Jun
08

NCGOP Declares Provisional Government

By

Well, not yet anyway. But why not drop the pretense of redistricting and elections and just cut to the chase?

Yesterday in Raleigh, state Senate lawmakers advanced another bill aimed at making voting harder for North Carolinians who actually make it into the voting booth after clearing the other hurdles the GOP-led legislature has proposed. Reporter Laura Leslie put it succinctly [emphasis mine],

The state Senate voted on straight party lines tonight to forbid NC voters from doing the same thing.

Senate Bill 411 would repeal the law that allows voters entering the ballot box to choose to vote for all the candidates in one party or the other. About 40% of voters in NC use this option.

Those mischievous scamps, what will they think of next? That’s SB411, also described as the “Elect Pat McCrory” bill.

Since taking over the North Carolina state legislature, the NCGOP has voted to…

  1. Shorten the early voting period by a week [HB 658 -- passed the House]
  2. Require registered voters to show a photo ID before voting [HB 351 -- passed out of committee in the House, on the House calendar for action today]
  3. Eliminate a voter’s choice to vote a straight ticket [SB 411 -- passed the Senate]

There’s more besides, as lawmakers rush through bills ahead of a key procedural deadline. Passage of a bill through either house by Thursday means they can be considered again next year.


So the NCGOP still has a couple of days to prove to the RPW (Republican Party of Wisconsin) that they’re not pikers. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

In letters obtained by No Quarter, local Republican Party officials are encouraging their GOP colleagues to collect enough signatures to get a fake Democratic candidate on the ballot in each of two upcoming recall elections.

[...]

“We need to make sure Democrat challengers face primaries to allow our Republicans time to mount a campaign,” Dan Feyen, chairman of the 6th Congressional District Republican Party, wrote in the letter to “fellow conservatives” on Friday.

“A Democratic primary,” Feyen continued, “will push the general election back by one month, so that Senator Hopper can have more time to organize a campaign against his liberal challenger.”

That’s $5 to the pizza fund, Feyen, for saying “Democratic” instead of Democrat.


Comments

  1. Thunder Pig says:

    So much for voting for the person instead of the party, eh?

    Thumb up 9

  2. Robert Danos says:

    Eliminating straight ticket voting makes voting harder?

    Does the 30 seconds or so it takes to push the button of each your partisan candidates, if you so choose, really qualify as “harder”?

    There are many people on every part of the spectrum that think that straight ticket voting adds to the dumbing down of the process, myself included.

    Especially here, where the Pres candidates aren’t included in the straight ticket and as a result many voters walk away each year not having voting in that race despite the instructions on the screen.

    The straight ticket/Presidential vote separate deal came in the 60′s when the Democrats in Raleigh didn’t want their candidates getting dragged by those darned Civil Rights supporting Presidential candidates who had a D by their name.

    That is not a vestige that will be missed.

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=102×3570320

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  3. Gordon Smith says:

    What it does is reduce voter choice. If I’d like to choose a straight ticket vote, why restrict me from doing so? We also see this in Rep. Moffitt’s dictate that will reduce Buncombe voters’ choices from 100% of County Commissioners to only three out of seven. Add that to voting access restrictions such as Voter ID, restricting early voting, and restricting voter registration, and you see a clear pattern at work.

    Republicans in Raleigh want fewer voters with fewer choices. That’s bad for democracy.

    Thumb up 7

  4. Paul Van Heden says:

    Wholly support #3.

    Straight-ticket primarily benefits whatever political party happens to be in the majority and encourages lazy voting behavior. As Robert pointed out up-thread, this is an anti-Civil Rights hold-over whose removal is long-overdue.

    Gordon: SB411 does not eliminate a voter’s option too vote straight ticket. If you want to blindly vote straight-ticket, you are free to do so. Admittedly it will require “thinking” – but citizens of WNC have repeatedly demonstrated they are fully capable of this.

    If local Democrats want to discuss laws that actually do restrict access to the ballot, perhaps they can start proposing legislation which removes political-discrimination against non-mainstream parties?

    PS: I kinda like Pat McCrory. If he wasn’t anti-gay I would have voted for him last time, and probably even volunteered a bit for his campaign.

    - pvh

    Thumb up 8

  5. Tom Sullivan says:

    If Laura Leslie is correct and 40% of NC voters pull a straight ticket, presumably, like voting early, they find it a convenient, efficient way to cast their ballots. Of course, inconveniencing voters doesn’t seem to be of particular concern in Raleigh these days. Is straight-ticket voting personal preference? Or maybe just lazy? Who gets to say? If it’s “lazy,” then is the get-government-off-your-back GOP now in the business of banning laziness? If so, why stop there? They could require you to take a quick civics quiz to vote. Or present proof that you can read up to (8th?) grade level, or own property…

    Wait, we’ve been down that road, haven’t we?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  6. Gordon Smith says:

    Paul,

    We are in agreement that ballot access has been on lockdown for too long. However, rather than restrict the ways in which voters can vote, I think that other parties as well as unaffiliated individuals ought to have parity of access.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  7. Paul Van Heden says:

    Gordon,

    To clarify: Agree with OP that shorting early voting period & requiring registered voters to show a photo ID before voting are restrictive. Frankly, these are solutions in search of a problem.

    I simply fail to understand how making voters actually vote for specific candidates is restrictive.

