Making the rounds
Posted at 6:00 PM on November 17, 2008
by Steve Mullis
Filed under: News, Politics
Hey there News Cut readers, online editor Steve Mullis here. As my colleague Than pointed out already, our fearless News Cut leader, Bob Collins, is on vacation. He gave us the keys to the car this week and we promised not to crash it. I'm going to waffle between the useful, newsy stuff and the not so newsy but amusing.
So, let's get right down to brass tacks.
MPR's Tim Pugmire reported that a Minnesota group wants restrictions on voter registration. The group, called Minnesota Majority, wants to require IDs for voting and end same-day registration. Their claim is that it leads to errors and can disenfranchise those legitimate voters. Being someone that moved here from Florida only a few months ago, I was thrilled that I could vote in Minnesota with a minimum of trouble. Thinking it was going to be a headache, from my front door to the polling place and back home, it only took me 20 minutes.
The ease of the entire process seemed to embody the entire Minnesota attitude, and part of the reason Minnesota consistently receives accolades for its voting system. Would you feel more secure about your vote, and the system in general, if a photo ID were required and registration were not allowed the day of the vote?
Looking for a gift for that Wile E. Coyote enthusiast in the family? Over at the Museum of Unsual Things they are selling a six-foot rubber band for only $5.50 (+ shipping). The possibilities here are, while not endless, certainly amusing.
Minnesota law enforcement agencies are promoting rewards for information related to animal fighting in the state. The reward, offered up by the Humane Society of the United States, is up to $5,000 if it leads to arrests. This was more common in Florida, where I am from, but I had no idea that it was so prevalent here. Hopefully if some of these roosters are saved, they can find second careers as peacekeepers.
Foreign Policy wrote today about the Commerce Department's declaration that the current financial crisis is worse than the one that happened in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. According to the Washington Post article they link to, the 2.8 percent drop in retail sales last month surpasses the 2.65 percent in November 2001. So now it's official, our own bankers and financial gurus are worse for our economy than terrorists. OK, that's a little bit of hyperbole since the situations are very different. In 2001, people most likely weren't buying out of fear and perhaps guilt of retail spending in a time of crisis. Today, people aren't spending because they don't have any money to spend.
It was bound to happen, and the Times of London reported that Sarah Palin has indeed netted a possible book deal for the sum of $7 million. The article compares Palin's position to Obama's in 2004; she now has the national spotlight despite being part of the losing team. But is that an apt comparison? The article quotes Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty as saying: "...will be only one of the voices leading the party forward." I wonder if Palin will use a ghost writer or pen the book on her own.
The recount for Minnesota's U.S. Senate seat is set to begin this week. Each of the nearly 3 million votes cast will be meticulously waded through and counted by elections officials, along with a cadre of observers, campaign representatives and security. The big question I have is: Who's going to get our "hanging chad" picture? (and of course who is going to win?)
Would you feel more secure about your vote, and the system in general, if a photo ID were required and registration were not allowed the day of the vote?
No, I would not feel more secure about my vote. I would be concerned that these policies would reduce voter participation and turnout. I think that intentional voter fraud is a far smaller problem than those pushing such changes make them out to be.
I will not say that the intention of these policies is disenfranchisement and a reduction in turnout, but they are certainly the effects.
I love how these groups come in and say there is voter fraud in the Minnesota system, but I don't see any examples.
If someone wants to commit voter fraud, it is more likely they would plan ahead and get registered with false documents.
In most cases these groups want to shut out the first time voters, those who moved recently and those who don't know or understand all the rules.
We could do a much better job of registration if we made it part of getting a drivers license or other government interaction.
Then everyone would be aware of what the rules are and would be registered in advance. In Costa Rica, if you want a drivers license you have to prove that you voted.
Lets come up with ways more people will vote, not shut out a few who did not know the rules or are first time voters.
I would certainly feel that voting would be more secure with photo IDs. I don't think that fraud is widespread and I am all for keeping same-day registration, but the current system of allowing people to register with a utility bill and a neighbor to vouch for them certainly has the potential for abuse. Everyone who is eligible to vote is, as far as I can see, also eligible for a photo ID, so this does not strike me as an undue burden on anyone.
Re: Sarah Palin's book deal, she's going to need someone to translate those run-on paragraphs into Lower 48 English. Seriously.