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Four lingering thoughts about U.S. elections

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Barack Obama taking part in early voting at a polling station in Chicago on October 20.

This the tenth story in a series comparing the U.S. system of politics and elections with other democracies around the world.

We’re about ready to wrap up this series with a short final comment on Monday morning. Please let us know if you feel you have learned anything from the exercise. I know I have, but I supposed I have some strange interests.

For today, just four short snippets united only by the fact that they seem worth passing along and didn’t fit into any longer installments.

Snippet No. 1

The U.S. differs from pretty much all the other democracies in the world in how long the campaigns last. Most of the others have an official starting date a few weeks before Election Day. Even those other democracies that allow TV advertising generally confine them to those relatively few weeks.

In the U.S. system there is no official starting time for the campaign season. Given the fact that the United States has primaries, which sometimes produce TV advertising (while hardly any other democracies have primaries), the campaign advertising/messaging season can stretch for many months in the United States but are much shorter in most other democracies.

I already devoted a full piece to “Do we have too much democracy?” But that was mostly about how much more often we vote and how loaded up U.S. ballots are with contests and issues compared to other democracies.

But the unlimited advertising season adds one more brick to that argument. Most other democracies concentrate the campaign into a relative few weeks before Election Day. In the United States, campaigns go on for many months, except in presidential years when candidates head to Iowa a year before Election Day.

Many of the democracy comparativists on whom I’ve relied in this series list the length of the U.S. campaigns as a possible explanation for the low voter-participation rate in the United States, on the theory that many voters are worn out and sick of politics by Election Day.

Snippet No. 2

Another similar observation is that the U.S. system creates a heightened problem of accountability in the minds of voters because our system doesn’t clearly put any party or even a coalition of parties in control of the government. This could be said for any of the non-parliamentary, presidential-type systems like ours, which are common in Latin America but less common around the world.

At least in the United States, it has become normal for power to be divided between the party of the president and the other party, which frequently controls at least one house of Congress, as at present. In such circumstances — especially in the current era of gridlock — even an attentive, open-minded voter is hard-pressed to know whom he or she should credit for whatever is going well or blame for whatever is going poorly.

Snippet No. 3

When I was writing early in the series about some of the many roadblocks that exist to voting in the United States, which account for at least some of the low-turnout issues that characterize U.S. politics, I left out one obvious part of the discussion. In general, the Democratic Party favors measures that would make voting easier and the Republican Party opposes many such measures. The most common current example is the movement in many Republican-controlled states to require voters to show a photo ID when checking in to vote, which is currently the subject of court challenges (some of them successful) that such a law would reduce participation by some races and classes who are less likely to have photo IDs.

The explanation for this partisan difference is obvious. Democrats and Republicans both know that Republicans tend to benefit, on balance, when barriers to voting are higher. I say it here just to get it off my chest and so I won’t have taken a dive on saying so. Democrats generally believe (and I don’t disagree) that this fact gives them the moral high road on the issue because making voting easier is more (small d) democratic than making it harder. But, in the spirit full inquiry, Democrats who feel that way should ask themselves whether they would favor making voting easier if such a measure results in disproportionately more votes for Republicans.

Snippet No. 4

Lastly, a little example of the bottomless complexity of the money behind and even moreso phoniness of political ads (which, I must remind you, are the main means of political “discourse” in an election year, at least in terms of discourse that reaches average voters who don’t attend political events or watch debates).

OK, here is an ad, running in Alaska on behalf of incumbent Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska:

Megan Collie of Anchorage — who stars in the ad, who is pretty enough to be an actress, who reads her lines like a pro and who, I presume, is not really trying to make us believe that she is doing anything other than reciting, into a camera, lines written by professionals — makes a huge deal of the fact that she is not an actress, like the woman who appeared in an earlier ad attacking Begich. Of course if she really wants to demonstrate authenticity, she might have found time to mention that she is the communications director of the Alaska AFL-CIO, an organization that is supporting Begich.

But wait, it gets better: Collie speaks on behalf of Put Alaska First, a PAC that has spent more than $6 million on the campaign and which, according to its filings with the authorities, raised about 1 percent of its budget from Alaskans and the other 99 percent of its budget from donors who, despite not being Alaskans, favor putting Alaskans first.

