Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Friday, October 17, 2008
  The Right to Vote, Part 2

Matt Yglesias comes to the same conclusion I do about a Constitutional right to vote:
"A country with a modern constitution would probably establish an affirmative right to vote for adult citizens, requiring that election administrators make it possible for all qualified voters to cast legal ballots. Instead, we began as a country with a sharply restricted franchise."
If we can give every citizen an individual Social Security number, we can create a single database of all eligible voters. It is not terribly hard stuff we are talking about here.

I really have a difficult time understanding people who want to keep/make it difficult for adult citizens to vote. The argument that there will be fraud at the ballot box is complete and utter baloney. There is absolutely no evidence, none whatsoever, that there are more than a handful of individuals nationwide casting ballots in the name of someone else or in some other illegal fashion. And those folks usually end up charged with a crime.

This ACORN nonsense has gotten the less-rational factions of the far right going bonkers right now. They are convinced that thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people are conspiring to cast multiple ballots. They believe that there is some left wing coup involving perhaps millions of people plotting to steal the election for Obama. At the least, if Obama wins, there will be a large group of less-than-cognizant Limbaugh listeners incorrectly believing that the President stole the election. At the worst, we will end up with another Florida 2000 scenario where enough legal voters and ballots are rejected on non-relevant criteria that it, in fact and deed, swings the entire election. Something tells me that the country is not going to sit idly back and let that fiasco happen again.

The Republican party is responsible for this state of affairs. They are the only ones who have something to gain if they can keep qualified voters away from the polls via fear, intimidation and any other obstacle they can find. And this legacy of modern Jim Crow obstruction is the shameful legacy they will have to live with, regardless of who wins this November. Congratulations, folks. You've earned it.
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"There is absolutely no evidence... that there are more than a handful of individuals nationwide casting ballots in the name of someone else or in some other illegal fashion. And those folks usually end up charged with a crime."

Indeed. When there is evidence that someone has voted illegally, he is usually charged with the crime of voting illegally. But you make your opponents' point here. Since voter fraud is a crime, fraudulent voters do not want to get caught.

We cannot expect to know about even a tenth of these crimes since there is usually no individual victim to complain of said illegal vote, this victim won't actually be a witness to the crime, and we don't take photos of voters as they check in. We don't even know anything about the magnitude of fraudulent votes, except in those extreme cases where vote totals exceed census population or registered voter totals. Further, even if there are no fraudulent voters, the presence of fraudulent registrations -- the numbers of which are significant -- gives corrupt officials the power to conveniently discover "forgotten" boxes of votes corresponding to these numbers.

That said, I agree the numbers of fraudulent votes are relatively small (probably well under 1% of votes in any given state). Rush Limbaugh believes that even Obama's 5%+ poll leads are due to fraudulent registrations, and that's ridiculous. But that doesn't rule out fraud making a difference in a close state in a close election.

I agree we should have "a single database of all eligible voters." But it's been a long time since significant political figures have favored such a proposal. Indeed, if you were an elected official making that suggestion you'd be called a fascist for it, by liberal bloggers, among others.
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