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News from the Votemaster

Ohio Eliminates Early Voting on Sundays

Ohio secretary of state Jon Husted has decided to eliminate early voting on the two Sundays before election day. No doubt he is aware of the "Souls to the polls" drives from many black churches after Sunday services. His move effectively eliminates this program. By making it much harder for blacks to vote, Husted has decreased the Democratic vote and thus helped Republicans across the board in Ohio.

Earlier in the week, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) signed a bill cutting six days off the early voting as well as reducing hours on other days. Clearly the plan here is to do everything to reduce the turnout for the Democrats in urban areas. None of this has anything to do with voter fraud or saving money. It is entirely political.

Other states are using voter ID laws to suppress turnout, nominally to reduce voting fraud, which is essentially nonexistent for in-person voting although there is a little bit for absentee voting (which these laws don't touch). Even if there were a lot of voting fraud, there are ways to fight it that do not disenfranchise poor voters. One method used by other countries is to have the government send a card to every registered voter a few weeks before the election saying where the polling place is. The voter is instructed to bring the card, which serves as proof that the voter is registered. In some places the cards contain high-tech anticounterfeiting technology, such as holograms. It is also possible to include on the card a digital photo of the voter, taken at the time the voter registered. To make this even more bulletproof, the card could contain a random number, different for each voter and each election and known to the poll workers, to make it harder to forge the cards. A scheme like this would make it virtually impossible for anyone to vote fraudulently and would not disadvantage people without government-issued ID. But, of course, the real purpose of the voter ID laws is precisely to make it harder for poor people, who disproportionately do not have drivers licenses or passports, to vote.

A recent study from Harvard and the University of Sydney confirms this. The U.S. ranked 26th in electoral integrity, a broad measure of flawed elections, including factors such as voter registration and campaign finance. An example of a flaw in the U.S. system that other countries don't have is the requirement in some states to present a voter ID card. The card is usually free but the birth certificate needed to get it is not free, so if you don't have a drivers license (not free) or a passport (not free), you may have to effectively pay to vote. De facto, this is poll tax. For this and many other reasons, no Western country scored lower than the U.S. in the study.

Travis Childers to Run for the Senate in Mississippi

The day before the filing deadline, former representative Travis Childers (D) filed to run for the Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS). Normally, no Democrat would have a chance in Mississippi, but this year special circumstances give Childers at least an outside shot.

The circumstances are that state senator Chris McDaniel (R) is challenging Cochran, a six-term senator. Virtually every tea party organization in the country is backing McDaniel. Some people think this race might be a rerun of the 2012 Indiana Republican Senate primary, in which a tea party candidate, Richard Mourdock, challenged and defeated six-term senator Richard Lugar in the Republican primary. Mourdock went on to make some inflammatory comments about women and lost the general election. If McDaniel wins the primary and then also makes outrageous comments of one kind or another. Childers might have a chance. Still, Mississippi is much redder than Indiana, so the Republicans are nevertheless favored to hold the seat.

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---The Votemaster
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