Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mr. Cutler bemoans absentee voting

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Voters being turned back at Coliseum (LOC)
Crowd being turned back at Coliseum (LOC) by The Library of Congress, on Flickr
In the Journal today, Mr. Eliot Cutler bemoans the the effects of absentee voting. We can not help but comment on the elephant in the room, pardon the pun. Curiously, no one is talking about it.

Mr. Cutler makes some provoking points:

Maine voters can request an absentee ballot for any reason whatsoever, and some communities offer in-person voting at polling places in October. About 25% of all votes were cast this year before Nov. 2. Many voters are making decisions at times when horse-race coverage dominates the news, attention to issues is limited, and key debates haven't taken place.

Eliot Cutler: Who Stole Election Day? -

And there is the fraud of course. Do not leave out the fraud.

The second problem with convenience voting is that it reinforces the Democratic and Republican duopoly just when voters' party allegiances are waning.

In Maine, at least, it appears to be discouraging voter engagement, providing life support to withering political parties, and undermining one of our most enduring and important institutions.

But Mr. Cutler leaves out the structural issue that encourages disengaged voters. The fact remains that the election climate that may have inspired Mr. Cutler to run is becoming dire. And hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to sway votes.

But the reasons these elections are gaining notoriety are all ironic. For the federal government has designed programs that contravene the Constitution and then compounded their error by mismanaging them into economical ruin.

The simple fact is that any of those programs are appropriate programs for local city and county governments to debate and design in council meetings and school gyms across the country. That is how the Constitution is designed.

And we would wager millions that the country would not be in this mess if our support programs and social nets had been managed by local governments where they belong. Where are all the politicians talking about that?

Likewise, we would wager millions that the voters would be orders of magnitude more engaged if they were. It would be their pocket books, after all.

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