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Abolish the Secret Ballot
The Atlantic ^ | July/August 2012 | Sara Issenburg

Posted on 06/26/2012 3:45:45 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic

For the United States’ first century, Americans elected their leaders in full view of their neighbors, gathering on courthouse steps to announce their votes orally or hand a distinctive preprinted ballot or unfolded marked paper to a clerk. Such a public process made elections ripe for bribes and threats, although the scene around American polling places never matched Australia’s, where a population of criminals and goldbugs made electoral intimidation something of a democratic pastime. To end such shenanigans, each of Australia’s colonies began shifting to a secret ballot during the 1850s, and in 1872 England followed suit.

A decade and a half later, the reform crossed the Atlantic. Louisville, Kentucky, enacted a so-called Australian ballot in 1888, and 32 states did the same by 1892—over the objections of machine politicians. By the turn of the century, most of the country had changed the public spectacle of Election Day into a solemn occasion for curtained isolation. This shift coincided with a dramatic drop in turnout rates, from nearly 80 percent of the eligible population in 1896—which had been typical for the era—to 65 percent eight years later.

They have never recovered, falling to around 50 percent in 1996.

As modern civic activists have tried to increase turnout, their focus has been on reducing the hassle of participation. The most-successful reforms of the past decade, however—early in-person voting, “no excuse” absentee ballots, elections entirely by mail—appear not to have lured new people to the polls so much as merely made it more convenient for regular voters to cast their ballots.

What actually works is mimicking some part of the 19th century’s surveillance culture. The most effective tool for turning nonvoters into voters—10 times better than the typical piece of preelection mail, according to a 2006 Michigan experiment—is a threat to send neighbors

(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: history; turnout
Liberals are always focusing on turn-out. I think that is the wrong focus. We should want voters who are informed and engaged.
1 posted on 06/26/2012 3:45:51 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

Thanks afraidfortherepublic.


2 posted on 06/26/2012 3:53:17 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
This shift coincided with a dramatic drop in turnout rates, from nearly 80 percent of the eligible population in 1896—which had been typical for the era—to 65 percent eight years later.

They have never recovered, falling to around 50 percent in 1996.


Wow. Talk about post hoc ergo propter hoc.

By that reasoning, having numerous precincts, multi-language ballots and extended hours also reduced turnout.

The main reasons turnout reduced is because access to the franchise was extended to larger groups of people (non-real property owners, 18 year-olds, etc. [I exclude women as a group because they vote ion greater proportion than the population at large]).

Another reason is that many offices just represent way too many people. It is one thing to vote for a mayor or a state rep or a congressman in a small town and state, but a Congressman today represents what would have been the population of several states in the 1850s.

The premise of the article is silly. In the era of the New Black Panthers and the SEIU, more than a little dangerous.
3 posted on 06/26/2012 3:53:17 AM PDT by Dr. Sivana ("You forget, it isn't who you claim, but instead, who claims you. We don't claim you!")
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To: afraidfortherepublic
We should want voters who are informed and engaged.

Indeed. Its sad how few people have a clue what their own congressman does every day. Every day I see comments in the local paper complaining that our congressman doesn't do anything based on the lack of news stories or major speeches.
4 posted on 06/26/2012 3:53:17 AM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

this is how zer0 got nominated in Iowa and never looked back. like the stupid caucuses where the individual lost out to group mentality which resulted in “we are required to vote for the Black Man” groupthink...

no, Atlantic ‘Commie’ Monthly, .....America is about Rugged Individualism....not the commune mentality.


5 posted on 06/26/2012 3:57:38 AM PDT by Vaquero (Don't pick a fight with an old guy. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.)
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To: Vaquero
group mentality which resulted in “we are required to vote for the Black Man” groupthink...

I'm not voting for Mitt Romney. Now watch what happens.
6 posted on 06/26/2012 4:06:28 AM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Cardcheck goes national.

The author is an idiot.


7 posted on 06/26/2012 4:06:32 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (The Democratic Party strongly supports full civil rights for necro-Americans!)
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To: Vaquero

Reminds me of card check.


