Over on Alternet, Dan Tokaji, of Ohio’s Moritz College of Law, issued a pretty good essay on Florida’s possible “do-over” primary election. I’ve followed Mr. Tokaji’s writing and blog somewhat regularly, and believe there’s a link over in the right-side column to Moritz College of Law, but it’s always refreshing to know that the experts agree, Vote-By Mail is not trusted by the experts. But Dan says it better than I…
Even if one believes that all-mail voting works well in a smaller and relatively homogeneous state like Oregon, there’s reason to be very cautious about exporting it to larger, more heterogeneous states. These concerns are especially acute in states such as Florida and Michigan, parts of which are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That means that any change to their election rules — including an all-mail primary election — would have to be precleared by the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. If the use of all-mail voting would have a retrogressive effect, making racial minorities worse off than they were before, then the change couldn’t be made.
There’s a reasonable argument that preclearance should be denied, on the ground that an all-mail election will have a negative impact on the participation of minority voters. But even if preclearance is granted, mail voting could still have a disproportionate impact on participation by some groups of voters. And that, of course, would cloud the legitimacy of Florida’s election — and perhaps the selection of our next President. As Yogi Berra (or John Fogerty) might put it, it’s like deja vu all over again. If there’s going to be a re-vote in Florida, it should be conducted at precincts rather than by mail.
Of course the rest of the article is great too, and he outlines 5 major reasons to oppose a Vote-By Mail re-do in Florida, so please read the whole essay when you have a chance. He concludes, it seems, just like I, that the right place to vote is at the precinct level.