    For example: See if you can vote straight-ticket in this sample ballot:

    President
    –> Sammy T. Snake (D)
    –> Wanda Witch (R)
    –> Space Jesus (I)

    Congress
    –> Heath Shuler (D)
    –> Guy Gonnalose (R)
    –> Cthulhu (L)

    State House Rep
    –> Bad McEvil-pants (D)
    –> Goodly O’Saint (R)
    –> Lady Gaga (G)

    County Commission
    –> Miss Scarlet (D)
    –> Colonel Mustard (R)
    –> Mrs. White (D)
    –> Reverend Green (I)
    –> Mrs. Peacock (G)
    –> Professor Plum (R)

    Dunno about you, but the absence of a straight-ticket option did not hinder my ability to vote all Ds. (Or Rs, for that matter.)

    - pvh

    Thumb up 6

  8. barry says:

    Hey, lay off the Cthulhu jokes. He’ll f*** you up.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  9. Gordon Smith says:

    Paul,

    It eliminates a voting option – straight ticket. A solution in search of a problem, to be sure. If I want to go in and vote straight ticket Libertarian, why shouldn’t I be able to?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  10. Paul Van Heden says:

    Gordon:

    If I want to go in and vote straight ticket Libertarian, why shouldn’t I be able to?

    You can. Which is the point of this conversation.

    As has been illustrated up-thread, the absence of a straight-ticket check-box does not restrict anybodies ability to vote straight-ticket.

    If you can demonstrate otherwise, please do so.

    - pvh

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  11. Gordon Smith says:

    No need to get all obtuse about it. Right now I have the option of straight ticket voting, and removing that option is, by definition, removing an option. Why do it? I like the option! Expand ballot access, expand voting access, maintain voter choices. Why restrict when 40% of North Carolinians pull straight ticket?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  12. Deus Ex Machina says:

    I’ve never used straight-ticket voting in the first place, so I don’t think I’ll miss it. Besides, getting back to what Bobby said, I’d rather study up on a candidate and maybe see if I can find something beyond the “D” or “R” that’s worth voting for.

    Besides, near as I can tell, straight-ticket voting can lead to some disastrous results, theoretically speaking. If pushing that button means that I will be forced to vote for people like, say, Lyndon LaRouche, Bryan Freeborn or Clyde Michael Morgan, I’ll just stick to filling out my ballot the old-fashioned way.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  13. Tom Sullivan says:

    Arguing the merits of any of these initiatives is to be suckered by the lies used to promote them and to miss seeing the larger picture. None of these are about what they claim.

    Shortening the early voting period is not about saving money.

    Photo IDs are not about preventing voter fraud or protecting election integrity.

    Eliminating straight ticket voting is not about helping citzens vote for “the person.”

    They are all part of the larger effort to rig the game in the GOP’s favor by suppressing voter turnout and making voting more difficult for the poor, the infirm, and college students. As Paul Weyrich said, the GOP’s leverage in elections goes up as the voting population goes down. Across the country and in Raleigh, Republicans are doing everything they can to see that that happens. The rest is just BS.

    Thumb up 7

  14. Paul Van Heden says:

    Gordon:

    Let’s set aside whether SB411 removes an option and examine if straight-ticket voting (STV) is worth keeping. Do negatives associated with it outweigh benefits?

    Here is a list of negatives:

    STV encourages lazy voting behavior, and primarily exists to benefit a majority party. (So far no supporters of STV have argued otherwise.)

    Since presidential races in NC aren’t included in the straight ticket, many voters walk away each year not having voting in that race despite instructions.

    Here is a list of benefits:

    STV is a mild convenience for party yellow-dogs.

    :-|

    Readers can come to their own conclusions as to whether losing STV is worth grieving over.

    - pvh

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  15. Andrew Dahm says:

    We can argue about the budget and this’n'that, and I don’t know about straight-ticket voting, but consider the source. Whatever arguments can be made for or against changing Buncombe Commission elections, voting rules, etc., consider the source.

    Here’s what the Republican Party is:

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/06/fake-democrat-comes-forward-in-wisconsin-recalls.php

    In the McCarthy hearings, one honest citizen asked the Senator (from Wisconsin, quelle surpris) whether he had any shame.

    No, they don’t.

    The Republican Party, because of its arguably unpatriotic politics, is a permanent minority among the American electorate. Changing the rules and stacking the deck is necessary for survival.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  16. nathan ramsey says:

    Sort of like trying to make city council races partisan.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  17. Jason Bugg says:

    Gordon, I like you but you are coming across as a sub-Coggins level partisan knob in this thread.

    If a person can’t figure out how to vote a straight ticket without the “Vote a straight ticket here” option at the beginning of the ballet, then maybe they shouldn’t be voting. Or driving. Or operating heavy machinery.

    Thumb up 7

  18. TJ says:

    “If a person can’t figure out how to vote a straight ticket without the “Vote a straight ticket here” option at the beginning of the ballet, then maybe they shouldn’t be voting. Or driving. Or operating heavy machinery.”

    My question is this: if someone votes for each individual and it comes out with all the same party, will it then be considered “invalid” or needing a “re-count” because it reads like a straight ticket?

    For me, the issue is not so major, in and of itself. Rather, the idea that all these “rules” are just being decided “for” me gives me pause. If someone must make all these rules, it implies they don’t believe I know how to vote, either, and that I should not be voting, or driving, or operating heavy machinery.

    Government needs to stop infantilizing us as a city, county, state and nation. And, as a society, we need to step us and show we know what it means to be an adult and face the consequences/rewards for our own choices-or lack or(such as in not voting for whatever reason).

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  19. barry says:

    If pushing that button means that I will be forced to vote for people like, say, Lyndon LaRouche, Bryan Freeborn or Clyde Michael Morgan, I’ll just stick to filling out my ballot the old-fashioned way.

    Voting straight-ticket doesn’t ‘force’ you to vote for anyone, as the story above points out:

    Voters who choose a straight-ticket ballot can go through their ballot and change their votes to the other party’s candidate on as many races as they want.

