Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The No Enumeration Election System

American election laws were once the freest and most open in the world. They were one of the first countries to get rid property qualifications. In 1850 when nearly all white american men could vote only about 1/7 of British men could vote. The Reform act of 1832 gave the vote to men who paid at least £50 in rent. In today's terms, based average incomes, that is monthly rent between $4K to $7K . That was then. After the high point of democracy that was also witnessed deTocqueville came their civil war, reconstruction and desire by the losers to keep blacks down. Since there was no legal way to disenfranchise many other dubious methods were tried, see Jim Crow.

Today the yanks have among the lowest voter participation rate in the world. They have registration. The discusion on Talk of the Nation was about Carter-Baker Commision on Federal Election Reform. One of the recomendation of the commision was the requirement for photo ID for voting and registration. There were 2 members of the commission in on the discssion. One, a Spencer Overton, and here, talked about the systemic barriers to voting now and the further burden of photo ID as a requirement for those without drivers licences or passports. He suggests that everyone should be given IDs first and then have the requirement for them. He so disagreed with the finding that he wrote his own minority report, available here. Another commisson member, Sharon Priest, considered the whole idea of going door to door to build up a voters list a waste of time. If people don't take an interest in their local affairs and go to effort to vote they shouldn't depend on the government to help them. She then outlined all the steps for enumeration explaining that it is crazy government interference. Unfortunately Canada doesn't do enumeration during elections anymore. But it still the best way to maintain a voter's list. With no door-to-door enumeration the voter's list for home owners remains more complete than for the more mobile/transient renters.

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