Saturday, October 25, 2014

Voter ID Laws: Scam or Accountability?

During this (or any) electoral season, it pays to get off the left-right political axis – and examine particular political issues on their own merits. So let’s take a closer look at one of them… Voter ID laws. (Feel free to watch this essay given orally, on YouTube!)
Voter-ID-laws-blogTo some, these laws deal with a problem -- electoral fraud, when cheaters pretend to be someone else to cast illicit vote. Statistics show such voter fraud is extremely rare. (See “Voter Fraud is Rare, but Myth is Widespread.”) Still, when it happens it is a bad thing. 
 Opponents to this spate of laws – which have nearly all erupted in “red states” – denounce them as infringing on the rights of, not just poor people, but the ill-educated, or recent citizens, and the young, who often lack clear ID. In particular, this presents hardships for women, who may have failed to re-document after marriage or divorce. Some on the left call this another front in the “War on Women.”
Fundamentally, Voter ID laws are supported by red state white-older voters because – and let’s be frank – there is an element of truth in what they say. Voting is important. It is reasonable, over an extended period of time, to ratchet up accountability – and to ask that people prove who they are. That reasonableness lets these politicians propose these laws as a necessity – and implicitly, those who oppose them must have some agenda:
SHOW-ID“If you don’t want voters to show ID, it’s because you want to cheat.” This is how you get a reversal of those who are blatantly cheating accusing others of cheating. It’s important to parse this issue.
To reiterate this point: there is nothing intrinsically wrong with gradually ratcheting up the degree to which we apply accountability to potential failure modes in society. This is what my book, The Transparent Society, is all about. We apply reciprocal accountability to each other. For example, we have poll watchers to make sure there is no cheating during elections.
 (Is it also reasonable to demand accountability from the manufacturers of voting machines? Nearly all such companies are now controlled by men who have been high level Republican partisans, at one time or another. Should this be deemed… suspicious? Especially in those states (mostly red) where no paper audit trail is required?) 
RespectandProtectVoteButtonIs there a test that would nail down whether Voter ID laws are, as their proponents say, merely ratcheting up accountability – or, whether they are, as the opponents of these laws say, blatant fragrant attempts to cheat and steal votes away from poor people, minorities, young folks, and women.
 Is there a way such a simple and clear test?
 There is.

== The crucial metric of hypocrisy: compliance assistance ==
According to the conservative thinkers and agendas going back to Buckley and Goldwater, regulations that are onerously placed on business should be accompanied by assistance so those businesses can meet and comply with these new regulations. This is standard conservative dogma.
compliance-assistanceIndeed, Democrats agree! Almost always, whenever new and onerous regulations are applied to business, there are allocations of money to set up offices, call-lines, visiting experts and grace periods with the aim of helping corporations – and the rich – comply with the new regulations. It’s called compliance assistance.
You can see how this applies to the topic at-hand. The fundamental test here is this: In any of the red states that have passed new Voter ID laws, or other laws that restrict the ability of poor people young people, women and so on to exercise their franchise, were any significant funds appropriated or allocated for compliance assistance?
Were any new offices, call-lines, visiting experts and grace periods set up to help them comply? “Here is an onerous new burden upon the poor, women and so on -- but we are going to show our commitment to assist voters with these new regulations, by allocating money.” A serious effort to go out into the communities and help the poor, minorities, recent immigrants, women, young people – to obtain the identification they need to exercise their sovereign right to vote.
voter-id-laws-videoNote! This type of outreach would not just help them with voting, but would likely help them to STOP being poor! By helping them get on the path to helping themselves. This should be what conservatives are for.
 Instead these efforts are sabotaged, deliberately and relentlessly. Not one red cent has been allocated for compliance assistance in any of the red states that have passed these new voter ID laws. 

Not one red cent.

== Dealing with vampires: always seek the silver bullet ==
There you have it, you liberals out there. Don’t make this a matter of goody-goody, or of denying a long term need to ratchet up accountability. It makes it look like you’re in favor of cheating. Or it gives fools that excuse.
 Make it a matter of hypocrisy. Of lying. The blatant lack of sincere compliance assistance provides clear-cut and decisive proof that these are attempts to steal elections – just like gerrymandering.
NEUTRALIZE-GERRYMANDERING(Indeed, gerrymandering is being erased in one blue state after another, as those citizens rebel against unfair districting, often even overcoming the objections of Democratic politicians. These rebellions have taken place in California, Washington, Oregon, and – we can hope in a few weeks -- in New York. Meanwhile not one red state has seen a rebellion of its citizens against the blatant theft and cheating called gerrymandering. Just as you’ll see no rebellions against the blatant theft and cheating called Voter ID laws. This is a cultural matter. In some parts of the country – it seems – cheating is just fine, “so long as it is my side doing it.”) 
Your silver bullet. This is what you use. The fact of zero Compliance Assistance exposes the hypocrisy here.
voter-repression-lawsThat is what makes the difference between people who say, “We need to have more accountability in the voter rolls” and blatant, lying, hypocritical thieves, for whom no excuse or shelter can excuse the title of traitor.
 Make this clear to your uncles and cousins. If, when they hear about this, they are still supporters of these horrid hypocritical robber, then the tar sticks to them as well.


113 comments:

A.F. Rey said...

OT: Speaking of the 5th Civil War (or is it 6th?), here is a guy who is really whole-hog into it.

Author Wants Southern States To Secede Over Gay Rights, Name New Country 'Reagan': http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/author-wants-southern-states-secede-over-gay-rights-name-new-country-reagan

locumranch said...


Reasonable or not, Voter ID laws are not about 'accountability' because 'accountability' relates to consequence.

Instead, Voter ID laws (and gerrymandering, for that matter) are about 'access' (the denial of access to be most specific), serving to restrict access to the democratic process that it claims to defend.

An example of an accountable system to prevent voter fraud would be to allow unlimited voter access, accompanied by collection of biometric data (photo, fingerprints, retinal scan, blood sample, etc), followed by draconian punishment if 'a posteriori' fraud is found to occur.

Of course, Western Society does not care an actual whit about accountability (reciprocal or otherwise), caring only about avoiding accountability & securing preferential treatment for its new aristocracy of wealth.

In the words of Thomas Jefferson, the rule of 'law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual', and it will take blood and more blood to bring back accountability to modern politics.


Best

Anonymous said...

You realize no dynasty has exceeded 200 years of tenure. If you count the USA electoral system as a dynasty. It would not surprise (only sadden) me to see a 9-11 type incident at the polls. Some thing to scare the public from ever trying to influence the government again. The unelected parts of the government can then go about their business of maximizing their take of everyone's income.

A.F. Rey said...

...and it will take blood and more blood to bring back accountability to modern politics.

Why? Why can't the system be "brought back" by peaceful means? Is it because the opposition is inherently stupid and evil? Why can't they be reasoned with?

This seems to be a mantra of the Right, that it will take blood. But I don't see the reason it needs to be true at this time.

Laurent Weppe said...

As a french citizen, I'm always a little weirded out by this whole ID law debate, given that I hail from a country where people are supposed to own their own state-issued ID papers long before reaching adulthood (got my first ID card at twelve, my first passport was issued to me for my fifteenth birthday) and where a whole bureaucratic infrastructure entirely dedicated to making sure that every citizen is well documented, which does functions remarkably well (although you'd be forgiven to believe otherwise given how much my compatriots complain about it).

LarryHart said...

I posted this on the previous thread, but it's more appropriate here...

I just early-voted in Illinois. So one vote for Senator Durbin and one vote AGAINST Bruce Rauner for governor is in the bank.

The sweet little old lady election judge who signed me in seemed to go out of her way to demonstrate that an ID was not required. I started pulling out a drivers license, and she cut me off, saying "Oh, I don't need to see that." She asked for the house number of my address and my last name, and from that she could narrow down all of Suburban Cook County to myself and my wife, simply asking "Are you Lawrence?" (my actual legal name). Then she carefully watched me sign my name, which matched the signature she had on file, and that was all I needed to prove I was eligible to vote.

To me, this is not at all inviting of fraud. Again, I could not just show up anywhere and demand a ballot. I'd have to impersonate a apecific, eligible voter and match that person's signature on file. What if I was not legally eligible to vote? Well, that would have been taken care of when I first registered. There is no reason I should have to prove I was born in Chicago before casting each individual ballot. I just need to prove I'm that guy who was already vetted.

Yes, Tacitus already brought up same-day registration, and no, I don't have a problem with requiring proof of boter eligibility as well as identity if one is first registering to vote. I do, however, have a problem with a state not accepting a photo id from a state univeristy as proof of identity, but accepting a non-photo firearms owner card.

I sometimes thank God I live in Chicago, and today is one of those times.

Anonymous said...

How does this doctrine apply to those states which use mail-in ballots?

locumranch said...




Does no one use a dictionary any longer?

Consequence (noun). Synonyms include result, effect, outcome, aftermath, comeuppance, backlash, repercussion & end (as in 'a consequence is an unpleasant outcome').

Accountability (noun). Synonyms include responsibility, liability, culpability, answerability & chargeability (as in 'an impetus towards democracy and greater accountability').

Both terms (accountability and consequence) imply punishment (and/or retribution) following crime (howsoever this is defined), yet progressives still natter on about rehabilitation despite rampant recidivism, necessitating indefinite incarcerations in non-reforming 'reformatories' which are neither just nor humane.

Perhaps the frenchies have the right idea, to equate extensive documentation with citizenship, insomuch as the absence of said documentation allows for and/or justifies cruelty, dehumanization and the official assumption of non-existence as in the case of mail-in ballots:

No papers, not human, no rights.



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Liberal Lion said...

