Stop Trying To Intimidate People Into Voting

There's nothing wrong with choosing not to vote.

votehere

In recent years, outside groups, most of them apparently not directly affiliated with any particular campaign or supporting any particular candidate, but which generally seem to be coming from groups supportive of the Democratic Party,  have gotten into the habit of sending out mailers to voters that seem essentially designed to scare them into voting:

New York voters have been receiving very sinister letters from their state’s Democratic Party. The tone is vaguely Orwellian: We’ll be watching whether you go to the ballot box.

“Who you vote for is your secret,” the letter, posted by some recipients on Twitter, says. “But whether or not you vote is public record. Many organizations monitor turnout in your neighborhood and are disappointed by the inconsistent voting of many of your neighbors.”

It then provides a quick reminder of when and where one can vote.

“We will be reviewing … official voting records after the upcoming election to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014,” the mailer concludes. “If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not.”‘

Spooky, right?

“This flyer is part of the nationwide Democratic response to traditional Republican voter suppression efforts,” a party spokesperson told The Gothamist, “because Democrats believe our democracy works better when more people vote, not less.”

So they aren’t the only ones and this isn’t new. In Alaska, voters have complained about receiving a similar kind of letter from a group that received a hefty contribution from a charter-school supporter who wants to elect a GOP Senate (though he disavowed the mailers).

“Why do so many people fail to vote? We’ve been talking about the problem for years, but it only seems to get worse,” the Alaska letter says. “This year, we’re taking a new approach. We’re sending this mailing to you, your friends, your neighbors, your colleagues at work, and your community members to publicize who does and does not vote.”

In Florida, a St. Petersburg blog reported earlier this week on a letter sent by a group funded by the state and national realtors association. “Your neighbors will know,” the letter warns. “It’s public record.”

Yet another reported vote-shaming letter in North Carolina, sent by the state Democratic Party, contains some of the exact same wording as the New York letter.

“Public records will tell the community at-large whether you vote or not. As a service, our organization monitors turnout in your community,” the letter says, according to WRAL in Raleigh. “It would be an understatement to say that we are disappointed by the inconsistent voting of many of your neighbors.”

Just like the New York Democratic Party’s letter, the North Carolina mailer concludes: “If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not.”

One person of such a letter in New York posted in on Twitter, and here it is in a slightly more readable format:

Voter Letter

There’s nothing illegal here. While the record of who you may have voted for is legally protected, and in many states those records aren’t even kept after the outcome of an election is certified and the time for challenging results has passed, the fact of whether or not you did vote and, in the case of primaries what party primary you voted in, is a matter of public record. Most political parties and campaigns use that information at some point to target their direct mail and phone banking to people most likely to vote in a particular election, although my understanding is that they typically pay a fee of some kind to obtain those records. In general, though, anyone willing to cover the cost and invest the time can obtain a record of whether or not a particular person is registered to vote, how often they have voted, and will be able to tell whether they tend to vote in Republican or Democratic primary elections, and this is obviously what the groups behind these letters, which seem to have first started appearing about five or ten years ago when such things started being stored electronically, which made the task of assembling mailings like this much easier.

Talking Points Memo’s Dylan Scott explains the logic behind these mailers:

[T]his isn’t just a scare tactic thought up by desperate political operatives. Academic researchers have studied and proven that voter-shaming mailers do lead to increased turnout.

In a paper published in 2008, researchers from Yale University and the University of Northern Iowa reported that they had sent letters to voters with a variety of messages — voting is public record, your neighbors will know if you don’t vote, etc. — and what they found is that among people who received the mailers “substantially higher turnout was observed.”

“These findings demonstrate the profound importance of social pressure as an inducement to political participation,” the researchers wrote. In other words, nobody wants to be embarrassed in front of their neighbors.

That experiment has more recently been cited by academics defending the Stanford and Dartmouth researchers who sent controversial mailers this month to Montana voters as part of a different turnout experiment. But the 2008 experiment is still the standard for those groups who want to shame voters to the polls: The Alaska letter’s line that asked “Why do so many people fail to vote?” was pulled directly from the researchers’ material.

It dates back multiple cycles — one could argue at least as far back as the 2004 presidential election’s “Vote or Die” campaign by hip hop mogul Sean Combs and others. In 2012, the influential liberal group MoveOn.org sent voters report cards, which noted if they were “below average” voters compared to their peers, as Slate reported.

