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Just Tough Enough

While I've spent quite a bit of time ranting about ACORN and their attacks on our electoral infrastructure, there's been something nagging at the back of my mind the whole time. Something bothering me about the fundamental assumptions and presumptions at their core that doesn't sit well with me. And I've finally figured it out.

ACORN's voter registration efforts involve chasing people down wherever they can find them and persuading them to register to vote. Indeed, their very economic model is based on that -- they pay their people and assign them quotas on the numbers of registrations they collect, with absolutely no verification or quality control, and no penalties for submitting fraudulent ones unless the authorities get involved.

What bugs me is that I do NOT think that record-high voter turnout (or voter registration -- numerous areas have reported registrations well in excess of 100% of the number of eligible voters living there) is necessarily a good thing.

In the United States, political participation is strictly a voluntary thing. No one is obligated to register or vote; if they don't care, then so be it -- their voice will not be heard if they do not speak up. And I'm just fine with that.

Right now, the requirements to register to vote and actually cast ballots requires a minimal amount of effort. One must fill out the form, provide some kind of tangible proof of identity and residency (in most cases), then show up on election day (possibly again proving your identity) and take your ballot.

When I moved almost two years ago, I walked to City Hall (it's a few minutes from my new home) with my driver's license and lease. I waited in line behind three people registering their cars, took the registration form, filled it out, showed my proof, and left. I think I spent less than five minutes in City Hall.

Then, when I went to vote for the first time here, I lucked out: there was no line. I gave my name, verified my address (which I could read upside-down from the checklist anyway), and was handed my ballot. In and out in about three minutes, counting the time filling the thing out.

And that seemed just about right.

To exercise my franchise, I had to put a little effort into it. I had to take the fifteen minutes (walking time included) to register, and I had to take another ten minutes (again, walking time included) on election day.

Some people think that that process is too burdensome. To be blunt, I think they're full of shit. Voting is important, dammit, and it should require at least a token effort to exercise.

People tend to value things more if they have to put at least a little work for them, and show no appreciation for that which is handed to them (or, in ACORN's case, shoved into their hands.)

I have a friend who worked with her church to get computers for families that lacked one. At first, they gave them away -- and soon found that they were getting them returned, broken, in record numbers. Then they started charging a token fee (largely based on what the families could afford, and utterly unrelated to the actual value of the machinery), and it was amazing how much longer those systems survived when families had actually paid for them, and knew that there wouldn't be another free one if this one got busted.

Further, if people have had to put a little energy into getting registered to vote, then they would be a bit more inclined to actually do a little bit of thinking and research and study into the candidates and issues. No, it's not guaranteed, but it's a bit more likely than someone who's been given a pack of cigarettes to fill out an ACORN worker's quota suddenly discovering a deep and profound interest in matters of state.

There's an old saying that everyone is entitled to an informed opinion. Likewise, everyone is entitled to an informed vote. I would never deny the ignorant their right to exercise their franchise, but I see no great compunction to compel them to exercise it if they don't want to.


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Comments (27)

You don't think there's val... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

You don't think there's value in convincing cynically apathetic citizens that their voices do in fact matter?

You are channeling John Sto... (Below threshold)
Captain America:

You are channeling John Stossel who has the audacity to ask: do we really want everyone to vote? do we really want someone who doesn't otherwise have an inclination to cast a vote to vote?

He then points out how many of those otherwise disinclined don't know who the individuals are for which they would be voting. They can't identify them by picture or discern what their positions are compared to their opponent.

It's the same con that has given prominence to ACORN housing. Do we really want people who have to use their foods stamps as a means for "qualifying" for a mortgage to purchase a home?

Most of us are for equal opportunity but not at the risk of all others in our economy.

Quite frankly, hyper, no, I... (Below threshold)

Quite frankly, hyper, no, I don't. I might try to convince them that particular issues matter (which is what I do here), but participating in general? Nope.

Their vote counts just as much as mine, for the most part. And I'd rather not help some generic apathetic idiot nullify my vote.

J.

I believe a test should be ... (Below threshold)
Melanie Friedman:

I believe a test should be required before voting. Questions that cause people to think about the issues. Like an on line poll does.
The reasonings behind why someone is voting for Obama or McCain is grossly flawed. So many people are ill informed.

"You don't think there's... (Below threshold)

"You don't think there's value in convincing cynically apathetic citizens that their voices do in fact matter?"

That's a pretty generic statement. One would first have to assume the the citizen had at least a rudimentary knowledge of who the candidates are and what they stand for.

For a person who can't even pick out their candidate in a line-up, no. For a person who will tell an interviewer on the street, in all seriousness, that they support Obama's "pro-life stance" when they obviously have no clue, no.

I think there's value in convincing cynically apathetic citizens to get educated.

