Minor Thoughts from me to you

Archives for Voting (page 1 / 1)

Did a Voter ID Law Really Cost Clinton a Victory in Wisconsin? →

It's not easy to say, but recent reports suggesting that Voter ID lost Wisconsin for Mrs. Clinton are overstating the evidence. So says Slate anyway, and they're not noted for being Republican shills.

But the Nation headline doesn’t say it all—not even close, as a number of political scientists and polling experts were quick to point out.

One of the first to arrive on the scene with a big bucket of cold water was Eitan Hersh, an assistant professor of political science at Yale University who has studied the effect of voter ID laws.

No offense, but this is something that is going to be shared hundreds of times and does not meet acceptable evidence standards. https://t.co/4M3ipqiaWg

— Eitan Hersh (@eitanhersh) May 9, 2017

The most glaring problem with the report and how it’s being interpreted, Hersh told me by phone, is that the firm behind the analysis decided to operate at a surface level when it almost certainly had the data and expertise to dig much deeper. “Civis presents itself as a very sophisticated analytics shop,” Hersh said, “and yet the analysis they’re offering here is rather blunt.”

The group relied largely on state-by-state and county-by-county comparisons to reach its conclusions, but it could have—and Hersh maintains, should have—conducted a more granular analysis. Civis could have isolated communities that straddle the border between two states, for instance, or even used a comprehensive voter file to compare similar individuals that do and don’t live in states with new voter ID laws. Doing either would have allowed Civis to eliminate variables that may have ultimately skewed its findings. “It’s very weird to do an analysis the way they did when they presumably had a better way to do it,” Hersh said. “That’s a red flag that jumps out right away.”

Civis says it mostly limited itself to publicly available information so that its analysis was repeatable; Hersh counters that repeating a flawed analysis will just lead to the same flawed results. As the New York TimesNate Cohn pointed out on Twitter, and as Hersh echoed in his conversation with me, the absence of a detailed voter file-based analysis of the impact of voter ID laws—by Civis or anyone else for that matter—is in itself telling at this point. “I would in no way argue that these [voter ID] laws have no effect, but what we’ve found is that it’s a relatively small one,” Hersh said. Making things more complicated, he added, is that the effect of a voter ID law can be difficult to separate from that of other non-ID-based measures that disenfranchise the same types of people. “It’s just very unlikely that these voter ID laws by themselves would translate into the effect of 200,000 voters,” Hersh said.

Richard Hasen, an occasional Slate contributor and a professor of law and political science at the University of California–Irvine, voiced similar concerns about the Civis findings on his blog, pointing to a New York Times story published in the weeks after the election. Reporting from Milwaukee in late November, Times national correspondent Sabrina Tavernise cited Wisconsin’s voter ID law as one potential reason why turnout was down in the city’s poor and black neighborhoods. Tavernise, though, ultimately found a bounty of anecdotal evidence that black voters were simply far less excited to vote for Clinton in 2016 than they were to pull the lever for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Here again it is difficult to offer a single explanation for depressed voter turnout: If a black man in Milwaukee decides it’s not worth jumping through hoops to cast a ballot, do we explain that by citing voter enthusiasm, the ID law, or both?

Hacking Democratic Rules Isn’t Good Government →

Megan McCardle makes a good point about people's increasing desire to "win" at politics, by any means, at any cost.

What’s most worrying, however, is that intelligent people are discussing this stuff. Over the last decade, we’ve spent more and more time on these sorts of procedural hacks. Filibusters to prevent judicial nominations -- and parliamentary maneuvers to weaken the filibuster. Debt ceiling brinkmanship -- and whether Obama could mint trillion-dollar platinum coins to get around it. We have become less and less interested in either policy or politics, and more interested in finding some loophole in the rules that will allow one party or the other to impose its will on the country without the messy business of gathering votes and building public support. It started with the courts, but it certainly has not ended there.

Each procedural hack slightly undermines the legitimacy of the system as a whole, and makes the next hack more likely, as parties give up on the pretense that winning an election confers the right to govern, and justify their incremental power grabs by whatever the other party did last.

​> ...

What matters is not who started it, or the last outrage committed by the other side. What matters is who ends it. Unfortunately, while both sides quite agree that it needs to end, they also agree that it should end only after they themselves are allowed last licks. As long as both sides cheer their own violations while crying foul on the other side, the escalation will continue -- until we no longer have a political system worth controlling.

