|Action||Material omissions from absentee ballots.|
|Comment Period||Ends 10/12/2011|
Absentee ballot regulations
There is no question but that there needs to be something that establishes standards for voting. However, reading over the proposed regulation suggests to me that this is an effort to create in election law the same kind of mindless and nonsensical standards that we see in public school "zero tolerance" policies. I have always believed that the source of such policies is the fear that, somewhere along the way, a human element might enter the process. Thus, we read about cases in which 6-yr old students are suspended for bringing water pistols, or some other innocuous article, to school, because adminstrators are not allowed to use their common sense in enforcing school rules. The purpose of election laws should be (1) to ensure the fairness and legitimacy of voting and (2) to include as many citizens in the process as possible. To exclude a ballot because of an incomplete date on a ballot received in good time is just silly; a pre-printed ballot, containing the names of candidates in a given election, should be enough to establish that it isn't left over from a previous contest and if delivered in time to go into the ballot box, that should be enough. (Would you require that the voter put "A.D." after the year, or can you just assume that the voter did not mean 2011 B.C.?) The threat to exclude ballots because of penmanship is outrageous, but going to the other extreme. It is introducing a completely subjective criterion into the process, for no good reason. A signature is idiosyncratic to the person writing it. To reject a ballot because of a bad signature can only suggest an intent to manipulate the outcome of an election. It is a return to literacy tests, designed to deny certain voters their rightful franchise. That this provision is even being considered is shameful.
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