland, Seattle along with college towns like Ann Arbor and Chapel Hill) the political landscape is going to stagnate and fester between this ever sliding rightward combination of right and centre-right garbage that currently defines the US political system.
posted by Talez at 7:54 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hippybear, the mother of the woman in question called me directly (my husband was actively involved in the topic, don't want to get more specific than that for personal reasons.)

I'm sorry, I'm still not believing it. How does the mother of the woman in question even know that someone else voted under her daughter's name? You can't walk into a polling place and ask "has this person voted yet", even if you're related to them.

The whole story smells, and unless there is a real trail of evidence, I'm not going to believe any of it.
posted by hippybear at 7:54 AM on September 3, 2011 [25 favorites]


Ivoshandor, it's not based purely on population: every state has a minimum one of one, and there's a maximum of 435, so there's still a distorting skew towards underpopulated and rural states.

If you had a 1000 reps places like California, Texas, and New York would have significantly more representation.
posted by gerryblog at 7:55 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I bet it will be less than 10 years before your credits affects your ability to vote. It won't be direct, but it will be a requirement of a requirement, like not being able to get a driver's license without insurance because you don't have a good score.
posted by notion at 7:56 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Blazecock, you're saying that it is a good thing to have a law saying everyone has to show up to a specific place on a specific day and do something with a piece of paper.

Actually, I don't have an opinion on mandatory voting, one way or the other. I think it is worth exploring the pros and cons of this and other ideas, however, given what the GOP is actively doing to disenfranchise millions of voters.

I just don't see the logical connection you are making between being compelled to show up a ballot station, and a requirement that says you have to pick from government-mandated A, B or C. Therefore, I don't see this as a downside.

That said, would you be slightly more comfortable with the idea of mandatory voting if there was an option to choose no name from the ballot, as well as the option to write in a candidate of your choice?

Other than having to physically show up (or have someone put an envelope in a mailbox containing your ballot form) would this allay the concern you expressed?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:59 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why do we vote on a single Tueday when most of the population has to work?

I used to think that, too. But when I lived in Texas there was early voting where in my county you could vote at the grocery store and other places around town before work, after work, weekends, etc. You didn't need to know which precinct you were in. It was about as easy as it could get. But voter participation was not any higher than the average in places which had voting only on election day.

I would be in favor of mandatory voting if a "none of the above" was listed for candidates. None of the above gets >50% of the vote and there's a do-over.
posted by birdherder at 7:59 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


When the southern states were controlled by the Democrats, they too warred against potenial voters: the Blacks.
posted by Postroad at 7:59 AM on September 3, 2011


Well during the last presidential election I heard from a lady whose daughter had moved to Hawail and neglected to move her voter registration.


First of all, I'm with hippybear on this one. Secondly the right in the U.S. would have 9 million people denied the right to vote so they can play the justice card and trumpet the .0007 of the electorate that was prosecuted for voter fraud as if they were protecting precious democracy. It's anti-democratic behavior, no matter how many anecdotes are found to defend the practice. If I had my way these idiots would be bundled up in rugs and shipped to Lagos.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:00 AM on September 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


Ivoshandor, it's not based purely on population: every state has a minimum one of one, and there's a maximum of 435, so there's still a distorting skew towards underpopulated and rural states.


OK, I see where you're coming from. But the people of Wyoming and Alaska deserve to have a say at the national level. They are states, not territories.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:02 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Other than having to physically show up (or have someone put an envelope in a mailbox containing your ballot form) would this allay the concern you expressed?

Well, first of all, I think we probably need fewer laws in general, not more of them. That's a whole other discussion.

What gerryblog mentioned above (what if NOTA wins) is a lot different from just not showing up, and I hadn't thought of that situation. If everyone who didn't vote now did vote and filled in NOTA, that is decidedly different from only having 40% voter turnout. That actually sends a better message to the people in power than not voting does.

However, I still don't think you should have a law saying I need to go do that. If they kept the system the same but added the NOTA option to every ballot, that would be preferable to a law saying I have to show up and fill that in. You would probably get greater voter turnout from that as well, and you wouldn't be upsetting anyone who still decides not to exercise their right to vote.
posted by King Bee at 8:04 AM on September 3, 2011


When the southern states were controlled by the Democrats, they too warred against potenial voters: the Blacks.

Yeah Postroad then the Southern Dems joined the Republican party and are warring against who now? Oh yeah "the blacks," Mexicans too, anyone who is not a real American.
posted by Max Power at 8:05 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


But the people of Wyoming and Alaska deserve to have a say at the national level.

They would! But the effect of skewing representation towards arbitrary state boundaries as opposed to population has almost exclusively negative effects on U.S. policy. I really don't see why a person living in (say) Wyoming deserves twice the influence of a person living someplace else; such a setup would seem obviously illegitimate if we were starting from scratch today. And in the Senate (obviously) it's much worse; California would have 12 Senators if the Senate were apportioned purely on the basis of population, and they'd likely each be among the 12 leftmost Senators in the body.
posted by gerryblog at 8:07 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


And fwiw having been a poll judge I know how easy it would be to commit voter fraud that way.

An analysis of more than 250 claims of "voter fraud" that were used as an argument to pass Indiana's voter ID law revealed not a single fraudulent vote where the voter ID law would have prevented it.

None. Zero. Not. A. Single. One.

I'm sorry if you're disappointed that "I knew a person who saw something happen and because I was there I think it could be true" isn't exactly the same level of evidence to an example like that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:08 AM on September 3, 2011 [51 favorites]


But the people of Wyoming and Alaska deserve to have a say at the national level.

Like Delaware and Rhode Island every American state gets two Senators - same as California and New York and Texas. Small states with small populations are grossly over-represented at the national level; quite clearly the wisdom of the founding fathers mocks modern representative democracy.
posted by three blind mice at 8:09 AM on September 3, 2011


I spent most of yesterday with my jaw hanging open at this article: Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American
posted by dfan at 8:09 AM on September 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Small states with small populations are grossly over-represented at the national level; quite clearly the wisdom of the founding fathers mocks modern representative democracy.

Constitutional amendment time then. That's the only way to change this. If Senators would behave in the best interest of the nation this wouldn't be as big of a problem as you see it to be. I still think the system isn't as bad as it's made out to be, it's the players in the system that are the problem, and substantially increasing the number or decreasing the number of either chamber isn't going to fix that. 12 Senators from California? Great.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:15 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You could fix the House just by statute, I believe, but Article V forbids depriving any state of equal representation in the Senate. (So you'd have to change Article V first, then change the Senate, which isn't necessarily legitimate; it's an amendment paradox.)

In any event there are enough states that benefit from malapportionment that that change would never be ratified. We'll need an entirely new Constitution -- which is a pretty obviously opening Pandora's Box, though I'm feeling lately like the system is broken sufficiently badly for the risk to be worth it.
posted by gerryblog at 8:19 AM on September 3, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: "What's to prevent you from doing that now?"

I wrote in Noam Chomsky for county sheriff when the one Republican candidate was running unopposed.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:32 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You could fix the House just by statute, I believe, but Article V forbids depriving any state of equal representation in the Senate. (So you'd have to change Article V first, then change the Senate, which isn't necessarily legitimate; it's an amendment paradox.)

I'm marginally sure the Constitution lays out that each state must have at least one House member. (It's been awhile since I have read Article One word for word). So I believe any changes in apportionment for either chamber would require amendment. But you're right, nothing like that will ever happen. I don't agree with you on the scrap the whole thing idea though. But I suppose we can just let that one go by the wayside.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:38 AM on September 3, 2011


the mother of the woman in question called me directly

Why didn't the person whose vote was actually supposedly stolen call in? Why was it her mom?

Maybe I just come from a screwed-up family, but that sounds to me like a mom snooping in her kid's business and causing trouble based on inadequate information. Or, based on my five-second googling, sounds like the mom voted under her kid's name and wanted to make sure it couldn't get caught.

Also, can't we do mail-in ballots here in NC? Mystery solved!

Any registered North Carolina voter can request an absentee ballot from his/her respective county board of elections no later than the last Tuesday before the election. To request an absentee ballot, voters or a near relative* may send a letter or note to the county board of elections [...] *A near relative is a: spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild. The Relative Request should also include the relative's name, address, phone number, and relationship to the voter.
posted by winna at 8:42 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think that's true, but the one minimum is only bad when the number of reps is also sufficiently low; if you added a few hundred representatives the one minimum would be irrelevant, and I think the number of reps is defined by statute.
posted by gerryblog at 8:42 AM on September 3, 2011


I think you meant Article I (Article V deals with amendments methinks), but I won't hold that against you either
posted by IvoShandor at 8:43 AM on September 3, 2011


Naw, I was right about that.
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
posted by gerryblog at 8:44 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that's true, but the one minimum is only bad when the number of reps is also sufficiently low; if you added a few hundred representatives the one minimum would be irrelevant, and I think the number of reps is defined by statute.

So I was looking at the Constitution again, because of this discussion: The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made

One for every 30,000. I want this 10,000 member House. Right. Now. This would make C-Span infinitely more entertaining.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:46 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Every citizen a representative!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:47 AM on September 3, 2011


Ivoshandor, it's not based purely on population: every state has a minimum one of one, and there's a maximum of 435, so there's still a distorting skew towards underpopulated and rural states.

That's just not true. If you look at Wikipedia's list of population per house seat for each state, you'll see the least-represented states (the states with the fewest Representatives covering the most people) are not high-population areas at all. They are: Montana, Utah, Delaware, Nevada, and South Dakota. Texas shows up as the 7th least-represented, but New York and California are both far better than average in representation. If anything, it seems to skew toward higher population areas, but there doesn't really seem to be a consistant skew at all, just a bunch of rounding errors.
posted by scottreynen at 8:48 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Phantom Menace proved a body that size works flawlessly.
posted by gerryblog at 8:48 AM on September 3, 2011


In Texas, under "emergency" legislation passed by the GOP-dominated legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Perry, a concealed-weapon permit is considered an acceptable ID but a student ID is not.

Ho-lee crap. Texas, this is why everyone makes fun of you.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:54 AM on September 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


scottreynen, that's a great resource, and you're right that the errors in the House are much weirder than I thought. California's actually doing a little better than the national average in the House, which really surprises me; New York too. I wonder what the final +/- tally comes down to with respect to party bonus. Scanning the chart, I think you're right that the House malapportionment may be slightly to the Democrats' benefit, but it's hard to say.
posted by gerryblog at 8:56 AM on September 3, 2011


I would vote for Sheriff Chomsky.
posted by Trurl at 9:07 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yup, someone here voted under her name during the election. I doubt very seriously the gal flew back one day from the islands to cast her ballot. And no, we don't ask for voter ID here. I used to be a poll judge and all people have to do is state their address. If you don't personally know who lives at that address you are up crap creek....and not only that, but because of early voting people could go to the board of elections to vote and they sure as heck can't put a face to an address.

Then AFTER the election the board of elections did a massive purge of the voter list, cleaning up problems. Hmm.


Hmmm, what? "Hmmm" maybe TWO or THREE people magically were able to vote when they shouldn't have. BIG DEAL. General elections have never ever been won by a vote or two. You'd need on the order of a couple hundred for local, and thousand for state, to make any kind of dent on the results.

Quick, which do you think is going to have a bigger impact on an election: preventing AT MOST a handful of fraudulent votes, or denying voting rights to over 200,000 students by denying them the use of their student ID as a valid ID for voting?
posted by Deathalicious at 9:18 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


You know, I've never seen any serious academic discussions about voting systems where the representatives ultimate vote was scaled between say 1 and 2, depending upon voter turnout and/or margin of victory.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:21 AM on September 3, 2011


The bottom line is fraud will remain rare as long as there is such low participation. It will always be safer and easier to convince a few non-voters to vote than to commit fraud. That is what ACORN was doing, and that's why they had to go down.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:23 AM on September 3, 2011


That's just not true. If you look at Wikipedia's list of population per house seat for each state, you'll see the least-represented states (the states with the fewest Representatives covering the most people) are not high-population areas at all.

You've got it completely backwards. California is listed as having 702,905 people per house seat. Wyoming is listed as having 563,626. Let's use lower numbers so it's easier to picture: if I, a representative in CA, had 10 people in my district and you, a rep in WY, had 1 person in your district, whose population would have more influence in Congress? California voters have a 1/702,905 vote each, whereas voters in Wyoming have 1/563,626. Wyoming voters have a much higher influence per person.

And the reason we have a limit on representatives was due to an act of Congress in 1929. It could be removed tomorrow with another simple act of Congress and we'd actually have proportional representation in the body of congress that was designed to have proportional representation.
posted by one_bean at 9:32 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmmm, what? "Hmmm" maybe TWO or THREE people magically were able to vote when they shouldn't have.

2 or 3 people? Are you serious? Because I'm from Chicago and its a hell of a lot more than a couple of people who's votes are getting counted even though those people are dead or do not exist. I honestly do not see what requiring ID to vote has to do with denying the right to vote to anybody. Anyone who supports that argument is acting as a shill for the groups that are committing voter fraud. There is no reason that counts against requiring ID at the polls to verify one is who one says they are. Both Democrats and Republicans have exploited the system in this manner for years. Of course, in Chicago, its always the Democrats. I am also not impressed with Rolling Stone as a source for objective journalism.
posted by midnightscout at 9:34 AM on September 3, 2011


Population per house seat is largest in Montana; that's because Montana has 989,000 people, which is almost, but not quite, enough people to have two seats. Similarly it's smallest in Rhode Island, which has 1,053,000 people, which is just barely enough to have two seats.

