Balkinization  

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The idiocy of politics as horserace

Sandy Levinson

We are being told right now that Bernie Sanders has "won" New Hampshire with approximately 26% of the popular vote.  Yes, he is coming in first (apparently), by 2% over Pete Budtigieg.  But surely it is at least as significant that 74% of Sanders's New Hampshire neighbors voted against him.  And, I say with some regret, given my own support for Elizabeth Warren, that the total vote for Sanders and Warren, the ostensible "progressive" candidates is less than 40%.  My own view, for what it is worth, is that Amy Klobachar is the big winner of the primary inasmuch as she should clearly take over from Joe Biden as the "moderate" candidate.  But our tendency to view the primaries as horse races, where coming in first is literally the only thing that seems to count, is truly perverse.  Of course, one explanation may be that we have all become inured to the first-past-the-post system of elections that (perhaps fatally) afflicts our (and the UK's) political system.

I can't really blame our defective Constitution for this particular feature of our contemporary politics. States (or even political parties) could, for example, move to an alternative transferrable vote if they really wanted to offer a more plausible "winner" of a primary.



Comments:

I'm not sure this is descriptively accurate. As you say, there are definite rewards for coming in as low as third place in early primaries; Bill Clinton won his party's nomination, in large part, by mounting a "comeback" to a second-place finish 8% behind the winner, and the comeback, as I understand it, was only from scandal and polling-fueled low expectations, not any actual electoral results (Iowa was uncontested because a favorite son ran there). I think a more accurate account of what "seems to count" isn't order of finish, but performance relative to expectations and previous results -- which, admittedly, is perhaps even a dafter metric of success than order of finish, but all the same, something rather different from what you say is all that seems to count. It also seems relevant to your concerns that the DNC allocates delegates on the basis of a kind of watered-down PR.
 

It's far from just the primaries themselves. The media coverage of the election is dominated by the horse race. Who is "winning" or "losing" gets massively more coverage than the policy ideas and their implications being put forward. Everything about how the media presents a presidential election suggests that all we really need to know is who is ahead, who is behind, and where on a 1 dimensional axis a candidate might best be described as placing.

It's really depressing. There are really big ideas on (and off) the table. There isn't zero coverage of those ideas, but what does exist is buried and dominated by horse race reporting.
 

"There are really big ideas on (and off) the table. There isn't zero coverage of those ideas, but what does exist is buried and dominated by horse race reporting."

Well, the media tend to like these candidates, so they're doing them a favor; Given the nature of these really big ideas, extensive reporting on them would not be a kindness to the candidates.

Don't worry, though: I'm sure the big ideas will get a lot of attention after the convention... in the form of attack ads aimed at making it impossible to bury them!
 

Anyway, Sandy, I'm glad you recognize, (Given your tendency to attribute every evil to the Constitution.) that first past the post elections aren't actually constitutionally mandated. It really is a flawed way to run elections, but good luck getting office holders elected under it to agree to another system they might be less successful under.

Proportional representation and single transferable vote are on my list of items should we have a constitutional convention.

The real constitutional issue with our elections right now, IMO, is that several states are now arguably in violation of the republican form of government guarantee, due to having outlawed write in votes.

The original form of voting at the time the Constitution was adopted, (Thus the originalist understanding of what "voting" means!) was a system where the voters would simply come in and identify THEIR choice of candidate. There were no pre-printed ballots, and thus no such thing as ballot access, it was all write-in. The right to vote was the right to vote for whomever you wanted.

Now several states have decided not to stop at making it more convenient to vote for the choices they want you to have, and have actually gone so far as outlawing write-in votes. The traditional right to vote for whomever you want is now dead in those states, you may only vote for the candidates the state permits.

The power to select the candidates is the power to dictate who is elected, and that is supposed to be a power of the voters, not the state. I'd seriously argue that these states, such as California, are now in violation of the republican form of government guarantee, and should be forced to allow write-in votes.

And that guarantee IS unambiguously in the Constitution.
 

I'm dubious whether write-in votes are essential to republican government, but putting that aside….

Right now, there's no real way to enforce the clause on your issue. The Court denied its own power in Luther v Borden (1849), and few current legislators would want to open up the ballots for more competition.

Going back to the OP, I agree with Paul Davis that media coverage is mostly to blame for the "horse race" nature of the electoral process. But obviously both parties could do a better job of designing their primaries: regional primaries; rotating states; balanced multi-regions; national. Any of these with some form of alternative voting would be preferable. None of this would stop the media from its bad behavior in the general election, however.
 

I could see a Republican Congress deciding to outlaw jungle primaries as an exercise of their "time, place, and manner" power over federal elections. But you're right, they're certainly not going to take exception to the ban on write-ins, it's not in their interest as incumbents who got ballot access.

It's a fundamental flaw of the Constitution, IMO, that selection of the federal judiciary is invested in the hands of federal politicians, so the judiciary has no interest in enforcing parts of the Constitution that federal politicians aren't fond of.
 

On to Nevada. That will offer the novelty of confronting Sanders (and Warren, but in the horse race she's well behind) with a genuine policy dilemma. Both progressives are strong supporters of workers' rights. In Nevada, the workers are Latino cooks, and croupiers and strippers from all over the place, organised by the amazingly strong Culinary Union. This has fought and won battles for a good healthcare scheme for its members, run by the union and paid for by their shady employers. The union objects strongly to compulsory M4A replacing their scheme.

Somebody should buy the film rights. My bet is that confronted with political reality, both candidates will show their true colours and trim the proposals. They don't need to abandon the universalist rhetoric, but will have at least to offer a carve-out for union-run schemes. The centrist, incremental position will have won, as was always inevitable.
 

selection of the federal judiciary is invested in the hands of federal politicians, so the judiciary has no interest in enforcing parts of the Constitution that federal politicians aren't fond of.

The appointment of various people to fill the lower courts that regularly gained their experience in local institutions (in and out of state government) is but one way they have an "interest" here. But, appointment by state officials would at most shift what they are "fond of" and a consistent rule there would apply to state judges too. They would not have an interest to enforce parts of the Constitution that state politicians aren't fond of. So, this hides the ball of what is the actual concern.
 

The "won" thing is silly in part since the system in place (there were Republican elections too; Bill Weld won a delegate in Iowa) is a competition for delegates.

The final split I saw last night in New Hampshire was 9-9-6 there. Sanders' "winning" or Buttigieg "winning" Iowa if they obtained the same amount of delegates alone is largely noise. In effect, the two tied in the two states. If we are going to horse race, at least get a true sense of what the race results are. In that sense, yes, Amy Klobuchar did well last night & Biden did badly in Iowa. And, Warren did okay in Iowa and had a disappointing result in NH (though Biden did as well).

