Tuesday, November 13, 2012

American Non-Exceptionalism

Both the scandal of hugely-delayed vote counting in several states, especially in Florida and Arizona, and the efforts by Republicans in those and other states to suppress voting by groups they wish to disenfranchise have contributed to putting the U.S. in the category of countries who do a poor job of conducting elections. People here like to think Americans do everything so well, yet the rest of the world is fast catching up to us and this is one area where many countries are ahead of us.

First, even a country new to national voting such as Indonesia has run nation-wide elections across a huge archipelago with fewer problems than we had in 2000 and 2012. That country had been a dictatorship of first the left and then the right for many years; yet when they set about running an election, it went off with few hitches.

Second, most European countries vote on Sunday. This means that working people have no problem getting to the polls and the nonsense about giving people a very few hours to go home and back to vote can be forgotten. The percentage of voters turning out increases, too. 

Third, the excuse offered in Florida and Arizona--perhaps the two most evil GOP-administered states in terms of active effort to suppress voting--was that turnout was both higher than usual and unexpected. It turns out that it was neither. There were more people voting in 2008.

Think about how badly many states performed--and there were exceptions, the good-government states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, for example, and there were places like New York and New Jersey, where weather conditions made for problems far exceeding the usual incompetence--when you hear people like Romney continually calling for more responsibility to be shifted to the states.

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