Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Why Not Count *Everyone's* Vote?

Mark Hyman uses his most recent “Point” editorial to complain about disenfranchisement of military members voting in New Jersey via federal write-in ballots.

Hyman never states that New Jersey systematically tried to keep military members from voting with federal write-in ballots. He lets the insinuation float in the air, probably because New Jersey is a blue state that went for Kerry in 2004. But he provides no evidence of foul play, because there isn’t any.

As to the substance of his charges that bureaucratic hoops forced on absentee write-in ballot casters caused many of them not to have their votes counted, I can’t find much on the topic one way or the other.

If we grant that such problems happened (and I’m willing to), there are solutions, such as a uniform, nation-wide write in absentee ballot that could be used by anyone at any place. This is a proposal that’s gotten bipartisan support.

But Hyman’s concerns for voter enfranchisement are not consistent. While picking the specific and narrow issue of write-in absentee votes by New Jersey residents serving in the military, he ignores the much broader issues of voter disenfranchisement, many of which aren’t simply issues of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo or technical snafus, but organized attempts to suppress the vote and deny certain people the chance to express themselves. The most egregious and notable of these are the multitude of problems seen in Ohio in 2004, as
Robert Kennedy Jr. has pointed out.

Everyone’s vote is equally important. Yes, the serviceman serving away from home deserves to have his vote counted. But so does the black woman from Cleveland who is working two jobs to support her family and had to stand in line for hours in order to exercise her rights.

All Americans should have their votes counted. That means voting machines with paper trails. It means uniform voting technology across the nation. It should also mean having election day be a holiday to prevent rushes at certain times of the day. It also must mean not having partisan political hacks from either party overseeing the election process itself.

If we want to preach democracy around the world, we need to practice it correctly. That starts with counting everyone’s vote.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 2.79


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