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Decision Voids Absentee Ballot Apps in Ohio:

It is interesting to juxtapose Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's decision to allow some absentee voters to register and vote on the same day with another recent decision that has the effect of invalidating over 1,000 absentee ballot applications collected by the McCain campaign.

More than 1,000 absentee ballot applications in Greater Cincinnati have been ruled invalid because Republican Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign printed a version of the form with an extra, unneeded box on it.

The forms were sent to more than 1 million registered voters statewide, according to a McCain spokesman in Ohio.

The McCain forms included a box voters can mark to declare themselves qualified to vote. But Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner says that if the box isn't checked, circled or initialed, the application is no good. Those voters are essentially admitting they're not eligible, she said.

That ruling has drawn howls from Republicans, who say it's an attempt to disenfranchise them. Election officials say it could wreak havoc in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 4 election.

"I have not seen a ruling that indirectly impacts voters to the enormity of this since I've been here," Hamilton County Board of Elections Deputy Director John Williams said of his nearly five-year tenure at the board.

This decision could well end up in court, in part because similar absentee ballot applications collected before a special election in 2007 were accepted.

Angus:
Why are the campaigns even allowed to print up their own application forms? Shouldn't voters have to fill out ones provided by the state?
9.14.2008 1:23pm
smitty1e:
Smacks of lively, messy debate.
Democracy in action.
Let voters be shaken from complacency to attentiveness.
May the turnout bury the "bickering and arguing over who disenfranchized who".
9.14.2008 1:28pm
cubanbob (mail):
The absentee ballot issue is a tacit admission by the democrats that they are no longer confidant about winning and are back to their usual tactics of disqualifying legal votes.
Its a safe bet ACORN will be passing around street money to every bum to get them to vote for the democrat and of course certain precincts will will be subject of lawsuits to keep them open past the normal election hours. They can't win honestly so they have to resort to legal and not so legal subterfuge. They might as well be open and clean about it and pass a voting rights act for the dead, the illegal alien and the incarcerated voters.
9.14.2008 1:34pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
This has parallels to the blocking judicial nominees. It might not be right, but they did it to use, and if we don't do it back to them well they win

quick history lesson

Voters-rights advocates are criticizing two recent decisions by Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell that they say will unfairly limit some people's ability to vote Nov. 2. Blackwell's office has told county boards of elections to follow strictly two provisions in Ohio election law:

* One requires Ohio voter registration cards be printed on thick, 80-pound stock paper.
* The other ordered boards to strictly interpret the rules regarding provisional ballots, the ones cast by voters who move before the election but are still registered in Ohio.

The paper-stock issue is frustrating Montgomery County Board of Elections officials, who have a backlog of registrations to complete. If they get an Ohio voter registration card on paper thinner than required, they are mailing a new card out to the voter. But if they still have the backlog by the registration deadline, Oct. 4, voters will not have another chance to get their correct paperwork in, said Steve Harsman, deputy director of the Montgomery County board. In Montgomery County there is a backlog of around 4,000 registrations, Harsman said. A few hundred could be affected by this provision, he said.
9.14.2008 1:40pm
PC:
The absentee ballot issue is a tacit admission by the democrats that they are no longer confidant about winning and are back to their usual tactics of disqualifying legal votes.


That's backwards. Democrats try to get people to vote illegally, Republicans try to disqualify legal voters.
9.14.2008 2:39pm
Jonathan F.:
Well, the rules are here (explanation) or here (statute). For regular absentee voters, the ballot application "need not be in any particular format" -- I write mine out longhand -- but it must contain a number of pieces of information. Among the required information is "[a] statement that the person requesting the ballot[] is a qualified elector" of the State of Ohio. I'm guessing this is the box people forgot to check, as mentioned in the article. If so, well, it's regrettable that people keep getting the form wrong, but the law says what it says. If the McCain campaign is going to distribute its own forms, they ought to include clearer instructions. Call me a strict constructionist.