​I've long believed that the most important thing isn't whether you win or lose in politics. The most important thing is to have a system of rules and to strictly abide by those rules, whether or not it gives us the win we want. Increasingly, at all levels of politics, we're choosing to throw out the rule book in favor of winning. In the short term, it appears to give us what we want. In the long term, it's going to destroy the entire concept of American government, with results that no one will like.

One of My Reasons for Voting Third Party →

A lot of people (most people?) think that voting for a third-party candidate is wrong. It's either throwing your vote away or it's enabling the "wrong" candidate to win. Roderick Long, at Bleeding Heart Libertarians, gives one of my reasons for voting for a third-party candidate.

And once one considers what other results one might be contributing to besides someone’s simply getting elected, the case for voting third-party looks even stronger. After all, the larger the margin by which a candidate wins, the more that candidate can get away with claiming a mandate, thus putting him or her in a stronger political position to get favoured policies enacted. So if one thinks that both of the major candidates would do more harm than good if elected (even if one is worse than the other), then making the winning candidate’s totals smaller becomes a public good to which one might choose to contribute – perhaps by voting for a third-party candidate (though also, perhaps, by voting for whichever of the major candidates one thinks is most likely to lose).

If you think both Trump and Clinton are unfit to be president, which I do, than this is a way to decrease the vote share for both of them.

I'm voting for Gary Johnson. I'm not delusional — I'm well aware that he won't win tomorrow. But my vote against both Trump and Clinton ensures that whoever wins, wins with a smaller majority than would otherwise be the case and wins with a smaller mandate than would otherwise be the case. It's an infinitesimally small contribution to the vote pool, but it's all I can do.

If Voter ID Laws Don't Make a Difference, Why Are They So Horrible? →

David French, blogging at National Review,

So Democrats stand for the fictional mass of no-ID eligible voters, while Republicans stand against the fictional mass of no-ID ineligible voters. And all the while they convince themselves of the other side’s worst motives. But since both ballot integrity and ballot access are important, why not require the showing of an ID while making ID’s free and easy to obtain? There’s no meaningful barrier to voting, and the fraud that does exist is made more difficult. I’m no populist, but count me in the 80 percent — voter identification is a good idea.

I'm with French on this one.

This entry was tagged. Voting Elections

‘Polls Are Closed,’ They Lied →

C. Boyden Gray and Elise Passamani, writing at The American Conservative, argue that the major TV networks fed misinformation to voters in the Florida panhandle, during the 2000 election between George Bush and Al Gore.

The northwesternmost part of Florida is the Panhandle, which stretches along the Gulf of Mexico to Alabama. Often called the “Redneck Riviera,” it is the most Republican part of Florida, regularly giving Republicans big margins in state and national elections. The nine Panhandle counties that are farthest west—Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington—are in the Central Time Zone, and one additional county, Gulf, is split between Central and Eastern Time. According to the Miami Herald, “It is only a few miles to the Alabama border from anywhere in the western Panhandle, but more than five hundred miles and a cultural light-year to Miami.”

On Election Night, between 6:30 and 7:50 p.m. Eastern, anchors on all the major networks and cable channels reported over and over again that the polls in all of Florida closed at 7 p.m. Eastern. Not once did anyone on ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News Channel, NBC, or MSNBC inform the audience that Florida has two time zones and two poll closing times. During that hour and 20 minutes, 13 journalists asserted a total of 39 times that there was only one poll-closing time throughout the entire state of Florida.

​They argue that this misinformation caused hundreds of thousands of Florida votes to stay home, rather than voting after work, and that this voter suppression made the Florida vote look like a dead heat rather than a clear Bush lead.

The stark effect of this widespread misreporting can be seen in the sworn, notarized testimony of a pair of poll workers who were on duty as inspectors that day in Precinct Eight, Escambia County. According to the 2004 Almanac of American Politics, “Pensacola’s Escambia County, where about half the district’s people live, is the state’s westernmost county.” The first poll worker attested that:

We had the usual rush in the early morning, at noon and right after work. There was a significant drop in voters after 6:00. The last 40 minutes was almost empty. The poll workers were wondering if there had been a national disaster they didn’t know about. It was my observation that this decline in voters between 6:00 and 7:00 was very different when compared to previous elections. The last 30 minutes was particularly empty. There is usually a line after the poll closes. In this election there was no one.

The second poll worker corroborated the testimony of the first, stating, “The expected rush at the end of the day didn’t happen. We were all very surprised. It was a normal day until 6:00 pm. Between 6:00-7:00 pm voter turnout was very different from past elections. There was practically no one the last 40 minutes.” Since the final hour of voting in any election is typically characterized by an after-work rush, one can only imagine how many people would have voted in that last, deserted 40 minutes, but for the misinformation dispensed by the network and cable news anchors.