And who are these non-Alaskan Alaska lovers? Well, kinda hard to say because almost all of the funds spent in the name of Put Alaska First was money that was passed through from another PAC called Senate Majority PAC (which we have no reason to believe draws heavily from Alaskan donors). According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which labors tirelessly to expose the many shenanigans of political money, Senate Majority PAC enjoys “close ties” to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, which I assume is code for Harry Reid decides how to parcel out the funds, in the interest of electing as many Democratic candidates as possible, from Senate Majority PAC to other PACs supporting Democrats like Put Alaska First.

Nothing is unusual about any of the above. In fact, I took it all from a piece by the Center for Responsive Politics’ blog The piece noted that there are many PACs like Put Alaska First that have a state in the PAC’s name and spend their money in that state but half of the state-named PACs get most of their money from outside the state.

Comments (57)

  1. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 10/29/2014 - 08:51 am.

    Regarding Point #2

    I’d argue that the US is *much* better off because voters have the ability to split votes between parties. If a voter is both pro-union and pro-life, they have options. They can vote Dem in some elections and GOP in others, depending on where they think the policies that concern them are set. This isn’t true in a parliamentary system where you must vote for EVERYTHING that a single party stands for.
    Or they may favor one party on a state or local level while wanting the foreign policy of the other. Again, you can’t do that in the UK or France. Here in the US you can. That’s a clear advantage for the federalist approach.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/29/2014 - 09:37 am.

      Splitting votes

      I agree with your overall point, but wonder if the US is not easing towards a system of rigid party discipline that makes ticket splitting less palatable. For example, the Republican candidate for US House in the 5th District seems like a tolerably moderate Republican. If he were to be elected, would he be compelled to hew the party line on social and defense issues? Would he be voting for House leadership that would just strengthen the hands of the extreme conservatives?

      Every candidate likes to talk about “reaching across the aisle.” Is that a realistic proposition any more?

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/29/2014 - 11:10 am.

        Democrats, led by Obama, have displayed a boundless aptitude for getting their way without any GOP support.

        And you can bet that the GOP will follow suit when they retake the majority in November.

        Split tickets all you want, it’s a moot point.

        • Submitted by jason myron on 10/29/2014 - 02:00 pm.

          IF…they take the majority

          and good luck getting past the President’s veto pen.

        • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 10/29/2014 - 03:28 pm.

          Getting their way

          Let’s see, over the past six years, the right wing- mostly GOP but also with plenty of DINO support- blocked truly progressive health insurance reform like single payer or even a public option; blocked any progressive reform of the financial industry or the mortgage lending and banking industry; any reform of student lending; and blocked scores of judicial appointments and appointments to other government positions requiring Senate approval. Plus, no one has undone any of the disasters which the right wing managed to fob off during the first six years of control, like the awful Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005, completely written by the financial services industry lobbyists. The disastrous Bush tax cuts have never been repealed. Plus many more I can’t recall off hand or those which were stillborn because no one would even bother with a Congress controlled by the “Tea Party.” How has the GOP not “gotten its way” despite lacking control of the Presidency? How has the GOP not even gotten its way without even having a majority in either house of Congress for the first two years of Obama’s Presidency?

          I don’t think anyone will take your bet on what a morally and intellectually bankrupt party will do, when or if, it takes control of the Senate and House in January. Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, etc. have succeeded pretty well in shutting down the government even without such control. But the question is, will such leadership overplay its hand by impeaching Obama and removing him from office? My bet is that they will.

          Eric Black has done a terrific job in this series about elections. My only qualm is that he got the length of the election cycles wrong. This election is really the beginning of the campaign for the 2016 election for the Presidency and control of the next Congress. People are disgusted with our political system, even as they rage against anyone who dares suggest any reform. Who wouldn’t be sick of such a political system?

      • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 10/29/2014 - 02:12 pm.


        RB, I’m not sure what the future holds. We’re seeing some quiet bi-partisan moments when it comes to things like sentencing reform. I suspect that broad issues like electronic privacy will also stir up the coalitions. Time will tell.