I appreciate in part since I think the professor is too focused on his continual focus at times that it is noted that this is a choice and not compelled by the document in place. A caucus with its problems or primary where 30% (NH) voted for "Other" in regard to the people who got delegates (instead of some sort of instant run-off process where there votes would be represented in the delegates or a simple percentage mechanism with the 24 delegates providing a floor of about 4% with various ways to deal with the remainder). Plus, how elections are reported is up to those who report.

The government does have a role here such as to prevent discrimination.
 

Strictly speaking, as the primaries are just a way these private organizations called "political parties" select candidates, the government shouldn't have any role there, AT ALL. The only constitutionally required election is the general election, and everything prior to that should be out of the government's hands.
 

I'll use my own state as an example.

I go a few blocks away to vote on the primary day designated by law to vote using government provided machines with government workers running the polling location.

The parties can pick their nominees simply at a nominating conventions, if they wish, and various third parties do. But, whatever "should" occur, the system in place is regulated and run by the government. And, whatever is mandated by the federal constitution, if a state thinks it a good policy to let the people decide here, they can set forth it as a matter of state law. Furthermore, Article One specifically notes:

The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.

This provides specific discretion, including as a matter of policy to "make" regulations that require primary elections.
 

Primaries aren't elections for Senators and Representatives. They're just a mechanism for some groups to decide who they'd nominate for those elections.

Because the major parties have gotten quite entrenched, they're diverting public resources to their own purposes. That's all that's going on here.
 

Most countries that have primaries have national primaries. Most states have statewide primaries. (My state has a "top two" primary that is even better because it eliminates parties altogether and focuses on getting the most popular candidates into the general election.)

Obviously, if we were doing this "right", we'd have a national primary, or just start with California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois or something. To have two lily white states go first just because they whine loudly when anyone suggests that someone else might do it is ridiculous.

But having said all that, this isn't the media's fault. In the system we have, there's no way to avoid covering the horserace. Campaigns, and donors, care about the results of these primaries and caucuses. People are dropping out of the race because they can't raise money. And it isn't unreasonable to posit some relationship between the results of succeeding primaries, even though the extent of that relationship is probably debatable.

I'm dubious whether write-in votes are essential to republican government

"Republican government" is meaningless and non-justiciable, but write-in votes are certainly essential to any form of democracy worthy of the name. A majority of the voting public should absolutely be able to go around whatever slop the parties serve up for them.

The Court denied its own power in Luther v Borden (1849)

Nope. The Court correctly recognized that there was no basis to exercise that power.

And one last thing: you have to remember elections are also a television show. They are entertainment. They get television ratings.

The PUBLIC likes horse race coverage. And the public has the right to get the coverage it wants.
 

It's amusing to watch Bircher Brett, who has demonstrated his at best grudging tolerance of and at worst outright disdain for democracy and who thinks career politicians in state legislatures should choose Senators for the people bemoan, of all things, barring write-in votes and 'jungle' primaries as unbearable affronts to popular sovereignty. It's like watching those carnival dogs that walk on their hind legs in human clothes....
 

Elections are not a television show. Coverage of elections can be a television show though. It's an important distinction in the way that, say, baseball isn't a tv show but coverage of baseball games can be.
 

Primaries aren't elections for Senators and Representatives. They're just a mechanism for some groups to decide who they'd nominate for those elections.

Primaries are part of the overall election process. As noted back in 1927, Nixon v. Herndon, a "primary election" set forth by the laws of a state is state action and must follow constitutional standards.

But, one need not appeal to legal precedent. The average person is familiar with primary "elections" (sic) and how they are generally part of two step process to elect. It isn't mandatory -- a system can have a single election. Or two, the first where the candidates don't have party labels on the ballot with a "runoff" for the top two vote getters as a "general" election. Other possibilities can be imagined.

Because the major parties have gotten quite entrenched, they're diverting public resources to their own purposes. That's all that's going on here.

Moving past just-so stories, the history of primary elections here and abroad is somewhat more complicated. For instance, primaries were in large part a Progressive Era creation to provide an official means for the public to vote, to take power away party bosses. Various states set up official primaries here, regulated by the state, instead of having parties merely selecting candidates in party conventions.

In time, this became the standard process in selecting candidates, particularly if a region was split among more than one party. In various cases, there weren't just two parties on the ballot. In New York, a range of third parties are on the ballot in the primary, including the Working Family Party. In various cases, people from these third parties were actually elected.
 

Election laws, as with other laws, do tend to bow to those with power so various laws do benefit the major parties in certain respects. In some specific case, this might be bad policy. It might even have some constitutional concern. This doesn't change that primaries are part of the overall state electoral process and not merely private.
 

Baseball is a TV show too, Mista.
 

BTW Joe is right- primaries are clearly state action. See Smith v. Allwright; Terry v. Adams. It's funny- I usually have to remind liberals of this, but here a conservative didn't realize it either.
 

It's worth noting that the various ways both parties entrench their power in electoral processes is a very salient fact with respect to why Democrats didn't convince enough of the public to remove the President.

People aren't outraged by this stuff, except when the other guy does it. People expect politicians to act in their partisan self interest. (And, again, that's why things like initiative power and write in votes are super important to democracy. They allow the public to bypass parties' hammerlocks.)
 

Sandy:

In contests of any kind, most Americans want winners. Pretty soon Democrats will as well.

The Democrats' nightmare scenario is the primary vote continuing to splinter and Bernie Sanders going into the convention with a low plurality of the delegates. The majority of delegates will be faced with the choice between following their own "whoever gets the most votes" wins rhetoric, nominating an open Democratic socialist and replaying the 1972 general election or nominating a "moderate" establishment type who earned a minority of the vote and watching Sanders and his voters go independent or stay home. Remember, the Democrat establishment already waged one dirty tricks campaign against the Bern in 2016.

BTW, the Iowa caucuses employed a modified alternative transferrable vote system where caucus goers who supported a candidate who did not reach 15% support were free to support other candidates in subsequent rounds of balloting. This did not keep the Democrat vote from splintering. It does not appear the dogs like the dog food being served this cycle.
 

That's BS Bart. Actually polls show Dems LIKE their candidates this cycle.

Sandy's panicking because they don't like Warren as much as he does, but all of the major Dem candidates have high favorables among Democratic voters.
 