8 posted on 06/26/2012 4:07:00 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

New England town government is by town meeting, in all six New England states. You vote by raising your hand, your vote is counted by a “teller”, a vote counter, who enumerates the number of hands he (or she) sees raised for yea, or nay. Turn out tends to light and special interest groups dominate.

That’s how Concord, MA, voted to ban the sale of bottled water in containers smaller than one liter.


9 posted on 06/26/2012 4:11:29 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (The Democratic Party strongly supports full civil rights for necro-Americans!)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

This is a threat....pure and simple.


10 posted on 06/26/2012 4:11:44 AM PDT by mo (If you understand, no explanation is needed. If you don't understand, no explanation is possible.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
Where I vote most of the poll workers are retired teachers and school board members.

I always make a point to tell them exactly how I voted, against every liberal running and every property tax millage.

11 posted on 06/26/2012 4:17:10 AM PDT by Beagle8U (Free Republic -- One stop shopping ....... It's the Conservative Super WalMart for news .)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Oregon’s all mail-in. The secret ballot is long gone. I now hear from friends about ‘parties’ where the ticket is a properly filled out ballot. They verify the ballot, take it from you, and then mail it in. You get to enjoy a nice lunch for your effort.

The liberals are almost where they want to be.


12 posted on 06/26/2012 4:17:35 AM PDT by BobL
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To: afraidfortherepublic
"The most effective tool for turning nonvoters into voters—10 times better than the typical piece of preelection mail, according to a 2006 Michigan experiment—is a threat to send neighbors evidence of one’s apathy."

Need a ride to the polls, comrade?

13 posted on 06/26/2012 4:25:16 AM PDT by SnuffaBolshevik (In a tornado, even turkeys can fly.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
Exactly right. Liberals love turnout because there are more of the uninformed than there are of the informed, there are nore of the uninvolved than the involved, and these are the type that think the government should “do something about whatever their problem is.
14 posted on 06/26/2012 4:25:58 AM PDT by chesley (God's chosen instrument - the trumpet)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

They do that in Wisconsin to set school district budgets. Hardly anybody knows that it is happening. When I go to those meetings, I see District personnel taking head counts, and suddenly an influx of people shows up just before the vote is taken. The School District always get their tax increase. The last couple of meetings I’ve attended, they don’t even ask for ID. The room is filled with teachers and students. They just count the show of hands.

At the last election we managed to get a couple out “outsiders” elected. Methinks things will change. At least our folks are going to try asking those atending to prove that they live within the district and are over 18.


15 posted on 06/26/2012 4:33:47 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: cripplecreek

I am not voting for him either... action... reaction.

LLS


16 posted on 06/26/2012 4:37:08 AM PDT by LibLieSlayer (Don't Tread On Me)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

The article refers to political corruption caused by “criminals and goldbugs.”

A goldbug is an old term for a believer in hard money via the gold standard. How does this corrupt elections? Obvious prejudice or ignorance by the author!

One could better argue that the free silver movement, advocating inflationism, was much more demagogic, band therefore much more corrupting.


17 posted on 06/26/2012 4:54:46 AM PDT by docbnj
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To: afraidfortherepublic

The article refers to political corruption caused by “criminals and goldbugs.”

A goldbug is an old term for a believer in hard money via the gold standard. How does this corrupt elections? Obvious prejudice or ignorance by the author!

One could better argue that the free silver movement, advocating inflationism, was much more demagogic, band therefore much more corrupting.


18 posted on 06/26/2012 4:55:22 AM PDT by docbnj
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To: afraidfortherepublic

The author mentions the Australian (or secret) ballot, but does not mention that today in Australia people are fined for not voting.

This would not work in the US, because we would not collect the fines. It would not be worth it to track down all the no-shows.

Not voting is as much a freedom as voting. I have always voted, but not always for every race on the ballot. Sometimes not voting is an expression of opinion.

