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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Friday, February 18, 2005

Hillary Thinks Ahead

posted by Jazz at 2/18/2005 01:22:00 PM


This article caught my attention, if only because I am so fervently interested in seeing real, substantial and transparent voting reform happen in my lifetime. Of all people, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry teamed up today to begin the push for a voting reform act. You can read the article yourself, but cutting to the chase, this proposed bill has five major components.
  1. Create a federal holiday for voting on election day.
  2. Require paper receipts for all ballots cast.
  3. Allocate $500 million to help states make the transition to the new system.
  4. Allow ex-felons to vote.
  5. Require that the changes be in place before the 2006 election.
Let's skip number one for a moment. I think that number two should be endorsed and embraced by every person in this country. If you see Republicans opposing this, you need to make sure that people are asking in loud, clear voices, exactly what problem they have with a verifiable paper trail for votes. Follow the objectors and you will, I bet, find the people who have the most to hide in our recent elections.

As to number 3, I realize that Bush has driven the federal financial situation into an abysmal black hole of red tape, but if there's anything in this country right now that needs a half billion thrown its way, it's the voting system. I would pay higher taxes for one year to fund this. I'm guessing, however, that this is one of the ones that the GOP will use as a crutch to argue against the legislation, now that they are suddenly "fiscal conservatives" again this week.

Number 4 should be a no brainer. They aren't talking about people in prison or on probation. They are talking about ex- felons. People who have already "paid their debt to society" as the phrase goes. I've never understood how there is any constitutional grounds for removing somebody's basic democratic rights for the rest of their lives when they are given a sentence to serve and they do it.

Number five may prove impossible. The Diebold type machines are a mess, and getting new electronic voting machines that deliver paper receipts designed, built, paid for, and shipped to every precinct in the country in twentyone months would be a titanic effort. I think 2008 is doable, though. I think they should be ready to bend on that one if they want to get it passed.

Back to the first idea... when I first read it my immediate reaction was, "Ugh. We do NOT need yet another federal holiday. Besides, most places have voting for something like 14 to 18 hours on election day. I've yet to have any trouble getting to vote, and I believe that applies to most people unless they live in heavily Democratic/minority areas in Ohio when the GOP is trying to suppress the vote."

My mind changed, however, when I read this from Shawn at the Liquid List.
Today, pretty much anyone with a job or a family is unable to help their favorite candidate on Election Day. Indeed, many people have to struggle just to get to the polls in time to vote.
I hadn't thought of it that way. I know that a lot more people would be out helping their candidates or assisting in GOTV drives, volunteering as election workers, etc. if they didn't have to miss a day of work to do it. I don't' agree with a federal holiday just to go vote... but I do agree with a federal holiday to allow people to go get involved in the process. Except for the 2006 deadline, I have to say I wholeheartedly support this bill. Hillary, who I used to despise nearly as much as Bush and Cheney, has been surprising me more and more lately. I still don't know if I'd vote for her for President, and her sneaky moves about religion and abortion lately have been a turn off, but on this one she's hit a winner.

Of course, checking in with some other bloggers from both sides of the aisle, you'll find the usual carping about anything that Clinton or Kerry endorsed.

Quando Blog says, "No and No!" but does offer an intriguing counter offer which could be added into this bill. Why not set up all the states to have early voting so that you have several days, or even a week to vote? It's already done in some places. Quando takes the predictable "compassionate conservative" outlook of "Screw the criminals. You don't get to vote." *sigh*.

Pandagon is all in favor of this bill.

The Brothers Bush Judd trash the bill, but give no reason for doing so aside from complaining about "criminals and slackers." Very enlightened, boys.

I'll keep an eye out for more good takes on this proposal.