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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Voting Initiatives, for Reals this Time

Uploaded: Apr 6, 2014
A commenter recently suggested that I'd lost interest in voting as a blog topic. Apparently I had not responded quickly or relevantly enough to suit his 'druthers. I do think it's important for me not to automatically leap into the fray in response to blog comments, lest anyone conclude that I am alone in espousing these thoughts. It may slow things down some, but encourages the expression of a variety of other viewpoints.

The commenter correctly identified, twice, that my prior blog had been an April Fools Day gag, and good for him for paying attention. That does not mean that the blog is not making a serious point about attempts from the Right to limit the exercise of the franchise.

On one level, that approach is completely unsurprising – the GOP is the minority party, facing inevitably deteriorating long term demographics, and they are trying to compete. So, if your ranks are dwindling and your message does not resonate with emerging constituencies of Americans, you then determine to keep those opponents from voting.

It makes sense in an amoral way -- if you can't raise the bridge, then lower the river. That's what political parties do – they compete.
What I find to be objectionable and laughably disingenuous is anyone's attempt to cloak these tactics in a 'good governance' garment. Let's look at a few of the arguments thus employed, against the factual record.

"We have to address fraud." Fraud in the process is potentially an important issue – but the key word there is 'potentially,' more than 'important.' There is simply no credible evidence of significant systemic fraud in American elections, as even the Wall Street Journal points-out.

Both Parties poll-watch, and prosecutors would love to bring such cases – if many of them really existed. But they don't – the incidence of fraud is miniscule – a few thousandths of a percent. Again, even the 'numbers guy' at WSJ points out that if you wanted to steal an election, you wouldn't do it by individually defrauding the process. It's too costly, inefficient and vulnerable -- but you might try to do it by rigging machines, or suppressing the vote.

"The public must have confidence in the election process". Or what – they won't vote? Frankly, in low turnout elections, like the upcoming Midterms, the GOP does differentially better. They vote – in good weather or bad, and at habitually higher rates than other citizens. They, at least, have somehow never lost confidence. Also, where is the evidence of this "low confidence" problem, anyway? It's nowhere to be found. Hell, "Low T" isn't really a problem either, but at least we hear about it. This is just another make-weight argument, addressing an illusory theoretical problem.

"It's too costly." Please try to get reliable numbers on election administration costs, especially as a percentage of overall government expenses. I dare you. I failed in such a search, and there's a good reason it is not easy to find those numbers -- the cost is trivial. Of ALL the places where government spends money, is there any one of them more fundamental and central than voting? We are not driving-up the deficit by allowing folks to participate in the single most fundamental expression of democracy.

No, Republican tactics have been very clear, and antithetical to good governance. They are completely explained by the compete-at-any-cost model. Voter suppression has a rich history in these United States, from literacy tests, to poll taxes, various other restrictions on registration and voting – and always, and only, in the name of winning. Those 'traditions' were, of course, the primary reason for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a law recently weakened by the Shelby County case. Let's look at what the GOP has been up to of late, and where.

Swing States emphasis. Ohio, North Carolina and Wisconsin are hotbeds of GOP electoral process tampering – and they are all hotly contested. If this was good governance, why not target big states – like California and New York? Is our state GOP active in this arena? Their current platform mentions many concerns, but manages Not to mention voting or elections. Again, if it's about competing, I understand – put your resources where they might make a difference; but let's please call it what it is.

Restrictions on voting. These are more problematic on the merits. They include moving polling places, reducing their total number (especially in urban areas), and curtailing early voting opportunities. Each of these tactics is designed to differentially discourage voters who tend to vote Democrat. Long lines, confusing and fewer locations, less access – all in service to favoring those who will vote no matter what. There is nothing in the good governance manual to suggest that voting should be hard, or restricted to those who want it most. It's not properly made a Herculean task. Quite the contrary, good civic engagement and public policy interests dictate that voting should be encouraged.

Restrictions on Registration. Should there be some reasonable assurance that a potential voter is who s/he purports to be? Sure, but how many degrees of due diligence should be required? State worker and student ID cards have been eliminated in North Carolina, because they do not have a photo on the card. How much fraud do you think is thereby avoided – other than none? But state workers and students tend to vote … wait for it … Democrat. Moreover, whatever documents you require – driver's licenses, passports, birth certificates -- lower income people will have fewer of them. This is a discouragement numbers game, and it tilts the totals, at the margin.

One particular new restriction merits mention as cynically revealing: North Carolina has also ended a formerly effective program to pre-register high school students to vote. All those bright-eyed recent civics students, intent on making the world their own and a better place – should we facilitate that interest, enthusiasm and participation? Nah, they're really a bunch of precocious grifters, intent on subverting the ideals of the republic. And they cost too much.

So I am sorry to confirm that the previous blog was, indeed, a fantasy. The joke is on us all.

