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Early Voting
Boon for fraud, bust for deliberative democracy.


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Deroy Murdock

Election Day? Who needs it?

Americans already are casting ballots, five weeks before November 4. This is a boon for vote fraud and a bust for democracy.

In Ohio, most dramatically, an individual can register to vote between September 30 and October 6, then immediately receive an absentee ballot. Existing and brand-new electors also can cast ballots at early-voting centers. This is a gourmet recipe for voter fraud.

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What if some new registrants turn out to be non-citizens? Or felons? Or gung-ho 16-year-olds who only look 18? No problem. Why, we’ll just fish out their ballots from the pile. Uh-oh. The secret ballots all look alike and no longer can be tied to any given voter.

Oops.

In a close election, Ohio’s 20 electoral votes could swing into McCain’s or Obama’s column based on the ballots of non-Ohioans, foreign citizens, felons, or even children. If, in a photo finish, the presidency hinges on such tainted Ohio votes, McCain or Obama could be inaugurated beneath a thundercloud. Fairly or not, cries of “Thief!” will haunt him wherever he goes. Not surprisingly, such grievances grind democracy down. So it goes when our leaders govern with the consent of those who never should have been asked.

Independent groups seeking to increase poor and minority participation also transported voters from places like homeless shelters, halfway houses, and soup kitchens,” the Associated Press reported Wednesday. One hopes this population consists entirely of adult American citizens free of felony convictions.

Potential vote fraud aside, early balloting assaults the notion of contemplative self-government. This is true in Ohio and the 30 other states that allow early voting at special polling sites and, more often, via no-questions-asked absentee ballots. Oregon, for its part, votes 100 percent by mail-in ballot.

At this writing, Ohioans already have voted for president even before Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin debates Democrat Joe Biden. Early voters decided before knowing whether Palin fell flat on her face or dazzled the nation with quick-wittedness. They voted without seeing whether Biden acted graciously or blew the whole thing sky-high by snapping, “Now wait one cotton-picking moment, little lady.” Those who already have voted also did so without knowing anything about either of the two remaining McCain/Obama debates, or any of the other ideas, controversies, or triumphs that will arise before November 4.

Some have said early voting is like several jurors announcing after two-thirds of a trial that they have heard enough evidence and are ready to convict — never mind the remaining witnesses, closing arguments, and hours of deliberation.

As John Fund explains in Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, some Americans who already had cast ballots for George W. Bush were disturbed to learn five days before the 2000 election that Bush had been arrested in 1976 for driving under the influence. “There was no way they could change their vote,” Fund observed.

So, what is the massive hurry?

Unless Americans are certifiably ill, incapacitated, or (to coin a word) absent on Election Day, they should vote neither absentee nor early. Citizens of this republic should view the debates; follow the candidates’ speeches, watch commercials and interviews, and read news articles and opinion pieces. We should deliberate among our fellow citizens and meditate individually.

And on Tuesday, November 4, the American people should line up at local fire houses and elementary schools, and precinct by precinct, select the next President of the United States. This momentous occasion deserves sobriety and dignity, not civic slovenliness.

Choosing the leader of the free world should not be the political equivalent of sitting at home in sweat pants and picking either the sweet & sour shrimp or General Tso’s chicken. It is high time America took our ballots more seriously than Chinese takeout menus.

 — Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.

© 2008 Scripps Howard News Service



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