It is wrong to think of the election process as a sanctification of state activity. It is merely a possible check on state activity. There is no way that a few elections can make the people really in control of all the millions of decisions made by government. The only way to freedom is strict limitation of the state.

An electorate can ruin a country just as easily as can a bad monarch, or a dictatorship. It all depends on the character of the people.

This is why free elections in Egypt will not bring anything desirable: no freedom; no order; no justice; no prosperity. You cannot built on a corrupt foundation.

No moslem country successfully runs as a democracy. Not one.


19 posted on 06/26/2012 5:09:52 AM PDT by docbnj
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bump for later


20 posted on 06/26/2012 5:26:19 AM PDT by foreverfree
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To: afraidfortherepublic

I think voting is like singing; no one who feels they shouldn’t do it should be encouraged to do it. If you don’t have it in you to vote without prodding, you shouldn’t vote.


21 posted on 06/26/2012 5:31:00 AM PDT by muir_redwoods (Legalize Freedom!!)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
"...the threat to send neighbors to shame them into voting..."

Shame has become an archaic concept.

22 posted on 06/26/2012 5:47:41 AM PDT by Jumpmaster (Defund the Left!)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

They appear to be a bit schitzophrenic on this.

They don’t like the Australian Secret Ballot. But they appear to have fallen in love with the Australian “voting is mandaroty” laws.

In Oz one has to provide proof that they voted in order to collect on any sort of government benefit. If they implement that here Democrats will win an unending series of landslide victories.

Of course Card Check and the Ballot Box would have similar effects.


23 posted on 06/26/2012 6:20:39 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: SunkenCiv

Very scary stuff. This would be Card Check for the ballot box.

A mark of their desperation though that they apparently feel their only way to win in the future is to screw with our electoral system. This idea would have been laughed out of the room just a few short years ago.


24 posted on 06/26/2012 6:30:07 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: afraidfortherepublic
For the United States’ first century, Americans elected their leaders in full view of their neighbors, gathering on courthouse steps to announce their votes orally or hand a distinctive preprinted ballot or unfolded marked paper to a clerk. Such a public process made elections ripe for bribes and threats, although the scene around American polling places never matched Australia’s, where a population of criminals and goldbugs made electoral intimidation something of a democratic pastime.

The author correctly recounts history.

Then, having established that open ballots were rife with intimidation, violence, bribes, and other criminal acts, she suggests we would want to return to this time.

We need to start collecting names for the final days.

25 posted on 06/26/2012 6:37:27 AM PDT by Lazamataz (People who resort to Godwin's Law are just like Hitler.)
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mark


26 posted on 06/26/2012 6:51:15 AM PDT by EBH (Obama took away your American Dreams and replaced them with "Dreams from My (his) Father".)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

The Left has gone full circle on this one. It was the Progressives in the mid/late 19th century who pushed for the secret, aka Australian, ballot. Now this idiot wants to abolish the secret ballot as some sort of gimmick to increase voter turnout.


27 posted on 06/26/2012 6:54:23 AM PDT by C19fan
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To: afraidfortherepublic
leftist, not liberals

I agree with you. There should be some effort involved in voting. It is a big responsibility and those who are not willing to make some effort can not be expected to make an informed choice. I think we should have to re-register each election by going to our county seat or courthouse. I think absentee voting should be rare and a lot of hoops to get the ballot. I checked if my dad who passed away 3 years ago was off the ballot in Georgia. He wasn't, and the state site gave me a link to have an absentee ballot mailed for him!!!! I contacted them and had him removed.

We need to reverse the laws that prevent testing to be able to vote. They were put in for a good reason to stop blocking of black voters 50 years ago, but that isn't needed, now. The poll taxes were stupid and need to remain illegal, but to register, we ought to show that we know a few facts about each candidate in the presidential election; 1). what state is each of the primary two candidates from? 2). Who is their running mate? 2). How many states are their in the USA? 3). Are we a Republic or a Democracy? It doesn't have to be complex. A quick test with those questions would knock out 30 or 40 percent of the voting block, but would make the remaining votes more informed and valuable. JMHO

28 posted on 06/26/2012 7:00:47 AM PDT by FreeAtlanta (Liberty and Justice for ALL)
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To: Lazamataz

Sort of explains why you see some crazy vote totals in pre-secret ballot America, for example nobody voting for Lincoln in entire swaths of the South in the election of 1860.


