Every Vote Counts!

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The Washington Post reports [reg req.] good news for our great democracy: the demented are not only voting, but

two studies in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island found that patients at dementia clinics turned out in higher numbers than the general population.

But who is really voting?

"I have had caregivers accompany dementia patients into the booth and vote for them," said Jean Merget, a social worker at the North Broward Memory Disorder Center in Pompano Beach, Fla., who said she repeatedly heard of the practice during support group meetings. "This is not uncommon, especially in Florida."

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  1. [Insert inappropriate partisan joke about mentally disabled voters here]

  2. Wait a minute… so if I have fourteen separate personalities, and twelve of them are adults, I can’t vote 12 times??? That is such a rip-off!

  3. “…especially in Florida.”

    I’m telling you, it’s the new Cook County.

  4. I have had caregivers accompany dementia patients into the booth and vote for them,”

    Doesn’t make much difference, come inagural day, dementia sets in on the prez, they usually forget about all those campaign promises they made and go a completely opposite direction. Boy did it get bad for Bush, he completely forgot what a principled conservative was supposed to be!

  5. Ah for the good ol’ days before the Bastille fell, when only Counts voted.

  6. “All hail our new Commander in Chief: Bag of Urine!”

  7. Judging voting ability on competence is a scarier prospect than allowing vegetables to vote.

    It does, however, undercut the argument for not allowing 5 year-olds to vote.

  8. Either senior citizens are shrewd manipulators (recall the dual residency scandal a few weeks ago) or they are incompetent dullards. They can’t be both at the same time (although some can be one and some the other, which again suggests little net effect on the electoral process).

  9. Either senior citizens are shrewd manipulators (recall the dual residency scandal a few weeks ago) or they are incompetent dullards. They can’t be both at the same time (although some can be one and some the other, which again suggests little net effect on the electoral process).

    We’re not talking about “senior citizens” in general here, the discussion is about people (of all ages) who have been diagnosed with dementia. It has nothing to do with age.

  10. I really have no problem at all with the demented having the right to vote. It’s the part about caregivers accompanying them that bites. If they can’t do it by themselves like everyone else, well tough. But this is what happens when classic liberalism is hijacked by…well, whatever you want to call them.

  11. Hmmm, maybe we should call it sympathy-driven liberalism? Yeah, as opposed to Reason-driven liberalism, hah!!! (Or principle-driven, if you prefer to leave the brand name out of it…)

  12. Pavel-
    I don’t see your point. We don’t allow felons to vote. Four years ago I voted at the same time an adult living facility dragged out all their residence to vote. None of them could manage it alone. It wasn’t due to any physical disability, they just couldn’t understand what was expected of them. If every vote they cast was random odds had them canceling out each others vote. However, I have the feeling that their caregivers got more than their share voting that day.

  13. I would have no problem with additional restrictions on the franchise (we already have restrictions based on age, residence, legal status, etc.).

    If we value democracy at all, shouldn’t we limit the vote to those competent to cast one? Isn’t this the reason we don’t allow children to vote? What principled reason is there to deny a six year old the right to vote, but give it to someone with the mental capacity of a six year old?

  14. “What principled reason is there to deny a six year old the right to vote, but give it to someone with the mental capacity of a six year old?”

    RC,
    using your logic, then everyone who has ever registered at democraticunderground.com couldn’t vote……

  15. I should get 2 votes. (that would allow me to counteract my cat’s vote)

  16. A lesson in why we don’t let children vote:

    Back in ’84, when I was in elementary school, we held a mock election. After the votes had been counted, Mondale emerged with a decisive victory–why? 99% of the girls in the class voted for him because Geraldine Ferraro was also female (this was established during the “why did you vote the way you voted?” discussion afterwards.)

    The boys voted a bit more for Reagan, but not enough to offset the dying-steel-town-Democrats-will-reopen-the-mills-and-give-my-daddy-a-job element.

  17. Voting is a RIGHT, not a privilege. In America we don’t deny people of their rights without due process of law. Unless the person in question has been determined by a court that they are not “competent” to vote, they cannot be denied.

    BTW, competent is subjective in my opinion there’s nothing that says a person who is illiterate or ill-informed can’t vote.

  18. Voting is a right. We must approach the subject very carefully. The right to vote should be considered sacrosanct.

    The thing to do is to make the penalties for unduly influencing the votes (through coercion of the weak-minded or “helping tehm vote”) prohibitive in the extreme.

    There’s no reason why an Alzheimer’s patient shouldn’t be allowed to vote–even they have days of clarity–but anyone abusing the condition of the demented or otherwise mentally infirm should be guilty of a felony–and forfeit their franchise.