It is possible, though, to make a rough estimate. The Florida Department of State provides the 2000 election results by county in an online archive. If you add up the total votes from all 10 Panhandle counties in the Central Time Zone, you find that the total number of votes cast was 357,808; Bush received about 66 percent and Gore received about 31 percent. The polls were open for 12 hours, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you divide the day into 12 hours of voting at an equal rate, with 357,808 representing the votes cast in the first 11 hours, an additional 12th hour would have yielded a further 32,528 votes. Assuming the partisan split remained the same, Bush would have received over 21,600 additional votes, and Gore more than 10,100. This would have added over 11,000 votes to Bush’s statewide margin in Florida. (The same calculation done excluding Gulf County, which is on both Central and Eastern Time, also adds more than 11,000 votes to Bush’s statewide margin.)

It stands to reason that the pattern of voting in the Panhandle in the final hour would have remained the same. While this additional group of votes would not have been large enough to have precluded an automatic machine recount immediately after the initial statewide tally, it would have raised Bush’s lead to five digits, and it would have ended the conversation about who actually won the state very early on.

​I think they have a point about the overall swing in the vote count and the margin in the election. I think they're overstepping their evidence when they argue that the news anchors deliberately lied, in an effort to boost Al Gore and harm George Bush.

I'm quite willing to believe that the anchors were idiots who couldn't manage to remember that Florida straddles two time zones. I'm much more skeptical about a deliberate coordinated series of lies, in an attempt to swing the results of the election.

My 2016 Primary Results

I voted Tuesday, with most of the rest of the state of Wisconsin. I live in the People's Democratic Republic of Dane County, so I take great pride in having a losing record in each local election that I vote in. This year was no different, as I went 1 for 5 in local elections. I did have an odd feeling of satisfaction, as I went 2 for 2 in statewide voting. I finished with a 3–7 record overall. (My vote is in italics; the winning vote is bolded.)

President of the United States --- Republican

  • Donald Trump, 35%
  • John Kasich, 14%
  • Ted Cruz, 48%

Justice of the Supreme Court

  • JoAnne Kloppenburg, 48%
  • Rebecca Bradley, 52%

Oregon Village Trustee (choose 3)

  • Doug Brethauer, 22.7%
  • Jeff Boudreau, 24.5%
  • Philip Harms, 21.2%
  • Jerry Bollig, 31.3%
  • Write-in ("No TIFs"), 0.3%

Oregon School District Board Member --- Area 1 (choose 2)

  • Dan Krause, 30%
  • Krista Flanagan, 46%
  • Uriah Carpenter, 24%
  • Write-in ("No drug dogs"), 0.5%

My 2014 Election Results

Since I live in the People's Democratic Republic of Dane County, I take great pride in having a losing record in each election that I vote in. This year was no exception. I finished with a 1-14 record. (My vote is in italics; the winning vote is bolded.)

Governor & Lieutenant Governor

  • Mary Burke / John Lehman (Democratic), 47%
  • Scott Walker / Rebecca Kleefisch (Republican), 52%
  • Dennis Fehr / No Candidate (People's Party), 0%
  • Robert Burke / Joseph M. Brost (Libertarian), 1%

Attorney General

  • Susan V. Happ (Democratic), 45%
  • Brad Schimel (Republican), 52%
  • Thomas A. Nelson, Sr. (Libertarian), 3%

Secretary of State

  • Doug La Follette (Democratic), 50%
  • Julian Bradley (Republican), 46%
  • Jerry Broitzman (Constitution), 1%
  • Andy Craig (Libertarian), 3%

State Treasurer

  • David L. Sartori - (Democratic), 45%
  • Matt Adamczyk - (Republican), 49%
  • Andrew Zuelke - (Constitution), 1%
  • Ron Hardy - (Wisconsin Green Party), 3%
  • Jerry Shidell - (Libertarian), 2%

U.S. Congress, District 2

  • Mark Pocan (Democratic), 68%
  • Peter Theron (Republican), 32%

State Senator, District 27

  • Jon Erpenbach (Democratic)
  • Write-in: [I forgot what name I wrote in]

Assembly Representative, District 80

  • Sondy Pope (Democratic)
  • Write-in: Tony Stark

County Sheriff

  • David J. Mahoney (Democratic)
  • Write-in: Capt. America

Clerk of Circuit Court

  • Carlo Esqueda

State Referendum

Question 1: "Creation of a Transportation Fund. Shall section 9 (2) of article IV and section 11 of article VIII of the constitution be created to require that revenues generated by use of the state transportation system be deposited into a transportation fund administered by a department of transportation for the exclusive purpose of funding Wisconsin's transportation systems and to prohibit any transfers or lapses from this fund?"

