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Monday, June 19, 2006

Voter registration

Posted by: Hammer / 12:36 PM

I'm opposed to voter registration. If you're 18 years old and a citizen of the country, you should be allowed to vote with no further hurdles to cross. You should be required to prove your identity and residence and that's it. If counties want to use registration to speed this process, that's wonderful. But any requirement that carries the potential to deny a voter the right to cast a ballot should be eliminated.

After reading Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Rolling Stone article and Bob Herbert's column this weekend, I'm reminded that good government -- including clean elections -- should not be pushed as a partisan issue.

Does it matter whether the Republicans stole the 2004 elections? It's 2006 -- from the moment of John Kerry's concession in November, 2004, the question of a stolen 2004 election mattered exactly as much as the question of whether the Daley political machine stole the 1960 election for John F. Kennedy. It's too late to do anything about the result of either election. Instead of focusing on whether the clear problems with the 2004 vote affected the outcome (and I don't think Robert Kennedy has met the burden of proof that the outcome was affected), we should focus on fixing the obvious problems all Americans should be able to agree upon.

No one should have to wait 7 hours to vote. The wait should generally be less than 10 minutes, with occasional delays during peak hours. No one should be denied the vote because of faulty (or fraudulent) registration. No one should be denied the vote because they lack transportation. No one should be denied the vote because of their health, age, or race.

I trust these are principles of democracy we can all (more or less) agree upon. Voting should be easy and convenient. Results should be verifiable, accurate, and indisputable. I believe a vast majority of Americans believe in these principles and want to see clean, verifiable elections where all who want to vote do vote; and all who do vote have their votes accurately counted.

We need to invest in our democracy by providing more polling places and better polling machines. But we'll never see that investment so long as we begin the discussion with "You cheated!" Clean elections are non-partisan. The cleaner the election, the more people who vote, the better the chances for liberal and progressive candidates. If I'm not wrong about that now, I will be wrong in the future -- and so what? Democracy is more important than ideology. We can always change policy in the future; we can't go back and change results.


I agree with Hammer on this one, even the bit about not having to register which I had never thought about before. But I have to point out one of the recurring myths about American politics. The state of Illinois did NOT throw the 1960 race to Kennedy. Even if their 27 electoral votes had gone to Nixon he would still have been about 30 votes behind Kennedy. Republicans have long claimed that dirty politics in Chicago put JFK in the White House, but, as with so many things from Republicans these days, that is a lie.

By Blogger Jambo, at 2:12 PM  

Thanks for the history lesson, Jambo. I, in fact, did not know that Illinois was not the difference in the election. Were you old enough to vote in '60?

By Blogger Hammer, at 2:28 PM  

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