Is Voting Going the Way of the Edsel?

LyndonJohnson_signs_Voting_Rights_Act_of_1965

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?

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED BY LAWRENCE E. RAFFERTY

“The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers.  As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.”

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

  1. davidm2575 wrote:

    “I classify voting more like a privilege granted by government.”

    And there is davidm2575’s view of the great unwashed. This view of his aligns with views given by all of his postings — namely that he is above the fray, and that he considers most people to be worthy of little but scorn.

  2. The voting system being set to be open and legitimate may be what is sought to be a good de jure way of addressing the subjugation of the citizenry but it is not until the de facto money and power corrupted two party duopoly is eliminated that we will have a government truly representing the the needs of the individual

  3. Elaine, I wonder why it is that 99% of those who use sexist rhetoric are conservative.

  4. annie,

    I’ve also dealt with that type of sexist condescension on this blog. Then again, what do we “girls” and clueless nannies know?

    *****

    Skip,

    I have no doubt that some of us have been “doped.” Some most likely by Faux News and radio talk show hosts like the rotund Rushbo.

    1. Elaine M. – and is there a lot of faux news out there or what? That reminds me of Jefferson’s quotes; The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers” and “I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.” and “Advertisements… contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.”

  5. Here, you go, simply put and oh so true. Smart kid.

    http://www.sec.state.vt.us/kids/contest/2005/9_12_winner_2005.htm

    In 1996 the Vermont Legislature adopted the most comprehensive and aggressive campaign finance law in the nation. The law limited campaign contributions to candidates, PACs and political parties, it defined and limited related expenditures on behalf of candidates, it limited out of state contributions and set limits on candidate spending. The law also included a public finance provision for candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. Some of the law’s provisions were adopted with the express intent of challenging restrictive readings of United States Supreme Court precedent Buckley v. Valeo, and as expected a court case followed. On August 10, 2000, the Vermont Federal District Court struck some of the provisions of the law as unconstitutional. See Landell et al v. Sorrell et al, Docket No. 2:00-cv-146. (The decision is available at http://www.vtb.uscourts.gov). That case was appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and a three judge panel overturned the lower court decision and reinstated much of Vermont’s law. (The decision is available through the Secretary of State’s website’s election page http://www.sec.state.vt.us). Should government be allowed to place limits on how much money candidates and their supporters spend on their campaigns?
    The Importance of Voting to Democracy
    By Ben Brewster

    The Importance of Voting to Democracy

    Voting isn’t just important to Democracy.  Voting is Democracy.  You can’t have a successfully run democratic system without the support and votes of the citizens.  The definition of a democracy even has voting in it.  A democracy is a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.  That is what our fore fathers envisioned for our country.  We went to war for our democracy.  Thousands of Americans fought for our rights, they shed their blood to give us what we have today.

                Voting rights at one point were only given to the rich land owners, and then it was amended and given to men even if they didn’t own property.  Now women can vote and the voting age is 18.  All these things were done to get more people voting.  These things would never have happened if voting was not important.  In the last election fifty percent of eligible voters voted.  It was the highest it’s been for along time.  It’s good to see a high rate of voting, that means people are doing there part in keeping our democracy alive.  Without the votes of the people our democracy would expire.  It would turn into a country run by the people in the white house, senate, congress, and special interest groups.  That wouldn’t make people happy.  In fact our government would become a dictatorship rather than a democracy.  Nobody wants to live in a place run where your thoughts and opinions don’t matter.

                Voting gives the ability for people to express their opinions about the government.  The power lies in our hands when we vote.  We are given a really great opportunity that many people don’t take advantage of.  We are given the opportunity to change what we don’t like and bring about something you do like.  Every vote reassures our democracy and makes it stronger. We can’t allow for it to weaken and disintegrate.  I bet many people couldn’t even imagine living in a place where the people’s opinion doesn’t matter.  I know I can’t.

