Joined: Sat May 29, 2004 11:46 pm
|Just Try Voting Here: 11 of America's worst places to cast a ballot (or try)
News: Machines that count backward, slice-and-dice districts, felon baiting, phone jamming, and plenty of dirty tricks
By Sasha Abramsky
September/October 2006 Issue
We used to think the voting system was something like the traffic laws -- a set of rules clear to everyone, enforced everywhere, with penalties for transgressions; we used to think, in other words, that we had a national election system. How wrong a notion this was has become painfully apparent since 2000: As it turns out, except for a rudimentary federal framework (which determines the voting age, channels money to states and counties, and enforces protections for minorities and the disabled), U.S. elections are shaped by a dizzying mélange of inconsistently enforced laws, conflicting court rulings, local traditions, various technology choices, and partisan trickery.
In some places voters still fill in paper ballots or pull the levers of vintage machines; elsewhere, they touch screens or tap keys, with or without paper trails. Some states encourage voter registration; others go out of their way to limit it. Some allow prisoners to vote; others permanently bar ex-felons, no matter how long they've stayed clean.
Who can vote, where people cast ballots, and how and whether their votes are counted all depends, to a large extent, on policies set in place by secretaries of state and county elections supervisors -- officials who can be as partisan, as dubiously qualified, and as nakedly ambitious as people anywhere else in politics. Here is a list -- partial, but emblematic -- of American democracy's more glaring weak spots.
JUST TRY VOTING HERE!
"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."
Honore de Balzac
"Democrats work to help people who need help.
That other party, they work for people who don't need help.
That's all there is to it."
~Harry S. Truman