How house seats are alotted. The method is chosen specifically to minimize the differences in the size of the congressional districts.

Hypothetically, if there were states that were much smaller in population than an "average" congressional district then these states would be the most overrepresented. But the average congressional district is around 700,000 people; the state with the smallest population is Wyoming, which has 564K. As of right now, there are no such states, although there were in the past. For example in 1870 the average population of a congressional district was (38,555,983)/(292) = 132,041; Nevada has 42,941 people at the time, so was in some sense only "entitled" to one-third of a representative, but got one, not zero.

(I think those that are saying that apportionment benefits small states are thinking of the Electoral College, which does benefit small states, because every state gets two electors to start out with regardless of its population.)
posted by madcaptenor at 9:35 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Right, one_bean, but you go to the bottom of the chart you see the national average should be 709,760. California's not doing as well as WY, but it's slightly beating the average.
posted by gerryblog at 9:36 AM on September 3, 2011


Welcome to the modern installment of the Southern Strategy.
posted by Freen at 9:37 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


2 or 3 people? Are you serious? Because I'm from Chicago and its a hell of a lot more than a couple of people who's votes are getting counted even though those people are dead or do not exist.

Prove it?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:39 AM on September 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


Yup, someone here voted under her name during the election. I doubt very seriously the gal flew back one day from the islands to cast her ballot.

Absentee ballot.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:42 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


midnightscout: How do you know? Where is the proof? If you know, don't you think some republican would have at least brought a lawsuit? Where are those lawsuits?

Enfranchisement is very similar to the idea of innocence untill proven guilty. To quote John Adams:

"It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, "whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection," and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever."


I feel it's more important that more citizens can vote than that there are some cases of voter fraud. We will catch the fraudulent eventually. Disenfranchisement is a cancer of the body politic.
posted by Freen at 9:44 AM on September 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


a concealed-weapon permit is considered an acceptable ID but a student ID is not.

I know everyone likes to get all "hurf durf Texas" around here, but if you think about this a minute it makes sense. Concealed weapons permits are issued by the state government (in Texas, anyway). There's only one issuer of those permits per state, so it's not hard to train someone on what they're supposed to look like.

Student IDs aren't, at least not necessarily. It might be different if they said "student IDs issued by state universities meeting [x,y,z] criteria" are acceptable, but it would be pretty silly to just accept any "student ID."

Fun story: a few years ago a friend of mine cranked out some bogus student IDs using a corporate badge printer, using a plausible-sounding but nonetheless nonexistent "University" name, in order to get cheap drinks and movie tickets. Worked every time. (And then there greyer situations like the very-much-real but completely unaccredited, close-cover-before-striking "Universities" whose main criteria for admission and thus issuance of an ID is whether your check clears.)

So if you were going to accept student IDs as an acceptable form of identification for non-trivial purposes, you'd need to think about how you were going to validate them, probably against some sort of list of actual schools, with information on what a legitimate ID from each one looked like. That's a much thornier problem than just adding an additional kind of bona fide government-issued identification onto the list of acceptable documents.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:50 AM on September 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


I honestly do not see what requiring ID to vote has to do with denying the right to vote to anybody.

How are the IDs issued and obtained? Are they official state-issued IDs? How much does it cost to get one? How difficult is it to get to the issuing agency? What are the wait times like at the issuing agency when you arrive to apply for the official ID? Once the ID is approved, how does the person receive it?

It's easy to see that someone who is poor, working multiple jobs, doesn't have a private vehicle, doesn't have a lot of time to spend, or may not have a reliable location where they receive mail could be disenfranchised by a system which doesn't issue easily obtained, free, short wait time, and non-mailed IDs.

If you still can't see how requiring an ID to vote may not disenfranchise someone after reading what I've written, then your problems lie with your own inability to understand the plight of others less fortunate than you and the obstacles they face in life rather than your inability to understand how a law may be unfair.
posted by hippybear at 9:50 AM on September 3, 2011 [29 favorites]


2 or 3 people? Are you serious? Because I'm from Chicago and its a hell of a lot more than a couple of people who's votes are getting counted even though those people are dead or do not exist.

Old stereotypes die hard. I'm from Chicago too, bang bang!

Plus with Fitzgerald sniffing around Chicago for years now, don't you think he would have found evidence of voter fraud?

If you look at the Illinois Republican party, Joe Walsh, for example, you'll understand why Republicans have no traction in the County of Cook.
posted by Max Power at 9:51 AM on September 3, 2011


grrr "If you still can't see how requiring an ID to vote may not disenfranchise..."
posted by hippybear at 9:53 AM on September 3, 2011


I honestly do not see what requiring ID to vote has to do with denying the right to vote to anybody.

How are the IDs issued and obtained? Are they official state-issued IDs? How much does it cost to get one? How difficult is it to get to the issuing agency? What are the wait times like at the issuing agency when you arrive to apply for the official ID? Once the ID is approved, how does the person receive it?


And consider Wisconsin, which recently passed a voter ID law and then tried to close down DMVs (where you get your ID) in traditional democratic districts while extending the hours at DMVs in traditional Repub districts.
posted by Max Power at 9:54 AM on September 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


You literally have a year and a half to go down to the DMV and pay what was in my home state a $10 fee for an ID if you don't have a drivers' license. If the right to vote is important to you, none of these regulations are going to stop you. You know who they'll stop? People who feel culturally motivated to vote or guilted into voting by their friends but who otherwise have no interest in the political system or are not interested in voting.

I always say that it's more responsible to stay home on election day if you are uninformed than it is to go vote, and those who aren't following the election are the ones who are going to be stopped by these laws because they simply don't care enough.

This is a far cry from a poll tax or a literacy test.
posted by unknownmosquito at 10:00 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You literally have a year and a half to go down to the DMV and pay what was in my home state a $10 fee for an ID if you don't have a drivers' license.

It's not a poll tax, it's just money you have to pay if you want to vote!
posted by absalom at 10:03 AM on September 3, 2011 [66 favorites]


Trurl: Fix a broken system by requiring everyone to participate in it?

All systems are broken, even democratic ones. If you're boycotting voting, and trying to convince others to do the same, because of some problem, well, you will never be rid of those problems. Democracy isn't about perfect solutions, it's about finding out what we as a nation want to do in a fair way. For all the problems with our system, it is still a fact that if enough people voted one way, things could change.

Throwing up your hands and whining because it isn't good enough for you is part of the problem, not the solution!
posted by JHarris at 10:05 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I remember when Clinton getting elected, my mom grumbling about MTV's "Rock The Vote" campaign, like 'those darn kids' ruined everything.

What the hell.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:05 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not a poll tax, it's just money you have to pay if you want to vote!

Exactly. Living on a very tight budget fixed income? Maybe you have SSI and all you monthly check is spoken for by rent and medications and food? Well, fuck you. You don't get to vote because you don't have the money to pay to ensure you have that right.

Not a poll tax, indeed.
posted by hippybear at 10:06 AM on September 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Fun story: a few years ago a friend of mine cranked out some bogus student IDs using a corporate badge printer, using a plausible-sounding but nonetheless nonexistent "University" name, in order to get cheap drinks and movie tickets. Worked every time.

I don't see how this is any more of a significant problem than my friend freshman year who cranked out fake drivers licenses on his computer (they were New Jersey licenses, the real thing of which were, at the time (2002ish), basically laminated paper - NJ may have stepped it up since then). "Dana N. Smith" bought 18-year-old me many, many bottles of wine coolers and malt beverages at the grocery store and hard stuff at the local liquor store. I am obviously not advocating for fake IDs, just noting that you can fake state IDs just like you can fake student ones.
posted by naoko at 10:08 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a far cry from a poll tax or a literacy test.

why is it so hard for people to understand this? if you are working a job that docks your paycheck when you miss hours, and dont have your own transportation but still have to get all the way across town, then yes, this kind of requirement is a fucking hardship. it doesn't mean the voter doesn't care enough, ffs. what an unbelievably ignorant and privileged statement, ugh.
posted by elizardbits at 10:08 AM on September 3, 2011 [30 favorites]


It's easy to see that someone who is poor, working multiple jobs, doesn't have a private vehicle, doesn't have a lot of time to spend, or may not have a reliable location where they receive mail could be disenfranchised by a system which doesn't issue easily obtained, free, short wait time, and non-mailed IDs.

With all due respect Hippybear, it's also kinda easy to see that someone who is poor, working multiple jobs, doesn't have a private vehicle, doesn't have a lot of time to spend, or may or may not have a reliable location where they receive mail is already unlikely to be voting in the first place.

Voting is a chore, much like obtaining an ID and a lot of the people you describe who are unlikely to obtain an ID are also unlikely to vote in the first place.

It is wrong to disenfranchise anyone in a Democracy, but it seems to me that this is rather a lot of hysteria about something that for all practical purposes isn't gonna change the situation on the first Tuesday in November very much at all.

Moreover, the biggest problem seems to me that Democrats focus on the molehills whilst ignoring the mountain. Republicans disenfranchise Democrats by simply refusing to accept the legitimacy of election results. Obama won an legitimate election, but the Republicans act as though he did not. They refuse accept the results of any election where they do not win.

In theory, perhaps a voter ID law would make it more difficult for Republicans to dismiss the results of elections on the grounds that they could possibly be illegitimate.
posted by three blind mice at 10:14 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not saying I disagree with the premise of the article, but this sentence

To hear Republicans tell it, they are waging a virtuous campaign to crack down on rampant voter fraud – a curious position for a party that managed to seize control of the White House in 2000 despite having lost the popular vote.

is a total non-sequitur. The U.S. electoral college system is specifically designed so that the national popular vote does not decide presidential elections. What possible contradiction is there between someone who accepts the results of that system and that same person wanting to oppose voter fraud?
posted by Dasein at 10:16 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


gerryblog said: "I wonder what the final +/- tally comes down to with respect to party bonus. Scanning the chart, I think you're right that the House malapportionment may be slightly to the Democrats' benefit, but it's hard to say."

Because I am bored, I am going to tackle this question.

Specifically: consider the 108th Congress (elected 2002). In that year California elected 33 Democrats and 20 Republicans to the House. Now, in that year, California had 33,871,648 people; the fifty states had 280,849,847 people, for an average of (280,849,847)/(435) = 645,632 per congressional district. So California was entitled to (33,871,648)/(645,632) = 52.46 House members. (Yes, I know that rounds to 52.) So if we could mash up Congresscritters into a fluid and apportion them exactly evenly, we guess that California would have elected (33/53)*(52.46) = 32.67 Democrats and (20/53)*(52.46) = 19.80 Republicans.

We can do this calculation for every state, and add up the number of Democrats and Republicans. We get 205.73 Democrats and 229.27 Republicans. The actual composition of the House at the beginning of the 108th Congress was 206 Democrats and 229 Republicans.

In general, the direction of the rounding error in apportionment isn't related to the size of the state, so we expect the errors to cancel out in general. I'd be surprised to see as much as a one-seat swing because of this.

I'm using the 108th Congress because it's the first Congress elected under the apportionment from the 2000 census, in order to minimize worries that the populations of states drifted with time.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:20 AM on September 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


With all due respect Hippybear, it's also kinda easy to see that someone who is poor, working multiple jobs, doesn't have a private vehicle, doesn't have a lot of time to spend, or may or may not have a reliable location where they receive mail is already unlikely to be voting in the first place.

That's bullshit, and I'll need you to provide evidence before I believe that your elitist views reflect reality. Just because they aren't likely to vote doesn't mean they shouldn't have the right to vote, and you know it. Or maybe you don't. Perhaps you don't think the poor should be allowed to vote, because they're somehow less informed or something.

And anyway, voting isn't a chore everywhere. Both WA and OR have 100% mail-in balloting, so you don't even have to leave your house if you're a registered voter. I'm sure they aren't the only two states which have that, at least as an option.

Either you believe that being a citizen in the US entitles you to the right to vote or you don't. If you believe there should be hurdles to having voting rights aside from being a citizen, at least be up-front with those beliefs. But stop pretending that voter ID laws are anything other than disenfranchisement of certain groups of people. Because that's all they are.
posted by hippybear at 10:21 AM on September 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


well, the next election stolen won't be fair and saqure.
I think that is honest.
posted by clavdivs at 10:25 AM on September 3, 2011


Quick, which do you think is going to have a bigger impact on an election: preventing AT MOST a handful of fraudulent votes, or denying voting rights to over 200,000 students by denying them the use of their student ID as a valid ID for voting?

The problem with liberals is their inability to think big when it comes to voter fraud. Individually sneaking into the polls to vote in place of your out-of-town friend just doesn't scale like hacking the Diebold machines at all.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:29 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hippybear you are still looking at molehills. As long as Republicans can dismiss valid elections that they loose using excuses like voter fraud, making it easier for Democrats to win ain't gonna get you the results you want.

And please stop with the "elitist" bullshit just because I have a different point of view.
posted by three blind mice at 10:31 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem with liberals is their inability to think big when it comes to voter fraud.