Very good information. Lucky me I ran across your blog by accident (stumbleupon).
I have saved as a favorite for later!

ignou mba in banking and finance
 

Dilan, I chose baseball for a reason. It's not a tv show, it's a sport which is also sometimes covered on tv. It's a sport where many of its fans don't care much for the 'televisation' of the sport and the sport has largely resisted changing itself too structurally for the sake of more sensationalized coverage (contra sports like basketball which have 'tv timeouts' built in now). Soccer is like that in many ways. Perhaps a better example of what I'm talking about is the XFL. In its first iteration it took the tack that it would take the most sensationalistic forms of tv coverage (analogy to the 'horse race approach' in covering politics) and ramp them up to 11. It failed miserably. Now in its current iteration it's pulled back on much of that, seems it learned that the public might not love the sensationalistic tack they thought was key so much. Ditto perhaps the public doesn't love the horse race coverage as much as the major news networks think, it's just what they're given. As a further analogy think of what network tv used to be decades ago. Rather bland often insipid shows meant to appeal to the largest common denominator. The thinking was that shows which tried to be 'prestige' in telling nuanced, complex stories could never make it on tv. Then we had the new Golden Age of television with cable shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, etc., Seems if people were actually offered more intelligent approaches they actually ate it up.
 

Election predictions from Bircher Bart, the person who famously *guaranteed* a Romney presidency, are always good for a laugh.

"Remember, the Democrat establishment already waged one dirty tricks campaign against the Bern in 2016. "

Indeed, a minor DNC official sent an email suggesting Sanders wouldn't be a good candidate and a former DNC official turned pundit suggested to Clinton that a question about perennial top topic health care might be asked at a debate! Massive dirty tricks campaign there!

If you want to see 'rigged' or 'dirty tricks' by a party establishment trying to protect a favored candidate, look at the GOP states that changed their nominating processes to protect Trump from any challengers this go around.

Every accusation is a confession with these Birchers.
 

I favor write-ins as a policy choice because I think those who want to govern us should bend over backwards to get the people's fullest consent.

However, I don't see disallowing them in certain contexts as a dire death blow to democracy. For example California allows them in their first round of voting, they just don't allow them in the second where the field is whittled down to two on purpose. It's passing interesting that Bircher Brett didn't mention Louisiana where write-ins are barred in both rounds, but then again it's a red state so that's probably why.
 

Mista Wiskas, I said "several states", and only mentioned California as, "these states, such as California".

So, your complaint is that I provided an example, and not an exhaustive list? I used California as an example because,

1) It's the largest jungle primary state.

2) My brother, a Republican, lives there and regularly complains about this problem.

and,

3) There are a lot of other problems concerning how California administers elections. Such as having legalized ballot harvesting. So as the biggest state with relentlessly abusive election laws, it's an obvious example.
 

"I used California as an example because, it's a liberal Democratic leaning state and I'm a partisan incoherent."

Fixed that for Bircher Brett.
 

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And 'ballot harvesting' actually cuts against Bircher Brett's sudden democracy concerns. Being able to designate someone else to drop off your mail in ballot actually helps people that otherwise might not be able to register their vote actually vote and it's available regardless of party. So, again, it's what's going on with Bircher Brett's concerns are just part of Bircher Brett's usual partisan incoherent conspiracy theory about 'dirty Democrats' in that weirdo hippy state of California 'stealing' elections, not about some principle of democratic theory for him.

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/the-conversation/sd-what-is-ballot-harvesting-in-california-election-code-20181204-htmlstory.html
 

Btw-here's information on which states put restrictions on write in votes for Presidential elections. Note the strictest states against write in votes skew heavily 'Red.' Also note that a common justification states use in restricting write in votes here has to do with the electoral college, which Bircher Brett loves and defends regularly.

Partisan incoherent.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/2016-election/write-in-votes/

 

"I favor write-ins as a policy choice because I think those who want to govern us should bend over backwards to get the people's fullest consent.

However, I don't see disallowing them in certain contexts as a dire death blow to democracy."

This is my view.
 

And it's a Mr. Fantastic level stretch to argue that restrictions on write-ins should be combated via the Guarantee Clause. It's the kind of argument that were a liberal making a similar level one Birchers like Brett would be screaming about the imperial judiciary writing their own personal preferences into the law via the Constitution. Ideas about what is fundamental to a 'republican' form of government vary quite a bit and whatever else can be said about them it's quite a stretch to argue that, for example, a system like CA's which allows write in's at the first stage of voting but not in the second has ceased to have a republican form of government.
 

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Mr. W: Election predictions from Bircher Bart, the person who famously *guaranteed* a Romney presidency, are always good for a laugh.

Putting aside your inevitable lies concerning my past horse race "predictions" used to deflect from the subject at hand, you need to get a dose of reality.

Dem media polling of Dem voters is completely splintered and shifting. After months of media exposure and debates, candidates bob up and down, but no one draws over 30% support.

Apart from the Bern, none of the Dems are drawing large crowds. And the Bern's numbers are substantially smaller than Obama and a fraction of the Trump mega rally numbers. In Nashua, Trump's mega rally drew a crowd which overflowed outside the overflow parking lots with the giant TV screens. A couple days before, all the Dem candidates combined could not fill the auditorium to capacity at a campaign meet and greet.

Dem turnout as a percentage of voters was down from 2008 and 2016 in both IA and NH. Perhaps, some of the Dem leaning Indis who voted in past Dem caucuses/primaries are voting Trump, who set records for incumbent POTUSes in each state.

These facts suggest Dem voters don't like their choices and/or they assume Trump is going to win.

BD: Remember, the Democrat establishment already waged one dirty tricks campaign against the Bern in 2016.

Mr. W: Indeed, a minor DNC official sent an email suggesting Sanders wouldn't be a good candidate...


Bern voters have longer memories.

DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz essentially ceded control over the DNC to the Clinton campaign and was forced to resign.

The DNC set up a joint PAC called the Hillary Victory Fund to shift resources to Clinton during the primaries.

The DNC allowed Team Clinton to loot the state party funds.

Basically, the DNC treated Clinton as the nominee long before she earned the nomination.
 

Mista Wiskas, ballot harvesting is rightly banned in most states due to it being an enabler of absentee ballot fraud.
 

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Those bans are part of a system of voter suppression. Regulation of the practice is fine, banning is not.
 

Mark:

Prohibition of vote harvesting is regulation of absentee ballots.

CA's Democrat vote manufacturing operation works like this:

(1) Through automatic registration schemes and a refusal to scrub the rolls, dozens of CA precincts have more registered than eligible voters.

(2) Ballots are automatically mailed to every registered voter.

(3) Campaign workers go to the real and imaginary registered voters and convince/harass those with unmanned ballots to fill in the Democrat candidate and give the worker the ballot.

(4) On top of that, CA freely gives out provisional ballots for those who are not registered voters in counties where the registered already outnumber the eligible voters. In most states, the clerical errors which form the ground for a provisional ballot form a minuscule percentage of the overall vote. In CA, they amount to hundreds of thousands of additional votes.

Essentially, CA is operating like the infamous vote counting scene in Gangs of New York.
 