    I’m with Gordon on this one. The intent seems clear to me, given the other bills that are aimed at disenfranchising voters or making it harder to cast your vote. Voting straight-ticket is fast, and in a state that is majority registered-Democrat, it delivers more votes to down-ticket Democrats than Republicans. Removing that option means longer lines at the polling places, and/or fewer votes for Democrats. Do you really think the Republicans are doing it because they want to “encourage thoughtful voting”?

    No, co-sponsor Sen. Bob Rucho says it straight out:

    “This bill will allow the voters to choose the person of their choice, regardless of party. This gives them that opportunity,” Rucho said. “They don’t have to be just slaves to the system.”

    Even though he admits that people can vote for whoever they want to now, even while voting straight-ticket… Which ‘system’ do you think he’s saying people are ‘slaves’ to? Could it be the Democratic Party? This is another partisan power grab.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  20. barry says:

    Sort of like trying to make city council races partisan.

    Which you were presumably against, Nathan – right? But this partisan power grab is OK?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  21. nathan ramsey says:

    In my humble opinion, as compared to what was attempted with city council, this is harmless. Those who pull just one lever aren’t really thinking when they vote, you should analyze each race. The races are still labelled with the partisan affiliation so voters just need to vote on each office. As it is now, you have to vote for the presidential race and judges separately anyway.

    If you are trying to argue partisan overreach, I think you can make a better argument with early voting than this or even voter ID. The reason early voting started in NC was the dem controlled legislature, based on their public statements, felt it would give their party an advantage. As I mentioned on another post, it wasn’t a surprise when the dems controlled the legislature that they enacted rules to benefit their own party, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the majority party now would behave differently. All of these moves will not prevent dems from being elected just like past efforts didn’t shut out reps but it may impact certain races which are decided by just a few votes.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 5

  22. Doug Gibson says:

    Paul,

    STV encourages lazy voting behavior, and primarily exists to benefit a majority party. (So far no supporters of STV have argued otherwise.)

    Ok, here goes:

    1) “Lazy voting behavior”: frankly I’m not sure what this means. Do you mean anyone who actually gets off the couch and goes to vote could still be counted as lazy if they vote straight ticket? Do you regard straight-ticket voting as lazier than saying “both parties are the same” and staying home? Is STV lazier than showing up and returning a blank ballot in protest?

    I suppose there must be a scale that runs from “fully informed, activist voter, researches every race” to “only shows up for presidential years” to “apathetic, never votes at all.” Where do you draw the line between “good citizen” and “lazy-bones?” (Seriously, Paul, please answer this question. I want to know.)

    Also though, it seems to me that voting according to party makes perfect sense given the current state of affairs. Or are you saying that in the aggregate there’s no difference between the two parties? Back when North Carolina Republicans had no real history of majority government, I might have almost agreed with you.

    But given what’s happened this year in Raleigh, I think you’d have to be insane or hopelessly cynical or both to claim that a voter can’t tell much about state and local candidates simply by their party affiliation. It seems to me that voters can tell a lot by the D or R after a candidate’s name, so why not allow them to choose all candidates of a particular party in one fell swoop? Really, why not? The only reason I can see is if you assume that everyone who discerns a difference between the parties is deluding themselves. Or maybe you think you should research every race. But come on – do I really have to go out and read the collected writings of R.L. Clark before I can decide that, compared to him, Martin Nesbitt is effing Abraham Lincoln?

    Next, I guess I’m wondering exactly which party you regard as “in the majority” in Raleigh, or in Washington, for that matter. Republicans control the General Assembly. They’re pushing this particular legislation in part because they think it will help them win the governor’s race. It seems to me that eliminating straight ticket voting in this instance will benefit the party in the majority, even more so if Pat McCrory wins in 2012.

    I should point out, too, that so far you have presented absolutely no evidence that “straight ticket voting tends to benefit the majority party.” It benefits mainstream parties, no doubt. But do you have any links or citations to back up this specific statement?

    2) I agree that the confusion over presidential races is a problem – one that could be solved by linking all the races via STV once again. If the Republicans in the legislature wanted to actually solve a problem, they might think about doing that.

    3) What nobody so far has discussed is the issue of voter drop-off, in which people cast ballots but don’t get around to filling in the ovals in lower-ticket races. STV addresses that problem fairly handily, it seems to me. And before you go searching for the “z” and “y” keys again, let me tell you about my voting experience last year.

    I got to the front of the line on Election Day 2010 and my Republican precinct judge – a man I greatly admire – was embarrassed to tell me that someone had already voted under my name. Apparently there are two Douglas Gibsons in Buncombe, and some other clerk had checked off the wrong name when that other fellow voted early.

    In the end I had to vote provisional ballot. Not a problem for me: in fact, I was interested in the process and was curious to see how my local elections staff would handle it. They did a great job explaining what was going on, but it took them a little time to get the paperwork together, as is natural in a peak period on Election Day. All told, it took me 15-20 minutes to vote in addition to the time I waited in line.

    Still, I had the time (though my wife, who had waited outside with my son all this time did ask “what happened?” in a slightly reproachful tone). But what if I hadn’t? What if I needed to catch a bus? What if I needed to clock in at work? What if I had had an infant with me, or an impatient toddler, or a child at daycare that they would charge me for not picking up on time?

    People have all sorts of reasons for needing to vote as quickly as possible. I’m sure almost everyone who waits in line in a presidential year fills in that oval at the top of the ticket, but why on earth would you deny a voter who has other demands on their time the convenience of completing the majority of the remaining ballot by just filling in one more oval?

