Monday, November 3, 2014

Vote on Election Day; It's Important, Seriously We're Not Kidding

We have, on more than one occasion, encouraged our loyal reader(s) to turn out on election day. Voting is only the single most important activity a citizen in the republic can undertake to ensure the sanctity of democracy. The sad fact is our movement has not been very successful. It's well known that election turnout is generally low in non-Presidential election years. In 2010, the election turnout was 45.5 percent. By comparison, the 2012 turnout was 61.8 percent. New York reports slightly lower numbers: 43.6 percent in 2010 and 58.7 in 2012 (source: Census).

It is not an understatement to say that 2014 may be the most important election in decades; regardless of party affiliation. It certainly matters who controls the Senate in 2015, who will represent you in the state legislature, and who will be the Governor of your state (commonwealth's not so much). All of this is beside the point.

What matters more than all of this is the state-level effort to take away your right to vote. Al Jazeera America calls it the return of Jim Crow. Several states are relying on the Interstate Crosscheck system to clear voter rolls of people suspected of voting in more than one state. Crosscheck reviews names (first, last, middle), social security numbers, and other data in what is lauded as a sophisticated system critical to detecting voter fraud. Except that, according to the report "Crosscheck deliberately ignores Social Security mismatches, in the few instances when the numbers are even collected. The Crosscheck instructions for county election officers state, "Social Security numbers are included for verification; the numbers might or might no match"." Nearly 1.6 million names in the system lack matching middle names. If this system were alive in New York that means both me and my father could be accused of voter fraud. NPR has its own story on North Carolina. Here's a fun story on voter suppression in Texas.

We have a different strategy in New York. Rather than suppressing the vote the parties in New York suppress the choice. Democrats and Republicans here cross-endorse four candidates for State Supreme Court. Four candidates who were strongly encouraged to fund raise for the party and four candidates who did just that. This is an age-old tradition where pay-to-play reigns supreme. Knowing that most voters go on party lines the parties virtually guarantee each candidate a victory. Don Esmonde of The Buffalo News sums it up nicely here.

There is really only one way to stop this madness. It has less to do with getting money and PACs out of the process and more to do with pounding a little pavement until you get to your local booth and cast a vote. They are counting on another 45 percent turnout; not to get gun control passed/defeated, not to restrict/loosen access to health insurance, or even to divest/invest in infrastructure. They are counting on another 45 percent to maintain power, control, and money.

So, even if you vote for none of the above please go vote.

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