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Voting by mail: an effrontery to American ideals and principles

One of the most compelling photographic images of my lifetime--at least as dramatic as the Saigon policeman executing a suspected Viet Cong or the Challenger blowing up--is that of an unnamed Filipino man running through the streets of Manila with a ballot box in hand, being pursued by a group of pro-Ferdinand Marcos thugs. After the picture was taken, the mob overtook the man, brutally murdered him and made off with the ballot box.

We need to find that photo, make copies of it and hand them out to every buffoon, laggard and misguided would-be do-gooder who thinks that voting by mail has any merit whatsoever. This effrontery to American ideals and principles is a brain-dead idea that arrived stillborn, only to have a procession of Pollyannas and Dr. Frankensteins attempt to breathe life into something that any thinking person could only meet with utter contempt.

And among the first to get the copies of that photo will be the members of the Tucson City Council, who voted unanimously to study the possibility of conducting all-mail balloting in city elections.

This is an issue that should cut across all party and philosophical lines. Democrats who are rightfully concerned about the erosion of our freedoms by an out-of-control administration can't possibly be thrilled about a proposed voting system that would be riddled with voter-fraud possibilities at every step of the process. And Republicans, who trumpet the purple fingers of Iraqi voters (who risked their lives to go to the polls) as the ends that justify the means in that lie-driven war, can't possibly believe that the way to honor those who have given their lives to defend the democratic process is to make voting as lazy and as unimportant as possible.

I have to admit that when it comes to voting, I'm about as hard-core as they come. I think voting is a sacred privilege, one handed down to me through the blood and sacrifice of others and guaranteed to me by my active and diligent citizenship. I am personally offended by efforts to cheapen that privilege, to make things easier for those who obviously don't appreciate their right to vote.

I could write volumes about how a vote-by-mail scheme could be easily subverted by those with fraudulent intent. Even some of the better-intentioned people might be tempted to have their spouse fill out their ballot (which, of course, would be a crime). But think about how such a system would work in a place like Colorado City, where everybody would register, get their ballots in the mail, then hand them over to Brother Jeffs, who would fill them out, send them in and then feign surprise when he got every single vote. Even the most vocal supporter of such a system would probably admit that voting by mail would increase the chances of fraud.

Some claim that the number and complexity of ballot propositions make voting at home smarter. You get sample ballots in the mail. Do your freakin' homework and take a list into the polling booth, if necessary. It's not that hard.

Fred Taylor, of some crackpot organization called Your Right to Vote, says that Oregon saves money each year by using the vote-by-mail disaster. Shame on you for even mentioning that! The cost of liberty should never be a factor. You want to save money? Don't build stupid-ass bridges. We should never try to save pennies by cutting corners on the foundation of our democracy.

City Councilwoman Carol West defended the practice by noting that she used to live in Oregon. Too bad she still doesn't.

Her newly elected counterpart, Nina Trasoff, said that voting by mail might increase political discussions among friends and family. How, exactly? "Hey, I got my ballot in the mail, and you got yours. Let's commit fraud and fill each other's out."

Still others claim that voting by mail will increase turnout. How is that automatically a good thing? Citizens should want to vote because it's the right thing to do, not because they're being tugged along into it. When Tom DeLay is holding onto T-Bag's outturned pocket with one hand and trying to write his memoirs with the other, he might ponder the wisdom of his actions in this area. Government should not be in the business of trying to influence the citizenry's voting patterns and practices. If government does a good job, people will want to vote. And if government does a lousy job, people will want to vote.

This entire idea is an abomination and a pox on the houses of everyone who chooses to slouch toward this particular Gomorrah.

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