Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Letís end voting debacles


Despite the crucial nature of U.S. presidential elections, episodes of irrationality and incompetence are becoming dependably prevalent.

Florida’s election officials seem to have the remarkable ability, election after election, to make a mess of their processes. Florida gave us hanging chads and U.S. Supreme Court interference in the electoral process. Uncertain polling hours and 14-page ballots are the defining characteristics of this year’s Florida fiasco.  

This year, Florida has taken some extra crazy-making steps to make it difficult for voters. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced that he had not approved additional early voting hours and tried to shut down the process with hundreds already in line. Problems worsened when tow trucks began to haul away the cars of those waiting in line to vote! 

Sadly, election officials across the country seem to have taken a page from Florida’s book. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted created questionable voting rules during the run-up to the election in his state, including reducing voting hours and changing voter identification procedures. Having lost in court over earlier actions, he and Ohio’s voting remain at the center of legal disputes as final voting begins. 

Unlike in the years following the 2000 election debacle in Florida, this election should prompt concerted efforts to create consistent and fair voting rules and procedures that can be applied nationwide, efforts that go well beyond feel-good platitudes encouraging people to vote. 

It’s not amusing that the most basic concept of citizenship in a democracy seems to elude election officials. Voting is not a privilege. It is a right. It is the job of election officials to make that right available to all citizens, not block it.

Officials in New York and New Jersey are providing a good starting point. In the face of the chaos created by Hurricane Sandy, election officials are setting up generators to power voting machines. That’s fine, but not enough. So they are also allowing voters to use any polling place in the state that they can get to rather than restricting people to pre-assigned polls, the usual practice in elections. New Jersey ballots can be submitted by e-mail, a unique experiment in convenient early voting. 

These approaches are based on the assumption that threats to the opportunity to vote are far worse than the possibility of fraudulent votes. That assumption should be the starting point in every American election. It is time to replace the antiquated crazy quilt of rules and oversight that too often make a mockery of American elections. The vote is too precious to be left to politics.




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2014 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.