Saturday, January 19, 2008

Disenfranchisement via Bureaucracy

Something I've yet to see discussed, but I think might be everyone's principle complaint with government... gridlock and departmental bureaucracy sometimes by nature violates the constitution.

One thing that has become clear, there are certain constitutional provisions that the departments responsible for ensuring or protecting have become corrupted due to size and bad design. Since the unintended consequences of other aspects of government have common law precedent for their removal, voting needs this same mechanism.

One clear example of government bureaucracy failing someone is in voter disenfranchisement. The system of voting as a public, non corruptible system is already in trouble, but to make matters worse its very likely that during the day of voting you may be told you aren't allowed to vote for a reason other than what is provided for via the constitution. Rules that may be politically motivated or possibly even just badly designed may prevent you from voting. For example, what if you follow a voter registration process suggested on the phone by someone working at the polling center and the process suggested is missing a key detail. Let's say you are supposed to report a change of address by a certain date in order to vote a particular precinct. Let's say also that you do not drive yourself or own your own car, or have enough money on the particular day of voting to drive an unknown amount of mileage chasing down documents you didn't know you needed. Most average citizens probably feel that getting a voter registration card and their driver's license and showing up at a polling center is adequate to vote for your representative government, but often this is not the case. Since you are not reported to by any sort of central authority who has to make sure you know these things, it's possible the day of a key step will be missing and you will be turned away at the polling center. This is disenfranchisement, this is the reason the founding fathers went to war with the King and it is their suggestion that you do the same when facing the same situation.

There should be legal precedent that if a government authority denies you voting rights despite being a legal U.S. Citizen with voting rights provided for by the constitution and show up with a state issued form of identification to prove who you are, they should be punished to the full extent of the law for violating the constitution. It is the responsibility of the people at the polling center to accommodate you and help you place your vote, not provide you with a variety of odd hoops to jump through to earn the right again.

You are endowed by your creator with these rights, according to the language of the governing document, and the rule of law, so for the government to require you to perform actions to re-earn it is in violation of the very founding principle in the first place.

In fact, also, voter registration should be provided for at the polling center, and not required to be performed in advance. It is possible to have people verify whether or not there are suspicious things such as double voting, unverifiable identities, or non citizen voting during the counting process, which is a proper time to double check for errors. It is not the responsibility of citizens to prove through whatever means technically possible that they are in fact who they are. Simply carrying a state issued form of identification (which is in an of itself a bit of a stretch constitutionally) is going very far to err on the side of caution by the voter himself.

I suggest that during this election season, anyone who feels that bureaucratic mismanagement caused them a level of inconvenience which was preventative of them voting (being asked to go home for more documents than a state issued I.D.; being asked to visit a different bureaucratic office to acquire a document other than a voter registration card and state I.D.; being asked to visit a different county precinct or polling center than the one nearest to your home) band together with others in your state and form a class-action lawsuit against the state, claiming voter disenfranchisement. Then, furthermore, banding together with people from other states and suing the federal government for the same thing wherever federal funds are used to aid in the voting process.

This same lawsuit should be applied to any voting done in any other method than in public, by the state's proper election representatives, on physical ballots which can be visually identified by private citizens. Voting methods other than this defy reasonable technical confidence in their results and therefor disenfranchise voters by not being reliable. If a computer error or malicious code damages one result in a voting process, everyone in that pool has had their voice taken away.

Furthermore, these rigorous standards should be applied also to tax collection, the criminal judicial system, and every other system to which constitutional provisions can be defied.

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