                Still today only half of all voters take part in voting day.  Many people are angry with the government and don’t care to vote.  Others despise the candidates or don’t believe their vote counts, and don’t have interest in the issues that are up for vote.  No matter what their reasons are they need to vote.  You can’t bicker about the government when you don’t go out and vote and try and change what you are angry about.  It’s you right as an American and it should be taken advantage of.

                Is there any way to get more people to vote?  I think we should do something to get more people voting.  We should make it a law.  We wouldn’t have a problem then.  Every one would vote.  If they didn’t they would get in trouble.  We could also give benefits to the people who do vote.  They could be given a bonus on their tax returns or something.  It could act as some kind of tax right off, like they do to people who give money to charity.  There could also be better representation of things.  Give more of a broad spectrum of different parties for people to be represented by.  That could allow for people to feel like they are represented more accurately and maybe get people more excited to vote.

                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.

    1. annie quoted: “These things would never have happened if voting was not important.”

      What a ridiculous statement. Voting has been expanded by those in power to deceive people. It gives them the illusion that they are in charge of government. If someone doesn’t like something in government, the powers that be excuse themselves with, “well, the people voted for this. If you don’t like it, vote to change it.” The truth is that people are not in charge. Universal suffrage dilutes votes and dilutes the voice of those who actually understand government. Equal suffrage does the same thing. The voting age was reduced in response to war. We forced teenagers to give their lives for their country, and the argument was made that we expect them to die for their country but they are not even old enough to vote or drink.

      The entire article treats democracy as some kind of holy grail. It is a sacred cow that is supposedly self-evident to be good. The truth is that pure democracy is mob rule. Mob rule never works. Our founders decided against establishing a pure democracy, and against establishing universal and equal suffrage. Oh, passionate arguments were made for it, but in the end, we established a democratic Republic instead of democracy, and we limited voting much more than exists today. Some cities today even allow 16 year olds to vote. How noble of them. .

      If voting is so important, why didn’t it work in Iraq and Afghanistan?

  6. Hskiprob.

    I don’t appreciate being called “girl”. I am probably older than you. Condescension won’t make you sound more credible. Your outlook is extremist, from the comments you make here on the Turley blog. It’s pretty evident that your reading material is straight out of right wing think tanks.

    1. annieofwi. Some might suggest that if you were a woman, you wouldn’t be offended by such a coy dig, as compared to being called an extremist. Besides, weren’t our founding fathers considered extremists? I do not consider telling the truth extremism, but I certainly would suggest ignoring it to be.

  7. David. I am not living in denial about voter fraud, it has been proven to be a lie/distortion, such, again, as in Pa. where it was admitted no voter fraud but the ID requirement would get more votes for Romney.
    I did not mention your one anecdote, because one anecdote does not mean anything other then that one guy. Use of that to me is an indication you do not have proof there is widespread fraud which is the rationale for the attempt to suppress the vote.
    You wrote: I think that when voter fraud actually happens, it would be very difficult to identify and prove” well then how do you correct something you can’t even prove exists?
    The GOP wants by their horrendous gerrymandering and the attempt to suppress the vote to find a way to get around winning the vote by honest means. They know their behavior (or lack thereof, i.e. obstructionism, is not something that makes people come out and vote for them.
    The idea that voting is not a right but a privilege is beyond the pale. That’s why slaves could not vote.
    I am not happy with the system as it stands. Citizens United needs to be overturned and there has to be a way to get the money out of politics. There is a Government By The People Act introduced in the House https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr20/text that would make some difference.
    (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.

    1. leejcaroll wrote: “I am not living in denial about voter fraud, it has been proven to be a lie/distortion…”

      No it hasn’t. You are reporting opinions of far left wing liberals and taking it as fact. This happens often on this site.

      leejcaroll wrote: “I did not mention your one anecdote, because one anecdote does not mean anything other then that one guy. Use of that to me is an indication you do not have proof there is widespread fraud which is the rationale for the attempt to suppress the vote.”

