Monday, January 05, 2009

Voter Registration and Ballot irregularities at UCSB

Apparently some interesting voter irregularities have turned up at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which is where I spent my undergrad and grad school years. Or so reports Ryan McNicholas in the UCSB Daily Nexus. I hesitate to link to the Nexus because it has become, quite frankly, increasingly pornographic over the last few years. The article states:
UCSB was one of the best campuses in the country in regard to registering students to vote. Also, we had the highest turnout on any college campus in the country. How do I know this? Because our school had a 100.2 percent turnout...

Of the nine UCSB precincts and a total of 5,442 registered voters, we had 5,456 votes that day! We had 14 people who voted who were not allowed to. In one precinct, 30-3018, we had only 342 registered voters, yet a 445-vote turnout. That’s a 130 percent performance... Even worse than all of this, the Board of Elections of Santa Barbara County certified the election. Yes, even though on paper, page 12 of the 1891 page document with the elections results shows the 130 percent turnout, the election was still certified.

It makes me wary of the voter drives on campus that aimed to get as many students as possible to vote. A friend of mine even filled out his name and signed a voter registration card, but did not know his address. The solicitor at his dorm room let him know that it was not an issue. They would fill out the rest of the information for him - even though his signature at the bottom certified that all information at the time of the signature on this page was correct, accurate and completely filled out.
Apparently Steve Pappas, candidate for Santa Barbara County’s Third District Supervisor, is contesting his election loss with the California Superior Court over illegal voter ballots. However, the Daily Nexus, who ironically endorsed Pappas, won't have it.

I can vouch for some of these overly aggressive voter registration drives on campus. I have no dispute with getting out the vote. But, let's get out of this mode of thinking that asserts that every living person absolutely has to vote. In this less-than-ideal world, quite frankly, there exist people who probably shouldn't vote. Those who are apathetic. Those who don't care enough to inform themselves on issues and candidates. Nobody should cast a vote out of coercion or pressure from individuals, groups, or voter drives. I'd certainly like to see many more educated voters, rather than just warm bodies, turn up at the polls. Just my opinion.

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