Thursday, June 23, 2005


Last night, Howard Dean clutched at a report on Ohio's electoral process, misrepresenting that report as "proving" that Republicans in Ohio worked to disenfranchise black voters.

According to the report, the systemic problems plaguing Ohio's voting process included: voter suppression, negligent and poorly trained election officials, long lines, problems with registration status, polling locations, absentee ballots and provisional ballots, and unlawful identification requirements at the polls.

Dean suggested the report backed up his claim that Republicans worked actively to suppress the African-American vote.

Here's what I don't understand. Follow me. By and large, black voters vote Democratic and, by and large, black voters live in Democratic precincts. Who runs elections in Democratic precincts? Well, it's certainly not the Republican Party. Thus, if there were "negligent and poorly trained election officials, long lines, problems with registration, polling locations [and] unlawful identification requirements" it would be whose fault? That's right. The Democrats. In short, Dean contends that Republicans are responsible for the ass-backwards manner in which the Democratic Party runs its elections -- "it's your fault we can't run our elections." If blacks had to stand in long lines (woe and ill-tidings) it is the Democrats' fault.

What Dean is really railing against is the disparity created by the fact that Republicans do their electoral jobs so much better than Democrats. He would apparently prefer a world in which all were equally incompetent -- if the lines are long for everyone, it's fair; if everyone is equally 'disenfranchised', no one is.

Well, maybe instead of tossing around specious charges of disenfranchisement, the Democrats should actually fix what's broken in their problem precincts. If they don't, there's one sure way for blacks and other urban populations to ensure a smoother voting process -- vote for their local Republicans. The next election can easily be the last election in which anyone needs to wait in a long line to be helped by a negligent and poorly trained elections official.