    If we get rid of STV, will you look at every uncast vote for Register of Deeds or Insurance Commissioner or State Auditor and chalk it up to laziness instead of the pressures of modern life? Can you say with absolute certainty that for every additional vote cast when folks stop being confused by STV that we won’t lose an equal number of votes due to drop off? I don’t think you can, and when you dismiss concerns about this problem as simply an issue of “lazy voters,” then I feel you’re on a slippery slope.

    After all, “laziness” has been used to dismiss other concerns about the changes the legislature is proposing to voting laws this session. You can just hear the state GOP saying Can’t make it to your precinct on Election Day? Get an alarm clock, you deadbeat. Want to register and vote at the same time? You’ve got to be kidding. Aged or handicapped, and reluctant to go to the additional hassle of obtaining a photo ID? Eat your Wheaties, for chrissake, and stop whining.

    You’re seeing an “inconvenience” in this instance, Paul, but others see a barrier. And I guess my feeling is that we should draw the line somewhere where we know damn sure that it’s an only an inconvenience for some and a barrier for nobody.

    (One side note: your “sample ballot” is misleading. In a presidential election year there can be as many as 20 voter choices on a ballot. Sometimes there are more. Our system of voting for every. Single. Office. is pretty daunting to some folks, and it makes us kind of an outlier among other first world democracies, where parliamentary systems dramatically simplify things.)

    Thumb up 10

  23. Tom Buckner says:

    GOP secretaries of state have engineered shortages of voting machines in poor/ethnic/Democratic-leaning precincts during key elections in battleground states such as Ohio in 2004. People stood in line for hours in the rain waiting to vote in those precincts, while in towns a few miles away, higher-income GOP-leaning voters had plenty of machines and very short waits.

    Now ask yourself what effect the removal of party-line voting will have in a precinct where there are a hundred people in line. It will slow things down a bit, won’t it? In the very place where it hurts the most. So will showing photo ID. Shortening early voting increases, however slightly, the chance that some potential early voters will end up in that queue on election night.

    Death by a thousand cuts, that’s how the GOP steals elections. In 2004 it was inaccurate to say “Bush stole Ohio with Diebold voting machines,” simply because there were at least half a dozen other methods all in play at once. No one method was enough to change the outcome, yet by taking a slice at a time, it vanished the whole loaf.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 5

  24. barry says:

    In my humble opinion, as compared to what was attempted with city council, this is harmless.

    Imagine my surprise.

    Those who pull just one lever aren’t really thinking when they vote, you should analyze each race.

    Pure obfiousness, Nathan. This isn’t about whether this will produce a more thoughtful voter, this is about cutting into Democrat votes. You pretty much acknowledge that further down the post, so why attempt to obfuscate it with the flimsy talking points? It’s a partisan power grab, period.

    If you are trying to argue partisan overreach, I think you can make a better argument with early voting than this or even voter ID. The reason early voting started in NC was the dem controlled legislature, based on their public statements, felt it would give their party an advantage.

    I would be grateful if you could produce any statements by Democratic legislators on this topic. I predict that if you do, what you portray as “giving their party an advantage” is in reality an acknowledgement that people that are most likely to vote because of early voting also tend to vote Democratic: working people who can’t afford to take the whole day off to stand in long lines on Presidential election day. Remember the thousands who had to wait in line 10 – 12 hours to vote in 2008? Early voting alleviates this, and working people know they won’t have to lose a days pay to vote. Through the lens of those who see Obama’s election as a disaster for America, this is wrong and needs to be curtailed. After all, he only won NC by 15,000 votes, right? Make it just a little harder for working people to exercise their franchise as American citizens, and you might carry NC in 2012.

    As I mentioned on another post, it wasn’t a surprise when the dems controlled the legislature that they enacted rules to benefit their own party, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the majority party now would behave differently.

    This is pure hilarity, Nathan. I don’t know if you realize how funny this sounds. The new majority isn’t behaving ‘differently’ as you mean it – the Republicans are doing just what you accuse the Democrats of doing – rigging the electoral process to their benefit. The ‘difference’ is the one that you don’t want to acknowledge: Democrats benefit by having MORE Americans of ALL stripes participate in Democracy, Republicans benefit by chipping away at groups that don’t vote the way they’d prefer. It’s a fundamental, and might I say, craven distinction. Doesn’t it depress you that the only way you can win is by weakening America?

    All of these moves will not prevent dems from being elected just like past efforts didn’t shut out reps but it may impact certain races which are decided by just a few votes.

    Chip, chip, chip…

    BTW, the repressive shenanigans of the NCGA are getting more national attention. The NYT ran an editorial a few days ago primarily about North Carolina: “They Want to Make Voting Harder?”

    Thumb up 8

  25. Paul Van Heden says:

    Doug:

    I wrote a long reply – but then my computer crashed. X-(

    Don’t have the time/gumption to re-write. But in a nutshell:

    1) “Do you believe both parties are the same?” is a red-herring. My views on this have been explained elsewhere.

    2) What part of “Voters can still vote straight ticket” do you not understand? Most states don’t have STV, yet their voters figure out who to vote for – even on long ballots.

    We in NC will now do the same.

    3) Lazy voters: Folks who don’t get educated about candidates and just make assumptions about them based on affiliation. Not all those who used the STV are lazy – but the option does encourage this behavior.

    4) Observation: Your primary objection to losing STV appears to be that it will will hurt Democrats and help Republicans. Maybe you’re right.

    Kinda makes the point that STV was always about helping Democrats, doesn’t it?

