Editorial: We didn’t “Fix this” or was it Fixed? We all lose anyway.

After the long lines in some states in 2012, President Obama said “We Have To Fix That“. our years and a Presidential Commission later, it seems, at least Arizona is going the wrong way.. E.g. from the Washington Post:  Arizona’s voting rights fire bell  <read>

In a move rationalized as an attempt to save money, officials of Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, cut the number of polling places by 70 percent, from 200 in the last presidential election to 60 this time around. Maricopa includes Phoenix, the state’s largest city, which happens to have a non-white majority and is a Democratic island in an otherwise Republican county. What did the cutbacks mean? As the Arizona Republic reported, the county’s move left one polling place for every 21,000 voters — compared with one polling place for every 2,500 voters in the rest of the state.

The results, entirely predictable, were endless lines akin to those that await the release of new iPhones. It’s an analogy worth thinking about, as there is no right to own an iPhone but there is a right to vote[*]. Many people had to wait hours to cast a ballot, and some polling stations had to stay open long after the scheduled 7 p.m. closing time to accommodate those who had been waiting — and waiting.

*  There should be a right to vote.  Yet, there is none in the Constitution.  In recent years attempts by representatives to amend the Constitution to assure a right to vote have repeatedly gone nowhere.

In addition we have heard many claims of voter registration changes in party not made or reversed and ballot shortages, potentially disenfranchising additional voters.  We agree with the calls for investigation of all the charges to determine the facts:

  • Why were the polling places actually reduced and under staffed?  Were there memos, emails and reports justifying the changes.  Did they even consider parking?
  • Were there massive changes in voter registrations not made?  Were there changes dropped from the databases?  Any reasonable system with logs and backups should have some evidence.
  • Absence of evidence should raise questions as well.
  • Were there significant ballot shortages? Why?
  • Did all the problems target particular populations, sub-populations, or benefit/harm particular candidates?

Our Editorial:

  • If anything was done to effectively disenfranchise voters or harm candidates there is a huge problem.
  • If anything was done intentionally to disenfranchise voters or harm candidates there should be prosecutions AND something done to address the distorted results.
  • Any disenfranchisement, disenfranchises every voter in Arizona.  Their vote and democracy is distorted by the disenfranchisement of others.
  • Any disenfranchisement, disenfranchises every voter in the United States.  Our vote and democracy is distorted by the disenfranchisement of others.  We could have a different President and different party in power next January based on a distorted result.
  • Even if there was no disenfranchisement, (unlikely from what we see at this point), our democracy suffers from the lack of credibility unless the issues are investigated and effectively fully resolved.

 

 

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