29 posted on 06/26/2012 7:02:53 AM PDT by C19fan
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To: Lazamataz

Sort of explains why you see some crazy vote totals in pre-secret ballot America, for example nobody voting for Lincoln in entire swaths of the South in the election of 1860.


30 posted on 06/26/2012 7:03:18 AM PDT by C19fan
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To: afraidfortherepublic

This neglects the obvious liberty of not voting.

Not voting is also a choice, and often a good one, because it can deny a “mandate” to either a candidate or an idea.

Elections are seen by many as a statement of “Quick! Choose between getting a nail through the hand or a nail through the foot! If you don’t choose you are a bad person!”

How about no?

And for many candidates and issues, often the typical voter is intentionally not provided adequate information to make a good judgment, or is offered a repugnant choice, such as voting for a RINO, or voting for a Democrat.

By refusing to vote for a RINO who has been forced on you by the party leadership, it may undermine them enough to lose, and be scraped out of their entrenched seat, which means that in the next election, a much better Republican candidate will have a chance.

Again, the power of not voting.


31 posted on 06/26/2012 7:29:57 AM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy
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To: afraidfortherepublic

We had “Prop two and a half” some time ago in Massachusetts, which requires any vote to raise property taxes in a town by more than 2.5% per year be subject to a plebicite using a secret ballot, just like a regular election. Officials are reluctant to call such an election, and probably more than half fail. Since the 1980’s overall state and local tax burden (as a percentage of income) has actually fallen to the point that Massachusetts is now about median for the U.S., which is remarkable considering voter registration is more than 2:1 Democrat to Republican.

Because or declining real estate values, my real estate taxes have fallen considerably over the past several years, yet we do not hear horror stories about shutting down the one fire house or laying off police. Of course, it helps to live in a town with only 5,000 inhabitants. They are talking of closing down our only school (k-6, 7-12 are regionalized) but I think we would approve an override to keep it open.

The problem with schools is that there are so many State and Federal mandates that impose a huge overhead, so small schools become expensive on a per pupil basis.


32 posted on 06/26/2012 8:15:15 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (The Democratic Party strongly supports full civil rights for necro-Americans!)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
Iraq forced citizens to vote. They did it to keep the illusion going for their elites - an illusion their power was legitimate. It wasn't.

Totalitarians hate the secret vote - Saddam would NEVER have had a second term, Dear Leader of North Korea would have been shining shoes on some street corner.

And the Atlantic? Bullsh*t artists - faking a love of traditional American history. Would they want to go back to only land owners voting? NO. No women or blacks allowed the ballot? NO.

Liberal elite bullies want to pick and choose - whatever supports them... trick the people with lies like this... eff 'em.

33 posted on 06/26/2012 8:20:56 AM PDT by GOPJ (The 'doting court eunuchs' of the MSM fail to notice...)
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To: docbnj
I have always voted, but not always for every race on the ballot. Sometimes not voting is an expression of opinion.

In the district at which I work the polls we actually had a write-in for "none of the above" in this month's primary.

34 posted on 06/26/2012 9:48:19 AM PDT by JimRed (Excising a cancer before it kills us waters the Tree of LibertyI'm st! TERM LIMITS, NOW AND FOREVER!)
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To: afraidfortherepublic; ml/nj; ExTexasRedhead; Reaganite Republican; GonzoGOP; SunkenCiv; ...
Liberals are always focusing on turn-out. I think that is the wrong focus. We should want voters who are informed and engaged.

Exactly! The left tends to gain when the electorate is dumbed down.

The idea of ending the secret ballot is preposterous. In an age of leviathan government, the voter who exposes himself by voting against the winner faces the possibility of many reprisals by the powerful interests who he voted against when his vote becomes public knowledge. And there would be a mass of electioneering and manipulation of the vote counting at the polling location.