  2. Submitted by Ken Jopp on 10/29/2014 - 09:04 am.

    You take this election stuff way too seriously

    Consider these comments from those tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorists at the Boston Globe (the elected government is just a P.R. face for the actual policy makers):

    Then there’s this disheartening research (bloodline connections that link all the U.S. presidents):

    Already in the 1950s, sociologist C. Wright Mills proposed, in The Power Elite, that our elections are a kind of theatrical production, staged to create the illusion of a working democratic system:
    “I shall attempt to show that what observers in the Progressive Era called ‘the Invisible Government’ has now become quite visible; and that what is usually taken to be the central content of politics, the pressure, and the campaigns, and the congressional maneuvering, has, in considerable part, now been relegated to the middle levels of power.”

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/29/2014 - 09:38 am.

    The question isn’t would Democrats be so upset if voter ID favored them; that answer is self evident.

    The question is, Is encouraging voting to people who’ve disenfranchised themselves from society good for the country.

    People in authority are expected to recuse themselves from deciding issues they have a financial interest in, but democrats seem to think people who vote to “get stuff” from others at no cost or effort to themselves are particularly attractive. Democrats also seem to favor voters who have no clue what they are voting for.

    That, in my opinion, is anathema to a healthy society. It’s as smugly self serving as anything else I see from the left.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/29/2014 - 10:49 am.

      The question isn’t would Republicans favor voter ID if it did not help them; that answer is self evident.

      The question is, is taking active steps to disenfranchise voters good for the country.

      People in authority are supposed to work on behalf of the voters, and elections are supposed to operate as a way for the citizenry to make sure that is happening, but Republicans seem to think people outside the demographics that have historically favored Republicans are not entitled to participate in that supervision. Republicans also seem to favor voters who have no clue what they are voting for.

      That, in my opinion, is anathema to a healthy society. It’s as smugly self serving as anything else I see from the right.

      • Submitted by E Gamauf on 10/29/2014 - 09:57 pm.

        Bam! You hit it out of the park.

        That’s a good argument you’ve made.

        Speculating what Dems would do, IF they were benefited by suppressing the vote is blatant fiction.
        It is a condition that doesn’t exist.

        It also ignores morality & the premise that everyone should be able to vote their best interest – irrespective of whether they do it well in other people’s eyes, or not.

        Whether or not the premise T Swift offers MIGHT be true – doesn’t matter.
        We KNOW the GOP is actively trying to suppress the vote: By pretending the voters they don’t like are not legitimate.

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 11/04/2014 - 08:22 am.

      Spoken by a resident of a state

      That pays far less in federal taxes than it receives in federal subsidies, ie welfare state.

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/29/2014 - 01:40 pm.

    My favorite line…

    …of the piece is, “…Of course if she really wants to demonstrate authenticity, she might have found time to mention that she is the communications director of the Alaska AFL-CIO, an organization that is supporting Begich.” Nicely done, Mr. Black!

    Peder DeFor’s point is well-taken, and an obvious plus for our admittedly inefficient system over the more efficient, but less forgiving, parliamentary system. That said, RB Holbrook also makes a valid point, I think – at least in the context of the current political dysfunction in Washington. I might vote for a thoughtful, moderate Republican, but, like numerous other species, those seem to have been exterminated in recent years.

    Mr. Swift, of course, demonstrates once again that it’s not democracy or effective government that interests him, but the very “smug self-interest” that his second comment attributes to Democrats. I don’t mean to suggest that Democrats are somehow immune to smug self-interest themselves, simply to note that Mr. Swift has demonstrated on more than one occasion that he, too (and by implication a lot of other people who like to call themselves “conservative)” can pursue that same self-interested course without blinking an eye.

    His comments about people who “get stuff” without effort, or who have no clue about what they’re voting for work equally well, and are just as stereotypical, if we substitute “Republican” and/or “conservative” for “Democrat.” I certainly agree with his disdain for those who “get stuff” at no cost or effort, as well as those voters who have no clue about what (or who) they’re voting for, but in both cases, the same language could be applied to individuals and groups favored by those who like to call themselves “conservative.”

    RB Holbrook asks the right question, “…is taking active steps to disenfranchise voters good for the country…” and I’d take it one step farther. Is disenfranchisement good for democracy? If government is supposed to be “of the people, for the people, and by the people,” shouldn’t we be making it as easy and convenient as possible for a citizen to take part in that government, rather than placing obstacles in the path?

  5. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/29/2014 - 06:53 pm.

    Some thoughts

    We are still discussing how to increase voter participation without any proof that this is good for democracy. It is of course good for the Democrats and that is why they try so hard to increase it but it doesn’t necessarily make it good for the country (however much Democrats may want to disagree). A question of course is how come Democrats have to push people so hard to participate and vote for them if those people know what’s going on and are interested in it. And if they are not, why push them to vote – isn’t it the opposite of what we want in general? Not voting is also a choice of free people.

    One more time about voter ID. It should be called “Citizenship proof” and it cannot be unconstitutional since the Constitution allows only citizens to vote; therefore, asking for eligibility proof is perfectly legal. This is a huge difference between this and a poll tax that some people like to bring up – having money is not in the Constitution but being a citizen is.

    Nor should the government do anything to help people get that proof. Voter participation costs money (one has to get to the polling station somehow to begin with) and the government is not obligated to pick that ticket. Of course, for poor people it may be cost prohibitive (they may not have a car or money for a bus ticket) but that is life and Democratic Party supporters are welcome to pay for that, the same as they can pay for citizenship proof. The government shall stay away from either encouraging or discouraging people to vote.

    By the way, the voter ID lost in Minnesota but I am sure if this was called citizenship proof, it would have won.

    • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 10/31/2014 - 11:48 am.

      There is already a registration process

      People should not be required to register every time they vote. It is just wasteful bureaucracy.

  6. Submitted by E Gamauf on 10/29/2014 - 10:06 pm.

    We need to prove participation is good?

    Aren’t you turning the very premise of this society & government on its head?

    I’ve wondered the very same thing too – whether some people just can’t be trusted to
    recognize & vote their own personal best interest.

    Democratic Republic?

    Troll Roads.
    Maybe everybody should pay to cross every bridge, every day.

  7. Submitted by Todd Adler on 10/30/2014 - 12:49 pm.

    Voter ID

    A voter ID initiative is pretty much a stillborn idea. It’s too hard for some people to get the paperwork necessary for the ID, easily lost, easily faked, and too slow to update. If the goal really is to verify people’s citizenship status, there are cheaper and easier ways to do so: electronic roster books. Easier and faster to update, can’t get lost by the user, and much tougher to counterfeit.

    Personally though, the whole verification issue looks to me like a solution looking for a problem. The instance of fraud is extremely low and, in an era of tight budgets, we have better things to spend our money on. I’ve been working as an election judge for over two decades in a first ring suburb with significant immigrant population. I’ve personally processed tens of thousands of people through the system to help them vote and I talk to my fellow judges at the training meetings. Collectively we handle an entire suburb and have processed hundreds of thousands of votes through the years.

    And you know how many in-person voter fraud cases we’ve seen?


    My fellow judges are from all political stripes: Republican, Democratic, IP, Green Party–you name it, we’ve got it. And not one person has ever brought up a case of in-person voter fraud. Let’s spend our time, energy, and money on something that really matters, not hypothetical voter fraud.

  8. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/30/2014 - 05:42 pm.

    Common sense

    If a person who has a driver’s license has a stroke, he or she may not be able to drive safely even though legally they can. Same with voting: if a person doesn’t know anything about candidates and the system, meaning that they cannot make informed decisions, they should not vote even if they have the right to do so. And most people have enough common sense to do just that. But then come the Democrats and tell them to vote anyway (for them, of course).

    Mr. Hintz, when you register people to vote, did you ask for certain documents? I hope you did because that is the law. So what is wrong with asking people to bring the same papers when they actually come to vote?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/30/2014 - 08:26 pm.

      That’s the point of requiring registration

      Once you have documented your eligibility to vote in that location, all you have to do to vote is verify your identity according to the law.
      As Todd points out — there is no evidence that voter impersonation is a problem.
      And remember, voting is a constitutional right; possessing a driver’s license is not. False analogy.

      And using your logic, I could claim that since by my standards your arguments demonstrate your lack of proper reasoning, YOU should not be allowed to vote.

