The Carbondale Observer

News and commentary about Carbondale, Illinois and SIUC

My View: Rigging and Manipulating Electoral Rules is Wrong

with 6 comments

As most readers will know, Geoffrey Ritter reported in this week’s Carbondale Times that the Jackson County Electoral Board will not allow Republican candidates to appear on November’s ballot because their paperwork was fastened with a paperclip rather than with a staple. I posted a letter to the editor on this topic from Republican Jackson County Board member Will Stephens this morning, and now I want to share a few of my own thoughts.

First, based on my understanding of what happened, I agree with Stephens. If it’s true that the Republicans were kicked off the ballot because they paper-clipped their paperwork instead of stapling it, that’s wrong. Attempting to win elections by keeping opponents off the ballot is anti-democratic.

But here’s the thing: when it comes to manipulating electoral rules to win elections, Republicans are by far the worst offenders. Republicans in state legislatures across the country, citing unverified claims of voter fraud, have been passing laws designed to limit the Democratic vote in this fall’s elections. 

These laws, which sometimes seem benign on the surface, suppress the votes of young people, minorities, and the poor – groups that vote disproportionately Democratic. Suppressing the Democratic vote seems to be a major Republican priority.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University has a report and a roundup of news articles from late last year on these efforts to suppress the vote, which you can see by clicking here. To see a summary of the new laws, click here. Last month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that these laws place the voting rights gains of the 1960s in jeopardy.

I don’t want to see the Republican candidates unfairly thrown off the ballot in Jackson County. But I also don’t want to see the Democratic vote suppressed by new laws that make it more difficult to vote. I want the parties to compete in fair elections, without rigging the rules to benefit one party or another.

I join Stephens in denouncing the ruling denying ballot access to the Jackson County Republican candidates. Will Republicans join me in denouncing the voter suppression laws being passed around the country?

Comments are welcome.


Written by The Carbondale Observer

June 22, 2012 at 7:50 am

6 Responses

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  1. […] As most of you will already know, Geoffrey Ritter reported in this week’s Carbondale Times that the Jackson County Electoral Board ruled that the Republican candidates for State’s Attorney and Coroner will not appear on the ballot in November because their paperwork was fastened with a paperclip rather than a staple. Republican Jackson County Board member Will Stephens of Murphysboro wrote the following letter to the editor and submitted it to this blog and other area news outlets. I will post my own thoughts on this matter in a separate post, which you can read by clicking here.  […]

  2. I agree 100%.

    Alessandra Nicholson

    June 22, 2012 at 10:22 am

  3. Any person, who is serious about running for an elected position, should take the time to check details, no matter how small, before submitting their paperwork. If they can’t follow the initial rule as simple as neatly fastening together their paperwork upon submission then how can we be confident that attention is being paid to critical issues affecting the constituents voting?

    Registered Voter

    June 25, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    • Hey Registered Voter – your argument is plain silly. If your officials are going to pay attention to “critical issues,” they are going to have to ignore something. Not knowing about paper clips vs. staples seems like a good thing.

      Not Even Registered In State

      June 25, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    • Registered Voter – Since I posted this, Geoffrey Ritter has published another another article on this matter in the Carbondale Times. It turns out that the law doesn’t specify whether staples or paperclips should be used to fasten petitions. According to that article, the case law isn’t clear either. According to one ruling in the Third Appellate District, paperclips are not sufficient. According to a different ruling in the First Appellate District, paperclips are fine.

      If the law was clear and staples were required then I’d agree with you, although I’d think the law was unnecessarily strict. But it seems to me that the law isn’t clear. That fact undermines your argument.

      The Carbondale Times usually doesn’t post its articles online until a week after they appear in print, so I can’t link the article from today’s paper. But if you’re in Carbondale or the surrounding area you can pick up a free copy.

      Thanks for the comment!

      The Carbondale Observer

      June 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm

  4. Staples/Paperclips were not the only reason. Before you judge or pass any judgement, get all the facts and stright. I was in the court room that day and why should rules be changed for some and not others. Even the lawyer had wrong dates and blanks not filled in. GET YOU FACTS!!!!!


    July 26, 2012 at 9:04 am

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