    5) You wrote: (One side note: your “sample ballot” is misleading. In a presidential election year there can be as many as 20 voter choices on a ballot. Sometimes there are more. Our system of voting for every. Single. Office. is pretty daunting to some folks, and it makes us kind of an outlier among other first world democracies, where parliamentary systems dramatically simplify things.)

    As mentioned earlier, most states don’t have STV – and their ballots are just as long as ours are.

    I would love to see the US with a parliamentary system.

    - pvh

    ON EDIT:

    Just came across a relevant link you’ll find interesting:

    In New Hampshire, STV benefited Republicans – and the moment Dems got into power they removed that block:

    http://tinyurl.com/5wxbrh2

    Just pointing out STV is a double-edged sword. It’s primarily implemented to benefit majority parties rather than gauge voter will.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  26. John says:

    @Doug

    That was really nice, man. Now I can be lazy and not explain it…

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  27. nathan ramsey says:

    What would be radical would be to delete party affiliation from the ballot. That would take the partisan games out of the picture. The legislature did that with the judicial races because too many reps. were being elected as judges. Now there is an effort to reverse that.

    NC SBOE data demonstrate that early voting hasn’t increased turnout among registered voters so any arguments to suggest that changes will suppress turnout aren’t factually correct.

    http://www.sboe.state.nc.us/content.aspx?ID=70

    The SBOE data shows that voter turnout hit 70% of registered voters in 2008 (doesn’t count the folks not even registered) but that was about the same as it was at 69% in 1984 and 68% in 1992. The low was 59% in 1996 and 2000. You can argue the reason for the high turnout in ’84 was the US Senate race and in ’08 it was due to the fact that Presidential race in NC was so close. We didn’t have early voting and other electoral options back in ’84 and the turnout wasn’t materially different. The lesson seems to be if people really care and are passionate about an election, they will turn out to vote regardless.

    What early voting and other options have done is make the process more convenient and I appreciate that. In ’08 there were virtually no lines on election day but there were lines at early voting locations. The reality is that many people believe that it doesn’t matter who is elected, that it will not make a positive difference in their lives. That’s why even in the best year for voter turnout in almost 40 years, 30% of folks actually registered didn’t vote.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  28. Robert Danos says:

    “2) I agree that the confusion over presidential races is a problem – one that could be solved by linking all the races via STV once again.”

    That is not going to happen. Do you wonder why the Democrats, in control of Raleigh in the 60′s when this was put in place, and in control ever since haven’t “fixed” this?

    Very simple really – it was done in the 60′s to protect Southern Democrats down the ballot from being linked to Presidential candidates.

    And it was never changed for the very same reason. From Kay Hagan to Raleigh, down to county commissioners, the majority of the Democratic power structure in NC does not want to be linked in a straight ticket to the White House race.

    They know that 2008 was an anomaly (with Obama’s 14K win) not seen since ’76 and extremely unlikely to occur again in ’12.

    Perdue and your state House and Senate leaders can’t say it, but they had no intention of going along with a STV that would tie the whole ticket together.

    That is why you have heard no hue and cry from them – they fear the above alternative vastly more.

    No, I can’t provide any quotes or links for the above and I don’t name names.

    But get any of your plugged in folks on here to get any of Perdue’s or the GA minority leaders’ folks to talk off record and you won’t like what you hear.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  29. barry says:

    NC SBOE data demonstrate that early voting hasn’t increased turnout among registered voters so any arguments to suggest that changes will suppress turnout aren’t factually correct.

    6% more isn’t an increase, Nathan? From the NC SBOE:

    Turnout in Presidential election years:

    2000 59%
    2004 64%
    2008 70%

    You have a way of coaxing conclusions out of data that don’t appear to be there. Maybe I need glasses, I don’t know.

    Perhaps this graph from the Wall Street Journal is the data we should be looking at. I suspect that Republicans are. It shows that in the 2008 election, the percentage of registered Democrats vs. registered Republicans utilizing early voting in North Carolina was 51.4% to 30.2%.

    This is the “advantage” that needs to be erased:
    More people voting = Bad for Republicans.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  30. Paul Van Heden says:

    Doug’s criticism that my “sample ballot is misleading” inspired me to visit Buncombe County’s Election Board and review past ballots.

    http://tinyurl.com/5savbw9

    As many will attest I’m not the brightest guy in the world. Perhaps losing the STV-option would prevent me from creating a straight-ticket?

    So, as an experiment I voted “straight ticket” on a few of the ballots without using the STV option.

    Result: I had no problems, nor did it take very long to do.

    I invite readers to try this experiment themselves and report their experiences in this thread.

    Without using the STV option did you find voting too unwieldy, or take too long, or made the ballot too complicated, or somehow created a barrier between you and your will?

    Don’t be embarrassed if it did. Frankly, I have trouble with buttered toast. (Never know what side to put the butter on.)

    I honestly want to know if you had problems voting straight-ticket without an STV-option. Perhaps this can start a conversation about how to improve the ballot’s lay-out itself?

    - pvh

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  31. TJ says:

    “I would love to see the US with a parliamentary system.”

    Now, THERE’S a lively bunch! It would be interesting, but I don’t think they would go for it.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  32. barry says:

    Also missing from the curtail-early-voting argument is any coherent reason why. The Republicans actually created a figleaf for the voter ID bill – those rascally illegal immigrants who risk deportation & $10,000 fine for fraudulently casting one vote.

    But the justification for making it harder to cast your vote early is even more flimsy: Saving money? The head of the NC SBOE has said that shortening early voting “likely would result in longer lines and polling sites and make elections more expensive.”

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  33. Andrew Dahm says:

    I think the death from a thousand cuts analogy is really the most sensible thing here. It’s also true that people who own computers and sufficient spare time to blog off have a very different dividing line on the “inconvenience/disaster” continuum.