Right, but it isn't the liberals who are putting forward these voter ID bills to try to get them passed. It's the folks who are most likely to perpetrate other forms of voter fraud and election stealing who are trying to disenfranchise as many people as possible in order to keep from having to exert their more underhanded, big-dreaming forms of election fraud which are more likely to get discovered.

Just like it's the same folks who went for the fuzzy rules to remove people from voter rolls if their names were even vaguely similar to those on the felon list. How many Democratically-controlled places did that happen in?

It's always the party of "small government" who wants the government to be so large that it can restrict behavior and prohibit citizens from exercising their rights.
posted by hippybear at 10:34 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


And please stop with the "elitist" bullshit just because I have a different point of view.

If you feel uncomfortable with being called an elitist because your attitude is that people who have a more difficult lot in life are less likely to exercise their rights as citizens and therefore we shouldn't worry about placing more hurdles in the way of said exercise, I suggest it's your attitudes which need changing and not my word usage.
posted by hippybear at 10:35 AM on September 3, 2011 [26 favorites]


And please stop with the "elitist" bullshit just because I have a different point of view.

It's an elitist point of view.
posted by rollbiz at 10:36 AM on September 3, 2011 [17 favorites]


I wonder why more effort isn't being made to help people get ids since they are needed for tons of things as it is.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:39 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


... the mother of the woman in question called me directly ...

So you reported this to the authorities, right? Because that's a serious crime, and if it really happened it deserves investigation.

it's also kinda easy to see that someone who is poor, working multiple jobs, doesn't have a private vehicle, doesn't have a lot of time to spend, or may or may not have a reliable location where they receive mail is already unlikely to be voting in the first place.

So clearly adding one more impediment is ok, then? I don't see where you're going with this. If voter fraud were an actual problem, then it would be worth pursuing. But when the federal government, after actually looking for voter fraud, can't find any, why do you think the Republicans are looking for "solutions" to a nonexistent problem? The only logical reason I can think of is that they think it will have an effect on low-income Democratic voters.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:41 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder why more effort isn't being made to help people get ids since they are needed for tons of things as it is.

Ask ACORN .. no wait! Ummm.....
posted by Max Power at 10:42 AM on September 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


I wonder why more effort isn't being made to help people get ids since they are needed for tons of things as it is.

Yes, I wonder why the Republican bills don't do more to encourage the poor to get identification.

Hmmmmm....
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:42 AM on September 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


I wonder why more effort isn't being made to help people get ids since they are needed for tons of things as it is.

Well, there was an organization that did that, but some guy in a ridiculous pimp outfit slandered them out of existence.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:43 AM on September 3, 2011 [29 favorites]


Fun story: a few years ago a friend of mine cranked out some bogus student IDs using a corporate badge printer, using a plausible-sounding but nonetheless nonexistent "University" name, in order to get cheap drinks and movie tickets.

Students will be voting in the precincts containing their colleges. Poll workers are likely to reject an ID claiming to be from Joe Blow U, if they are well aware that there is no such institution in their precinct.
posted by BrashTech at 10:44 AM on September 3, 2011


Anybody who wants to reduce election fraud should support auditable voting machines with fully disclosed software. Otherwise it is mere posturing, with a wink at least toward disenfranchisement.
posted by yesster at 10:46 AM on September 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


I wonder why more effort isn't being made to help people get ids since they are needed for tons of things as it is.

Yes, that's exactly what should happen, but as pointed out above, there have been active efforts to prevent this.
posted by gaspode at 10:47 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I live further away than Hawaii and I vote in every election. It's called an absentee ballot.
posted by ukdanae at 10:48 AM on September 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


A lot gets made of MeFi's $5 barrier to entry. It's almost universally seen as a positive in the community, because it's amazingly effective in keeping the riff raff out. It's not that drive-by trolls can't afford the $5, it's that adding monetary barriers to entry makes people question whether the whole process is worth their time.

A $10 fee (or whatever) to vote serves the exact same purpose, and the GOP knows it. Anyone can afford 10 bucks if they really want to, but for many people it's one hurdle too many.

Advocating in favor of something like this is essentially saying that you don't want the riff raff to join in the political process.
posted by auto-correct at 11:00 AM on September 3, 2011 [20 favorites]


I spent most of yesterday with my jaw hanging open at this article: Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American

Registering the Wealthy to Vote is Un-American
posted by homunculus at 11:04 AM on September 3, 2011


Anyone can afford 10 bucks if they really want to

I know we're ultimately on the same side of this, but I must pick at a point: Anyone who thinks anyone can afford 10 bucks hasn't ever experienced being so poor that at least in the short term, ten bucks seems to be as unrealistically obtainable as ten thousand bucks. They also aren't factoring the bucks you stand to lose by missing at least a couple hours of work (if you're fortunate enough to have work), or the bucks it costs you to get to the RMV and back.

But beyond that, it's a more than zero dollar cost placed on voting, and I just cannot see how that's not a poll tax.
posted by rollbiz at 11:07 AM on September 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


A lot gets made of MeFi's $5 barrier to entry...

You realize that MeFi doesn't have the ability to levy taxes and apportion social services, right? And that MeFi can't materially affect the livelihoods of those that could not or did not pay the $5 fee.
posted by FreelanceBureaucrat at 11:07 AM on September 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


In response to King Bee's bizarre response to mandatory voting, above, which he sums up as:
If it's perfectly acceptable to hand in a "joke" vote or a blank ballot, why have mandatory voting at all?

Why the heck do you think people would be punished for writing in joke names? Do you really think that if everyone were required to vote, that everyone who doesn't vote now would enter a joke name? Most don't vote because of difficulty, time or apathy, not because of Trurl's bizarre "political speech by not speaking" idea.

Indeed your feared scenario would effectively require an editor to stand and judge everyone's vote for validity, destroying the anonymity of voting, which would require much more drastic changes to our voting system than just making everyone show up to pull the lever.

How on earth did you get this notion in your head, King Bee?
posted by JHarris at 11:07 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, this is totally irrelevant, but I'm really puzzled at the story about the lady who said someone voted under her kid's name.

I don't know if this is the case in other states, but in NC you can go to the NC State Board of Elections and look up someone's full election history and their polling station with just their name, birthday and county.

That's why I tend to assume it was the mom being nosy and seeing if her kid voted, because lord knows if my mom were at all political she would do stuff like that. And if the kid flew in to vote, but didn't go see her mother, I could completely see that causing all kinds of family drama.
posted by winna at 11:11 AM on September 3, 2011


Let's say lots of people did hand in joke votes. That would be useful information.

Personally I think it should be possible to cast a vote for "none of the above". I'm not sure what the threshold should be, but if "none of the above" does well enough that should trigger something unusual happening.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:14 AM on September 3, 2011


I don't know if this is the case in other states, but in NC you can go to the NC State Board of Elections and look up someone's full election history and their polling station with just their name, birthday and county.

It's public information here in MA, I can look it up using any of the voter database tools available to various campaigns I've worked on.

Still doesn't indicate anything more nefarious than "St. Alia and/or mom in question don't understand absentee ballots", though.
posted by rollbiz at 11:15 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The war on voting is a proxy war; this is merely an extension of the war on the poor and marginalized, the aim of which is to push them into de jure second-class citizen status. Y'know, like the good old days.
posted by clockzero at 11:17 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been trying to help someone get a copy of heir birth certificate because there's a database mismatch regarding her birth year. She is having a terrible time because she has an expired Oregon state ID. She can't get a copy of her Louisiana birth certificate with the expired I'D. She can't renew her OR ID without proof of citizenship (aka a birth certificate)! Add mental illness and alcoholism to make it even more challenging and we've spent at least 6 months trying to get basic identity documents!
posted by vespabelle at 11:18 AM on September 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure what the threshold should be, but if "none of the above" does well enough that should trigger something unusual happening.

It already does. For example, unopposed races are monitored by both parties to see how many people voted for someone other than the one candidate. If you ran unopposed and only got say, 70% of the vote, that's probably going to trigger a challenge the next time around.
posted by rollbiz at 11:18 AM on September 3, 2011


I'm sorry, I'm still not believing it. How does the mother of the woman in question even know that someone else voted under her daughter's name? You can't walk into a polling place and ask "has this person voted yet", even if you're related to them.

In my state, it would be very easy if they were registered in the same precinct and had the same last name. When you go to vote, you sign in on an alphabetical list of registered voters, and you can see if family members have already signed in then. The names are printed upside down but if it's the same name it's pretty damned obvious.
posted by dilettante at 11:20 AM on September 3, 2011


it's also kinda easy to see that someone who is poor, working multiple jobs, doesn't have a private vehicle, doesn't have a lot of time to spend, or may or may not have a reliable location where they receive mail is already unlikely to be voting in the first place.

It's also kinda easy to see that that person needs to exercise their right to vote more than you or I do.

Both WA and OR have 100% mail-in balloting, so you don't even have to leave your house if you're a registered voter. I'm sure they aren't the only two states which have that, at least as an option.

As a Washington voter I find this infuriating for a variety of reasons. Can anyone tell me how the homeless are supposed to vote?
posted by The Hamms Bear at 11:32 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Empower MA was/is asking people to show ID whether it's requested or not.

If anyone needs a laugh, this is just a short clip from a full video that was pulled from YouTube but that I would KILL to get my hands on again. Just get through the 15 second electioneering thing at the start, and comedy gold awaits you.

That was easy...!...The way it should be...
posted by rollbiz at 11:33 AM on September 3, 2011


Yup, someone here voted under her name during the election.

And, she knows this how? Did she review the poll records looking for her daughter's name for some wild reason?


In some locations it's as simple as looking at the register when you go to the polls. In the town where my parents live, the voter registry is organized alphabetically. Whenever they go to vote, they have to sign in next to their names. And every time they vote, they see my name listed below theirs in the book. If someone had voted under my name, they'd have to sign in, and my parents would notice - they call me every year to tell me that I'm still registered to vote in NJ, despite the fact that I haven't lived there in over a decade.

Now, I'm not saying that voter fraud is rampant; in fact, I happen to believe that it's extremely rare. But I do want to say that St Alia's story is possible given my own family's personal experience.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 11:35 AM on September 3, 2011


Compulsory reading: Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult
posted by peacay at 11:35 AM on September 3, 2011 [17 favorites]


On preview, what dilettante said.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 11:36 AM on September 3, 2011


Right wingers spend a whole lot of time worrying about what's possible. Beats the heck out of worrying about what's actual 9 ways to sunday.
posted by spitbull at 11:38 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


this is just a short clip from a full video that was pulled from YouTube but that I would KILL to get my hands on again.

Found the full video on Facebook... :)
posted by rollbiz at 11:40 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really wonder why we need representative democracy at all anymore..I'd be happy to vote on every single bill that comes through the legislature, and hell I'd even read most of em.

Representative democracy is from a time when it was impractical to get to town, and it ain't anymore.

I've never, ever seen a single person in congress (or anywhere else) who even comes close to representing me.

Make a site ten times more secure than Amazon or other top-tier internet businesses, one person per social security number, where we can just log on with the morning coffee and TCOB, since the menagerie of fuckheads currently in office can't seem to do it.

I'll never vote for anyone ever again, since doing so makes me an accessory to their crimes.
posted by chronkite at 11:50 AM on September 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Yup, someone here voted under her name during the election."

so here's what I do during elections: I sit by my phone literally all day, with a 40-page handbook, waiting for a poll watcher from my party -- there's one from each major party at EVERY polling station in the county, who sit there all day and wait to do nothing but pounce on perceived or real irregularities -- and when a poll watcher calls back to the party HQ, they call out to their network of election-day lawyers (like me), who race out to the precinct in question, handbook in hand, and deal with issues EXACTLY LIKE THIS at THAT EXACT SECOND. Up to and including calling the state election commission, the AG, or even the state supreme court if the issues are serious enough.

So either this is imaginary, or you have the laziest party on the planet, since even the minority party here can manage to staff around 100 precincts with watchers and bring up enough lawyers to cover the irregularities. Because otherwise it would have been documented and dealt with or the lawsuit would have been brought literally immediately. County party HQ has a PHONE BANK of lawyers with election law experience who can file a motion within an hour. (I am just a lowly field rat.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:56 AM on September 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


I'll never vote for anyone ever again, since doing so makes me an accessory to their crimes.

Acquiescence does not absolve you.
posted by Max Power at 11:58 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


So pick one crime to support, the robbery or the murder.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:04 PM on September 3, 2011


Repeating what I said here. America has become a land of "legal corruption".

Politicians don't steal votes; they pass laws that make it difficult to vote.

Corporations always pay their taxes, after they have laws passed that keep them from having to pay too much.

Polluters don't break the law; they have laws passed that let them pollute.

How to stop this? Get the goddamned money out of politics.

So here we go, another 1-2 years of consternation over Tea Party nutcases; GOP fear mongers; Democrats playing "holier-than-thou" - accompanied by "last man standing politics". All bought and paid for by powerful interested who grease the palms of state, local, and federal legislators.

Funny, we have watchdog websites that show us how much certain politicians take in donations from various interests, and how they votes relative to those contributions, but we tolerate this "hand in the cookie jar" approach to our Democracy, anyway.
posted by Vibrissae at 12:05 PM on September 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


Both WA and OR have 100% mail-in balloting, so you don't even have to leave your house if you're a registered voter. I'm sure they aren't the only two states which have that, at least as an option.

