Sunday, October 24, 2004
What We Have Wrought in the Name of Voter Turnout
Today Americans demand, as a California voting official says, the kind of convenience in voting they enjoy in buying airline tickets. So election "day" can be three months long (in Maine). Absentee voting has come to be considered a right -- yet another one -- of convenience rather than a limited privilege understood as a concession to necessity. Soon, voting by mail (Oregonians all vote this way) and even online will be regarded as rights.
These measures are supposed to increase turnout. However, according to Curtis Gans of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, all research is "unequivocal in showing that easy absentee voting decreases voter turnout" because "you are diffusing the mobilizing focus away from a single day."
What liberalized registration and voting procedures do increase are opportunities for fraud, including the sort that Milwaukee televisionstation WTMJ found in 2002. Fund says it "filmed Democrat campaign workers handing out food and small sums of money to residents of a home for the mentally ill in Kenosha, after which the patients were shepherded into a separate room and given absentee ballots."
In 2000, in heavily Democrat St. Louis, at 6:30 p.m., a judge, responding to a Democrat complaint filed in the name of a man the judge did not actually hear from (the man was dead), ordered polls to remain open until 10 p.m., three hours longer than the law allows, and ordered one voting place downtown to be open until midnight.
Fund's book is replete with stories enraging about the past and ominous about the integrity of the American republic for the foreseeable future, which arrives in less than two weeks.