"Putting aside your inevitable lies concerning my past horse race "predictions" used to deflect "

Lol, every accusation is a confession. It's Bircher Bart who is lying/deflecting, away from the demonstrable fact that he unequivocally *guaranteed* a Romney victory in 12. This man knows as much about predicting elections as he does when a nomination is 'rigged,' he cherry picks evidence and misreads it according to his partisan incoherence. He's not to be taken seriously, except as an example of what crazy conspiracy thinking and partisanship does to the mind.
 

Of course there's no evidence of ballot fraud in California via this method. Conservatives, especially conspiracy prone Bircher types, always fantasize that efforts to make it actually easier for people to register their consent (vote) constitute fraud. As we know, deep down (heck, actually scratch the surface) they want less people to vote and/or don't like democracy at all.
 

I suppose you could rationalize the same thing about ballot secrecy. ALL precautions against stealing elections are inconvenient.

I really do understand where Democrats are coming from this, theoretically: The chief function of voting is legitimizing government and having people buy into the system, so every last vote is good, even if it's case by somebody who isn't legally entitled to vote, and ballot fraud isn't really a big deal.

From the perspective of anyone who doesn't start out assuming Democrats are on the up and up, it looks like you're deeply into stealing elections, and object to anything that might make doing so harder.
 

Bircher Brett deconstructs himself in his last comment.

He acknowledges the intuitive appeal about making voting easier: "The chief function of voting is legitimizing government and having people buy into the system, so every last vote is good"

And he even recognizes the answer to his slander that no one cares about illegal voting: "ballot fraud isn't really a big deal."

It's just that he equivocates here: he means Democrats supposedly don't care *if* there is illegal voting. Rather, they don't think it's a really big deal because...evidence and logic suggest it's *empirically not so*! Therefore making legal votes more inconvenient is not justified.

But, he needs a conspiracy theory, bad guys and cheating and such. It's his worldview and it ain't gonna change due to simple empiricism and logic. That kind of thing rarely does...
 

No, I was identifying the left's perspective on voting, not endorsing it.

We will never know how much vote fraud there is in this country so long as the left is permitted to obstruct any effort to check or prevent it.

All I know here is that any time anybody proposes ANYTHING that would make vote fraud harder, Democrats go bonkers. It really does look like a guilty reaction.
 

So the only way Brett conceives as valid for "checking or preventing" vote fraud just coincidentally makes voting harder for those inclined by social position, financial status, age, infirmity, or other things to vote Democratic.

How oddly convenient.

Do, pray tell, Brett, just exactly which Democrats in positions of power have refused to prosecute cases of "voter fraud?" -- I ask, because such cases have been alleged here in my current home state, and, when investigated, have invariably turned out to be erroneous, if not dishonestly asserted.


 

Now, now, be fair. There have been a few cases of voter fraud recently. All by Rs.
 

Mr. W: Of course there's no evidence of ballot fraud in California via this method

For a bald faced liar, you do serve a useful role as a instructional tool. Thanks for the reminder that my CA's Democrat vote manufacturing operation list was incomplete.

(5) CA and other blue governments oppose investigations of obvious voter fraud like the above, arguing there is no evidence of individual voter fraud, which of course you cannot obtain without an investigation. Classic circular argument.
 

Mista:

Wbat a few obnoxious fans on the Internet claim they want doesn't matter. Baseball is a television show. TV pays for it, and baseball does what TV wants. And most baseball fans are not obsessives on the Internet; most watch the game on TV and don't give a crap what purists think.
 

And elections are a TV show too. A BUNCH of debate rules are written at the behest of television, which uses the debates to promote programming. The parties do this for the same reason baseball does- TV pays them.
 

The "there are more voters registered than people living in the area" arguments rely on the stupidity of the recipient, as it takes little thought to figure out that, in a place with a high population turnover (any fairly large city) and no concerted effort to eliminate those who have moved away, or passed away, this will be easily achieved.

Calling this "evidence" of fraud is either idiotic or dishonest. We leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine which is true in the case of Bart.

Back to the OP. There are methods for choosing a candidate more pleasing to a group of people than "first past the post". Ranked choice voting, for example. It will, of course, not please everyone -- but in the current case we are observing it might prevent a deadlocked convention, and produce a Warren nomination, we note.

 

It isn't a compelling concern for me as compared to other things but do think it appropriate to allow write-ins. I probably would argue it should be constitutionally protected though there I'm just some guy on the Internet. One time I do it is for local judicial elections which I find silly in part since the average voters knows nothing about the nominees (they aren't even referenced in the voting guides we receive and rarely are candidates discussed in the media). I write-in a name at times there.

Anyway, looking for stuff (Merrick Garland finished his term as Chief Judge), found this, which might be a helpful bit of levity mixed with more.


https://balkin.blogspot.com/2016/03/there-arent-any-pledged-delegates.html

Joe, that's exciting news for followers of 23 Karat-top White Citizens United Republican leading presidential candidate Donald Trump.

With Global Warming, might the Marianas soon be, in financial parlance, "under water" like Trump W(h)ine, Trump Stakes (sic, for Vampire billionaires), and Trump Vodka?

And is BB suggesting that The Donald suffers from trench mouth?


Ah well.
 

You don't need write ins in a second round so long as it is nonpartisan, because write ins were allowed in the first round.

The point of write ins is that voters should (but don't) have a constitutional right to utterly reject parties. Parties should have no power to actually prevent the public from making other choices

And yes, any society that denies that right is not truly democratic.
 

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C2H5OH said...The "there are more voters registered than people living in the area" arguments rely on the stupidity of the recipient, as it takes little thought to figure out that, in a place with a high population turnover (any fairly large city) and no concerted effort to eliminate those who have moved away, or passed away, this will be easily achieved. Calling this "evidence" of fraud is either idiotic or dishonest. We leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine which is true in the case of Bart.

Under your very real scenario, CA is automatically sending multiple ballots to the same voter at different addresses. Given vote harvesting by campaign operatives is legal, we have no idea who who is filling out and casting those extra ballots.

This is why red states regularly scrub voter roles and blue states do not.
 

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One thing where I think Brett is onto something is we shouldn't see political parties as simply functionaries of a democratic system.

Political parties entrench the preferences of the ruling elite. Now, sometimes those preferences aren't wrong. But many times they are.

I always come back to legalized marijuana. Here's a policy change we should have made in the mid-1960's. Instead, we made it in the 2000's. What happened?

Political parties happened. Seriously. Parties respond to the concern of middle and upper class voters, who freaked out about pot. Parties also are full of the kinds of people who never have to worry about obtaining marijuana themselves, without anyone ever punishing them. Heck, we even elected Presidents who smoked marijuana, and it didn't matter- Bill Clinton couldn't wait to ruin young black men's lives with 10 year sentences for doing something fun that he comfortably did knowing that the law would never punish someone in his cohort.

