A Dangerous Idea On Voting Reform
In a New York Times article this morning, one of the worst ideas I've heard to date is floated:
Based on the Ohio experience, election law scholars advocate two types of broad reform: more uniformity within states - in registration lists, voting technologies and the distribution of voting machines - and replacing partisans with professionals in election administration.
We have something of a free-market election system in America, which is appropriate, since we are a free-market society. As long as there are two highly partisan groups watching over our polls, we will have mutually assured fairness and balance as Republicans make sure Dems don't stray and visa versa.
Would "professionals in election administration" be nonpartisan? Of course not! It is illogical to argue that only persons uninterested in politics, or interested only in nonpartisan politics (an oxymoron if ever there was one) would apply for the job. It would instead attract the same group of people who are now working the election process as volunteers and paid party staff, and attempt to create efficiency and fairness through the public promulgation and enforcement of federal regulation. Let me count the ways federal bureaucracy has performed better than the free market. The tally: Zero.
In no time, this bureaucracy would be wracked with scandal, charges, counter-charges and demands for reforms -- reforms that would only complicate the bureaucracy's mission, providing a bevy of regs and loopholes over which attorneys could litigate, special interests could lobby, and oversight committees could manipulate for the benefit of the party in power. And as its employees became entrenched federal bureaucrats, they would seek union representation and begin to sway Democratic in their thinking, jeopardizing the future of the American system.
Only academia could come up with such an idea.
The other ideas posited in the NY Times piece -- more uniformity of voting lists, technologies and machine distribution -- would benefit the system and should be pursued. But nowhere in this piece is there a call for a uniform, uncounterfeitable voter ID. Until we cross that barrier, we will live in a world of provisional ballots, dead people and illegal immigrants voting, and the registering of vapor-voters for crack cocaine. Step One in voter reform is to make sure only legally registered people vote. Step Two is to encourage American ingenuity to find ways to make the process more failsafe, convenient and accessable.