David, the constitutional amendment on the ballot in New York would do nothing to stop gerrymandering and in some ways would make it worse. I suggest you read this article in the Albany Times Union.

http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/The-cynical-art-of-gerrymandering-5778471.php

David Brin said...

Anonymous says: "no dynasty has exceeded 200 years of tenure."

Well... actually wrong. The Plantagenets in England lasted not just 330+ years but all that time vigorous and virile. And when they were replaced it was by vigorous and virile cousins in the same family clan that only petered out when Elizabeth I left no heirs. Even so, the dynastic succession in England has been cousin based since 1066.

That is, if you believe George IV actually fathered Victoria, which seems highly doubtful for numerous reasons.

Look, I am not defending dynastic rule. In fact, the pathetic failure of that system, at delivering good statecraft or worthy heirs, is something I discuss in EXISTENCE, where a meeting of oligarchs discusses new breeding patterns to not make the same mistakes of the past, but to maximize continuous fitness to rule.

"and it will take blood and more blood to bring back accountability to modern politics."

Blood yes, either real or metaphorical. Remember that every generation of Americans has been challenged to reform the Enlightenment Experiment, under pressure from oligarchs putsches or confederate risings. The last set of major reforms, under FDR, was SO successful that the next crisis was delayed an entire human lifespan... to today. But I have confidence we are not lesser men.

Laurent we Yanks have strange obsessions, like fear of a universal ID card. Just as we hate the very notion of World Government. Even when both are clearly inevitable in some form.

Liberal Lion I am hopeful that when New Yorkers realize their anti-gerrymandering bill wasn't, they will then demand a new one.

Hey guys, LarryHart is talented! I FINALLY go through my stack to his comic book about a non-religious afterlife. He's interesting! And can draw! You guys, twist his arm to set up a web site!

w8sdz said...

The entire issue of Voter-ID could be resolved in one step by passing a Federal law (with proper funding) that requires states to issue a Voter-ID card with a photo at the time of registration.

Periodically states should then update the vote's registration with a new picture ID card, same as they do with their drivers licenses.

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin:

Hey guys, LarryHart is talented!...


OMG! What can I say except...Thank you, sir.


Look, I am not defending dynastic rule. In fact, the pathetic failure of that system, at delivering good statecraft or worthy heirs, is something I discuss in EXISTENCE, where a meeting of oligarchs discusses new breeding patterns to not make the same mistakes of the past, but to maximize continuous fitness to rule.


OK, I've read "Existence" twice now, and I remember the meeting of oligarchs, but I'll be danged if I can recall any indication of what that meeting was about. Do you remember whether it was actually stated in the story?

Paul451 said...

Laurent Weppe (and Locumranch),
Re: Citizen-ID cards.

Similar to David's test of voter-ID laws, the test of national ID cards is what happens when you don't have one.

Are you seen as liable/suspicious/non-person in some way, or is the public service infrastructure optimised to assist you in dealing with your lack of official ID? If you have no ID, is their assumption, "Come with me to interrogation" or "Okay, let's see what we can do to solve that problem"?

One is about control of the population by the state, the other about control of the state.

Locumranch,
Your first "It's about access not accountability" point was well made, no need to go full retard.

Duncan Cairncross said...

"The entire issue of Voter-ID could be resolved in one step by passing a Federal law (with proper funding) that requires states to issue a Voter-ID card with a photo at the time of registration.

Periodically states should then update the vote's registration with a new picture ID card, same as they do with their drivers licenses.


OK they could - BUT why should they??

You should not need ID to vote,
If you are on the role you should give your name and address and be ticked off the role

Simple - foolproof
If somebody uses your ID it becomes obvious when you vote

I don't want to have to carry an ID card
Why should I
Certainly not for voting!

Tacitus2 said...

Well, so long as we are officially on politics again….

A few posts ago it was suggested that a big difference between Democrat and Republican presidential tickets in recent years was the relative inexperience of the VP side of the Republican tickets. That got me to thinking. Always dangerous that.

You can set your criteria as you like but in general successful presidents have had certain things on their resume. Previous governor. Executive experience running a large enterprise. D-Day for instance. That is not to say that any experience would not be handy, I happen to think that Mike Rowe, the “Dirty Jobs” guy would be a pretty good president/vp.

But for purposes of discussion I set up a point system. Remember this is just looking at whether they had experience one might expect to be useful, not addressing personality issues.

Elected to Congress 1 point. Elected multiple times total of 3 points
Senate once 2 points. Multiple times 4 points
Governor 3 points. Multiple times total of 4 points. (In Congress you are usually a back bencher for a while, Governor it is your baby from day one).
High military rank 1 point
Running a major government agency 1 point
Significant business accomplishment 1 point (job that daddy got you, nada)

Here are quick look point scores for recent VP candidates.

DEM Lloyd Bentsen and Al Gore 7 points. Joe Lieberman and Joe Biden 4 points. Geraldine Ferraro 3 points. John Edwards 2 points.

REPUB Dan Quayle 7 points! Dick Cheney and HW Bush 4 points. Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin, Jack Kemp 3 points each.

Oh, lets do the Presidential candidates also. A 2 point credit for being prior VP. This, like the above applies to the first time you run if you were successful and run again.

DEM Gore 9 points. McGovern 7 Mondale 6 Kerry, Clinton, Dukakis 4. Carter 3. Obama…….2 points.

REPUB Dole and McCain 7 points. HW Bush 6. Reagan, Romney 4. GW Bush 3.

I put this up for discussion. It looks to me as if the tendency for R VP candidates to be “less qualified” is minimal. Oh, and there is a clear trend for more recent candidates to have lighter credentials than the earlier ones. Perhaps since the advent of TV we are getting younger, more telegenic candidates.

Just a thought as we start the dizzy spin towards 2016.

Tacitus

PS, various objections noted in advance. Yes, running Alaska is less impressive (and odder) that say, Ohio. And I suppose a substantial chairmanship in Congress or leadership role in State government might be worth something for experience points. But I went for simplicity.

David Brin said...

Tacitus your effort is impressive and counts for a substantial effort to make the subjective more objective!

STill, let's add some factors.

Indicted and convicted for massive corruption - minus 5 points... Agnew.

Headed the CIA and several other agencies and Ambassador to China. Plus 2 points to GHW Bush.

Universally recognized as jibbering lightweights: minus three points on Palin, Quayle, -- I'll admit the right might argue this for Ferraro,Shriver and Edwards, though I disagree. I'll grant negative one point each for them.

Universally recognized as a titanic jerk and crook and paranoid... minus 4 points... Nixon.

Simply a bad choice... Eagleton.

Fact is... only GHW Bush reflects well on the Republican presidential candidate who selected him. You left out Ryan, whom I dislike, but who is near the top of the GOP picks. (BTW... GHWB was on paper a fine pick... and I hate him.)

I will readily concede that on paper Obama should have been VP right now, gaining seasoning under Hillary. He was an emotional choice without much governing experience... though liberals simply have vastly better instincts about such things and he was not a bad choice.

David Brin said...

Oh... and a blatantly criminal/psychotic horror-monster like Dick Cheney. But frankly, except for Eisenhower and Bob Dole, I see no bright points of light on the GOP side's almost unalloyed chain of bad news...

Derek Balling said...

"OK they could - BUT why should they??

You should not need ID to vote,
If you are on the role you should give your name and address and be ticked off the role

Simple - foolproof
If somebody uses your ID it becomes obvious when you vote"

Let me point out a couple places this fails, from personal (and that of my friends' experience).

First - my high school buddy went off to college, and moved to Florida. 25 years later he moves back home. He finds out when he gets there that "he" has been voting in every election for the previous 25 years.

The "they'll find out when you show up to vote" theory:

[a] only works if the fraudster doesn't so some homework and impersonate people who aren't around
[b] doesn't give any way to invalidate the fraudster's vote. It is still cast

Worse, in this case, the local elections board *refused* to investigate, insisting that "he" had been the one voting every year, despite signatures not possibly matching, etc., etc.

Second, if the theory is that one shouldn't need an ID to exercise a constitutionally protected right -- because it is racist/agist/anti-poor-people to do so -- then it must ALSO be racist/agist/anti-poor-people to require an ID the constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. But those who oppose voter ID laws generally also fall into the camp of insisting that we need more and more onerous restrictions on 2nd Am. rights. Somehow, ID laws there aren't "agist" or "racist". I can only assume that minorities who want to get a gun have some magical power to whistle up ID, whereas minorities who want to vote lack that magical ability.

Lloyd Flack said...

Why are people tacitly assuming that the states should be involved in voter registration for federal elections? If unified rolls are created by the federal government then the problem from people who move does not arise. And multiple voting becomes conspicuous. If there are not enough multiple votes to affect the outcome this will be known.

Here is Australia all voter registration is done by the Australian Electoral Commission. All eligible citizens have to register. The AEC provides the state electoral commissions with the data to create their rolls. The AEC contacts you now and then to check whether their details are accurate. Rolls are continuously maintained not just before elections. Your system seems strange and very abusable.

LarryHart said...

Lloyd Flack:

Why are people tacitly assuming that the states should be involved in voter registration for federal elections?


Because here in the US, all elections are really administered at the state level. Senators and Representatives are elected to represent a state (or district within a state) at the federal level. Even when we elect a president, we are technically voting for our state's electors who in turn decide who the president is.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

I will readily concede that on paper Obama should have been VP right now, gaining seasoning under Hillary. He was an emotional choice without much governing experience... though liberals simply have vastly better instincts about such things and he was not a bad choice.


I'm convinced that we'd never have elected President Obama without the national backlash against the incompetence of the Bush administration.