The fact that it is 100% is awful. A few years ago, a younger me actually wanted to go out to the polls, and local news outlets were reporting similar feelings from other residents. I filled out my ballot at home, got in my car and tried to drive down to the school I'd voted at the previous election thinking it'd be a hub for ballots, only to find it empty.

I ended up driving to the auditor's office where I was told they were accepting ballots on-site, but when I got there, there was no signage and the office was locked. Thankfully enough people were milling about just as confused as I was, and we dumped them into the mail slot.

I hope that's what we were supposed to do. I appreciate having the option to mail it in, but I don't think it should be the only way.
posted by june made him a gemini at 12:10 PM on September 3, 2011


In WA it isn't the only way. There are postage-free drop-off points available in a lot of places, all easily local to the voting populace. Where I live, it's at the public library and at city hall.

I'm not sure about where you live, but where I live (and surrounding areas, probably the entire state) it's about making voting as easy as possible, not about creating barriers.
posted by hippybear at 12:15 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't not showing up tantamount to showing up and filling in "none of the above"? Why does there need to be another law?

Making it mandatory to vote would essentially turn voting from an opt-in system to an opt-out system. If the default option is not showing up, like it is now, then more people are going to abstain from voting just because it is the default. If the default becomes casting a ballot, however, as it would be if a law were passed, then it is likely that more people will vote. As you pointed out, people who wanted to abstain could still do so, in the form of either joke votes or voting "none of the above," so this gain in voter participation would come without abridging anyone's right to protest through non-voting. One of the clearest examples of this phenomenon is organ donation.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:35 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Registering them [the Poor] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country -- which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.

What bothers me the most is the fact that Matthew Vadem feels comfortable enough to write this. This is more evidence that the "Conservative" Right Wing is not afraid to push even farther to the Right than we ever imagined 20 years ago. "Encouraging every citizen to vote is un-American" is as jaw-dropping an idea as "Lets abolish the minimum wage" and "Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional" and "If you own a refrigerator you are not poor."

We are living through some dark, dark times. The Right has become a rabid beast that won't satisfied until this country has been torn to shreds and left bloody and dying.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:40 PM on September 3, 2011 [29 favorites]


Yes, mandatory voting, and a mandatory paid voting holiday. Let people vote none of the above if they hate all the candidates, fine by me!

A few years ago I would have been sympathetic to the "oh noes, my freedom not to vote!" argument, but the the Republican vote suppression schemes changed my mind. Clearly, if we want to make sure everyone can vote, then we have to eliminate the ways that voting can be suppressed by interested parties. Mandatory voting would help, a lot. A Voting Day holiday would help even more. Voting should not be a fringe activity engaged in only by old people and overly-earnest types. It should be something everyone does as a matter of course. Even if they only do it to register their dislike of everyone that's running.

There will still be voter suppression of course; I would predict a proposal by Republicans that anyone on welfare be forbidden to vote, or anyone on disability, or what have you. But it would be harder to pull off.

And seriously, if you want to live in a democracy and aren't having your vote suppressed but can't be arsed to get off your ass and vote once in a while? Don't expect me to respect that.
posted by emjaybee at 12:43 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


We are living through some dark, dark times. The Right has become a rabid beast that won't satisfied until this country has been torn to shreds and left bloody and dying.

We better start compromising more.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:52 PM on September 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


We are living through some dark, dark times.

Pfft. This is blazing mid-day sunlight compared to what awaits us under President Perry and the new Republican majority in the Senate and House.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:57 PM on September 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is blazing mid-day sunlight compared to what awaits us under President Perry and the new Republican majority in the Senate and House.

He'll declare Year Zero, and then it'll all be familiar yet horribly unfamiliar.
posted by hippybear at 1:02 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


My only opposition to mandatory voting is that it is one more way to "scarlet letter" the legally disenfranchised.
posted by yesster at 1:15 PM on September 3, 2011


Mandatory voting by law.

Would have to be coupled with the option to vote for "None of the Above". And if None of the Above won, then you'd have to hold he election over again with a whole new slate of candidates.
posted by squalor at 1:26 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Registering them [the Poor] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country -- which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.
What bothers me the most is the fact that Matthew Vadem feels comfortable enough to write this. This is more evidence that the "Conservative" Right Wing is not afraid to push even farther to the Right than we ever imagined 20 years ago. "Encouraging every citizen to vote is un-American" is as jaw-dropping an idea as "Lets abolish the minimum wage" and "Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional" and "If you own a refrigerator you are not poor."
We are living through some dark, dark times. The Right has become a rabid beast that won't satisfied until this country has been torn to shreds and left bloody and dying.


Pretty much agreed, except what bothers me the very most is that while Vadum is just ("just") saying that poor people shouldn't be encouraged to vote, almost every single one of the comments (at least until the Wonkette crowd starts to come in) goes even further and suggests that people who don't property should actually be barred from voting (a few of them are generous enough to make an exception for active-duty military). Just an extra layer of wtf.
posted by naoko at 1:38 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Still doesn't indicate anything more nefarious than "St. Alia and/or mom in question don't understand absentee ballots", though.

My husband is on the local Board of Elections now. I think we understand them.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:52 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is it about the conservatives that makes them think "hey, someone somewhere might be getting away with something! Quick! Disenfranchise thousands!" "look that welfare recipient has a TV! We gotta destroy the system to stop leeches like this"
posted by Ad hominem at 1:55 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


And let me make it quite plain I WANT everyone to be able to vote. As a former poll judge it was my job to do what it took to make sure that everyone who wished to cast a ballot could do so, and if there was a question we gave them a provisional ballot. The right to vote is precious.

In my perfect world at the very least everyone would have a voter registration card to show, to protect the right of THEIR vote being cast by THEM. I am telling you that sometimes that does not happen. And frankly don't you thing that voter fraud could be carried out by anyone, regardless of political party?

I don't want the Republicans keeping anyone from voting but I also don't want the Dems condemning rational ways to make sure that every vote is legal. The fact they whine so much makes me wonder about them. Regardless I think there really should be a movement to make getting legitimate ID easier for the poor, the disabled, and the elderly. They need ID and not just for voting.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:57 PM on September 3, 2011


And frankly don't you thing that voter fraud could be carried out by anyone, regardless of political party?

Yeah, if it were actually a real problem and not the imaginary bogeyman that many, many, many people and sources in this thread have made abundantly clear.

Why are you so invested in believing voter fraud is a real thing? What is your motivation? What is your incentive?
posted by joe lisboa at 2:00 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sour grapes, plain and simple.
posted by trondant at 2:02 PM on September 3, 2011


The fact they whine so much makes me wonder about them.

Yes, I agree that Republicans should stop whining about the poor (and whatever various Other is being used to scare up votes and cynicism this week) having the right to vote.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:03 PM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I also don't want the Dems condemning rational ways to make sure that every vote is legal.

By this, I'm sure you are including insistence that electronic voting machines have transparent voting trails, verifiable vote-tallying software, certifiable paper-receipt voter paper trails, and other similar measure which could be enacted but are often decried as being anti-democratic (?) or too expensive (?).

I'm sure you're also including working against measures (as we've seen in the very recent past) which allow people with names very similar to felons to also be put on a voting blacklist because they are named (made up example) James Edward Smith, when the name of the banned felon is James Elmos Smith.

And I'm sure you also mean to include votes which are cast via provisional ballot but then later are ignored during the counting post-election because the cost of doing the research is greater than what the election commission is willing to spend on making sure every valid vote counts.
posted by hippybear at 2:08 PM on September 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


I spent most of yesterday with my jaw hanging open at this article: Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American

Did anyone read the comments on that article? Fucking terrifying. Everytime I think I've seen the limit of far-right evil, the bar goes even lower.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 2:09 PM on September 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


What is it about the conservatives that makes them think "hey, someone somewhere might be getting away with something! Quick! Disenfranchise thousands!" "look that welfare recipient has a TV! We gotta destroy the system to stop leeches like this"

It reminds me a little of a story told by comedian Dave Barry, who relates having a friend who complains about paying taxes because prisoners get color TV, as if the warden has nothing better to do than spend his time scouring garage sales for old B+W TV sets.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:13 PM on September 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


And frankly don't you thing that voter fraud could be carried out by anyone, regardless of political party?

Theoretically, sure, but had you read the article — hell, if you had even bothered to read the pull quotes I lifted — you'd have realized that the Bush administration set the Department of Justice to investigate voter fraud over a span of six years and found, for all statistically practical purposes, no voter fraud. And yet you are still comfortable making up anecdotes that seem unsupported by known fact. I wonder why that is.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:25 PM on September 3, 2011 [17 favorites]


My husband is on the local Board of Elections now. I think we understand them.

OK then, do you want to explain why an absentee ballot wouldn't come to mind before "OMG VOTER FRAUD", given that you and your husband are so well-versed in the process? Surely you know that in the vast majority of municipalities, absentee ballots are checked in right when the polls open and therefore are the first voters marked?
posted by rollbiz at 2:26 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I spent most of yesterday with my jaw hanging open at this article: Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American.

Another gem from the The American Thinker!
"The American Thinker, by the way, is the same zine that published this blockbuster piece of investigative journalism last week, 'Early Obama Letter Confirms Inability to Write,' which reads like a particularly nit-picky chapter from a KKK re-release of the Elements of Style. In it, reporter Jack Cashill proves the president's illiteracy by pointing to his failure - not once but twice! - 'to make subject and predicate agree' in a letter that he wrote in college decades ago. Nevermind that Obama was the editor of the Harvard Law Review or that he penned two best-selling books without a ghost-writer - Jack Cashill is sure that he's an ungrammatical 'neophyte race-hustler' who snuck into the White House via affirmative action.

But there's nothing racist about the right's opposition to Obama! And class warfare is all on the left!*
posted by ericb at 2:31 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]



Why are you so invested in believing voter fraud is a real thing?


It is still a very real thing in some places in KY. (Note that Clay County generally goes Republican).
posted by dilettante at 2:32 PM on September 3, 2011


'Early Obama Letter Confirms Inability to Write,'

Trigger alert for those with hypertension and just plain sanity: avoid reading the comments posted below the article.
posted by ericb at 2:33 PM on September 3, 2011


From the link dilettante posted: Stivers said on one tape that Maricle had dictated the choice of precinct officers in an election.

That is totally irrelevant to the bogus kind of voter fraud that is being discussed here.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:35 PM on September 3, 2011


In this past election we had the Tea Partiers (hilariously under the name Empower MA) putting up billboards in minority neighborhoods telling people to show ID to vote (even though it isn't required here), putting out hilarious training videos like the one I linked above, and so on.

I've also been a poll watcher too, many times. Want to know what I saw this past November on Election Day? I saw a Tea Party poll watcher go through a pile of absentee ballots from a low-income senior housing tower and challenge every single one with a Latino name. Therefore, using your unprovable anecdote-to-data approach I can only conclude that Tea Party poll-watchers are disenfranchising millions of Latino voters nationwide.
posted by rollbiz at 2:35 PM on September 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


I started reading this thread, and after a while it becomes blah blah blah.

Talk is cheap. This is the one area of government where ANY CITIZEN can act.

Take action. If you want people to vote, HELP THEM VOTE.

Every state that I am aware of uses citizen volunteers to run its elections. A few are elected officials, some are permanent employees of County Auditors offices, etc. But the work is mostly done by paid volunteers. In almost all cases, any eligible voter can become a poll worker.

I became a poll worker in the Obama v. McCain election. 53% percent of our registered voters, voted in satellite voting stations in the month before the election. I worked 93 hours on the week before the election. On election day, I personally re-registered almost 200 voters that were struck from the poll book by a GOP voter caging campaign. I have never seen a case of voter fraud, and I've handled hundreds of thousands of votes over the years. The only illegal acts I've seen were by GOP operatives trying to suppress voter turnout or electioneering. I've even threatened to arrest a police officer who was disrupting the polls. I have that power. You can have that power too. Anyone can.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:43 PM on September 3, 2011 [21 favorites]


Well during the last presidential election I heard from a lady whose daughter had moved to Hawail and neglected to move her voter registration.


Yup, someone here voted under her name during the election. I doubt very seriously the gal flew back one day from the islands to cast her ballot. And no, we don't ask for voter ID here. I used to be a poll judge and all people have to do is state their address. If you don't personally know who lives at that address you are up crap creek....and not only that, but because of early voting people could go to the board of elections to vote and they sure as heck can't put a face to an address.


Then AFTER the election the board of elections did a massive purge of the voter list, cleaning up problems. Hmm.



This kind of harmless, one-off story is exactly the tool used by the right wing to gin up support for their massive voter-supression campaigns. Never mind that these have no impact on election outcomes, and voter suppression techniques demonstrably do. They get people whipped up about the "security of the vote" without regard to whether it's a real problem or just a few anecdotes cobbled together by operatives. It really, really pisses me off that it's so easy for them to get away with all the shit they pull, from laws to require more identification to voter caging to intimidation and challenges at the polls. It's despicable and anyone who participates in it is, in my eyes, the lowest rung on the political ladder.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:05 PM on September 3, 2011 [16 favorites]


Shorter version: Voting's a fucking right, available until proven that it's not. These assholes want to make it a privilege you have to prove you deserve.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:06 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have that power. You can have that power too. Anyone can.

