Monday, November 1, 2010

Trouble with the help

"The ‘myriad reasons’ voters might need help carrying out their intent could include language barriers and memory problems or learning disabilities that make word retrieval difficult, the high court said.

"‘Providing the proper spelling of names written in English could assist those voters who want to vote for a particular candidate and need assistance in ensuring that they write the candidate’s name correctly,’ the court said."

The ruling late last week by the Supreme Court in Alaska, reported in Saturday’s Los Angeles Times, is seen as helping Senator Lisa Murkowski, who took the extraordinary step of mounting a write-in campaign for tomorrow’s election after being defeated by a more conservative "tea party" candidate in the Republican primary election. Ms. Murkowski and her supporters were concerned that voters would have difficulty with remembering how to spell her name and wanted a list of write-in candidates to be made available to voters who ask for one at the polls. In response to the ruling, right-wing radio talk show hosts urged their listeners with similar names - who knew? - to get on the list, with the result being that there are something like 160 write-in candidates in Alaska.

I could comment on how this not only is yet another example of Alaska’s wacky politics but also shows that voting there is now officially even wackier than voting in Florida. I could also be snide and point out that Sarah Palin will probably rail against this ruling that will one day help her "special needs" child.

What I want to say, though, is that this reminds me of when my mother took me to vote for the first time. When my mom asked for two Democratic ballot, the old man manning the poll gave her a dirty look. No doubt he was a Republican and thought I was retarded and thought my mom was voting twice. (I now mark a "permanent absentee voter" ballot at home and drop it off at a poll.)

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