Thursday, January 17, 2008

Nevada courts agree: Voting should not be made harder

The lawsuit filed by the Nevada teachers' union to prevent people working on Saturday from caucusing at seven spots set up on the strip got thrown out today. It means that the idea of using the law to erect obstacles to legitimate voters took a hit. Anyone who gives a shit about democracy or the legitimate consent of the governed or voter participation should be happy.

This is a good thing, even if you support Hillary Clinton.

This leaves me wondering if the polling place to be set up at the New York New York casino will feature the massive, clanking, medieval Machinery of Democracy that we use here in the Empire State. That place thought of everything.


CrimeNotes said...

Did you see Bill Clinton's somewhat indignant attempt to defend the merits of the lawsuit? It begins with complaining that casino workers are getting special privileges, and then ends with him effectively saying not to bother him with questions about the suit because he has nothing to do with it. It was a very strange little performance.

Flop said...

I did not. But I am interested to learn that voting is a special privilege. I don't even think Bush v. Gore held that.

CrimeNotes said...

I paraphrased. Here are some quotes.

"Do you really believe that all the Democrats understood that they had agreed to give everybody who voted in a casino a vote worth five times as much as people who voted in their own precinct? Did you know that?" the former president said, growing visibly upset. (Watch Clinton's back and forth with the reporter)

"What happened is nobody understood what had happened. Now everybody's saying, 'Oh, they don't want us to vote.' What they really tried to do was to set up a deal where their votes counted five times, maybe even more."

Clinton also maintained that his wife’s campaign had "nothing to do" with the lawsuit," and claimed the reporter was taking an "accusatory tone."

"Get on your television station and say, 'I don't care about the home mortgage crisis, all I care about is making sure that some voters have it easier than others should count five times, and when they do vote, when its already easier for them, their vote should count five times as much as others," Clinton said in a raised voice.

"If you want to take that your position, get on the television and take it," he added, as aides pulled him away. "Don't be accusatory with me, I had nothing to do with this lawsuit."

Flop said...

I just saw a snippet of the video now. Wow, what a disappointing display.

Now I'm having to listen to Pat Buchanan and Tucker Carlson and Phil Donohue* discuss the issue.

Carlson and Buchanan are raising all sorts of important-sounding objections making it sound as if the union did this so it can intimidate workers into voting for Obama ... which is somehow Clinton's fault.

No one seems to have bothered to learn that anyone who has to work during the caucuses and is within 2.5 miles of any of these places can vote there. So someone at a freaking Walgreens or a strip club nearby will be allowed to vote at the casinos.

*Not really.

Crunk Raconteur said...

I'm also not clear about what Bill meant by the "count five times as much" thing. Clearly, it can't mean that each vote at an at-large caucus is ACTUALLY worth 5 times as much as one at a home precinct, but I have no idea what it does mean. Of course, since this is a caucus (boo) instead of, you know, an actual normal election like a primary, who knows...

That said, and not to start a flame war here, but this actually is a special right. I mean, I can't just go vote for president near where I work (and I work 3 blocks from the White House itself), and neither can you. We all have to either show up at our home precinct before we leave for work or race home afterward before it closes.

Remember, the venality of Clinton in this case comes from her having been part of setting these things up when it might have benefited her, and then trying to shut them down now that they'll benefit Obama. But it's hard to argue that she doesn't have a point.

Telling people that, if they want to vote, they have to vote in their home precinct like everyone else in every state in the country is not making voting harder. Similarly, not wanting to cut taxes doesn't mean you want to raise them.

(Note: Personally, I am in favor of people being able to vote at whatever precinct is most convenient to them and have it count to their precinct or state or whatever. We have the technology. But it should apply to everybody.)

flop said...

Well, this isn't quite the same as voting, is it? For one, it's a caucus, which requires a significant investment of time. This is why it was scheduled on a Saturday. However, in a uniquely 24-hour, 7-day-a-week city like Las Vegas, (and there can be no argument that Las Vegas is similar to any other city in the nation) a significant portion of the workforce is manifestly not free then. Hence, a special provision (not a right; no rights were ever at stake here) was made to accomodate shift workers on and near the Strip.

This is eminently fair. Suing to prevent it, especially in the cynical manner in which the Nevada teachers union did, was not, and it was rightly thrown out.

