Every Vote Didn't Count
Consistency, as we’ve noted many times in this space, is not a “Hyman-esque” trait. A case in point comes in Hyman’s latest commentary on voter disenfranchisement in Ohio.
The title of Hyman’s editorial, “Every Vote Counted,” is a lie, even according to Hyman himself. Just days ago, Hyman railed against the injustice of Byzantine procedures that prevented some overseas members of the armed forces from voting. We agreed with him, with the caveat that we can’t be selectively outraged about voter disenfranchisement. The beauty of elections is that everyone’s vote counts equally. Given that, we should be equally outraged when any U.S. citizen is denied the right to vote.
But Hyman tries to cover himself by focusing specifically on the issue of Cleveland, Ohio, suggesting that, at least in that one locale, things really weren’t all that bad as claimed (sure, people might have had to wait for line for hours and hours to vote in predominantly minority precincts, but certainly not 11 hours, as some have said!).
He also suggests that those who have spoken out against long voting lines, antiquated voting machines, and inadequate facilities in certain precincts are claiming the election was “stolen.” In fact, almost no one has said that. The many members of the House and the Senate (including John Kerry himself) who have brought up these issues preface their comments by saying that they do not question the outcome of the vote. That’s not the point. The point is that as soon as we become lackadaisical about disenfranchisement, we’ve abandoned a fundamental principle of representative democracy.
Hyman himself as argued as much, complaining within the last year that voters in the heavily Republican panhandle of Florida were disenfranchised in 2000 by network predictions of an Al Gore victory in the state which came only ten minutes before the polls closed.
If having a network predict a winner only moments before the polls closed supposedly disenfranchised voters, what are we to say about the hours-long lines, out-of-date and inadequate voting machines, illegally purged voting rolls, and polling place irregularities that plagued many places in the country (including Ohio), usually in places with heavy minority populations?
There’s evidence aplenty that, intentionally or unintentionally, thousands and thousands of voters in Ohio alone didn’t have an adequate chance for their vote to count. There’s just no denying this. Public hearings have provided a laundry list of problems with the voting process. This should concern all Americans. The lame rejoinder of “well, it won’t change the outcome” misses the point. Someone else might not have ended up being elected, but to the extent the election results don’t count every person who wanted to vote and had a right to do so, disenfranchisement eats away at the foundation of democracy. As soon as cynicism and suspicion become the order of the day when it comes to elections, democracy dies. The only solution is to investigate and attempt to solve all problems that lead to the disenfranchisement of any voter.
When it comes to ensuring the right to vote, consistency is essential.
And that’s The Counterpoint.