Is Voting Going the Way of the Edsel?


Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

Is there anything more fundamental to a democracy or democratic republic then the ability of its citizens to vote for their representatives at every level of government?  The privilege or as many state, the right to vote is essential for citizens to control who is running the local and state and national governments and controlling what direction they want their community and country to go in.

As I write this article, there are groups and indeed, national political parties attempting to restrict the right to vote and restrict the early voting opportunities and attempting to restrict the ability of registered citizens to vote at all.  In the past few national elections, we all witnessed the horror stories of people waiting for hours in line to vote on election day.  Instead of increasing early voting days and installing additional voting machines in crowded precincts, just the opposite seems to be happening. 

“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.” Slate

If you are truly interested in allowing all eligible voters to cast their vote, how can you be against recommendations that would increase the number of citizens that actually vote?  It isn’t just columnists and pundits who are suggesting that voting hours should be cut, it is being done by state legislatures and governors.  Just one example is the recent reduction of polling stations in a heavy minority area in Florida by the Manatee County Supervisors.  Led by the Supervisor of Elections, Michael Bennett, and despite heavy public comments at the Board’s meeting against the measure, the Board of Supervisors claimed it was a money-saving move and not related to whom they would be impacting with this allegedly immoral action.

“On a party-line vote, a Florida county’s Republican majority Board of County Commissioners voted Tuesday to eliminate almost one-third of Manatee County’s voting sites. The board accepted a proposal by Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett (R) by a 6-1 vote to trim the number of precincts, despite unanimous public testimony against the move — and complaints by the lone Democratic Commissioner that it would eliminate half of the polling places in his heavily minority District 2.

Bennett, in his first term as elections supervisor, proposed reducing the number of Manatee County precincts from 99 to 69. Citing decreased Election Day turnout, as more voters switch to in-person early voting and vote-by-mail options, he told the commissioners that the move would save money and allow the county to offer more early voting sites in the future.

In the public comment section of the meeting, all ten speeches strongly opposed the move. Representatives of the local NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Council warned that the cuts would decrease voter turnout because voters would have to travel further to a polling place, especially among the elderly and people without cars, and noted that the cuts disproportionately affected minority-heavy precincts. Bennett dismissed these concerns, noting that because District 2 had received “preferential treatment in the past,” even with the changes, his district will have the smallest number of voters per precinct. “It was overbalanced before, it’s overbalanced now.” Bennett also repeatedly noted that he had discussed the move with civil rights groups and both the Republican and “Democrat” Parties.” Think Progress

Our friends on the Right seem to have differing reasons for cutting the ability to vote early and in many case, making it more difficult to vote on Election day.  As noted above, some conservatives claim that early voters are untrustworthy and not informed enough on the issues.

“All of these conservative commentators agree that everyone should vote on Election Day to promote “deliberation” or to prevent “stubborn” voters from making “uninformed” or emotional decisions “prematurely.” In short, they argue that we cannot trust the people to decide for themselves when they have enough information to vote.

The claim is empirically false. As Doug Chapin explains: ‘ “This argument, which was popular a decade ago, is undercut by research by Paul Gronke and others showing that early voters are not only more partisan but less undecided, meaning that they have no interest in ‘taking in the full back and forth of the campaign.’ It also flies in the face of voters, well, voting with their feet by choosing to cast ballots outside of the traditional polling place.” ‘ Slate

So, if the proffered reason to cut early voting is not based on facts, could the real reason be…Politics?  Could the real reason why minority precincts in Florida are having their voting locations cut at a disparately larger degree then white districts also be based on Politics?  Some conservative pundits think that we should be making it harder to vote and indeed, as we have seen above, some legislatures and county boards are taking that view to heart. Do you agree?

Indeed, recently one Billionaire venture capitalist suggested that people who do not pay taxes should not be able to vote and that the wealthy should get more votes than the poor and middle class.  As suggested in the linked article, the wealthy already get a larger “vote” than the rest of us because they can purchase the attention of legislators through the use of secret PACs and cash bundling.  I guess I should be happy that we are allowed to vote at all.  I wonder when the first “Corporations can vote too” legislation will be introduced and passed? Or has it already been introduced?

Should voting be restricted or increased?  If money is speech, shouldn’t voting be considered the ultimate speech on who citizens want as their representatives?  Is it time for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote and outlawing any restrictions in that right?  Is it just coincidence that the reduction in voting precincts happens disproportionately in minority areas?  What do you think?


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110 thoughts on “Is Voting Going the Way of the Edsel?”

  1. Distinguishing difference between ads as object and humans as objects is obvious to everyone but Supremes even with level of false advertising at an all time high. Equating representatives as fiduciaries and advertising as freedom of speech, a.k.a. Money talk, is completely ridiculous! Putting our money where our mouth is is the superficial sham that has taken the entire country hostage because the supremes prefer to make law, not interpret the Constitution.