My own thinking in 2008 is that I didn't want Hillary to be the candideate, not because she'd make a bad president, but because at the time, I was afraid she was the only Dem who could acutally lose to a Republican at that moment.

Her primary campaign changed my mind on that enough so that I'd have been happy with either candidate by the time the actual convention rolled around. But at first, I was actually grateful for Obama coming along as the candidate other than Hillary.

Aside from that, his 2004 convention speech which elevated him to prominence felt to me like exactly what we needed the Democratic party to be. In 2004, I wasn't thinking that a black man with a Muslim name would be our next president. I was thinking "If only the next president could sound like this!"

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Elected to Congress 1 point. Elected multiple times total of 3 points
Senate once 2 points. Multiple times 4 points
Governor 3 points. Multiple times total of 4 points. (In Congress you are usually a back bencher for a while, Governor it is your baby from day one).
High military rank 1 point
Running a major government agency 1 point
Significant business accomplishment 1 point (job that daddy got you, nada)


I'm not in disagreement with the idea of an evaluation of this sort.

I will return the "put up for discussion" by pointing out that most of your ratings are based on the fact of acquiring a position, rather than how well that position was executed. As example, LBJ was a senator just as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were, but I'd give LBJ's Senate performance a much higher mark as to how well it demonstrated his ability to work with the power players and get things done.


DEM Lloyd Bentsen and Al Gore 7 points. Joe Lieberman and Joe Biden 4 points. Geraldine Ferraro 3 points. John Edwards 2 points.


I'd alomst put Geralding Ferraro in an "honorable mention" category as a symbolic choice for an election that Mondale didn't have a chance of actually winning.


Oh, and there is a clear trend for more recent candidates to have lighter credentials than the earlier ones. Perhaps since the advent of TV we are getting younger, more telegenic candidates.


We're getting more "celebrity" candidates. In Kurt Vonnegut's very first published novel ("Player Piano" in 1953), he predicted the presidency becoming an acting job with other, less visible figures, doing the actual governing. Time is proving him incredilby precisnt.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus@:

Significant business accomplishment 1 point (job that daddy got you, nada)


Hmmm.... If the business accomplishment involved innovation at creating value, maybe I'll be on board with this.

If it involves parasitically sucking the value out of the company, then I disagree that this qualifies one for public office. Down here in Illinois, we're fond of asking rhetorically, "What is Bruce Rauner planning to do? Outsource the state government?" And sadly, there seems to be some truth to the perception that that is what a CEO's job description is these days.

You can be successful in business by dumping externalities onto others, which is not something you can do to successfully run a state or a country.

Alex Tolley said...

In this day and age I see no problem with issuing a voter ID card that can can be scanned to check that the card has only been used once in an election. The number would be used on absentee ballots to prevent double voting. The Feds could easily this this a law that the states need to execute at no direct cost to the voter.

However voter ID laws are a relatively small issue, almost a distraction, in the wider problem of a failing political system, from vote rigging to lobbying to representatives not carrying out their electioneering promises (e.g. Bill Clinton, Obama).

Right now I am bombarded with emails from Democrats begging for money or a particular candidate will lose. Frankly if the candidate is that lackluster they deserve to lose. Seriously, how hard is it to craft an appealing message with policies and distribute that cheaply. We're not all sheep drooling over televised political ads. I would really like a "none of the above" option at the ballot box as one measure to get rid of false choices. Just as with sleazy salespeople who like to offer 2 choices to buy, teh voter should be able to say "no" to the choices offered, and look elsewhere.

Representative democracy is all well and good, but the system has fallen into a pattern of professional politicians who are not picked "by the people" and who don't actually follow through on their promises. Obama is just the most current offender. The prospective candidates being offered by the Democratic party are so far uninspiring. All due respect to Hillary Clinton and her accomplishments, but I do not want any more political dynasties. GWB should be the end of the Bush line in high office, period. I would even consider that a possible rule to add to eligibility to be president.

Nick Arnett said...

Compliance assistance is a great idea... I suspect it would be rejected with a slippery slope argument - where does the assistance stop? The idea that poverty and ignorance are evidence of moral failure is always there.

I think "fragrant," while colorful, probably needs to become "flagrant."

Nick

Tacitus2 said...

David

I did list Ryan. And gave GHWB credit for CIA and UN ambassador. And while you can fine tune the criteria I was just looking at "work experience", ie things a candidate had already done that might reasonably be found helpful in a challenging new gig.

Back on the topic thread. Issues of voter ID are only front and center in really close races. Two points. Folks who have recently studied close races find that Democrats win 75% of the races decided by 1% of the vote or less. Conservatives see "the margin of fraud". Liberals see more disorganized late reporting precincts in urban cores. In a way, Bush-Gore was an anomaly. Which leads to my second point.

One problem we have is when a semi official call of Victory is made too early. I am talking about our ever impatient friends in TV land. They are so desperate for attention these days, so eager to make the Big Call before their competitors. This is even without any assumption of partisanship.

When a race is called one way or the other, when the map changes colors (usually to Blue I guess) it creates an impression of finality. In our political system recounts are for sore losers and complaints of fraud are for partisan hacks. Once THE CALL has been made there is an implicit assumption of legitimacy.

It is rare for a night to end with talking heads saying "we have no idea who won". It is contrary to their nature.

Hey, no issue in a blowout. But in a race close enough to need scrutiny the call may be made too early. And does a Blue (or Red) call influence the later process of review? Psychology here, not hard science.

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

One problem we have is when a semi official call of Victory is made too early. I am talking about our ever impatient friends in TV land. They are so desperate for attention these days, so eager to make the Big Call before their competitors. This is even without any assumption of partisanship.


Totally agree!

With the exception of FOX, I don't think the networks are being partisan so much as expecting to gain audience share by being first to call the result. Such a dynmaic probably wouldn't work for the election in progress, but would require a network to maintain the reputation of being first to call over many cycles. Remember Dan Rather announcing in 2000 that "When we call a state, you can put that in the bank"? Too bad for him that all fell apart, but that's what they were going for.


When a race is called one way or the other, when the map changes colors (usually to Blue I guess) it creates an impression of finality. In our political system recounts are for sore losers and complaints of fraud are for partisan hacks. Once THE CALL has been made there is an implicit assumption of legitimacy.


I wish you'd leave out the "Democrats are usually at fault" thing, as that's the only part I disagree with. Your own state's Waukeshau County likes to "find" thousands of Republican votes at the last minute, and it was not only Florida in 2000 that was called Republican prematurely, but Ohio in 2004 as well. In fact, I don't remember a single recnet instance of a state being called to early for the Dems and turning out that the result might have gone the other way.

Nevertheless, that was only a paranthetical of yours, and by even bringing it up, I sound as if I am arguing against what you say. In fact, I am not. TV networks should not be the ones with the power to "call" a result.

I really blame our 30 second attention span. Ideally, the result of a national election should not be made "official" for several days, and accuracy from the precinct level on up should be paramount. But just as in the corporate world, everyone wants the result ASAP, and if quality suffers, that's someone else's problem.


It is rare for a night to end with talking heads saying "we have no idea who won". It is contrary to their nature.


When it happened in 2000, it was like, no one knew what to do with it. It happened again in 2004, but that time, I think the newspapers already did have a "Too close to call" headline ready just in case.


Hey, no issue in a blowout. But in a race close enough to need scrutiny the call may be made too early. And does a Blue (or Red) call influence the later process of review? Psychology here, not hard science.


I caught the pattern during the 2008 primary campaign--how every time Obama was in the lead, suddently he could do no right, and the news media (supposedly "in love with" Obama) suddently seemed to want Hillary--until she got too far ahead in the polls, and the dynamic reversed. The media interest was clearly in keeping them as close to 50/50 as possible. Then the exact same thing happened with Obama vs McCain in the general. Comics author Dave Sim used to use the phrase "Once a thing is seen, it can't be un-seen", and from 2008 on, I can't un-see the fact that the news media operates in this way.

LarryHart said...

Alex Tolley:

Representative democracy is all well and good, but the system has fallen into a pattern of professional politicians who are not picked "by the people" and who don't actually follow through on their promises


The root cause seems to be that the moneyed interests, the politicians, and the news media seem to have reached an equilibrium state of corrpution that is self-sustaining. I can't see how anything short of a revolution can alter that. The question is whether we are talking about something like the industrial revolution, the American revolution, or the French revolution.

Derek Balling said...

Larry Hart: The question is whether we are talking about something like the industrial revolution, the American revolution, or the French revolution.

I've become quite the advocate lately of "The Great Divorce".

The Red States and the Blue States, sticking together in their marriage "for the kids" (ie, for the Federal) just isn't viable any longer.

It's time to work out the terms of an amicable divorce (or, as amicable as it can be) and let folks go their separate ways.

What was envisioned in the 18th century was something far more akin to the EU level of federalism, not this stifling overbearing version we have today.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

In our political system recounts are for sore losers and complaints of fraud are for partisan hacks. Once THE CALL has been made there is an implicit assumption of legitimacy.


Again, I'm agreeing with you.

In my opinion, "Bush v Gore" set a terrible precedent, not in its outcome (although that too), but in the implicit assumption that the "wronged party" in a bungled election result is the losing candidate. To me, the wronged party is "The People of the United States", and the case should be handled accordingly.

Again, we suffer a game show mentality, wherein the office is a prize which the winner "deserves" by dint of a superior campaign, and the loser is "Fired!" by Donald Trump. What we need is more like Thomas Jefferson's notion that a civil servant serves reluctanly, but well in hopes of earning time off for good behavior.

I'm sure that's how politics is done on the planet that birthed me, and inexplicably left me here on this lonely colonial outpost. :)

David Brin said...