During the same cycle, the Toledo Blade reported on letters received by Ohio voters from a group called Americans for Limited Government. It presented itself as a “voter audit” and reminded the recipient that it would be made known if they voted or not.

“We will then send an updated vote history audit to you and your neighbors with the results,” it said.

Whether or not it works, and leaving aside the fact that it is legal, there’s something about this that just strikes me as exceedingly creepy. First, there’s the idea that most people are likely to be none too thrilled with the idea that the idea that someone is accessing their voting records and sending them mail based upon what they find. They’re likely to be less thrilled by the idea that this information might be shared with their neighbors, especially in a community where people might not necessarily be close to their neighbors or at the very least might not be comfortable with, or interested in, talking politics with them. On some level, even though we’re talking about public information here, there is a violation of what I think most people would consider a sense of privacy at the heart of these levels, and I don’t think that it’s unintentional all. The message that letters like this sends is get out and vote or else…… what that “or else” is left implied, but the threat is still there, and there’s just something wrong about it. If you want to persuade people who might not vote in every election to vote, you should find a better way to do it than the intimidation, private violating, social pressure that these types of letters represent. The fact that they may or not “work” in some sense strikes me as irrelevant. It is an underhanded, sleazy political practice that should be avoided.

The other point, of course, is that letters like this, while they are typically motivated by the desire to get people who might not otherwise vote to the polls because you believe it will help the candidate or party you support, are at their heart based in the idea that there is something wrong with abstaining from voting. The most common way this is expressed, of course, is in the old canard that if you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain about how things are run in Washington or elsewhere. As Jason Brennan points out quite well, this is a false premise and there is nothing wrong at all with someone who consciously chooses not to participated in a given election:

why would you forfeit your right to complain if you don’t vote?

The most obvious explanation is that if you don’t vote, you didn’t do something that could influence government in the way you want it to go. You didn’t put in even minimal effort into making  a change. If you can’t be bothered to act on your discomfort with politics, then you should shut up.

By analogy, suppose I complain to my wife: “It’s too damn cold in this house. Damn, I hate how cold it is.” She asks, “Well, did you turn the heat on?” I respond, “No, I can’t be bothered to get up, walk over to the hall, and turn up the thermostat.” She asks, “Did you at least put on a sweater?” I respond, “No, I can’t be bothered to go to my closet and fetch a sweater.” She would justifiably respond, “If you can’t be bothered to put in this minimal effort, you shouldn’t complain. I don’t want to hear any more out of you.”

But voting isn’t like that! The problem is that individual votes don’t make any difference.On the most optimistic assessment of the efficacy of individual votes, votes in, say, the US presidential election can have as high as a 1 in 10 million chance of breaking a tie, but only if you vote in a swing state and vote for one of the two major candidates. Otherwise, the chances of breaking a tie or having any impact are vanishingly small. (Reich votes in California, and even on the Edlin-Gelman-Kaplan model, his vote doesn’t matter.) On less optimistic  but more widely accepted estimates of the efficacy of individual votes, individual votes have a snowball’s chance in hell of making a difference in any major election. (Even then, keep in mind: This applies only to voting for candidates from the two major parties, candidates who appeal to the mass of ignorantand irrational voters. If you’re voting third party, your vote generally matters even less than that.*)

So, the analogy of a person complaining about the cold but being unwilling to turn on the heat or put on a sweater doesn’t apply.

(…)

[T]he more pressing problem is the view that citizens have a duty to vote. In The Ethics of Voting, I systematically refute all of the best arguments on behalf of a duty to vote. The very best arguments on behalf of a duty to vote hold that you have a duty to vote because you 1) should contribute to the common good, 2) shouldn’t free ride on the provision of public goods provided for you by your fellow citizens, or 3) have a duty to promote your fellow citizens’ welfare. But, as I point out in that book, if any of these duties exist, these are all very general duties that can be discharged any number of ways besides voting. Voting isn’t necessary; it’s just one of many possible ways to promote the common good, avoid free riding, or promote citizens’ welfare. Further, voting isn’t sufficient to discharge those duties, because many people vote badly, in ways that on a collective level tend to undermine the common good and harm their fellow citizens.