      Again, as Eric has pointed out, in most democracies (which function at least as well as ours) people trust their votes to parties more than they do to individuals. If someone wishes to do that in the United States and vote for a particular party’s candidates, trusting that they will represent them better than the opposing party’s candidates, that is their constitutional right.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 10/31/2014 - 06:54 am.

      I don’t think you

      understand what the word “registration” means. The documents are provided upon registration, so we don’t have to drag birth certificates around. Your “papers please” idea of voting sounds straight out of a totalitarian playbook.

      • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 10/31/2014 - 08:10 am.

        Papers Please

        This would be a much more convincing argument if we weren’t asked for our ‘papers’ for such common-place things as taking a flight or buying cold medicine. Asking for photo ID is fairly common in other countries. Certainly not an indication of totalitarianism.
        Please retire this tired talking point.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/31/2014 - 09:40 am.

          Last time I took a flight

          all I needed was picture ID (proof of identity):
          passport or drivers license.
          Not a whole packet of documentation.
          And yes, other countries with different constitutions (or no constitutions) require national identity cards.
          Again, a very mixed history of links to totalitarian governments.

          • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 10/31/2014 - 03:30 pm.

            Picture ID

            I believe that a driver’s license or passport would be sufficient ID under any proposed (or implemented) voter ID law. That puts it on par.

            • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 10/31/2014 - 04:55 pm.

              The Republicans have been alleging that

              the Democrats persuade large numbers of illegal immigrants and other non-citizens to vote. (I suspect that it is a pre-emptive excuse for a possible loss.) I know four or five former non-citizens who took U.S. citizenship precisely so they could vote against George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. They did not attempt to vote before.

              Yet I would ask you to take a look at your driver’s license. Where does it say that you are U.S. citizen?

              A passport proves citizenship, but it does not prove one’s current address. You just write your current address in the given space with a pencil. Besides, a passport costs $135, which is serious money for a low-income person and especially for anyone who for any reason does not travel outside the country.

              • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 11/01/2014 - 03:53 pm.


                Karen, you may be referencing this report:

                If you don’t click through, the study says that through self-reporting, there is reason to believe that a couple of percent of non-citizens in the US vote in each election. Enough of them, that they could have tipped an election like the 2008 Franken election. And before anyone jumps on me, I know that there has been pushback, especially in the size of the numbers. I’m not treating this as authoritative, but it shouldn’t be ignored either. I’d recommend the MinnPost article but somehow I can’t find one… Strange.

                I’m not sure what to do here. This is a real thing, notice here:
                But we don’t really know what the numbers are. Groups that have compared voter lists to jury refusals (due to being non-citizens) keep finding matches. I suppose we could just pretend it isn’t happening and, using the logic of this article, I’ll just point out that one party really seems to have figured that there is an advantage in doing just that.
                I DON’T want to get to a point where people are bring passports and birth certificates to polling places. That’s too much and would definitely wipe out actual, legitimate voters. The WaPo suggests that education would help. The Austin story says that the brothers said they were confused. Maybe that would do it. Perhaps a different color coding on driver’s license for non-citizens? I’m not sure.

                I very much do think that the questions are worth asking.

                • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/02/2014 - 09:47 am.

                  Another number

                  The margin of error of elections has been cited as 4%
                  (sorry; I saw it a while ago so I don’t have a citation).
                  That is, if you repeated an election a day later, there’s enough variability in the process so the results could differ by as much as 4%.
                  In other words: a difference of less than 4% is functionally a tie.
                  So “a couple of percent of non-citizens in the US vote(ing) in each election would be within the margin or error of the process — so not meaningful.
                  Still not desirable, since it’s just one more factor muddying up an imperfect process, but not something that you could blame losing an election on (as some people seem wont to do).

              • Submitted by E Gamauf on 11/02/2014 - 08:36 am.

                I NEVER see the GOP clamoring to GIVE everyone papers!

                The big tell in this
                is that the GOP is not interested in documenting people.

                They are ONLY interested in de-legitimizing blocks of people who might vote against them.

                Never has anyone in the GOP presented a serious plan to make sure every citizen has
                an opportunity to BE “documented” at NO EXPENSE, or to make voting easy for people in hardship.

                That pretty well speaks their intention.
                Hardly a one-person, one-vote democracy at all.

            • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 11/04/2014 - 04:19 pm.