Tacitus, sorry, but all burden of proof is on those contending that the GOP -- which already cheats in dozens of ways, including towering gerrymandering...

... and only exists in the Senate because of embedded gerrymandering (Nebraska and Kansas should be 1 state and TWO Dakotas? Are you kidding me?

...that everything they do is not also cheating. e.g. the fact that all the voting machine makers are owned by fierce radical right extremists. And Blue states counter with requiring paper ballots that can be audited, but very few red states do that!

Sorry, the reason dems often barely squeak victories is because they start out being cheated-on like mad.

Alex Tolley said...

ngthjA very simple way to prevent the calling of races early is:

1. No polling surveys on voting day.
2. Co-ordinating voting results releases at some level appropriate to the vote - municipal/state/national level.

There is absolutely no reason why we "need" to see races in progress, which only reinforces the horse race metaphor.

@LaryHart. Lessig is trying to stop money corruption from the inside with his MAYDAY campaign. I hope this becomes a viable route, but it will depend on his organization finding and electing enough candidates who really will change the system, rather than becoming corrupted by it. California's referendum system also works, although it can also be a toy of special interests - e.g. Tim Draper's wish to split the state into 6 states.

It might be interesting if we could use some version of Ancient Rome's approach to "electing" a dictator for short periods. This might get rid of the professional politician. Unfortunately Julius Caesar sullied that idea with a strong warning for the future. It is a pity that the framers of the constitution didn't quite have the foresight to realize how extreme wealth could corrupt the political system and find a check for it. The SCOTUS check we do have failed miserably in this case. Maybe we need a better way to appoint SCOTUS judges?

crauscher said...

I'm in favor of using the same system applied in Afghanistan's first election (post-Taliban). No IDs, no roll of eligible citizens, etc. -- they dipped their thumbs in purple ink to indicate this individual voted.

locumranch said...



Not only is it about access, Voter ID is also about membership which, in concept & practice, is about the exclusion and disenfranchisement of non-members.

First, comes the Voter ID which allows us to deny voting rights to undesirables like felons, the homeless and the mentally ill.

Then, we deny Voter ID to the uneducated, illiterate, unemployed, and unemployable, to the poor through the institution of Voter ID fees (and/or 'poll taxes'). to the 'immoral' through the institution of a morality requirement, to women, and to certain religions, races, ethnic minorities and political parties.

Until, finally, we achieve a perfection in representative government unequaled by any nation except perhaps the French:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87OfXVSSQQg


Best

Jordan Henderson said...

This article throws up a big smoke screen and then says some things that just aren't true.

Sure, let's have systems in place to prevent fraud through voter machines. I'm all in favor. There've been cases of "misaligned screens" maintained by union employees that have favored one side. Let's look into those closely.

http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2014/10/cook-county-voting-machine-miscasts-candidates-vote.html

Gerrymandering never seemed to be a problem when Democrats controlled more State houses.

From the article:

Not one red cent has been allocated for compliance assistance in any of the red states that have passed these new voter ID laws.

Not one red cent.


That's baloney. Every state that I know of that has such a requirement offers free ID. They do it at the DMV, where everybody else gets their ID.

Texas has this site, in English and Spanish:

http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/driverlicense/electionid.htm

So, Not one red cent? Note that Texas setup special mobile stations to issues these voter ID cards. What more should the States do, go door to door with camera crews making voter ID?

The laws aren't setup at the last minute to surprise people. They are well advertised and, I believe, always mentioned surrounding voter registration.

Every time it's tested, it's trivially easy to commit vote fraud without vote ID.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/368234/voter-fraud-weve-got-proof-its-easy-john-fund

There is a real danger without voter ID. The reason there are so few cases brought of vote fraud sans voter ID is because it's almost impossible to prove that a specific defendant is guilty, the ballots are anonymous, the person who signed in is long gone, so why bring charges?

Democrats actually seem proud of people found guilty of vote fraud. Cheering them at rallies:

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/22/No-Justice-Department-Charges-Against-Ohio-Woman-Who-Voted-Six-Times-for-Obama

This was absentee ballot abuse here, but it could just as well have been going through the line multiple times. Without voter ID, she could have signed in any number of times and there would have been no way at all to prove that she had committed the fraud.

So, clearly, there's motive to commit vote fraud and opportunity.

Then, there's the problem of undocumented aliens voting. We know it's happening:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/10/24/could-non-citizens-decide-the-november-election/

Without voter ID, states are absolutely powerless to prevent it.

LarryHart said...

Look, none of this voter fraud/election fraud thing would be of much consequence if the recent margins of victory weren't always so close that a few votes one way or the other really do determine the outcome.

Democracy as a system works best when a clear majority indicates a collective consensus on the best wsy to proceed. If 70% of voters want one outcome, chances are that one is at least the way to try next. And if a few hundered ineligible voters got in there, or a thousand were wrongly disenfranchised, in the long run, the outcome is clear no matter.

This is only a big deal because every important election these days seems to be "too close to call", even after the election is over.

I wish I understood why elections tend toward such close races over time. I'm starting to believe that there is some psychohistorical-scientific law behind it, similar or at least analogous to the scientific reasons why there is a virtual 50/50 split between the number of human beings of each gender.

LarryHart said...

Jordan Henderson:

Democrats actually seem proud of people found guilty of vote fraud. Cheering them at rallies:

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/22/No-Justice-Department-Charges-Against-Ohio-Woman-Who-Voted-Six-Times-for-Obama


Breitbart, huh?

All I can say is, I'm glad the m******f***** is dead.

Jim Satterfield said...

"The idea that poverty and ignorance are evidence of moral failure is always there."

And those who make it discredit themselves instead of the poor.

Jim Satterfield said...

It's not just a matter of the IDs being free. What about the documentation require to acquire the ID? Until there is a need for it for an ID many people do not have an acceptable copy of their birth certificate. States that claim that they provide free IDs while charging for the documents they require before issuing that ID are being disingenuous.

Jim Satterfield said...

Another issue when it comes to getting an ID. Exactly how is a member of the working poor class supposed to get one? In our modern workplace for them their jobs rarely come with any paid time off. How do they get to the state or county office in order to get those documents? You know, those offices that stick to regular business hours? Do you actually expect them to give up some of their already meager pay if they could even get the time off, paid or not?

Paul451 said...

Derek Balling,
Re: Absent (voting) friends.

It's highly unlikely that someone stole your friend's vote by turning up at a non-corrupt polling place and pretending to be him. The labour cost involved in trying to cheat an election one-vote-at-a-time is extraordinary; and the risk of being caught is too great.

Real, election-stealing voter fraud is typically not "in person voter fraud", it's a systematic mass rigging by a small number of individuals. To use an example from a TV show: Democratic Chicago politician in tight race. His campaign manager wants to cheat. His team creates tens of thousands of fake ballots in fake ballot boxes (presumably with stolen/faked official seals), these are prepared before election day. On election day, the ballot boxes are delivered to polling stations where there is a corrupt official who, when no-one is watching, slips the fraudulent ballot boxes amongst the stored genuine ballot boxes.

But how to explain having ten thousand more ballots than the number of voters ticked off the rolls? At each targeted polling place, the same corrupt official is given a compiled list of people who have died/moved/etc and won't vote in that state. (Such as your Florida friend.) Throughout the day, whenever things are hectic, the corrupt official ticks off and fakes signatures for everyone on his list of non-voters.

(Note the small number of people required. To create the same number of fraudulent votes via in-person voting would take a ridiculous number of people in on the scam, having those people standing in queues all day. Assuming US polls are open for 8hrs, and it takes 30 minutes on average to get through a queue and vote, each fraudster could vote 16 times. To fake ten thousand votes would take 625 separate people.)

So here's the key: When that corrupt official fraudulently marks off names and signatures on the electoral roll, he can equally mark that he saw proper ID for each fake voter he ticks off.

In other words, Voter ID does nothing to prevent the kind of fraud that actually changes election outcomes.

What would make a difference is a unified national electoral roll, and a national database of those post-election voter rolls (and the results). It would show people who "voted" in multiple states (such as your Florida friend), automatically trigging an investigation. And if the rolls themselves were scanned in post-election, independent investigators (opposition parties, journalists, researchers, NGOs, etc) could trawl through rolls looking for a pattern suspiciously similar signatures and follow up with those voters to see if they really voted or were capable of voting in that election. Upon discovering systematic fraud, those organisation would be motivated to sue the offending District/State.

So when you've got two choices, "Simple thing which would help" and "Complex thing which doesn't help", and a state chooses the latter, isn't it reasonable to suspect they are up to no good?

Paul451 said...

Jordan Henderson,
"Woman-Who-Voted-Six-Times-for-Obama"

Six times per fraudster, would require 1,667 people in order to fake 10,000 votes. My method requires three guys and a van, plus one corrupt official in each targeted polling place. 10-15 people, max.

In-person voter fraud is a trivial risk compared to real voting fraud.

Paul451 said...

And speaking of unified national electoral rolls...

LarryHart,
"Because here in the US, all elections are really administered at the state level."

However...

"Article 1, Section 4, Clause 1: Time, place, and manner of holding.
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of [choosing] Senators."


According to wiki, Supreme Court rulings have interpreted this as giving Congress power to create uniform national rules for elections if Congress so chooses. Therefore Congress can certainly pass a law creating a uniform national register of voters, and a requirement to scan all post-election physical electoral rolls into a national database which is to be made available to interested-parties.

There's no such "but Congress may" clause for Presidential (or other) elections. However, if Congress requires a unified national electoral roll for House elections, few states are going to maintain a separate electoral roll for other elections (and those that do are going to look pretty damn suspicious.)