Incidentally, Llamasex, I'd be interested to see a source for the 80-lb-paper claim that isn't, e.g., DailyKos, MyDD, or DU. I haven't seen anything in Ohio law that could be read to require this, although I'm open to correction.
9.14.2008 2:46pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
Jonathan, it seems its behind the pay wall, but here are some sources from the same paper you link to in your post

3. Blackwell election decisions blasted
October 1, 2004 •• 517 words •• ID: cin25295452
2 Democrats call for his resignation COLUMBUS - Two Senate Democrats on Thursday called for the resignation of Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, accusing him of trying to suppress the vote after he ordered county boards of election to accept ballots only if people vote in their proper polling locales. By limiting where people can cast a ballot on Election Day and confusing county boards of election about the thickness of voter-registration forms, Blackwell is creating barriers to eligible
9.14.2008 3:01pm
fullerene:

Among the required information is "[a] statement that the person requesting the ballot[] is a qualified elector" of the State of Ohio.


Yes, but Brunner said she would have accepted the printed ballots without the check box item stating that the person is a qualified elector. No media account exactly explains why, but I suspect that many of the forms, perhaps even McCain's form, roll that into the signature line at the end. Having voted by absentee in another state, that is how I remember it being done on occasion. The Secretary's argument may be that by providing a separate item requiring the voter to check the box, the legal requirement is not fulfilled even if the signature also attests to the voter's eligibility. This is really just a guess, though.

The solution here is pretty simple: instead of electing partisan election officials, have the state hire professional nonpartisans. As long as we elect partisans, they will be partisan and/or people will argue that they are.
9.14.2008 3:15pm
Oren:
I'm consistently amazed by folks that say bums/homeless folks shouldn't vote. Is there seriously support for revoking universal suffrage or is this just a rhetorical device?
9.14.2008 3:34pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I'm consistently amazed by folks that say bums/homeless folks shouldn't vote. Is there seriously support for revoking universal suffrage or is this just a rhetorical device?
I don't see what's so wrong with property requirements for voting; should people with no ties to a community and who pay nothing in taxes be allowed to vote to impose taxes on others?
9.14.2008 4:01pm
Angus:

I don't see what's so wrong with property requirements for voting; should people with no ties to a community and who pay nothing in taxes be allowed to vote to impose taxes on others?
A glimpse of modern conservative honesty? A call to disfranchise the poor? Party like its 1890!
9.14.2008 4:12pm
badger (mail):
Mr. Nieporent:

Better yet, why not start charging taxes at the polls again, since if you aren't willing to put $20 behind your sentiments about who should be President, you probably aren't that important anyway?

Oh, right, that.
9.14.2008 4:13pm
Jonathan F.:
Aha -- this is from a New York Times editorial: "In 2004, [Blackwell] instructed county boards of elections to reject any registrations on paper of less than 80-pound stock — about the thickness of a postcard. His order was almost certainly illegal, and he retracted it after he came under intense criticism." See also here.

My query wasn't whether this incident had occurred, which I find uninteresting since it was so long ago, but whether there was any good basis in Ohio law for the requirement. I'm satisfied that there wasn't. I guess the claim was that thick stock was required because "registration cards are permanent state record." See here.
9.14.2008 4:21pm
one of many:
I gotta admit that it does look like Brunner is being more than a bit of a stickler and I suspect a court will rule differently. If the ballot has somehow made clear that the attestation to being a qualified elector required a check or something it would be different, but from the format it is not intuitively obvious the the "checkbox" in front of the attestation is actually a "checkbox".
9.14.2008 4:22pm
Oren:
David, do rentals count? More importantly, does the rental I share with others count for all of us or do we only get one vote for the 'household'?
9.14.2008 4:28pm
hattio1:
It's funny,
When it comes to requiring an ID to vote, Conservatives are adamant that if you are too stupid or incompetent to obtain an ID you have no business voting. However, if you are too stupid or incompetent to check a pre-printed box on a form that was sent to you (requiring you to never leave your kitchen table) the government should ignore that omission.
That being said, I agree with the above commentator. This smacks of partisanship (and retaliation for Blackwell's partisanship). The way to make it non-partisan is to hire non-partisan professionals.
9.14.2008 4:29pm
Brian K (mail):
I don't see what's so wrong with property requirements for voting; should people with no ties to a community and who pay nothing in taxes be allowed to vote to impose taxes on others?

so the truth comes out. republicans don't care about vote fraud per se. they only want the right type of person to vote. and by right type of person i mean a person likely to vote republican. way to destroy your credibility! i couldn't have done it better myself.
9.14.2008 4:35pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
I'm consistently amazed by folks that say bums/homeless folks shouldn't vote. Is there seriously support for revoking universal suffrage or is this just a rhetorical device?


