Step 1: Refuse to confirm a SCOTUS judge for a year.
Step 2: Install a judge you prefer.
Step 3: Get a SCOTUS ruling upholding a voter purge law that disproportionately impacts people who are more likely to vote for your opponents.

Voter purges aren’t about getting rid of invalid registrations. They’re about suppressing votes. The US, unfortunately, has a long history of finding ways to disenfranchise a group without explicitly identifying them. Look up where “grandfather clause” came from.

The modern version is subtler, but it works like this:

You want more people from group A to be able to vote than group B. Find some classification that applies to more members of group B than group A. Target that classification, and you change the balance of the electorate.

What Ohio did was notice that members of one major party tend to vote in every election, while members of the other tend to skip elections where they don’t feel they have a good choice.

Technically they targeted occasional voters.
Effectively they targeted a political party.

Putting a straight-party checkbox on a ballot violates a key design principle: The polling place and ballot should strive to avoid steering people toward specific choices. This is also why some places randomize candidates’ names or stick with alphabetical order.

The human brain would rather work on auto-pilot than think carefully. Give it an excuse to stick with auto-pilot, and it’ll happily do so.

Even if that means outsourcing your vote to the people who chose the slate and designed the ballot.

You can choose to vote a straight-party ticket, but the ballot design shouldn’t influence you to do it.

Remember to vote in local elections.

Initiatives, council and school board members, judges, etc. affect you and your community directly. It may not be as exciting as the Presidential race, but it determines who makes decisions in your town, who passes and enforces city laws and regulations, local taxes, which services are offered and how. If the national government wants to drop the ball, states and cities are going to have to step in, and local elections impact how it gets picked up — or doesn’t.

It impacts national politics too: the people elected locally go on to build the pool of state and national candidates. If you care about 2018 or 2020, get out and vote locally to get the ball rolling!

Voter turnout is always lower in off-years than in Presidential election years, and it’s even lower in local elections. That means your vote makes a bigger share of the result than it does when you vote in November – even in an off-year.

So get out there, register to vote if you haven’t, and help make decisions at the local level.

  • Going to bed. Very glad to see Obama elected. Disappointed that Prop 8 looks like it might pass. #
  • Wait… 3 MILLION mail-in & provisional ballots remain to be counted in CA? Why on earth are they calling ANY race yet? #
  • Surprised to find no jokes online using the pun “Anvil of Cron,” just typos. There’s always S*P’s Google Crom. #
  • More on the 2.6-3 MILLION mail-in & provisional ballots still to be counted in California. #

Katie and I got up early so we could hit the polls first thing in the morning and not have to worry about whether we’d be stuck in an insanely long line at the end of the day, like we were in 2004 and 2006. The first thing we noticed was the sound of rain falling outside. Since we were expecting a huge turnout, I’d planned on walking, fearing we might have to park far enough away that we might as well have walked. Fortunately by the time we left, it had died down to little more than a drizzle.

We got to the polling place, an elementary school, about 7:05, just after it opened, found the right line (they had two precincts voting at the same location), and there were only about 15-20 people ahead of us. We got into a conversation with other people around us about the merits of early voting (one guy joked that he’d already voted for the 2012 election), exit polls, and the electoral college.

The poll workers were a surprise. Usually in this area it tends to be older people who volunteer to run the polls, but it seemed like 2/3 of them were in their late teens/early twenties. Katie figured it had to do with the economic slowdown: we know who’s out of work.

They’ve mostly worked out the kinks in the electronic voting system, though they’re now offering a choice of electronic or paper ballot when you sign in. You go through several stations, signing the roll of voters, confirming your address, and finally getting either a paper ballot or an access key for the electronic ballot.

I still don’t like the user interface on these voting machines — it’s a paddle wheel interface, where you rotate a dial to move the selection on the LCD screen forward or back, with buttons to check things off — but it does at least include a printed record. There’s a roll of paper in the machine with a window, and after you’ve confirmed the summary of your selections (with a big red button that says “Cast Ballot”), it prints them out, asks you to confirm the printout, then scrolls it out of view so the next person can’t see what you chose.

Anyway, the whole process took only 35 minutes from finding the line to picking up the “I Voted” sticker. Kids were just starting to line up for class. We went home, dropped off the umbrella (which we never actually needed), picked up our stuff and drove off to work only 15 minutes behind normal schedule.

(Cross-posted from LiveJournal, originally linked in the list below.)

  • It’s like raaaaaain/on Election Day. #
  • #votereport #good Only 30 minute wait, no problems with machine around 7am in Orange County, CA. No idea what it’s like now, though. #
  • Voting freebies: Might hit Ben & Jerry’s, but don’t see much point in a plain coffee at Starbucks. Maybe if they offered a mocha. #
  • Ah, this would explain the 4-hour delay on my “I Voted!” tweet. #
  • Wow… 38% of registered voters in Los Angeles County had cast ballots by noon. #
  • Deep pink clouds at sunset. Camera turns them orange. #

Update: It’s been a while, so I don’t remember for sure if this is the right photo, but the date’s correct and it fits the description.

Sunset clouds