    If somebody’s making 7.75 an hour at the McDonald’s and it takes them 15 minutes to vote and their kid is in daycare past-time at ten-fifty an hour, they’re paying close to a half-hour’s wage to vote. Make them wait forty-five minutes, and they’re out an hour’s wages.

    Perhaps we could begin charging estate/corporate attorneys $200 to cast their ballots after waiting in line for an hour, just as a way of leveling the playing field.

    I tend to back the truck up a bit further: suffrage is a right guaranteed by the constitution, as amended, and somebody’s trying to mess with it.

    Why?

    Some folks here are talking about Republicans’ efforts to restrict suffrage, while Frank and Lillian Gilbreth have their stopwatches out, computing time and motion, with a dash of ergonomics thrown in.

    The fact of the matter is this: A Republican President has been elected by a winning popular vote total exactly once in the past five elections. That’s a generation, folks. The Republican Party is in the very fiber of its being constituted to oppose things this country needs: a coherent industrial policy (which is intimately related to our insanely high healthcare costs), a coherent energy policy (which is anathema to the interests that provide most of the Republican Party’s funding), and sensible policies that enforce community standards without waging Christian Fundamentalist Jihad against members of our society who may pray (or not pray) differently than others.

    If I were a Republican strategist, I’d try and make sure it was hard to vote. I’d have a bunch of stalking horses – fraud, “how lazy are these people,” “voting is a privilege,” etc…

    In short, I can’t say I blame them. A little honesty about what they’re up to would preserve precious supplies of Internet Ink, is all I’m saying.

    And voting is a right, not a privilege. It’s in that constitution those people in Raleigh swore to protect and defend.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  34. TJ says:

    “And voting is a right, not a privilege. It’s in that constitution those people in Raleigh swore to protect and defend.”

    Yes. But, if they are like a good percentage of our population, they don’t even know what it says.

    It’s almost like people I know whom use iTunes. Whenever there is a new set of terms of agreement, they set the screen to where you can read and/or download the agreement. I know a few people whom don’t even bother reading it….they check “accept” and go on with their day.

    That’s the way people seem to experience the Constitution. Swear to protect it and never read it again.

    Personally, I don’t think people should vote, if they don’t know what they’re agreeing to. And-I don’t think we should vote people in whom seem to not know what and whom they represent (beyond special interest groups).

    Unfortunately, there are still too many people who vote based on name recognition and so forth.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  35. Tom Buckner says:

    @ Paul Van Heden:
    “I wrote a long reply – but then my computer crashed. X-(”

    I have found, when I know I’m going to post a longish comment, that it’s best to open a word program (I mostly use Open Office.org, it’s free and it’s very good) and write the whole comment, links and all, and maybe even save a copy. Then when it’s done through and through, I copy the whole thing and paste it into the comment box and hit Submit. If it gets eeted, I can just copy and paste again. If it’s too long for the site I can trim and slice however seems needful. Nowadaze, I only ever lose posts when I neglect to pre-build them in this way. It’s magic, I tells you.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  36. Andrew Dahm says:

    Get a Mac.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  37. barry says:

    Get a Mac.

    Or a WorkersGloriousBox600. Is much superior Russian super-computer with two speeds and no decadent Western Imperialist video graphics, da?

    BTW, we just got Tim Moffitt’s latest email, with all 3000 email addresses out in the open. Can you say CC = Bad? BCC = Good!

    What do I hear? Who will start the bidding? Oh sh**. I see that most of you are on this list, so you already have it. Nevermind.

    My email reply? “Gee thanks. I’m sure this won’t lead to hacking, spamming, or credit-card jamming. For God’s sake, please get me off your database ASAP.”

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  38. TJ says:

    “Or a WorkersGloriousBox600.”

    Barry, where DO you find those pictures? And, where do you find the time?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  39. Jason Bugg says:

    My god you guys are just spread buttholes and Tim Moffitt is the chili enema.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  40. TJ says:

    “What do I hear? Who will start the bidding? Oh sh**. I see that most of you are on this list, so you already have it. Nevermind.”

    Not me. I politely reminded his office staff that I only sent an email to express disagreement, and they needed to remove my name from their spam list. So far, so good.

    I don’t think I want to associate with people whom value the same things he does since he began his “rule.”

    That email list COULD be useful. Perhaps a mass email close to election time, reminding them who NOT to vote for? Or, send subliminal messages about the right thing to do. It sure doesn’t seem to get through their heads when stated in a straightforward manner.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  41. Doug Gibson says:

    Paul,

    Again, eliminating the straight ticket option isn’t an inconvenience to you. I know you. But what if you had arthritis? Were visually impaired? Had a three-year-old in tow?

    And I’m still waiting for you to explain why “lazy” and “voting behavior” isn’t an oxymoron. Folks show up, wait in line, and then choose their candidates based on party affiliation. At what point do they become lazy? Are they industrious up until the point they vote straight ticket?

    And yes, I’m pretty sure that making voting more convenient would benefit Democrats. But I’m with Barry in believing this is so because Democrats do better when more people vote.

    Finally, like a voter id requirement, this seems like a power grab disguised as a solution to a nonexistent problem. Again, point me to the studies that indicate that eliminating STV as a source of confusion won’t subsequently lead to an uptick in undervotes.

    Robert,

    I love what I hear from Republicans: “Democrats didn’t do x about y, so Republicans are perfectly right to do a about b.” Rep. Moffitt implements a district system that could conceivably create a county commission elected by a minority among county voters, but, hey, Democrats didn’t institute a better system, so we can do whatever we want.

