Short hits: Disrespecting and upholding voters and voting rights

Last year about this time, the Maine Legislature voted to end the nearly 40 year practice of election day registration. The bill was signed by Governor LePage. Later a coalition in favor of election day registration in Maine successfully gathered signatures for a November 2011 referendum. By a 60-40% vote, Maine people ensured that Mainers could continue to register to vote on election day.

That dispute featured some opponents of election day registration who claimed people didn’t care about the issue and sometimes even said that some folks shouldn’t vote.

This version of Short hits gathers news about voting rules as well as comments about who should vote about what.

1. In Florida, Republican Governor Rick Scott has led an effort to make it more difficult to register to vote and to vote early, and has overseen an operation to purge voters from the registration rolls.  The purge had a high rate of “false positives,” with people being stricken who are in fact eligible voters.

Now that the federal Department of Justice has said that the purge violates several laws, local elections supervisors are refusing to participate.  In addition, a federal judge has blocked the law that made it so difficult to register voters.

2. Two states — Connecticut and California — are moving the other direction and are instead making it easier for voters to vote. Connecticut adopted election day registration and a bill to do so has passed one house of the California legislature.

3. In Maine, the legislature passed five bond packages to go forward to the November ballot. After Governor Paul LePage vetoed one, a bond for research and development, a Republican strategist wrote this was good since voters won’t make what he considers to be the right decision.

Voters, said he, don’t “have the long-term view about responsible debt.  Any bonding question that goes in front of them is typically approved easily, as the proposed benefit is all that is on their mind, rather than the decades long price tag.”

Last year, regarding election day registration, this same individual, a Republican strategist, wrote, ‘I would prefer it if fewer people voted.”

As for the four bond packages that Governor LePage did not veto, the governor has said he will not approve them even if voters do.  As David Farmer described it, “LePage tells voters he plans to ignore them.”

4. Columnist Jonah Goldberg recently said that young people are stupid and should not vote. He favors raising the voting age. In response to “stupidity” about economic issues, Goldberg stated, “That’s something that conservatives have to work hard to beat out of them, either literally or figuratively, as far as I’m concerned.”

Goldberg’s comments are reminiscent of others who say that people who don’t agree with them shouldn’t vote. A few years ago, conservative Ann Coulter said, “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president,” and her ideological compatriot John Derbyshire more recently argued there’s a “case against female suffrage.”

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Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.