I beg to differ. In your scenario, only people who can work 93 hour unpaid weeks have that power.

Anyway, don't forget your Elections Commission, or local equivalent. In my city, we're short an unenrolled voter and a Republican, and have been for at least a year. I serve on the municipal body that does initial selections for boards and commissions, including this one. Worcester folks: I'd love to see you apply. Doesn't even require 93 hour weeks! :)
posted by rollbiz at 3:08 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


What would it take to issue a (no work) national holiday (even just a one-time deal) on that November Tuesday?
posted by raccoon409 at 3:15 PM on September 3, 2011


St. Alia of the Bunnies wrote: And fwiw having been a poll judge I know how easy it would be to commit voter fraud that way. I have lived in another state where you were required to produce a voter id card and was stunned it was not the case here.

Does North Carolina not require that you sign your registration application and then use that exemplar to match against the signature given when you get your ballot? If it's good enough for billions upon billions of dollars worth of credit card transactions at a reasonable-enough rate of fraud, it's good enough for me.

I'm much more interested in rooting out conspiracies to keep people from voting or to stuff ballot boxes on a mass scale than going after the three jackholes who vote for their daughter because she moved and forgot to cancel her registration. You know, deal with the big problems first rather than the ones that can be reasonably construed as attempting to keep poor people from voting..
posted by wierdo at 3:21 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here in Maine, we're fighting back.

Thank you, Vectorcon Systems.

I was so amazed when I moved back to Maine. When left, I wasn't old enough to vote. Came back and I was asking my husband how do I register and thinking it was like the Midwest. He was like, "This is Maine. You can register the same day you vote." Whatthefuckover, Rover, I thought. How can this be?

I thought I was in Miracle Voting Land. And I went out and voted here, whereas before I had done so only randomly. Too much trouble.

But here, it's like a holiday, an event. A place where people welcome you and give you little stickers and have petitions about the next event. They care. They really care. The Senators write back to you and the Reps write back to you. Even if you're not in their party. I have letters from Susan Collins saying I made her day for writing to her and a detailed letter from Olympia Snowe about renewable energy and her efforts. I even got a letter back from the White House. Which I kept on my fridge until my cat started jumping up at the magnets.

So I think everyone should move to Maine and vote here. We have lots of land.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:28 PM on September 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I have a simple solution to America's political mess (not that simple solutions are ever that simple). Mandatory voting by law

Here's a list of all countries with compulsory voting laws (usually with the option of casting a blank ballot).

The first country that introduced it? Belgium. It hasn't necessarily worked out so well.
posted by Skeptic at 3:39 PM on September 3, 2011


I beg to differ. In your scenario, only people who can work 93 hour unpaid weeks have that power.

No, we volunteer but we get paid. $10.50 per hour, plus time and a half for overtime.

That 93 hour week was just me, I'm a bureaucrat maniac. I had the free time, and I loved the job (and the overtime). But I worked alongside random citizens who would work anything from a saturday morning or a few hours in the office in the evenings, up to full 40+ hour work weeks. A lot of them were retirees who did this year after year, but many of them were college students or unemployed people looking for work (that's how I started). The most desired jobs are on election day, as Precinct Election Officials. I work election days as PEOs, but I like doing voter record maintenance in the back office and testing the voting machines. Last year, I think I filled out about 20,000 test ballots by hand.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:55 PM on September 3, 2011


Why are you so invested in believing voter fraud is a real thing?

It is still a very real thing in some places in KY.


No, that isn't voter fraud. That is not what this whole discussion has been about, which is a supposed glut of individuals going in to vote and voting twice and as other people, etc. Those stories linked are election official fraud stories, and this whole thread hasn't talked about that at all because that's not what we're discussing. The voter id laws wouldn't stop what you linked at all - wouldn't even address it. You could force social security numbers to be tattooed on every voter's forehead and it wouldn't stop what you linked.

I agree with charlie don't surf's ideas. The point is not that everyone has to work 93 hours leading up to the election. The point is if this stuff makes you angry, if seeing St. Alia's crap appear yet again, if these stories make you furious, don't just sit there, type up a reply, and then do nothing.

Get mad, but then do something. Do SOMEthing.
posted by cashman at 4:09 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Despotism and Democracy (9:57), Encyclopaedia Britannica Films, 1946
posted by ob1quixote at 4:12 PM on September 3, 2011


What's to prevent me from writing in "Mickey Mouse" on every ballot?

You have a better option.
posted by Lizard People at 4:34 PM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


What's to prevent me from writing in "Mickey Mouse" on every ballot?

Self interest.
posted by Max Power at 4:52 PM on September 3, 2011


I don't like his position on perpetual copyright extension.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:04 PM on September 3, 2011 [20 favorites]


You realize that MeFi doesn't have the ability to levy taxes and apportion social services, right? And that MeFi can't materially affect the livelihoods of those that couldnot or did not pay the $5 fee.

Jesus Christ, dude, at least read the entire comment before posting a reply.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:07 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll never vote for anyone ever again, since doing so makes me an accessory to their crimes.

___

What to do in the face of this grim reality? Many things; but as a general rule, I come back to the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, voiced by one of the characters in his novel on the theme of moral complicity with a system given over to pervasive evil: "It impossible that evil should not come into the world; but take care that it does not enter through you."
posted by Trurl at 5:14 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


A few years ago I would have been sympathetic to the "oh noes, my freedom not to vote!" argument, but the the Republican vote suppression schemes changed my mind. ... if you want to live in a democracy and aren't having your vote suppressed but can't be arsed to get off your ass and vote once in a while? Don't expect me to respect that.

Any expectations were settled by the "oh noes" part, so don't worry about it.

____

[[ Why are these types US expats the subject of so much ire here? They're voting with their feet, something that's worth a hell of a lot more than voting in our irredeemably corrupt political system. ]]

The example of the permanent expatriate tells them two psychologically insupportable things: that America is not the greatest country in the world, and that its myriad problems are not going to get any better. But since they can't argue these positions on the facts, their irritation must express itself as hostility towards the idea of expatriation itself.


____

As for selling out your principles to keep the Republicans out of power: How's that been working out for you?
posted by Trurl at 5:31 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Deathalicious: "In Texas, under "emergency" legislation passed by the GOP-dominated legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Perry, a concealed-weapon permit is considered an acceptable ID but a student ID is not.

Ho-lee crap. Texas, this is why everyone makes fun of you.
"

underlined was quoted by Deathalicious

For what it's worth, here was the justification given: a student ID isn't considered valid ID because none of them have any of the security features built into the other allowd forms of ID. The allowed forms are: a driver license, state-issued general ID card, military ID, passport, passport card, concealed carry permit, or a special-purpose voter ID card. At least in Texas, the concealed carry permit is the same as a driver license; they're printed on the same cards, look virtually identical, and have the same anti-counterfeiting measures. Contrast this with, say, my student ID that is issued by a Texas public university. It's simply a plastic card with my picture and name and no expiration date or unique number on a basic background.

I'm not saying that I agree with the law (I do not agree), but the ID requirements look positively sane in comparison to the rest of the law.
posted by fireoyster at 5:47 PM on September 3, 2011


Tech note: Why does the elections office clean up the voter rolls after the election?

They are required to. They clean up the rolls before AND after the election. But after the election, there is more data to use for corrections.

Many states permit voter registration up to and including ON election day. My state permits voter registration within the last week of election day (when it's too late to verify their registration in the back office) only with proof of residence and a valid photo ID. This applies only to voters from outside the county, if they merely moved within the county they need only supply their new address to verify the proper voting precinct (and thus be issued the correct ballot, which may vary between precincts depending on local elections). Like I mentioned before, the first time this law was active, I registered 200 voters on election day, they would have been turned away before this law was enacted. Voters that moved here from outside the county or state are requested to fill out their previous address, and we send a notification to the election office at their previous address, to have their old registration cancelled. Inside the state, records are electronic and updated instantly. There are many many notifications sent out of state by postal mail the day after the election for those people who registered on election day. Election Offices around the US have to correct their records based on the influx of new registrations elsewhere. We receive tons of these notifications and are required by our state law to update records within 24 hours of receipt.

Yes, we do discover irregularities during early voting and absentee voting. I live in a community with many college students moving in and out. Occasionally we get students who have already requested an absentee ballot in their hometowns within the state and when they vote here, we see on the registration computer that they've already received a ballot in another county, or if that ballot was used to vote. They usually claim they forgot. Or sometimes they requested an absentee ballot at their home and their parents didn't tell them it arrived, and no way to get it to them in time to vote. Those ballots must be returned unvoted.

We have to tell them it is illegal to vote in two places, and give them the option to have their old ballot revoked and then vote here, or they can let the existing vote stand. But there is no nationwide system of checks. If people do not fill out the form and tell us of their previous residence, we cannot send notification. But if we do receive notification that someone has registered and voted out of state AND here, that is a felony because when they signed for the ballot, they swore under penalty of perjury that this was their only vote in this election. I have heard that 3 or 4 cases of this voter fraud were discovered and forwarded to the Attorney General's office for prosecution (as required) but they did not prosecute. It was felt that prosecuting people for voting sent the wrong message. But I cannot verify this, it was only office scuttlebutt and happened before I joined the office. No such frauds have been discovered on my watch.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:53 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Many older people in rural areas were born at home and don't have birth certificates and getting lawyer to fix this for you can cost hundreds of dollars. Have a read of this article for a good view of how complicated it can get.
posted by chiababe at 5:55 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


And anyway, voting isn't a chore everywhere. Both WA and OR have 100% mail-in balloting, so you don't even have to leave your house if you're a registered voter.

This is good? How do you feel about the effective death of the secret ballot? What now stands to stop coercion of voters on a massive scale? And what of those registered voters who do not have a house -- how do they even vote?
posted by indubitable at 6:13 PM on September 3, 2011


All right, all right. All right you go ahead. You go ahead and keep it secret. But you remember this. When you control the mail, you control... information.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:49 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Jesus Christ, dude, at least read the entire comment before posting a reply.

What did I miss? The comment was making the point that adding restrictions around voting work to keep out those who don't have a vested interest from participating. My point was that the outcome of a vote, unlike anything MeFi does, affects everyone, regardless of whether or not they paid for the privilege of decision-making.
posted by FreelanceBureaucrat at 7:34 PM on September 3, 2011


Random thoughts from reading this thread:

1. Requiring ID to vote absolutely amounts to a Poll Tax.

A Poll Tax is never an insurmountable amount of money. If that's all it were it would be ineffective. What it is is an amount of money which is nothing really to certain people and highly inconvenient to others. In Wisconsin this is taking the form of travel convenience, really. Perhaps most people can find the time and motivation to get themselves out to the GOP districts in order to get their drivers licenses, but that's not who is being targeted for disenfranchisement. People who don't already have drivers licenses almost certainly don't have cars, either. And while those people can obtain simple IDs instead, the motivation of "I get to vote if I find someone to drive my ass to the next county and wait while I sit however long at the newly-overworked DMV" is a lot less than, "I get to continue driving and mantain my way of life if I drive myself over and get a renewal." Also, the fees for the IDs. Scott Walker is plainly trying to disenfranchise, and from what we know already of Walker this really isn't a question. This is just how he operates.

2. I have no reason to believe St. Alia is being untruthful.

I know some people here have a problem with her. However, I have never known her to be dishonest. That said, without knowing more facts this seems like a case of absentee voting. Voters of all political stripes tend to "vote where it counts" in a presidential election. There was literally zero chance of Hawaii going anything but for Obama in 2008. North Carolina was trending somewhat purple.

More important is the fact that I find her anecdote irrelevant. It's not the issue because:

3. Any statistically significant voter fraud has to be top-down.

It simply has to be. The risk/reward ratio for a bottom-up attempt would be laughable. There are just far too many ways for it to go wrong and too many people one can't trust and no machine in place to cover up the evidence or argue it away. Modern voter fraud is about manipulating electronic voting machines, or else simple disenfranchisement. As we're, you know, seeing right now.

4. Election Day in Maine is indeed awesome.

I'm not a resident, but I was there for the last election canvassing for Aaron Rowden (who is also a Mefite who'd probably not like to be outed by username.) Knocking on every door in Fairfield, I only found one household who wasn't going to vote, and voters were excited and out in droves at the polling places. It was, indeed, like a HOliday, in the most archaic sense of the word.

5. Compulsory voting would benefit third parties.

I don't know the full degree of how much voter apathy is fostered by having only two options, neither of which is often desirable, but I am willing to bet that it is significant. It is almost inevitable that, if forced to vote, many people who weren't doing so beforehand would choose to flip the bird at both the Dems and the GOP. This is the best reason I can think of for instating such a measure.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:11 PM on September 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


What did I miss? The comment was making the point that adding restrictions around voting work to keep out those who don't have a vested interest from participating.

I think that you missed that the comment is making the point that treating voters who don't vote your way as riff raff is a messed up thing. You're basically just putting a hurdle in front of someone with two bad knees and a broken ankle. Oh if their life depended on it, they could make it over that hurdle, sure.

