October 07, 2003
Debate and attack

I did not catch last night's mayoral debate, but like Beldar I'm a bit disappointed that neither Sylvester Turner nor Bill White gave definitive answers to the questions about their role in the Brenda Flores contretemps. I tend to agree with Beldar that White is guilty of nothing more than foolishness, but he's not doing himself any favors by not simply admitting to it. I don't think this will have the kind of legs to be an issue to anyone who's not paying close attention, but why take the chance?

Of course, it's easy for me to say that. The Chron does not appear to be pursuing this story, and it isn't easily described in sound bites, so there's a decent chance it may die a quiet death, in which case making vague noises about looking forward and moving on will suffice to distract most people whereas an admission of something that sounds like wrongdoing even if it's just dumbassery will be a giant red flag. I suppose this is why they pay campaign consultants the big bucks.

Meanwhile, Rob notes a more substantial criticism of Bill White.

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson attacked Houston mayoral candidate Bill White on Monday for a position he took in 1997 on the voting rights of soldiers.

White, as then-state Democratic chairman, advocated that state law be changed to prevent military personnel from voting in local elections unless they intended to return to the state after their service to establish residency.

Emphasis mine. Let me see if I've got this straight: A kid from New Jersey joins the Air Force and does basic training at Kelly Air Force Base before being shipped overseas. Bill White says that unless the kid plans on coming back to San Antonio after his stint abroad, he should register and vote absentee in New Jersey instead of in Texas. And Jerry Patterson has a problem with this? When I was a college student, I voted absentee in New York until after graduation when I established residence here. Does Jerry Patterson think I was discriminated against, too? Puh-lease.

UPDATE: Alex has a reasonable objection to my complaint, pointing out that folks in the military may not have any other permanent address or they may have joined the military to get away from their prior permanent address. Fair enough. I still believe that the default should be where you came from, but it should not be hard to override that.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 07, 2003 to Election 2003 | TrackBack

I think it is discriminatory. You have to jump through more hoops to vote absentee, and thus requiring that they do that when they could vote locally is discriminatory. If they are living there they should be able to vote there.

Posted by: Laura in DC on October 7, 2003 4:06 PM

The point was that they weren't living there. They've been shipped overseas. If they're voting, they're voting absentee regardless of the state where their votes will be counted.

Many people who serve our country overseas, including those in the military and the State Department, claim residency in Texas while overseas. Why? Simple--no state income tax.

But unless these individuals intend to live in Texas upon their return, why should they be voting in local elections?

Posted by: Kenneth Fair on October 7, 2003 5:01 PM


Gee, why should he have any say in voting in New Jersey, either? After all, he's not there either when he's serving overseas, and while he's stateside in the military training, he's in a different state, so why let him vote?

How does one declare where they intend to live once they're out? Why should they have to jump through that extra hoop and be forced to know what tomorrow holds because they're defending our country?

Posted by: R. Alex on October 7, 2003 8:11 PM

Alex, why shouldn't the state you came from be the default? Surely there's more of a connection there. Again, as an out-of-state student, I was told I couldn't get a Texas driver's license until I had a Texas address, and my college PO box didn't count. That's what was meant by residency, some kind of permanent address, which until I moved to Houston meant my parents' house. That doesn't mean I couldn't drive. I had a NY state driver's license and a NY state voter's registration card. What's the big deal?

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on October 7, 2003 10:23 PM

I started to reply here, but it got too long. I posted it over at RAWbservations.

Posted by: R. Alex on October 8, 2003 2:27 AM