      What you don’t seem to understand is that I don’t have a dog in this race. I do not view voting as a fundamental right. I really don’t care very much about voter fraud. What I care about is when people lie about my political party, the GOP, and when they make distorted statements based upon fabrications or an over-emphasis on differing ideology.

      A quick search shows me many examples of voter fraud happening. Check out this website from the Republican National Lawyers:

      http://www.rnla.org/votefraud.asp

      If we were allowed to post more than two links, I could supply many more. Here’s one more:

      http://www.electionintegritywatch.com/be-informed/news-stories/

      I also read about the election for Mayor of Miami being voided when a Judge found 5,000 fraudulent absentee ballots. Nobody was convicted in the case because the Judge could not prove that the Mayor knew about it or orchestrated it. The election was voided and a new election had to be done.

      leejcaroll wrote: “The GOP wants by their horrendous gerrymandering and the attempt to suppress the vote to find a way to get around winning the vote by honest means.”

      You just repeated a falsehood. The GOP wants honest and fair elections.

      leejcaroll wrote: “The idea that voting is not a right but a privilege is beyond the pale. That’s why slaves could not vote.”

      Yeah, so. It is also why women could not vote. It also is why the voting age use to be 21. It is why only property owners could vote. It is why poll taxes existed. So far your argument for universal suffrage and equal suffrage seems to stem from your cultural bias and indoctrination into liberalism.

      There is some movement today to make it so people who do not pay any taxes cannot vote. What do you think about that idea?

      I’m still waiting for the argument from someone for why voting is a fundamental right (inalienable right). I’ve never seen the argument made. They just repeat the mantra, that voting is a right. At least give me an argument if you are going to mock me for questioning that assumption.

  8. davidm:

    You should read Reynolds v.Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964). Then take a look at Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution, together with the 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 24th and 26th Amendments.

  9. Voting is fundamental to a Representative Democracy. It’s disturbing to say the least to read comments of those who don’t think voting affects any outcomes, I encourage them to stay home on election days.

    1. annieofwi – read girl. Goggle “why democracy fails” and read the hundreds of pages on the subject by a multitude of authors. It doesn’t provide what is in the best interest of the majority.

      Or you can just continue to live in your illusionary world. It’s up to you.

      The short article that I wrote gave you enough info to understand, but I don’t want you to rely on me. Democracies fail for a number of reasons and many have written on the subject. There are voluminous amounts of written material on the subject. We have all be doped. Thinking that a democratic republic is going to work, is even more ludicrous and the U.S. is a great example.

  10. Every state has dead people who are registered voters. That is because registered voters die. And in my experience, when a registered voter dies, notifiying the local county supervisor of elections is typically not a priority among the members of the deceased’s family.

    Furthermore, there is a difference between dead people appearing on voting rolls and dead people appearing at polling places. In fact, in the 45 years I have been voting, I do not recall a single instance in which I observed anyone in a voting line who appeared suspiciously unconscious (as opposed to clueless), who was being held in a standing position by others or who exuded an odor of decomposition.

    Furthermore, Florida requires voters to produce photo identification when we vote.

    1. Mike Appleton wrote: “In fact, in the 45 years I have been voting, I do not recall a single instance in which I observed anyone in a voting line who appeared suspiciously unconscious (as opposed to clueless), who was being held in a standing position by others or who exuded an odor of decomposition.”

      LOL. Now that was funny.

      Mike Appleton wrote: “Furthermore, Florida requires voters to produce photo identification when we vote.”

      Yes, but the push by the “right to vote” people is to get rid of the ID requirement in Florida. How do you feel about Florida not requiring ID? Anybody could then vote as the dead person, and nobody is wiser about it. Even with the ID requirement, it is very easy to fake an ID for voting purposes.

      Also, this question is for Mike or anyone else: Why does anyone think that voting is a fundamental right? I don’t see it.