Just to be clear, that goes... (Below threshold)

Just to be clear, that goes for those who vote for McCain without any idea of what he stands for either. It merely dilutes the votes of those who take the time to get informed.

Jay,It reminds me (a... (Below threshold)
Candy:

Jay,
It reminds me (again) of why I make my older kids earn half of anything they want, above and beyond the usual gifts and such. Paying for half of your driving lessons, for example, gives you ownership and a sense of achievement that would be missing is someone simply wrote the check.

I live in Chicago where you... (Below threshold)

I live in Chicago where you can register to vote anywhere, at the grocery store, at the ball game, on the street, at City Hall, at your alderman's office, the list goes on. The only time that I have ever encountered "vote suppression" was at the polling place inside of the Fire House that sits across from Wrigley Field. The Wrigleyville neighborhood was changing as older residents moved or died and young people started to move into the area in droves. There was heavy canvassing one year for a local candidate and those of us who were missed had problems at the polls.

When I went to the Fire House the Democratic Precinct Captain refused to allow me to cast a ballot saying that she had canvassed my house and that nobody lived there, this was despite the fact that I had come to the polls with a valid voter's registration card and a valid driver's license both showing that I lived two doors west of the Fire House. I went home and returned with some current utility bills, my driver's license and my voter's registration card yet the Democratic Precinct Captain still would not allow me to cast a ballot. She continued to claim that she had "canvassed that house and nobody lives there!" There were no empty homes in Wrigleyville, at all.

I finally was allowed to cast a ballot when the fire truck returned and our friend Captain Tom asked me why I was just standing there rather than casting a ballot. After he got both sides of the story Tom truthfully told the lady, "his father is a big Democrat in this town and he does live two doors down the street, let him vote." And that was the day that a Chicago Democrat attempted suppress my vote. Ironically I had watched the 1972 DNC with my parents when the DNC refused to seat the elected Illinois delegation, instead they sat their cronies. My father, a life-long Democrat was livid.

[I]"Then they started charg... (Below threshold)
JoeC:

[I]"Then they started charging a token fee (largely based on what the families could afford, and utterly unrelated to the actual value of the machinery), and it was amazing how much longer those systems survived when families had actually paid for them...."[/I]

Yeah, that is what is taught in Sales 101. If something is free, it is worth exactly what you paid for it. I think that also represents what welfare recipients have been taught. Since their welfare is "free" it was worthless until it became a "entitlement". And it is still exactly worth what the recipient has invested. It is free, a gift, and worthless. No wonder it doesn't satisfy and there is always the "need" for more. Like a junky seeking the next fix, it is never enough and doesn't last.

so jay - your post makes a ... (Below threshold)
peabody3000:

so jay - your post makes a decent attempt at a case for questioning the value of diluting the electorate with the more uninformed of the citizenry, but you start off by accusing ACORN of "attacking our electoral infrastructure"... can you make any actual case for that? keep in mind these are the same people that john mccain called heroes for doing exactly what theyre doing now

Peabody translated: "Can... (Below threshold)

Peabody translated: "Can you explain again how ACORN floods the system with fraudulent registrations wasting people's time and taxes? And how when they cite statistics on how many people they registered (while counting all the fraudulent ones) to claim voter suppression when the actual number of votes doesn't match? Cause, ya know - I just can't seem to grasp it, no matter how many times I've been told."

"Oh, and while you're at it, could you again explain how vast numbers of fraudulent registrations actually increases the chances of some slipping through the system. 'Cause, ya know, statistics and probabilities never were my strong suit."

"Crap, one more thing; how much money did Obama's campaign give to an ACORN subsidiary to "get out the vote"? Was it $8 or $800,000?"

"And P.S. - did I mention McCain is an ACORN collaborator?"

oyster - sarcasm aint your ... (Below threshold)
peabody3000:

oyster - sarcasm aint your strong suit. neither is politics, haha

show me ANY kind of real evidence that the "flood" or "vast numbers" of fraudulent registrations is anything but a figment of neocon imagination?

if ACORN complains of voter suppression, which is known to be rampant in poor neighborhoods, how does that attack electoral infrastructure in any way?

if obama paid money to an ACORN subsidiary for services unrelated to voter registration, how does that attack electoral infrastructure in any way?

oh, and dont make shit up! REAL answers please!

=]

*obama in a landslide*

peabody, you gibbering idio... (Below threshold)

peabody, you gibbering idiot, here's the New York Times of all sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/24/us/politics/24acorn.html?_r=1&oref=login

Initial claims by ACORN: 1.3 million registrations.

Revised numbers: 450,000 valid new registrations.

Over 400,000 bogus/rejected registrations.

In other words, about half of new registrations submitted by ACORN were bogus. And in one memorable case, Indiana's Lake County, they submitted 5,000. Election officials stopped checking them after going through 2,100 and NOT FINDING A SINGLE VALID REGISTRATION IN ALL 2,100 OF THEM.