  • Yes, (80%)
  • No, (20%)

County Referenda

Question 1: "Should the State of Wisconsin increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour?"

  • Yes, (74%)
  • No, (26%)

Question 2: "Shall the next Governor and State Legislature accept available federal funds for BadgerCare to ensure that thousands of Wisconsin citizens have access to quality and affordable health coverage?"

  • Yes, (82%)
  • No, (18%)

Municipal Referendum

Shall the Village of Oregon adopt the following Resolution?

RESOLVED, the people of the Village of Oregon, Wisconsin, call for reclaiming democracy from the corrupting effects of undue corporate influence by amending the U.S. Constitution to establish that:

  1. Only human beings - not corporations, unions, non-profits, or similar associations - are endowed with constitutional rights; and

  2. Money is not speech, and, therefore, regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we hereby instruct our state and federal representatives to enact Resolutions and legislation to advance this effort.

  • Yes, (80%)
  • No, (20%)

Oregon School District

Question 1: "Shall the Oregon School District, Dane, Rock and Green Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $54,600,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school building and improvement program consisting of the construction of additions to and renovation and improvement of Oregon High School, Oregon Middle School and Brooklyn Elementary School; renovation and improvement of Prairie View Elementary School and Netherwood Elementary School; acquisition and installation of technology improvements; roof replacement at District buildings; HVAC upgrades at the swimming pool; and construction of storm water improvements and other site improvements on the JC Park East property?"

  • Yes, (63%)
  • No, (37%)

Question 2: "Shall the Oregon School District, Dane, Rock and Green Counties, Wisconsin, for the 2015-2016 school year and thereafter be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $355,864 a year, for recurring purposes of paying operation and maintenance expenses associated with new or upgraded District facilities?"

  • Yes, (61%)
  • No, (39%)

Exit Matters

Participation in a democracy is not the most important thing to preserve liberty and promote well being. I don't see much value in showing up at school board meetings or town hall meetings or just showing up to vote. It rarely changes anything. Exit is what matters: the ability to say "If you're not going to make me happy then I'll go somewhere else where I'll be happier".

I bring this up because I was recently listening to Russ Roberts' EconTalk interview of Martha Nussbaum. Dr. Nussbaum was arguing that it's enough to participate, that it's enough to have an accountable government that listens to everyone's input.

Why do I say, 'government represents the people'? Look, you do not need to show that you win to show that government is in some meaningful sense, yours. Of course, if you have a vote, some people will win and some will lose. But having the chance to weigh in on those policies is what I'm talking about. In the era when women couldn't vote, well they might often get what they wanted by wheedling their husbands and getting the husbands to give them what they want. But there's a crucial difference--namely, that they are being dominated. The government is not accountable to them. And in the era where women have the vote, it's different. Women don't always win. No, of course not. But no individual wins all the time. That's what democracy is about. But on the other hand, you are in that process. And it is in that sense, yours. Even the Constitution, which I think does, by the way, command the agreement and assent of a pretty large proportion of Americans at some level of generality, you know, there's an Amendment process. So, you can always work at organized work to amend the Constitution if you don't like it, and see how it goes. You can't expect to win, but you can participate in that process.

I understand Dr. Nussbaum's argument about how government "represents the people". I understand the argument but I don't think that it gives government a moral right to control as much of society as our government controls. I think she places a far higher value on the mere process of participation than I do. Her view would seem to say that it doesn't matter if you often lose. The important thing is that you participated, that you had an opportunity to talk, and an opportunity to cast a ballot.

I think the important thing is whether you were able to do what you wanted to do. Were you able to get the education that you wanted? Were you able to get the medical care that you wanted, in a way that you liked? Were you able to use your property in the way that you wanted? Were you able to exercise your skills? Were you able to not only make a choice but to follow through on that choice?

I think the crucial factor is not one of participation but one of exit. I think the crucial factor is that you can not only express disapproval with a policy but that you can go elsewhere, to find a policy that you do approve of. In the private sector, I have this choice. When I don't like the look and feel of WalMart stores, I can exit WalMart and shop at Target instead. When I don't want the hassle of driving 25 minutes to Home Depot to pick up a bolt I need, I can choose to drive 5 minutes to the local Ace Hardware to pick up the bolt I need. When I don't like the fact that Google makes my personal information available to advertisers, I can choose to search the web through DuckDuckGo, a search engine focused on privacy, instead of through Google. If I don't like the way that Mazda designs the control panel in their cars, I can choose to buy a car from Hyundai instead.

