Monday, October 03, 2011

Republicans for red tape

Who says Republicans are always hostile to strict regulation? 

The New York Times' front-page review of efforts by Republican-controlled state governments to prevent "voter fraud" -- i.e., voting by people who in the good old days would have failed to meet property qualifications -- concludes with a snapshot of a law apparently designed to make all voting rights groups fear that they will share ACORN's fate:

In Florida, a new law imposing restrictions on voter registration drives has led the state’s League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan group that had registered voters for 72 years, to call a moratorium on new registration drives in the state, citing the penalties that groups can face under the law.

Independent groups that register voters — like the league — face fines of $50 to $1,000 per applicant if they fail to turn in the applications to elections officials in a timely manner.

“It’s too cumbersome,” said Deirdre Macnab, the league’s president. “There is too much red tape and regulation.”
Regulation is only bad when it's designed to protect health and safety or prevent fraud against consumers. Regulation aimed at limiting the franchise to prevent phantom voter fraud is laudable government vigilance.

One can only hope that some palpable attempts to suppress voting by minorities and low income votes will backfire.  Take, for example, laws eliminating early votes on Sundays -- "days when some African-American churches organized “souls to the polls” drives for members of their congregations."  Mightn't pastors ticked off by such targeting manage even better turnouts on, say, Saturdays, even though they can't be linked to services?

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