Please don't be any dumber than absolutely necessary. It's bad enough around here.

J.

wow jay, such an ungracious... (Below threshold)
peabody3000:

wow jay, such an ungracious way to respond to an earnest question. or are you just sticking up for yer boy oyster? =]

either way, i appreciate the NY times info, even if im a little shocked that something a neocon said turned out to be true for once

regardless, the ACORN issue is a significant one to me and its because their bad rap stems from the false idea that false registrations will be used to vote in droves for obama

thats the story i hear every day and its bogus. so if ACORN is really doing such a lousy job then they can be dealt with, but making allegations designed to do nothing more than falsely call into question the entire electoral process? thats more of an attack on the electoral infrastructure than what theyre hyping up

of those 38 prosec... (Below threshold)
Brian:
of those 38 prosecutions that the Justice Department brought between 2002 and 2005, a grand total of two were for fabricating or falsifying voter registration applications.
peabunny~"wow jay,... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

peabunny~

"wow jay, such an ungracious way to respond to an earnest question. or are you just sticking up for yer boy oyster? =]"

Oyster's a girl, doof.

Since Jay seems to be a fan... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Since Jay seems to be a fan of the NYT today, try this:

Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews.
or maybe youre all one pers... (Below threshold)
peabody3000:

or maybe youre all one person....

posting messages under the jay name for the meatier stuff,

and under oyster for some backup,

and under lamedusa when you really dont know what the fukk to say

hahahaha

=]

Gee, peabody, if you're won... (Below threshold)

Gee, peabody, if you're wondering how many people would miss your brilliant wit and dazzling repartee' if you were to suddently disappear... keep talking like that.

J.

ah im just messin with lame... (Below threshold)
peabody3000:

ah im just messin with lamedusa... what else can one do with that him/her/it??

=]

I can "just mess" too, peab... (Below threshold)

I can "just mess" too, peabody... with the ban button. It's loads of fun.

J.

tell ya what, i'll ignore l... (Below threshold)
peabody3000:

tell ya what, i'll ignore lamedusa... but we'll see where that gets us!

=]

peabunny~... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

peabunny~

ah im just messin with lamedusa... what else can one do with that him/her/it??

I could really care less if you are a he/she/it because this is close the most intelligent thing you have said since you stumbled drunk on this blog:

if mccain wins, the easter bunny will appear from the clouds to spread chocolate and joy to us all

praise and blessings to the easter bunny

amen

Before the first comma you actually close to endorsing McCain, like jp2. The rest of it is just you being high.

*nearly the most... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

*nearly the most

here's what i don't get. i... (Below threshold)
ken harlow:

here's what i don't get. i already know when election day is next year or the year after, for that matter. with a year's head start,
can't i arrange to get free to vote? do i need special "by mail" same day, motor voter,walk up, special vote early at a different polling place, crap? i know when election day is and i'll be there. if i know in advance that won't work, i can get an absentee ballot. if i plan to vote on election day, but get struck down just prior, then the community will just have to do without my insight.

we have acorn signing up zippy the chimp and jojo the two headed boy while folks who just arrived in the country illegally and felons who have lost the right to vote are allowed to
sign up and vote. people who have more than
one residence can get an absentee ballot and vote from one home and in person at another.
if there's a damn cow with mad cow disease
we can track it's herd to the end of the earth
but we can't guard our most precious rights.
all the guys who died in all the wars must be
spinning in their graves at what a screwd up mess the democrat party has brought about.

Peabody proves my point wit... (Below threshold)

Peabody proves my point with gusto and zeal. He couldn't do it any better with a flashing neon sign proclaiming his ignorance.

And his retort? That I'm using three aliases to try and make him look stupid. He can't even own his own ignorance - it's someone else's fault.

Peabody, you make me laugh. And I mean that in the most cynical way. There's really a certain sadness in my heart for you. You can't even grasp the most simple of principles. You ask for proof of claims. That proof is handed to you repeatedly and you change the focus. Then you ask for proof again. I don't even think your deflection is purposeful. It's an automatic defense mechanism that pops up to shield you from reality. You really don't "get it".

Just one more thing, Peabod... (Below threshold)

Just one more thing, Peabody, capitalization, punctuation and grammar are all taught at local community colleges. Assuming you're already out of junior high, this may be something you'd want to consider looking in to. Your informal manner here, coupled with your contemptuous attitude and flippancy, in ignoring such simple things is another indication of your lack of respect, lack of seriousness in regards to topics of discussion and your laziness in a forum where one might expect a certain level of respect and seriousness to be reciprocated.

Debating with someone who uses dollar signs in place of letters and ends his commentary with smiley faces is a joke. I've no desire to wallow in the mud with you and therefore treat you with the same level of respect you afford others here - and that is none.

You reap what you sow.




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