March 16, 2005
The most important right

Greg Moses is still wading through documents from the Heflin Challenge, and he keeps putting out useful and interesting articles on what he's found. Stay on top of it all here, here, here, and here.

One of the better questions to be raised by all this is why exactly did Tax Assessor Paul Bettencourt do an audit specific to HD149 when the normal procedure is to do one of the whole county? The answer they've given is that this was standard for when there's such a close election, except that no one can recall a previous incident even though there have been similarly close elections in recent history, like this one, for example. As Moses documents, Bettencourt's audit was quite the handy guide for Andy Taylor.

The more I read of Moses' work, the more I share his distaste with the sustained attacks that Taylor made not just on individual voters, but on the concept that voting is a right, and as such it shouldn't be trivially denied. Mark Schmitt notes that a frequent question on the test for US citizenship is "WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT RIGHT GRANTED TO U.S. CITIZENS?" The answer, of course, is "the right to vote". Well, if that's really so, why do we make it so hard to vote?

[We should] allow immediate voter registration on the day of the election, or abandon the concept of voter registration entirely. Show up with any proof of residence and citizenship, and you can vote. Your name is immediately entered into a state-level computer system so that you can't vote again that day, and won't need ID in the future. There's no reason it can't be that simple, and if this is truly "The Most Important Right," we would do it.

Implied in there is the idea of being able to vote anywhere, which is something that the state of Florida has discussed recently. Taylor wanted to disallow the votes of people who cast their ballots in the wrong precinct, even though they were in the right House district and thus had the same slate of candidates. That's ludicrous, especially in this day of early voting - I can't remember the last time I voted in my precinct location on Election Day. Bettencourt's office knows who you should be voting for, and so do the eSlate machines during the early period. Why not on Election Day as well?

I'll close here by pointing to Greg's account of a lunch date he and I had with Larry Veselka, the man who ably represented Rep. Hubert Vo in the Heflin challenge. I don't have a whole lot to add to what he said, so I'll just second the notion that there was quite the lack of outrage on the issue of absentee ballots from people serving in the military whose votes were questioned by Heflin and Taylor. Refer to pages 32-34 of the Hartnett report (PDF) for the notations on this. As Greg asks, where's Jerry Patterson when you really need him?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 16, 2005 to Election 2004 | TrackBack