I'm not sure that's a necessary step to be opposed to the ACORN mechanics. "Selling" a vote, which seems to be implicit in ACORN and similar groups providing packs of cigarettes and even plain money to voters, is often illegal. I'm doubtful there's an exception in law for the very poor or mentally ill.
9.14.2008 4:47pm
frankcross (mail):
David, people who don't own property still pay taxes.
9.14.2008 4:56pm
one of many:
No one seems willing to take on David's point on it's own terms, so I guess I have to start it off.

The proper formulation is that the franchise should be restricted to stakeholders instead of taxpayers, they are not the same. The difference can be easily seen when looking at pass-through taxes like VATs and property taxes on rental properties, where the nominal tax payer has no direct interest in the tax rate as they will merely pass the cost onto others. At best taxpayer can be seen as a poor proxy for stakeholders, but property holder is not a legitimate proxy when something like 80% of all private land is held by some 5% of the population.
9.14.2008 5:21pm
randal (mail):
I thought the republicans were all about voter fraud these days. What could be a better enabler of voter fraud than to accept applications where the applicant can reasonably claim (in court or otherwise) to never have attested to being qualified?
9.14.2008 5:41pm
Federal Dog:
"A glimpse of modern conservative honesty? A call to disfranchise the poor? Party like its 1890!"

I am reasonbly sure that by "property requirements," Nieporent is referring to being domiciled in the jurisdiction. That does not require real estate ownership. It merely requires an intent to reside indefinitely in the jurisdiction in which a person demands voting rights.
9.14.2008 6:21pm
one of many:
Feral,
I'm pretty certain that David is referring to taxpaying instead of property ownership of intended domicile. The argument is a real old one dating from the period when property taxes were the primary source of government tax revenues. (Now, of course, the more regressive sale tax is used, but the sales tax used to be more progressive than the property tax, although the income tax isn't too bad, as things stand now, but expect in the future for income taxes to be regressive. You would almost think rich people find ways to get out of paying taxes which aren't available to the poor.)
9.14.2008 6:44pm
Per Son:
The Acorn vote selling meme never gets old. The big one in 2004 involved some Acorn people who were fired, and it was Acorn who came forward with the problems.

Yeesh.
9.14.2008 6:45pm
Oren:

It merely requires an intent to reside indefinitely in the jurisdiction in which a person demands voting rights.

So college students and young mobile professionals are screwed, eh? I thought greater mobility was good for the economy -- people move where the jobs are . . .
9.14.2008 7:42pm
Federal Dog:
"So college students and young mobile professionals are screwed, eh?"

Of course not. Both groups can vote where they are domiciled. College kids, for instance, have long voted in their home towns by absentee ballot (if they bother to cast them). Professionals vote where they reside; if they are in another place for a temporary job, they too can vote by absentee ballot where they are domiciled.

Completely normal and long-standing law.
9.14.2008 8:02pm
Oren:
Sorry FD, but I always voted in my local jurisdiction while in college. Why the hell should i vote back where my parents live? I have no intent of moving there.
9.14.2008 8:22pm
Federal Dog:
"but I always voted in my local jurisdiction while in college. Why the hell should i vote back where my parents live? I have no intent of moving there."

If you intend to reside indefinitely where the school is, you are domiciled there. If you intend, after completing school, to return to where you lived before, you are not domiciled where the school is.

You should inform yourself about the legal meaning of domicile before jumping down anyone's throat because you don't understand the concept.
9.14.2008 8:52pm
byomtov (mail):
If you intend to reside indefinitely where the school is, you are domiciled there. If you intend, after completing school, to return to where you lived before, you are not domiciled where the school is.

The fact is that the average college student doesn't really intend to live in any specific place. Where he ends up depends on things like job offers at graduation, decisions about going on to graduate or professional school, etc.

Are you claiming that in the face of this perfectly normal uncertainty college students have no right to vote?
9.14.2008 10:23pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Seems like students would be an easy test, where were they during the summer? If the student returns home during the summer break they most likely should not be considered residents of the school locality.
9.14.2008 11:39pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
The Acorn vote selling meme never gets old. The big one in 2004 involved some Acorn people who were fired, and it was Acorn who came forward with the problems.


