I worry that this may come to pass, even more this election than last. The Right blogosphere is reporting that the Democrats have thousands of lawyers on standby to quickly file protests for any election difficulties. I have no idea if that’s true, or what Republicans might have planned as well. I have read this however, which seems at least plausible.
Anyone actually disenfranchised should have a right to protest, of course. Even if it is inconvenient to the system, it’s an important right to protect – and too much inconvenience might force us to change our methods of keeping track of voters, which is likely a good thing. But there is an air of using litigation as a tactic rather than as a protection here. If you are one who believes that the Republicans are attempting to deny a certain class of voters – the poor, mostly - their rights, then flooding the courts will seem restorative. If you are one who believes that the inflated registrations by Democrats are going to result in fraudulent votes, then you will see the tactic as an intimidation. It would be nice if each voter were regarded neutrally of course, and I am sure that is how it is usually approached at the micro-level. To the poll worker, the person in front of them whose file is not quite in order but seems plausible should be regarded as a potential voter, not a potential Democrat or Republican voter.
But in the national discussion, that person is assumed to be a probable Democrat, and the Republicans want his bona fides to be established, while the Democrats claim that excessive suspicion is a type of discouragement, or even suppression. Both are correct, and how does the poor lady running the checklist keep that balance when it’s crowded and people are rude and impatient?
I worry most that it’s those ladies (and gents, of course) with the checklists and the other poll workers who are going to bear the brunt of this. I would hate to see any of them be publicly humiliated or challenged for behavior that is better than most of us would manage under pressure. Nor the supervisors and town officials who are co-ordinating them, and want nothing more than for every legitimate voter to breeze in and everyone else to go away. Litigation brings accusation of incompetence, discrimination, and any number of evils. Some of those people are corrupt or incompetent, and yes, we should do something about that. But most of them are volunteers who are on your side. By about 4pm, a lot of them are wondering “do you have a constitutional right to vote if you’re an a**hole? I think not!” I imagine that’s a bipartisan sentiment among the workers about then.
Go out of your way to be nice to the poll workers this Tuesday.