In each of these situations, I had the freedom to participate and to give these companies my feedback. More importantly, when they ignored my feedback I could ignore them and choose to fulfill my needs and wants elsewhere. In the minutes and hours of my daily life, I constantly exercise the freedom to exit something I don't like and to move to something I do like. That matters to me far more than mere "participation".

Participation, whether in education or in anything else, is not enough. You must have the choice to leave, when you don't like the way that you're treated.

It's Urgent To Put The Liberal Arts Back At The Center Of Education →

In one of his academic papers, David Brat (he of the primary victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor), referred to government having “a monopoly on violence.” Journalists for the New York Daily News, Politico and the Wall Street Journal treated this as a statement of extremism rather than a straightforward reference to political philosophy.

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, writing at Forbes, used that to call for a renewal of real liberal education.

In particular, two of the most fundamental requirements of citizenship were virtue and a liberal education.

The expression “liberal education” is quite important. Today, when we think “liberal education”, we think “Would you like fries with that?” But as the common root with the word liberty suggests, liberal education is an education that helps make us free. Only by first understanding not only the empirical scaffolding of our Universe–a.k.a. science–but also its conceptual scaffolding, a.k.a. the ideas, concepts and history which shape the world we live in, can we ever hope to be free, that is to say to be able to make informed, conscious decisions.

Similarly, the great men (and, sorry, they were mostly men) who bequeathed us this wonderful order understood that a regime of majority rule cannot long withstand the test of time without having a citizenship that takes seriously the notion of virtue. The virtues, to Aristotle and others, are not so much about being a goody-two-shoes, but rather about the lifelong effort to reach self-mastery through confronting our passions (today, perhaps, we would say: our addictions) and properly ordering our will towards that which is good. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll see how growth in virtue is itself a form of liberal education.

Without an awareness of these things, a bunch of very smart people who built our world and know the instruction manual have been warning us, we consign ourselves to doom.

Which brings me back full circle, which is that when a bunch of people, whose job is to write about politics, who presumably have nice-sounding educations, who have editors, don’t know one of the very basics of the political thought that gave us the world we live in, the hour is very late indeed.

This matches my own leanings pretty well. I believe that one should have a liberal education before undertaking the responsibility to vote. Voting shouldn't be a lark, a popularity contest, an opportunity for cheap point scoring, or for "gotcha!" campaigns. Voting should be a civic responsibility, taken only after prolonged consideration of the best way to promote the general welfare.

In the past, I've suggested voter tests as a way to determine which people actually take this responsibility seriously. Given our nation's history of racism and oppression, that's not a good idea. But I do wish that people would take the responsibility seriously enough to prevent themselves from voting, if they lack the requisite knowledge and tempermament.

The low-information voters that should most refrain from voting are the voters least likely to abstain out of principle. A true liberal education would give voters those principles, but then they wouldn't be low information voters in the first place. If you're wondering why our election campaigns attract only the worst candidates, look no further than the unqualified, illiberal voters that populate the political left, right, and center.

The Weirdness of Majority Rule →

A. Barton Hinkle, writing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, talks about why democracy is such a lousy form of government.

A mere 43 percent of registered Virginia voters cast a ballot this year. Even if the winners received 100 percent of the votes, they still would have the support of less than half the electorate. In the governor’s race, Terry McAuliffe won only 48 percent, making him the first governor to enter office with a plurality in half a century. His 48 percent of the 43 percent who voted gives him the support of only 20 percent of the state’s electorate — and that is before you take into account the fact that, according to one poll, 64 percent of his supporters said they really were voting against Republican Ken Cuccinelli, rather than for McAuliffe. If the poll is accurate, then less than one voter in 10 cast an affirmative ballot in the Democrat’s favor.

And yet someone has to be governor, so it is on such slender reeds as these that history is built. McAuliffe might not have won the Executive Mansion were not the current occupant, Bob McDonnell, sidelined by an ethics scandal that spattered Cuccinelli as well. McDonnell himself probably would not be governor had he not beaten Creigh Deeds for attorney general eight years ago by 360 votes, or one one-hundredth of 1 percent.

I really like his conclusion.

Great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities, said Jefferson, but from the Iraq war to Obamacare, they almost always are. For those who care about the consent of the governed, that is one more reason to limit government’s scope: Democracy is just about the worst way possible to run a country. Except, of course, for all the others.