As Ilya Somin points out, there are other reasons where not voting is a perfectly acceptable option. One obvious example would be if the potential voter feels that they don’t have sufficient information to make a decision in a given race. There is little value, after all, in an uninformed voter making the effort to go to a polling place if they have no idea what or whom they are voting for, what the issues in the race have been, or even very much about who might be running beyond what their names might be. Given that many people actually spend very little time following the news even in our seemingly news and politics obsessed culture, I suspect that this is quite common and that it was even more common before the rise of cable “news” and the Internet. Typically, of course, such voters would typically reflexively vote for whatever political party they support, placing their trust, naively I would submit, in the judgment of party elites and leaders to choose the “right” candidate, or they would vote based on the name of a candidate or something as trivial as what road signs they’ve seen most frequently. Those seem like an irrational basis for voting for anyone, for what I think would be obvious reasons, and it would be better if people in that situation decided that it would be better if they didn’t vote at all rather than risk voting for someone who might not belong in office for such trivial and unimportant reasons. Personally speaking, there have been situations, most often in the case of very poorly worded ballot initiatives or bond referendums, where I’ve done just that. Better to not vote at all rather than voting to authorize something that is a bad idea, especially when I don’t have sufficient information to make a judgment.

Another reason one might choose not to vote that is perfectly acceptable, of course, is if one is faced with inherently unacceptable choices. We’re often told that, in the end, voting in a two party system like ours means having to choose between the “lesser of two evils.” Usually, that means that neither candidate in a given race is going to perfectly match your values and beliefs, but that you should vote for the one that is closest to those values. It’s an idea makes sense, and its something I’ve practiced in the past myself, because it usually doesn’t make sense to make the perfect the enemy of the good. However, sometimes its the case that a given voter will consider the candidates from the two major parties, one of which is the most likely to win most of the time. If there’s a third party candidate on the ballot, then that might be an acceptable alternative, but ballot access laws in most states are rigged by the major parties in ways that often make it hard for third-party and independent to get on the ballot and, even if they are on the ballot, most people aren’t going to pay attention to them or the votes they get unless they are having an impact on the race in the way that Robert Sarvis did in Virginia last year and candidates like Sean Haugh in North Carolina and Amanda Swafford in Georgia are having this year. In such situations, where someone feels strongly enough that the two major party candidates are so bad that neither one of them deserves his or her vote, then I don’t think there’s anything wrong with their decision not to vote at all if that’s what they want to do. Finally, of course, there’s the simply fact that in virtually all cases a single persons vote will have, at best, an incredibly minimal amount impact on a given election. A Republican in a heavily Democratic Congressional District, for example, or a Democrat in deep, deep red Wyoming, is going to be very frustrated by the minimal impact their vote will have. There are some reforms to voting that could potentially change this, of course, but under our current system, it’s hard for me to argue with either of these two hypothetical voters if they decide it’s not worth the bother of getting out to vote on November 4th.

So, yes, people don’t vote sometimes, but they have both the right, and quite often very good reasons for not voting. Using what essentially intimidation tactics to try to get them to vote is not only creepy, but it implies, falsely, that there’s something wrong with not voting. It’s therefore wrong on two counts. There’s nothing wrong with not voting, and there’s something inherently wrong with trying to scare people away from doing something they have every right to do.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2014, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Stonetools says:

    What’s really creepy is a political party in a supposedly democratic republic deliberately engage in a campaign of voter suppression-and have it backed up by the highest court in the land. That’s more creepy and much more damaging to democracy than these ham fisted mailers.

  2. Todd says:

    Doug,

    You make a compelling case for people who consciously choose not to vote. Somehow I suspect that these are not targeted at those type of people. Reading the letter, I don’t see anything particularly “creepy” about it. I wouldn’t be upset about receiving such a letter. In fact (and this is just a guess), but I’d be willing to bet that the people who are upset about these letters are not the recipients, but more likely the folks who wish that people like the recipients of these letters do in fact stay home on election day.

    Let’s face facts here. We have one of our two major political parties whose continuing existence rests on the premise that a large percentage our electorate “chooses” not to vote.

  3. Todd,

    YMMV but I would personally be very pissed off at the idea of a political party, or some “good government” group, telling me that if I don’t vote they’re going to send around a mailer to the neighborhood with my name on it along with the names of other who don’t vote regularly. In fact, such a mailer might motivate me to get out and vote for the other party just out of sheer anger.

  4. Todd says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Doug,

    Unless there are other letters, I don’t see anything in that one about telling your neighbors you didn’t vote. It says that they’d be interested to hear why you didn’t vote. It didn’t say they were going to ask your neighbors why you didn’t vote.

    I think there’s a bit too much “reading between the lines” going on here.

  5. Todd says:

    I will concede that some people might not like the idea that they could get a call after the election asking them to explain their rationale for not voting. But then again, that potential discomfort may be enough to motivate them to send in their ballot or head to the polls on Tuesday … instead of blowing it off because “my vote probably won’t matter anyway”.