  2. I don’t agree with a straight line vote for party vs the person however, if you are a dem or rep and you want their policies to prevail then you vote party and not person whether or not you are familiar with the candidates.
    (I was just called by a market research company asking me about the candidates for Pa gov and Lt gov. I was astounded at the number of folks running for each position and how many of them I had never heard of.)

  3. I tried posting again about oligarchy, but it just disappears into the WordPress Vortex of Doom. Sorry Mike. I would have loved to hear your comments about my thinking on the matter.

  4. Mike, I appreciate your comments very much. They stimulate my thinking. Unfortunately, my responses about oligarchy and your other comments are not posting. I’m giving up sharing them for now.

  5. Skip, perhaps women in your circle aren’t annoyed by condescending men trying to “mansplain” democracy to them. At least when David was being condescending he called me “lady”. “Girl” just won’t cut it. As for your views, sorry, but once again I must put them in the extreme category. A very few of the things you say ring true, but most ring hollow.

    1. annieofwi – Your opinion, Annie, is backed by nothing in your comment. If your going to criticize me, at least tell me what and why. Because, I note that all democracies throughout history have failed over time, means I offer an extremist view? It’s not my fault it hasn’t worked, nor has it worked well for the majority. Let’s look at how well the Roman Republic worked. It worked great for the ruling class, sometimes, but once again, not good for the majority or the numerous slaves and people they rapped and pillaged. Let’s talk about the British. They invaded all but approximately 30 countries in the world.

      There are numerous reasons why democracies fail. Should we just ignore them, as extremist views? So let’s try placing another layer of elected representation, i.e. on top of a democracy an call it a democratic Republic and “hope” that it is going to fair any better than a direct democracy. If the Citizens cannot government themselves by direct participation, how are they to be competent in choosing others in which to represent them.

      Plus, these are the age old classic arguments, that have been made for centuries. They’re not extremist.

      Social Democracy, as embraced by the progressive movement appears to be based on the notion that there are those that have the knowledge and wisdom to rule over the lives and affairs of others and I suggest that there is no greater folly in our world than arrogance.

  6. davidm:

    Regarding your comment on Iraq and Afghanistan, I meant to add that many of us predicted from the beginning that our efforts in those countries would fail. I thought it obvious in fact. But we have the maddening conceit in this country that democracy is an exportable product.

  7. davidm:

    1. I gave you some citations yesterday on the right to vote. I don’t know if you checked them out. But that right is also inherent in the concepts of personal autonomy and consent.

    2. The fact that the Founders did not believe in universal suffrage is attributable to historical and cultural factors.

    3. The right to vote has expanded over the years for very good reasons. We first determined that persons who do not own property still have a dog in the fight. We next determined that racial differences should not matter. Then we came around to recognizing that women are not chattel. Finally, we agreed that if 18-year-olds are good enough to use as cannon fodder, they should be able to have a say in the matter. I suggest that these changes were both rational and morally compelled.

    4. The idea that universal suffrage “dilutes the voice of those who actually understand government” is quite true, but essentially meaningless. It is also true that the ability to “understand government” is not a qualification to hold office, and we live with those consequences on a daily basis. I’m certain that you and I both feel competent to develop a laundry list of requirements we personally deem essential for an informed and responsible electorate. I’m also certain that our lists would not be identical.

    5. I believe that you are fundamentally an oligarch. (Actually, I believe that most of us would lean in that direction as long as we were included among the elite group in power.) That theory of government is still prevalent in many parts of the world. Universal suffrage provides some limited defense to oligarchy.

    6. Corruption is not a function of universal suffrage. It is a function of the unholy alliance between wealth and political power. Indeed, wealth more than anything else dilutes voting rights.

    7. Libertarianism is not the solution to the existing system because its emphasis on individualism is a recipe for anarchy.

    8. Democracy is not the “holy grail.” It is a process. The only “holy grail” is a just society.

    1. Mike Appleton wrote: “I gave you some citations yesterday on the right to vote. I don’t know if you checked them out. But that right is also inherent in the concepts of personal autonomy and consent.”

      As you know by now, I am an adherent to Natural Law. I believe that inalienable rights exist apart from any government and any Constitution. When the Constitution acknowledges certain fundamental rights, I perceive it as an acknowledgment, not as the establisher of that fundamental right. Furthermore, there is always the possibility that the Constitution is getting it wrong sometimes. With an evolving document, we must always be ready to consider the possibility that the document is changing in the wrong way rather than the right way.

