Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Daily Double: Transparency and Dead Horses

In respond to popular demand, Other Side is adding a new category: Dead Horses. It's obvious to regular readers that here at the editorial offices we believe there's no such thing as a horse that's too dead to beat.

College student voting fits the rubric perfectly. I revisited the subject here less than a week ago to relay an editorial from the Bowdoin college newspaper that treated election law as mere suggestions.

As I scooted about town today attending to my busy social calendar, I realized that I had failed to be fully "transparent" in follow-up reporting on this subject. I had posted two messages on the subject to relevant officials, but had not disclosed them to our faithful and vigilant readers.

I am correcting that oversight in this post. In a humorous aside, I expect that both these messages on the "dead horse" subject will end up in "dead letter" files at their destinations. In the unlikely event that a meaningful response is received, you can be sure it will be posted here before it shows up on the major network and cable news outlets.

Because the dead horse stops here.

The first message was sent to the Elections Division at the Maine Secretary of State's Office:
Much has been said over the years about college students voting in the town in which the college is located, even when their home is elsewhere.

Legislation has been proposed, guidelines have been issued, and nothing has fundamentally changed in this regard. College officials appear to uniformly support the idea that being on campus makes you a legal resident of the town, and town officials willingly comply with this judgment.

I have been concerned about the subject for years because of the opportunity it provides for abuse of election law.

The editorial attached below, from The Bowdoin Orient of October 30th, raises red flags beyond anything previously addressed. It suggests that students vote where they most "feel" like residents, as opposed to complying with relevant law, in which "feelings" have no relevance. It further suggests that students are free to "volley" between residence locations for voting purposes in order to pick and choose the ballots and issues that concern them most.

The opportunities for double voting, abuse of registration law, and corruption of voting rolls are clear in such practices, especially since local authorities are in the habit of encouraging students to register and vote locally, while failing to enforce the other requirements of residency. I am not aware of any mechanisms that would detect double registration or otherwise automatically cancel registration in one location or another when a new registration is filed.

Please reply with a response to this editorial that states what the official SOS position is on such practices, and how the SOS goes about enforcing applicable law to ensure that our elections are honest and conducted with full legal compliance.

Thank you

The other was sent to Brunswick Town Officials:


I understand that "the system" has ruled my objections in this area irrelevant, but I've got to tell you that this editorial in last Friday's Bowdoin Orient relights the fire in my hair on this subject.

It very clearly articulates the belief that students should vote wherever they feel like it at the moment.

How this can be consistent with any understanding of what election law means is lost on me. I find tolerance for such practices irresponsible.

So far, no response from either quarter.

But as you know, riding a dead horse doesn't get you anywhere and wastes your time, if not the horse's.

But at least you're not at risk of falling off.

Now, if I could just find some rolls of caps for my two pearl handled six-shooters, maybe I could stir up some action that way.

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