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Monday, July 12, 2004

Postponing the election

A few people in the blogosphere, trying very, very hard to be open-minded have accepted that postponing the election if there was a terrorist attack wouldn't necessarily be the worst idea in the world, since having an election under duress really isn't the best situation. As Greg at the Talent Show suggests, maybe the issue isn't postponing the election, but that BushCo would be in charge of making the decision and actually implementing it. And since they can't make a decision outside of the "how does this increase our political power" paradigm, they are sure to fuck it up.
But I think that the very idea of postponing the elections is so outside of our thinking that it's confused the hell out of everyone. There is no reason to hand over the power of scheduling the election to the feds, period.
The assumption that we are totally unprepared to deal with events that might interfere with an election is what bolsters these fears, but it's a false assumption. Elections have been rescheduled before; 9/11 was an election day and the state was able to quickly cancel and reschedule the election without much fuss at all. Which makes sense, if you think about it. Odds are that throughout our history, election days have had emergency situations that forced them to be rescheduled all the time. Nowadays, we have cars and roads and whatnot, but it wasn't that long ago that a bad ice storm or even thunderstorm probably made having a fair election day nearly impossible. I don't have research on hand, because I wouldn't know where to start looking. But my guess is that rescheduling elections has been pretty standard procedure and in the event of a terrorist attack, local election authorities could probably reschedule an election within the space of 5 minutes. And since there are months between the election and the inaguration, there would be plenty of time to have the vote and the count before it got down to the wire.
Remember, too, that it's pretty much impossible for even the most organized terrorist attack to even touch the vast majority of the country's voting districts. A terrorist attack in New York doesn't mean that we have to postpone the election here in Texas. And even if we wanted to postpone it, we shouldn't have to postpone it for more than a day or two, whereas New York might want to postpone theirs for a week or more. It's not like it wouldn't be easy to advertise the new election day, particularly considering that people will be more, not less, likely to be listening to the radio all day if there is a terrorist attack. Just pepper the airwaves with reminders to vote.
Local election officials are not only capable of handling emergency situations, they are far better equipped to handle them than the federal government. The election officials of Podunk, Anystate will be able to accurately gauge whether or not their population is safe to vote on X day after the official election day far, far better than Tom Ridge ever will.
BushCo knows this--it really is common sense. So, why do they want the power to yank the election date all over the calendar, and probably with little, if any, input from the people who actually organize the actual elections around the country? Well, for two reasons. One is that they don't own every election official in this country as thoroughly as they owned Katherine Harris. So, in the event of a terrorist attack, they can't count on local election officials to do everything in their power to use that as an excuse to reappoint the Shrub. And secondly, if they have the power to yank the election date all over the calendar, the decision of what day we actually get to vote will be handed over to Karl Rove, who will schedule it on the day that he deems it most difficult for Democrats to get to the polls.
As usual with BushCo, they are wrapping up a power grab in the clothing of public interest. And since so many of us liberals are nice people, we politely argue the merits of the argument that is put forth by BushCo--in this case, would it be okay to reschedule the election in the event of a terrrorist attack?--when we need to be addressing what they are really asking. Which is, of course, are we going to get away with using the threat of terrorism to hang onto the Oval Office when the majority of Americans didn't want us there in the first place and even less want us there now? We need to quit answering the pretend, P.R. questions and start answering the real ones. And the answer to the real question is, hell no, not if we can help it--this is democracy and we plan to keep it that way.
Buck up, fellow dissenters! If BushCo really insists on continuing down this dangerous path, there is much to fear. But there is also much to hope for. After all, if they just throw all caution to the wind and embrace fascism, we get to assume the very romantic mantle of The Resistance. I myself am practicing rolling my own cigarettes while looking moody and wearing black on a daily basis.

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