The point is, you have to have checks on the parties. Write-in votes are such a check. They prevent, for instance, party base voters from nominating extremists when the electorate as a whole prefers moderates. We have seen that in Alaska and Connecticut.

But another such check is initiatives. We would, as I said, never have legalized marijuana without the state initiative process. Even now, IT IS STILL ILLEGAL AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL, and it appears it will remain so for the foreseeable future. As a result, legitimate marijuana businesses can't even use the banking system. And how many people who had medical needs for the stuff didn't get their medicine for decades, or risked arrest to get it, because the political parties were afraid to take a stance that might offend the upper classes?

A system without initiatives is simply not democratic, because parties are quite good at NOT listening to the voters when the preferences of their donors or their base requires them to. It's a form of oligarchy- and our system is, indeed, a 2 party oligarchy, not a real democracy. At best it has some democratic elements, but that's it.
 

C2H5OH:

Also, you have students and traveling employees who register back at their home of record and the temporary residence where they study and work, receiving and very likely casting two ballots in different precincts.

Furthermore, the only way CA can generate hundreds of thousands of votes out of provisional ballots where the caster is not registered to vote in that jurisdiction is either through repeat voting or massive voter roll drafting incompetence unknown in the other 49 states..
 

Bart,

Your eagerness to force other people to waste the taxpayer's money proves, yet again, that "conservative" is a misnomer.

If such double voting were actually widespread, or even frequent, it could be easily detected and punished (and has been in some almost unique cases recently). And if this were true, and if Republicans thought it really was a problem, they could trivially find cases to prove it.

Why don't they? Answer: because there are so few cases to find that it's not worthwhile. But the real reason for their pushes to make voting harder (primarily for Democrats) has nothing to do with actual "voter fraud", which this would prove.
 

Bircher Brett misunderstands, the point is that he recognizes the very arguments that make his slanderous assumption rebutted.

If Democrats
1. think The chief function of voting is legitimizing government and having people buy into the system, so every last vote is good"
and
2. ballot fraud isn't really a big deal (as an empirical matter)

Then OF COURSE they oppose any measure that inconveniences voting in the name of fighting voter fraud. I mean, if Bircher Brett wants to dispute the premises there, let him feel free, but the conclusion is not nefarious at all. But of course Bircher Brett is a partisan conspiracy theorist, as such he needs a plot to deplore and to demoninze his enemies, and since jumping to negative conclusions hastily and sloppily is a feature of the partisan conspiracy theorist, he assumes guilt on those whom have a 100% reasonable, non-nefarious argument at hand to motivate them.

Note, he does the reverse when it's his team accused of 'cheating.'
 

"For a bald faced liar"

Bald faced liar? Is Bircher Bart going to deny that he guaranteed a Romney victory here shortly before the 2012 election? Because that would be a demonstrable bald faced lie.

Of course, this is the 'man' who argued recently that there was 'zero evidence' that Trump asked Ukraine's President to investigate Biden, so there's that.


 

Our Bircher's make the same argument re: voter fraud: "OK, we admit we have no evidence of it, but that's because the cheaters refuse to investigate their own cheating!"

Let's leave aside that this would still be an illogical basis to conclude that, then, there must be cheating, it's silly for several reasons. The first is that the kind of fraud they sloppily assume must be happening would be easy to prove sans official investigations. Our Birchers claim that Democrat (of course, even though in the article I provided the CA GOP chair said they engage in voter harvesting too) operatives go around finding registered voters who don't vote and turn in absentee ballots for them. That this would go unnoticed is entirely implausible: CA voters data is online and public. If this were going on in any mass way people who didn't vote but who can check the database would have come upon and reported this by now. It would be a crazy, irrational voter fraud scheme because it would so easily be exposed (remember, CA has tens of millions of voters).

No, these Birchers have no evidence nor logic, they just have sloppy suspicions that the other side is nefariously involved in a complex plot to cheat. In other words, they're typical Birchers!
 

Dilan, you're again confusing an event that may be be covered by television with a television show. I could set up a camera and follow you walking to work today and then televise it, that doesn't make your commute a tv show. Your commute is one thing, the coverage on tv another.

About baseball, I'm not sure most fans are not of the highly informed type. It's certainly true that baseball has resisted a lot of the tv related changes in format that other sports have given into and that that resistance seems to be stronger among the diehard fans who tend to be traditionalist.

But, again, the XFL makes my point better. In its previous incarnation it banked on taking the more sensationalistic tv friendly stuff and heightening it (the analogy is to the more 'horserace' aspects of election coverage), and look what happened: fans hated it. In its new incarnation they've walked away from a lot of that.

The point being, it's hard to be sure of what fans *really* want in their coverage, especially when its often assumed by the small number of providers that they all want X and that's all they get.
 

" any society that denies that right is not truly democratic"

It seems silly for someone who thinks 'republican government' is meaningless and vague but who insists a polity that doesn't allow write-in votes is 'not truly democratic.'

Again, I'm a huge fan of write in votes as a policy matter and have spent a big chunk of my life volunteering for and supporting third party and independent efforts, but it's certainly not clear to me that a system that doesn't allow write-ins is any more undemocratic than, say one that allows equal representation in the Senate despite population, life time felon disenfranchisement, the Electoral college, state legislative selection of Senators, etc., etc.,

As long as everyone has the same ability to get on a ballot and the requirements are not stringent the lack of write in possibilities is just not that big of a deal in terms of democracy.
 

C2H5OH said...If such double voting were actually widespread, or even frequent, it could be easily detected and punished...And if this were true, and if Republicans thought it really was a problem, they could trivially find cases to prove it.

That would require actual voter fraud investigations CA Democrats refuse to conduct at the state level and refuse to cooperate with at the federal level.

Justice badly needs to conduct a civil rights investigation of CA and other Blue jurisdiction voter fraud with the subpoena power to compel production of records which Trump's last half-hearted commission lacked.
 

"Here's a policy change we should have made in the mid-1960's. Instead, we made it in the 2000's. What happened? Political parties happened."

Dilan, about 12% of the US public favored legalization of marijuana in 1969, so not only does that dog not hunt, it's fast asleep on the porch.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/1657/illegal-drugs.aspx

I'm a fan of initiative and recall, but you're blaming far too much on the party system.
 

Mr. W: Bald faced liar? Is Bircher Bart going to deny that he guaranteed a Romney victory here shortly before the 2012 election? Because that would be a demonstrable bald faced lie.

Never happened, my lying correspondent.
 