  19. Hey, I’m no brighter than a chicken and they keep letting me vote ~~ usually I just offset my trotskyite cat’s vote.

  20. The demented have always voted. Hell, illegal’s vote due to the motor voter law. The dead vote.
    This is no surprise. What issues drive them to vote? In Animal Farm did the animals vote?

  21. The demented have always voted. Hell, illegal’s vote due to the motor voter law. The dead vote.
    This is no surprise. What issues drive them to vote? In Animal Farm did the animals vote?

  22. The demented have always voted. Hell, illegal’s vote due to the motor voter law. The dead vote.
    This is no surprise. What issues drive them to vote? In Animal Farm did the animals vote?

  23. And OPUS will vote three times, just because he’ll keep pressing the button.

  24. I suppose this explains the substantial number of write-ins in Florida for “Matlock” and “pudding.”

  25. “A lesson in why we don’t let children vote:”

    very cute. however, i fail to see how this is different than the process most of us use in determining which absurdly wealthy piece of shit to vote for.

  26. What would it say if the people “helping” the elderly voters STILL can’t get the ballot correct?

  27. “Voting is a right. We must approach the subject very carefully. The right to vote should be considered sacrosanct.”

    Bullshit. Voting is just a way of selecting our representatives. It is a means to an end–selecting a good government–nothing more.

    Which is why the EC is just fine, even though it in effect makes some votes more important than others.

    Real rights include freedom of speech, worship, the right to own weapons, property rights, etc. Not voting.

  28. Bullshit. Voting is just a way of selecting our representatives. It is a means to an end–selecting a good government–nothing more.

    So, you wouldn’t be upset if, hypothetically, your right to vote is stripped away?

    (No, I’m not implying that any of the matters discussed in this thread rise to the level of stripping away a right to vote, I’m simply curious about how Don seems to think that voting isn’t a right.)

    What about the notion that governments get their just powers from the consent of the governed? Wouldn’t that notion suggest that you SHOULD have a right to vote?

  29. What, no cracks about the “idiots” who don’t support Kerry’s health plan?

    ===

    Voting is a state-granted right attempting to reflect the inalienable right of all to participate in their self-government. The state may deny the infirm a vote, but the infirm can inalienably pee on the state’s desk.

  30. thoreau,

    have you experienced any such “helpers” voting for the senile old people? – you are the resident expert on polling places 🙂

  31. So I guess Terri Schiavo’s husband will “help” her cast her vote, and if challenged will testify that he remembers her saying, back before she was disabled, that she wouldn’t want to live if she were unable to vote for the Democrats.

  32. Yea, my dad voted for his elderly sister at least once that I know of .. probably multiple times. He voted a straight democratic ticket by mail in ballot, I believe. It’s not the type of thing that’s easily policed.


    Oh and what issues do the dead vote on? Estate taxes :).

  33. Voting is NOT a right — it was held only by white males with property at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. Various ammendments and laws have since extended the franchise, but it could theoretically be restricted once again.

    For several years now, I’ve been in favor of testing potential voters before allowing them to vote, to make sure they understand what it is they’re voting for. You’d have to be careful not to discriminate on the basis of political beliefs, but I think making sure that a voter knows the difference between a Senator and a Governor would be a good thing.

    Not sure how you’d do it for absentee ballots, though. :

  34. zorel-

    When I was a new poll worker I helped an elderly voter. I was told by more experienced people that it was legit (and looking in a manual confirmed that, although I intend to ask for clarification at the training section before the next election). I had a second poll worker witnessing me. The lady couldn’t read her ballot with her bad eyesight.

    I simply said “Maam, the ballot lists these candidates for such-and-such office.” Then I read the names. When she asked me questions I would only say “Maam, the ballot lists such-and-such candidate as being from such-and-such party, and the ballot indicates that his/her profession is such-and-such. The ballot also gives you the right to write in a name if you wish.” I refused to answer any other questions, simply saying “Maam, I can only tell you what’s on the ballot.” If she was uncertain I wouldn’t coax her to abstain but I wouldn’t coax her to make a choice, I’d simply say “Maam, you can either vote for one of the candidates or abstain. What do you want to do?”

    I was incredibly uncomfortable doing it, but I was assured that it was legit. My understanding is that it was in fact legit, but I’m still uncomfortable with it to this day. I’ve never been asked to do it since, but I intend to get more info before the next election.

    Of all the things I’ve done running a polling place, I can honestly say that’s the only thing that has made me uncomfortable. There are a lot of election laws that I don’t like but but most of the laws don’t give me any sort of personal moral unease. People who want to can point to laws that they like even less, but that’s the only election law that had me personally involved with something that made me very uneasy.

