Friday, October 26, 2012

Chilling Reality: Why Those Voting Early Get Greater Proportional Representation Than Those Who Don’t

It’s a chilling reality but do you know why, when the votes are finally counted, those who vote early will wind up being proportionately better represented with a greater number of their votes counted than those who wait for Election Day? . . . 

. . . . Because, if you wait till Election Day to vote you might die first.  Or you might just get sick, enter into a coma, or otherwise somehow lose competence to make it to the polls to cast your vote.  Or you could be kidnapped!  Meanwhile, although a certain percentage of those who vote early will likewise die before Election Day their votes are still going to count.

Now, technically, (here’s a quibble) if you vote early and then die before Election Day your vote isn’t supposed to count.  In theory it should be traced and extracted from the amassed vote totals of which it will have by then become a part, but, as a practical matter, that isn’t going to happen.  That’s what this article says and I’ll concur in its conclusion without researching it further: Don't Worry, This World War II Veteran's Vote Will Be Counted, Alexander Abad-Santos, Oct 22, 2012.                

What about your vote if you lose mental competence or are in a coma?  Do those votes wind up being votes that, as a practical matter, will still count even if they perhaps aren't supposed to?

Oh, they’ll probably be counted too but whether people think they should count under applicable voting rules is complicated: You probably don’t want to get into trying to sort out the answer. . .

. . . It’ll depend, partly, on what are the laws of whatever one of the fifty states in the union you are in.  You get sent to an insane asylum after voting early?  A court orders that a guardian must take charge of you?  It might be that your vote is still supposed to count, at least unless further steps have been taken to classify your vote as an incompetent one.

Here’s a peculiar sort of topsy-turvy, turnaround state of affairs when it comes to voting.  Normally, if you become incompetent, your ability to do anything legally disappears unless you have executed and are acting through a document (everybody ought to know about and consider using) called a durable power of attorney- It’s something you sign so that someone can still effectuate your legal wishes after you’ve become non compos mentis (not sound of mind).  Voting?  Voting in a public election is practically the only legal act that kind of power of attorney can’t be used to accomplish if you’ve gone, proverbially, out to lunch.    Conversely, though, that early vote of yours?: It stands, perhaps singularly, as maybe the only future legal act that is still supposed to be recognized as having legal validity even though you’ve lost your mental faculties!

You go into a coma?  Well, whether your vote ought to count might depend on whether you come out of that coma later.  If you come out of the coma then your vote is probably supposed to be counted no matter what.  Going into a coma and not coming out might be something different.  That's technically speaking, although as a practical matter, your vote is probably still going to stay amongst the counted anyway.

As for being kidnapped?: Your early vote should count no matter what.  And remember, kidnapping might include that kind of metaphorical kidnapping that occurs when, on the day of the election, your boss tells you that you have to work extra shifts, right through all the scheduled voting hours.

Does all the nitpicking associated with all this meticulous legal parsing seem just a tad ridiculous?   Yes, perhaps it does.  After all, even if there are some votes that, if you scrutinize them, are perhaps not supposed to count for reasons that may apply and vary from state to state, are there really that many people total who are going to die, get declared incompetent or go into a coma between the particular day they vote early and that national election day now looming before us?*  As an honestly credible concern would the small number of such individuals be likely to have any truly significant effect on the outcome of an election?  Even if it were the case, how unfair is it that these dedicated early voters are able to surmount the vagaries of fate to cross the quadrennial finish line to have their vote count one last time?
(* For the die hards of death tracking who want to do some rough calculations: Say that 2,420,000 Americans die every year.  Say that, of this number, maybe some 93,000 die during the average period between the casting of an early vote and Election Day.  Not all of them are eligible voters or vote to begin with.  The current U.S. population is 311,800,000. Last presidential election, with a record turnout, 131 million people voted.  Only about 60% of eligible voters vote.  This year it is estimated that 40% of those voting will vote early.  So maybe 15,500 or so voters might die before the election after casting an early ballot.)
Think the above is ridiculous?

The horror of having the votes of dead voters improperly count just discussed is nothing compared to the ridiculousness of what has been going on in Texas this election in the name of of not letting dead voters improperly vote. . .

Mid-September, National Public Radio ran a superb story on the political shenanigans going on in Texas that commenced by making brilliant use of an audio clip from the film, “The Sixth Sense” (It is pretty much the same audio used as audio for the film’s trailer): Many Texans Bereaved Over 'Dead' Voter Purge, by Wade Goodwyn September 16, 2012.

I include the movie’s trailer here in this post so you can click on it just in case you don’t find this post spooky enough all on its very own.

The NPR story (click here to listen) begins with the young actor from the 1999 film, Haley Joel Osment saying:
I see dead people. Walking around like regular people. They don't know they're dead.    
In the film trailer Osment also says:
They’re everywhere.
The NPR story is basically about how, for political reasons, Republican Texas Secretary of State Esperanza "Hope" Andrade decided she could, with a similar paranormal paranoia, see dead people everywhere, walking around like regular people who didn’t know they were dead.  That enabled her to purge the Texas voting rolls of likely Democratic voters.

Hope Andrede notified 80,000 individuals* that they were deceased and were therefore being removed from the voting rolls.  To do so she used information that the Social Security administration warned the state of Texas it shouldn't rely on.  According to the NPR story a quick check by one of the local tax assessor-collectors led him to conclude “that there was a big probability that even a majority of the names on the list were people that were still alive.”
(*  Note for the die-hard death trackers: This huge 80,000 number is for just one state, not a nationwide figure.)
The NPR story then chronicles how these “dead people” (in one case a 52-year-old African-American woman and her 80-year-old father both got letters from Hope saying they were dead) have to spend hours on the phone, to no avail, trying to reach the government to say they are not dead.

You may want to tuck this article away and pull it out to give a livening-up “Boo” to a few a friends at Halloween which, like the election, is coming in just a few days.

The point to be most conscious of here is that the vast amount of voter suppression going on this year is not about getting things technically right and preventing from being counted the almost nonexistent number of votes that are cast improperly.  We are at risk for virtually no documented instances of voter fraud.  The onslaught against voting rights has not been about striking a balance in terms of what makes sense to ensure that the electorate is properly and accurately represented : Voter suppression is being pursued for the insidious purpose of intimidating and preventing those who are entitled to vote from doing so, and as many of them as possible.   The scary thing is that these baleful intentions could wind up steering the results of the election.

One last thing: If you do go and vote early it will give you the chance to find out if someone has been intentionally exaggerating reports your death.  That way can get started complaining early too.  (And just so you know, if you find yourself facing that plight you can still exercise your right to vote, so insist on it!)

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