"That would require actual voter fraud investigations CA Democrats refuse to conduct"

Apart from the fact, again, that it's terrible logic to assume something is going on on the basis of 'I have no evidence it is but that's because no one is looking for said evidence' it should be noted that other, non-Blue states have had the conditions for 'voter harvesting' (which just means that someone else other than yourself can turn in your absentee ballot) up until quite recently. Arizona, for example, only barred this in 2016. They had plenty of GOP administrations in Arizona before the law, where's the evidence of fraud from the practice being available?

Answer: they gots none. It's all part and parcel of feverish conspiracy thinkers from people like our Bircher types.
 

Dilan, you're again confusing an event that may be be covered by television with a television show. I could set up a camera and follow you walking to work today and then televise it, that doesn't make your commute a tv show.

But once I start collaborating with you about what the content is going to be and how it is going to be presented, it IS a television show. This is why "reality" shows are television shows.

Sports and elections are forms of reality television. They aren't pointing a camera unobtrusively into the wild- both are carefully produced for the entertainment of the television viewing audience.

About baseball, I'm not sure most fans are not of the highly informed type.

13 million people watch the World Series. What percentage of those people are obsessive purists (or as you mislabel them, "informed")? I'd bet somewhere around 2 percent.

And that World Series television rights fee pays for a gigantic chunk of the entire sport, so that television audience is the one that matters, not the obsessives.

But, again, the XFL makes my point better. In its previous incarnation it banked on taking the more sensationalistic tv friendly stuff and heightening it (the analogy is to the more 'horserace' aspects of election coverage), and look what happened: fans hated it. In its new incarnation they've walked away from a lot of that.


And the safe bet is they will still fail, because we've seen 15 different pro football leagues fail.
 

"Never happened, my lying correspondent."

You never guaranteed a Romney victory here in 2012 shortly before the election? And then when you were wrong showed back up saying how your models and data were correct but you got it wrong because of abnormal 'voter suppression' by Obama's negative campaigning?

Because this stuff is written down my lying Bircher and we can prove this.
 

It seems silly for someone who thinks 'republican government' is meaningless and vague but who insists a polity that doesn't allow write-in votes is 'not truly democratic.'

Republican government is NON-JUSTICIABLE. It has a meaning in political science. It simply doesn't have a meaning that courts can litigate.

it's certainly not clear to me that a system that doesn't allow write-ins is any more undemocratic than, say one that allows equal representation in the Senate despite population, life time felon disenfranchisement, the Electoral college, state legislative selection of Senators

Correct. The US is very undemocratic.

We're really a terrible country in many ways. We're not Nazi Germany (we were when we were founded, but we aren't now), but we are far, far, far away from any sort of actual democratic governance.

What makes us even worse is that we are so full of ourselves. The shining city on the hill, the light for other nations, etc. That's a complete load of crap- we can't even conduct a proper primary in a farm state.
 

"Sports and elections are forms of reality television."

You are confusing elections and campaigns. Elections aren't televised at all (cameras of any kind are usually banned where they occur), they aren't coordinated with tv at all and their structure certainly isn't bent to it. What is televised is after they occur and the results are released tv turns to the campaigns for reactions.

As for baseball, it's true MLB works with tv to put the games on, but baseball famously has resisted re-structuring itself for tv.

 

"We're not Nazi Germany (we were when we were founded, but we aren't now), but we are far, far, far away from any sort of actual democratic governance."

This is a silly false dilemma, you're either Nazi Germany or an 'actual democracy' and we ain't either. We're a functioning democracy, could we be more democratic (along the lines of some political science democratic theory)? Sure. But we're on the far plus end of democratic norms compared to the the vast amount of human experience historically and most con temporarily.
 

Here's Bircher Bart admitting he was wrong back in 2012.

And yet denies it here, when he had to know it was back in writing in the archives.

Trump has really turned his followers into near actual sociopaths and/or deranged persons. So, take his current confident predictions with about three tons of NaCl...

:::sigh:::

My guestimates were wildly wrong. Fox News has just called Ohio for Obama. A narrow plurality or majority American voters are apparently satisfied with the status quo of slow national decline and impending sovereign insolvency.

For my part, after finishing my ration of crow, I will start to invest my retirement savings in gold and silver tomorrow and look for additional ways to cut expenses in my law firm to ride out the ongoing economic depression.

Congratulations to you Democrats on the success of your negative campaign.

God save the Republic.
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 11:35 PM

https://balkin.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-october-surprise.html
 

You are confusing elections and campaigns. Elections aren't televised at all (cameras of any kind are usually banned where they occur), they aren't coordinated with tv at all and their structure certainly isn't bent to it.

Really Mista? So, for instance, you think exit polls materialize out of the ether instead of being specifically facilitated by elections workers? You think the way in which election results are tabulated and released to the public, using automated tabulation, has nothing to do with ensuring the press can get results before people go to bed? You don't think that one reason parties love the drawn out primary process is it gives them a months long television show including debates, paid for by television, that showcase their messages?

No, Mista, the electoral process is substantially intertwined with television at every juncture. It's a show.

This is a silly false dilemma, you're either Nazi Germany or an 'actual democracy' and we ain't either.

There's no dilemma. I said we AREN'T Nazi Germany. We were when we were founded- 4 million slaves in 1860 versus 5-6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust is very close- but we aren't now.

But we aren't democratic either. We are somewhere in between. Internationally, we are a rogue state. Domestically, we are an oligarchic state with a few democratic trappings.

But we're on the far plus end of democratic norms compared to the the vast amount of human experience historically

Sure. If you count governments 500 years ago, when everyone had a dictatorship, we come out pretty well!

most con temporarily

No way. We're a heavily constrained 2 party oligarchy with a few democratic aspects. That makes us better than China and Russia, at about the same level as Iran and Israel, and nowhere near anything in Western Europe.

Now if we exported California's system nationally, with initiative and recall, non-partisan general elections, equality in the franchise between urban and rural areas, and nationwide campaigns, we'd get a lot closer to democracy.
 

Dilan,

I'm pretty sure exit polls are conducted on voters as they leave the polling station. And election results are released to the public in general, not the press in particular.

And on the flip side elections themselves are very tv unfriendly, for example, as I noted (and you interestingly elided) cameras aren't even allowed near them. Some reality show! The release of results is often not tv friendly. Etc.

"But we aren't democratic either."

Again, this is silly, we're not democratic because we fall short of some Platonic form or Weberian ideal type of democracy? In historical and pragmantic terms we're one of the most democratic polities in history and the contemporary world.

Also, there's nothing necessarily 'oligarchic' about a two party system, especially when everyone is relatively free to join and work to change either of those two parties.
 

More to the point, what is the general and fundamental (according to you) democratic principle that restrictions on write-ins violates? The ability to vote for whomever one wants? That's violated by saying, for example, that a candidate must file nominal paperwork first? That a nominal amount of signatures must be collected first?

