newsrackblog.com

a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

The possible electoral college controversy ahead — and what *not* to do about it

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 19th October 2012

Like most of news-following America, I suspect, I’ve been visiting fivethirtyeight.com a lot recently.  And while I don’t see a way to discern trends for the numbers, it’s my impression that Nate Silver’s multiple poll, multiple simulation-based estimates of the likelihood of controversial outcomes have been rising; as of today, those included…

  • Electoral College tie: 0.5%
  • Obama wins popular vote but loses electoral college: 1.9%
  • Romney wins popular vote but loses electoral college: 5.2%

As of mid-October, poll results suggest the chance of the US
presidential election winner not being the popular vote winner
is about the same as drawing a jack from a deck of cards.

Adding these up, the likelihood of the popular vote winner not winning the electoral college is 7.6 percent — about the likelihood of drawing a jack from a random deck of cards.

Of course, unlike in 2000, in 2012 it’s the Democratic candidate who is most likely to benefit from an electoral college override of the popular vote.  And while that may cause a little heartburn for some well-meaning people on the left, I’m going to argue it shouldn’t.

First of all, of course, that’s how George W. Bush won in 2000.*  A little historical balancing of the books isn’t a bad thing.

But it’s also high time to admit that in principle, the electoral college is a pretty good idea for a diverse, federal, continental-scale democracy like the United States.

First, it provides refuges for many voters to vote based on their convictions rather than for the so-called “lesser evil.”  Second, it preserves the need to compete for the majority of votes in actual political subunits of the country — the states — rather than merely in the aggregate national mass media market.  Finally, and perhaps most decisively, when states prove to be harming the exercise of the vote, the electoral college helps isolate democratic damage to the state or states responsible, and helps limit the remediation needed when corruption or irregularities occur.

Third party democratic refuge
The electoral college system of 51 state winners inevitably allows voters in some states greater flexibility than in others.  For example, in Maryland (where Romney has no chance at all of winning) disaffected but wavering left wing voters can more easily choose to protest against Obama and vote for a third party candidate, with much less concern than if they were in neighboring Virginia, where the race is closer.  This opportunity would diminish in a national popular vote election format.  Let’s say that voters tend to vote for their second choice rather than for their true first choice once the reported margin between the two most likely contenders in their voting zone is below, say, 2%.  Even when that’s the national margin — so that very few voters would take the risk —  inevitable state by state variance allows voters in some states to avoid that dilemma in the electoral college election format.

Bulkheads of federal democracy
The biggest problem with abolishing the electoral college is that you’re only half done. Without truly national, vigorously enforced voter registration, election, counting, and verification standards, a state or group of states could rig election processes to exclude or “underinclude” voting groups, fraudulently and undemocratically skewing the vote tallies they report. Other states, the ones running legitimate elections, would then face the perverse risk of designating presidential electors based not on their own legitimate results, but on fraudulent results elsewhere — and would have no recourse.  As I wrote in 2007 in opposing the National Popular Vote (NPV)** proposal  (emphasis added),

Under the NPV system, Maryland would routinely risk forfeiting its electoral votes to a candidate its voters didn’t favor — a candidate who necessarily only won elsewhere, in elections that were by definition completely unaccountable to Maryland voters.

This is no abstract, theoretical concern:  Florida was already known in 2000 for its voter list purges of ex-felons and, conveniently, people with similar names and addresses to ex-felons.  And there’s a systematic push to suppress the vote nationwide: the corporate-funded, right wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is notorious for pushing voter suppression(/”identification”) laws nationwide to receptive, generally Republican state legislatures. The intent and the effect is to keep minorities and the poor off the voter rolls, making it easier for parties of the white or the rich to gain or keep their hold on power.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Post | 15 Comments »

Prairie View A&M rocks

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 23rd February 2008

From the blog “Rural Votes,” Texas Early Voting Wave as Reaction to Systemic Disenfranchisement:

Texas Republicans have worked overtime to make it harder for key Democratic voting groups to vote and be represented fairly. The redistricting games they’ve played are infamous. And for the Prairie View A&M University precincts, they put the early-polling place more than seven miles from the school.

So what did the students in this video do? They shut down the highway as they marched seven miles to cast their votes on the first day of early voting.

Watch this, it is just fantastic. Goosebumps. Just absolutely fantastic. I’m seriously getting a little choked up here.

