Thursday, March 27, 2014

Free and Fair Elections

Two issues have come up recently in Ohio raising questions about how elections should be held. The first was a ruling by the Secretary of State establishing uniform voting rules for the state. This prompted outrage from the Democrats who allege voter suppression. The reasoning behind this is twofold.

First, they maintain that urban counties need special rules to make it easier for people to vote. This includes sending absentee ballots to all registered voters and having longer voting hours and more days.

Second, they maintain that the absence of Sunday voting hurts them.

There are also allegations that rural voters have more free time and can more easily get to the polls. This is ironic since the people they claim have been suppressed are unemployed or part-time workers.

It is no coincidence that what the Democrats desire is to increase voter participation in counties that are likely to vote Democrat and to suppress it in Republican counties. That is the heart of their desire to let individual counties change voting procedures.

That is also behind sending absentee ballots to everyone in Democrat-heavy counties but not to everyone in the state. There are other issues with this I will address below.

In order for an election to be fair, every voter must be treated the same. To claim voter suppression because likely-Democrats are not given special treatment is perverse.

Sunday voting is a special case itself. The reason for not including Sunday voting is cost. Most counties cannot afford to open the polls on both Saturday and Sunday. Why is Sunday important to Democrats? Because part of their get-out-the-vote effort involves having sympathetic ministers tell their congregations how to vote then busing the congregations to the polls in church buses. This is a violation of church/state separation and churches that do this should lose their tax-free status. They don't but they should. That's a part of election law that is never enforced.

The second issue was the appearance of Melowese Richardson who had been convicted of voter fraud at the kick-off event for the campaign for an Ohio Voters' Bill of Rights Ohio Constitutional amendment. Richardson was given a "welcome home" and hugged by the Reverend Al Sharpton.

Richardson had committed two types of voter fraud. First, she voted absentee and in person. Second, she used her comatose sister's absentee ballot to vote. The judge at her sentencing was outraged because Richardson was a poll worker, entrusted with maintaining the integrity of the election so he sentenced her to 5 years. This was reduced to 8 months.

People at the kick-off event claim that she was simply being welcomed home after a harsh sentence had been reduced. If true, that was terrible judgement given the subject of the rally.

Richardson was caught because she voted twice under her name. Had she simply continued to vote once as herself and once as her sister she would never have been caught. This highlights one of the dangers of sending out unsolicited absentee ballots.

While Richardson was convicted under state law, she was never charged under federal law. This is important because the main argument that voter fraud is rare to non-existent is based on federal election law convictions. If someone who is known to have violated federal law is not charged then how many other cases has the government passed on prosecuting?

Nationwide, Republicans have been insisting on tighter controls for elections and the Democrats have insisted that this is solving a non-existent problem. They go on to accuse Republicans of voter suppression (surprise!). But the Richardson case shows that the statistics the Democrats cite are meaningless. Voter fraud is difficult to detect in the first place. If the feds decline to enforce clear violations then we have to idea at all how often it occurs.

In both of the incidents above, Democrats resort to crying voter suppression any time that election laws are not administered in a way that gives them a clear advantage. They need to be called out on this. 

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