Ritchie’s bad ideas

February 23, 2009

countIn a Star Tribune article, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie gave us his ideas on election reform.

It’s amazing that we are getting election reform advice from a man who used a mere technicality to discount hundreds of ballots which Coleman’s campaign wanted included, while bending over backwards to allow every questionable ballot to count for Franken.

Mark Ritchie is a partisan who sees his main constituency as the DFL, not the citizens of Minnesota.

He suggests several “reforms” which are all designed to make it easier for voters to register and for ballots to be cast. This seems appealing at first glance, but do we really want elections to be a mere convenience, rather than a civic duty?

Ritchie suggests increasing early voting and absentee ballots, he suggests automatic voter registration when applying for state I.D. or driver’s license, and lowering the margin of victory to .25%. These suggestions might make it easier to get Democrats elected, but they will not improve the integrity of the election system.

Rather than turning elections in to free-for-alls which are decided after the fact, behind closed doors, or behind the veil of confusion caused by some vote ranking scheme (like IRV for which Ritchie also advocates), elections should be made more orderly and verifiable.

Ritchie’s suggestions are the exact opposite of what we need. Election Day registration should be eliminated. There is such a thing as civic responsibility, and if some people don’t have the gumption to get themselves registered and to the polls, the state is under no obligation to cater to them.

Absentee voting should only be allowed for military personnel who are stationed away from home, or people who have a physical condition which prevents them from getting to the polling place. It should not be used for the convenience of lazy people, and of those who want to use absentee ballots to rig elections.

What the people of Minnesota need is elections we can trust. We need to make sure only legal citizens of the proper voting age and residency requirements are allowed to vote. We need to make vote fraud more difficult, rather than making it easier.

Photo I.D., along with limits on absentee balloting and stricter registration rules, would go a long way to improving the integrity of the vote and the trustworthiness of the outcomes of elections.

Secretary Ritchie’s suggestions should be viewed as coming from a partisan activist who is using his public office to further a partisan cause.

Voting may be a right, but it’s a right that carries responsibility with it, and that responsibility should not be thrown aside simply to make it easier for Mark Ritchie to get his party’s candidates elected.