That's not quite correct. The best known case was the one in 2004 involving the sale of votes in return for cash, cigarettes, and crack cocaine (traded for faked voter registration pamphlets), but smaller and still noteworthy cases have continued to include the 2006 elections and even local referendums. There are already suspicious individuals involved in the 2008 election cycle. ACORN's been willing to report the most obvious fraudsters, but other suspicious individuals have been *protected* by ACORN's unwillingness to release a lot of information. Nor is the concept limited to ACORN; like groups have been running the "Chicago Machine" for decades and will likely continue to run for decades more.
9.15.2008 12:19am
one of many:
Are you claiming that in the face of this perfectly normal uncertainty college students have no right to vote?

That actually is an interesting question. Why should those who have no investment in the community (college students) have power to decide on rules etc which will affect others but not themselves? Why should a college student who has no intention of ever having children in a school district, pays no taxes to the town, and intends to abandon the town in a few years time never to return, why should such a person be granted power to determine who will be on the school board, determine what bonds will be issued and how high the property tax on others will be? Why should students be granted the right to vote?
9.15.2008 12:29am
Random Commenter:
"The Acorn vote selling meme never gets old. The big one in 2004 involved some Acorn people who were fired, and it was Acorn who came forward with the problems."

And here are more 2008 ACORN follies, this time in Detroit.
www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008809140383

So Michigan joins Ohio, Colorado, Missouri, Washington, and Wisconsin on the list of states where ACORN employees have been busted for these activities or are under active investigation.

"Yeesh."

Care to try again?
9.15.2008 12:38am
Ken Arromdee:
Why should those who have no investment in the community (college students) have power to decide on rules etc which will affect others but not themselves?

College students can get arrested and put in jail, and certainly do have to pay taxes, which sounds like being affected to me. They can get abortions, enter into civil unions, etc. Heck, with another draft (or a mandatory voluntary service program) they can even be forced to work. What do you mean rules that won't affect themselves?
9.15.2008 2:12am
Mario (mail):
Why should those who have no investment in the community (college students) have power to decide on rules etc which will affect others but not themselves?

It is interesting. One could argue that, although those particular students will not live there long-term, the city will be the ongoing host to class after class of the same sort of person, and they, as a group, are entitled to some representation. Thinking of people in terms of group affiliation doesn't strike me as an especially American concept, but I think it would be justifiable in this instance.
9.15.2008 2:31am
EIDE_Interface (mail):
I'm all for suppressing Democrat voters by any means necessary to preserve our precious Republic.
9.15.2008 2:53am
one of many:
College students can get arrested and put in jail, and certainly do have to pay taxes, which sounds like being affected to me. They can get abortions, enter into civil unions, etc. Heck, with another draft (or a mandatory voluntary service program) they can even be forced to work. What do you mean rules that won't affect themselves?

I'm not certain what liability for violating the law has to do with voting, a German tourist can be arrested and put in jail but no one has ever suggested before that she should be given the vote because of that possibility. heck I don't think it all that common to extend the franchise to tourists even when they are arrested and thrown in jail.

Taxes there seems to be a confusion, while students have some obligations to pay some taxes, as a practical matter they do not pay much if any taxes . They do not pay property taxes even indirectly if they live on campus, and only indirectly if they live off-campus unless they buy property and regardless I doubt anyone is unwilling to extend the franchise to college students who buy houses. Likewise they tend to have low incomes so usually avoid paying income taxes and when they do pay income taxes it is almost always less than their per capita share of income taxes. Likewise their low incomes mean they pay very little sales tax and probably the most expensive tax for college students as a class is meals (restaurant) tax. Depending on what the local rules are a town gets either zero tax dollars from a college student (most common) or a fraction of the tax dollars it would collect from a non-student.

As for the last, well college students because of their transient nature and low involvement with the community are perfectly capable of voting for rules and laws which only apply to others. Any law which applies to home owners is not going to apply to more than a minuscule fraction of college students, likewise a 20 year bond issue to be paid out of property taxes is not going to have an effect on those college students who will be living elsewhere when those bond payments are due. Zoning regulations crafted by people who intend to be gone before the effects are felt and have no property to be affected is a good thing?
9.15.2008 3:48am
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
"A glimpse of modern conservative honesty? A call to disfranchise the poor? Party like its 1890!"

Actually, we are way ahead of you. We plan to turn the poor into soylent green!!!!
9.15.2008 5:39am
PersonFromPorlock:
one of many:

I'm not certain what liability for violating the law has to do with voting....