George Will, on Tyranny and Democracy →

I am, somewhat notoriously, not in favor of straight "majority rules" democracy and not in favor of absolute, universal, unfettered suffrage. In a recent op-ed on Egypt's coup, George Will has an apt quote that sums up my distaste for pure democracy.

Lincoln understood that unless majority rule is circumscribed by the superior claims of natural rights, majority rule is merely the doctrine of “might makes right” adapted to the age of mass participation in politics. The idea that the strong have a right to unfettered rule if their strength is numerical is just the barbarism of “might makes right” prettified by initial adherence to democratic forms.

I think that the U.S. Constitution should be far more of a straight jacket than it currently is. It would be limiting and frustrating, even to some of my own policy goals. But that's as it should be. Tyranny is the inevitable result of letting the majority rule simply by virtue of being the majority.

The Republican Party and the African-American Vote →

Rand Paul, speaking at Howard University, passionately appealed to African Americans to support liberty minded Republicans.

The history of African-American repression in this country rose from government-sanctioned racism.

Jim Crow laws were a product of bigoted state and local governments.

Big and oppressive government has long been the enemy of freedom, something black Americans know all too well.

We must always embrace individual liberty and enforce the constitutional rights of all Americans-rich and poor, immigrant and native, black and white. Such freedom is essential in achieving any longstanding health and prosperity.

As Toni Morrison said, write your own story. Challenge mainstream thought.

I hope that some of you will be open to the Republican message that favors choice in education, a less aggressive foreign policy, more compassion regarding non-violent crime, and encourages opportunity in employment.

And when the time is right, I hope that African Americans will again look to the party of emancipation, civil liberty, and individual freedom.

It's a long speech but it is well worth reading.

Ten Charged with Vote Fraud in Milwaukee →

John Fund, writing in National Review:

In 2008, an investigative unit of the Milwaukee Police Department issued a 67-page report on what it called an “illegal organized attempt to influence the outcome of [the 2004] election in the state of Wisconsin.” John Kerry won the state by less than 12,000 votes in the presidential race that year. The police report found that between 4,600 and 5,300 more votes were counted in Milwaukee than the number of voters recorded as having cast ballots. Absentee ballots were cast by people living elsewhere; ineligible felons not only voted but worked at the polls; transient college students cast improper votes; and homeless voters possibly voted more than once.

Vote fraud is a real problem. Kudos to Milwaukee for taking it seriously. And tar and feathers for anyone else who thinks that only racists could possibly want to verify voters before counting votes.

Voting Early and in More Than One State →

John Fund, writing in National Review:

North Carolina’s State Board of Elections is referring evidence to prosecutors that five people appear to have voted in both North Carolina and in Florida. The information the board is passing on wasn’t gathered by government officials, but by a private watchdog group called the Voter Integrity Project.

This specific problem isn't one that would have been stopped by photo ID. But it is one that would have been stopped by taking vote fraud seriously.

As it is right now, under our current voter-registration system there is almost no chance of individuals who register and vote illegally in more than one state being caught because states do not run comparisons between their voter registration lists.

If they did try to purge their voter rolls of ineligible voters, they'd be accused of racism and of oppressing poor people.

This entry was tagged. Elections Voting

Why I Love the Electoral College →

Garrett Jones has some good insights into why the Electoral College matters.

We rarely hear too much about regional issues in the U.S. other than farmers vs. everyone else. But if the presidency was decided by majority rule, I'm sure we'd hear a lot more about regional differences. Could a presidential candidate get 75% of the votes in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida by promising broad-based Gulf Coast subsidies and a few other goodies? Could a candidate get 85% of California's and New York's votes partly by offering housing subsidies for people facing high housing costs?

I don't know: But if we got rid of the electoral college and had a popularly elected president we'd sure have a chance to find out.

As it stands, presidential candidates are trying to appeal to the median voter in each state across a large number of states. That's how you get to be president. This reduces regional tensions because candidates are never trying to get 90% of the votes in a state. When you're pitting 90% of one region of the country against 90% of another region of the country, you're substantially raising the probability of social conflict.

This entry was tagged. Elections Voting

Number-Cruncher on Polls’ History of Underestimating the GOP →

This is why I keep saying that I have no idea what will happen on election day. Everything depends on turnout and, right now, we have absolutely no idea whether more Democrats or Republicans will turn out. The 2008 election was a massive year for Democrats, while the 2010 election was a massive year for Republicans. What will the 2012 election be?

