Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Every Vote Counts Act

The "Every Vote Counts Actt" has been introduced in the Senate. Whale it is being promoted as neutral voter rights legislation, the sponsors make one suspicious. The five sponsors include John Kerry, the last Democratic candidate, Barbara Boxer, the only senator to object to the last election, and Hillary Clinton, the current front-runner for 2008. The bill has several important points:

  1. Requirements for voting machines that will leave a paper audit trail.
  2. Requirements for mandatory recounts.
  3. Provisional Ballots
  4. Standards for the minimum number of poll workers and voting machines
  5. No-excuse absentee voting
  6. Standards for purging voter lists
  7. Election day registration
  8. Early voting
  9. Prohibiting campaigning by chief election officials and voting machine manufacturers
  10. Restoring the voting rights of convicts
  11. Making election day a federal holiday

This is an interestingly mixed bag. The parts about voting machines and mandatory recounts address theories that the Republicans stole the election by manipulating the voting machines. Ironically, most of the theories centered around optical mark ballots which satisfy the proposed requirements.

The parts about minimum voting machines and poll workers are there because Democrats are certain that Ohio threw the election by shorting some precincts. Investigations found that this was not so. Ohio was short of poll workers but this was because they could not attract enough people.

Now we move on to the really interesting parts.

Republicans are sure that Democrats tried to steal the election by having people vote more than once. Same day registration makes this easy. The act specifies that you can register and vote the same day, you would vote on a regular ballot, not a provisional one, and that you would not need to show any identification or proof of residency, you would only have to sign an affidavit. Early voting makes this even easier.

At minimum, the Democrats envision pulling a van into a predominantly Democrat district and pulling people off the street to go vote.

If they could, they would have specified Ken Blackwell's name instead of "chief state election officials". If this goes through it will bite them. Campaign officials usually campaign.

They also want to muzzle voting machine makers. This may not survive a constitutional challenge.

The part about allowing ex-convicts to vote has high-sounding language but one wonders if the sponsors would be as interested in this group if 90% of them didn't vote Democratic?

The final point, making election day a holiday, I can agree with. This will probably hurt them if it goes through. One reason that Kerry showed an initial surge in exit polls is that Bush voters wee more likely to be working an 8-5 job.

In all, this piece of legislation is designed to help the Democrats take back the government.

No comments: