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To the Professionally Offended, there *is* no Right Answer

January 18, 2008

The ACLU sues to prevent a change from a voting method they sued to force a change from.

Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (yes, the same one that sued the state over its "Choose Life" license plates, citing "viewpoint discrimination" against pro-choicers) filed a lawsuit to prevent Cuyahoga County (the state's largest county, and home to Cleveland and its surrounding communities) from switching its voting apparati from touch-screen machines to what the ACLU believes represents "unequal, inaccurate and inadequate voting technology."

The new method of voting, which the ACLU -- one of the most "professionally offended" organizations in the nation -- finds so, well, offensive?

The Paper Ballot.

Cuyahoga County is switching to paper ballots for the state's primary election on March 4. According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, argues the county's new system violates the U.S. Constitution and Voting Rights Act of 1965 because it doesn't give voters a chance to fix mistakes on their ballots.

The ACLU said it will seek an injunction next week to block the voting-system switch.
In the laughable quote of the day, ACLU staff attorney Carrie Davis said "We take no position on what kind of voting technology is used so long as voters have the chance to check their ballots for mistakes before casting their vote."

Not that it's a surprise to anybody here, but the ACLU, of course, has a history caring very much "what kind of voting technology is used" -- or, more precisely, of believing that pretty much every method of voting is guilty of being either "disenfranchising" or "unconstitutional."

Back during the California recall election of 2003, for example, the ACLUs of Northern and Southern California filed suits against voting machines, demanding an election postponement on the grounds that the machines "would lead to widespread disenfranchisement of voters."

Even the Cuyahoga County case is not without its ironies. The switch to paper ballots is being made at the behest of Democrat Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, who "authorized a study last year that helped her conclude touch-screen voting can be manipulated." (You know, the "Diebold steals elections!" kind of manipulated.) Well, as can easily happen when a professionally offended organization gets involved yet again in an election dispute, the ACLU finds itself between a rock and a hard place here.

You see, in suing to prevent Cuyahoga County from changing to the "unconstitutional" paper ballot, the ACLU currently finds itself in the unenviable position of suing to prevent a switch from a method of voting (touch screen) that it has sued, in Florida, to have eliminated in the past, on the grounds that -- you guessed it -- touch screen voting machines violate "the integrity of the voting process."

It's an unenviable position for anybody to be in -- but, when an organization takes offense at pretty much everything, on behalf of pretty much everybody, there are bound to be some contradictory positions that come up.

It's awfully nice of the ACLU to ignore those contradictions and to keep on fighting against pretty much everything as though they were being consistent and actually doing some good, don'tcha think?

By the way, just a personal note to the ACLU of Ohio: if the beef with the paper ballot system is that voters need to have "the opportunity to identify and fix errors on their ballots," why don't you just remind everybody to check their work before officially submitting their ballot? It's not that hard, I promise -- and all of those voters who went to school past the first grade should be used to doing so, as (at least where I went to school) every test they've ever turned in has been counted as submitted, with no post-submission opportunity to recheck and correct their selected answers.

And let's get down to the bottom line here: regardless of the absurd and contradictory nature of this case, if somebody can't be bothered to check their work on the paper representation of their sacred franchise before submitting that vote, then do they really have any business voting for their, and our, leaders anyway? I don't really think so.


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