Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Poll Tacks

It’s been shown over the last couple of presidential election cycles that the more people vote, the less the Republicans win.  This is in keeping with the trend that the country has been moving in; we’re getting to be more progressive in a lot of areas, including cultural issues such as same-sex marriage, reproductive rights, immigration, and economics.

Instead of learning their lesson and adjusting their stands on policies that might attract more people, the conservative response has been to try to stem the tide by restricting the number of people who vote or who vote early.  Or, if you can’t join ’em, keep ’em from voting.

Richard L. Hasen at Slate looks at the state of right-wing suppression.

In the past few weeks, a flurry of conservatives have attacked early voting, from Eugene Kontorovich and John McGinnis in Politico to George Will in the Washington Post to J. Christian Adams in the Washington Times.  The timing is no coincidence: The Presidential Commission on Election Administration, which President Obama created to look at issues with long lines and other election problems, recently issued its much-anticipated report. The report is full of many sound suggestions for improving our elections, and one of the key recommendations is to expand early voting, either in person, through absentee ballots, or both. There’s good reason to follow the commission’s recommendation: Early voting takes pressure off administering the vote on Election Day. It helps avert long lines and aids election administrators in working out kinks. Voters like early voting because it lets them pick a convenient time to vote, when there are not work or child-care conflicts.


But conservative critics of early voting runs don’t just mistrust early voters; they mistrust voters in general. As I explained here, there is a fundamental divide between liberals and conservatives about what voting is for: Conservatives see voting as about choosing the “best” candidate or “best” policies (meaning limits on who can vote, when, and how might make the most sense), and liberals see it as about the allocation of power among political equals. Cutting back on early voting fits with the conservative idea of choosing the “best” candidate by restraining voters from making supposed rash decisions, rather than relying on them to make choices consistent with their interests.

In other words, letting just anybody vote tears away at the fabric of manifest destiny: that the country should be ruled by those in whom God has placed the power by letting them get rich and making them straight, white, and male.  As Jonah Goldberg, he of rankest privilege tells us, letting the common people vote just ruins the party.

“Voting should be harder, not easier—for everybody. … If you are having an intelligent conversation with somebody, is it enriched if a mob of uninformed louts, never mind ex-cons and rapists, barges in? People who want to make voting easier are in effect saying that those who previously didn’t care or know enough about the country to vote are exactly the kind of voters this country needs now.”

Sounds like Mr. Golberg has a big cross to burn bear.

HT to Anne Laurie.

2 barks and woofs on “Poll Tacks

  1. When I was in Ohio, I was presiding judge in my precinct for years. I made it as easy to vote as possible. The year Bill Clinton won, we had 489 registered to vote and we had over 400 vote that day; we were swamped. Keeping people away and making it a chore to vote is un-American. If you can’t win on the issues, you seriously need to do some soul searching. Also, there are many laws that conflict with American laws on voting around the world. Two of those laws are Germany if you are incarcerated you are required to vote; Australia you are required to vote or it is a jail term or have just reason why you didn’t. I almost always vote early here in Texas, the primary is March 4 and I will vote early and now have to show a photo ID.

  2. Seems like I read somewhere yesterday that Floriduh is cutting back on a lot of polling places. And we know where they are located…

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