Michael Powell (not that Michael Powell) and Peter
Slevin of the Washington Post wrote a great article Tuesday titled ‘Several
Factors Contributed to ‘Lost’ Voters in Ohio.’
Not to put too fine a point on it, Mike, but voters are not ‘lost’
as are arctic explorers or climbers of Everest. They are disenfranchised,
manipulated, discouraged, discriminated against and otherwise mishandled, but
never lost, Pete. Their ballots are often destroyed or ignored and then claimed
to have been lost, but when the facts are known, misplacement is the
least of the misdeeds. And we treat this fact as if it were the newest of electoral
sins uncovered only in the recent elections of 2000 and 2004.
Goodness folks, along with the invention of the
ballot came manipulation of the ballot. In this country it’s a
foundation of our democratic principles that the sanctity of the secret ballot
is held above all other rights of man. It’s only after that freedom has been defended to the last drop of blood
that we’re comfortable with rigging the result. One man, one vote means many
things, depending upon the particular state, county, or precinct in which the
words are uttered. Generally, our history has shown Democrats to be slightly more
skilled than Republicans in the fine art of smoothing electoral rough edges,
but the GOP is a quick learner. Vote fraud is truly an equal opportunity employer.
No need to go into the specifics in Ohio as Powell (not that
Powell) and Slevin have done an elegant job of it.
The proper work of the federal government is to do for the
country what the states are unable to do and the states are all over the map on
their ability to run free and fair elections. I vote from Montana these days,
as squeaky-clean a little state as you could find, but I used to vote in
Illinois and Chicago probably voted more cemeteries than Montana’s entire
population. We have federal armed services because state militias just couldn’t
handle the higher and higher quality wars we found interesting. Our federal
highway program stepped into the gap when the states were unable to provide the
necessary off-ramps for fast-food access.
The civil rights movement required a federal push and (occasionally) federal
troops). What right is more civil than the right to have one’s vote
So, that’s it—all in favor say ‘Aye.’
The feds will provide standards to assure that all states
are, at the most, slightly varying shades of purple and tinkering with the
ballots, be they hand-marked or touch-screen, will become a federal offense
instead of a rolled eye. At least some small degree of order and similarity may
prevail—a federal standard of what defines an eligible voter, a semblance of
clarity over where voting will be conducted and how long the polls must remain
open, uniformity in the number of booths per thousand voters, guarantees of
paper backup to electronic ballots, maybe even posted federal phone numbers to
call when all goes wrong. That’d be a start, you can add your own pet peeve
about election commissioners who also head the campaigns of this or that
candidate and all such similar nonsense.
For years, voter apathy was the enemy. Now that we’ve
finally whipped up some interest in national elections, it’s imperative that we
put in place all possible safeguards before the electorate drifts back off to
dreamland once again.