  6. @Todd:

    There have been other variations of this letter that have said exactly that.

  7. @Todd:

    I get what you’re saying, but like I say to close out the post, I don’t see anything wrong per se with the idea of choosing not to vote.

  8. Todd says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I’m with you on that point. I see no problem with people who consciously choose not to vote … especially for the type of reasons you cited in your post. But again, I don’t think these type of letters are necessarily targeting that sort of citizen. Most people who don’t vote just don’t get around to it, and/or don’t think it matters. I admit, this probably pushes the envelope a bit when it comes to “creative motivation”. However, the motivation is on the correct side. There are already way too many “creative” efforts to keep people away from the polls. I’m willing to be a little deferential to potential counterbalances.

  9. Jc says:

    If you choose not to vote you are saying you are fine with the way things are. If you are fine with the way things are then you should go vote to keep them that way. The fact that so many are dissatisfied yet still we have low voter turnout is weird to me. It points to a majority of people really not caring about it all, but if you follow media you would think everyone cares immensely…

  10. jd says:

    Your neighbors will not be told whether or not you voted. Access to those records cost money and the organizations sending the mailers would be violating their NDA by doing so. The wording in the mailers tries to make it sound like they could shame you, but all they can do is let you know that they know whether you voted, and let your neighbors know they know whether *they* voted. The wording in the mailers is not inconsistent with that interpretation. All good fun in an election season.

  11. Moosebreath says:

    Somehow, I find it far less of a problem of a private group trying to get people to vote than trying to keep people from voting, but I guess that’s why I am not a Libertarian.

    And the idea that a person claiming to be a Libertarian writes “Further, voting isn’t sufficient to discharge those duties, because many people vote badly, in ways that on a collective level tend to undermine the common good and harm their fellow citizens.” is literally making me convulse with laughter.

    1. the idea that a person’s personal choices, based on information and personal beliefs, can be described as bad or incorrect is counter to the underlying basis of Libertarianism, that individuals are the people who best know their own interests.

    2. the picture of a Libertarian appealing to the “common good” and to avoid harming fellow citizens is something which would be laughed off as unrealistic in fiction. I am sure both Brennan and Mataconis will support radical property redistribution if it can be shown to advance the common good, right?

  12. al-Ameda says:

    Two points:
    1. Some people don’t vote because they don’t like the choices that are on the ballot.

    That’s fine – except that much of the time I do not understand that attitude because while a person may not like the candidate choices available, there are usually ballot initiatives that are not about a cult of personality and are usually of interest to people regardless of candidates.

    2. I do not like the idea of convincing bunch of potentially low value voters-to-be … to vote.

    If they’re uninformed and apathetic, I certainly do not want to hear from them electorally. They are the kind of people who show up and vote for candidates “who speak their mind” – like Palin, Bachmann, West, Gohmert, Stockman and King.

  13. As with most of the Republican “outrages of the day”, this isn’t new. In 2012 a Republican PAC called Americans for Limited Growth was doing the same thing:

    ‘Vote history audit’ shows whether your neighbors voted

    As usual, now that Democrats are doing it too, it’s the worst thing ever.

  14. Jeremy R says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    In 2012 a Republican PAC called Americans for Limited Growth was doing the same thing …

    Not just 2012, and not just outside groups. Though it’s missing from Doug’s write-up, the RNC is doing it right now:

    http://thinkprogress.org/election/2014/10/31/3587414/iowa-republican-facebook-ads/

  15. Just Me says:

    I admit I would never know if I got one of these letters because all campaign material sent to my house goes straight into the recying bin. I also vote in every election including the little local ones where turnout is probably about 20%.

    I find them kind of creepy but I don’t find them creepy enough to want it prohibited. I’m also of the opinion that voter turn out is a good thing but agree with Doug that if somebody doesn’t want to vote (be it for any reason ranging from being uninformed or just too lazy to go vote) they should be able to without being shamed over it.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    Using the power of law to scare off or disqualify minority and student voters = A-OK.

    Using a mailer to push people to vote = Creepy.

    Uh huh.

  17. Mikey says:

    I usually vote every election, but this one I’m not really motivated. None of the races is the least bit competitive and I would have voted for the eventual winners anyway, so why bother?

    I understand there are other states where things are very different and my vote would actually matter, but my part of Virginia is a snoozer this cycle.