              Poor people

              May not own cars and rarely have passports. What a joke!

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/31/2014 - 10:19 am.

          The Analogy

          You analogy about buying cold medicine (actually, just the narcotic stuff, or things that can be used to make meth) doesn’t hold water.

          What happens to the polity if I can’t buy Sudafed? Nothing much.

          What happens to American democracy if I can’t fly to Detroit? Little, if anything.

          What happens if people are systematically denied the right to vote? Yes, systematically:

          • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 10/31/2014 - 03:51 pm.

            Culling Voter Lists

            I’m tempted to take a page from further down page and ask you for an alternate, more reliable source but I’ll pass.

            Culling voter lists is a legitimate action for states to take. This is a problem if it can’t be fixed of course, but I don’t think that’s the case here. Georgia has an ID law so if a voter shows up with a valid ID, there’s no problem. (I don’t know if that’s the case in VA or not.)
            Anyway, check back with me in a couple of weeks with proof that there was a problem here and I’ll certainly listen.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/31/2014 - 05:10 pm.


              If you’ve ever watched Al Jazeera, you would know it is more reliable than any of the other cable networks (I include MSNBC, even though I seldom watch it and really can’t judge).

              The issue with the culling is who is being culled. The names being targeted are “Democratic souding” names, or ethnic (non-white) names. That has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the ballot and everything to do with rigging the system.

              • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 11/01/2014 - 03:37 pm.

                Re: Culling

                RB, let’s take a look and see what happens. Voter lists aren’t going to be restored to the pre-culled state before Tuesday. If by the beginning of December, we don’t have stories of thousands of disenfranchised voters, then this story was a big nothing. Or at least hundreds, right? If a couple of dozen people had to cast a provisional ballot, I’m not going to shed a tear. It certainly wouldn’t qualify as ‘rigging the system’.

    • Submitted by Jon Lord on 11/01/2014 - 04:08 pm.


      If it were true, that a person shouldn’t vote if they no nothing about the candidates and the system, it would end up mostly hurting conservatives. Most conservatives are single issue voters that largely ignore that which they aren’t interested in. It’s for this reason they can easily ignore that Ebola is best handled by a health system that covers everyone. In order to connect the dots you have to be aware of them.

      If the states ask for special documentation before voting then all due effort should be put forth to document all US citizens. Surely since we do this, we should be able to make those records easily available. Indeed, each citizen should receive that proof when they reach voting age even if it duplicates what they received at birth. And in a free country…it should be free!

  9. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 10/31/2014 - 08:17 am.


    There is a darker side to this wish that more people voted. If someone does not wish to vote, I think that most people respect that wish. They might ask ‘why not’, though even that seems rather personal. So, efforts like this strike me as very creepy:

    This shows the overreach that modern data has made possible. I don’t know that there is any good legal approach to stopping this but I hope that some good old fashion shaming will help.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/31/2014 - 09:47 am.

      Have you got a better source than the New York Post

      which is not what it was when I was growing up in the Bronx 60 years ago.
      Note that the article does not include a photo of a note.
      And the cited Demos are correct in saying that identifying the voting records of party members (or those who have volunteered party affiliation) is a common practice nationally. Certainly it is done in Minnesota. It’s called ‘getting out the vote’.
      When you go out door knocking you don’t waste your time on people who would probably vote against your party — you try to encourage those who have indicated support in the past. We even offer transportation to the polls — again legal as long as you stay out of the voting booth.

      • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 10/31/2014 - 03:46 pm.

        Other Source

        Paul, I did see a picture earlier but I don’t remember where. I’m not against GOTV efforts but this one crosses the line of respectability. A reminder to vote is fine. A suggestion of future discussions if you don’t vote sounds ominous. Not ok.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/31/2014 - 06:57 pm.

          A discussion

          is ominous?
          Without prejudice, the statement can be read simply as
          “we’re curious why you choose not to vote”
          It does not necessarily imply negative consequences — it is not a threat.

          • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 11/01/2014 - 03:41 pm.


            Yes, it’s ominous. If they’d said that they would welcome comments from people that didn’t vote that would be fine. Suggesting that they’d be paying them a visit or badger them on the phone crosses the line.
            It’s amazing that people can think that campaign advertising is too manipulative but telling people that you’re keeping on tabs on whether they voted is somehow neutral. Unreal.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/31/2014 - 10:15 am.


