Hartford Courant joins in fighting last [election] war

In an editorial today, the Hartford Courant joins Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz, in moving primary elections to June, unlimited absentee voting, and election day registration: How To Turn Up Voter Turnout – An Earlier Primary . . . . . . And two other reforms should boost interest in elections <read>

Ms. Bysiewicz is right. The Aug. 10 turnout — even with some competitive contests between strong candidates — was sickly. Fewer than one in four Democrats reported to the polls, and fewer than one in three Republicans voted.

She suggests the election calendar be changed to make the primary in June, “while children are still in school and parents are more tuned in to news and public affairs before we all go into summer vacation mode.” A June primary makes sense as long as the party conventions — whose main business is to endorse candidates — are moved back in the calendar as well — to, say, March. Keeping the conventions in late May and moving the primary elections to the first half of June would give party-endorsed candidates an even greater advantage than they now have.

The secretary of the state’s other two ideas are so-called “no-excuse” absentee balloting and Election Day registration. Both of those have resulted in increased voter turnout in states that have adopted them.

No-excuse absentee balloting is a form of early voting. It should work in Connecticut so long as political operatives are prohibited from distributing absentee ballot applications and strong-arming vulnerable residents — the elderly or incapacitated, for example — into voting for the operatives’ choices.

As CTVotersCount readers know we conditionally support Election Day Registration (EDR) – conditioned on an implementation that supports voting integrity along with voter convenience – providing election day registration in each polling place followed by the same voting methods used by other voters, as is the case in all but one of the apparently successful EDR states.

We are opposed to the expansion of all forms of mail-in voting, including no-excuse absentee voting. Abuses of absentee voting have occurred in Connecticut and occur on a larger scale in other states with significant levels of absentee voting – it is not worth the risk.  Even the Courant Editorial recognizes the risks adds conditions to its endorsement. We remain opposed given the track record here and elsewhere <ref> <ref>.  According to the Courant:

Absentee balloting has been used by unscrupulous politicians as an illegal vote-grabbing racket for years, especially in Hartford. Safeguards would have to be built into the system if it is expanded.

As we said last month when Secretary Bysiewicz proposed a June Primary:

This is not a voting integrity issue, yet we place it in the category of “Fighting the last [election] war” (i.e. Changes/reforms that look good when attempting to correct a recent, assumed election problem, without looking at all the consequences. ) We say “Be careful what you ask for”:

Starting in June would move the whole campaign season forward by two months:  Earlier primary, earlier state conventions, earlier pre-convention announcements, gaining support, election committees etc.

  • Many voters complain already that campaigns are too long
  • Many officials complain they are always campaigning
  • Would the Legislature’s “Short Session” be two months shorter, or would they pay less attention to state business?
  • Would candidates want/need more money for longer campaigns (A sure media winner)
  • Would challenging primary candidates find it harder to start earlier.

Finally, its unlikely that lower turnout is due to more travel in 2010 than in 2006 – more likely, its less interest in the differences between candidates and more turnoff by campaign tactics.

Clearly we got one thing right last month, when we said June primaries are a “Sure media winner”.  If the primaries are moved to June we will reference this post when complaints are made that the campaign season is too long or to have the Legislature pay more attention to business in the 1st quarter of an election year.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.