Saying an election without write ins allowed is not democratic is, to me, like saying that a debate with a threshold for participation is a violation of freedom of speech (as the ridiculous Tulsi Gabbard did recently).
 

What would happen if a week before the election a presidential candidate passed away (or worse,) and the affected party elevated the nominee for vice president to the top spot, but this new presidential candidate was not in the top spot on the already printed or programmed ballots?

I could see the courts weighing in on whether or not a vote for the old pair of nominees would count as a vote for the new pair of nominees. And, I could see the issue of write-in votes being relevant. Or, let the states decide...?
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

"More to the point, what is the general and fundamental (according to you) democratic principle that restrictions on write-ins violates? The ability to vote for whomever one wants? That's violated by saying, for example, that a candidate must file nominal paperwork first? That a nominal amount of signatures must be collected first?"

Speaking as someone with considerable experience in 3rd party politics, the paperwork and signatures are only nominal if you're a Democrat or Republican. They'll typically even be waived if you forget to file.

In most states, if you're a third party, there are incredibly onerous requirements for getting your party on the ballot in terms of signature gathering. In some states it's simply illegal, and you must sue on each occasion.

I've compared it to having to run a marathon to reach the starting block for the real race, while the major parties get to start the real race still fresh.


And, to restate this: When the Constitution was adopted, and for some time thereafter, the government did NOT provide pre-printed ballots, and so "ballot access" wasn't even a thing. You wrote the name you wanted to vote for on a slip of paper, and dropped it in the box. Some campaigns would provide pre-printed slips for your convenience. But there was no such thing as "not qualifying for the ballot", the voters voted for whomever they pleased, period. This is what the right to vote was understood to mean: Voting for whomever you pleased!

It wasn't until well after the Civil war that government started providing those ballots, and "ballot access" became a way to disadvantage candidates the government didn't like. And outright prohibiting write-in votes is a very recent development. In fact, I think California might have been the first state to do this!
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

@brett: you've skipped the arrival of political parties in your potted history of voting. When the constitution was adopted there were no political parties to speak of, and opposition to their formation (though not universal). "Well after the Civil war" was also "well after political parties came to dominate US political affairs".
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

BD: "Never happened, my lying correspondent."

Mr. W: You never guaranteed a Romney victory here in 2012 shortly before the election?

As you well know, I never did.

And then when you were wrong showed back up saying how your models and data were correct but you got it wrong because of abnormal 'voter suppression' by Obama's negative campaigning?

Now you are tap dancing, Bojangles.

In the fall of 2012, I applied historical demographic distribution to the Democrat media polling and the result was a statistical tie.

I never guaranteed a Romney win.

The actual demographic distribution of the 2012 electorate was ahistoric because roughly 6 million white working class voters who fired the Democrat House in 2010 stayed home in 2012 rather than vote for Romney, who Team Obama successfully tarred as an evil plutocrat.

As you noted, I immediately admitted my error on the night of the election.

Now admit that you lied again and we can move on.
 

Another 2020 election enthusiasm measure is Trump & RNC raised another $60 million during the Democrat impeachment circus in January, increasing their cash on hand to $200 million, twice that of the previous Obama & DNC record during the 2012 reelection campaign.

Will the DNC report the Democrat impeachment circus as an in kind donation to the Trump campaign?
 

"When the Constitution was adopted, and for some time thereafter, the government did NOT provide pre-printed ballots, and so "ballot access" wasn't even a thing. You wrote the name you wanted to vote for on a slip of paper, and dropped it in the box. Some campaigns would provide pre-printed slips for your convenience."

You're mixing time frames here. A typical vote in, say, VA in 1790 would mean that voters had to travel to the county courthouse. There the candidates would make speeches (often, though not always) and serve LOTS of liquor to the voters. The liquor was very important -- George Frickin' Washington once lost an election for failure to serve liquor. The voters would then come up to the front and announce their vote for everyone to hear. If the liquored-up crowd didn't like your pick, you were at some risk of serious intimidation, including tar and feathering. Assuming you got to vote, the J.P. (usually) would record your vote and you'd hope he was honest enough because you probably couldn't read.

Printed ballots came much later, in the 1830s and 1840s. Sometimes they were supplied by the parties, sometimes by newspapers (which were heavily partisan). Useful enough if (a) you wanted to vote a straight ticket (most did); and (b) you could read. Nobody cared if someone else filled out the ballot for you and you just brought it up to the poll.

True printed ballots and voting machines didn't come into play until after about 1870, when they invented the punch card and similar machines. At that point the government started printing the ballots because the machine counts were much quicker and (somewhat) less subject to fraud.
 

Wow, this thread really exploded in the last few hours. I see MW has been doing his usual stellar job of refuting bad arguments; sorry you haven't had more help.

I can't respond individually at this point, but I'm not sure what the real argument is when it comes to write-ins. I think everyone here agrees that it should be available, they just disagree on whether it's mandated by the Constitution (dubious IMO) or good policy.
 

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Sure, when Bircher Bart speaks of 'finishing his ration of crow' he wasn't talking about being wrong about a guarantee of crow at all. He just really enjoys crow pie!


When Romney wins, he needs to spend several dozen hours cultivating Democrat senators if he wants to reverse the Obama error and reform this government.
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 5:28 PM

https://balkin.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-october-surprise.html
 

Yes, I did simplify things somewhat.

The point is, we had voting in this country for about a century before it was the government printing the ballots, so "ballot access" wasn't even a consideration for about half the country's history, because it wasn't the government providing the ballots. You voted for whoever you wanted, and the government had no say in the matter. (Though if you voted for somebody unqualified for the office, you were wasting your time.)

And even after the government started printing those ballots, the rule was still that you voted for whomever you pleased, until very recently. Even to this day, most voting machines have provisions for entering a write-in vote, because only 6 states don't allow it.

The idea that you might be legally denied the power to vote for YOUR choice of candidate is of very recent origin. It was only upheld in 1992. For almost the entire history of the country, the right to vote was the right to vote for whomever you wanted.

Write-in votes aren't just some oddball, dispensable quirk. They're central to what the right to vote MEANS in America. The right to vote is the right to vote for who YOU want to vote for, not who somebody else thinks you should be permitted to vote for. I find the dissent in Burdick v Takushi persuasive.
 

Romney ain't no Ron Paul and almost certainly is no Ronald Reagan.

Romney will win election because he is not Barack Obama.

For anything beyond that, we will have to wait and see.
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 9:52 AM

https://balkin.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-october-surprise.html


 

The center right electorate still opposes Obama policy, which is why they will fire him on Tuesday.