The university itself is rightly proud of the students, with a prominent story on its web site, linking to more at the Houston Chronicle and Black America Web.

Via James Wolcott.

P… V… U! P… V… U! It’s 2008. We will vote.

Posted in Post | 3 Comments »

Cardin missing an opportunity to widen Mukasey debate?

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 5th November 2007

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) has remained silent through the weekend on how he’ll vote on Michael Mukasey for Attorney General.

By now it may hardly matter. Hopes that the Bush administration’s latest apologist for unfettered presidential power would be defeated in the Judiciary Committee were probably extinguished when Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) confirmed he’d vote for Mukasey. The resulting unanimous GOP “yes” vote, combined with Senator Feinstein’s (D-CA) and Schumer’s (D-NY) support, means that Mukasey will probably at least eke out a narrow win in the committee.

It’s a shame, because Senator Cardin had a chance not just to join the fight for a renewed constitutional republic, but to lead it. Had he come out with a “no” signal ahead of Feinstein and Schumer, the pressure might have increased on those two Senators to delay and reconsider their vote — especially if Cardin had forcefully raised new concerns about Mukasey — concerns that speak directly to millions of American minority voters. To see why, watch the video of Cardin’s October 17 and 18 exchanges with Mukasey on voter ID and vote suppression:

This comes via the redoubtable Bradblog, where a transcript of both exchanges can be found. The key exchange came early on, after Cardin had briefly recapped a Georgia photo voter ID law purporting to solve a problem of fraudulent voting. The cost and effort to get the IDs made the law “the modern equivalent of the poll tax” by a judge who struck it down. Cardin reminded Mukasey that the law had been vetted and approved by the Gonzales Justice Department’s politicized Civil Rights Division, and then asked where Mukasey’s priorities would lie:

[SENATOR BEN CARDIN]…So I guess my question to you is, will your priority, in your instructions to the Civil Rights Division, be the traditional role of the Dept. of Justice in trying to remove obstacles to particularly minorities being able to vote, or will it be more to try to do the Georgia-type of Voter ID laws?
JUDGE MICHAEL MUKASEY: Respectfully, I don’t think it’s an either/or proposition. I think that voter enfranchisement, voter empowerment, opening up the vote, opening up access to the vote, and preventing people who shouldn’t vote from voting, are essentially two sides of the same coin.

But as Senator Cardin had already pointed out, “the Secretary of State of Georgia could give us no examples of people using false identification or false persons to vote.” As Senator Kennedy wrote in followup questions*submitted in writing, “In the past 5 years… there have been only 86 convictions [of voter fraud] nationwide — mostly involving poor, immigrant, or minority voters who had no intention of violating the law, but didn’t know that they were not legally allowed to register to vote.”

By contrast, vote suppression is common and intentional — as Senator Cardin has reason to know: his opponent last year, Michael Steele, not only hired Philadelphia homeless people to distribute fake “voter ballots” falsely claiming he’d been endorsed by local African-American Democratic politicians, but acknowledged the effort to defraud voters after the election and “just had to laugh at” criticism of the tactic.

So while they’re theoretically “two sides of the same coin,” vote suppression is real, while systematic, intentional vote fraud is essentially imaginary. As Brad Friedman notes, Judge Mukasey was quick to agree that overt trickery (publicizing the wrong election date, threatening arrests for outstanding tickets, and the like) is criminal. But Mukasey was much less enthusiastic about condemning legislative vote suppression such as the Georgia photo voter ID bill — even though that’s part of the job description of the Civil Rights Division he hopes to oversee. The judge went so far as to criticize the “modern day poll tax” statement as “a little over the top.”

More troublingly, in written answers to Senator Kennedy, Mukasey was unwilling to take the Justice Department approval of the Georgia law as evidence of a problem in the department:

ANSWER: I completely agree that the Department’s priorities should focus on the most prevalent and significant voting problems. At this time, however, I do not have sufficient information to determine whether the Department’s priorities comport with that approach, although I assume that they do.

Recapping, Mukasey assumes all is well at the Civil Rights Division’s priorities, even though they approved a blatantly discriminatory and vote suppressive law.

Senator Cardin appeared to be pleased with the answers Mukasey gave him regarding civil rights and voting law enforcement, doubtless valuing the respectful manner in which Mukasey delivered those answers. John Nichols, writing for The Nation, considers Mukasey worse than Gonzales, in part because he’s smoother:

Mukasey gives every indication that he is as enthusiastic as was Gonzales about helping the president to bend and break they law. The scary thing is that Mukasey appears to be a good deal abler when it comes to cloaking lawlessness in a veneer of legal uncertainty.

