Millennials make political gestures, but don’t vote

Only a small percentage of the Millennial generation vote, according to a new study.  That’s not to say they aren’t interested in politics.  But they tend to express that interest by doing things like putting rainbows on their FaceBook pages and making other online gestures rather than actually voting.  Political views become identity markers, like the clothes they wear or the music they listen to, rather than anything having to do with actually governing.  Of course, Millennials are not the only ones who feel this way without voting.  This may explain today’s political landscape, which is big on image and ideology, but weak on pragmatic policy. [Read more...]

Mandatory voting?

President Obama appeared to endorse mandatory voting as a way to get money out of politics.  In countries that have mandatory voting laws, if you don’t cast a ballot, you have to have to pay fines or other penalties.  American polls show that most people who don’t vote support Democrats, which, of course, doesn’t do Democrats much good.  I’ve read that in Australia, which punishes non-voters, the effect is a kind of stasis, since so many of those who cast a ballot really don’t care, cancelling out the votes of partisan true believers.  What’s the problem with compulsory voting?  I believe it was Sartre who said that the essence of freedom is the ability to say “no,” and saying “no” to all of the candidates would seem to be essential to democracy.  But what do you think? [Read more...]

Election Day

Today we Americans are privileged to participate in what has been called the “civic sacrament” of voting.

Elections for public office are not new, of course.  They were staples of the Greek democracy and the Roman republic.  The papacy has always been an elected position.  In medieval Europe, the Emperor was elected, the main difference from our elections being that only seven people got to vote (including the Duke of Saxony, which is why one holder of that office, Frederick the Wise, had the clout to prevent Martin Luther from being burned at the stake).

Pundits expect a big day for Republicans, who may well gain a majority on the Senate.   Any predictions? [Read more...]

Non-citizens who vote illegally

Those who worry about illegal voting are often dismissed with the claim that this hardly ever happens.  A non-partisan academic study, though, finds that it does.  Specifically, it found that 14% of non-citizens are registered to vote.  In the 2008 presidential election, 6.4% of the non-citizens here illegally voted.  In the 2010 midterm election, the number was 2.2%.

Furthermore, the study found that 80% of these illegal voters cast their ballots for Democrats, which made the difference in several close elections, including the one that gave the Democrats their 60th vote in the Senate, thwarting the possibility of a filibuster on Obamacare.  But voter ID laws don’t make much difference.  Most of these illegal voters have government-issued IDs. [Read more...]

The Civic Sacrament

Today is election day.  Mostly up for grabs are local and state races.  Voting has been called a “civic sacrament.”  The analogy is an imperfect one, and it applies only to democratic systems.  Some say that voting “doesn’t do any good,” which even if it were true is not the point.  We have a vocation of citizenship.  For those of us blessed enough to have been called to citizenship in a country in which we govern ourselves by choosing our own leaders, voting is one of the duties of our vocation.

Is voter fraud a problem, or not?

Democrats are calling attempts, usually led by Republicans, to try to prevent voter fraud as racist attempts to suppress the vote.  Democrats complain that voter ID laws and similar proposals are tackling a non-existent problem.  But John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky say that the issue is more complicated than that:

Voter fraud is so rare that “you’re more likely to get hit by lightning than find a case of prosecutorial voter fraud,” asserts the liberal Advancement Project. An August study by News 21, a group of journalism students, claimed that to find only 10 prosecutions of in-person voter impersonation nationwide since the year 2000.

If state legislators worried about voter fraud are just imagining the problem, then it’s that much easier to block laws requiring voters to use photo ID to prove they are eligible voters. But that’s not quite the whole story. Evidence used to dismiss the problem turns out to be thin.

A large number of the nation’s 3,031 counties never provided data, and the News21 researchers report that they sent out only 2,000 queries. Nor did the study mention the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholding voter ID laws, which found an “extreme difficulty of apprehending a voter impersonator” if ID isn’t required. While voter impersonation is hard to detect, it is easy to commit. Earlier this year, James O’Keefe released a video of a 22-year-old undercover reporter who obtained Attorney General Eric Holder’s ballot in Washington, D.C., and could easily have voted if he had chosen to.

Chaotic voter registration rolls make it too easy to commit voter fraud. A February study by the non-partisan Pew Center on the States found one in eight voter registrations were inaccurate, out-of-date or duplicates. Nearly 2.8 million people were registered in two or more states, and perhaps 1.8 million registered voters are dead.

Critics of voter ID laws also fail to note they are designed not just to stop voter impersonation but also multiple voting, non-citizen voting, people voting in the wrong precinct, out-of-state voting and voting in the names of fictitious people.

Examples of fraud are plentiful. Three non-citizens were arrested in Iowa last month for voting illegally in the 2010 general election and 2011 city election. A Democratic nominee for Congress resigned in Maryland last month after allegations that she had voted in two states at the same time. A 2004 New York Daily News study found that 46,000 people were registered to vote in both New York City and Florida, and that 400 to 1,000 had voted in both states in the same election. Florida decided the 2000 presidential election by 537 votes.

via Column: Underestimating our voter fraud vulnerability.

What I want to know is, simply, this:  If there is no voter ID law, what is to prevent me from showing up at the polling place, telling the poll worker that I’m you, and taking your vote?  (When you show up, the poll workers will think you’ve already voted, and you might get charged with fraud!)  Policies need to prevent abuses, not just punish them after the abuse takes place.