The comment is indeed saying that MeFi's $5 hurdle makes it a pain for spammers and the like to effectively do their thing, and saying that adding a hurdle makes it a pain for the poor and vulnerable to effectively vote. But the comment is making the point (at least to me) that to treat American citizens like spammers, is a fucked up thing to do. Poor people have all kinds of vested interest in our society. They are the ones most affected by any screwy policies. So thus to just throw up a hurdle just to make their already hard lives even more fucked up, as if their contribution to our democracy is spam because they aren't voting Republican, is a messed up thing, but that's what these Republicans mindset is.
posted by cashman at 8:23 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fantastic comment, Navelgazer.

I have no reason to believe St. Alia is being untruthful.

I have no reason to believe that she was being untruthful either. I do, however, disagree with her conclusion and the path from anecdote or belief to widespread truth that she often takes. I still await an explanation why an absentee ballot wasn't by far the most plausible explanation for the scenario she described.

At any rate, it's completely inconsequential for the reason you described beautifully.
posted by rollbiz at 8:31 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh if their life depended on it, they could make it over that hurdle, sure.

Maybe, maybe not. To continue your analogy: Try it in a wheelchair.
posted by rollbiz at 8:33 PM on September 3, 2011


Or try it with your legs contorted in weird positions, while holding a cup of coffee.
posted by cashman at 8:35 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or try it with your legs contorted in weird positions, while holding a cup of coffee.

Coming soon to a comic near you!
posted by rollbiz at 8:39 PM on September 3, 2011


Hey! That position cured my back pain yesterday!
posted by Navelgazer at 8:45 PM on September 3, 2011


More seriously, that American Thinker article is hideous in many, many ways, but the Goldberg v. Kelly shit was the most offensive to me, in the end. It's not that he doesn't understand the ruling - the article shows that he knows what it actually means - but rather that he is presenting Notice and a Hearing rights, which are the most basic and fundamental of all Due Process rights, to be a burdonsome waste, costing society uncountable time and money for the purposes of the unproductive and worthless poor...

GAH! This is more than just saying "fuck those guys who make an effort to get the poor to the polling stations." He is arguing to roll back due process for non-property owners. This is literal, out-in-the-open War on the Poor.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:54 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, him and his ilk don't seem to feel the need to even veil their intentions anymore. That's something we all need to really think about...
posted by rollbiz at 8:59 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


1. Requiring ID to vote absolutely amounts to a Poll Tax.
A Poll Tax is never an insurmountable amount of money. If that's all it were it would be ineffective. What it is is an amount of money which is nothing really to certain people and highly inconvenient to others.


The SCOTUS decision that upheld Indiana's voter ID law made it pretty clear that the Court doesn't view voter ID as a poll tax. Moreover, they explicitly said that whether a requirement was "burdensome" was to be understood as an absolute feature of the requirement, not a feature of the requirement as it affects some individual voter or class of voters. In other words: voter ID requirement is not a poll tax as long as some form of voter ID is free. Maybe the inconvenience and difficulty of obtaining this free ID is substantially greater for certain voters, and maybe these voters are disproportionately likely to vote for a particular party that rhymes with "Lemon Brats." This (says the court) does not matter. If the requirement isn't burdensome for most people, it is (for the purpose of the law) not burdensome.

There is certainly some merit to this argument. If a fishing license costs $20 you don't want the Division of Natural Resources to get sued for charging poor people more to go fishing, on the grounds that $20 is in a very real sense a larger fee for a poor person than for a rich one.

I don't understand the relationship, though, between what happened in the Indiana case and the decision in Harper vs. Virginia Board of Elections, which found that Virginia's poll tax violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Here's one short take.
posted by escabeche at 9:21 PM on September 3, 2011


If the right to vote is important to you, none of these regulations are going to stop you. You know who they'll stop? People who feel culturally motivated to vote or guilted into voting by their friends but who otherwise have no interest in the political system or are not interested in voting.

I always say that it's more responsible to stay home on election day if you are uninformed than it is to go vote


Someone's (lack of) interest in the political system or motivation for voting is irrelevant. Voting is a right of being a franchised adult citizen - no other qualifications should come into play. If some citizens voted for the first and only time because they were "culturally motivated" (!), that is perfectly their right and privilege to do so. I wouldn't care if they were hardcore Neo-Nazis or kard karrying Klansmen - under no circumstances should they be discouraged from casting their vote simply because I don't care for their politics -- next time it could be my reasons that are delegitimized.
posted by xigxag at 9:28 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


escabeche: I remember the case, unfortunately. Does anyone know if all ID states in compliance? I don't see a free ID option in TX, GA, or FL when I look at their state ID info. Perhaps they exist but aren't advertised on state websites? That's a whole different can of worms, I guess.

I get kind of upset at times about our lack of really progressive voting options in MA, like same day registration, open primaries, or instant runoff voting, but...wow. Things could be a lot worse.

We're expecting a non-binding ballot question about voter ID this year. It'd never make it through the General Court, but still...the wheels are turning.
posted by rollbiz at 9:41 PM on September 3, 2011


1. Requiring ID to vote absolutely amounts to a Poll Tax.

Oh it's worse than a poll tax. It has elements of a literacy test. Some of the things you have to do in order to get an ID in North Carolina are egregious. They demand you show a birth certificate or Social Security card. Some people can't get a birth certificate, my state won't give you one unless you appear in person and show an ID. You can't just ask for anyone's birth certificate, only your own, and you have to prove it's you. If you lived out of state, you'd have to come here in person to get it.

I haven't seen my Social Security card since my wallet got stolen from my locker in high school 35 years ago. I just discovered that I can get a replacement locally, new Federal bureaucracy was set up for this after 9/11. To get a new SS card, I have to show my birth certificate, or a Federal or State ID (e.g. Passport) that I had to show my birth certificate or SS Card to get in the first place.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:31 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


If free IDs are available and required, there should simply be voting rights organizations that help people obtain them, i.e. organize busses or whatever. You know, such campaigns are an excelent way to permenently damage the Republicans by exposing their racism.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:03 PM on September 3, 2011


The SCOTUS decision that upheld Indiana's voter ID law made it pretty clear that the Court doesn't view voter ID as a poll tax.

That's because SCOTUS made a bad decision. They make wrong decisions sometimes. Like Dred Scott. In fact, I consider SCOTUS's ruling to be the Dred Scott decision of our time.

If free IDs are available and required, there should simply be voting rights organizations that help people obtain them, i.e. organize busses or whatever. You know, such campaigns are an excelent way to permenently damage the Republicans by exposing their racism.

Once again, such organizations have a tendency to be slandered out of existence by people in pimp outfits (when they're not made effectively illegal, e.g. Florida's Governor Luthor driving out the League of Women Voters).
posted by dirigibleman at 11:12 PM on September 3, 2011


Whether Alia's story is accurate or not is irrelevant; the plural of anecdote is not data. Study after study over the past decade are all in agreement - there is no voting fraud problem in the US. And while a campaign to provide ID for minorities & the poor is a good idea, it must be disconnected from any voting restrictions because photo ID laws negatively affect minority voting rates (see claim 3).
posted by scalefree at 12:47 AM on September 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


In Australia we have had mandatory voting (in federal elections) for a little under a century now.

It works because the legislation that governs elections puts most of the onus for enabling the franchise on the state. Election day is always on a Saturday. If you can't make it on the Saturday you can apply for a postal ballot, or attend a pre-poll voting place. If you're in a hospital or homeless or in a remote community, a mobile polling station will come to you. And for those who want to attend a polling booth, there are 7700 of them all across the country.

There is no "none of the above" option either. It's a secret ballot, so no one other than you can tell whether you have actually lodged a formal vote (there is some legal debate as to whether you're actually legally obliged to lodge a formal vote or just attend a polling place and have your name marked off, but that's a bit beyond the scopoe of this discussion).

Because voting is compulsory and the number of enrolled voters in each division is known, identifying mass fraud or disenfranchisement is actually pretty straightforward. As far as I'm aware, though, there have never been any substantiated issues. We also don't require any ID to be shown before voting — voters just state their name and address.

Compulsory voting isn't without it's downsides, but it's certainly not impossible to implement well.
posted by damonism at 1:34 AM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


We have mandatory voting here in Australia; I think it's great! Though I often disagree with Joe Public, it prevents political representation from being reduced to extremist bookends. In addition to mandatory voting, we also have:

Elections are always on a saturday.

We have pre-polls and absentee voting open for a few weeks beforehand.

You can cast a vote for your electorate from a different one at most major polling stations.

You are fined for not showing up, but once registered as voting you can put whatever the hell you like on the ballot - of course, it won't count if you write bollocks all over it, but you're entitled to do that.

And, crucially in my opinion, we have a well-funded and fully independent national electoral commission. The impact of the commission cannot be over-stated. Australian electoral officials and our election management is viewed (rightly) as world-leading, and they are frequently consulted by the UN and many other countries managing elections. These are bureaucrats; they are not elected, or hired by politicians or parties (though parties are allowed their own scrutineers at every polling place). The AEC is the bomb.

Looking across the pacific, the American electoral system seems almost hopelessly compromised to me.

On the morals of mandatory voting: As citizens, we draw so much benefit from the state. I think that true citizenship isn't just benefit; it entails an investment and commitment to the state and its institutions. Rocking up once every four years or so and voting seems pretty easy to me. Otherwise, you end up with the leaders you deserve.

Does it mean you sometimes vote for arseholes? Sure. But guess what, real life isn't a laundry list where you get to tick off everything you want. It's hard, there are innumerable compromises. You often end up having to pick the least-worst option. If I expect politicians to evince a spirit of compromise, a determination to wade through murky ambiguities for the better solutions, and a willingness to engage in our political systems and institutions in a genuine way for the common good, well damn it, I can do do the same thing, surely, even if I'm not always overjoyed to drop the paper in the box.
posted by smoke at 1:50 AM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


My husband is on the local Board of Elections now. I think we understand them.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:52 PM on September 3 [+] [!]


It is clear that you think that you understand them. It is also clear that you are wrong.
posted by FatherDagon at 2:22 AM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is good? How do you feel about the effective death of the secret ballot? What now stands to stop coercion of voters on a massive scale? And what of those registered voters who do not have a house -- how do they even vote?

Voters who do not have a house can pick up a ballot someplace in the district where they are registered. I can't remember exactly how that works, but I've read about it.

As far as "death of the secret ballot" and "coercion of voters on a massive scale"... What the fuck are you talking about? Are you picturing armed thugs going door to door during the 3-week window when people have their ballots in hand, holding people hostage until they fill in the little ovals according to their demands? Do you think that televisions have cameras in them which are filming people filling out their ballots? What exactly are you picturing here which has you so paranoid about mail-in balloting?
posted by hippybear at 5:27 AM on September 4, 2011


Are you picturing armed thugs going door to door during the 3-week window when people have their ballots in hand, holding people hostage until they fill in the little ovals according to their demands?

No, but I am picturing Wal-Mart quietly letting its employees know that they need to show their boss a "correctly" filled out ballot if they want to keep their job. Or quietly letting its employees know that anyone who brings in a "correctly" filled out ballot (or, wink wink, a signed blank ballot) will receive a $100 bonus. Call it some kind of get out the vote drive... of course Wal Mart doesn't care who you vote for *wink*, but we need to see your ballot to make sure you actually voted, don't we?

I am of course aware that there are as yet no reports of this happening. But. We know that vote by mail has almost exactly zero effect on turnout -- all it seems to do is make voting more convenient for people who were going to vote anyway, instead of increasing turnout as promised. See Kouser and Mullin 2007 or Berinsky 2005. So... no real and significant benefits, and the potential at least for serious problems. Seriously bad idea.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:37 AM on September 4, 2011


Oh, I forgot... I can't remember whether it's Washington or Oregon, but there's also evidence for (some) county election officials selectively moving voters from "active" to "inactive" if they're in the wrong party, so that they then don't get sent a ballot. ISTR it's just Republican county officials doing it, but the piece hasn't been published yet so I can't just grab it. Seabrook and Dyck.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:43 AM on September 4, 2011


I am of course aware that there are as yet no reports of this happening.

the piece hasn't been published yet so I can't just grab it.


Wow. Nice presentation of real factual sources there, ROU_Xenophobe.
posted by hippybear at 7:55 AM on September 4, 2011


What the fuck are you talking about? Are you picturing armed thugs going door to door during the 3-week window when people have their ballots in hand, holding people hostage until they fill in the little ovals according to their demands? Do you think that televisions have cameras in them which are filming people filling out their ballots? What exactly are you picturing here which has you so paranoid about mail-in balloting?

You honestly see no value in having a secret ballot? I can clearly imagine scenarios where unscrupulous employers require their employees to run their ballots by their managers as a condition of continued employment. Or a wife must allow her husband to fill out her ballot before she signs her name on it. Or a religiously-affiliated homeless shelter reviewing them as a condition of continued residency. Come on, hippybear, I know you understand how coercion and bullying can work in not-so-obvious ways, use your imagination a little.
posted by indubitable at 8:19 AM on September 4, 2011


No, but I am picturing Wal-Mart quietly letting its employees know that they need to show their boss a "correctly" filled out ballot if they want to keep their job. Or quietly letting its employees know that anyone who brings in a "correctly" filled out ballot (or, wink wink, a signed blank ballot) will receive a $100 bonus.

