In other news this morning, Joan Vennochi has a fine column arguing that Baker’s silly story about crying at his daughter’s recital isn’t going to convince many women to vote for him. Money quote:
Women aren’t seeking a weepy governor…. What’s important is electing a governor who makes sure the numbers add up for the things that matter to families, like education and health care…. When [Baker’s] voice starts to crack, his hands start thumping the table and his eyes get that Jonathan Papelbon glare, frankly, it’s a little unsettling….
Baker’s math is sketchy. The next governor faces at least a $2 billion gap between expenses and revenue. Baker also promises to roll back the sales, income, and corporate taxes to 5 percent, creating another $2.5 billion drop in state revenue – with no cuts to local aid.
How does it add up? It doesn’t, according to Michael Widmer of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. Baker’s package of proposed reforms tallys only about $500 million, not enough to offset projected revenue drops.
Finally, the Globe has a truly appalling editorial regarding early voting – something that we don’t have in MA, but that has worked well in dozens of other states. The title:
The scourge of early voting
Whoa, hold on there, hoss. “Scourge”? That’s a pretty strong word – usually reserved for things like fatal diseases and terrorism. It’s also sometimes used sarcastically, to argue that something that some see as a real threat actually isn’t. But to claim, apparently not in jest, that “early voting” is a “scourge” – well, that’s going to take some hard evidence. Let’s see what the Globe has got.
[E]arly voting has badly chipped away at a shared civic ritual.
Oh for God’s sake. As though some aesthete’s airy ideas about “shared civic rituals” are more important than actually getting people to the polls. Frankly, I think we could all do without the “shared civic ritual” of standing in hours-long lines on election day. From a 2004 USA Today story:
Ground zero for long waits was Gambier, Ohio, where two electronic voting machines served 1,170 voters. The polling place had to stay open until 4 a.m. to accommodate everyone. Rita Yarman, deputy elections director in Knox County, which includes Gambier, says early voting would have helped. “I think it would be wonderful,” she says. “We’re certainly hopeful that that comes about.”
So is Maggie Hill, 21, a student from Maryland who registered to vote at her Kenyon College address in Gambier because her vote for John Kerry mattered more in Ohio. She got in line to vote at 1:30 p.m. and finally got to cast a ballot at 11. “I think I would consider doing the early voting” next time, she says. “There were just too many people.”
So what’s the Globe’s counter-argument?
[T]ens of millions of voters routinely make political decisions without the often crucial information that bubbles up in the home stretch of an election campaign: How did the candidates perform in the late debates? How did each handle the mounting stress of those frenzied last weeks? Who was endorsed by whom? What was their reaction to late-breaking news?
Hey, how about this, Globe editorial people? Let’s let people who are sure about their vote cast their vote when it’s convenient for them. If a voter is undecided and wants to wait for the late-breaking news, they’re of course free to do so. But many voters already know what they’re going to do, and no debate gaffe or newspaper endorsement is going to change that. For those voters, the benefits of early voting greatly outweigh the costs.
And speaking of the benefits, here’s the Globe’s thoughtful analysis (which completely ignores the issue of long lines noted above).
Early voting is touted as a boon for voter turnout, since it makes voting utterly convenient. In reality, it has had relatively little impact on turnout in most elections.
It’s hard to assess that statement, since the Globe doesn’t bother to identify its source. Here’s one I found:
Research by Curtis Gans shows that in the 24 states with no excuse absentee voting, turnout increased in 2004 in the aggregate by 6.7 percent, whereas it increased 6.2 percent for the other states. In the 11 states that had early voting in both 2002 and 2004, turnout increased by an aggregate average of 7.2 percentage points as opposed to 6.2 in states without early voting.
Data do exist pointing the other way, though I frankly cannot imagine why an early voting system should depress turnout. I’d be interested in more recent information, if anyone’s got it. In any event, it’s disappointing to see the Globe editorializing in such strong terms with so little evidence and such weak arguments.