      Most interesting to me in Reynolds v. Sims was Justice Harlan’s dissent opinion. Sometimes I think the Fourteenth Amendment of the Reconstruction era was the worst thing that was ever put into the Constitution. An Amendment meant to bring liberation to people has ended up bringing federalism and a restriction on liberty and State’s rights. Concerning this issue of universal suffrage and the “one person one vote” mentality expressed in Reynolds v. Sims, how can we forget that the two houses of Congress were established to balance that concept with the greater stake that property owners have in what government does. While the House of Representatives is based upon population size, the Senate is not. The reason for that is completely lost by the crazy eyed Democrats who think universal and equal suffrage is a fundamental right guaranteed to everyone and that somehow if we make that a reality, good government will follow. I’m not buying that thesis.

      The Constitution has evolved on the issue of voting. I question whether it has evolved in the right direct. I get the sense that you think the case is proven by the fact that the Constitution has through time come closer toward embracing universal and equal suffrage. Therefore, you quote law with the intent that this should settle the matter for someone like me asking for an argument for voting being a fundamental right. It doesn’t.

      Mike Appleton wrote: “The idea that universal suffrage “dilutes the voice of those who actually understand government” is quite true, but essentially meaningless.”

      I fail to see how it is meaningless. The purpose of voting is that government might function with the consent of the governed. Therefore, I reason that voting should be weighted toward those who actually care. When one person votes who doesn’t care about which candidate actually wins, and another person who deeply cares votes in an opposite way, we have a problem of democracy. That person who could care less, who is just as happy with either candidate, just nullifies the vote of the person who deeply cares. How does this further the concept of government by the consent of the governed?

      Consider also the situation of a candidate coming to office who does everything different from what he claimed he would do. Does not the principle of governing with the consent of the governed suggest that those who actually see what is coming upon society ought to have a vote that makes this deviation known? How can they do that when their vote counts just as much as the person who doesn’t care but votes because of societal pressure that he is a good person if he votes and a bad person if he doesn’t vote.

      1. David, you wrote ” That person who could care less, who is just as happy with either candidate, just nullifies the vote of the person who deeply cares.” No it does not, if he is happy with either candidate then he is voting for the one that he wants, regardless of which button he pushes. No one speaks for me, my vote speaks for me, whether I am happy go lucky or a pitbull for one candidate over another. Your argument also would go for a couple, the husband is dem, the wife repub. Their votes cancel out each others so now the happy go lucky should not vote and so too should any couple that does not share the same position and vote for the same guy.
        ({resident Obama has changed positions a number of times when he has been called and petitioned by large numbers of people. such as, and I forget what part it was, he added something to the ACA that he said initially would be in it but then was not. Candidates and elected do respond when the people take the time and effort to call them to task when they do the opposite of what they said they would do.

        1. leejcaroll wrote: “No it does not, if he is happy with either candidate then he is voting for the one that he wants, regardless of which button he pushes.”

          What I’m talking about is the person who sees names on the ballot and doesn’t even know who they are. He just picks one at random because he is suppose to vote. It is like the bad student who goes through a multiple choice quiz and just chooses C for every answer.

        2. What I am trying to say is that this is not a measure of consent. His true measure of consent is either not to count his vote, or have a system in place where the person who takes the issues seriously and actually has a choice for office gets two votes to that person’s single careless vote.

        3. leejcarol & David – I don’t know how many times I’ve heard somebody tell me, I didn’t really know very much about he candidates, so I just voted ________________ down the line, Democrat or Republic.

    2. Mike Appleton wrote: “Corruption is not a function of universal suffrage. It is a function of the unholy alliance between wealth and political power. Indeed, wealth more than anything else dilutes voting rights.”

      I agree that corruption is based on money not voting, but voting is their means of deceiving us. As long as people believe government is based fairly upon a system of voting, they will not rise up and overthrow evil tyrants. They just wait for the next election and vote in another tyrant.

      1. davidm2575 – From the time we, as children, could comprehend social structure, we were taught that democracy was the best system of government and it is, with a slight mod. Democracy doesn’t quite work as we had thought and have experienced, because it sadly fails to provide what is in the best interest of the majority, as diversity of interest, is the spoiler. We then concluded, that we must modify it a bit and create a “improved” layer of representation, on top of a direct democracy, a democratic Republic. Thinking that since a direct democracy, the best form of government known, did work as expected, lets up the scale/quality of decision makers as bit, and have the majority elect representation to the process. Of course, the representatives, go strait for the money with both special interest and compromise as a means of gaining more political clout & money; clout and money being synonymous. It’s obviously more practical to take the money from special interests and lie to the Citizens, than it is to tell the truth and not get elected since the 1%ers control 80+% of the wealth. Remember the diversity thing, getting the 99% to give their very limited amounts of excess money to a single representative that truly represents their interests, is like asking Karl Marx and Ron Paul to compromise on a socio-economic issue.

