Thursday, September 30, 2004
Making (Democrat) votes count: The New York Times editorial board continues its series entitled "Making Votes Count" -- it will surely be the Times entry for the Pulitzers next time around.
The Times sticks to the Democrat Party line that values more votes being cast over valid votes being cast -- voter fraud is not a concern.
[O]ne of the lessons of the election mess in Florida in 2000 was that a secretary of state can deprive a large number of people of the right to vote by small manipulations of the rules.
I loved this one. That's what the Times editorial board took away from Florida 2000? What were the Florida secretary of state's "small manipulations"? Vote counts must be certified by such and such a date. Any protest must occur before such and such a date. What the Times calls "manipulations," everyone else calls "the law."
Wait, it gets better.
[Ohio Secretary of State] Mr. [Kenneth] Blackwell's second directive tells local elections officials to follow a bad policy Ohio adopted on provisional ballots. This is the first presidential election in which every voter whose eligibility is in doubt has the right to cast a ballot and to have the vote's validity verified later. But Ohio and some other states have tried to gut this guarantee by not counting provisional ballots cast in the wrong polling places. There is no reason to do that.
Ah, but there is a reason to do that. Some Republican conspiracy theorists, shortly after the 2000 election claimed that President Bush would've garnered a higher popular vote total if states like California, that went for Al Gore by a large margin, had counted all of the votes. The claim was that once it became clear that Al Gore had won the state, they just stopped counting the ballots.
That claim was bogus for the very same reason that the Times is caught in a lie here: There are down-ballot races.
If someone casts a provisional ballot in the wrong polling place, they may be voting for a property tax levy or a school board race or even a congressional race in which they have no right to vote.
All the ballots in the 2000 race were counted, because the presidential race wasn't the only thing being determined on election day.
The sad thing is, the Times admits to this lie two paragraphs later as it attempts to whack another Republican secretary of state.
In Colorado, Secretary of State Donetta Davidson, also a Republican, has issued a bizarre ruling of her own on this issue. She will allow provisional ballots cast at the wrong polling places to count for only the presidential race. The Senate race in Colorado, among the closest in the nation, could determine control of the Senate, and there is no reason all valid provisional ballots should not count in this race or for statewide ballot propositions. Colorado Common Cause is challenging Ms. Davidson's rule, but she should not need a court to tell her to count the votes.
No internal consistency needed in the Times' arguments. In Ohio, there's no reason not to count provisional ballots cast in the wrong polling place -- but in Colorado there is, but we should still count votes in races/initiatives that are not polling-place dependent.
I actually agree with the Times' position that provisional ballots, once verified, should be counted for presidential, senatorial and statewide initiatives.
However, the Times would do well to tackle the issue of voter fraud -- a subject it hasn't touched yet.
When I was a senior in high school, a friend had lamented that turning 18 years old wasn't that big of a deal. I pointed out to him that it was, he could now cancel out our high school history teacher's (a very liberal feminist) vote. He was thrilled by the idea.
That illustrates a point about "making votes count" that the Times hasn't addressed: If someone fraudulently casts a ballot for Sen. John Kerry, then it effectively cancels out my vote for George W. Bush. The integrity of the voting system depends on preventing fraud. I eagerly await the Times' editorial.