    I got one of those letters a while back, too, even though, as I said, I vote consistently. Made me wonder why they bothered to send one.

  18. Modulo Myself says:

    Let’s see:

    If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not.

    What’s so creepy about this? How is this creepier than crafting laws to keep legitimate voters from voting?

    And how is it creepier than a bunch of weird autistic libertarians who spend half of their time freaking out about normal things (subpoenas, flyers) while the other half is spent dismissing completely the concerns of groups traditionally discriminated against? Seriously, does the George Mason Law School reunion consist entirely of paunchy balding men creeping out the young waitstaff with their awkward attempts at interaction?

  19. JohnMcC says:

    I went a long time being a conscientious non-voter. Pres Johnson tried to kill me so my first vote was for the other guy with the secret plan to end the war. When all the beans were spilled I was so appalled that I had been made a fool of that I decided to not vote as loudly as I could.

    I kept myself registered. I went to the poll every national or major state-wide election and I voted for the last couple of elections at the bottom of the ballot (because I thought maybe a blank ballot would be tossed?).

    Then I watched the Clinton impeachment and I wondered if my ethical purity had resulted in any of those horrible reptilian b#st#rds being there because I was too good to vote for their opponent?!

    Since then, I’ve closed my eyes, held my nose and voted the straight Democratic ticket every time the polls are open.

    Ethics are funny. Like the bumper sticker sez: My karma ran over my dogma.

  20. Rafer Janders says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    In fact, such a mailer might motivate me to get out and vote for the other party just out of sheer anger.

    Really? Assuming, you’re a hypothetical Democrat and believe in and support the goals of the Democratic Party, such as marriage equality, civil rights for all, economic opportunity, infrastructure spending, a strong defense, pay equality for women, a social safety net, health care for all, etc. etc, you would, if you got such a letter, go out and vote for the Republicans who were ACTIVELY WORKING TO DESTROY EVERYTHING YOU BELIEVE IN…out of SPITE?

    Petulant much?

  21. John425 says:

    @Stonetools: I agree! I am so damned tired of liberals trying to suppress any thought that runs counter to theirs.

  22. bill says:

    @Stonetools: proving that voters are “suppressed” is pretty tough- asking someone if they feel “intimidated” by showing their id to vote is pretty weak. more likely they’re just too unconcerned to vote- as we see here.

    i was pretty shocked to see that someone can actually see if you did vote in any election, as Doug said- that’s really creepy.
    and then sending subliminal messages to “encourage” them to vote- there’s a name for that too.

  23. BIll says:

    Over 10 years ago on election day, I received a phone call asking if I had voted. I had but told the caller it was none of their business. The caller became quite disturbed and threatened to call me again later that day. They didn’t.

    I don’t recall who they were calling for. It may have been election day 2000.

  24. anjin-san says:

    @John425:

    I am so damned tired of liberals trying to suppress any thought that runs counter to theirs.

    I suppress you. You are suppressed.

  25. Rafer Janders says:

    @BIll:

    The caller became quite disturbed and threatened to call me again later that day. They didn’t.

    That monster.

  26. Stonetools says:

    @John425:

    When I “suppress” any thought of others, I’ll make a note of t.
    The problem of conservatives is that they hate the thought of people telling the unvarnished truth, which is why they prefer voter suppression schemes be called “voter ID” laws as if laws banning early voting had anything to do with voter identification.
    If you think truth telling amounts to thought suppression, well that just goes to show how closed the conservative mind is.

  27. John425 says:

    @Stonetools: In the first instance, a truth-telling liberal is an oxymoron. In the second instance, here in the Seattle area I needed more ID to get a library card than I needed to vote by mail. Just mail the ballot in; no questions asked.

  28. Stonetools says:

    @bill:

    I actually have experience of how the Virginia voter suppression law works. Just two days ago I recieved a cherry note telling me that it was illegal to vote in Virginia without showing prescribed ID. The only ID permitted? Federal or Virginia government issued ID.
    Now for most purposes I have been using my out of state ID with no problem. Not good enough for Virginia though. The solution? Just take time off from work and go to the registrars office or DMV , apply for your “free” ID and hope it arrives in the mail before Tuesday. Clever , eh? If you are a casual voter, you probably are just going to skip this election rather than take time off from work,(assuming you even can take time off on short notice).
    Luckily for me I have an unexpired US passport so I was OK, but most Americans don’t have that. My guess is that the next step in voter suppression will be to bring back the tests. After all, how better to assure the integrity of the process than to screen out voters who don’t know vital facts like the length of the Missouri River, who our third President was, or the old standby about bubbles in a bar of soap?