[Interestingly, Congress also seems to have the power to regulate the creation/size/shape of Districts, and once had a law requiring "contiguous and compact" Districts to reduce gerrymandering. The law had a sunset clause and was allowed to lapse. Of course.]

Paul451 said...

BTW, if everyone's so worried about election fraud in national elections, how much happens at the much less controlled and often much more important Party Primary level?

Tacitus2,
Re: Early call influences late votes.

The problem is that no-one knows how early calls affect late votes. Do voters for the losing side stay home, or do voters for the winning side stay home? Are people who turn up anyway psychologically primed to "vote for the winner", or are they now freed to protest vote?

--

Alex Tolley,
"It might be interesting if we could use some version of Ancient Rome's approach to "electing" a dictator for short periods."

Yet again I'll remind everyone of the selection process of the Doge of Venice. The combination of greater-than-majority voting plus repeated sortition (lottery) to break voting blocks.

"This might get rid of the professional politician."

Or at least make the politicians more professional? :)

"Maybe we need a better way to appoint SCOTUS judges?"

Ahem. Yet again I'll remind everyone of the selec....

--

Derek again,
Re: The Civil divorce.

I agree that the original Confederate states should try again. The circumstances leading up to the Civil War don't exist today. And personally I'd like to see the US split into at least four independent nations.

Derek Balling said...

Paul451:

When that corrupt official fraudulently marks off names and signatures on the electoral roll, he can equally mark that he saw proper ID for each fake voter he ticks off.

Easily countered: You force the poll-worker to swipe the ID, or scan its barcode, or whatever (depending on the state and how they do things on their state IDs).

BTW, if everyone's so worried about election fraud in national elections, how much happens at the much less controlled and often much more important Party Primary level?

TBH? I don't care about primaries. At all. If a party is unhappy with the way the state is operating the primary system, the party is free to fund their own internal system for selecting their candidate and do it their own damn selves.

I fail to see why primaries are run by elections commissions at all. That's the two parties pushing their "cost of doing business" (the internal process of determining who that party is going to select as a candidate) onto the taxpayers.

Paul451 said...

Derek,
"TBH? I don't care about primaries."

You should. In many areas, the primaries are "real" election.

"Easily countered: You force the poll-worker to swipe the ID, or scan its barcode"

So now it's a computer system. Even easier to fake.

The only change that would have any effect is a unified national electoral roll.

Derek Balling said...

Paul451:

You should. In many areas, the primaries are "real" election.

I don't. I think the entire primary system should be scrapped, and pushed back where it belongs: on the parties themselves.

- political parties are private entities.
- The financial burden for determining who that private entity is going to put forward as a candidate belongs squarely on the shoulders of that private entity

So now it's a computer system. Even easier to fake.

Not easier for a guy sitting at a folding table in a polling place. Especially if there is rudimentary verification (ie, the name scanned must match the name on the rolls, and any name that doesn't match exactly is "accepted" but flagged for later review).

Paul451 said...

Science!

"Rosetta comet smells like rotten eggs, horse urine, alcohol, bitter almonds, vinegar"

(Sulphur Dioxide, Ammonia, Methanol, Hydrogen Cyanide, Sulphur Dioxide.)

Derek,
"Not easier for a guy sitting at a folding table in a polling place."

Once you computerise the process, you no longer need the guy sitting at a folding table.

David Brin said...

Derek Balling you are welcome here and you seem courteous, but everything you say is diametrically opposite to true.

Thanks to gerrymandering, especially in red states, the primary is precisely the only locus wherein local citizens retain any choice, whatsoever. You would hand that last bit over to party machines. See:

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/20/a_modest_proposal_to_neutralize_gerrymandering/

Paul, the world has benefited from a powerful, continental United States. The solution is for the sane half to once again drag the lunatic-romantic one-quarter into the future, yet again.

Derek Balling said...

David:

everything you say is diametrically opposite to true

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and read that as "everything [I] say is diametrically opposite to your opinion," unless you want to point out an actual inaccuracy of fact.

Thanks to gerrymandering, especially in red states, the primary is precisely the only locus wherein local citizens retain any choice, whatsoever. You would hand that last bit over to party machines.

I would hand it over to them because that's where it belongs.

I am not a member of the "Blue Party" or the "Red Party" (which are really just the two wholly owned subsidiaries of what I like to call the "Janus Party", but that's somewhat of a different argument for a different day).

But because the two main players have rigged the game, they get all the expenses for their "candidate selection" process paid for by the taxpayers (ie., ME, even though I want neither of their candidates).

You raise an excellent point about gerrymandering and I think there's a lot of excellent suggestions in the field about how to solve that (various software algorithms centering around minimum number of apexes, geographic proximity, etc., etc.)

Another link I'd suggest to you, in this area of discussion:

http://bdistricting.com/2010/


But conflating those two, implying that the primary system is somehow the way to fight the gerrymandering is just, flatly, wrongheaded.

Solve the primary system by getting rid of it (and also, in the same change to the system, reduce drastically the burden for getting on a ballot in the first place, and making every candidate jump through those same hoops every term, rather than giving some parties a kind of "most favored nation" status). And when a party - any party - fails to jump through the hoops, there are no exceptions, they're off the ballot this year, sorry (unlike what usually happens when a DNC or GOP candidate misses their filing deadline, and they're miraculously allowed on the ballot anyway).

Solve the gerrymandering problem by codifying into law requirements surrounding algorithmic requirements for district boundaries, and which point district boundaries become "math" not "political science".

David Brin said...

Gawd what a typical fanatic. Whatever is private is sacred and so let's go back to the Tamany Hall era when the average voter played almost no role at all in selecting candidates for office. Make it a matter of "principle" that the parties should be private clubs. Never mind that they evolved into being a system of pre-election and run-offs... exactly what any modern nation should do... only of course it should be done in countless ways better.

Derek I know you are wrong not as opinion but as fact, because all you do is armwave away all modern progress and instead of wanting an improved system, you toss away the lessons of history in order to rationalize a truly dumb Idea that was already tried.

Derek Balling said...

I think you're missing the part where I talk about increasing access to getting on the ballot in the first place.

The problem (in that area) is how difficult it is to get onto the actual election ballot in the first place, forcing people to go through parties.

Once you've got a truly open general election ballot, a lot of the problems you describe about political machines are essentially eliminated, because anyone can run and doesn't need a huge party infrastructure just to get them a line on the ballot.

If we're truly opening up the floor to everything we've learned in centuries of political science, though... it's that the first-to-the-pole district-based system of representation we have here in the US is pretty much the worst thing ever.

If we're going to have honest discussion about real change, we'd pick up the Executive and Legislative branches, mash them together the way nearly every other European country has done, and go to a mostly proportional representation system... If we really truly needed a presidency, we can move to a more French model (I know, some would call it heresy, suggesting we learn from the French, but at least they know enough to throw out their constitution two or three times a century or so, which is actually more in keeping with the expectations of the folks who wrote our constitution in the first place.) We can even steal their dual-stage election system as well while we're at it (which will also solve a lot of the problems you're concerned about).

And let's be clear, right? Almost any change we'd be talking about requires either extensive amendments to get it codified, or a convention to rewrite large chunks from scratch anyway. So if we're opening that door, certainly we can open it wide and fix it all at once.

Alex Tolley said...

@Jim Satterfield - hold voting on a Sunday. Make sure absentee ballots are widely available. Computerize voting at libraries and at home for early voting.

I haven't been to a station in years. Far easier to mark your ballot and mail it in. Less chance of voting booth fraud (although there is the chance that USPS will "lose" your vote).

We are in the 21st c. and acting as if we are in the 18th c.

I suspect fraudulent voter disenfranchisement is more important than voter fraud. As Paul451 notes, a few people on the inside is far more effective at rigging elections.

Derek Balling said...

We are in the 21st c. and acting as if we are in the 18th c.

I think that's because e-Voting is so damned susceptible to tampering. It makes the system of voting we've got today look positively honest by comparison.

There's certainly some safeguards that can be put in place (paper trails with mandatory random-sampling verification regardless of the closeness of the outcome) but it's still just way too easy to mess with as things stand right now.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

As far as I know only America has the "primary" system

The problem seems to be that you have two parties,

Everywhere else has at least three so a party that did the "smoking room" bit too blatantly would be punished by the electorate

This is the point that Derek was making
You need to make it easier to have additional parties - or to break up the ones you have

Bit like the "Too big to punish" banks

Derek Balling said...

Everywhere else has at least three so a party that did the "smoking room" bit too blatantly would be punished by the electorate

EXACTLY. With increased ballot access, the 'Tammany Hall Party' is easily bypassed by the recently-formed "Not The Status Quo" party getting themselves on the ballot next to them.

David Brin said...

Runoff elections would work... but I prefer the Australian preferential ballot in which you can vote for your top choices... and STILL choose between the lesser of evils.

Derek Balling said...

I'm not immediately familiar with Australia's system but it sounds like the standard "rank your first second third, etc. choices" in an instant-runoff type system.

Totally down with that as well.

Jumper said...

Read every bit of Black Box Voting and research the more solid issues that alarm actual systems analysts and election professionals regarding holes in the accountability process, and I predict in-person voter fraud will sink in your best analyses to the point where the fact that the voter ID putsch is a dishonest gambit will be obvious.

Tony Fisk said...

The tweak the Australian voting system needs is to allow voting 'along the line' on the Senate ballot.

When there over 100 candidates, and the choices are between ticking one box (to go with party preference, whatever labyrinthine route they take) or filling in all 100+ yourself, it's hardly surprising which choice most people make, and it's ridiculous not to be able to order parties by preference as well.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Tony

Voting along the line??

