Monday, August 19, 2013

A debate about busloads of voters

North Carolina's new voting law continues to be a flashpoint for debate, both in the state and across the country. Two new additions to the discussion, from the conservative National Review and the not-so-conservative New York Magazine, bring a finer point to the debate about the kind of fraud the law might stop.  

The National Review, in an editorial late last week, praised the law for protecting elections from a "time-honored practice" of local political fixers helping their party by gathering up potential voters and bringing them to the precinct for some registering and ballot casting. 

Says the editorial: 

Go down to the local homeless shelter, day-labor corner, or wino encampment, pull up with vans, and distribute such benefits as may be motivational in exchange for the effort of the denizens therein to cast their ballots. In the 2000 presidential campaign, the practice was so aggressive that a Milwaukee homeless shelter had to chase away Gore operatives attempting to bribe their wards with cigarettes. Long early-voting periods and same-day registration facilitate this process. Even the most able political machine can round up only so many people on Election Day, and those who are available for such rounding up often are not registered voters.

New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait, in a post this morning, takes issue with the NRO's implication:

The point of this odd, paranoid digression seems to be that Democrats rely on the wrong kind of people and pay them something to vote, which is easier to do if it’s easier to vote. “Even the most able political machine can round up only so many people on Election Day,” argues the National Review editorial, “and those who are available for such rounding up often are not registered voters.” Note the assumption: They’re often not registered voters, made without any hard evidence. It’s just an inherent characteristic of a party reliant on winos, day laborers, the homeless, and the Wrong Sorts of People in general, which is why basically any restriction on the ability of Those People to vote is fine, because they shouldn’t be voting at all.
A note: Accusations of voters being bused to precincts helped drive a separate N.C. law cited in this Associated Press article today. The new law bans voters from casting a ballot in precincts other than their own. N.C. Republicans, including Mecklenburg commissioner Bill James in a 2004 lawsuit, have long accused Democrats of attempting to tilt elections by bringing busloads of voters to precincts that weren't necessarily their own. 

Peter St. Onge


Wiley Coyote said...

You should be required to vote in your assigned precinct.

Students should be required to vote where their primary residence is. If they live in California and go to school in NC, then they should return to California and vote or vote absentee.

Same for a NC student going to school in California.

Pamela Grundy said...

Why should you be required to vote in your assigned precinct?

kantstanzya said...

It is not that difficult to vote absentee but it does require a little effort and individual responsibility. Any student too stupid or too lazy to vote absentee probably should not be in college in the first place.

But in the spirit of the Democratic Party which considers most people as helpless victims voting, like putting food on the table and all things about life in general, should require as little effort and individual responsibility as possible.

Archiguy said...

That's what absentee ballots are for. To restrict this one group of eligible voters is unconstitutional, and will be contested in court.

Students usually don't have cars or money for plane fare to fly across the country, as Wiley so cavalierly suggests, for one day to vote. They may have an exam or some other school commitment they can't miss. It's ridiculous, it's blatant, and it's not fooling anyone.

The only reason this provision was included in the new voting law was because young, idealistic students tend to vote Democratic. So, any restriction on their right to vote is perfectly acceptable for the GOP, who seem more interested in rigging elections than contesting them.

Aren't these the same people who claim to revere Democracy and the Constitution? Then why are they trying to hard to restrict the right to vote?

Pamela Grundy said...

Voting absentee is not as simple as one might think.

The first year I was eligible to vote, I was away at college. I doubt that anyone who knew me at the time would have described me as "stupid," "lazy," or someone who "probably should not be in college in the first place." Although I had applied for an absentee ballot in plenty of time, the actual ballot did not arrive in my mailbox until the week after the election was over.

In the fall of 2008, my father was confined to the hospital for four months because of a serious illness. My mother, who is neither stupid nor lazy, made a small, insignificant error while filling out a quite confusing absentee form. By the time we were informed of the error, the deadline for applying had passed. As a result, my father was unable to vote that year.

Throwing up barriers to voting means that fewer people vote. That is no way to run a democracy.

John said...

I have made my living doing statistical trending and analysis for years and one thing that I just can't stand in this entire "debate" is the idiots who maintain that voter IDs are addressing a problem that doesn't exist!

You absolutely cannot state that voter fraud doesn't exist because there is no current way to determine the validity of the voters!

You cannot measure what you do not track. Voter IDs may be the ONLY WAY to know IF we have a problem, and if so, how big it is. Maybe we should do it the way Afgans and Iraqis did it after our soldiers liberated them? By dipping our fingers in ink to prevent voting more than once?

Don't give me this "unfair to require the poor to have photo ID's business either... you can't cash a welfare check without photo ID so don't they already have them? If not, they should... I'm supposed to show a photo ID to use my own credit card! Get real here.

We've got a problem, we just don't know how big it is. Chicago has been notorious for dead people voting for decades. Everyone knows it, they just don't talk about it if they know their party is the one doing it.

John said...

If illegal's immigrants and those bused to the polls with promises of free meals or booze voted overwhelmingly Republican, every single one of you critics would be on the opposite side of this argument tomorrow and you KNOW it... even if you aren't honest enough to admit it.

Wiley Coyote said...

Throwing up barriers to vote?...

I've never encountered any barriers to vote, so there must not be any.

DMorrisPE said...

Please don't forget that the Obama administration practically forbid servicemen to vote by refusing to distribute absentee ballots. They might have voted Republican, don't you see, and that just wouldn't do!

BiBr said...

NRO - you are spot on with your analysis.

Pamela Grundy said...

Sarcasm, Wiley?

Wiley Coyote said...

No sarcasm. Just fact.

If in today's time a person can't get the necessary documentation to vote, then too bad.

As far as your absentee ballot issue, if you failed to properly fill out the ballot or ensure you had the ballot in plenty of time to fill it out and send it back in, again, too bad.

Change the absentee ballot procedure then, get it streamlined.

Pamela Grundy said...

Wow. You meant it. That explains a lot.