  29. Stonetools says:

    @John425:

    That’s because Washington doesn’t have a voter suppression scheme in place. They made it easy to vote and guess what, there’s no evidence of any voter fraud there. Thank liberals that they made it so easy for you to exercise your constitutional right. You’re welcome.

  30. Mu says:

    Guess I get my butt moving and vote after all, there’s a “legalize marihuana” question on the ballot.
    Otherwise I have the choice between an avowed gun grabber and a dedicated pro-lifer. Not even a green or a libertarian running to register a protest vote.

  31. al-Ameda says:

    I guess the lessons to learned from conservatives on this topic are:(1) increasing voter turnout by way of old technology (mailers and land line calls) is not good, (2) reducing legal voter turnout by removing legal voters from the rolls is good, (3) requiring heretofore unnecessary Voter ID to address a virtually non existent problem of in person voter fraud is good

  32. al-Ameda says:

    @John425:

    In the second instance, here in the Seattle area I needed more ID to get a library card than I needed to vote by mail. Just mail the ballot in; no questions asked.

    Gee, why is it that conservatives apparently are not the least bit interested in “vote by mail” or absentee voter fraud, only in the virtually non-existent problem of in-person vote fraud?

  33. sam says:

    @John425:

    @Stonetools: In the first instance, a truth-telling liberal is an oxymoron

    John425 is not an idiot.

  34. John425 says:

    @Stonetools: Go back to the 2004 gubernatorial election of Gregoire vs. Rossi, here in WA. She (Gregoire-D) beat Rossi by about a 100 votes. Republicans did a poor job fighting the election in court and lost. Later it was shown that hundreds of votes were accepted from PO box addresses, which is illegal in WA state. A voter needs a physical address. Democrats–defrauding elections at least since 2004!

    Nationwide, recall the ACORN frauds. GA is currently investigating a voter fraud scheme.
    Then there’s this: HARTFORD >> State Rep. Christina “Tita” Ayala, D-Bridgeport, was arrested Friday on 19 voting fraud charges.

    http://www.minnesotamajority.org/the-case-for-elections-investigation-and-reform/

    Well, hell- we could go state by state but you get the picture if you bother to take your head out of the sand.

  35. John425 says:

    @sam: Thank you for personifying and proving my point.

  36. sam says:

    Well, if I was lying, then what?

  37. michael reynolds says:

    @John425:

    The WA case involved fraud by mail – obviously – which is not addressed by Republican voter suppression laws.

    In fact in-person voter fraud is extremely rare.

    Neither mail fraud nor in-person fraud is addressed by Republicans engineering long lines in minority districts while ensuring plenty of voting machines and polling places in white districts.

    There’s a reason only Republicans are pushing these laws. It is not to ensure against voter fraud, it’s to cut the number of minority and student voters.

    Your party does not like to see black people or students voting. That is the only reason for these laws. You don’t like kids and negroes voting because they vote against you. Period. End of story. Cut the crap and stop wasting our time.

  38. John425 says:

    @michael reynolds: Don’t call me a racist you fu*king pig. I have served with honor along side men who were black, brown Asian, Hispanic and every other shade of American you can name.

    Democrats only pwn and shame themselves when they resort to the race card.

  39. ernieyeball says:

    @John425:.. I am so damned tired of liberals trying to suppress any thought that runs counter to theirs.

    As opposed to conservatives like Huckelberry (The Huckster) Huckabee who wishes that:

    “all Americans would be forced, forced — at gun point no less — to listen to every David Barton message.”

    Are you tired of him yet?
    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/03/31/154984/mike-huckabee-david-barton/

  40. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jc: I’m not so sure that it says that you are fine with the way things are going (although “fine with the way things are going” is the default result of not voting). Some people who don’t vote hold religious views that value separation from “the world” over citizenship duties, some people stay home because their party affiliation is so small in their district that their vote literally changes nothing, and other people don’t vote because they have become disgusted with the clown car parade that is both the American candidacy and the electorate these days.

    I’m sure there are more reasons. But there are 3 to help you expand your consideration of the problem. I wish I new the answer, BTW.

  41. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Seriously, does the George Mason Law School reunion consist entirely of paunchy balding men creeping out the young waitstaff with their awkward attempts at interaction?

    Unfortunately, I suppose that it is possible that said reunion does so consist.

  42. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @John425: You didn’t have to register? Say, when you got your driver’s license, for example?