We don't have a Senate - so at the general election I have two votes

One for my local candidate
One for the party

I understand that in Aus they use STV
So I would have to rank candidates

That would be -
One series of ranking for the Commons
And one series of ranking for the senate

There would be lots of other candidates - but not for my area

Don't understand your comment

Robert said...

I have the perfect solution which would eliminate any State desire to secede from the Union.

"Any state is allowed to leave the United States of America if the majority of the inhabitants vote to secede. However, that state will have to take a percentage share of the debt to the number of states at the time of secession (ie, 1/50th right now) and cannot refuse to pay that debt, declare bankruptcy, or otherwise try to refuse their responsibility for their percentage of the debt. Also, all inhabitants forfeit any payment into social service programs such as Social Security and Medicare with no option for a refund."

In short, if they leave, they immediately take on a multi-hundred-billion-dollar debt. I doubt even Texas would accept that type of penalty. And they don't get their share of Social Security.

Rob H.

Derek Balling said...

Robert...

So a state like Wyoming (with only ~580K residents) should take on 2% share of the debt, even though they only account for 0.1% of the US population?

That's just so patently absurd.

David Brin said...

It is not absurd Derek. Wyoming has spent a century having vastly more influence over US policy, per capita, than any other state. If we are in a mess, they easily get 1/50th the blame.

Derek Balling said...

I think we'll just "agree to disagree" on that particular point.

Lloyd Flack said...

I see your primary elections as something that seemed like a good idea but which had a major cost which was not considered. They increase the amount of money that a candidate must have access to in order to be able to run. This makes them more beholden to backers and contributes to the corruption of your congress.

Lloyd Flack said...

Another thing that has to be considered is what in practice is the pool of available candidates. If the system reduces the availability of candidates that I would prefer surely that too is a weakening of the influence of my vote. The more money that is required to run the less candidates I like will be available. More subly and more intractably the necessity to campaign can exclude suitable candidates. Granted this is a more important factor when you have elections for things other than the legislature.

greg byshenk said...

Another problem with (US-style) primaries is that they reduce (in many cases effectively eliminate) the power of the parties. There are some who would argue that this is a good thing, but the other side of that coin is that political parties become not much more than large scale Super-Super-PACs, which in turn means that other PACs become relatively more powerful.

Lloyd Flack said...

Yes, if party discipline is strong then voters can effectively hold the party as a whole responsible for the actions of representatives. This can make it harder for represntatives to make deals for the advantage of some constituents or backers at the expense of the rest of the country.

reason said...

I'm sort of puzzled as to why everybody is highlighting the voting system, and nobody even considers the presidential system as a source of problems. Having one guy elected to do a job, and then a group of other guys elected to stop him, doesn't sound like a brilliant idea to me. Power and accountability should go together, not be separated (so the two groups inevitability stop the the other and then point the finger of blame at them).

Tacitus2 said...

Reason

Some of us would have issues with an executive unchecked by opposition. Gridlock versus the Trains Running on Time.

Tacitus

raito said...

On primaries:
Please remember that not all state primaries are created equal. For example, in my state I am not allowed to vote for the candidates of my choice if they are in different parties. I am ONLY allowed to vote for a party. Euphemistically, this is called an 'open primary'. And I'm not in any party. In some states, it's worse, because you must be a registered member of a party to vote, and then can only vote for candidates in your party. In some states, the party determines who is allowed to vote in the primary.

Yes, the gerrymandering is a problem. But that doesn't mean primaries aren't, too.

On voter ID:

It is not entirely true that one can simply waltz down to the DMV and get an ID. You need a birth certificate. And even if it's free, it's provided by a different state agency. And if you need it from another state or country, good luck to you.

And has been pointed out, and in my own experience, having a minimum wage day job pretty much precludes you from dealing with state agencies.

And there's some unpleasant stories about DMV hours being curtailed even further.

The bigger problem that I see is that (at least where I live), you can register to vote with nothing more than proof of address. But with a voter ID law, you can't actually vote with a proof of address. IF (and it's a large if) ID is required, it should be required for registration.

It is true that the voter rolls could be better maintained. That would eliminate some problems right there. But doing so isn't likely to get anyone any political points, so why bother?

Robert said...

@Derek Balling: Is it any less absurd than a bunch of people insisting that because their guys aren't in power in the Senate and Executive Branch and that the Supreme Court is ruling against their prejudices that they can take their toys and go home (ie, leave the Union)? Literally, you have a huge number of people calling for the dissolution of the United States because a black man they consider too liberal is President.

Now let's also consider something else. How much taxpayer money on the Federal Level goes into Wyoming compared to the amount paid by the small percentage of inhabitants? I'm willing to bet much more money flows into Wyoming than out. Thus they have a larger percentage ownership of the debt.

Besides. This isn't about allowing states to leave the Union. This is about finding a method to shut them up. Because otherwise you'll have states quitting the Union because a gay person or a transgendered individual or even, horrors! an atheist became President... and then demanding to re-enter the Union if a Republican that matches their viewpoint were to come into power. Further, any debts they accrued during that time they'd likely plop into the National Debt because hey, they're part of the U.S. now.

No. They can't play that game. They want out, they pay the consequences of secession. And that includes a large debt. It may also include tolls on all imports and exports transported by highway, and even not allowing certain countries to fly to a landlocked mini-nation that seceded so to maintain national security of the greater United States.

Hell, you keep hearing about the "decline" of the United States. The only decline is that other nations are doing better. The U.S. still thrives, especially in comparison to the rest of the world. It may lag in certain areas like education and medical care... but that is because the whole of the United States includes a number of regions that would be considered third-world or second-world nations if not a part of the U.S.

There are tremendous benefits to being an American. Those who claim the U.S. is in decline claim that because they want their party in power to give them benefits and deny benefits to the "little people" who aren't a part of their political club. It's bullshit, and I keep calling people on it.

Rob H.

sociotard said...

First, a product that, even if you don't buy it, should at least make you say, "Huh." AO+ is a topical probiotic. You spritz a bacterial cocktail on your skin and it eats your stink away. I mention it only because of the fancy probiotics Brin has had in his novels.

Second, I am still looking forward to Brin's article on doxxing terrorism. (is he going to talk about the hack/release of celeb nudes as well? seems related). I do wish the top news networks would use the 'T' word when talking about the doxxing women issue.

Third, someone wants to secede and call the gay-unfriendly country "Reagan"? Do they know that he was pretty good friends with Rock Hudson and other gay people? He could've done better addressing HIV, but I don't think he'd like his name used this way.

Fourth, regarding the California fix of Top Two elections, has any work been done on fixing the 'spoiler problem'? I was reading about Dem-heavy district 31, which offered 4 democrats and 2 republicans in the primary. The democrats were too divided, so both republicans advanced to the general. A democrat heavy district with NO democrat options in the general election. I could see a democrat heavy district with two democrat options, but not the other way around. Is California considering changing it to approval voting, or IRV, or something to remove the spoiler effect?

locumranch said...



We are discussing the Right to Vote as if appropriate representation was a privilege that can be snatched away at whim.

It is not a privilege. It is an unamendable Right whose presence forms the basis of democracy and whose absence justifies public disobedience, secession & any manner of rebellion.

Only slaves, indentured servants & little children are required to 'beg permission' before choosing a course of action and countries, cantons & states are not required to buy their freedom, pay a ransom or ask permission before secession.



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Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Derek Balling said...

locumranch:

We discuss it as a privilege because - pedantically - it is one. There are passing references to a right to vote, but there is no "wide-sweeping" right to vote.

There are certainly "protected classes"... you cannot have your right to vote infringed upon on the basis of age (above 18 anyway), gender, race, status of previous servitude...

But, for example, if -- Virginia, say -- decided to go back to the "You must own land in order to be a voter" model.... Constitutionally, there is nothing presently in place to prevent that. An argument might be made that it constitutes a poll tax, but it's 6-to-5-and-pick-em which way that case goes on SCOTUS review. It's definitely not a slam dunk.

People try to infer a universal right to vote from the way it is mentioned in a number of amendments (the amendments ways in which it cannot be infringed). However, it can hardly be argued to have always been considered such. There are a number of restrictions (like land-ownership) that -- while not common today -- were considered completely normative by courts of the day and which have never since been addressed by court or by amendment.

Now - that said - I agree with you that it *should* be a right. And that probably means that there should be an amendment to clarify that fact.

But until that day comes, I hope this helps you understand why many people refer to it as a privilege.

Robert said...

Locum said: Only slaves, indentured servants & little children are required to 'beg permission' before choosing a course of action and countries, cantons & states are not required to buy their freedom, pay a ransom or ask permission before secession.

----

I disagree. It is not "buying" their freedom especially as the "freedom" they want is the right to eliminate the freedoms of other people. Seriously. We have states demanding secession because of gay marriage. We have they demanding it because Barack Obama is President, despite a majority of voters and states having elected him in two elections, with neither election being particularly close. We have them demanding it because of immigration and the like.

These states have stated that they are not interested in freedom. They have benefited from the protection and freedoms that this collective of states has provided. They have benefited from the tax dollars of states that they would gleefully rule over and demand that certain human rights be removed.

Why the fuck should they get out of their debts if they go independent? What right do they have to say "we don't like the freedoms and rights you are providing to people we consider inferior so we're going our own way. But we're keeping the infrastructure improvements and all the other benefits of being in the U.S. over all these years because we're special little flowers that are better than you."

No. They want to leave? They accept their portion of the burden of debt. They have to provide for themselves. And in the end, these micro-nations would fail to be the bastions they envision themselves because divided, we fall. They are all for division and a refusal to accept their prejudices and petty hatreds are in fact not noble things to aspire to.

Rob H.

Derek Balling said...