Here is what people should know is bothering pollsters, and if you’re a Republican you can feel comfortable that what you are reading is based on guess work assumptions:

In 2010, we saw the country move back to 2004 levels, but we also saw a bubbling of the Tea Party, who are among the most enthusiastic of voters. Also 2010 was a midterm, where the overall turnout of registered voters is considerably lower, and the GOP base turns out better in non-presidential years than the Democrats’ base. So we process this data.

We saw in 1994 the GOP do very well, but in 1996 Clinton won easily. But sometimes a party’s momentum from the midterms carries on to the following year; we saw the Democrats add to their 2006 gains in 2008. So will 2012 be a receding of the tide of the midterms (like 1996) or an acceleration (like 2008)?

Of course in 1996, the economy was soaring and right now, we’re crawling… so you make the judgment on where this should be.

Even using logical deductions, it is difficult to get a read on what the 2012 partisan divide will be because we’ve seen it change so quickly. From 1994 through 2004, the partisan divide was fairly stable, moving no more than 2 points from cycle to cycle.

Personally I think its safe to say that 2008 is not going to happen in 2012, any pollster hanging their hat on 2008 sampling cannot be reasonably relied on…

Towards More Burdensome Voting

The AP reports on the legal challenges to Georgia's shiny new photo voter ID requirement.

The new law requires that every voter who casts a ballot in person produce a valid, government-issued photo ID. Elections officials had already distributed several dozen of the new voter photo IDs to people, primarily seniors, who don't have a driver's license, passport or other qualifying photo ID.

The [state] seeks to stay the temporary restraining order issued Friday by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Melvin Westmoreland. In his sharply worded ruling, Westmoreland said the voter ID law "unduly burdens the fundamental right to vote rather than regulate it" and would cause "irreparable harm."

Maybe, maybe not. I'm willing to accept that obtaining a new ID can be "a burden" -- I recently moved to Wisconsin and had to get a new driver's license, after all. I'm not willing to accept that requiring a photo ID is an "undue burden", however. We're not talking about the right to play bingo, check out library books, or eat at Chinese buffets. We're talking about the right to cast a vote. The right to decide the current and future direction of our various governments. This is, or should be, a serious responsibility.

Most responsibilities come with their own built-in burdens. That tends to be a central element of of having responsibilities and privileges -- something my parents continually warned me about with each new privilege they gave me. Owning a car, owning a house, having children, managing business projects, managing money, even owning a dog -- all of these responsibilities come with their own unique burdens. I can't understand why voting should be any different.

Theoretically a voter has spent (at least) the month or two leading up to the election contemplating the various issues and candidates at hand. Is it unreasonable to expect that sometime during that period the responsible voter also ensures that he or she meets the requirements necessary to vote? The State of Georgia is asking that each prospective voter register beforehand and obtain a photo identification. Both of these goals can be accomplished with one visit to a government office. Does Georgia really have a significant population of people that are both committed to voting and completely unable to visit a government office sometime prior to an election? Does any state?

Here's my opinion: if you can't muster up the ability to register to vote and obtain a photo ID, you're not serious enough about voting to participate in the election. If you're one of the rare people that has absolutely no means of getting to a voter registration office, drop me an e-mail -- I'll be happy to give you a lift. Just don't try to tell me that democracy isn't worth the effort.

This entry was tagged. Voting

Separation of Church and State

Earlier this month, Dr. Rich Scarborough -- pastor, and founder of Vision America -- sent out an e-mail talking about the role of Christians in American government.

This past week the Republican State Convention met in San Antonio, Texas. I was invited to speak at a Values Voter Rally at 8:30 PM in the Menger Hotel, across from the Convention Center. Once again, to my great delight, hundreds gathered to hear a Gospel artist sing and a Baptist Minister speak. As I spoke about the importance of Christians being salt and light in the moral and civil arena, the crowd erupted in applause several times and at the end, they stood to applaud.

As I left, I bowed my head and thanked God that many Christians are getting it! We are the Church and in America, we are the Government. Tell me, how do you separate the two without removing all Christian influence from the public arena?

I'd like to respond to that question.

"We are the Church and in America, we are the Government." That phrase sends chills up and down my spine -- and not in a good way. True, the Church is made up of God's people. True, most of those people earnestly desire to follow after God and live lives that are pleasing to Him. That does not, however, make them saints on earth. Christians can be just as prone to hubris, arrogance, and greed as non-Christians. The fact that a person is a Christian does not, in and of itself, mean that he or she should receive my vote.

