Wisconsin's Shameful Election Schedule
I work as an election official at a campus ward in Madison. We used to do beaucoup registration business for the September primary elections, since many many students had just begun their new leases on Aug. 15, and the primary always used to be held in early September. No longer, however. The primary's been moved back to August, and simultaneously the unfailingly franchise-friendly administration of Gov. Scott Walker extended the lead time needed to qualify as a resident from 10 to 28 days. This means that almost zero students will qualify as living at their college address by the time the primary rolls around. Failing to register then, they will be less likely to vote in the general election in November as well.
The 28-day lead time is squarely on Wisconsin Republicans, but moving the date of the primary back to August is not. I'm informed (but have not verified) that this was done as a federal requirement, so that the results of the primary election could be ginned up into absentee ballots in time to send them abroad (specifically to military personnel) and get them back in time for the general election. If this is true, I find it astonishing. The US government knows exactly where each and every one of our men and women under arms is physically located, because it’s the Pentagon that tells them exactly where they must be. And it's an agency of the federal government that's responsible for getting their mail to them in a timely fashion. If our service people can't expect anything better than 45-DAY TURNAROUND for something as big and obvious as an absentee-ballot envelope, what kind of crappy service are we inflicting on them for their regular mail delivery?
Compounding this utter failure of the federal government to do right by our troops is the shameful shuffling off onto the states of the responsibility for dealing with the consequences. So, in exchange for doing a half-assed job of trying to let about a million troops participate in the democratic process, Congress has effectively disenfranchised tens of millions of college students and recent high-school graduates just entering the workforce.
I'd like you to initiate action to get the federal government to provide a condign level of mail service to our military, so we can return this chunk of democracy to the citizenry with a sensible election schedule.
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It was the first election of the post-apartheid era in South Africa, and the TV news crew was out in the boonies looking for good human-interest stories. The government hadn’t been able to set up sufficient polling locations or staff them fully, so there was a long line stretching out of one rural poll into the dusty prairie beyond. The crew set out, walking toward the end of the line, looking for likely interviewees.
They spotted one old gent, dressed colorfully but leaning heavily on his cane, and asked him where he was from. It turned out that he lived about 20 klicks away and had left the previous night, walking and resting as he went, to get here. He was nowhere near the front of the line, and they said it looked like things were moving slowly.
“That’s all right”, he said. “I can wait.”
“How long have you been waiting already?”, they asked.
“About 60 years.”
I always vote.