Instead of eliminating the secret ballot - one of the last great bulwarks guarding the integrity of the electoral process - the leftist author of the posted piece should consider eliminating more modern left-endorsed "reforms" like Motor Voter, early voting, same day registration, "no excuse" absentee voting, and everyone votes by mail.

35 posted on 06/26/2012 3:45:00 PM PDT by justiceseeker93
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To: justiceseeker93

“Instead of eliminating the secret ballot - one of the last great bulwarks guarding the integrity of the electoral process - the leftist author of the posted piece should consider eliminating more modern left-endorsed “reforms” like Motor Voter, early voting, same day registration, “no excuse” absentee voting, and everyone votes by mail.”


Amen. Congress should use its express authority under the Constitution’s Elections Clause to mandate that al voting must take place on Election Day, with no early voting or whatnot, and that absentee ballots, if allowed by state law, must be postmarked on election day (not a week before or whatever). If this means that we need to wait a week for absentee votes to be counted, then so be it, but everyone should vote on the same day.


36 posted on 06/26/2012 3:52:17 PM PDT by AuH2ORepublican (If a politician won't protect innocent babies, what makes you think that he'll protect your rights?)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
Liberals focus on high turnout because it favors them.
37 posted on 06/26/2012 4:06:39 PM PDT by Little Ray (FOR the best Conservative in the Primary; AGAINST Obama in the General.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Only tyrants and imbeciles want to abolish the secret ballot..


38 posted on 06/26/2012 9:34:18 PM PDT by sheik yerbouty ( Make America and the world a jihad free zone!)
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To: justiceseeker93; AuH2ORepublican; GOPsterinMA; sickoflibs; stephenjohnbanker; BillyBoy; ...

Coming soon: Online voting!! Just like voting for the MLB All-Star game you can vote 50 times!!!

This author is insane to suggest abolishing the secret ballot. Why do you think the unions hate making unionization votes by secret ballot? Cause it makes them more fair when you can’t intimidate people into voting your way.

And a grander point, to hell with low turnout. Turnout is low? GOOD. GREAT. Why should I want to convince idiots who don’t care to go and vote? I don’t work for the DNC so there is no reason.

I just saw a NYTImes article suggesting non-partisan elections (for city elections) to combat the WOEFULLY LOW turnout like that’s some huge problem.

Even looking at it from an non-partisan perspective I don’t see the problem, they don’t care enough, and they don’t vote, GOOD, so what? Not everyone is cut out for democracy. Let them vote for American Idol where the consequences of their poor choice don’t destroy the country. I don’t want some 18 year old reefer head to choose my leaders any more than I would want him to be on the jury at my murder trial.


39 posted on 06/27/2012 4:48:26 AM PDT by Impy (Don't call me red.)
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To: Impy; afraidfortherepublic; justiceseeker93; BillyBoy; fieldmarshaldj; Clintonfatigued; ...
RE :”This author is insane to suggest abolishing the secret ballot.

Later in the editorial at the link the author suggests methods (that work) of public shaming citizens into voting. She has a agenda furthered by this end is my guess, She assumes that apathetic voters will vote Democrat if you can get them to vote.

40 posted on 06/27/2012 5:03:46 AM PDT by sickoflibs (Romney is a liberal. Just watch him closely try to screw us.)
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To: Beagle8U
“I always make a point to tell them exactly how I voted, against every liberal running and every property tax millage.”

Which is fine, because realistically they cannot retaliate against you. All you have to do is look at what happened to those that donated to support Prop 8 in California to appreciate a secret ballot.

41 posted on 06/27/2012 5:11:10 AM PDT by No Truce With Kings (Ten years on FreeRepublic and counting.)
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To: AuH2ORepublican
Amen. Congress should use its express authority under the Constitution’s Elections Clause to mandate that all voting must take place on Election Day, with no early voting or whatnot, and that absentee ballots, if allowed by state law, must be postmarked on election day (not a week before or whatever). If this means that we need to wait a week for absentee votes to be counted, then so be it, but everyone should vote on the same day.