As Brad Friedman writes, Cardin “would be well advised to re-review the text transcript very carefully.” Both Mukasey’s testimony and his written answers reveal a willingness to dilute and subvert the Civil Rights Division’s true intent — enabling minorities to vote — with a fraudulent wild goose chase after vote fraud. As Senator Kennedy points out in his questions, that’s potentially unconstitutional and unlawful behavior by the Civil Rights Division itself. And as Kennedy’s subsequent questions indicate, that in turn is the basis of the “AttorneyGate” scandal that led to Mukasey’s nomination in the first place.

In his answers to Senators questions, Mukasey goes on to assert he agrees that the Civil Rights Division’s priorities must “reflect the most prevalent and significant voting problems.” But his oral testimony and his written testimony indicate Mukasey has a precarious, if not to say suspect, grasp of which voting problems are significant, and which are not. In a way, this is similar to Mukasey’s flights into high theory and casuistry about waterboarding. Things are sometimes as simple, as wrong, and as illegal as they look — and that’s something Mukasey seems loath to admit.

Were Senator Cardin to sound the alarm on voting rights law enforcement, and justify his “no” vote on this basis, Mukasey’s still-wobbly prospects still might get the coup de grace they deserve. For one, the claims by Schumer and others that “torture alone” is driving the debate would be (again) rebutted; for another, the legacy of the civil rights movement is (still) one of the most widely cherished ones in American life. While the Judiciary Committee vote seems a foregone conclusion now, the Senate vote need not be.

Senator Cardin has a huge opportunity both to make his mark in the Senate, and to serve his country. I hope he takes it.

=====
* The excerpted questions by Senator Kennedy are on page 39 and 40 of his 64 page section (48 and 49 of the overall 172 page .PDF document).
NOTES: “struck it down,” “vetted and approved,” “just had to laugh at” lead to posts on this blog about those events, with links to regular news media articles.

Posted in Post | 3 Comments »

"No problem, no problem, no problem"

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 14th November 2006

VotersUnite.org has built a database of election problems around the country, searchable by incident type, voting machine vendor, and state. In addition to records of electronic voting machine or pollbook problems, the database also includes incidents involving absentee ballots, vote suppression, accessibility problems, registration errors, and the like. If you know of others, you can submit the news story yourself for review.

The items in the database are typically newspaper reports, although state organizations like TrueVoteMD.org also participated in the effort. TrueVoteMD.org reported 75 incidents around the state of Maryland, including the notorious fake sample ballot in PG County but also numerous electronic voting machine malfunctions.

One Maryland problem was revealed in October: it turns out a substantial fraction of Diebold machines across the state have suffered from “screen freezes” making the machine inoperable without a reboot. The problem was apparently fixed by replacing faulty motherboards in 2005, and allegedly did not result in lost votes. But who really knows? The most distressing aspect of the story was that neither Diebold nor Election Administrator For Life Linda Lamone reported the problem in the first place to the Board of Elections or state legislators investigating voting machine issues; instead, “it was always ‘no problem, no problem, no problem.'”* Furthermore, the reported 1% problem rate doesn’t match up with the 4% rate experienced by Montgomery County in 2004.

Around the country, Colorado seemed to have a particularly difficult election, especially in Denver, where e-pollbook malfunctions resulted in long lines and discouraged votes; see also Gary Farber’s account of problems there. Election officials or news accounts often invoked voter or pollworker error; here’s one example from a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Rhonda Barr:

Perhaps most disconcerting, some voters reported that when they tried to cast votes for Democrats, the voting machines showed an X by the Republican candidate’s name.

‘It was weird. I had to override it two or three times to get it to work,’ DeKalb County voter Barbara Gillies said.

DeKalb officials blamed electronic machines that were not properly calibrated —- and voters with long fingernails.

In other words, the voters weren’t properly calibrated either. If only we could design uniform voter-humans, all these problems would go away! I imagine a consortium of Diebold, FOX News, and Genentech can work up something in time for the 2008 presidential election.