  43. Mikey says:

    @John425: He didn’t call you a racist. He pointed out the indisputable fact the GOP wants to reduce minority turnout–in fact, it wants to reduce turnout among every demographic group that votes strongly Democrat.

    They apply a pretext to this by saying they want to combat “voter fraud.” But the actual effect–proven and documented–is to reduce turnout in Democrat-aligned demographics.

  44. Modulo Myself says:

    @Mikey:

    It’s almost like a compliment to be called a racist, because the alternative is what? Someone who disdains to listen to what Africans-Americans say about their experiences and who is happy to buy into conspiracy theories with no factual basis involving the machinations of African-Americans, but who is actually horrified by acts of injustice against African-Americans.

    Liberals believe that racism fuels much of the GOP’s appeal to Southern and Midwestern whites racism, because in the 19th century Imperial sort, had a beginning and an end. Southern whites were capable–until segregation was threatened in the 50s–of thinking about their own fates as being tied in with the fates of others. At a certain point this was replaced by the George Wallace-style of segregation now and forever, but even Wallace was clever enough to deduce that he had to present this as a cynical choice to a white audience that only wanted to hear about blacks.

    If we are to take the GOP at their word, the alternative is pretty scary. We’re talking about inconsistencies at the level of Scientology, all excused by and exploited through with an incomprehensible narrative. There’s a reason people use the term ‘deprogram’ when they talk about getting someone out of a cult.

  45. Modulo Myself says:

    Overall, it’s sort of amazing how lenient Democrats and liberals are in the political realm. For example, when was the last time anyone remembered the ‘Bourgeois Riot’ in the 2000 recount? That was a case of GOP staffers being flown down to Florida to assault a recount station. While the GOP lives under the specter of vote fraud, ACORN and Saul Alinsky, Democrats seem to have just let that one slide. No one even tracks down the people who did it, because of course the result would be indignation from those who did it.

    In a certain way, the GOP has become a stupid older aunt who everyone has to deal with at Thanksgiving, just to make their lives easier. I think, however, this is going to change. The voting fraud fear and the desire to nullify the votes of minorities is going to backfire so badly, even if it is successful on Tuesday.

    And the change is going to be brutal for people who are accustomed to blowing off everything that does not happen to them or is filtered through their group, but who can’t get around that which affects their group. These people–like the angry aunt reciting talking points to her tolerant family members and thinking herself persecuted–have no idea how much they have been tolerated, and how quickly that is going to change.

  46. John425 says:

    @Mikey: A 2012 study by the Pew Center on the States found 1.8 million deceased people were registered to vote, and 24 million invalid or inaccurate registrations. An American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) review of voter rolls around the nation in 2013 found more than 200 counties with more voters registered than age-eligible, legal residents. The ACRU has won historic consent decrees in federal court requiring two Mississippi counties to clean up their voter rolls and is now litigating in Texas.

    In Rhode Island, according to the Providence Journal, 20 of the Ocean State’s 39 municipalities “from the largest city to the smallest town, had more registered voters than it had citizens old enough to vote.” Rhode Island has about 770,000 adult citizens of whom 73.5%, or 566,000, are registered to vote, according to the U.S. Census. But 748,000 people are registered – a discrepancy of 182,000.

    Perhaps this helps explain why the legislature, with heavy support from black lawmakers, was the only Democrat-controlled state to enact a photo voter ID law in 2011. When Democratic Gov. Lincoln Chaffee signed the bill into law, Democratic State Sen. Harold Metts issued this statement:

    “As a minority citizen and a senior citizen I would not support anything that I thought would present obstacles or limit protections. But in this day and age, very few adults lack one of the forms of identification that will be accepted, and the rare person who does can get a free voter ID card from the secretary of state. While I’m sensitive to the concerns raised, at this point I am more interested in doing the right thing and stopping voter fraud.”

    In 2008, American University surveyed registered voters in Maryland, Indiana and Mississippi and found that less than 0.5% lacked a government-issued ID. That flies in the face of the oft-quoted, absurd claim that 25% of minorities lack a valid photo ID.

    The claim is that since black voters are more likely to be poor, they can’t be expected to overcome inconveniences in the registration and voting process.

    That is the same, soft bigotry of low expectations cited against photo voter-ID laws, which consistently have wide support. A Rasmussen Reports national poll of likely voters released in August found 74% approved of voter-ID laws, including 64% of blacks, 56% of Democrats and 76% of independents.

