To here the news lately, you’d think we live in some third-world dictatorship, unable to administer a fair election.
The press keeps touting the fact that we are due for the greatest voter turnout of all time. One group, which tends to be Republican and/or conservative, spin tales of fraudulent voter registration rolls — of elections being stolen by the likes of Mickey Mouse and Yo Momma, or possibly of immigrants that are ineligible to vote, or possibly by people voting several times under different identities. Another group is sounding the alarm against voter suppression, citing that names are already being removed from rolls or are being allocated provisional ballots that can be suppressed for all kinds of minor reasons… of course that groups tends to be Democrat/liberal.
First things first — I don’t think voter turnout is going to be all that great. “The youth” that everyone thinks is so energized about this election; isn’t that the same “youth” that was going to turn the tide in 2000? and 2004? I know, technically it’s not the same youth, as those youth are no longer young (prematurely middle-aged by the inability to get a home mortgage in these crazy times). But seriously, “the youth vote” always seems to find something better to do November 4th, so don’t count on them.
The big chunk of ‘undecided’ voters are equally unlikely to make a difference; a Pew study I heard about on NPR this afternoon demonstrated that almost half of those ‘undecided’ in days leading up to the election just end up not voting. No reason to think that will be any different this year; and frankly, do we really want people going into the polling stations thinking “eeiny, meeny, miney, mo…?” Stay home, undecided voter.
Of course, now that the media has convinced us it will be an unprecedented turnout, when numbers are below expectations they can easily reason that huge numbers of votes have “been suppressed”. If Obama doesn’t win, or it’s close, you’ll hear this before the end of election night. No, it’s not a card the Republicans can play.
The Republican card is voter fraud, and it’s decidedly more difficult to play with a straight face. Sure, it’s possible that people could vote multiple times in different precincts with easy-to-obtain fake IDs. But it’s a lot more difficult logistically to make this happen than it is to make a few thousand votes disappear from a Diebold machine.
Both sides can argue breathlessly that their ideological constituents are being wronged here, but it makes me wonder which is the greater transgression? Is there a corollary of Blackstone’s formulation?
“Better that ten illegitimate persons cast votes than one legitimate citizen have there vote cast asunder” ?
“Better than ten legitimate votes be withdrawn than to have the will of the people thwarted by a single illegitimate vote” ?
Neither one sounds right; either way, here’s my prediction — voter fraud/suppression will be in the secondary headlines on November 5th.