Meanwhile, I’m sorry to say that my “No on Question 4” campaign suffered a resounding defeat last Tuesday. Despite a “No on 4” editorial by the Washington Post, I’m guessing most voters focused on the “Voter Bill of Rights” name and its positive features, such as on-campus voting precincts and safeguards on voter de-registration.

I take heart that my campaign must have been one of the more efficient ones in the country, on a votes-per-dollar basis — 412,548 “no” votes, divided by my monthly Internet access charge. While my critics might argue “Yes on 4” must have been even more efficient, that may not be the case — “Yes on 4” appeared on at least one official Montgomery County Democratic sample ballot I came across. I’ll mention it to Terry Lierman next time we chat.

=====
* Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr. (R-Washington)
NOTES: Cameron Barr, Washington Post, 10/26/2006: Md. Voting Machines Had Part Defect. Rhonda Barr, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 11/8/2006: Machine Glitches: Smooth Day? No Way (reg. req.)
UPDATE, 11/14: Bad as things were in Colorado, the Florida 13th CD race probably takes the cake: about 18,000 votes for a Congressional representative have gone missing — unless fully 13% of voters in Sarasota County (and nowhere else) were casting protest “none of the above” undervotes. Many voters there noticed they had to go back and re-vote for their representative; it looks like thousands upon thousands more did not. No paper trail to check, of course. What a complete travesty. Via Steve Benen.

Posted in Post | No Comments »

Georgia voter ID law on hold

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 24th October 2005

Via Brett Marston, I learn that a federal district judge has issued a preliminary injunction against the Georgia voter photo ID law. That law — see “The new Jim Crow: brought to you by Georgia, approved by Bush” in this blog — ended the use of alternative identification such as Social Security cards, utility bills, or birth certificates. While the order’s effect is simply to keep photo ID requirementss out of next month’s Georgia elections, it seems likely the judge will eventually go farther. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Bill Rankin reported:

In a 123-page ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy of Rome temporarily barred the state from requiring voters to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls. Even though Murphy ruled only on the injunction, his strongly worded denunciation of the ID requirement law suggests that he may ultimately find it unconstitutional.

Dan Tokaji, an election law expert whose commentary Brett points to, explains that Judge Harold Murphy’s order

…relies heavily on the lack of evidence that voter fraud at the polling place is common. In fact, the evidence includes a statement from the state’s chief election official, Secretary of State Cathy Cox, that she “cannot recall one documented case of voter fraud … that specifically related to the impersonation of a registered voter at the polls.” In other words, the only problem that the Georgia law purports to deal with is a non-problem. This supports the conclusion that the voter fraud arguments we’ve heard so much about are a pretext for disenfranchisement. […]

Georgia ID law amounts to an impermissible poll tax, in violation of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While Georgia of course hasn’t labeled its ID requirement a tax, the Court concludes that labels aren’t dispositive. The fee for getting a photo ID card functions as a poll tax, by imposing a greater burden on those of lesser means.

Regarding the lack of strong evidence of in-person fraud, the order also echoes objections made by former Justice Department official David Becker in a late summer Washington Post op-ed. Becker pointed out that absentee ballots were exempted from the requirement, despite being obviously and measurably easier to commit fraud with. I thought Becker raised another good point here:

[I]t is surprisingly difficult to obtain a photo ID in Georgia. Though the state has 159 counties, there are only 56 places in which residents can obtain a driver’s license, and not one is within the city limits of Atlanta or within the six counties that have the highest percentage of blacks.

But Murphy’s order appears to have avoided the ‘unequal racial voting burden’ issue.* Tokaji:

Judge Murphy finds the evidence that African Americans have lower incomes and are less likely to have a car insufficient. He leaves open the possibility, however, that this claim could be supported by additional evidence later.

Brett Marston observes:

It’s not hard to see why courts should be more suspicious of legislative restrictions on voting rights than of legislative regulation of local industries. Legislative majorities are always going to be tempted to use regulation of the franchise to solidify their majorities. In order to prevent that kind of self-dealing, some kind of strong judicial oversight is appropriate…

I agree, and think that legislative self-dealing is yet another reason to oppose stripping courts of their jurisdiction over cases involving the rights of marginalized groups, such as those working for a more general, inclusive notion of marriage. “Orthodoxist dead-enders” of whatever stripe should not get to reserve legal and social advantages to themselves by legislative fiat or nonbenign neglect.