There are laws and procedures to cover that. In my state, it is illegal to give any reward or inducement to vote or register. We caught students giving away candy if you'd register to vote, we had to tell them they had to make a sign indicating they would give candy to anyone who asked. And we still didn't like that solution, it only technically legal, it still basically enticed people to come to their activity and be exposed to voting registration. We had one voting site set up a free barbeque event when we set up a satellite voting station. We discussed shutting that down, they protested that the event was scheduled before our voting was, it had nothing to do with us. We didn't shut it down, but they'll never be hosting a voting site again.

But there are other problems. It is illegal to talk to a voter in the booth or communicate with them in any way, to avoid coercion. If you want assistance voting, you either ask for a bipartisan team of election officials to help you (and watch each other helping the voter) or you sign a waiver witnessed by the bipartisan team that you requested someone to help you, and then we watch them help you to see you're not being coerced.

Voting procedures prohibit giving any receipt or proof of voting. You can't show your ballot to anyone from the time I hand it to you until the time you put it in the ballot box or machine. I'm not allowed to look at it as a voting official, until they're counted. It's illegal to take a photo of your ballot with a camera (we've had people try to do that with cell phones). You can't talk on the phone while voting. You can't get a receipt showing you voted, or voted any specific way to a political boss to get a reward. We had some students tell us their Poli Sci professors offered them extra credit if they would come back to class with proof they voted. We told them to tell the professor that was illegal, and we offered them an "I Voted" button, noting that those have been handed out for years and are no proof you voted in THIS election. I figured this was an exercise to get students reactions when they got denied. Either that, or the Poli Sci professor had really dumb ideas about voting procedures.

Ah, but what about the absentee ballots? One voter asked what's to prevent a voter with an absentee ballot from filling it out, showing it to a political boss that it's been filled out a specific way, and then even possibly surrendering the ballot to the boss and he will mail it in? There are "spoiled ballot" procedures. If you fill out a ballot incorrectly or mismark it in error, you can surrender it to the elections office and request another. You could show the ballot to the boss filled out correctly, then take it back and come in and say you made a mistake and ask for a new ballot. But if the boss requires you to complete the ballot and seal it in the mailing envelope and let him mail it, that is a bit trickier, but still solvable. You can go to the elections office and tell us that your vote was coerced. We can pull your ballot. The ballots are sealed in envelopes with your name on it, and we can locate it. The contents are secret, until we pull out the contents of the envelope to count them on election day (they are inside a second "security envelope" so we can't see the votes and associate them with any specific voter). But until the election day, we can pull and invalidate ballots. We have to. For example, sometimes people die after absentee voting and we have to pull their ballot when we get the death certificate, update their registration data and discover they have an active ballot. Sometimes there are challenges, like evidence may appear they voted elsewhere and requested their own previous ballot be revoked. Yes, you can challenge your own ballot, even before it arrives in the elections office by mail. We'll pull it when it arrives and then you can vote again, freely. So let the political boss coerce you and or give you your $100 reward. You can fix it later and invalidate his coercion. And the boss knows that so he's not going to bother, he'll just be throwing away his $100 rewards.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:29 AM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow. Nice presentation of real factual sources there, ROU_Xenophobe.

I'm sure I can get you a copy of the Seabrook/Dyck paper if you want.

The facts remain: vote by mail provides near-zero benefit, so even the unrealized potential for coercion or fraud makes it a very bad idea. I can get and email you a copy of the Kousser and Mullin paper, which demonstrates the at best zero benefit, if you want.

In my state, it is illegal to give any reward or inducement to vote or register.

Good thing firms never break the law when it's unlikely they'd be caught.

It is illegal to talk to a voter in the booth or communicate with them in any way, to avoid coercion.

With vote by mail there is no voting booth to be kept secure from coercion.

Voting procedures prohibit giving any receipt or proof of voting.

With vote by mail, your filled out ballot is proof (or close enough) of voting in a certain way.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:41 AM on September 4, 2011


Good thing firms never break the law when it's unlikely they'd be caught.

Good thing it's so easy to blow the whistle.

With vote by mail there is no voting booth to be kept secure from coercion.

I just covered that. With vote by mail, you can change a coerced vote and the coercer will never know. Large scale coercion would be exposed.

With vote by mail, your filled out ballot is proof (or close enough) of voting in a certain way.

No, it's not close enough. It's only proof you filled out that ballot a certain way. There's no proof that was a legal, valid vote that gets counted. Votes get challenged all the time, during the absentee ballot committee meeting. There's no proof you didn't go challenge your own vote and vote a different ballot. There's no proof someone else didn't discover you were coerced and go challenge your ballot.

You seem to have some fundamental misconceptions about how voting works. So I usually direct guys like you to some technical papers by a computer scientist and Elections Systems official who has testified on this subject to the US Senate. Please read these:

A Brief Illustrated History of Voting

Voting on Paper Ballots

Counting Ballots
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:08 AM on September 4, 2011


Yeah kids, if you work real hard, get out there and really pound the pavement, get people registered, shut down the free candy booths, make sure multi-person bipartisan teams go in to assist the elderly and disabled, say a prayer, click your heels three times. then maybe, maybe, if everything works just right and the stars are all aligned, you end up with the elected official of your dreams.
posted by chronkite at 9:16 AM on September 4, 2011


Don't "get and email me" anything. Post what you have here in the public thread for everyone to see. There's no point in keeping all this private. If you have real evidence to share, make it public.
posted by hippybear at 9:20 AM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


you end up with the elected official of your dreams.

No, you get the guy who The People elected as their representative.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:31 AM on September 4, 2011


Yeah, The People have spoken!

Lizard A gets a billion votes! Lizard B gets a billion and three! The People have spoken! Four more years of Lizard B!

Then Lizard B goes off and eats some live rats, develops scale rot, and shits in his water dish.

Anyone has any problems with this, well, tough. You can elect a different lizard in a few years.

And what really keeps this reptile circus on the road aren't even the Lizards or their handlers, or their corporate sponsors.

It's all the dewey-eyed petty functionaries and fanboys that get out there and pound the pavement, thinking they can "make a difference".
posted by chronkite at 10:21 AM on September 4, 2011


Washington and Oregon have in-person voting in addition to vote by mail, right? Doesn't giving voters the option of doing either (rather than requiring vote by mail) take care of the potential problems listed above (or at least to the extent that they're no more vulnerable to coercion than absentee ballots)?
posted by naoko at 11:02 AM on September 4, 2011


naoko, looking at Washington's voting FAQ as an example, it appears they no longer operate any polls on Election Day. That's why they do it by mail, to eliminate the cost of running the polls on Election Day. It appears that you could essentially vote in person at the County Auditor's office, you could bring your mailed ballot or ask for a replacement ballot, you could fill it in on the spot and deliver it personally (you're already there). And the Federal Help America Vote Act requires that states make assistive devices available to handicapped voters, so there has to be some in-person voting.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:19 AM on September 4, 2011


Oregon is 100% vote by mail with ballot drop-off sites which double as polling stations, but in that case they simply offer privacy booths which let you fill out a ballot identical to the vote-by-mail ballot. (source [pdf])

Washington offers a similar service. The details of the WA vote-by-mail system can be found here.
posted by hippybear at 11:22 AM on September 4, 2011


State Voter ID Laws - compiled by the National Conference of State Legislators

State ID card regulations
The idea that these are only $10 is a misconception. I randomly picked two states - MA where I live - and Georgia and the cost is $25 and $20 respectively, and for 5 years. Plus, in a sort of catch 22, you have to submit other ID documents to get a state ID.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:23 AM on September 4, 2011


I've even threatened to arrest a police officer who was disrupting the polls.

I would really enjoy hearing more about this.
posted by werkzeuger at 12:21 PM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


LOL Arkansas. Always trying to look like a complete bastard of a Tea Party haven, but coming up with a more sensible solution. I had thought they had gone full photo ID, but it turns out you can still vote (and not provisional, either) without ID, but the precinct workers have to make a note indicating that you did not provide ID.

That sounds like the right way to do it.

Here in Oklahoma, you're SOL if you don't have ID, but at least you can still use your voter registration card, if you can find it.
posted by wierdo at 12:37 PM on September 4, 2011


chronkite (who it must be said is grossly misnamed): And what really keeps this reptile circus on the road aren't even the Lizards or their handlers, or their corporate sponsors.
It's all the dewey-eyed petty functionaries and fanboys that get out there and pound the pavement, thinking they can "make a difference".


This is grossly incorrect. Think -- the reptile circus masters, what would help them more than anything? It would not be more voters generally; that makes it harder to manipulate elections in their favor. If all the idealistic people gave up immediately then the system would never, ever change (but see footnote below). If a lot more people suddenly became idealistic, the system just might change. It's not for certain because there are idealistic people on both sides of the fence. Believing idealism is a positive force demands a certain amount of faith in human nature. If that seems silly or even stupid to you, my only response is, there is nothing else to have faith in except that. If you don't like human nature, then you should work to change it.

That footnote:
Forever is a long time. Injust systems do change, eventually. The question is, how, peacefully or with violence? That is why I'm responding to people like chronkite and Trurl and their grossly wrongheaded (and that's giving them the benefit of the doubt regarding motive) ideas about elections. The system provides a way for itself to be changed. If you don't think it works correctly, you have to work to change it, and not give up just because lizards are the only people put up for office. And anyway, I'm pretty sure Douglas Adams, the original source of that lizard joke, would agree that in the case of U.S. presidential elections there certainly is a wrong lizard who could well win.

If enough people realized this and acted on it, the system would change. Thus, our task is to inspire that desire for change in people, and the first people to inspire are of course ourselves. If the populace is impossible to rouse, then apply critical thinking to it: if its the propaganda of Fox, then be a little more vocal about how Fox News sucks to people you know who enjoy it. And if it's apathy, then let those people who are actually counciling folk to not waste their time voting how stupid they are being. Because really, the devil couldn't ask for a better advocate.
posted by JHarris at 1:01 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ding ding! You get the award for using the word ~grossly~ three times in one comment!

The original lizard reference.

"Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them," he said. "They're completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone's got to say it."

Yeah you seem to think the only way to change a system is from within, and great! Keep on doing what you've been doing. It's working splendidly.

Oh wait, it's not. It's fucked up from top to bottom, and there's no clear way out of the mess you made, by voting for these people.

Saint Adams also said:

"Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."
posted by chronkite at 1:14 PM on September 4, 2011


Ah, I was wondering when the trite old idea would appear, "don't vote, it only encourages them." That's the second most common phrase I hear while working at the polls, next to "vote early and often." You know, I've actually made the argument that since "vote early and often" was originally a partisan slogan used against Chicago Democratic candidates, it should be prohibited from use within 300 yards of a polling site as felony electioneering. My opinion was not upheld, but we are permitted to say it could be considered a personal insult to poll workers who devote themselves to fair elections.

And since I have sworn an oath to help citizens express their political will through voting, I will tell you a better way to implement the idea of "don't vote, it only encourages them." If you really want to discourage elected officials, you would adopt the "vote the bums out" policy. Always vote against the incumbent. They usually win so this would reduce the victory margin and thus reduce the victor's assertion of a mandate. I usually apply this principle mostly to reconfirming Judges, they never get voted out, so any votes against retaining them reminds them that not everyone approves of their performance. But unfortunately, in the last election, a campaign to vote out Judges that approved gay marriage was active, so I had to vote for the Judges. This was a classic implementation of Rovian political tactics, create a controversy that will drive one-issue voters to the polls, and hope your candidates ride the wave into office. It worked, and a Republican Governor unseated the Democrat. Now the Republican Governor has stalled the state budget until 1 day before a shutdown, and he is trying to implement voter ID requirements.

But more to the point, since the days of Bush v. Gore, nobody can honestly believe Ralph Nader's assertion that "the only difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door." If you believe that, you have become the tool of very same corporate influences you abhor. Republicans are on a campaign to undermine citizen's belief in government. Republicans say government is incompetent, and when elected, they prove it. They want The People to be afraid of government.

But if Republicans want to "reduce the size of government until it can be drowned in a bathtub," what would take its place? Corporate rule. Government is the collective political will of We The People. Whenever you see the word "Government," substitute "We The People" and see how it fits. Corporate efforts to exempt themselves from government regulation are an attempt to prevent We The People from regulating the corporations that are too powerful for individuals to resist. We must all hang together, or we will hang separately. We have made a social pact that our government derives its power from the consent of the governed. Don't vote if you like, that is your right, but do not insist this is a virtue. You are actively handing your power over to corporate interests.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:13 PM on September 4, 2011 [19 favorites]


With vote by mail, you can change a coerced vote and the coercer will never know. Large scale coercion would be exposed.

The fact that there exist a complex procedure that people first have to learn exists and then have to take a nontrivial amount of time to successfully navigate does not really console me.

Again, this would be different if vote by mail had some clear benefit to weigh against the smallish risks I see with it. But it doesn't. If anything, Kousser and Mullin (using some complex matching algorithms) found that it actually reduces turnout.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:48 PM on September 4, 2011


Ding ding! You get the award for using the word ~grossly~ three times in one comment!

Ding ding indeed, if you haven't seen me overuse words sometimes in the same sentence before now then you must be new around here.

