November 13, 2002

Election Selection

Voting rocks! I can’t say that enough. At the risk of sounding hyper-jingoistic, I believe that the ballot is the bedrock of our society. The choices we make in the voting booth have massive consequences for our future and determine where our nation will focus in the coming years. The decisions lie exclusively with We the People.

Hopefully, the above paragraph won’t be left on the ground for someone to step on, because then they’ll have to wipe that crap off their shoes. I’m surprised the right to vote hasn’t yet been completely eradicated.

Voting really does rock, but the 2000 presidential election proved that some votes are more equal than others. From the creators of that drama comes phase two of Operation: Enduring Freedom from Suffrage.

Rarely does a writer come up with the perfect balance of humor, horror and satire. To the collective relief of us scribes, however, our 43rd president is a pulsating satire factory. The next sentence may be the best nugget you will read all year.

On Oct. 29, George W. Bush signed the “Help America Vote Act.” Du-du-tisssss!

Bush--the first instance of the Supreme Court appointing a president (instead of vice-versa) and a man whose brother governs a state that profiles registered voters like the bouncer at a P. Diddy party held at Area 51--has signed a bill intended to make voting easier. The law did not affect this recent election. Turns out that reform wasn’t quite THAT important.

We’ve had our laugh; now it’s time to be scared.

After all, elections are to Bush what the Bill of Rights is to John Ashcroft. Bush’s backing of the bill should reassure the public every bit as much as his backing of corporate reform reassured Wall Street.

Here’s more: while states will be given a total of $3.9 billion to update voting systems, no federal oversight will determine what (or even if) the technology will improve. Wasn’t that the whole point of the legislation? Guess not.

The law advocates increased enforcement of voter-ID requirements by commissioners as well, which is worthy if not abused. Later, voting databases will be linked to driver’s license records. It’s the SGA “Everyone Drives” school of thought.

What I find most disturbing is the phase-in of “provisional ballots” by 2004. These are issued to those who are not on the voter rolls, enabling the person to vote. Now why would anyone want to enact such a thing, especially in time for 2004? Could it be…naaah! Well, this administration hasn’t yet cared about the due processes outlined in the Constitution; why would they start now?

If people don’t take the initiative to register before an election, then they should not vote. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for speedier registration—I remember not being able to vote a month after signing up because the registration process took too long—and the inclusion of as many voters as possible. But allowing provisional ballots opens up so much potential for corruption that even Katherine Harris has to blush.

If the Bush administration has one skill, it is its penchant for full-blown irony. And boy, are they consistent. They want to clean up corporate corruption, fight to defend freedom and advocate responsible voting practices. Imagine that.

I believe Wes Craven is looking into buying the screenplay of this story. That is, if the Onion doesn’t claim first rights.

Of course, real election reform truly is necessary, as the 2000 election proved. Ballot practices and voter rolls could both use some scrutiny. Much like Bush’s tax cuts and missile defense, however, the “Help America Vote Act” misses the target. The American people don’t need voting help; they just need assurance that their vote will be allowed, correct and will actually matter.


Anonymous BLUEVETTER said...


8:25 PM  

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