    That’s freaking great, in my opinion. If, on the off chance Democrats retake the legislature next year and they institute a WPA-type program to get people back to work, then they’ll be perfectly justified in saying “Republicans did nothing to create jobs, so we can create jobs any damn way we like.”

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  42. Andrew Dahm says:

    As a retired graphics productionist, I applaud and stand in total solidarity with the Glorious Workers Box, and hope the Moffitt crew gets one soon – the result would be much more proletarian-friendly file sizes.

    2MB for six pages of 14-point type, jeez. Pity those on dialup…

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  43. Paul Van Heden says:

    Doug:

    Again, eliminating the straight ticket option isn’t an inconvenience to you. I know you. But what if you had arthritis? Were visually impaired? Had a three-year-old in tow?

    A visually-impaired, arthritic, single-mom with a kid in tow _could_ vote straight ticket. Even without a STV-option. Any such person who goes through the trouble to wait in line to vote could easily do so.

    I’ve already provided a link to past ballots up-thread. Print them and vote straight-ticket without the STV option. If you’re intellectually honest, you’ll admit that it’s not difficult.

    And I’m still waiting for you to explain why “lazy” and “voting behavior” isn’t an oxymoron.

    You never asked that question.

    I did, however, define “Lazy voting behavior.”

    That you now think it’s an oxymoron is your problem.

    Finally, like a voter id requirement, this seems like a power grab disguised as a solution to a nonexistent problem.

    We agree.

    point me to the studies that indicate that eliminating STV as a source of confusion won’t subsequently lead to an uptick in undervotes.

    I don’t understand the question.

    I can point to case-studies that demonstrate how STV benefits the majority party. (Which is why former minority parties, both Democrat & Republican, get rid of STV the moment they come to power.)

    - pvh

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  44. Dixiegirlz says:

    I have neve voted a straightmticket in my lifetime of voting.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  45. Diogenes says:

    Straight tickets?

    ‘We don’t need no stinkin’ straight tickets.’

    Let ‘em read up, study the candidates, actually make an informed choice.

    Give this one up for somethin’ important. Straigt tickets are for mindless boot lickin’ sycophantic toadies.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  46. TJ says:

    “I don’t understand the question.”

    @Paul:

    Wouldn’t that be the successful outcome of obfuscating?

    “Let ‘em read up, study the candidates, actually make an informed choice.”

    @Diogenes:

    Oh, come on, you really expect people to do that, straight ticket or no?!

    “Give this one up for somethin’ important.”

    So, how about we get less specific (this one’s starting to feel a bit mangled like a rawhide (ugh) bone given to a dog to chew) and just talk about the underlying problem of how so many rules and changes are being made without any actual vote from the people affected? THAT’S my concern with any of these things.

    As humans, most of us can adapt to new ideas and expectations (heck, I can actually google things now, without feeling like someone with ADD). In our culture of “freedom,” what most have real trouble with is simply being TOLD what to do and how. Goes against the idea of being a culture valuing new ideas and inventions. In turn, you have some whom rebel, and others whom become complacent and just let themselves be led around.

    I’d rather rebel and find what else is available, than to be led around and told what to do (even though that often might seem easier).

    Straight ticket or no, it should ALWAYS be an informed choice. The second key word being: CHOICE.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  47. Gordon Smith says:

    I have often voted straight ticket. Paul says I’m lazy for having done so. Diogenes tells me I’m licking boots. When I can’t find anyone but Dems that I want to vote for, then I use the straight ticket. I like the convenience. Why do folks want to take it away from me?

    That’s right, a guy who studies enough to make informed decisions likes having the straight ticket option conveniently available.

    (On another note – It looks like we’ve been removed from Rep. Moffitt’s mailing list. If you received his most recent e-newsletter, could you email it to scrutinyhooligans . yahoo?)

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  48. Doug Gibson says:

    Paul,

    Sorry, but I hadn’t seen your answer:

    Lazy voters: Folks who don’t get educated about candidates and just make assumptions about them based on affiliation. Not all those who used the STV are lazy – but the option does encourage this behavior.

    If I had, I would have responded. So, to be clear: you’re saying that STV encourages lazy voting behavior because, despite the significant differences between the two parties in terms of the policies they pursue, a voter must not rely on party affiliation but must instead research every race and every candidate in order to meet your standard of industriousness. I assume you feel this is true whether the voter votes straight ticket or goes through and marks all the R’s or D’s individually.

    My point here is that a number of voters have decided, for reasons that I believe are pretty well justified, that voting by party is as informed a choice as they are likely to make given the time at their disposal and the information sources available to them.

    I understand that you don’t think STV represents an informed choice, and I respect your opinion. But I believe it’s simply an opinion, and so debatable. For that reason “encourages lazy voting behavior” seems like a weak argument for abolishing STV.

    Finally, I do regard “lazy voting behavior” as an oxymoron. After all, it’s not like folks can cast a ballot using their TV remote. They have to register, make time in their schedules to get to the polls, show up at an early voting site or at their precinct, and stand in line. I still don’t understand how they then suddenly become lazy simply by filling in the STV oval, but I suppose I don’t hold voters to as high a standard as you do. Given voter participation rates in this country, I’m glad when citizens—Republicans, unaffiliateds, and third-party supporters as well as Democrats—vote at all.

    Oh, one other thing: you’re right. I haven’t gone through and marked all those ballots using a #2 pencil and a stopwatch. I haven’t had the time. But I’m guessing you haven’t gone through and marked them using the above plus dark glasses, a plaster cast on your writing hand, and a 3-year-old at your side who needs to go to the bathroom. I encourage you to try. If you did, you might see why I mentioned “undervotes” in this context.

