Saturday, November 01, 2008

States' rights

George Bush's final radio address before the election, in which he never mentioned John McCain --

The United States was founded on the belief that all men are created equal. Every Election Day, millions of Americans of all races, religions, and backgrounds step into voting booths throughout the Nation. Whether they are rich or poor, old or young, each of them has an equal share in choosing the path that our country will take. And every ballot they cast is a reminder that our founding principles are alive and well.

It's quite an achievement to be so bland and yet so wrong. Americans do not have an equal share in choosing the political path of the country. The mechanics of elections are determined by individual states, so citizens vote using very different methods and under very different conditions depending on where they live. And because of the electoral college, the weight of a vote (if successfully cast) is vastly different depending where a person lives. For example, votes in Ohio or Florida are worth far more than in California because the former states are so finely balanced.

In fact, the variation in voting rights is more extensive than just across states, because states in turn delegate the operation of voting to counties. One of the few times this was deemed to create inequality among voters was when the federal equal protection clause of the constitution was used to stop the state of Florida's recount in the 2000 election, because of the differing standards that counties would use in the recount. The differing standards that they had used in designing their ballots was never addressed. And that was the beginning of the 8 years of disaster.

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