Goes right back to "the consent of the governed." The problem of the German tourist is interesting (she may in fact have a moral claim to a vote) but not really relevant to the eligibility of Americans in America to vote.
9.15.2008 8:42am
Oren:

If you intend to reside indefinitely where the school is, you are domiciled there.
I do not.

If you intend, after completing school, to return to where you lived before, you are not domiciled where the school is.
I do not.

After school, I intend to go live somewhere else. Not here, not back home but some other place. Probably near a job I've been offered.

Help! I'm not domiciled anywhere!
9.15.2008 9:13am
Oren:

Seems like students would be an easy test, where were they during the summer? If the student returns home during the summer break they most likely should not be considered residents of the school locality.


Of course, the other locality notes that they were there only 3 months out of 12, and concludes they ought to vote where they lived 75% of the year -- near the school.
9.15.2008 9:14am
Oren:
one of many, I am a grad student and my lease explicitly has a property-tax elevator clause. If property taxes go up, I feel it immediately (and probably more than the breeders since rent is a larger % of my overall budget).
9.15.2008 9:18am
Happyshooter:
There were, I think, serious suggestions that Clinton caused the military mail to be delayed for the Florida recounts.

No one cared then because the media didn't tell them to care. No one will care about this, for the same reason.

Joe the voter has his football, his nascar, and his beer. He gets his news during the 30 second updates on his sports shows, and if the media doesn't have it in the 30 seconds he don't know and don't care.

Now Joe has heard that Bud got bought by a buncha them euros or mexicans or something, and they are making a new beer that don't not taste as good. He thinks the president should intervene.
9.15.2008 10:07am
one of many:
PfP,
Goes right back to "the consent of the governed."
The usual formulation is that when one travels in a foreign jurisdiction one "consents" to be "governed" by the local rules. Unfortunately this also applies to students who have no intent to stay around.

Oren,
am a grad student and my lease explicitly has a property-tax elevator clause. If property taxes go up, I feel it immediately (and probably more than the breeders since rent is a larger % of my overall budget).
Being a grad student or a non-grad student is irrelevant, the determinant is primarily if you reside on or off campus. Despite the clause in your lease, you only pay property taxes indirectly, it is merely more obvious than normal that the tax is being passed on to you from the direct taxpayer. I think there is potentially a good argument in considering hardship of paying taxes over absolute amount of tax paid, but I'm not certain what it is.

I should clarify that the proposition is not that all students should be denied the vote, but that student status does not by itself justify the franchise.
9.15.2008 10:24am
Milhouse (www):
Oren, which state issues your driver's license? If you were to get into a law suit with someone from the state where your college is, could you go to federal court because you're domiciled in your parents' state?
9.15.2008 10:57am
Oren:

Despite the clause in your lease, you only pay property taxes indirectly, it is merely more obvious than normal that the tax is being passed on to you from the direct taxpayer.

Come on. If property taxes go up, my rent goes up. If they go down, the rent goes down. Directly or indirectly means squat here, I pay for the property taxes, not my landlord.


I should clarify that the proposition is not that all students should be denied the vote, but that student status does not by itself justify the franchise.

Except that your formulation effectively denies students the vote, since the college jurisdiction can remove them for not having any ties and the parent's jurisdiction can remove them for spending 9/12ths of the year somewhere else (and, in my case, not evincing any desire to live there permanently).

IMO, the most logical solution is for college students to vote where the college is (e.g. where they spend 8-9 months a year) with the understanding that they represent the long-term interests of the other college students that will live there. The students, iow, ought to be represented according to their proportion in the community, not more, not less.
9.15.2008 11:37am
Oren:

Oren, which state issues your driver's license? If you were to get into a law suit with someone from the state where your college is, could you go to federal court because you're domiciled in your parents' state?

As to drivers licenses, I could legally have one or the other. As to the diversity jurisdiction, I don't see how its relevant.
9.15.2008 1:04pm
one of many:
oren,
Come on. If property taxes go up, my rent goes up. If they go down, the rent goes down. Directly or indirectly means squat here, I pay for the property taxes, not my landlord.

Well yes, that's why we call them pass through taxes, but technically your landlord pays the taxes and you pay the landlord in relation to his expense in paying the taxes, unless you have a real strange lease and are required to send a cheque to the town to cover property taxes. I suppose you could, if you wanted, call it indirect and non-diverse to distinguish it from something like property taxes on a convince store which are distributed in a manner which prevents determining how much any given person pays for any given purchase due to property taxes. All this shows is the tendency of shite taxes to flow downhill and that property ownership is a poor proxy for community involvement (if your landlord lives elsewhere then you may indeed through your indirect payment of property taxes have a greater interest in efficient local government than your landlord) but that's been noted already.