    Besides opposing voter ID laws, the liberals have been championing same-day registration and early voting. Both make it easier to commit fraud, and they have other flaws, as noted by former Justice Department Voting Section attorney J. Christian Adams:

    “Early voting produces less-informed voters. After they cast an early ballot, they check out of the national debate. They won’t care about the televised debates, won’t consider options, and won’t fully participate in the political process. … Early voting is extremely expensive. When election officials drag out an election for weeks, that means more poll workers, more broken machines, more salaries, more costs, more everything. … Early voting doesn’t increase turnout. Studies have shown that states that adopt early voting have no empirical turnout increase.”

  47. Mikey says:

    @John425: That’s all just pretext. The actual effect, proven and documented, is to reduce turnout among minorities and younger voters.

    That’s what the GOP wants, that’s what these laws result in. Period.

    You want to reduce the number of dead people registered to vote? Fund the procedures necessary to clear the rolls by matching registrations with death records. But the GOP doesn’t want to do that, because they don’t want to actually clear the rolls–they want to keep the groups that vote Democrat from showing up.

    If you believe otherwise, you’ve been duped, my friend.

  48. John425 says:

    @Mikey: What a parrot. It’s pretext because a Republican showed that Democrats support voter ID. But it’s suppression when a Democrat makes the charge against Republicans. Ah. Mikey…thy name is hypocrisy.

  49. Todd says:

    @John425:

    It’s about intent. If you look at Rhode Island’s actual law, they make it relatively easy to get an acceptable ID, and even if you don’t have ID when you go to the polls, you can still vote provisionally:

    Protecting your vote:

    We will provide a free Voter ID to voters who don’t already have a current and valid Photo ID
    No eligible voter will be turned away at the polls. Voters who do not bring an acceptable ID to their polling place can vote using a standard Provisional Ballot. The ballot will be counted if the signature they give at their polling place matches the signature on their voter registration
    Mail ballots do not require ID

    http://sos.ri.gov/elections/voterid/

    Contrast that with say Texas (where I own a home). In Texas, a concealed carry license is an acceptable form of ID to vote, but a college ID card (even from a State school) is not. There’s an obvious purpose behind that, and it has nothing to do with “fraud”.

    Even for middle class white guys like me, it sucks to live in a State with a strict voter ID law. What they really ought to call is the “let’s make getting a new driver’s license even more of a pain in the ass than it already was” law. 🙂

  50. Mikey says:

    @John425: It’s pretext because the Republicans want to suppress minority and young voter turnout. Period, end of sentence, end of story. That’s the purpose of these laws. Whether some insignificant number of Democrats support voter ID is utterly irrelevant.

    And far from being a “parrot,” I used to support strict voter ID laws. Then I saw the actual data and learned from people actually affected what those laws do, and in the face of clear evidence, I changed my mind.

  51. jmac8518 says:

    That’s a slippery slope to go down. If all you do when you go to the polls is vote for the lesser of two evils, then it is your right and duty not to vote at all.

  52. Grewgills says:

    @jmac8518:

    If all you do when you go to the polls is vote for the lesser of two evils, then it is your right and duty not to vote at all.

    It is your right, but it is an abdication of your duty. The lesser of two evils is still less evil. No one wants to be shot in the hand or the head, but given the choice you’d be a fool not to choose the hand.

  53. John425 says:

    @Mikey: Baloney. If a state were too offer free ID, a free ride to get the ID and $100 you’d still be against it because it “might” be a GOP scheme. Failing that you’d protest it on behalf of those who have a fear of being photographed.

  54. Mikey says:

    @John425: Yeah, just infer positions I’ve never stated and use them to build straw men, instead of actually addressing the issue. Whatever.

  55. John425 says:

    @Mikey: Is addressing the issue mean throwing around unsubstantiated claims that Republicans “Want” voter suppression and limit voting of minorities the real purpose of your bullsh*t postings?

  56. Mikey says:

    @John425: They’re on record as wanting fewer people to vote, and the effect of the laws they champion–depression of turnout among Democrat-aligned voting demographics–has been proven and documented. You dodge all that by throwing out straw men and entirely avoiding the actual data. Then you have the nerve to call me a “parrot” after you’ve done absolutely nothing besides barf up GOP talking points.

    You should look up “epistemic closure” because your picture is next to the definition.

  57. John425 says:

    @Mikey: Show me where it is official Republican party policy to have fewer people voting. You can bandy “epistemic closure ” about all day but another proven fact is Mikey= Democrat apologist= bullsh*t.