Comments

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 6, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Voter fraud exists but I agree that it's minimal. However I did find this page put out by Republican Lawyers:

Web Link


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 6, 2014 at 7:29 pm

The USA is a GREAT COUNTRY. I would prefer voter fraud to the military taking over and denying voters their lives as happened in Argentina.

Web Link


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 6, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Voter Fraud complaint in CA: Web Link


Posted by JoeB, a resident of another community,
on Apr 7, 2014 at 11:12 am

The Dempire Strikes back: Web Link


Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Apr 7, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

I should feel flattered for being quoted so much.

Yes Tom, Republicans are interested in suppressing the votes OF THOSE NOT ELIGIBLE TO VOTE. Tom thinks that by frequently repeating his belief about Republicans that his readers will think it is true. But it is just his opinion. My opinion is that Democrats want to increase the opportunity for voter fraud so that they can more easily win elections.

Tom always suggests that the poorest and most disadvantaged are least likely to have proper identification cards. That seems most unlikely as identification is always required for obtaining government assistance. If Tom is truly interested in helping those who are most in need then he would support a plan to make it easier to obtain identification cards. One could conclude that he thinks voting is important while food and shelter are not, probably because Tom, as a lawyer, is never worried about food and shelter.

Tom writes, "Voter suppression has a rich history in these United States…" We agree. One of the best and most recent examples was the Obama administration's use of the IRS to harass, intimidate and deny political opponents tax exempt status. The president feigned anger when he supposedly read about this in his local newspaper. Yet a top IRS official has refused to testify before congress citing her constitutional right not to incriminate herself. The IRS tactics were an effort to suppress voter turnout by reducing Republican fund raising before the 2012 election. It was very effective.

Tom's latest effort reminds me of a Ronald Reagan quote: "It isn't so much that liberals are ignorant. It's just that they know so many things that aren't so."


Posted by Underdog, a resident of another community,
on Apr 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Somehow, Mr. Miller redirected the factual in Tom\\\'s statement to an argument of opinion. The fact is well established that those who are not eligible to vote in elections, do not vote. There is no widespread or even lightly spread voter fraud. There is no need for suppression of the vote. The GOP\\\'s suppression of voting, as detailed by the many and varied approaches Tom lists, is aimed directly at those who are eligible to vote. The rest of Mr. Miller\\\'s statements sound like a Fox News sound bite rather than organized thought. The quotable Mr. Reagan\\\'s information about liberals was about on a par with his knowledge of economics. It was all voodoo.


Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Apr 7, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

These arguments all boil down to opinions. Please reread his article and see how much of it is nothing but opinion unsupported by anything other than more opinion.

As to voter suppression, recently the Obama administration has been suppressing Republican turnout through the misuse of the IRS. Focus on that for a while.

Support for voter identification is widespread. In a poll conducted by the Washington Post less than two years ago, 74% of those polled said that voters in the United States should be required to show government issued id when voting. Must have been a lot of Democrats among the 74%. That boils down to overwhelming support for voter identification.


Posted by Peter Kluget, a resident of Danville,
on Apr 8, 2014 at 3:36 pm

There was overwhelming support for the invasion of Iraq based on the belief that there were WMDs there, too. Just goes to show that a cynical propaganda campaign which is willing to manipulate people through lies and half-truths can generate concern among the American people. The answer isn't to reward the propagandists, but to make the truth known.




Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Apr 8, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

And much more recently the Obama administration manipulated the public with lies and half truths prior to the 2012 election. "If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, PERIOD." "If you like your healthcare plan you can keep your healthcare plan, PERIOD." Or telling us that the attack on Consulate in Benghazi was due to a video and a protest about that video. Just goes to show you that a cynical propaganda campaign can win elections. On this concept we agree: the answer isn't to reward to propagandist but to make the truth known.

As to voter fraud, the jury is still out. The Wall Street Journal article that Tom selectively referenced is actually a fair and balanced article on the topic. And when the public sees examples of voter manipulation and intimidation such as occurred in Philadelphia on Election Day in 2008 and that the Obama administration dismissed the case due to political reasons they become cynical at a minimum. Such examples can lead to the public to believe that legitimate threats to our electoral process exist.


Posted by Underdog, a resident of another community,
on Apr 10, 2014 at 7:10 am

Once again Mr. Miller is confusing fact from opinion/fiction. The jury is not out on voter fraud. Fact, there is no evidence of voter fraud, i.e. ineligible voters voting, and, fact, the GOP is enacting legislation in swing states to suppress eligible voters. That's the issue, Tom's article. If you want to focus on gerrymandering, campaign financing/reform, also some issues where the GOP looks unethical those are other topics for another time. Just for the record the IRS Exampt status issue targeted a variety of political groups, the main one specifically Progressive, and it was the DEM's that brought that into focus not the GOP. The President was not tied to that issue. FACT!