Except that your formulation effectively denies students the vote, since the college jurisdiction can remove them for not having any ties and the parent's jurisdiction can remove them for spending 9/12ths of the year somewhere else (and, in my case, not evincing any desire to live there permanently).
Yes it does. No dispute there at all. So why should students have power to make decisions for a community they are not a part of and have no intention of becoming a part of? You seem to be saying that college students should be allowed to make decisions for other people without having to feel the effects of those decisions because they happen to temporarily be residing in a particular place. And as for "representing the long-term interests of the other college students", it is just another form of making decisions for other people, in this case future college students.
9.15.2008 1:18pm
PLR:
The solution here is pretty simple: instead of electing partisan election officials, have the state hire professional nonpartisans. As long as we elect partisans, they will be partisan and/or people will argue that they are.

I suspect neither of the national party committees would want to risk perfectly fair and open elections, even though on the surface the GOP would seem to have the most to lose.
9.15.2008 1:18pm
one of many:
The solution here is pretty simple: instead of electing partisan election officials, have the state hire professional nonpartisans. As long as we elect partisans, they will be partisan and/or people will argue that they are.

except that what this results in is a situation where there isn't political party partisanship but there is pro-establishment partisanship. (witness the US State Department which is famous for having a foreign policy at odds with the US government's foreign policy.) At least with partisan election officials the parties have an interest in keeping the refs honest.
9.15.2008 1:45pm
Federal Dog:
"After school, I intend to go live somewhere else."

In that case, the default rule is that your domicile would be in the last place where you intended to reside indefinitely. You would vote by absentee ballot wherever that is.
9.15.2008 3:19pm
Oren:

Yes it does. No dispute there at all. So why should students have power to make decisions for a community they are not a part of and have no intention of becoming a part of? . . .
And as for "representing the long-term interests of the other college students", it is just another form of making decisions for other people, in this case future college students.

Well, let's break this into two parts ...

(1) Students have as much at stake in federal politics as anyone else (probably more, since we're the ones that are going to have you pay down your *****ing debt).

(2) Students have some stake, perhaps not as much as breeders, in some facets of local politics -- proportional to their fraction of the populace, of course. You cited zoning which has a very important impact on students -- much more than the average person since students move in and out more often. Places like Belle Terre, NY (near SUNYSB) have (5-4 constitutional) laws that restrict residence in the same house to relatives, Waltham, MA, on the other extreme, makes it very easy to rezone houses into multi-family apartments.

Students have an interest in affordable housing (as I said earlier, more than average since they spend a higher % on rent) and therefore have a very legitimate reason to want to shape zoning policies to provide that housing. In that respect (and provided the college isn't going to close soon), it seems quite proper for students to vote in the local elections in order to effect zoning regulations that will benefit them and ensure a stable supply of housing for future students. "Block voting" in this sense might not be ideal, but without it, towns would have no incentive to create policies that accommodate the needs of a large proportion of their citizens.
9.15.2008 3:22pm
one of many:
Well the first part (federal politics) is confined to the US, but in terms of the US (outside of DC) there is no way to vote on federal politics. I suppose in DC it might be allowable for college students to vote for president as the right to vote for president is, as best I can tell, premised merely upon location and not on membership in a community. But in the states, the selection of president, federal senators, and federal representatives is part of the state's power and voting is a right due to membership in the community. I would be willing to extend franchise on state decisions to those who intend to become part of the community of a particular state, even if not the community of a particular town or city. When there is an intent to become part of a community I can see no compelling reason to delay franchise until integration in the community is complete.

With regards to the second part, I cannot accept that mere interest amounts to justification for franchise. Certainly a German tourist has an interest in what the laws of a community are as it affects what she can do without fear of punishment, but because she does not have to live with the effects of those laws other than for the period of time when she is a tourist, she is not given the power to make those laws. Similarly, the citizens of Iraq certainly have an interest and are affected by US elections, thus they have a legitimate interest in those, but surely you are not proposing giving Iraqis (or Frenchmen or Khmer or Zulu or whatever) the right to vote (and perhaps have senators and representatives in the US congress) in US elections? Merely because one is affected by a community does not make one a member of that community.