Additionally, citing the need for a removal of "special rights" from any group other than an aristocracy is usually the sign of an argument that's not going to quite make the other side.

Crunk Raconteur said...

First of all, you're entirely right. This is a caucus and it's different than regular voting (and the court's decision to throw out the suit is entirely appropriate, since because it's a caucus, the Nevada Democratic Party can assign its delegates however it wants).

However, it is a special right for some, applied almost arbitrarily. Consider the following hypothetical:

Two people have almost the exact same situation. Both live in Las Vegas, both have basically the same job (blackjack dealer), both work for the same company (MGM Mirage Inc.), and both, due to the 24/7 world of Vegas, have to work dealing blackjack at an MGM Mirage property on Saturday. Both want to participate in the Democratic caucus.

The only difference between the situation of these two is that one of them is a blackjack dealer at Mandalay Bay, and the other is a blackjack dealer at the Golden Nugget. The at-large caucus plan means that, simply by virtue of which hotel they work in, the guy who works at Mandalay Bay (right next door to at-large caucus site Luxor) can go caucus on his lunch break, while the guy who works at the Golden Nugget (3.7 miles from nearest at-large caucus site, at the Wynn) must go to his home precinct.

I just think that granting certain prerogatives to certain people based on certain conditions...but not granting those prerogatives to ALL people in the same conditions is unfair.

But, again, it's a caucus, and if the NDP wants to assign its delegates by putting pictures on a dartboard and throwing darts at it, fine...but this is hardly the great stride toward equal protection of the laws that you're making it out to be...

CrimeNotes said...

I hate that a post about "Lost" is getting hijacked over this, but here's my two cents.

I live literally two blocks from my polling place. In the past, I've had an employer that closed for national elections. Not everyone gets this. Maybe they should. It certainly was much easier for me to vote than, say, an elderly person in a wheelchair or someone who had to work a 12-hour shift on the construction site.

The Clinton suit wouldn't have had the effect of making it easier for everyone to caucus. It had the effect of barring those individuals who were in a situation wherein they could caucus more conveniently than others. Its premise was that, "Because it's hard for some people, it should be hard for everybody."

In other words, it wasn't a move to put everyone in a better position; it was a move to make sure that it sucked for everyone.

CrimeNotes said...

Wait, this wasn't in the "Lost" thread.

Not only am I typo-prone, I'm just not paying attention anymore.

Crunk Raconteur said...

"The Clinton suit wouldn't have had the effect of making it easier for everyone to caucus. It had the effect of barring those individuals who were in a situation wherein they could caucus more conveniently than others. Its premise was that, "Because it's hard for some people, it should be hard for everybody.""

Again, the Clinton suit was cynical, yes, and was rightly thrown out.

I do see your point, though, and I understand the problem of casino workers not being able to caucus because they have to work on Saturday...but what about people that work at any of the downtown casinos or any of the Station casinos or, heck, any of the casinos in Reno or Lake Tahoe? Why isn't the supposed disenfranchisement of those people being considered?

I know perfectly well that you would love to see those people also have access to at-large caucuses. So would I. But since the difficulties of voting for those people are not being addressed, it's hard to say that the plucking of certain people at random and saying, "Hey, we're going to make this way easier for you but not other people like you" is hardly an egalitarian ideal...

CrimeNotes said...

No, certainly not an egalitarian ideal. I think we basically agree.

In '04, it took me less than 15 minutes to vote and come back to my apartment. I show up, wait five minutes for my turn, chat with friendly neighbors manning the precinct, and then have a free day ahead. I go to breakfast and then spend the afternoon in the dba beer garden toasting to the Kerry Administration.

In Ohio, there were lines lasting for hours, no doubt with a lot of very tired people. And then there was targeted intimidation in Florida 2000.

The rational of the Clinton lawsuit (which I know you're not defending) wasn't to make it equally easy for everybody, it was trying to make it equally difficult for everybody. It wanted to level the process, not elevate it. The logical counterpart in my example would be to require people to wait in line for hours, even if there were a 10-minute alternative, because it was unfair that I had it easier.

I'm inferring that the Nevada plan was based on the density of Democratic voters, with the sites located in highest-density areas.