It is hard to change systems. Do you think the feudal age collapsed overnight? You have to expect entrenched interests to do everything in their power to keep that power. That is cause to redouble efforts, not abandon them.

Our system is unique in that it is, historically, one of the few in history that provides ordinary people a means to change it. That is perhaps the most brilliant piece of political "technology" ever invented, and we still don't know all its implications. It can only work if you work it.

On Douglas Adams:
1. Then vote for someone who isn't a lizard. It is true we're in a situation where votes for a third party serve to divert the election from one of the two candidates who are likely to win. But it is not true that these votes are wholly wasted. They are still reported by the pollsters, they still serve to inform the public of the desire for change, and they also put pressure on the major party candidates to listen to their constituents rather than the petty numeric odds of winning at any cost.
2. Need i remind you, the ruler of the universe he had Zaphod and Trillian find was by no means an ultimate answer. in any case, it's a damn funny book, not a bible.

Finally, it is one thing to berate me as advocating changing the system from within. But I can think of no alternative that doesn't add up to violence at best, fraud at worst. Is this what you advocate? Because just not voting will not change a damn thing.
posted by JHarris at 11:43 PM on September 4, 2011


The first country that introduced [compulsory voting laws]? Belgium. It hasn't necessarily worked out so well.

Skeptic, cute little retort, but linking to a Wikipedia article on 2010–2011 Belgian government formation doesn't really support your point. Could you provide some cogent reason why you think the Belgian government's problems are a direct result of compulsory voting laws, and not just a wordy red herring?
posted by IAmBroom at 6:51 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Could you provide some cogent reason why you think the Belgian government's problems are a direct result of compulsory voting laws, and not just a wordy red herring?

Talk about a red herring. I never claimed that the utterly dysfunctional state of Belgian politics is the direct result of compulsory voting laws, but only that, unfortunately, compulsory voting isn't per se a panacea against all the political troubles that may ail a democracy. Belgium has namely more of its fair share of those (culminating in the current soap opera). Having lived there, I can assure you that the average Belgian voter is at least as disaffected with his representatives as the average American.

I also delighted in the delightfully Belgian surrealism of the fact that one of the legal sanctions against non-voters in Belgium is...being deprived of voting rights.

So, I don't believe that compulsory voting is a solution. And requiring a reasonably secure ID in order to be allowed to vote is also, in my opinion, quite a sensible measure to prevent fraud (and one which you will find in most democracies). So, what can be made to make the US' voting system fairer?

1) Yes, require a reasonably secure ID, but make also sure to provide it to those voters, ideally for free. People shouldn't be charged for exercising their civil rights.
2) Hold elections on weekends or holidays. Voting shouldn't be reserved to those able to take the day off.
3) More polling stations, open for longer. See 2).
4) Abolish gerrymandering. It's evil.
5) There is no decent reason for depriving convicts of their right to vote.
posted by Skeptic at 8:37 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


4) Abolish gerrymandering. It's evil.

You can't. There is no set of possible districts (including not using districts) that doesn't give some people or groups an electoral advantage while imposing electoral disadvantages on other people or groups. Even if you somehow set up districts using some truly neutral mechanism (ie randomization), the resulting districts as they are realized will still help some people and hurt other people for ten years.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:34 AM on September 5, 2011


Finally, it is one thing to berate me as advocating changing the system from within. But I can think of no alternative that doesn't add up to violence at best, fraud at worst.

Dude, just because you can't think of it doesn't mean it's not out there.

Did it ever occur to anyone that not that god damned much needs changing?

It's like there's an assumption here that sweeping changes need to be made, and they will be made if ONLY PEOPLE GET OUT AND VOTE. Of course, this means getting out and voting for YOUR GUY. I'd imagine not too many people here would suggest I get out and vote for Rick Perry.

In fact, the world would be a much, much better place if most of you just fucking stopped doing things for a while.

It's 2011, and mostly everything is fine. A chicken in every pot, a cellphone in every pocket. The standard of living is higher than it's ever been, infant mortality low, and on and on and on. All of this is not because of some government official you voted in, it's because We the People take care of our own shit.

What trouble we DO see is almost always government related, whether it's cops murdering people, thousands and thousands of innocent dead in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, draconian drug laws that ruin lives, whole nation massively in debt, and on and on and on. All crimes of the Lizards you voted for.

So by all means, keep running on that treadmill. But don't tell me it's a marathon, and don't expect any medals. You ran in place all day, busting your ass towards some goal, and I chilled out, read a book, and went for a walk.

And here we both are, in exactly the same place.
posted by chronkite at 10:11 AM on September 5, 2011


ROU_Xenophobe: "There is no set of possible districts (including not using districts) that doesn't give some people or groups an electoral advantage while imposing electoral disadvantages on other people or groups. Even if you somehow set up districts using some truly neutral mechanism (ie randomization), the resulting districts as they are realized will still help some people and hurt other people for ten years."

But the term "gerrymandering" doesn't refer to all forms of unfair districting, only the specific type that actively seeks to benefit one group over another... in particular by creating "unnatural" district boundaries.

Of course, there are varying definitions of what constitutes a "natural" boundary, and imbalances are inevitable in any system, so it's hard to offer an alternative to the current system that won't be undermined by its own accusations of bias.

Nevertheless, just because imbalance is inevitable doesn't mean we should keep allowing it to be institutionalized.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:14 PM on September 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


chronkite wrote: It's 2011, and mostly everything is fine. A chicken in every pot, a cellphone in every pocket. The standard of living is higher than it's ever been, infant mortality low, and on and on and on. All of this is not because of some government official you voted in, it's because We the People take care of our own shit.

As long as you realize the only reason we're not here and here isn't because everything's fine, but because what's left of government is capable of functioning to some degree to largely prevent economic and environmental devastation on that scale.

One of the reasons Republicans in general are so wrongheaded about the financial crisis is that they truly don't understand quite how close we came to no longer having our present system of government in the 30s. The New Deal and all that was self-preservation, not selfless.

posted by wierdo at 12:37 PM on September 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


shit, I effed up my second link. where's that edit window?
posted by wierdo at 12:38 PM on September 5, 2011


It's 2011, and mostly everything is fine. A chicken in every pot, a cellphone in every pocket. The standard of living is higher than it's ever been

Where the fuck do you live?!?
posted by rollbiz at 7:45 PM on September 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dude, just because you can't think of it doesn't mean it's not out there.

THEN STOP ALLUDING TO IT AND TELL US WHAT IT IS. I'm getting sick of this dance. If there is some mysterious way to make it more likely to elect more decent people that doesn't ultimately involve violence or fraud, then I can't think of it. And not voting because of the possible existence of some phantom solution is crazy.

It's like there's an assumption here that sweeping changes need to be made, and they will be made if ONLY PEOPLE GET OUT AND VOTE. Of course, this means getting out and voting for YOUR GUY. I'd imagine not too many people here would suggest I get out and vote for Rick Perry.

You assume too much. People exercising their political will is a higher goal than my guy winning at any cost. In any case, it's likely we're only even talking about Rick Perry in the context of a presidential election now because of Stephen Colbert, foremost troll of the age.

In fact, the world would be a much, much better place if most of you just fucking stopped doing things for a while.

Like raising the debt ceiling?

It's 2011, and mostly everything is fine. A chicken in every pot, a cellphone in every pocket.

Again, you assume too much.

The standard of living is higher than it's ever been,

This is false.

infant mortality low,

But also far from best in the world anymore. We're 34th in the world. We suffer seven infant deaths per thousand live births. Both Singapore and Japan suffer less than three.

What trouble we DO see is almost always government related, whether it's cops murdering people, thousands and thousands of innocent dead in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, draconian drug laws that ruin lives, whole nation massively in debt, and on and on and on. All crimes of the Lizards you voted for.

Heed my words: the crimes of the lizards we don't vote for will be infinitely worse.

So by all means, keep running on that treadmill. But don't tell me it's a marathon, and don't expect any medals. You ran in place all day, busting your ass towards some goal, and I chilled out, read a book, and went for a walk.

You enjoy those rights only because of the efforts of those of us, historically, who have busted our asses. The fight for democracy never ends. The fact that people seem to think that it has, that it could ever, is largely a sign of decadence.

I am finally confident enough to say it directly. You are a fool. You have been fooled, and are saying foolish things. All I can effectively say to you now is, I think you should re-examine your stands and beliefs and see if they are really as accurate as you think they are.
posted by JHarris at 12:31 AM on September 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Fool?

What's up with the name calling? You don't even 1/10,000 know me like that and if you did I can guarantee "fool" wouldn't be the word you used to describe me.

It stings to be reminded of your complicity in the crimes of the assholes you voted for..god knows I regret every vote I ever cast in my starry-eyed youth.

These days I vote with my wallet, I don't buy cars, or gas, or alcohol, or cell phones, or shop at Wal Mart or fast food places, etc, etc, etc. I mock the Lizards (and their supporters) every chance I get, and I'll teach my kids to do the same.

I don't see a single acknowledgment anywhere in your posts (or anyone else's here) that you, as a reliable voter, are part of the problem. No, in your eyes you're a hero..busting your ass for Truth, Justice and the American Way. All progress made (towards your goals) you take credit for, and all regressions (from your goals) are to be blamed on me.

Not the vast corporate interests that control both parties, not the ego-driven narcissistic monsters that pursue power and high office, not the throngs of poor and rich alike that will vote for whoever gives them the most handouts, and certainly not you.

No, it's non-participants that are to blame. In 2008, even after eight dark years of Bush, almost half the nation looked at their choices, shrugged, and went on with their lives.

By my measure "fuck all y'all" wins by a landslide.
posted by chronkite at 9:55 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I told my entering-10th-grade step-son yesterday, when he mentioned student council was populated almost entirely by preppies, that if he doesn't like having student council decisions made by a bunch of preppies he should get on the student council himself.

Political change is effected by the people who show up to make it happen. Voting is barely a start. If you don't like the options available on the ballot, make an effort to expand them.

No, it isn't easy. But when you give up or say "fuck all y'all" because it isn't easy or because you don't think you can make a difference, you are ceding the field to people who don't give up.

In my town of half a million people, I know an increasing number of folks (some of whom are younger than me!) who are saying, "I don't like what's going on, and I'm going to do something about it." And they get out there and they run for office. Sometimes they win, sometimes they don't.

But they, unlike so many others, showed up.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:13 AM on September 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Son, go on in there and BE THE LIZARD YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD."
posted by chronkite at 10:31 AM on September 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


These days I vote with my wallet, I don't buy cars, or gas, or alcohol, or cell phones, or shop at Wal Mart or fast food places, etc, etc, etc. I mock the Lizards (and their supporters) every chance I get, and I'll teach my kids to do the same.

Apparently the Internet corporate echelons are Lizard-free. We know that because you still use the Internet, & we know that you wouldn't use any Lizard-infested system. Why is it only cell phones you disdain? Are our landline phone systems immune from Lizard influence? Are you truly committed to the cause or are you just a dilettante?
posted by scalefree at 3:53 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


[A few comments removed. charlie don't surf, chronkite: cut it out.]
posted by cortex at 6:21 AM on September 7, 2011


"Lizards" is teh funny, but not really helpful in any deep way.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:15 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


These days I vote with my wallet

If it weren't for government this particular ballot would look like "Option A. Buy everything from GlaxoExxonWaltonLockheed; Option B. Starve on street."
posted by en forme de poire at 9:17 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"States' rights" Republican Lindsey Graham calls for Federal law restricting voter rights.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:02 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whistleblower Fired After Revealing Wisconsin 'Voter Suppression'
posted by homunculus at 2:39 PM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Professional "voter fraud" troll now preemptively predicting fake voter fraud: A former Bush lawyer with a history of hyping up phony fraud threats sounds the alarm on tomorrow's NY-9 election
posted by homunculus at 6:46 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fool?
What's up with the name calling? You don't even 1/10,000 know me like that and if you did I can guarantee "fool" wouldn't be the word you used to describe me.


You could be a college professor with a PhD in Genius Studies, but you'd still be a person proudly stating how they don't vote.
posted by JHarris at 10:55 AM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


DOJ: Rick Perry's Texas Redistricting Plan Purposefully Discriminated Against Minorities
posted by homunculus at 4:22 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Conservatives Say It Out Loud: They Hate Democracy, Dave Johnson, Truthout, 23rd September, 2011
The roots of today's toxic conservative movement lie in Ayn Rand's teaching that wealthy "producers" -- now called "job creators" -- should be left alone by the government, namely the rest of us. The rest of us are "freeloaders," "moochers," "leeches" and "parasites" who feed off these producers and who shouldn't be allowed to make decisions to collect taxes from them or regulate them or interfere in most other ways. The Randians hate democracy, and say so, declaring that "collectivism" sacrifices individual rights to majority wishes.

For decades these selfish, childish, "you can't make me" beliefs stayed largely below the radar, because conservatives understood that voicing them in public risked alienating ... well, anyone with any sense at all. But for various reasons sense has departed the country and conservatives are finally saying it out loud, for everyone to hear: they hate democracy. They want to limit the country's decision-making and the rewards of our society and economy to those they feel "deserve" to be on top, namely the "producers" and "job-creators."
posted by ob1quixote at 7:42 AM on September 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


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