Franchise is based upon membership in a community not upon being subject to the rules the community creates for itself. If you are not subject to the rules of a community you are by definition not part of the community and thus not entitled to the franchise however just because you are subject to the rules does not mean you are a part of the community and thus entitled to the franchise. The great problem with this lies in determining who is actually a member of a community (property ownership used to be a proxy for community membership but is no longer and tax-paying is also a poor proxy for membership in the community) but the difficulty of determining membership in the community is moot here, since the college students who have no intent to become part of the community have excluded themselves by that very choice.
9.15.2008 4:26pm
PLR:
At least with partisan election officials the parties have an interest in keeping the refs honest.

What refs?
9.15.2008 4:42pm
Oren:
OoM, thanks for the insightful response. I'm going to think this one over for a bit.
9.15.2008 4:55pm
one of many:
What refs?

The election officials. sorry if it was unclear.
9.15.2008 4:59pm
one of many:
Oren, I am pretty sure that for you the answer to my argument lies in universal (or closer to universal) suffrage and it's benefits to community rather than the benefits of the franchise in the hands of any particular person or group. While any particular group may not have a good claim to the franchise, the benefits of extending the franchise to many people makes this a preferable policy. Shift the terms from justifying a group's right to vote to require justifying the community's right to exclude a group from voting.
9.16.2008 1:42pm
Oren:
That's the answer if I wanted to do it philosophically. I was thinking more practically in terms of guaranteeing that the local government is responsive to the needs of students who, long term, make up a fixed and non-trivial percentage of the citizenry.

You seem to imply that, because any individual student is not in the community for more than 4 years, the group as a whole does not have the right to 'demand' (in the electoral sense) accommodation of local laws to their needs. In other words, from a utilitarian perspective, it is very suboptimal to ignore entirely the preferences of a fixed population, even if the individuals in that population are consistently coming and going. This is true, of course, only to the extent that the students from different years have substantially similar preferences, which I think is very easy to believe, especially in terms of zoning/housing/taxes.

So far so good (I had that all written up yesterday), but I'm still struggling with how to distinguish the legitimate preferences of the students with the preferences of out-of-country tourists that likewise, make up a fixed but internally changing percentage of the population. Keeping with the utilitarian nature of my reasoning in the first paragraph, the relative utility at stake for the tourist is considerably lower than for a student that will, in fact, make the college their primary place of residence, even if only temporarily.

Continuing on the utilitarian thread, one can also make the legitimate distinction between tourists that are engaging in a voluntary leisure and students engaging in a professional career. The former, of course, can simply opt not to take vacations at all, if they think the localities are not welcoming enough but the latter have to go live, work and study somewhere.

I'm not done finessing that last point, but you forced my hand.
9.16.2008 1:54pm
Nathan:
"one of many" mentions a hypothetical German tourist and her lack of a right to vote, saying that no-one thinks she should have a right to vote.

I disagree, I think German tourists should have a right to vote in US elections that happen when they are visiting. I also think children and convicted felons should have a right to vote. There are indeed persuasive arguments about why these classes shouldn't have the right to vote, but the same arguments applied to poor people and recently freed black slaves.
9.16.2008 2:39pm
one of many:
Oren, the current students representing the long term interests of the class of future students is a benefit to the community that accrues from extending the franchise as widely as possible. Similar benefit would also accrue from any group which is enfranchised, including German tourists, but it shifts the burden from justifying any particular group being enfranchised to one of showing why disenfranchisement is justified. Once we shift to universal franchise as the default status, we can start to consider the effects of the franchise instead of stopping at the minimum requirements for the right to vote.
9.16.2008 5:34pm
one of many:
Nathan,
I believe you are mischaracterizing my position. The closest I can come to what you present as my position would be that "no one serious is proposing to extend the franchise to tourists who happen to be in the US at the time of an election". This would seem to fit well with your stated position.
9.16.2008 5:40pm
Oren:
OoM, I suppose you can think of it philosophically but for my purposes, it's easier on my noggin to go straight to the utility. If 25,000 students live in a town with 5,000 townies, there is no utility whatsoever in imposing zoning laws that make life difficult for students.

That is to say, I can reject your assertion that students should not vote solely because it produces an absurd result.
9.16.2008 5:56pm