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The Expansionist
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Secret Ballot Abolished. One unanticipated problem has resulted from the insane decision of many states to permit anyone to cast a mail-in ballot: the loss of the secret ballot. Consider this: a woman sent email that some CNN show displayed onscreen. (I think it was Lou Dobbs's but it might have been Larry King's.) That woman wrote, approximate quote, "My husband and I are sitting at our diningroom table filling out our ballots", and went on from there. Think about that. Husband and wife are filling out their mail-in ballots at the same table. Are they guarding their privacy, or can the other see? If one votes differently from the other, trouble can ensue. Do they nonetheless vote differently? Or does the weaker partner in the marriage conform his or her vote to the dominant partner's choice? A person can lie about how s/he voted in the voting machine to avoid problems. How are you going to lie when your spouse can SEE your ballot on the diningroom table?
This is a serious issue that needs to be accepted aloud as a major assault on a fundament of American democracy: absentee ballots and mail-in ballots have DESTROYED the secret ballot and subjected voters to in-home pressure to change their vote to accommodate their partner. That is appalling.
All these moves to change the BASICS of American democracy are disgraceful and must be undone. Early voting, in some cases by as much as three weeks, can produce serious distortions, when some people vote on the basis of the situation of the day and others vote on the basis of the situation of another day. What happens if there is a major crisis between the time a vote is cast and Election Day? What if the response of the different candidates to something that comes up in the final days of the campaign would alter votes already cast?
Our democracy is under attack from these horrible mistakes. We must end mail-in ballots, which necessarily entail voting well before the Election Day that most people vote on. End any balloting that erodes or destroys the secret ballot and subjects voters to pressure to vote other than as they want to.
The pretense is that early voting is necessary to allow everyone to vote. Bull. Do the math. If there are 10 machines at 100 voting places during 10 days of early voting, you achieve absolutely nothing more than you would if you had 10 machines at 1,000 voting places on 1 day. Quite the contrary, if you have 1,000 voting places you are likely to make voting more convenient, so will likely get more people voting. Plus you preserve the secret ballot and allow a decision to be made on the basis of the same information and the same situation on the ground everywhere.
Mail-in voting is an offense to the secret ballot, and an offense to people who care enuf about their right to vote that they will actually make a special trip to cast their ballot.
Early voting produces an uneven vote on the basis of different circumstances on different days. Take the current economic crisis. Are people who vote on a day when there has just been a 900-point DROP in the stock market going to vote the same as people who vote on a day when there has just been a 900-point JUMP? It's a serious question. Even absent what would now have to be a "November Surprise", since the only thing that could have been regarded as an October Surprise this year, a U.S. attack on a target inside the Syrian border, didn't arouse much interest in the electorate, the differences in daily events (a new attack ad, a drop or rise in the stock market, another bank going bust) might make a difference to many people's vote. Indeed, we could have a catastrophic event, such as the hospitalization or death of a candidate, between the time people cast early ballots and Election Day. John McCain could up and die of a heart attack. Barack Obama could be shot. Sarah Palin could die in a car crash. (Nothing is likely to happen to Biden. He's too dull.)
Voting is supposed to be a collective experience, but it is being fragmented into many different experiences. Different people are reacting to different events at different times. And if they vote at home by mail-in ballot, they may have to let their spouse see their ballot or face a furious argument as to why s/he isn't ALLOWED to see their ballot. All early voting, all medically or otherwise unnecessary mail-in balloting should be REPEALED by law. If the states won't do it, then the Federal Government must act to protect the integrity of Federal elections. And as regards the sanctity of the secret ballot, the Federal Government is entitled to protect that even in state and local elections, because it is a personal right, not the right of a state or locality, that is at issue.
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,189 — for Israel.)

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