Voting was never a root canal - The Explorer: Editorials

Voting was never a root canal

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Posted: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 8:14 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Once again Oro Valley is conducting a mail-in election. And once again I will tell you why the concept is fundamentally wrong.

It makes voting easier? Check Iraq or Afghanistan or lots of other places trying to build democratic regimes where they still shoot at you for making the attempt. Voting was pretty damn easy here for quite a while.

My liberal Democrat radio co-host Tom Danehy, who shares my opinion on this subject, reminds us of a news clip from a Philippine election in which an official with a ballot box is being chased by a group of thugs. Not shown is the part where they succeeded and killed him. I witnessed a few years back huge lines in Rocky Point when they were holding something unusual in Mexico – a real election. People wanted to be part of it.

We had it pretty soft. Having to actually leave home and go to a safe polling place isn't exactly a root canal.

Voting by mail does make it easier – for the election bureaucracy. They prefer to use the money involved to hire a few more permanent employees rather than go through the hassle (for them) of using Election Day temps.

The costs involved are clearly increased in some areas (postage) and decreased in others (poll workers), but that should never be a deciding factor. Ahead of even cops, courts and armies, choosing who's in charge is the first and most primary duty of government.

At-home voting destroys the secret ballot. Why do you think we have those little booths and curtains? So husbands can't muscle wives or wives husbands. Mailing out ballots is an invitation to cajole by anyone from the family patriarch and union boss to your mama.

It's also quite obviously a fraud magnet. Why the same Republicans who are convinced thousands of illegal aliens are voting at the polls are ignoring a system that eliminates their having to go there to do it is beyond me. I recognize that most voting systems are legit, but it doesn't take much dog barf to ruin an otherwise great burger.

While supposedly being in the best interest of individual voters, the at home ballot can screw them in two ways by returning it too early or returning it too late.

Return it too early and you may learn something that would've changed your mind about a candidate or an issue. The elimination of late information was sold as a virtue by advocates of early voting because it would eliminate last-minute smears. It also eliminates last-minute facts. Which is why many folks hold onto their ballot until the last minute.

Only return it too late and it doesn't count. One stat I have never seen election officials produce is how many ballots get tossed every time for late delivery.

But my greatest complaint is that the entire concept (beyond taking care of the ballots of those physically unable to get to a polling place including those who are out of town) is totally demeaning to the election process.

What advocates are really saying is "we recognize this voting thing is really not important to you. You're right — it's no big deal. We want to make it so easy it won't inconvenience you at all." Turnout is not increased by telling people voting is not worth much effort.

Election days used to be local and national events. They were part of that Norman Rockwell kind of glue that helped hold the country and its culture together. To eliminate them is to eliminate one more part of what made America a great nation.

 

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