      While I think it is a good idea to get feedback from citizens about who should run government, I do not think it is a fundamental right. Only about 65% of Americans even vote in a Presidential election, and voting is even lower in other elections. I classify voting more like a privilege granted by government. It is just a tool of government to gauge who the people want to serve in office. I have been disenfranchised before (not allowed to vote), and I did not feel my rights were taken away the same way I would feel if I did not have the right to speak or redress grievances with the government, etc. If voting were outlawed tomorrow, I wouldn’t really care as long as I maintained my fundamental rights. It seems to me that voting is a waste of time. My vote is simply washed out by the yahoo who doesn’t care about who is in office, but votes because society has convinced him that it is noble duty to vote.

    1. leejcaroll – Interesting that the author defines voter fraud as fraud by the voter and does not lump the various other improprieties into this research paper. It’s not really voter fraud that we have to worry about, it’s who counting the votes, lost ballots, vote manipulation, etc. As the two brothers mentioned in their book Vote Scam, the networks were reporting the results before it was possible to have even counted them. That what triggered their initial, hmmm, how can that be? and future examination and discoveries. Does submitting fraudulently punched ballots by the Democratic and Republican Parties qualify as voter fraud?

      I think it is also clever that especially the Democrats go to great lengths to get the infirmed, by wheel chairs if necessary, to vote hear in West Palm Beach, hence the level of voter mistakes, in the area. Some of the folks are just to old, senile, etc. to properly vote. We have one of the oldest populations in the country, so of course the Parties will pull out the vans and transports everyone who is still alive and registered to vote to the voter precincts, even if their 103 with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

      Who’s this character Barrack Obama, grandson. Grandpa. he’s a black man that is really standing up for the middle class and an excellent and articulate speaker. Grandson, since when did we have a black man on the ballot for President? Grandson, what do I do in this booth, again?

  11. Personanongrata,
    Wordpress is a very hungry animal sometimes. I do not have the ability to delete or rescue comments.

  12. My original comment posted and then someone deleted it thirty minutes later, how very strange indeed.

    Casting a vote in the current political atmosphere of legalized plunder, executive overreach, congressional abdication of their Constitutional duties and the courts acting as a judicial rubber-stamp to a government run amok is merely consent to be governed in the same manner.

    The republic is dead voting under these circumstances is effective as pissing into the wind.

    “A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to.” ~ Granville Hicks

    1. I’m not sure that there are many times that voting really has a truly beneficial outcome for the majority. If so, it is rare. The necessity of political compromise and other deficiencies in democracy, effectively subverts the potential positive results. As more and more compromises are excepted, it cannot bode well for the majority. Hence, why we are in the various situations we are in today. Each side selling off the taxpayers in compromise. Political racketeering under the guise of the public good. That’s why all these people come out of Congress so wealthy?

    1. Rafflaw, with the ability of the judiciary to rubberstamp a bad law or it’s ability to overturn or abrogate a good law, I still suggest that we spend the majority of our time in the judicial arena. Voting has really been a waste of time and energy for the majority, especially when given the “privilege” of voting for the lesser of two evils. If you research what the two major parties have done to thwart just the efforts of the Libertarian Party alone, you will find an asserted effort to diminish their participation in the political arena, including both ballot access for the candidates and participation in the debates. The Libertarian Party, by the way, is the only third party to effectively be on the ballot of enough states to have a chance to win. Sadly the lame stream media does an effective job with yellow journalism tactics to manipulate voters into continuing the two party scam.

  13. I believe the Supreme Court has made their decision about the rights of the people to vote in 2001. Remember?

  14. As someone previously said, “The multinational banks and international corporations have bought our government, all 3 branches”.

    In turn, the FEDs are trying to force the states to follow along in every aspect possible from breaking up unions that protect workers, to shipping in 50,000 immigrants into Detroit to work for nothing at a new corporation that “American’s don’t want to work for”. This will drive down American wages further and take more jobs away from Americans..

    AMERICANS DIDN’T VOTE FOR THIS. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? BECAUSE YOUR VOTE DOES NOT MATTER.

    It does not matter who becomes president or who is elected into the House. All of them will be making policy that protects the corporations and banks that own them.

    No one in Washington is looking out for the citizens of America.

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