      Governor Cuomo’s people deny they are behind it, but I’m skeptical. That man has no shame (I liked his Dad, though).

      • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 10/31/2014 - 03:43 pm.

        Who’s Behind it?

        I have no idea though I hope someone looks into it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a related interest group with more money than sense. That’s the way I’d bet. I’d simply like some pushback from this kind of micro-targeting.

  10. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/31/2014 - 07:53 pm.

    Finally, an agreement

    Paul Brandon said: “Once you have documented your eligibility to vote in that location, all you have to do to vote is verify your identity according to the law.” Wait, that is exactly what Republicans want – people to bring a document to verify their identity, just as Mr. Brandon suggests. I am glad we are all on the same page! Obviously a driver’s license will be OK so Mr. Brandon may bring it with him just as he takes it to an airport. And I never wanted to check people’s ability for logical reasoning..

    The documents shall be provided upon registration, as Mr. Myron agreed. So why is it so difficult to bring them for voting – they do not weigh a lot or printed on 24×36 sheet of paper…What does it have to do with totalitarianism?

    Ms. Sandness says that driver’s license doesn’t prove citizenship; it doesn’t matter because it is enough for registration so it must be enough for voting. (For those who don’t know, the State verifies citizenship upon registration.) I also wonder if those four non-citizens became citizens three times to vote against all three evil Republicans in three different elections…

    RB Holbrook: Please come up with more reliable resource than AlJazeera. They think America is the source of all evil in the world so their bias is obvious…

    I said before and can repeat it here: If people don’t want to vote, they should be left alone so all voter drives (literally, too – “providing transportation”) are morally wrong. And this is exactly what Democrats are doing – dragging people to voting stations where they will obviously vote Democratic; do they stop in a restaurant on the way, too? Again, relying on the votes of those who don’t want to vote is a weird political strategy to win, to say the least…

  11. Submitted by jason myron on 11/01/2014 - 02:02 pm.

    Who says that they don’t want to vote?

    That’s like saying homeless people accepting food or clothing on the street didn’t want to eat or stay warm. You make it sound like Democrats are dragging people out of their homes to vote…it’s ludicrous.
    Once again, you can cloak it in as much disingenuous babble as you want, but the fact is that you are attempting to stop people that you don’t like from voting. In the past week, numerous examples of the GOP sending out false, confusing information to voters have surfaced. The GOP simply can’t win elections when the turnout is high…plain and simple.
    You don’t get to decide who votes and who doesn’t…Got it?

  12. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/01/2014 - 05:52 pm.


    Mr. Lord gets into a typical (for Democrats) contradictory reasoning: Conservative voters are uninformed (just because they vote Republican) but we should bring in more voters because it helps Democrats. So who are those Democratic voters who are forced to vote – the informed ones? But then why wouldn’t they vote without Democratic prodding?

    Mr. Brandon, that article you referred to doesn’t suggest that voters are being chauffeured to the poll stations… But anyway, I am glad you agreed with me on photo ID…

    Mr. Myron, “dragging” may have some shades. Sure, Democrats do not force people under the gun to go and vote but coming to people’s houses, convincing them to go to vote and then offering them a ride to the polling station (as Mr. Brandon admitted Democrats are doing) is, for all practical purposes, dragging. If I don’t want to go to a restaurant and my friend wants me to go, barging into my house without invitation and then offering a ride is pretty much dragging… It is interesting that Mr. Brandon used a word “legal” describing these actions; my guess is that he understands that it is not very nice.

    And of course homeless people have to eat to stay alive; otherwise many would not have accepted that. Voting is not a life necessity so it is different. And one more time: I am not attempting to stop anyone from voting – I just want people to decide for themselves. Democrats, on the other hand, want to force people to vote. And there are plenty of examples for that.

    And your last sentence, Mr. Myron, is just plain impolite…

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/02/2014 - 09:37 pm.

      You’re very good at

      reading things into people’s statements that aren’t there.

      • Submitted by Jon Lord on 11/03/2014 - 07:03 am.


        Yes he is isn’t he! He interprets things how he wants to, but not what’s actually stated.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/04/2014 - 08:21 pm.