    Thumb up 6

  49. Doug Gibson says:

    Slightly off-topic: in the NC State House, a mostly Democratic majority has passed a bill lowering ballot access barriers for third parties.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  50. Big Ivy says:

    I too have voted “straight ticket” many times and would like to have that option open to me in the future.

    If discouraging “lazy” voting is our goal, I should think there are more effective steps that could be taken. For instance, a short test requiring the voter to identify the stance of each candidate along with a multiple choice test on the candidate’s voting record would be more indicative of the voter’s information and lack of laziness. If the voter fails the test they do not get to vote at all because they are misinformed and/or intellectually lazy. Sounds good to me. How about it?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  51. barry says:

    Tests of any kind to secure your right to vote were banned by the Supreme Court decades ago. Don’t know if you were serious, but there it is.

    Obfiously, the intent of this doesn’t have anything to do with discouraging “lazy” voters, or whatever. Along with all the other measures (photo ID, cutting back on early voting, etc.), it’s designed to chip away at Democratic votes, and that’s all.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  52. TJ says:

    “After all, it’s not like folks can cast a ballot using their TV remote. ”

    Well, perhaps in the not too far future. We now have TV with internet capability. Add that to absentee voting, and it’s not a stretch.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  53. Big Ivy says:

    Barry, I was attempting to respond to the stated goal of discouraging “lazy” voters and suggest actions that would accomplish that goal and to offer my suggestions in the snottiest way possible.

    Yes, I know that tests and poll taxes are currently illegal. That might change. If it does change, I might suggest brief essay type tests to determine one’s ability to think at all and perhaps some sort of brief exam that would yield a rough index of one’s empathy and moral intelligence. But … that’s just me. I’m certainly not an advanced thinker but even I can see the implied contempt for those who are not well educated, financially well off, or white and the assumption that folks falling into one or more of those categories are the vast majority of people who pull the lever for Democratic candidates. ? Maybe I’m just misunderstanding.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  54. Tom Buckner says:

    I remember in my salad days reading about the shiny future when people could insta-vote over the two-way computer television and whatnot.

    That was before almost anyone understood the idea of security breaches.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  55. Gordon Smith says:

    Security britches? Sounds like that would chafe.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  56. Diogenes says:

    I dunno Gordon, Security britches whilst one is boot licking…sounds a bit too kinky for me.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  57. Tom Buckner says:

    !

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  58. Tom Buckner says:

    Hiyoooo!

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  59. Andrew Dahm says:

    Testing people to see whether they’re well-informed enough to vote has never, ever, ever been done in this country. The only testing performed on election day in this country has been to prevent people from voting. The fact that these people were given a dime on the dollar of education compared to other, more melanin-challenged taxpayers in their community whittled away at the probabilities, votingwise, if you know what I mean.

    So, Big Ivy, your comments are apropos. The Republicans, no matter what they say, are trying to prevent some people from voting.

    Maybe if we all worked together to properly fund and operate public institutions LIKE SCHOOLS, we’d have an electorate we wouldn’t have to test.

    Instead, we’re treated to massive defunding of assets and systems that benefit all of us without regard to “special interest.” This is because the Republican Party, a retrograde fringe group representing a shrinking demographic, is, in itself, a “special interest.”

    And, I have to add, I don’t think any political party that stared transfixed at Donald Trump The Presidential Hopeful for more than, oh, twenty-five seconds, has any right at all to accuse anyone of intellectual laziness.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  60. Big Ivy says:

    @Andrew #58

    Amen!

    However, Democrats DO need to remember that not all working and middle class folks are people of color. It is my opinion, and pet theory, that a respectable number of working class white people feel they are ignored by the Democratic party. It is also my opinion that they are considered beneath contempt by the Republican party but their “natural” political home seems unaware of their existence. I’m not talking about “poor” people in the popular definition of someone who doesn’t have a job and is on welfare, etc. I’m talking about regular working people, some of whom succumb to Republican propaganda and great many of whom figure they don’t have a television-worthy story of hardship or the right face to put with that hardship and so don’t count for much with the Democratic party.

    I don’t think they are entirely wrong and I do think Democrats are consistently losing active voters by ignoring these people.

    As usual, I could be wrong and I’m probably missing the more important point but as I’ve already said – it’s an opinion.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  61. Robert Danos says:

    “I love what I hear from Republicans: “Democrats didn’t do x about y, so Republicans are perfectly right to do a about b.””

    Yes, Republican are perfectly right to bring our voting system in to line with the 36 other states that do it that way, including 7 who abolished STV in the last 12 years. http://www.ncsl.org/LegislaturesElections/ElectionsCampaigns/StraightTicketVotingStates/tabid/16597/Default.aspx

    If that is your example of some radical right wing overreach, comparable as you say to the Democrats bringing back the WPA, I think you are stretching just a hair.

    The Democrats had 40+ years to either make one simple STV ballot or get rid of it altogether. They did neither and as a result NC has the highest undervote rate for Pres in the country as the ONLY state with the ballot split this way.

    We are fixing that problem.

    As the NC Elections Director said: “”We unfortunately are the last state of the nation to do something of this nature. We are the only ones that separate it out,” said Gary Bartlett, executive director of North Carolina’s State Board of Elections.”

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  62. TJ says:

    ” perhaps some sort of brief exam that would yield a rough index of one’s empathy and moral intelligence”

    If that were the case, we’d have a lot fewer choices of candidates to choose from to begin with.

    Then, I suppose, the time-consuming aspect of voting would be resolved, anyway.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  63. Kevrel says:

    Ya learn smoehting new everyday. It’s true I guess!

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0