Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Take Action: Prevent Disenfranchisement October 28, 2008

Filed under: politics — Jender @ 10:40 am
Tags: , ,

A vastly important action, and lucky for you a simple one too:

 

This year, there are over 600,000 newly registered Ohio voters, but President Bush has asked Attorney General Mukasey to investigate as many as 200,000 of them. Why? Because Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has refused to use an “exact match” standard before adding these voters to the rolls.

What is this “exact match” standard? Basically, it works like this: After you fill out your voter registration card, a local or state employee has to type in your information to add you to the voter rolls; then state authorities check to see that you really exist, usually by verifying your driver’s license number or Social Security number. And as you can imagine, sometimes there are typos or other disparities when the information gets entered and matched – for example, if your last name is “De la Rosa” and it got entered as “Delarosa”, you would fail to meet the exact match standard, and your registration form would be invalid.

Secretary Brunner has refused to use this standard on the grounds that it would erroneously deprive tens or even hundreds of thousands of Ohioans of their right to vote. The Ohio GOP sued her a month ago to try and get the courts to compel her to use the “exact match” standard, but the Supreme Court ruled that they had no standing to make that case.

Now, President Bush is trying to run around the Supreme Court by getting the Department of Justice to intervene. On Friday, October 24th, Bush reportedly asked Attorney General Mukasey to investigate whether as many as 200,000 voters need to reconfirm their registrations before November 4th. This is hugely problematic, for a couple of reasons:

  1. Obviously, for 200,000 voters to reconfirm their registrations before Election Day would be a logistical nightmare for Secretary Brunner, for Ohio’s county Boards of Elections, and for the voters themselves, most of whom would have to vote provisionally.
  2. The only reason the Department of Justice has jurisdiction to intervene here is because of the Voting Rights Act, the entire purpose of which was to expand, not suppress, the right to vote. This action would be completely contrary to the spirit of that law.
  3. New registrants tend to be young people as well as people who move around a lot – a particular problem in the midst of a foreclosure crisis. Imposing an exact match standard would create a second class of citizens when it comes to voting rights – a group of people who are far more likely than most to lose that right altogether.

President Bush is doing his best to further politicize the Department of Justice and suppress the rights of Ohio’s voters, but Attorney General Mukasey doesn’t have to bend to this insidious tactic. With the election only days away, the time to act is short – please sign this petition today to tell Mukasey to say no to President Bush’s request. Ohio’s voters are counting on you.
 

Go here to sign the petition. (Thanks, Jender-Parents!)

 

7 Responses to “Take Action: Prevent Disenfranchisement”

  1. Jay Says:

    I’m not sure I understand what is supposed to have happened here. Somehow a clerk decided the form for “Ms. Delarosa” was actually for Ms. De la Rosa and registered her? And this happened 200,000 times?!

    I’m sorry, that does seem a little absurd. The exploit is, I guess, that Ms. De la Rosa can show up at the polls twice: once for Ms. De la Rosa (who was exactly registered) and once for Ms. Delarosa (who was inexactly matched). This doesn’t seem like an unreasonable project for the DoJ to me.

    Perhaps the system is biased against names that aren’t from Western Europe. Maybe the forms aren’t conducive to those without a straightforward first/last name distinction. The people should absolutely sue to correct problems like these. But an exact match doesn’t sound like too much to ask on my first glance (not counting silliness like case sensitivity, of course).

  2. jj Says:

    Jay, I think that typically the spacing in the name is only one factor on the registration. Given ID, address and other things, the possibility of duplicating votes goes down.

    Since requiring an exact match would involve, for example, middle initials, the possibility of 200,000 isn’t all that odd. E.g., women who have taken their husbands last names may sometimes use their middle name for the initial and sometimes their ‘maiden’ name. If they switch at some point in acquiring id’s, they could be sunk.

  3. j Says:

    You are missing an important point:

    “After you fill out your voter registration card, a local or state employee has to type in your information to add you to the voter rolls; then state authorities check to see that you really exist, usually by verifying your driver’s license number or Social Security number. And as you can imagine, sometimes there are typos or other disparities when the information gets entered and matched….”

    This means that the voter fills out a form and then a LOCAL OR STATE EMPLOYEE types the info into the voter rolls. In other words, typos by government workers (remember the phrase “good enough for government work”) and other mistakes, whether inadvertent or deliberate, penalize prospective voters. And these days, and in this election, one suspects that such “typos” etc can be bought….

    Lets not be naive.

  4. jj Says:

    J – you are right that I neglected that. But the point still stands that there are many ways to make mistakes. It seems to me pretty indirect to pay the people to make spacing mistakes; if they can bebought, there are simpler ways. Or so I’d guess.

    That’s not to say the worry about fake registrations is not genuine. I have to say, though, that if typos rule out a match and the typists are like my students, it is amazing that the number is so low.

  5. Jay Says:

    If it’s really something more than non-Western names causing trouble (eg. typos), then at least it doesn’t seem like this problem is likely to hinder one side over the other. Yet the article has a partisan tone – I wonder why?

  6. Jay Says:

    I found a Time article that touches on this and other voting problems.

  7. Jender Says:

    Why the partisan tone? It is a call to action from a leftist organisation, combatting a lawsuit by the Republican party. It’s partisan all the way down, and doesn’t pretend to be otherwise.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,602 other followers