Many Christians go into government with the goal of "Cleaning up Society." The American Family Association, and the Parents Television Council, for instance, strongly dislike much of the content on prime-time television. Their preferred solution is to make it illegal to broadcast certain language, show certain images, or portray certain ideas on broadcast television. Other groups want to criminalize all homosexual behavior, criminalize certain styles of dress, certain behaviors (like smoking and drinking), or criminalize any public vulgarity.

I have a big problem with this. It is an attempt to impose Christian morality by force. It is an attempt to make the entire country live according to Christian values and display Christian behaviors. A large portion of the nation is (or claims to be) Christian. A significant percentage of the country is not. (If 70% of 300 million people are Christian, that means 90 million people are not Christian.) These laws would force everyone to exhibit Christian behavior, regardless of the whether or not they truly love God and want to please Him. I believe this is wrong, that it is nothing more than forced hypocrisy.

Rather than making Christianity appealing to non-Christians, these laws would only reinforce the impression that Christianity is about following rules and living a certain way. Rather than communicating the great Truth -- that true Christianity is a relationship with an awesome Being that wants to know me personally -- these laws would reinforce the belief that Christians are concerned only with rules and controlling people. In short, legislating morality would Christianity odious to many of the unsaved, rather than desirable.

Why should I force someone who doesn't love God, who doesn't understand God, and who doesn't want anything to do with God to live under God's rules? God Himself doesn't require that. God allows billions of people around the world to live in sin each and every day. God allows each person on earth to live their life as they will. God allows each person the freedom to accept Him or reject Him. True, God desires certain behaviors and attitudes from those who love Him. But God doesn't impose His will anyone, even Christians.

If God does not force unbelievers to live according to a certain set of rules, I don't believe I have any authority whatsoever to rule over them. If God has voluntarily relinquished control over people's lives, how dare I pick up that control and attempt to wield it myself? Such behavior is rank arrogance -- an assumption that I know the mind of God and I know exactly what penalties and punishments He wishes to impose on those who disobey Him.

God desires one thing, and one thing only, from non-Christians: that they recognize His control over the universe, submit willingly to His authority, and love Him before all others. Everything else is secondary to this. Once a person's heart is aligned with God's, right behaviors will follow. If a person's heart is not aligned with God's, no amount of laws will improve his character or bring him any closer to purity.

I believe government has a responsibility to protect its citizens against aggression and fraud. Government should be concerned with prosecuting rape, murder, theft and fraud. I do not believe government should be concerned with the behavior of its citizens -- that is rightly the role of priests, pastors, and churches.

How then should Christians behave in government? If I do not believe that they should legislate according to their moral beliefs, how should they legislate? Christians should follow the advice of Micah 6:8

He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Over and over and over and over again throughout Scripture, God's prophets and apostles urge His people to act justly -- not to accept bribes, not to treat the rich better than the poor, not to withhold from those in need. Over and over, God exhorts His people to treat everyone equally, to deal honestly, to honor contracts -- in short, to live with integrity. How many of our Congressman and Senators truly live up to these requirements? How many of our supposedly Christian legislators live up to these requirements? This how a Christian should act while in office. Christians in government should stand up for the oppressed, deal justly with everyone, and enforce the law equally on the rich and the poor.

Being a Christian legislator should not associated with enacting Christian morals but with display Christian values while in office. Christian legislators should set the standard for honesty, integrity, and humility in government. A legislator who displayed those moral values would be far more valuable than one who simply voted to fine television stations over vulgarity or who simply voted to require certain minimum standards of dress.

"How do you separate [Church and government] without removing all Christian influence from the public arena?" You separate the two by letting the church reign supreme in matters of morality and letting the government protect people's bodies and property. If Christian government officials focus their energies on ensuring that all people are protected equally and that government conducts its operations with integrity and humility, the Christian influence on the public arena will be huge.

Ultimately Christianity does not need the support of America's government in order to survive. Whether or not the Ten Commandments are displayed in America's courthouses is not nearly as important as whether or not America's people have the Ten Commandments written on their hearts. A Christian government can do nothing to write God's law on people's hearts, but it can ensure that all people are treated as God commands -- equally, with love and honesty.

This entry was tagged. Sin Virtues Voting

Suffrage No More!

Will you sign this petition to end women's suffrage?

Girls at Padua Academy (A "National School of Excellence" according to the U. S. Department of Education) were more than willing to sign on. Any why not? Haven't women suffered enough already? Ending women's suffrage should be a no brainer for everyone!

[tags]suffrage, voting[/tags]

This entry was tagged. Humor Voting