Tuesday, April 19, 2016


A lot of Bernie Sanders supporters can't vote for him here in New York because of our jump-through-hoops voting laws:
The Empire State has no early voting and no same-day registration. Party primaries are open only to registered Democrats or Republicans, and new voters must register at least 25 days in advance in order to participate. What if you were already registered but wanted to change your party registration to vote in a particular primary? Unless you did so by October 9 of last year -- more than six months before the April 19 primary -- you’re out of luck.
If you're a Sanders supporter and you think all of this was an evil plot by Hillary Clinton to suppress your vote, you should understand that these restrictions have been in place for decades. On the other hand, you're absolutely right: These laws are awful.

But they're not aimed at you:
... while Governor Andrew Cuomo has embraced certain proposals for reform, like limited early voting and automatic registration through the DMV, major changes face little chance of passage in the state legislature. “Elected officials don’t want to change something they’ve gotten elected by, and they like that status quo,” Bartoletti said.

Republicans in the state Senate are particularly hesitant to embrace changes that might threaten their narrow majority. But Jackie Salit, the president of IndependentVoting.org, said Democrats are equally to blame for antiquated laws aimed at preserving the two-party system. “The political parties in New York have the state on lockdown, and they’re very committed to protecting that,” Salit said.
Yup, that's it. Republicans have controlled the state Senate forever, and Democrats have controlled the state Assembly. Nobody, including the Democratic governor, genuinely wants to upset the balance of power.

This is not like GOP vote suppression. It's not aimed at the voters of one party. You're not required to devote significant amounts of time and money to tracking down birth certificates and showing up with them at government offices that are frequently closed. It's not that you can't register and vote at all. But, yes, it's still bad.

And, obviously, so is this:
... the city’s Board of Elections was pummeled with questions Monday about how 54,000 Democratic voters vanished from the rolls in Brooklyn.

The voter rolls on April 1 showed the borough had 853,687 registered Democrats who are considered “active” because they voted at least once in the last four years.

But in November, there were 917,508, or 63,558 more.

The board said the numbers changed because many once-active voters were moved to the inactive list.

But that list grew by only 9,154 voters -- from 82,807 to 91,961 -- leaving 54,404 Brooklyn voters missing.
I don't know if it's good or bad that this actually might be the explanation:
Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan said the mystery is easily explained: Because of retirements and staff illness, the voting list was not properly maintained in Brooklyn for six to eight months.

When staffers caught up with the backlog, he said, they purged voters who should have been removed earlier last year.
Hey, it's not vote suppression! It just looks like a huge purge because when we're short-staffed we just gave up on getting our work done in a timely fashion!

If you're reading "Brooklyn" and thinking "Brooklyn hipsters" and therefore "Bernie territory" and therefore "Hillary and her pal the mayor are deliberately suppressing the vote," I'm looking at this New York Post story and, yes, I'm seeing a video of a group of white voters waiting to vote at a polling place that's experiencing problems -- but there are non-white residents in another video about voting problems. Brooklyn is extremely diverse. The Post story cites problems in Bushwick (increasingly hipster but still mostly non-white) and Brownsville (less than 3% white). If Hillary Clinton had evil minions suppressing the vote in either of these places, it would be more likely to hurt her than help her. So that's not what's happening. It's just the system breaking down.

A problem here is that Americans, for understandable reasons, associate the Democratic Party with the Northeast, with big cities, and thus, obviously, with Northeastern big cities and industrial states -- and when those cities and states fail to deliver services, it tars the party as a whole, nationwide. In the past, the people pointing fingers would be Fox-obsessed right-wingers. Now some of them will be Bernie backers -- and you can't blame them.

The same goes for those voting laws, which are also going to be hung around the necks of Democrats. Let me quote Robert Cruickshank again:

Democrats should be the party of effective government and effective voting even if that means lighting a fire under the butts of party hacks who do an indifferent job at boards of elections. Democrats should fight for democracy with fewer hurdles to jump even if entrenched incumbent hack politicians in state legislatures think that threatens them. Do a better job, folks.


Victor said...

My Mom and I had planned on going to the polls today to vote for Bernie.

Unfortunately, l got a bad stomach bug on Sunday, and can’t leave the vicinity of the john.

Sorry, Bernie!

Oh, the best laid plans….

Feud Turgidson said...

This is really good analysis by Steve M.

Does it really matter than there are so few politics writers saying this, and that the intternet click bait attractors are attracting such a huge percentage of nimnode chicken little knewjerks who don't get this at all - simply because they mostly on go to their own "news sources" that they "trust"?

(I really like the threadwars where Fox News readers go after Heavy.com for doing a fairly okay job on the NY state BoE fiasco, saying Heavy.com isn't a "trustworthy" news source, and then the Fox News supporters get attacked by the Breitbarters for buying into Fox News "propaganda". The only comfort I get from all this is is realizing what a tiny sliver of people even go onto the click bait sites and wade into such wars. The vast majority just carry on like there's actually nothing systemically wrong with the NYState voter registration system that isn't exactly as wrong with almost every other state voter registration system. If we get even a 50 percent turn out in November, that's got to count as a victory for Pollyanna-level naivete.)

The country's infrastructure is failing, whether it be bridges or voting.