View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Ringling Brothers Election 

And a three-ring it is.

In the left ring, we have a Denver newspaper finally grasping the nature of the threat. While the Post has more or less ignored the oncoming tidal wave of ballots to be hand-counted, the Rocky discusses it at length this morning. County clerks in Jefferson and Adams counties are, ahem, a little concerned about how many ballots they'll be expected to process after Election Day. At least one Denver Election Commissioner is, and one isn't. This is before the Common Cause lawsuit, which is increase the number of provisional ballots, and shift potential fraud back to regular ballots.

In the right ring, wearing striped uniforms and picking up after the animals at gunpoint, we have the Felons!

Felons will get a special provisional ballot. It probably won't count, which will drive Jim Spencer up the wall, but hell, as long as you're throwing away thousands of years of technological progress, you may as well go all the way.

And in the Center Ring, we have Same-Day Registration!

Colorado is going to adopt, in essence, at-the-polls registration. This is in response to managers of voter registration drives who don't seem to be turning in all their registrants. So, since "fairness" uber alles:

Davidson instructed the clerks - some open-mouthed at the news - that poll judges should have unregistered residents tell them where they registered, during what drive and on what date, then allow them to fill out a provisional ballot.

"In essence, we better hope a lot of people don't lie," said Carol Snyder, the Adams County clerk.

"Wait till the media hears this," said Bob Balink, the El Paso County clerk. "Just by saying you signed up somewhere, someday, you're going to get to vote."

"I guess all I can say, Bob," said Davidson, "is I hope voters are honest."

The number of reasons that this is a bad idea runs into the low four-digits, but I'll mention just three.

First, it completely undercuts all the reasons for opposing the Common Cause lawsuit. It increases the number of manually-counted ballots, increases the complexity of the instructions to the election judges, relies entirely on the honesty of people the election judges have never seen before in their lives.
Second, if the prior system was an invitation to vote fraud, this decision is like loading up the minivan and delivering to people's doorsteps. There are two steps to voter identification: 1) are you who you say you are? and 2) do you live where you say you live? Some ID's will prove both, but most will prove only 1) or 2).

Susan Rogers seemed to think this was merely pushing Emergency Registration, a process already available to existing registered voters who had failed to re-register in a new precinct or county, from the clerk's office to the precinct level, and seemed fairly unconcerned about it. But it's far, far worse than that. This ruling is specifically aimed at new voters.

I suspect that Secretary Davidson was so spooked by the Common Cause lawsuit that she decided to bend over backwards to avoid another lawsuit. Instead, she's opened the doors wide for people to vote under multiple names on their say-so that they tried to register before. Remember that non-citizens are eligible for many government benefits, or at least receive them.

This is a system that is going to collapse under its own weight, if not this year, then soon. It's possible that nobody will have time to figure out all the schemes available to them, and be able to implement them on a mass scale. In a close election, though, a mass scale isn't necessary.

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