Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Every Vote Counts, so Let's Count Every Vote

Over the weekend, Mark Hyman devoted a commentary to the topic of voter disenfranchisement. The Counterpoint says, “Bravo!”

The only problem is that Hyman is selective in his concern about voter disenfranchisement. Focusing strictly on individuals in the armed services, Hyman states that “We need to do a better job in guaranteeing voting rights to our servicemen and women.”

Absolutely. But what about everyone else? Hyman’s implication is that it’s especially important to count the votes of those in the military—more so than it is to count the votes of others.

This violates a basic tenet of democracy: everyone’s vote carries equal weight and importance. Suggesting that it’s more important to count the votes of those in one line of work rather than another would be like saying that each American gets one vote for every dollar they earn in income. If anyone proposed such an election reform, they’d be justly tarred and feathered. But suggesting that votes should be based on income is no more anti-democratic than saying that we must work especially hard to ensure the voting rights of some rather than others.

It’s critically important that those in the military have their votes counted, and that particular attention be paid to the problems of collecting votes from those overseas.

But it’s equally important that those across the country have their votes counted as well, and that particular attention be paid to the problems of collecting votes in areas facing special obstacles to hopeful voters (such as antiquated voting machines, having to wait in line for hours, and voting rolls illegally purged of minority voters).

The outcome of the 2000 election hinged on issues of enfranchisement (
and lack thereof). In 2004, while the outcome was likely not decided by disenfranchisement, there were plenty of cases of voters facing obstacles to making their voice heard.

Hyman, while adding his voice to those who call for greater efforts to ensure enfranchisement of servicemen and women, has openly mocked those who have suggested that disenfranchisement has occurred elsewhere. This includes those who voiced concern over the fact that the head of the company that manufactured many of the voting machines in Ohio was
a major Bush supporter who said he was, “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president.” We can’t help but wonder what Hyman would say if it was discovered that the firm responsible for collecting the votes of those in the military turned out to be a subsidiary of the Heinz company.

Yes, it’s crucial to count the vote of the soldier in Afghanistan, but it’s equally important to count the vote of the police officer in Cleveland, the teacher in Los Angeles, and the retired grandmother in Miami. In a democracy, no one’s vote is more important than anyone else’s.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


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