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November 03, 2008

Long lines are a poll tax


Rachel Maddow explains why excessively long lines are actually a poll tax. Monetary poll taxes were ruled unconstitutional just 44 years ago. But, as Rachel points out, time spent waiting to vote is worth something, too. Lines for early voting in Florida and Georgia ranged anywhere from 2 to 6 hours. How many people can get that much time off work? How many people are shelling out for child care for all the time they spend waiting at the polling place? What about the elderly and the disabled?  Today the Office of Personnel Management refused federal employees  extra time to vote, despite a joint plea by a Democratic and a Republican member of congress. Sure, it's heartwarming that so many people are investing so much time to vote, but it shouldn't be necessary. It's not like these election thingies are surprise events.

HT: Amanda.


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I guess America got used to a low voter turnout and became complacent. Voting day should be a national holiday, period.

This election is giving many countries pause in how they manage and process votes.

Voting via the Internet sounds like a practical idea but who would trust it? I'd definitely want a printable receipt confirming my vote, one that would be submitted to the vote collectors for the record.

Its completely stupid to call long lines a poll tax.

But it shows that some states are completely and totally messed up.

Even with days and days of early voting, they can't develop a system that works?

The NY govt sucks, and the voting machines here are ancient, but even in elections with the heaviest turnout, the lines move fairly well in ONE DAY of voting.

Is Florida incapable of self government? Maybe we should give it back to the Spanish.

In Minnesota we have polls open from 7AM to 8PM, while Florida only has polls open from 7AM to 7PM.

We also have 4,000 polling places, which is more than twice-as-many-per-person than Florida which has 7,000.

If Florida kept polls open an hour longer and doubled its number of polling places, then elections would go smoother there.

just came back from New York and I was absolutley surprised to see these reports on long lines at the polls. This is unheard of where I live (Central Europe), why don't they vote on Sunday in the US by the way?

Does anyone stand in line for hours to pay their utility bills, buy groceries, or pay taxes? I'm sure it's just coincidence that no one waits long when their money is to be collected, but do when they vote.

Thank God one party consistently opposes easier suffrage. Early polling, mail-in ballots, federal holiday for voting, easier registration, paper alternative ballots, etc. - All invitations to voting fraud, chaos, socialism, or something really, really bad. Better we all stand in line and congratulate ourselves on having invented democracy.

it is not my business but what I found also very strange, are these people saying on TV: When I was in Irag (or Nigeria or East Timor or or os) people waited 5 hours *and* bombs went off all the time, so what is about waiting 3 hours then?
What would happen when the return rates would be more like 75-80% of the population?


I voted at 715 in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, where the lines were all manageable. I was able to walk right up without waiting, as the clouds parted in my district as I arrived.

Here in lower Manhattan, there look to be long lines on both Rector and Wall Street stations. But no one is gonna be waiting for two hours or close to it.

It does that seem that in most categories a civililized person would consider worth exelling in, we're trying to carve out a position of Last in the First World. Count 'em: election law, infant mortality, income disparity, disaster recovery, and I'm sure you can name a few others on your own. Hogarth was satirizing party-affiliated election officials in England two hundred and fifty fucking years ago, for God's sake.

They should just make election day a federal holiday. Seriously.

How about a progressive poll tax? Incomes over $250000/year, over in that really long line.

Well, as Rachel Maddow also pointed out last night, it's unclear how much of the mess that is our voting system can be considered an unfortunate result of incompetence or bureaucratic sloppiness. The far right wing realized quite some time ago that keeping turnout down by making voting as onerous as possible was in their best interests, and they've acted accordingly. Occasionally they're even honest about it:

"I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

— Heritage Foundation founder Paul Weyrich, at a 1980 training session for 15,000 conservative preachers in Dallas

I voted in a suburb of Minneapolis.

I got in line around 10:45AM and received my ballot about 5 minutes later.

-They should just make election day a federal holiday.--

Disagree. We have enough holidays.

What I'd do is work to a system whereby Election Day is on a Monday ( with polls open 6am - 9pm ) and with early voting on the weekend before.

More than two days early voting is too damned long, a three day period may be about right.

I think that states the habitually get it wrong, like Florida, should be dealt with harshly by the Federal govt. This is not fucking rocket science. If Belgium and Japan and NY can get it right over and over, why can't Florida do anything right?

