Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Absentee lies, satellite dreams

Posted By on Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 4:00 AM

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Here's something that shouldn't be particularly shocking: the State of Indiana doesn't want to make it easy for you to vote in November. State law isn't too friendly to those wishing to cast a ballot.

It wasn't supposed to be that way. After the debacle of the 2000 election, when the Supreme Court stepped in and declared George W. Bush the winner, Congress and various states passed laws intended to make sure everybody gets a chance to vote and that every vote counts.

In Indiana, not so much. Our response to 2000 was to pass a restrictive photo ID requirement at the polls. We stop voting at 6 p.m., the earliest that polls close in the nation, so don't plan on voting after work. And if you want to vote absentee by mail, well, you'd better prepare to lie.

To vote absentee by mail, you have to swear to the state that on Election Day that you're going to be gone from the county for the entire day or that you're a caretaker for a disabled or elderly person or that your religion prohibits you from voting on that day due to a holiday.

My religion prevents me from doing anything on a day when liquor isn't being sold, so that's my excuse. If yours doesn't and you still want to vote absentee, you're going to have to lie and face a potential perjury charge and prepare for a hefty fine and/or jail time.

Perjury is a notoriously hard rap to prove. Ask Bill Clinton about that. So you're probably safe by claiming that you are scheduled to work for the entire 12 hours the polls are open to get an absentee ballot. It's just strange that our state wants to keep people from voting.

In 2008, my wife and I voted two weeks before the election at North Central High School at a satellite voting location. It was relatively quick and very easy. This year, though, the single Republican member on the three-person Marion County Election Board is keeping us from doing that.

Patrick J. Dietrick, vice chairman of the board, says it's too expensive to staff the early voting locations and that the restrictive state law on absentee ballots is just fine with him. The vote by the board must be unanimous to set up satellite voting locations. You can choose to vote early at the clerk's office at the City-County Building starting Oct. 8. Of course, this assumes you can afford to park nearby and you don't mind being treated like a criminal and being searched by unfriendly policemen after entering the building. *

Let's look back at our Founding Fathers, whose wisdom we are asked to accept as the final word on most other legal matters. They only allowed white men over the age of 21 who also owned land to vote.

Other countries vote on Saturday, when most people have extra time on their hands. Other countries also allow people with felony convictions on their record to vote. But not the United States. Despite the fact that two of the last three presidential elections were tainted by fraud, we keep making it harder and harder to vote.

Then there is the question on whether it really matters whether you vote. With more than a month to go until the November elections — barring some sort of October surprise that changes the dynamics of the presidential race — President Barack Obama seems almost certain to win re-election.

Mitt Romney's incredibly inept campaign has done little to change the minds of the few remaining undecided voters and his gaffes have alienated many of the people who might have changed their minds about voting for the president.

This, of course, is a very good thing for America. At the very least, a second Obama administration will ensure the Supreme Court doesn't come under full fascist control, that our foreign policy will be run in a sensible manner and that the poorest people have a friend in the White House.

From a political perspective, President Obama's re-election would involve some disadvantages. The economy will continue to suck for quite some time no matter who's in office. The Tea Party will continue to obstruct every proposal brought forth by Obama. And the world will remain a dangerous place, full of terrorist threats and turmoil in the Middle East.

Only God Himself or Herself can resolve these issues; neither Obama nor Romney nor any single human being is capable of it. It Is very possible America is headed toward some sort of partial economic and political collapse no matter what and it's better, politically, if a Republican presides over it.

So here, Mitt: Here are the keys to the White House. We'll watch you fix it. What could go wrong?

*Note: Attendants will refund parking fees at the two pay lots directly north or south of the intersection of Market and Alabama streets next to the City-County Building in exchange for vouchers available to voters in the Election Board office. Early voting runs from Oct. 8 at 8 a.m. through Nov. 5 at noon. Visit indy.gov/election for the complete calendar. Voter registration, which can be accomplished right across the hall from the clerk's office at the City-County Building, must be complete by Oct. 9 for voters wishing to participate in the 2012 election.

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