Wednesday, March 1, 2017

"Make Montana a reliably Republican state," said the GOP. But they didn't.

Sam Levine, of the Huffington Post, reported this.   It concerns voting methods and political advantage in Montana, a usually reliable red state.  President Trump chose a Montana congressman, Rep. Ryan Zinke, to be his Secretary of the Interior, thus requiring an election to fill the vacant seat.

A state legislator had introduced a bill that would have turned this special election into an all mail-in ballot, in which every voter is sent a ballot in the mail, which they fill out and mail back in, much as they do in Oregon routinely.  He argued that it would save the state $500,000 by not having to hire election judges and other officials on short notice.


Yes, but . . . the head of the Montana Republican Party sent out an "emergency report" by email, warning that this form of voting would benefit Democrats and make it more difficult for Republicans to keep control of state politics.    He wrote:
"All mail ballots give the Democrats an inherent advantage in close elections due to their ability to organize large numbers of unpaid college students and members of public employee unions to gather ballots by going door to door. . . .  Vote-by-mail is designed to increase participation rates of lower propensity voters.  Democrats in Montana perform better than Republican candidates among lower propensity voters and Republicans do better among high propensity voters.

" I know that my position will not be popular with many fiscally conservative Republican[s]. . . .  They may be well intended, but this bill could be death of our effort to make Montana a reliably Republican state.  It is my job to remind us all of the long-term strategic advantage that passage of this bill would provide to our Democratic opponents for control of our legislature and our statewide elected positions."
Well, at least his attempt to grab power is candid.   He says exactly what others try to find some euphemism or cover story for -- as the legislator who introduced the bill, focusing on saving taxpayers money.   Which it would, but methinks they would do it anyway, to keep control of state government.

Is there nothing sacrosanct anymore?  Now I will admit that this is not as blatant as a scheme like the voter purges that some states do to remove as many names from voter registration rolls as they possible can, even if they know it will disproportionately and unfairly affect a certain type of voters -- or the reduction in voting hours or weekend early voting.    But it still is aimed at affecting who is going to vote, and that is trying to manipulate the system for partisan advantage.  But so is gerrymandering.

And, as has been said repeatedly, free elections, freely held, are the bedrock of democracy.


But, there's more.   The Montana Senate took a vote on the bill to have the mail-in ballot for this election, and it passed 37 to 13.    Was it saving $500,000 or principle of fairness that swayed them?   Wouldn't it be great to think it was the latter?


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