That is to say, to win “Jim Crow” fights, one can’t just rely on gradual changes in public opinion — that opinion can be all but immobilized in amber if the political and legal climate prevents people from ever seeing a successful black official or university student, or from ever seeing a stable gay couple. Principled judicial findings like Murphy’s are crucial, too — all the more so when a popularly elected legislature has the gall not just to pass vote-suppressing laws, but to fabricate the alleged problem being “solved.”

=====
* In single quotes here only because that’s undoubtedly not the right term of art.
EDIT, 10/24: “all the more so…” added to final sentence.
UPDATE, 10/24: ACLU press release.

Posted in Post | 1 Comment »

"Georgia’s New Poll Tax"

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 12th September 2005

It’s not often enough that I want to say it, but right on, New York Times! They’re coming out strongly against the voter ID law in Georgia (mentioned previously in this blog) on their editorial page. From Georgia’s New Poll Tax:

Until recently, Georgia, like most states, accepted many forms of identification at the polls. But starting this month, it is accepting only government-issued photo ID’s. People with driver’s licenses are fine. But many people without them have to buy a state ID card to vote, at a cost of $20 for a five-year card or $35 for 10 years. The cards are sold in 58 locations, in a state with 159 counties. It is outrageous that Atlanta does not have a single location. (The state says it plans to open one soon.) But the burden is also great on people in rural parts of the state.

The Republicans who pushed the law through, and Gov. Sonny Perdue, also a Republican, who signed it, say that it is intended to prevent fraud. But it seems clear that it is about keeping certain people away from the polls, for political advantage. The vast majority of fraud complaints in Georgia, according to its secretary of state, Cathy Cox, involve absentee ballots, which are unaffected by the new law. Ms. Cox says she is unaware of a single documented case in recent years of fraud through impersonation of a voter at the polls.

Citizens who swear they are indigent are exempt from the fee. But since the law does not define who is indigent, many people may be reluctant to swear and risk a criminal penalty. More important, the 24th Amendment, which outlawed poll taxes in federal elections, and the Supreme Court’s decision striking down state poll taxes applied to all Americans, not just to the indigent. A Georgian who votes only in presidential elections, and buys a five-year card to do so, would be paying $10 per election. That is no doubt more than many people on fixed incomes, who struggle to get by but are not legally indigent, are willing to pay to vote.

I think it would be a great idea to ask John Roberts what he thinks about this.

Posted in Post | No Comments »

The new Jim Crow: brought to you by Georgia, approved by Bush

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 30th August 2005

Last Friday, in “Justice Department OK’s Georgia’s Voter ID law,” the AP’s Jeffrey MacMurray reported:

The Justice Department on Friday approved a controversial Georgia law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, and opponents immediately vowed to challenge the measure in federal court. […]

The measure would eliminate the use of several currently accepted forms of voter identification, such Social Security cards, birth certificates or utility bills, at the polls.

No other state has gone as far in eliminating alternative IDs at the polls. David Becker, a former Justice Department official, titled his op-ed about Georgia voter ID laws with a succinct question — Reviving Jim Crow? — and pointed out:

[I]t is surprisingly difficult to obtain a photo ID in Georgia. Though the state has 159 counties, there are only 56 places in which residents can obtain a driver’s license, and not one is within the city limits of Atlanta or within the six counties that have the highest percentage of blacks.

(Via Mark Kleiman) Becker points out that the exemption for absentee ballots — also disproportionately underused by black Georgians — gives the lie to claims the law’s motivation is to reduce fraud. State Senator Tyrone Brooks addressed this issue today in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, arguing that both absentee ballots and paperless electronic voting are more frequent sources of questions and fraud than are voters misrepresenting themselves or others at the ballot box. Brooks adds:

A recent opinion column by Sen. Bill Stephens was headlined “Democrats hardly innocent of fraud” (@issue, Aug. 19). This is an interesting headline that leads to a curious implication: Is it now someone else’s turn at fraud?[…]

Voter fraud is wrong on each side of the aisle. Whether practiced by racist segregationists in 1946 or right-wing conservatives in 2006, it is equally repugnant and un-American.

(All emphases added.) There are other provisions worth pointing out — for instance, the “Radical Georgia Moderate” noticed that if no one wins 50% of the vote in (nominally) nonpartisan elections (judges, school board, etc.), runoffs are to be held during Thanksgiving week, praise the Lord and pass a little more voter suppression.