Robert: You can have them "accept their portion of the debt" as part of their leaving but once they're a sovereign state acknowledged by others (possibly forming defense treaties, etc., etc.) what recourse do you have when they send you a video of them tearing up that agreement and burning the pieces?

Are you going to tell "loyalist" Americans, "We're going to invade the 'Republic of Texas' to make good on their debt to you of ~$360B"?

It'd cost more to right that war than would be recouped. And it would be a brutal war to boot.

There's just no realistic way to enforce the collection on that.

Joel Greenwood said...

I find this threat highly entertaining. Having watched a Quebec referendum in my home country and a Scottish referendum in my 'ancestral' home - neither chose to become an independent country and both of them had far better, historical reasons to separate. I would bet my life's savings that no state will ever separate from the US. Being American is just too strong of identify for the majority of US citizens.

daddyoyo said...

@Tacitus2 "Some of us would have issues with an executive unchecked by opposition. Gridlock versus the Trains Running on Time." Are you trying to equate a parliamentary system with fascism? Seems hard to justify considering that England stood tall in a battle with actual fascism.

Tacitus2 said...

Daddyoyo

Of course not. The English Parliamentary system has very active Opposition built into it. It might not be the best choice for America (we decided a couple of hundred years ago to go in a different direction) but a Shadow Cabinet and the opportunity to call a vote of no confidence are workable mechanisms.

The post I was responding to discussed Power and Accountability. With sufficient Power you don't have Accountability. (true for fascism but also for other "isms")

But other systems seem to have merits.

Not that the US is going to change to them.

Tacitus

locumranch said...


Many individuals do consider voting and/or representation to be a privilege subject to communal authority, but Gandhi, the US Founding Fathers & many others believed that non-representation invalidates all such authority because authority (which requires the on-going consent of the governed) can be immediately voided by the withdrawal of said consent.

In the same vein, debt repayment is VOLUNTARY, unless (of course) the Creditor possesses the power to compel payment through unpleasant consequence, repossession, punishment or beatings which (in the case of either a sovereign nation or individual) is impossible without a declaration of war, leaving the debtor in default and the creditor screwed.

Argentina (a free, independent & sovereign nation) is the perfect example. It has defaulted on its international debt seven times and on its domestic debt five times since its independence in 1816, the first sovereign default coming only 11 years after independence, and ANOTHER default is on its way.

It seems that being 'free, independent & sovereign' means never having to say 'I'm sorry'.


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Jumper said...

Good grief. You have to give someone proof that there is Constitutional protection of the right to vote? Do people get all their knowledge nowadays from rumor and cranky emails in all caps sent by Grandpa?
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/09/voting-right-or-privilege/262511/

Robert said...

@Derek Balling - We'd not have to. Consider the sovereign nation of Argentina. This nation chose to tear up its debts and refuse to pay them. Some companies bought up debt for pennies, others held onto their debt, and they all sued Argentina for re-compensation for that debt. Argentina has tried to weasel out of paying, even going to U.S. courts, only for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling "you aren't getting out of your debts."

If the U.S. has an agreement with Texas that they get their independence in exchange for taking on 2% of the U.S. national debt and Texas reneges, then all the U.S. needs to do is work with the World Trade Organization and other international agencies to isolate Texas. International businesses will refuse to do as much business with Texas as it risks penalties with the United States. Other nations will mostly shun Texas as well as a nation that refuses to accept its debts and responsibilities.

Texas will then become a pariah state that is accepted by Argentina, Cuba, Russia, and a couple other nations. Mexico may very well turn around and move its military away from Texas' borders... which could result in gangs moving into the area and making life quite miserable for the Texan/Mexican border. If Texas tries to cross the border, Mexico can then claim "we're being invaded" and further isolate Texas on the international field.

Now let's go one step further. Let's say a serious drought hits the Sovereign Nation of Texas. They are forced to import food. People are paying higher prices and aren't getting the benefits of trade with the U.S. which has declared sanctions on Texas due to its refusal to pay its debts. Transport prices drive up prices, and the quality of life in Texas declines.

A hurricane slams into Texas. Multiple communities are in ruins. Texas has to foot the bill on its own... but cannot borrow to do so because it's a nation that refuses to pay its debts.

Eventually, Texas would be forced to tax its industries at a higher and higher extent to keep up infrastructure, pay for its national defense, and keep things running. It would lose more and more industry as a result of these higher taxes, on top of sanctions by the U.S.

Why risk all that? Texans aren't stupid. They would look at the costs, the benefits, and the disadvantages... including taking on U.S. debt and the consequences of trying to say "fuck you, we're not paying."

My whole point of the "2% debt" is to provide a reason why the States would not want to secede but still allow for them to have a way to do so in case they truly felt being a part of a united nation that is the most powerful nation on the world in several ways is such a bad thing they want a divorce. And hey, the majority of divorces in the U.S. result in both parties splitting debts and property, unless you're in a liberal state that gives women greater rights. Seeing we're seeing only Vermont among the liberal states wanting to secede... conservative states should be quite happy to take on their responsibility for national debt if they go for a divorce and independence.

Rob H.

Derek Balling said...

Many individuals do consider voting and/or representation to be a privilege subject to communal authority, but Gandhi, the US Founding Fathers & many others believed that non-representation invalidates all such authority because authority (which requires the on-going consent of the governed) can be immediately voided by the withdrawal of said consent.

And yet the "Founding Fathers" you invoke only extended the privilege of voting to White Landowning Males.

Hardly the all-inclusive all-encompassing "right" you make it out to be.

Jumper:

Scarily enough, we don't get our jurisprudence from "The Atlantic", but from the Constitution and SCOTUS.

I addressed the very topic the Atlantic article talks about in my comment earlier: there's lots of references to it, but there's no caselaw to support it.

locumranch said...



Honouring thy debts is a lovely high-minded ideal, as is 'debt sharing', but both are highly impractical, as evidenced by both divorce & corporate bankruptcy laws, because you can't get blood from a turnip, labour from a corpse or honour from a non-entity.

Like you, I'd expect the 'State of Texas' to honour its debts as a condition of Union membership, but not so for the 'Sovereign Nation of Texas', just I would not count on collecting any old outstanding debts from a defunct Enron, a bankrupt Detroit or a brand-new Argentinian entity.

And, for the record, a 'right' is whatever I choose to say it is, assuming that I and my compatriots have the authority to back it up, so much so that any documentation to the contrary is either worth amending or pissing on.


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Robert said...

Do you honestly think, Locum, that China will say "sure, you can renege on your debts, Texas!" or that the Texan citizens who had their U.S. government bonds transferred to be Texan government bonds will accept their government saying "fuck you, bond holders, we're not paying"? If there is a contract or treaty or the like that Texas signed or agreed to in getting independence from the U.S. without war, and the Sovereign Nation of Texas then reneges on it, then this will snowball.

Nor will Argentina get away with reneging on its debts. It tries, but each time it is called accountable on it.

About the only nation that did is Iceland, seeing that nation turned around, said "we are not responsible for debts that private financial companies accrued and claims that our taxpaying citizens should be responsible for. No." And seeing it wasn't national debt, but private debt, Iceland was able to get away with this to an extent.

What's Texas going to do, build a huge private bank that absorbs all that debt, declares solvency, and then claim "it's all the private financial industry's fault, we're not to blame so fuck you world and the U.S.!"

Right.

Besides. This isn't about allowing the U.S. to fragment into individual nation-states that start warring on each other over resources and the like. This is about pointing out the responsibilities and liabilities that would come as a result of declaring independence, so that more level heads choose to remain a part of the United States - much like more level heads in Scotland voted to remain a part of Great Britain.

Rob H.

Duncan Cairncross said...

"Nor will Argentina get away with reneging on its debts. It tries, but each time it is called accountable on it."

I'm not so sure about that
Argentina had "gotten away" with renegotiating its debt until some US companies that had bought up the debt with pennies on the dollar bribed a US judge

Besides should a sovereign nation bear responsibility for debts that were created while that nation was under foreign control??

A lot of people would say no

Duncan Cairncross said...

"much like more level heads in Scotland voted to remain a part of Great Britain."

More like the pinheads voted to remain

The NO campaign outspent the yes campaign by at least 10:1

How much of that money came from the people of Scotland??

With the current lurch to the right in England the Scots are going to regret that vote

matthew said...

I's love it if the red states seceded and named the resulting nation "Reagan." It would just be so appropriate. Let me see - a doddering old racist who cannot remember what lies he told for political gain this morning? Check. Flag waiving patriot that avoids any chance of personal involvement in combat? Check. Divorced after having affairs? Check. Yep, sounds like the new South has indeed found its' likeness in its' namesake.

But in all seriousness, if the red states do secede, then the blue states will have to deal with them on the battlefield anyway. About the time the former red states realize what a financial pickle they are in from not getting lots of blue states' tax dollars anymore will also be the time that the official TV broadcaster of the new nation - Fox - will start its calls for a preemptive strike on America "For our own good."

Texas has always been a crappy neighbor, as I was taught in my New Mexico State History classes in junior high. That would not change when Texas had nukes.

No, they way to defeat the fascists next door is the old fashioned way. Wait until their kids grow up and move to the big cities to get an education.

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul451 said...

Rob H,
"and then demanding to re-enter the Union if a Republican that matches their viewpoint were to come into power."

There's a qualitative difference in demanding to leave, and demanding to enter.

Joining (or re-joining) the US requires approval from the US Congress, where they would no longer have any representatives. It is going to be a hell of a lot easier to leave than to get back in. And that's a good thing. That's how it should work. If you have a state where the majority are so childish that they want to take their whole state out of the US because the President belongs to the wrong party, or the wrong race, do you really want to keep that state?