    I don’t object to people with bad eyesight bringing in a friend to help them. If I were a civilian on election day I’d have no problem helping a person with bad eyesight. But as the person in charge of the ballots, in charge of the other poll workers, and under an obligation to keep the process not only clean by OBVIOUSLY CLEAN to all observers, I feel really uncomfortable with seeing a person’s ballot and helping her mark it. It’s not that I don’t trust myself, it’s just that I don’t feel like a person with my degree of authority over the election should have any involvement with marking the ballots.

    But, the law says that a person who needs assistance can request the aid of a poll worker, so I comply. There are a lot of election laws that I don’t like, and any other day of the year I’ll gladly complain about them, but on Election Day I do my best to obey them rigorously. To do anything else is to taint the process.

  35. From my county’s elections office:

    “Assistance at the Polls: Voters unable to complete their ballot may bring one or two persons with them into the voting booth to assist them, or they may ask Pollworkers to provide assistance. You may not be assisted by your employer, union representative nor an agent of your employer or union representative.”

    http://www.sb-democracy.com:8081/elections.aspx?page=voterassistance.htm&dir=true

    I still don’t like it, but I’ll do it if I have to. I’ll just make damn sure that one other poll worker is with me. I don’t mind helping people, but I really don’t think that a person in charge of a polling place should be involved with filling out any ballot other than his own.

    I suppose I could get 2 of my subordinates to do it, but I don’t know that it’s fair to use my authority to force somebody else to take on this uncomfortable duty.

  36. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what you did, thoreau. If people need help with the mechanics of casting the ballot, I’d rather have the helped by someone sworn to honesty and neutrality than someone working for a campaign, say.

    Dan – “Voting is just a way of selecting our representatives. It is a means to an end–selecting a good government–nothing more…

    Real rights include freedom of speech, worship, the right to own weapons, property rights, etc. Not voting.”

    Yes and no. “Voting” may not be a right, but having a voice in the government, and having a government that is answerable to the people is a right. What’s more, having an equal voice in the government with all other competent citizens is a right. Saying voting is not a right is like saying that bearing arms is a right, but not buying, owning, or posessing any actual guns.

  37. thoreau,

    thanks for the info. It is not ‘honest folks’ like you that we should be worried about – not everyone shares your above stated position. It is easy for a poll worker to try to influence the voter you described above. But blind voters can bring in help or ask you guys.

    What do you think about senile people going to vote? I am not sure if it is bad to not let mentally incapable people from voting (otherwise you are entrusting the guy who brings them in to vote on their behalf)

  38. If the demented can run for office, they should be allowed to vote. I know I’ve voted for some demented folks that put up a good front. That’s the problem with voting, you have to wait two years before you can change your mind.

  39. I agree with crimethink. Voting is not a right. Nothing is a right if it infringes on other rights. Voting certainly does this. So long as I am on the losing side of the vote (which I always am since I don’t want any state at all), my right to select my own government is infringed when others vote.

    Of course, I have no delusions of the state crumbling anytime soon, but so long as we have voting, I have no problem with restricting the franchise either. However, I am a bit suspicious of allowing the state to decide who gets to vote based on any kind of test like crimethink suggests. I would much prefer a rule limiting voting to property owners. Of course, in the interest of fairness (no taxation without representation and all), the income tax should also be abolished, leaving just property taxes in place. If you don’t pay any taxes, you don’t get to vote.

  40. Steve, the logical conclusion of that is the poll tax, isn’t it? One could argue that if I’m merely renting property, I am contributing to the tax payments of the property owner.

  41. db, I believe the point is the peopel that are taking the individuals into the voting booth are voting for them. Question is how many times does one person accompany a paitent into the voting booth and how many times is that person voting for their candidate. /R

  42. I also agree with crimethink. Foreign nationals who wish to become U.S. citizens who are then entitled to vote, must pass an exam demonstrating a basic understanding of the civics of our republic. Why should the ability to pass such an exam not be required of every voter?

    I was actually thinking about this very subject as a consequence of a family get-together a few weeks ago.

    Within my family is a 23-yr-old young woman who is pregnant with #5, by the fourth different father; she never thinks past the present and has no interest in any kind of education. She has not got her GED. During a discussion at the aforementioned get-together she made it obvious she did not know the religion/ethnicity of the people who founded the State of Israel. She could not begin to guess who the VP is. She should be entitled to vote?

    Maybe the nation’s political conversations would occur at a higher level if the candidates were only addressing those who had the least little clue. What would be so awful about requiring that anyone who cares enough to have the vote could obtain it, simply be educating themselves sufficiently to pass a civics exam?

    –Mona–

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