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Friday, September 17, 2004

International hijacking of the U.S. electoral process?

LGF is having a discussion about international observers being sent to monitor the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

"Many of us in this room have worked for many, many years in different situations and in different countries," said Brigalia Bam, one of the observers who also chairs South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission at a press conference at the National Press Club Thursday. "It is that experience that has brought us to the United States." She said all elections should be assessed by the degree to which they are "responsive, transparent, and fair."

Other observers, with similar qualifications, hail from Argentina, Australia, England, Canada, Chile, Ghana, India, Ireland, Mexico, Nicaragua, Philippines, Thailand, Wales and Zambia.

From a strict legal constructionist's point of view this is more offensive than it likely is in reality. A strict constructionist set on the integrity of the nation-state, unwilling to cede any authority, should not like the symbolism, or the reality, of having foreigners influencing a national election. But the symbolic nature of an event does not mean there has been any dramatic change in the electoral process.

There are several reasons why this proposal cannot do irreparable harm in the short term. It's not a binding panel, participation in any report or findings is voluntary. The U.S. Constitution and applicable statutes are still in effect. The panel is not dictatorship-loaded. It could be a lot worse. The criteria or three principles match nicely with our electoral laws.

The left wing of the Democratic Party, seemingly all of it sometimes, wants to appeal to the internationalist-Kerry base which believes "Bush was select... He lied! Peopl..." You know the rest.

That the United Nations is dirty from the oil-for-food scandal is charitible to the organization. However, many people, especially citizens of the world not the United States, still think the UN provides real legitimacy. In the case of this panel there is some truth to that. None of the nations are the biggest players in UN corruption.

From a practical political standpoint, the observers will provide some controversy for the Democrats and the media. In addition, the observers might be called as witnesses should there be (when there is) litigation. The electoral system has many flaws, but should withstand any international scrutiny from these nations unless their most hostile representatives are sent, many or all the state elections are very close, or the system breaks down in a number of unusual ways in many places. After the Carter Center suggested the Venezuelan elections were fair, I'd think we have some leeway.

Dream panel: China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Cuba, Venezuala, East Timor, Tibet, Egypt, and Zimbabwe. Bad dream panel.

There were some discrepancies 2000 election which I would like to see addressed. John R. Lott, Jr. in National Review:

Earlier this year I published an article in the Journal of Legal Studies analyzing the USA Today data, and it shows that African-American Republicans who voted were 54 to 66 times more likely than the average African American to cast a non-voted ballot (either by not marking that race or voting for too many candidates). To put it another way: For every two additional black Republicans in the average precinct, there was one additional non-voted ballot. By comparison, it took an additional 125 African Americans (of any party affiliation) in the average precinct to produce the same result.

Some readers may be surprised that black Republicans even exist in Florida, but, in fact, there are 22,270 such registered voters — or about one for every 20 registered black Democrats. This is a large number when you consider that the election in the state was decided by fewer than 1,000 votes. Since these Republicans were more than 50 times more likely to suffer non-voted ballots than other African Americans, the reasonable conclusion is that George W. Bush was penalized more by the losses of African-American votes than Al Gore.

A voter might vote for too many candidates, or someone might write in a candidate later. When there are many people handling ballots over a long period of time, it is not impossible to imagine someone adding a write-in to spoil the ballot or to create a controversy over the ballot in the event of a hand recount.

1 comment:

Paul Santos said...

Chip, Chip, Chip.

No need to worry about "international hijacking," your Republican fathers have gotten all of you into a tizzy.

The election will be fair. It was fair last time. We will have a winner. We got a winner last time. Our constitutional process will ensure a decisive victory for one of our candidates.

Republican insecurity of the Bush presidency has dragged this issue on long enough. Do you realize that it was FOUR YEARS AGO? Why are you harping on this? Have faith in our system.