When you try to swim against a wave, the wave wins every time.
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 12:26 PM

https://balkin.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-october-surprise.html
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

"This is what the right to vote was understood to mean: Voting for whomever you pleased!"

At the Founding there were all kind of restrictions on who could hold office in the states; property qualifications, religious tests, etc., you couldn't vote for whomever you please. And of course there weren't pre-printed ballots (indeed in many states you vocally voted in front of people).

And for the upteenth time California's current system *allows* write ins, it just doesn't allow them in the second stage where the entire point is to have whittled the field down to two so someone gets a true majority. How in the world is democracy harmed when you have the right to vote for 'whomever you want to' in the first round but when that person doesn't get enough votes in the second round you can't? You still got to vote for whomever you wanted to.
 

No, at the founding you absolutely could vote for whoever you damned well pleased, but you were wasting your vote if you voted for somebody who didn't meet the qualifications for the office.

But you could still cast a vote for them.

And for the umpteenth time, the only election that matters, constitutionally, is the general election.
 

Speaking for myself, I don't think Brett really knows how things actually worked 200 years ago. I mean, he looks old, but not that old.

And in those days, if you voted for someone who wasn't one of the allowed candidates, nobody cared. Unless you were a prominent citizen, even your local paper wouldn't report it. It's just as if you didn't vote at all. Today, you can have exactly the same result ... by not voting. Which a whole lot of people do, (although possibly not because they can't get the candidate they want.)

There has actually been mathematical studies of voting systems (it's a branch of game theory) -- do a search for "mathematical election theory."

 

Mr. W:

I was trolling on the Democrat media polling breaking toward Romney at the time. They also missed the white working class staying home en masse like I did.

Sorry, that is not a guarantee Romney will win the election.
 

Mr. W:

I was trolling on the Democrat media polling breaking toward Romney at the time. They also missed the white working class staying home en masse like I did.

Sorry, that is not a guarantee Romney will win the election.
 

It seems to me that voter and candidate eligibility rules are far more important to democracy than write-in votes. Brett's priorities -- support for restrictive voter suppression laws while objecting to limitations on write-in votes -- are the exact opposite of those any actual small-d democrat would support.
 

It smell's like....victory.

See you at the polls, gentlemen.
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 9:22 AM
https://balkin.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-october-surprise.html
 

"if you voted for someone who wasn't one of the allowed candidates, nobody cared. Unless you were a prominent citizen, even your local paper wouldn't report it. It's just as if you didn't vote at all. "

Exactly. Does anyone have evidence that votes for non-eligible or non-standing candidates were recorded officially?

"for the umpteenth time, the only election that matters, constitutionally, is the general election."

Wrong, primaries are state action under the Constitution. And the first stage of the CA elections is equivalent to the first stage of the LA 'general' elections, it's a meaningless distinction. As long as you have the ability to write in at a stage that's all that's meaningful.
 

Actually, not to be overly pedantic here, but the only election that matters is not the general election, but rather the one held by the EC later.

(which just goes to show that throwing in "constitutionally" is meaningless, today.)

 

"This is what the right to vote was understood to mean: Voting for whomever you pleased!"

As noted, there were and are a range of restrictions on voting and specific offices. So, e.g., there was often a property floor to serve in an office. Votes for "whomever" you want is not how things work. Certain options were not accepted by rule. Perhaps, "this is not what I meant" ... but when you speak is absolute general terms with exclamation points when the facts tend to be complicated, nuance is helpful.

It also might be useful to use a bit of humility about assuming what the rules are when they were mixed. Here is a quote from a summary of early voting:

A few colonies, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, and North Carolina, employed some form of ballot. Others, like Virginia, relied on public voice votes, an English tradition.

https://www.history.org/foundation/journal/spring07/elections.cfm

Voting developed over time, including the felt need for a secret ballot. The idea of write-ins when a large segment of population did not write would be complicated there. Also, the basic early election (w/o assuming to know exactly how each place did it) was that you had specific candidates and people voted for them. You didn't have ten people saying "I want this other guy" not running. That might have been an option in some cases, but it wasn't some fixed rule that was present all the time, each place.

Mark referenced a bit on the development of ballots. It wasn't just some sort of major party deal. It was a matter of the development of mass electoral politics in general. And, it was clearly in place by some point in the 19th Century. It was not seen as unconstitutional or something not to allow write-in ballots.

Burdick v. Takushi involves (dissent) a "total ban on write in voting." As noted, I'm inclined to find that constitutionally problematic. But, a "total ban" is not the same as the opposite of "voting for whomever you want." The dissent focuses on the "total ban," providing evidence of the burdens in place. It cites some states protecting write-in ballots. The mixed evidence suggested by the 6-3 split.

"for the umpteenth time, the only election that matters, constitutionally, is the general election."

The 15A says -- "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

A primary election counts here. 14A, sec. 2 speaks of "any" election. I also cited Article One of the Constitution that gives power to Congress to regulate congressional elections. Elections. Not just the general election. To be clear, this isn't just about presidents, so the electoral college is only part of the equation.
 

" It cites some states protecting write-in ballots."

That's almost all of them.
 

Since the EC came up, it's worth remembering that Brett supports that despite the fact that it's light years beyond write-in voting bans as an infringement on democracy.
 

"It cites some states protecting write-in ballots."

That's almost all of them.

The dissent said this: " In recognition of this problem, several early state courts recognized a right to cast write in votes."

"Protecting" here in the sense of a right, which is what is being argued as a given. But, the dissent even doesn't say that. It cites evidence that "several" state courts [not the U.S. Supreme Court -- this opinion coming up in the 1990s] protected it as a right. That means quite a few did not.

===

My comment generally discussed history to show the complexity but I ended with a basic opinion that write-in voting (at least in some sense) is good constitutional policy. But, this wasn't a result of simply looking at how it was done. As with other constitutional questions, it was a result of judging various things.
 

"Since the EC came up, it's worth remembering that Brett supports that despite the fact that it's light years beyond write-in voting bans as an infringement on democracy."

Heck, he wants to repeal the 17th Amendment!

But then, he's talked about his disdain for democracy in general plenty of times here. His gripe about write-ins is obviously actually just another partisan incoherent thing (he doesn't like that a blue state like CA can leave someone like his brother without a Republican to vote for in the second stage).
 

There are much better reasons to dislike the CA system. It works fine right now because the voters here realized that the Rs had gone insane and we don't vote for them. But someday sanity will return, or a new party will arise, and the system will need to be revised.
 

Take a stiff drink before reading the data because there is a 2010 level electoral tsunami coming .
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 2:28 PM

https://balkin.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-october-surprise.html
 

In the post-2012 election thread:

This is getting delusional.
# posted by Blogger Mr. Whiskas : 4:59 PM


It's good things improved so much in the next seven and change years.
 

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