Thursday, October 20, 2011

Question 1, Nov. 8, 2011: Solutions Shouldn't Seek Problems

Question 1 on the Nov. 8, 2011 Maine statewide referendum ballot:
Do you want to reject the section of Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election?
What does a "yes" vote do? It repeals a new law that requires voters to register two days before an election.

What does a "no" vote do? It retains the new law.

How I'm voting: Yes.

Why am I voting that way? Because this is a classic example of everything that's wrong with government, and the state's Republicans ought to be ashamed of themselves that this, their greatest accomplishment in the last legislative session, is a restriction on fundamental liberty.

Charlie Summers,
Maine's secretary of state
You couldn't have missed the brouhaha over this bill if you were paying any attention to Maine politics in recent months. Republicans, flush with victory last November and gunning to put the screws to the Democrats and keep things that way, decided that widespread voter fraud must have played some part in their previous foibles.

Yup. GOP failures have little to do with bad ideas (on the rare occasion when a party member can form a cogent sentence), inept leadership, self-sabotage or a general world view that's execrable to most people living south of Brunswick. Republican fortunes, according to Republicans themselves, were in large part due to stuffed ballot boxes.

Now, the direct and conjectural evidence that bears out the total nonsense of such a claim is manifest. To the extent that even Charlie Summers, the Republican secretary of state who undertook to prove that liberals were circumventing the election process with mass voting-day registrations, could only come up one case of a non-citzen voting in Maine.

Far be it for me to point out that we pissed valuable time and treasure down a pipe investigating a conspiracy theory formulated within the top ranks of the majority party. I would never think myself the person to note that Summers' "it could happen" is the kind of reasoning that leads to children and the elderly being sexually molested at airports by rent-a-cops who routinely fail to detect weapons in carry-on luggage.

No, it would be entirely wrong of me to note that the proudest moment for Real Americans® was to needlessly restrict fundamental liberty.

Charlie Webster,
Maine GOP chairman
(In fact, I would have to be a real jackass to say that using college kids and Canadians as hobgoblins was as inept a ploy as I would expect from Maine's GOP. Seriously, pot-smoking young adults and beer-guzzling hockey fanatics? You just described everybody living on a dirt road in this state. That's your constituency, Maine GOP! You can't make the people who vote for you into the bad guys!

But don't get me wrong. I'm no fan of hipsters or Canadians, either. Had the GOP simply suggested deporting them all, they'd have my vote. As I've long said, we've militarized the wrong border.)

In all seriousness, this voter registration law is a solution seeking a problem. It's the child of small minds that seek to blame others for the GOP's longstanding failure to connect with voters. And the great shame in it is that Republicans -- especially conservatives, such as the Tea Party types -- believe themselves the protectors of traditional, small-government, pro-liberty principles.

Of course, this nation has a long history of enfranchising only landed lords, of poll taxes and the outright purchasing of votes, by all political shades. So maybe, in that sense, the registration law is in context and apropos.

But until the GOP can prove to me we need this law, I'd just as soon do the job they ought to be doing, and muck out the statute stalls. Since this is the freshest load atop the manure pile, it deserves the pitchfork.

Nov 8, 2011 Maine Referendums Citizens Guide