Voting challenges likely being abused

Steve Ivy's weblog, G.O.P. Can Challenge Voters at Ohio Polls?

Go read Steve's post, I don't have time to repurpose it in a useful manner here...

I responded to Steve's post in the comments, but I'm going to repost that comment here, perhaps readers would like to discuss it further in this site's discussion group/mailing list. Steve's site doesn't have a mailing list anymore (I think), so it's not as easy (IMHO) to discuss it on his site.

I said:

"I don't think it's intimidation, but it has negative side-effects. If you have people challenging enough voters, you slow down the process to the point where not everyone can get their vote in by the times polls close. Worse yet, add patience into the equation, and some people are just going to go home because they are sick of waiting. Or, take patience out of the equation and add other responsibilities, like someone picking their kids up from school and taking them to piano lessons, or having to go to work, or whatever, and you have people running out of time. The process works best when it is quick and painless.

I think it's very disappointing that either (in fact both) party has lowered themselves to the point of trying to slow down and affect the voting process. The law may allow for challenges, but using common sense, I don't think this was the intention when the law was created. There are legitimate reasons to challenge voters, and there are illegitimate reasons. Unfortunately those illegitimate reasons take time to sort out too.

A lot of effort goes into making sure the voting rolls are correct before the election. Surely that is not perfect, but sending in challengers into as many balloting places as possible does not make things more perfect. It's a step backwards, but I imagine each party feels it has no choice because if they don't do it and the other party does, they are at a disadvantage.

Elections have worked, imperfectly but well enough not to be a constant scandal, for centuries without this kind of interference, "good intentioned" or not.

I mean, partisan forces have tried to disqualify voter registrations on the grounds they were not printed on heavy enough paper. Those are shameful, indefensible tactics. An election should be decided by voters. Lawyers should not be rewarded for finding loopholes in well-intentioned laws that let partisan interests try to sway an election one way or another.

I think it's very embarassing that 4 years after the last embarassment of an election, things have actually gotten worse, not better. I can only conclude that the powers that be (politicians in general, not any particular party) felt it was not in their interests to improve the situation. If it was a big enough problem, one or both of the major parties would have harped on it until the problem was addressed or the other party lost credibility."

Hey, that's as non-partisan as I can be... this isn't a partisan issue so I think making it one dilutes its significance.

Written on November 3, 2004