You want to punish them for leaving, because you see them as traitors.

I want to encourage them to go, because I see them as traitors.

So no, none of this bullshit...

"It may also include tolls on all imports and exports transported by highway, and even not allowing certain countries to fly to a landlocked mini-nation that seceded so to maintain national security of the greater United States."

... Because I don't want there to be any excuse for them to not leave if they want. I don't want them to be able to blame anyone else for their staying, "we want to leave, but They won't let us!"

No war, no sanctions, no trade issues, no transport issues. Defence, currency, citizenship all worked out over a 20 year transitional agreement. I wouldn't even make them take a share of the public debt. At all. Not even per-capita, let alone 1/50th. None.

No excuses. Just go. We'll even help you pack. We'll pay for storage for your stuff while you settle in. Just go.

[Aside: Your comments over debt make the same mistake that most of the Fox-educated Right make, you treat it like a home loan. It's not. Something like 70% of US debt is "owed" to itself. And a big part of that is "owed" to the Social Security Trust Fund. It doesn't make a lot of difference to the US's net wealth whether Alabama is inside the US or outside. And since most of the states with the loudest talk of secession are also the net-welfare states, they are not actually helping the US pay for its debt, therefore it would be a net-savings to the US if they left. And by eliminating the issue, it again takes away one more excuse for them to stay.]

Jumper said...

Forgive my haste, and snark. It was a good reason to re-read the text of those amendments, where I learn I truly don't have a right to vote. Interesting.

locumranch said...


We appear to be arguing past each other. You've chosen to talk about debt default & secession as moral issues, whereas I've been discussing these topics as practical issues.

Morally speaking, I agree with Robert and Paul about the importance of oath, word and promise keeping in maintaining world-wide social, political & financial stability.

Practically speaking though, these occurrences are extremely common. People renege on debt, promissory notes & (all types of) promises on a regular basis, so much so that at least 50% of all charges generated by my now-defunct medical practice were considered legally uncollectable; and, of course, children & juvenile offspring 'secede' from their parents on a daily basis without any intent of paying off the debts that their parents incurred for them (even though many try to return home at a later date).

Best.
___
PS: You're not going to find every right itemized in the US Constitution as certain rights are considered 'self-evident'.

Paul451 said...

All,
Are there any Federal rules in the US (Constitution or otherwise) that prevent states from independently going to IRV or Approval voting for at least State/County elections? And are there any Federal rules preventing them from introducing IRV/similar for Federal elections in that state?

Re: "Open primaries"
Apparently the term "Open primaries" specifically refers to allowing non-party members to vote in the separate party-primaries. What David means by "open primaries" is usually all-party/all-voter primaries, leading to a "top two" run-off, which is a different system. When anyone uses the term "open primaries" they should probably explain exactly what they're referring to.

Duncan,
Re: Scotland.
I wanted Scotland to vote for independence because I suspected that, once it got to the exact details, Scotland would have ended up with just a greater devolution and not full independence. Now any devolution, no matter how small, will be hampered by "The Scottish people have already spoken on this and they're tired of hearing from the losers bringing it up over and over..." [That's what happened in Australia, so I was hoping a Scottish win would open the Republic issue up again in Australia (and possibly Canada, NZ, etc.)]

Paul451 said...

Duncan, (to Tony)
"Voting along the line??
Don't understand your comment"


In Australia, Senate voting is in single, state-wide, multi-member electorates, with the top six candidates per-state getting the six available places in each election.

There are usually 70-120 candidates on a Senate ballot for a given state. With "Instant Run-off Voting" (preference voting), you have to number all those 70-120 names. So decades ago they created a simpler system called "Above The Line". Named parties would be listed in the top portion of the Senate ballot, each party registers a preference distribution with the Electoral Commission. So if you vote "Above The Line", you put a "1" by your preferred party, and your vote is distributed according to the preferences of the party you select.

However, unlike the Lower House ballot, and unlike the "Below The Line" option for the Senate ballot, they didn't allow people to do their own preferences Above The Line (by numbering the parties by order of preference.)

Your choice is number all candidates Below The Line from say 1-100, or just select one party Above The Line and accept their preferences. Frustrating.

People who want to be able to preference vote Above The Line call it the "Along The Line" option.

David Brin said...

Sociotard, that anomalous CA election might result in the Republican winner very quickly declaring himself to be a democrat, in order to win re-election, which would otherwise be hopeless.

Derek watch LINCOLN. The 13th and some other amendments give Congress broad powers to legislate to enforce rights. They could probably banish gerrymandering with one sweep of a hand.

Joel G, confederates will ALWAYS drift toward secession whenever someone they don’t like gets “their” presidency.

KWillow said...

Repubs do any and everything in their power to cheat, lie and steal elections. Naturally they assume Dems do the same, but that isn't the case.

If the states insisting on voter ID actually, you know, issued official IDs, which were free and easy to get, I might think they were honest. They don't. They make voting for non-white men as difficult, even frightening, as possible for everyone else.

David Brin said...

Kwillow, thanks for sumarizing my point perfectly.

Now onward to a fairly big posting.

Derek Balling said...

David:

I don't need to watch a movie. I study political science (specifically Constitutional Law) for fun, and have been doing so for years.

The Reconstruction amendments specify classes of individuals whose rights to vote cannot be infringed but -- just like the ADA or the ERA -- if you're discriminating against a class that isn't protected, it's not technically discrimination.

David Brin said...

Malarkey and double malarkey. Then you do not understand constructive interpretation of the law. For example, Ghandi and King taught about the sliding scales of civil disobedience. CD has been incorporated into some (not enough) actual law, like whistle blower protections...

... but its biggest incorporation has been in precedent and emphasis of rulings by judges, juries, grand juries and prosecutors, ALL of whom now consider a sliding scale of how earnest the protestor is versus the amount of damage or inconvenience that they cause.

Likewise, the last 40 years is filled with expansions of protective laws to include those who had been left out of the original language. May I ask where the heck you have been?

Never mind... I am moving on to the next posting. Follow me there if you like...


onward

Derek Balling said...

To answer your question before moving on:

I've been watching that same Supreme court you refer to defer to the states' judgement in any case where there wasn't current evidence of a protected class having their right infringed (Bush v Gore, Shelby County v Holder, SCOTUS' refusal to grant cert in the Texas Voter ID laws which means that Texas' Voter ID laws stand).

Fredrik Dunge said...

We should keep some kind of means to identify citizens on the government end of things. Looks may change but fingerprints, ear print (or whatever that's called, dental print, and genes and so on never change. The last one would also be very interesting information from a scientific standpoint. Then again gene tests take time which makes them non ideal for identification of a person on the spot. Unfortunately keeping information on regular people is somehow considered to be treating them as criminals, but there are many reasons you might want to keep such information on everyone for their own protection and regulate how it's used with laws.

David Brin said...

interesting, though I disagree.

onward

jr565 said...

Brin likes to pretend he's not an ideologue.
" Fact, more than half of those statistical metrics improved markedly under Clinton and Obama. Nothing I said here has anything at all to do with left or right. It is simple outcomes appraisal."
But then follows it up with his crack On Fox News viewers. same old leftist ideologue tactic. Pretend to be the grown up in the room while smearing opponents with ad hominem.

As far as Clinton v Bush. Republicans don't deny they Bush spent too much. Obama has spent more. And Clinton actually ran the economy center right. He was the one that deregulated the banks, remember. All the people in his cabinet were friends of Wall Street.
So, if you want to take credit for Clintons economy and assign it to democrats, let's at least acknowledge that he didn't run the economy from the left. You are actually supporting those policies you say you abhor.

jr565 said...

Kwillow wrote:
"If the states insisting on voter ID actually, you know, issued official IDs, which were free and easy to get, I might think they were honest. They don't. They make voting for non-white men as difficult, even frightening, as possible for everyone else."
Examples? If the states where voting requires ID are predominantly white, then wouldn't they have to go through the same requirement?
How then does it impact minorities worse? The left has this opinion of minorities that they are so helpless they can't even function on a basic level and get the same ID that everyone in the country gets for reasons other than voting. And it's not hard. And it's not expensive.
If anyone wanted to cash a check at a check cashing place, they'd already have said ID. If anyone went to a bar, they'd have that ID.
And dems should be pushing for getting iD's into people's hands who for whatever reason don't have them, since they will be impacted in a society that requires such ID's for basic functions if they don't have them.

jr565 said...

Kwillow how "frightening" is it to get an ID card from the dept of motor vehicles? How hard is it? You wait on line. You take a picture. You pay a small fee and then you get an ID card.

Randy Winn said...

Jr565: Our Constitution forbids poll taxes. Period. Compelling a voter to buy something in order to vote is unconstitutional. Period.
That the poll tax may be what you consider low, and that the intended and observed result is to rob the vote from a disproportionate share of the politically powerless may not matter to you, but the clear unconstitutional nature of it should.

Derek Balling said...

Randy: if the ID is free, then, it's fine?

Many of the states had provisions for free IDs for folks who could not afford them.

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Larry C. Lyons said...

If in a voter ID proposal there were other viable alternatives then it would be something I could support. For instance while Elections Canada requests photoID, they also state that over 50 forms of id are also acceptable, including prescription bottles, vehicle registration, bank statements, cheques or leases, etc. They will also accept a neighbour vouching for you at the polls.

The point being is that every Republican voter id proposal I've seen have said a state issued photo id or nothing else. By letting the person use two of a wide variety of alternative id's that are commonly accessible, especially to the eldery or the poor, that would handle most objections to voter id laws.

For a full list of what is allowed for ID's in Canadian elections see: http://www.elections.ca/content2.aspx?section=id&document=index&lang=e