I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about this. The state of Georgia is fast distinguishing itself as a laboratory for every kind of vote suppression and democracy-undermining tactic — from partisan re-redistricting to voter ID to deceptive ballot measures (added bonus: in the service of homophobic marriage and civil union restrictions) to paperless electronic voting.*

True, it’s not dogs and beatings any more — Georgia’s rulers are too genteel and savvy for that, and it’s just bad for business. No, much better to find bloodless, computerized, complex, but always dishonest ways to disenfranchise unwanted voters and get the election results you want.

If this is American democracy, the hell with it. And the hell with those who’ve advocated these measures. And shame on the rest of us who do nothing about it. As Kleiman reminds us: qui tacet, consentit — who remains silent, consents.

Links:
Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials
ACLU-Georgia; ACLU-Voting Rights Act (“Renew. Restore.“) (Meanwhile, I’d settle for “Enforce.”)
The Democratic Party of Georgia

=====
* I’m guessing the next round will be a fight against Georgia’s obligations under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act — in which case such folk can probably count on would-be Supreme Court Justice John Roberts’ enthusiastic help.
UPDATE, 8/29: Gary Farber was discussing this with John Cole over the weekend, and fleshes out reasons to oppose Georgia’s restrictive photo ID rules.

Posted in Post | No Comments »

Support the Count Every Vote Act

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 5th March 2005

It’s old news, actually, but Senators Clinton, Kerry, Boxer, Mikulski, and Lautenberg have introduced a bill in the Senate called the “Count Every Vote Act” (now listed as S. 450*). The bill addresses a great number of the flaws in this country’s election process that the last several elections have revealed. The People for the American Way web site summarizes the 65-page bill’s provisions as follows:

More Accountable and Accessible Voting Systems
The Count Every Vote Act would:
1. Require that all voting systems produce a paper record that can be verified by the individual voter and that would constitute the official record for any recount;
2. Require a mandatory recount of voter-verified paper records in 2 percent of all polling places or precincts in each state;
3. Set minimum standards for the number of voting systems and poll workers at each precinct, and require that every precinct have at least one machine that can provide audio and pictorial verification and that is accessible to language minority voters;
4. Establish new security standards for voting equipment manufacturers, including a ban on using undisclosed software and wireless communications devices in voting systems.

More Opportunities for Citizens to Register to Vote and Cast Their Ballots
The Count Every Vote Act would:
1. Allow voters to register and cast a ballot on election day;
2. Require states to provide in-person early voting opportunities before Election Day;
3. Prohibit states from demanding excuses from voters who request absentee ballots;
4. Give voters more options for proving their identity to election officials;
5. Prohibit election officials from rejecting voter registration applications that are missing information which has no effect on the specific voter’s eligibility.

Discourage Partisan Manipulation and Deceptive Practices in Elections
The Count Every Vote Act would:
1. Make certain federal election campaign activities off limits to chief state election officials and top-level executives and owners of voting system manufacturers;
2. Require states to act in a uniform and transparent manner when attempting to purge voters from state registration lists;
3. Provide for the prosecution of those who engage in deceptive practices to keep people from voting in federal elections.

Expand the Right to Vote
The Count Every Vote Act would:
1. Require states to allow ex-felons who have completed their prison, parole and probation terms to register and vote in federal elections.

Ensure That All Votes Are Counted
The Count Every Vote Act would:
1. Require that provisional ballots be counted state-wide, allowing voters who are registered in a state but cast provisional ballots in a wrong precinct to still have their votes counted for all eligible federal races.

There’s actually more, including the excellent idea of making federal election days federal holidays.

I don’t even want to discuss the political points to be scored here, or guess how likely it is that the bill will pass. I’m very pleased and proud that leading Democrats are putting this bill forward, but these are ideas that deserve your support whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, or anything else. I’ve supported paper receipts for electronic voting for a while now, and just to see that issue acknowledged in Congress is great, to say nothing of the high-powered support it’s getting. Standards for voting systems and poll workers per precinct are also long overdue.

You can keep posted about the bill’s progress and learn about how else to help get it passed at the People for the American Way web site. Again, though, I hope this won’t be seen as a “liberal” or “Democratic” issue, because I’d like this stuff to pass, and obviously the numbers won’t work if it’s just Democrats supporting this.

=====
* EDIT, 3/14: “S. 450” link to govtrack.us site added.
UPDATE, 3/15: Some discussion at SayUncle.

Posted in Post | No Comments »