I like your proposal, but I know the Constitution pretty well and am not familiar with an "Elections Clause." Can you clarify this?

42 posted on 06/27/2012 7:13:56 AM PDT by justiceseeker93
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To: justiceseeker93

I was referring to Article I, section 4, clause 1, which provides that “[t]he times, places and manners of holding elections for senators and representatives, shall be prescribed by each state by the legislature thereof; but Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the place of choosing senators.” (That last caveat was put in to clarify that Congress couldn’t dictate that senators would no longer be elected by the state legislature, which was required by the Constitution prior to the adoption of the 17th Amendment in 1913.) Congress legislates pursuant to this clause when it sets Election Day for congressional elections as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, when it approved UOCAVA, etc.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have referred to Article I, section 4, clause 1 as the “Elections Clause,” since the term may be confused with Art. I, sec. 5, cl. 1, which provides that each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its members.


43 posted on 06/27/2012 7:31:16 AM PDT by AuH2ORepublican (If a politician won't protect innocent babies, what makes you think that he'll protect your rights?)
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To: C19fan

I believe that this was mostly due to the fact that Lincoln wasn’t on the ballot and write-ins weren’t allowed in most Southern state in 1860 (I’m not saying that there weren’t threats against Southerners who expressed support for Lincoln, but the secret ballot won’t help you if you’re not on the ballot and write-ins aren’t allowed). Similarly, President Taft didn’t receive any votes in SD and less than 1% of the vote in CA in the secret-ballot 1912 elections, but it wasn’t because of threats of violence against Republicans, it was because Taft wasn’t on the ballot in those states (Teddy Roosevelt was the Republican nominee in both SD and CA), and SD didn’t even allow write-ins.


44 posted on 06/27/2012 7:43:37 AM PDT by AuH2ORepublican (If a politician won't protect innocent babies, what makes you think that he'll protect your rights?)
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To: AuH2ORepublican
Thanks for the info. You are correct in your citation. Welcome to the FReeper constitutionalist club. (LOL!)
45 posted on 06/27/2012 7:49:40 AM PDT by justiceseeker93
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
The author is an idiot.

The author most likely is a Democrat (pretty much the same thing).

46 posted on 06/27/2012 7:54:45 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: Dr. Sivana; ml/nj; ExTexasRedhead; GlockThe Vote; ari-freedom; Eleutheria5; Free ThinkerNY; ...
Oh yes, those multi-language ballots (which, BTW, undoubtedly run up printing bills for election boards). How sickening!!! If you can't read basic English, why should you be voting? Does one vote in France in any other language but French? Or do you vote in Italy in any other language but Italian? The US may be exceptional, but this is one area where exceptionalism is foolish.

If learning how to speak, read and write basic English is not a requirement for naturalization of immigrants, it's about time that it came to be again like it was for my grandparents.

All of this is a product of government overaccommodation of immigrants, as Democrats (and, to a lesser extent, Republicans) seek new ethnic bloc voters.

47 posted on 06/27/2012 10:20:44 AM PDT by justiceseeker93
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To: Dr. Sivana; ml/nj; ExTexasRedhead; GlockThe Vote; ari-freedom; Eleutheria5; Free ThinkerNY; ...
Oh yes, those multi-language ballots (which, BTW, undoubtedly run up printing bills for election boards). How sickening!!! If you can't read basic English, why should you be voting? Does one vote in France in any other language but French? Or do you vote in Italy in any other language but Italian? The US may be exceptional, but this is one area where exceptionalism is foolish.

If learning how to speak, read and write basic English is not a requirement for naturalization of immigrants, it's about time that it came to be again like it was for my grandparents.

All of this is a product of government overaccommodation of immigrants, as Democrats (and, to a lesser extent, Republicans) seek new ethnic bloc voters.

48 posted on 06/27/2012 11:15:59 AM PDT by justiceseeker93
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