          The meaning of the word “be”

          “Once you have documented your eligibility to vote in that location, all you have to do to vote is verify your identity according to the law,” – Mr. Brandon said. How else can you interpret this statement but that identification is required before vote? I am lost here so tell me what you meant, please.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 11/03/2014 - 09:16 am.

      “Impoliteness, in the defense of liberty, is no vice.”

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/03/2014 - 09:37 am.

      Plain impolite

      Is that how the kids are saying “spot on accurate” these days?

  13. Submitted by Matt Haas on 11/02/2014 - 03:47 pm.

    You’ve obviously never took part in a campaign

    The folks visiting homes, also known as door knocking, are in general volunteers, or the candidates themselves. I have been one, so I know of what I speak. GOTV is the same, no barging in, no pressure, rides are offered to those, generally the elderly, who have less than adequate transportation. Its a voluntary service. I know I know, sounds exactly like the KGB right? But I suppose being to old to drive, or not having nearby family to assist disqualifies one as an “informed” voter in your eyes right?

  14. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/02/2014 - 04:50 pm.

    A question

    Mr. Haas, informed voter will do everything by mail without stepping a foot out of the house… I also wonder if you will offer transportation if a person tells you that he or she will vote Republican… I guess you will not care much in this case about letting people exercise their right to vote.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 11/02/2014 - 07:40 pm.

      Yes I would

      Most homes visited have already been identified. But its not like we would tell someone, oh we can’t take your spouse too because we don’t know their preference. I don’t know who you think these boogeymen are, but for the most part people taking part in get out the vote drives are average run of the mill folks like you and I (I’ll be generous for the sake of civility). As for the mail, have you ever voted absentee? Its not quite the simple process you describe and as we don’t live in Oregon, requires at least one trip from the home. I’ll ask again, does being homebound, or lacking reliable transportation to the voting booth (think rural, hey there’s a lot of conservatives out there) make one incompetent to vote in your eyes? If not, ending the practices you describe amounts to nothing more than simple, coldly tactical, disenfranchisement. It has no place in our society, and as someone who has obviously taken great pains to get here, it saddens me that you believe it should.

    • Submitted by Jon Lord on 11/03/2014 - 07:23 am.

      I assume

      you, as an assumed informed voter mailed in your votes? What documentation did you provide? Does this sound familiar? “Mr. Gutman, please provide us with all your documentation that proves that you are a citizen of this country!”

  15. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/03/2014 - 08:37 pm.

    Minnesota nice

    Mr. Haas, I appreciate your good intentions and of course being homebound or lacking transportation has nothing to do with competency. And I have absolutely nothing against helping people to get to voting places (even though I still think it is possible to vote without getting out – order by mail and send by mail). But, in my mind, informed voters will ask for help, and surely party volunteers will help. I still believe that those who want to vote will find the ways. And if you have to come and prompt them to vote, it stops being a free will action.

    Now, we live in “Minnesota nice” (and election results are mostly known here anyway) but I can almost guarantee that in many places (big cities, mostly) those taking place in voting drive will not take anyone to the polls who they may think will vote the opposite party – it’s just life and politics and they are dirty.

    Mr. Lord, I have nothing against someone asking me to show my passport in reasonable places, when it proves my eligibility for something I want and eligible and others are not, the same as I do not mind when they question me at the airport…

  16. Submitted by Jon Lord on 11/05/2014 - 09:08 am.


    So you didn’t have to prove your citizenship when you mailed in your vote…you are happy with that as a citizen of the US of A, but at the same time you say you don’t like that you didn’t have to provide proof.

    Mr. Gutman…explain please!

  17. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/05/2014 - 06:38 pm.


    Mr. Lord, I never voted by mail – always in person. I had to show either my naturalization certificate or my passport when I first registered and I would not mind at all if I needed to show those documents again (or my driver’s license) when I actually come to vote. I do not see any contradiction here.

    I actually contacted the Secretary of State office and it looks like the State is the one taking care of citizenship verification during registration process, However, there is currently no way to verify who actually comes to vote (unless someone will notice the wrong person) and that is why it would be helpful to ask people to bring something to the polls (and it is also entirely legal and discriminatory).

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