I don't buy into the Uncle Kvetch's conspiracy theories - to me most of the problems come from a deep, deep incompetence. The Department of Motor Vehicles in states like Florida don't run so smoothly either.

I just saw a report on the local news about people in Minneapolis ((the city itself) having to wait an hour-and-a-half to vote.

As I posted above, I only had to wait 5 minutes in a suburb of Minneapolis.

Twenty minutes for me this morning. Last election, an African-American co-worker of mine was told, after a ninety-minute wait in East Austin, that she wasn't eligible to vote because her name was (quite mistakenly) on the ex-felons list.

(Change "mistakenly" to "wrongly".)

Oh, since everyone's reporting in: I voted around 8:30 this morning. I've voted at the same polling place in Hell's Kitchen for 13 years and never saw a turnout remotely as large as today's. The lines were very uneven: luckily for me, there were only 7 or 8 people in line for the 2 machines for my district, and I got through the whole process in less than 15 minutes. But there were a good 50-60 people waiting in line from another district, also for just 2 machines, and at the rate they were moving I imagine they were going to have a wait of at least an hour, maybe two.

Took me 40 minutes in Vienna, VA. Apparently there was a 90 minute wait for people who showed up at the 6am opening of the polling station.

Here's a surprise: Fox News is going with the Radical Negroes Run Wild angle. For any readers here who happen to be incontinent, I suggest you check your supply of Depends now, they may be experiencing shortages tomorrow.

I'm going to be doing some poll-watching myself in a little while, and I promise to report any and all sightings of Black Panthers to you tomorrow if by God's grace I'm lucky enough to see another day.

I've never understood the idea that ex-felons shouldn't be allowed to vote. In most countries even people in prison can vote.

They're still citizens, and they still have basic human rights. Otherwise convictions for petty crimes could become an easy way to disenfranchise people, and prevent them from improving their lives. A step in the creation of a permanent underclass. If there are enough prisoners and ex-cons to swing an election then you have bigger problems than prisoners voting.

Ah, another thing for people to bitch about. This is not a party issue, as some of you want to make it. It is a state issue, since all states have the right to carry out voting as they see fit. Once you can realize that, you can also realize that things are then broken down to county and municipal agencies, who may run inefficiently. While I agree that some on the right want to make voting tougher, by requiring, GASP, an ID to prove who you are, that is not an issue here. This is about local governments, some run by Dems and some by the Reps, who are incapable of handling this situation. We need a UNIFORM system for the POTUS election, but neither side can compromise, so it won't happen. Add in all of the local and state offices, and it is a mess.


Somehow I don't think that Charles Manson and David Berkowitz have any right to vote, or that the country is the less for not having their input.

They lost their right to freedom for a time because of their actions, and it is right that criminals who are violent ( at least ) lose their right to vote.


B Money

Yep. Remember the year 2000 Florida mess? Over a Democratic commission approved butterfly ballot, etc. But somehow it was Bush's fault that people didn't fill it out correctly

Phantom - it's state by state. In many states all felons lose their right to vote. That's anything from possessing a joint within X feet of a school (even if it's within your own living room), to tax evasion, to mass murder.

The Phantom -

Even a citizen who commits a horrible crime is still a citizen and should be allowed to vote.

We don't ban felons from eating chocolate, even though they may not deserve chocolate.

We don't ban felons from sleeping on mattresses, though they may not deserve mattresses.

We should let evey citizen over 18 vote.

togolosh is correct, it is determined by the individual states if a felon can vote.

Eric Jaffa, I politely disagree. There are certain crimes that are so heinous and objectionable that the convict should lose all but the basic human rights (food, shelter, medical treatment if ill, etc.). I would agree that low level felons (Class 3 & 4) should regain their right to vote once they matriculate back into society. However, major offenders, murders, sex offenders and pedophiles should NEVER regain the right. They forfeit this entitlement by committing these heinous crimes and prove that can not be functional members of society.

Work in this field and you might change your mind. Talk to the victims of serious crime. Ask them how they feel about these scumbags being allowed the conveniences they are allowed in prison, and then tell these victims that they also get the right to vote, just like the rest of us law abiding citizens. I know it offends me to even consider it. The franchise is not absolute, and can be lost if one cannot play nicely with others.

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