Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Quote unquote, register voters

The CIA’s transfer of Iraqi prisoners to other countries was backed up by a legal opinion (which the NYT for some reason called a “US Ruling” in a headline) that they weren’t covered by the Geneva Conventions. The government won’t say how it decides who is or isn’t covered, just that government agencies--the CIA? Defense Dept?--are the ones making those decisions. We do know that non-Iraqis who entered Iraq after the invasion began aren’t considered covered.

Even if we grant for the sake of argument that such people aren’t covered, the US decided to act in Iraq on the basis of secret rules only it knew. If some prisoners are to be covered by one set of rules and others by another set, then there are really no rules. The rule of law--even the international laws which cover warfare--is based on transparency, with everyone knowing what rules apply to them. Without that transparency, there is no more moral legitimacy than the kidnappers of Margaret Hassan have.

Onion headline: “Republicans Urge Minorities To Get Out and Vote on Nov. 3.” Which would be funny except that black Floridians really are getting phone calls that do just that.

Other voter-suppression techniques are actually just voter-inconveniencing, voter-confusing, and voter-discouraging techniques. They’ll accomplish the same goal without leaving quite the same stink as road blocks, “felon” purges, etc. The Ohio R’s just dropped thousands of challenges to voters they had claimed might be fraudulent, citing computer error (they had said that mail sent to these registered voters had been returned). I suspect this was the plan all along, to raise the issue and then drop it in order to create uncertainty (in fact to create the same lack of transparency I just complained about in POW treatment) among voters over whether they were actually registered, to discourage them from potentially waiting on long lines on election day (R’s also plan to make them even longer by challenging voters) only to find that they weren’t allowed to vote. The Ohio D’s have already decided not to challenge a ruling that will hurt them, that provisional ballots only count if cast in the correct polling station (incorrectly decided, as I explain below), because if it dragged through the courts any longer, voters would be too confused on election day.

Oh, the quote I couldn’t find yesterday: Cuyahoga County Republican Chairman James P. Trakas said, “The organized left’s efforts to, quote unquote, register voters -- I call them ringers -- have created these problems”. Quote unquote, indeed.

Why the 6th Circuit and other court’s rulings on provisional ballots are wrong: the federal law that created provisional voting said that voters had to cast provisional ballots in the same controlling authority--or some such phrase--as they were registered. This meant counties or their equivalent, not voting precincts which aren’t “authorities” in any sense.

(Update: My cat just received an email from Team Chimpy chair Marc Racicot, asking for money for the recount fund. It says, “Those who oppose us have already used theft, vandalism and assault as weapons to win this election. Their next stop will be the courts.”)

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