        As you contend David, as long as people believe that voting will fix all that is wrong with the world, people will continue to submit to authoritarian rule, rather than rise up, since their does not appear to be a better system. What other alternative do we have; The Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA). The majority sadly, do not understand the significance of judicial decisions because they have been doped, as you suggest into believing “political activism” i.e. “voting” will some day miraculously prevail and make the world right, if they can only get enough people to vote as they believe.

        Let’s get real, it is going to take intellectuals to provide ethical representation. Are there any that are willing to partake in trying to truly represent the majority? Of course, Turley and many others have been fighting for justice, but not enough. We are still trying to win on/in their “court”, no pun intended and that has not nor in my opinion, will ever work.

        If a democracy nor a democratic republic work as intended, that leaves us with only two choices, either a poorly functioning government or no government at all. That choice does not appear to be acceptable to even those that are well educated, despite the reality it employs. We all know that we must have government, and that voluntary associations can not surely do all those things, that we have been taught to believe government must do. What is a militia? Private toll roads are bad, yet government toll roads are acceptable? Private electrical utilities are bad, but I pay 20% more for my government administered electricity than the private system in the next city. Individual septic systems are better overall for the environment, yet we are forced to pay and use centralized public sewage? Do we really want to keep paying for the war on drugs that those in government favor, or should we decrease the prison population by 40%, thus diminishing our tax burden and government spending. Do we want to keep paying for corporate and political foreign espionage and using tax dollars to make the 1%ers richer, or do we want to lower taxes, cut military defense spending, and allow the majority to keep more of their hard earned money.

        I should not have to keep going with this list because of the level of intelligence on this blog.

  8. (sry, for some reason yesterday and today it took some time for response to show, usually it does so immediately)

    From Annie’s posting “Democracy is not possible without the peoples’ vote. It is has been important since our government was founded and it always will be, as long as people do their duty by taking part in the single and easy process of registering to vote and voting.”

    One reason the politicians get away with it is because they see people don’t vote. Instead of David’s suggestion, only those few who are picked be permitted the privilege of voting, why not go the other way and make it mandatory giving people a, what is the expression, a dog in the race.

  9. Response without clicks didn’t take don’t know if went to the spam folder for some reason (?)

  10. David, I find it not worth my continuing to reply as you do not want to know about anything that might actually make you have to think and consider that you may wrong, that your rightwing sources may have a specific bent as opposed to say my clicks from Forbes and The Brennan center, both non partisan sources, non one wing or the other. (and the clicks others have provided.) I would not consider you an “informed voter” because your information is so obviously biased.

  11. Anonymously Yours wrote: Speaking of voting …. Be careful when you hear conservative and constitutional conservative….. These are part of the well funded tea party candidates buzz words…..

    That’s BS, but be careful though, we would not like to have a Constitution that cannot be unlawfully abrogated by our political system.

  12. Speaking of voting …. Be careful when you hear conservative and constitutional conservative….. These are part of the well funded tea party candidates buzz words…..

  13. leejcaroll wrote: “(Oh and the Henry story : You said he was arrested but left out the important part of that: However, the former city commissioner paid restitution fees and was never convicted of a felony. (and the inquiry apparently is ongoing while he is Mayor) but it does sound better if you leave out the outcome of his arrest.”

    I gave you the link so you could see those details for yourself. You left out that the man resigned from office. Should I accuse you of slanting the story? I don’t think so. When a man is accused of gaining political office by fraudulent votes, and he resigns from that office, do you really think the D.A. is going to move forward in prosecution? The damage being caused by the fraud no longer exists.

    1. davidm2575 & leejcarol – We should be taking about election fraud and not specifically about just voter fraud. Yes, the Political Parties try to stifle voters from the other side of the isle, just as the try to stifle other political parties.

      What kills me most is that there are those who are still falling for the two party scam to begin with. The oligarchy controls both parties, and that most of the games being played is to distracts those morons that don’t truly understand it’s a two headed dragon with loyalties depending on which district they represent. If they represent a predominately democratic district, their Dems and if the district changes, they have been known to switch sides or go independent if necessary. They all, except a hand full, lie three quarters of the time. The true fight is over the money in the U.S. Treasury, if you haven’t been paying attention. You’re actually arguing over if dead people and felons are voting or not.

      As we argue about voting for the lesser of two evils, various companies and “industries” are milking the taxpayers for $trillions. They are trying and doing a very good job at distracting the majority from the criminal acts they are perpetrating.

      Voting to me is like playing checkers and nuclear war. It is better not to play the game and instead concentrate, like Turley on the Judiciary. If we cannot improve the Judiciary, our votes are moot.

  14. Elaine,

    I don’t remember that specific article — but the gist has been clear since 1865.

  15. Elaine,

    What really bothers me about davidm2575’s statement above is the encapsulated paradox that it presents.

    If voting should be a privilege granted by government then how can government ever change?

    It is a feudalistic perspective.

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