Sunday, October 5, 2008

Vote early, vote often

Pundits are still playing American Idol-style games with the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates while the election is very likely being decided under their noses. In the trenches, Barack Obama and John McCain are getting early voters out and sending their lawyers in to fight over the rules.

From 20-30 percent of ballots were cast by election day four years ago. It's expected to be higher this year. Of the swing states that are expected to determine the outcome 53% of ballots cast in Nevada, 47% in Colorado, 51% in New Mexico and 36% in Florida were early ballots last time.

Ohio is taking its first shot at "no fault" (my term) absentee balloting, and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner can expect to be in a legal firestorm for months. She's being challenged for denying some Republican registrations and for allowing some Democratic registrations.

Researchers say it may be a wash anyway, because early voters tend to be the most committed to their candidate. According to the Washington Post:

The early-voting trend does not benefit one party over the other, experts say, because each is targeting infrequent voters. On the Democratic side, that means urban, often minority voters and students. On the Republican side, it is older voters and those in more rural areas who favor absentee ballots.

The wild card may be Hillary Clinton and Obama getting so many new registrations. For instance, in Georgia 39% of early ballots so far are by Afro-Americans, who make up 29% of the population. College students in Columbus, Ohio treated same-day voting like a cult-movie opening, pitching tents to be the first in line. There are reports of thousands of students being bused to registration locations.

Crime watchers

And then there are the felons. The NAACP has gone to court to register some prisoners. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

The state Department of Corrections halted (Reverend Kenneth) Glasgow's registration drive after two days because of complaints from the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party that registering inmates without adequate monitoring could lead to voter fraud. Fewer than 80 inmates filled out registration forms. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has filed suit challenging the prison commissioner's decision to stop the registration drive...

Only two states — Maine and Vermont — place no limits on voting due to a criminal conviction; even prison inmates can cast a ballot. Kentucky and Virginia are the only two states that permanently bar felons from voting, although the governors of those states can restore voting rights to individuals.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear streamlined the process in March, and has since restored the rights of more than 740 released convicts. Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine promised to fast-track applications for voter restoration that his office received by Aug. 1, adding three people to his staff to process applications before Monday's registration deadline.

This is a touchy, and very serious issue. Both Beshear and Kaine are being accused of playing politics when they rush registrations. The "non-serious felonies" (I wouldn't make that up) that don't take away your right to vote in Alabama would be misdemeanors in many other states.

Both sides are guilty of slipping into a mindset that the end justifies the means, foreclosing rational discussion of the subject. The scurrilous, slanderous and snide implication is that all felons are Democrats, and there are about four million who have lost the right to vote.

There's a grain of truth that further muddies the waters. Thirteen percent of black men have lost that right. It's obvious what their vote would be, particularly in this election.

Blacks represent "about 40 percent of the people who've gotten their rights lost and restored," according to civil rights attorney Reggie Mitchell. "With an African-American running, and such a critical mass, this could have a tremendous impact."

Which leads us back to "registering inmates without adequate monitoring could lead to voter fraud." Was that said with a straight face? Adequate monitoring? Of inmates?

Probably my favorite line, until I ran across this line from Auglaize County Elections Board Director Carolyn Campbell: "A lot said by voting now, they can stop listening to everything on TV."

Today's fun fact: President George Bush still owes the Greenberg-Traurig law firm $314,000 for work on the 2000 Florida recount.
Today's question: Does John Scalia still work for the firm?
Today's quote: Get over it! (Justice Antonin Scalia)


Lil' Hammerhead said...

I figure what will be a landslide victory by Obama will negate any reason for lawsuits about 20 votes here or 3000 votes there. :}Gobama!

yobro said...

hyperbole without references sucks:

"Both sides are guilty of slipping into a mindset that the end justifies the means, foreclosing rational discussion of the subject."

Maybe an expanded analysis with specifics would make me happier...

or not

I'd say that this line is not up to your usual standards.

Lil' Hammerhead said...

Maybe I'm rubbing off on you Kap? :} (lowered standards that is)

KAP said...

Not hyperbole, just a sedan chair without porters; I shoehorned two subjects into one post and ran too long. I had more windows than an Orange County Cathedral with links to statements backing it up.

Basically, the left is downplaying instances of fraud and practices like no ID that allow fraud. ACORN is not the bugaboo painted by the right, but it's sloppy and has encouraged questionable behavior by some of its people. To its credit, ACORN has also self-reported on questionable activities within its ranks.

The right has painted pictures of criminal hordes shambling down to the voting boots and vastly overestimated the actual fraud occurring.

What I was saying was that both sides ignore the valid points raised by the other. The statement is indeed hyperbolic to the extent it gives equal weight to the arguments; the right is by far more guilty of this.

An extreme example is the firing of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, evidently because he didn't find probable cause to prosecute fraud in New Mexico.