11.2.08 VIPs Comment

Early Voting

A local elected official for whom I have the utmost respect called me yesterday to argue against early voting.  I had written in my Voter Guide that “there are no credible arguments against this measure,” but I wanted to hear him out.

Two of his points echoed those made by Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher a week ago:

·     The communitarian argument, whereby voting is a civic celebration in which something valuable is gained by all of us doing it together

·     The late-surprise argument, where the candidate gets indicted or the financial system melts down after voting starts.

As for the first, election campaigns do indeed create a communitarian experience for those directly involved and passionately interested, but how long voting takes place makes not a whit of difference to them.  For everyone else, waiting in long lines, dealing with overwhelmed facilities, and juggling multiple responsibilities on a workday hardly constitute an occasion of community building.

The late-surprise argument has some merit.  But last-minute indictments (and other surprises) are rare.  Even with something major like the financial meltdown, its occurrence a few days before Election Day would confuse voters but would be unlikely to change the dynamics of a race at a very late date, since voters would not have time to process it. 

At most, the concern about voter regret due to late surprises suggests a case for shorter early-voting periods (say, two weeks or less) but is hardly convincing enough to oppose early voting entirely

My friend did raise one point that made me stop and think: underfunded down-ticket challengers may be disadvantaged by having to pour their limited resources into capturing attention earlier and for a longer period of time.  I can see his point on this, but question whether a challenger who has been unable to gain any traction by the final couple of weeks of a campaign will succeed in doing so with (for example) a single mailing in the last week.  Also, as early voting becomes the norm, the whole system (including underfunded local challengers and newspaper editorial boards) will adjust, changing to-do lists to meet earlier deadlines.

I still come down solidly on the side of early voting.



Takoma Park City Councilman Reuben Snipper left the following comment on the Voter Guide post:

I think the argument against the slot constitutional amendment can be made stronger.  First, it should not be a constitutional amendment!  It is being done this way solely to make it harder to change later.  Our constitution should not be filled up with the level of detail in the amendment, such as the exact location of the slots.  What if we want to change the location — we will have to amend the constitution to do it!

Second, the money for education, however much that will be, won’t appear until several years down the road.  We need the money now, therefore cuts will be made or taxes raised now to do what has to be done.

Third, this is to fund education, not something optional.  If we believe in funding education, we all should step up to the plate and fund education, not push it off onto someone else.  I ask myself, would I fund the police with slots?  No, of course, not.

I couldn’t agree more and always appreciate feedback that frames my argument better than I have!


Robin Ficker Weighs In

The “anti-tax zealot” himself took time out from trying to ruin our way of life to let your Blogger know what he thinks (he also left his comment on the Voter Guide post):

This blog is part of the effort to throw homeowners under the bus and get elected by getting a majority of the 10% of all voters who vote in the Democratic primary.  We got a 14% property tax increase this year and will get a 15% to 20% increase this year.  Vote FOR B!  Save Our Homes!

Poor Mr. Ficker, he really does want to move to Alabama, but all those awful tax increases have left him without the bus fare!

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3 Comments on “11.2.08 VIPs Comment”

  1. Robin Ficker Says:

    Senator Obama, who wants to give a tax cut to 95% of working Americans would boo Montgomery County officials who have in the last year been responsible for increases in property, energy, sales, income, car, corporate, and development taxes and water, Metro, electricity and speed camera fees. Vote FOR B to prevent an even larger property tax increase next year.


  2. Sonja Kueppers Says:

    Keith, thanks for doing this again. It’s very helpful.

    I read Mr. Ficker’s response to your blog with some puzzlement — it was sufficiently incoherent that it took me a couple of minutes to figure out what he was trying to say, and I’m still confused about part of it.

    I generally find that knowing Mr. Ficker sponsored a ballot measure is all I need to know to vote against it!

    Regarding slots, I’m actually in favor of legalizing gambling — I see no particular state interest in preventing people from spending their money at the roulette wheel if they so choose. What I don’t like is gambling implemented specifically as a source of revenue for the state, which is why I will be voting against this ill-conceived amendment.


  3. Keith Berner Says:

    Response to Sonja: It’s amusing to see how incoherent Ficker is. I heard from him again today with an email claiming that Obama would approve of Question B.

    As for gambling, I’m not in favor of outlawing it. I’m just not in favor of the state’s being in the business of stealing from the poor.


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