Dead Voter's Rights...
OK. Time to crank up the old RANT machine again. Thank god election season is over for another year or two. Even though I've not been particularly impressed with the candidates or the measures this season, some of the peripheral issues raised as a part of the process are just downright amazing.
I just finished reading a story about whether or not to count the votes for people who die between the time they vote and election day. I'll admit I had to stop and think about this one for a second or two before I started writing this piece.
At first blush it would seem that the rules should apply equally for all dead people. Traditionally, only the unscrupulous have profited from the voting potential of the deceased. Certainly it conjures recollections of famous cases in America's political past where elections were actually won and lost based on a candidates ability to appeal to his less than conscious constituents.
But, let's take another scenario into consideration. Suppose a candidate suspects the tenuousness of his grip on the electorate and for some odd, unexplained reason, a large number of opposing voters suddenly turn up deceased? WELL OF COURSE this is a far-fetched scenario, but it illustrates a very important aspect of our process of free and open elections. If you are alive, eligible to vote, and hold a valid ballot in your hand, you have the right to expect that upon its completion your desires will be reflected in the final outcome regardless of your actual personal disposition at the time of the final tally. We should also be protected from fear of 'voter tampering' timed to influence the outcome of an election. While it may seem like a far fetched scenario, can we be sure it hasn't happened somewhere in the world far more recently than we should be comfortable with?
But, what about the potential for fraud? Someone might take an unmarked ballot and cast it fraudulently on behalf of a deceased individual! Oh well. How often does that happen? Probably more than any of us would like to admit, but probably more frequently for elderly incompetents living from year to year from election to election with no comprehension of the passage of time than those that actually die between being issued a ballot and having it counted. Certainly I'm in favor of reducing elections fraud wherever possible, but not at the expense of the rights of the living voter.
If an election is so statistically tight that a few votes one way or another make that deciding difference for a national candidate, then it realistically doesn't make any difference who wins. I suppose that could be considered controversial, but its the truth. The only loser is the voting public who was presented with such ambiguous options that they couldn't really tell any significant difference between the two candidates. Flip a coin - there's your winner. What happened to candidates that could stand up to real issues and back them up with more than the incompetence of their opponent?
So, there you have it. Let the dead people vote. That's probably the least of our worries...