‘Modernizing’ the Vote—Why Would We Want to?

Fournier FTN 060215

Ron Fournier was on Face the Nation this morning (the first episode with John Dickerson as host).

The topic was Hillary Clinton and her allegations that Republicans are trying to limit people’s voting rights.

Here is Fournier on his current pet peeve, that we need to modernize voting:

Fournier’s focus (they’re talking about Hillary) is on Clinton’s ability to achieve this modernization.

Overlooked in his thoughts, though:

  1. These kinds of voting laws are almost entirely State issues, not federal—so how is Hillary, or any other president, going to make modernization happen to Fournier’s satisfaction?
  2. What is the actual benefit of enlarging voter participation by making voting easier?

Couple thoughts on that second point:

  1. Yes, if your entire objective is to enlarge voter participation, making it easier to vote will help achieve that end.
  2. No, if your objective includes enlarging voter engagement—not so much.

Why?

Engaged citizens tend to vote.

They know what’s going on, what the issues are (or what they think the issues are).

They keep up with political personalities.

They stay read up.

They follow the candidates and controversies.

They are ready when it comes time to vote.

And the few rules they must follow in order to vote are no hindrance to them.

The disengaged?

They disenfranchise themselves.

So…

Engaged citizens vote.

Disengaged citizens don’t.

Why would we want it otherwise?

Why would we want the votes of engaged citizens diluted by those of the disengaged?

We might if we thought we could manipulate the disengaged more effectively than we can the engaged.

Otherwise—

Why would we do this?

You want more people voting?

Get more people engaged.

Teach them to fend for themselves and for each other, to study, to question, to listen, to evaluate, to continually learn.

THAT is engagement.

Once they’re engaged, they will vote.

And I bet their votes would be wiser for the effort.

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