Monday, February 11, 2013

Pew Report Rewards Wrong Doing

Let me start by giving credit to the Pew Research Center for their hard work in putting a host of data into a formula to give a rating, of sorts, to each state on how they administer their elections.  In their report, they note many of the difficulties in the effort and explain how they worked to address them.  It appears that they have undertaken a well intended examination of the data available.

At the same time, their liberal bias shines forth in a number of ways.  Perhaps the best place to point this out is their metric on the rejection of absentee ballots.

In the Pew report, rejecting an absentee ballot is a negative (p. 13) for an election administrator's rating.  The more rejected absentee ballots you have, the lower your score.  Through a liberal lens, an absentee ballot should be presumptively accepted, and when rejected, is probably the result of some error on the part of the election administrator or a fault in the process.

Of course, the reality is much different.  Many times absentee ballots are rejected for valid reasons, reasons that were placed in the law to impede vote fraud.   Liberals might be shocked to learn that some of the rejected absentee ballots resulted in a voter fraud investigation and people going to jail.

The 2008 Coleman vs. Franken U.S. Senate race and election contest is probably the best example of how rejecting an absentee ballot should merit praise, not condemnation.

In Minnesota, most election officials administered the absentee ballot law as it was written, requiring, among other things, the signature of a witness.  Unfortunately for Senator Coleman, a number of jurisdictions, conveniently Democratic ones, ignored the rules and counted absentee ballots that were not properly signed and witnessed.

In the Pew world, the election authorities who failed to follow the law get a higher rating than the election authorities who followed the law.  Let’s hope that someone doesn’t actually attach a financial incentive to the Pew metrics and further incentivize improper absentee voting.  

The idea that rejecting an absentee ballot can be good should not have been a novel concept to Pew’s advisory board for this report.  On the board was Dean Logan, who oversaw another election where illegal votes turned an election for a Democrat.  As Supervisor for King County, Washington elections, Logan allowed hundreds of felons to register illegally, and over a hundred are confirmed to have voted in a race decided by just 129 votes.

Actually, one could rationally  turn Pew’s statistic on its head.  The more ballots rejected, the greater likelihood that the election administrator is complying with the law.  One phrase not found in the Pew report is “Equal Protection.”  The goal should be to have equitable application of the laws across all jurisdictions.  When that doesn’t happen, the election system has let down the citizenry.  That was the lesson in Washington State in 2004, in Minnesota in 2008, and a host of other jurisdictions over the years.  How well jurisdictions actually follow the law is unfortunately a metric that Pew doesn’t report.

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