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 10, 2014 at 9:28 am

Rand Paul states that Bush & Cheney pushed for Iraq War so that "H" would profit: Web Link

i agree...


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 10, 2014 at 9:31 am

Halliburton made $39.5 billion off Iraq War: Web Link

It was essentially a war about M O N E Y! and KILLING.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Stoneridge,
on Apr 10, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Ah yes Cholo, the Iraq war offered all of our nascent serial killers such a great opportunity to kill.

It couldn't simply be money. America always needs to kill the brown man. It's the white man's burden, right?

It couldn't simply be the desire of the Military Industrial Complex to have an opportunity to create and test a variety of new weapons systems, generate lots of new contracts and make more money.

You argue that it's about killing too. Certainly you're not suggesting that politicians, who are sitting in Washington, are getting vicarious thrills from other people killing, are you? Because they could use any one of a dozen Middle East conflicts to satisfy that need.

So you're suggesting that US soldiers have a need to kill that is only satisfied through more war. Of course, we also hear about the lopsided enlistments of non-whites. So you're actually suggesting that it's the American brown men's desire to kill foreign brown men that's driving American wars, huh?

You're disgusting.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 10, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Deaths in Iraq War: Web Link


Posted by Tom Cushing, a PleasantonWeekly.com blogger,
on Apr 10, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Tom Cushing is a registered user.

Cholo! While I realize that Mr. Miller injected a healthy dose of off-topicality with his Obama rant, you've taken your own tangent beyond the limits -- I've had to deep-six several of your comments.

You just absolutely need to start consolidating your thoughts instead of serially posting.

IOW, you are busted ('teehee').


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Apr 10, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Tom,

I like Cholo's posts. I've tried out some of his/her links and some are quite helpful.

The first one with a list of voter fraud uncovered by Republican lawyers was very interesting as far as I got with it. It seems most of the cases involved one or two or as many as 50 or 60 fraudulent votes. I added up 165 through about 1/4 of the way through the list. The numbers are so small it didn't seem worth going to the end.

Most of these fraudulent votes were cast in local elections and swept in small town Mayors or Assemblymen. Some of the beneficiaries were Republicans too. That's probably where voter fraud has the most impact, not so much in national elections as some of the posters here imply.

Roz


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 10, 2014 at 6:48 pm

some people sure know how to hurt a person...just for that Cholo is gonna go find the best GELATO parlor in the Bay Area and create a scene...I have every intention to DEVOUR my 4 favorite flavors...plus....waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah...

gotta go!

signed

the punished person...i rest my case...


Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Apr 11, 2014 at 9:14 am

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Actually it was "Peter" who went off topic to talk about the Iraq war. "Cholo" then went down that road. In an effort to answer his charge of government lies and manipulation and to get back on topic, I brought up the lies and voter manipulation tactics of the Obama administration. Those tactics, of course were the constant lies about keeping your doctor and your healthcare plan. And the misuse of the IRS to suppress many conservative political groups. Very few liberal groups were targeted. Those are the facts, not a rant.

And did I mention the fact that in a recent Washington Post poll, 74% of the respondents support voter identification laws?


Posted by Steve, a resident of Stoneridge,
on Apr 11, 2014 at 10:31 am

What's wrong with a voter ID card? When you register to vote, the Secretary of State verifies that you can vote and sends you a voter ID. For the homeless, they can pick up their card after a certain period from the same place they went to register.

You present that ID when you vote, it is scanned and you can't vote again the same day. Is there a problem with that scenario?


Posted by Peter Kluget, a resident of Danville,
on Apr 11, 2014 at 11:51 am

Steve, in theory, there's nothing wrong with voter ID cards. In theory, everything works just like you said, with no "problems."

But in reality, well, "reality" is a "special case", as we all know, with a liberal bent. In reality, voter ID cards costs money, accomplishes nothing positive, and in fact do cause many eligible voters to be unable to cast a vote.

Where do you live? In theory, or in reality?


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Apr 11, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Steve: you could ask yourself "who's least likely to have and keep the qualifying documents" (in some states like NC it's a consciously limited list). If you answer "folks likely to vote Democratic" you get partial credit. And if you further ask "is there a pattern here of flimsily-veiled attempts to suppress the vote of likely Dems by a whole range of other tactics already outlined" and you see that there is -- in swing states with GOP legislative majorities, then you win a prize.

You might think of it as a bird cage -- one wire may seem innocuous and ineffective, but a whole bunch of wires designed to contain, and constrain the vote can work very well. I think that's bad policy, and if someone tries to call it good government, well, your shoes are in peril. Be careful where you step.


Posted by A. Picwerth, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Apr 12, 2014 at 7:51 am

Web Link


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