On Ballots And Bravado

A recent essay over at Politico has attempted to make a case against early voting. It’s essentialy nine paragraphs of C rate concern trolling that both completely misses the point of early voting and manages to make no concrete argument against it.

Before I tear their into their actual arguments, I’d like to take a moment to address the authors of this essay. Not just to point out that they are, by default, highly partisan, but to suggest that they completely lack the perspective and personal knowledge necessary to hold an informed opinion on the topic. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that John McGinnis and Eugene Kontorovich, both professors of law at Northwestern University, have never waited half a day in the cold to vote. Or been told by their boss that even though they can take off the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November (by law), they really “better not” if they want their jobs to be there when they come back. I suspect that they show up at a very well maintained grade school or church in their local town, talk to a nice lady (probably named Delores), and are in-and-out of that booth in thirty seconds flat.

And since their political affiliations do matter? I’m also going to take another wild guess and say that John McGinnis and Eugene Kontorovich don’t give one rat fuck about “voter cohesion” or the spirited debate that takes place before an election. That nothing in the last 46 days of an election has ever made either one of them think, “Hmmm, I’d better vote for a Democrat”. That John McGinnis, the author of The Origin of Conservatism and frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and National Review, knows who he is going to vote for before the names even show up on the ballot. I doubt that the guy who went from fretting about the filibustering of judicial nominees in 2005 to cheering the filibustering of them in 2010 finds himself paralyzed by indecision on election day. I’m taking a similar guess about Eugene Kontorovich, a libertarian blogger for The Volokh Conspiracy, even though I don’t know as much about him because he doesn’t even have the common sense to have his intern or his TA or his nephew make a Wikipedia page for him.

Their other arguments are the most basic sort of destroyable tripe. There’s some slippery slope prattle in there (presumably it will allow the degenerate electorate to start voting for box turtles or something) as well as the false appeal to noble tradition (go ahead and ask a black guy born before 1944 for more information about the conservative reverence of said tradition).

But more to the point, the entire essay exists in a completely bullshit fantasy world where democracy happens the way it does in fifth grade civics books. I’ve heard citizens engaging in debate about the best options for the country. It usually ends with, “Well, fuck you!” Go scroll your Facebook feed back to November of 2012 for more recent data on that subject. The example they point to (in case you hadn’t figured out that they are old white guys yet) is the Kennedy/Nixon debates. They make no mention, of course, of how politics, the media, the public’s relationship the government, or the amount of information available has changed since then. They seem incredibly concerned about debate performance in a world where debate performance counts for less and less. They also chose, without even a hint of irony, an election that took place before the Voting Rights Act.

Additionally, they seem to imagine a world where early voting has become mandatory or, at least, the preffered way to vote. As if undecided voters (also known as the middle third) will be unwilling to wait until election day to make up their minds. Either that or they really believe that die-hard liberals and conservatives are going to jump ship and vote for the opposing party. Now, you may see that in local elections – my very blue state has a very red governor, for example – but even in that extreme example, most Jerseyans made up their mind about Christie and Buono shortly after asking, “Who the fuck is Barbara Buono?” and those poll numbers didn’t change in the months leading up to the election.

But my biggest problem with the article is that it doesn’t even attempt to address the issue that early voting seeks to correct. They poo-poo one solution, and then sort of shurg their shoulders and say that they’re really sorry some folks can’t get to vote, but hey. . . fuck em. That’s the price we must pay in order to have some mythical voter cohesion thing happen, and so people will still give a shit about whatever op-ed they publish the last week of October. They barely acknowledge that the current system sucks, and then offer zero solutions to fix it. Moving election day to a weekend? Not on the table. Making election day a national holiday? Nary a mention. Setting a minimum mandatory ratio of voting machines and polling places per registered voter (or even probable voter)? Notably absent.

Just the same old shitty status quo that just so happens to favor their preferred party’s election outcomes (not that that ever comes up in their article). Just two more hacks, hacking away while pretending not to be hacks. But I’ll tell you what. When  John McGinnis and Eugene Kontorovich spend a few election days freezing their toes off in the bad(est) part of Detroit for six hours to cast a ballot? When they work three part time jobs in two different counties, neither of which they can afford to even live in, and have to navigate the crumbling remnants of a never great in the first place mass transit system to get to their polling place? When they have to wait until thirty seconds before they go to vote to have some jackoff in a tri-corn hat with nothing better to do challenging every voter that isn’t sufficiently melanin-deficient? I’d be delighted to hear what they have to say about early voting, and voting rights in general.

Until then they can fuck right off to hell.

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