\Dis`en*fran”chise\, v. t. To disfranchise; to deprive of the rights of a citizen. — Dis`en*fran\”chise*ment, n.

Source: Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

OK, that’s just for reference as we read this article.

People who cast a provisional ballot at the wrong precinct aren’t entitled to have their votes counted, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday, rejecting an argument by labor unions that the rule wrongly disenfranchises voters.

Remember now, to be “disenfranchised” is to have lost your citizen’s right, in this case to vote. So what labor unions were trying to say is that if you vote in the wrong precinct, that should be OK. Otherwise, you’ve been deprived of your right to vote.

The court said that the law clearly states that provisional ballots must be counted only if the person was entitled to vote “at the precinct,” and that the constitution gives the Legislature the authority to dictate voting rules.

And it’s not just who gets to make the election rules that is an issue, but the labor unions seem to want to decide which rules they’d like to follow and which are a nuisance.

Under Florida law, if a voter shows up at a polling place but officials there have no record of them being registered, they are given a provisional ballot. That ballot is then held until officials determine if the person was entitled to vote at that precinct and hadn’t already voted.

If they should have been allowed to vote, the ballot counts; if not, it’s thrown out.

But a group of labor unions sued over the ballot law, saying that it unconstitutionally disenfranchised voters who may not know their polling place. They argued that many people have new polling places because of redistricting, may have moved, or may have been displaced by a hurricane.

Part of being an informed voter, in addition to understanding the issues, is knowing where to do the voting. As they say, ignorance is no excuse. (Are labor unions suggesting that their memberships are more ignorant than other voters? If not, why is it that labor unions specifically are fighting this?) “Gee, I didn’t think crossing the border to vote in Alabama would matter” doesn’t cut it for a voter who lives in Georgia.

The court disagreed, saying that requiring provisional voters vote at the correct precinct is no more unreasonable than requiring that everyone else vote at the right polling place.

If anyone has to get it right, everyone has to get it right. That’s fair, no? And if you get it wrong, you were not denied your right to vote; you just screwed up. That’s not the government’s fault, and it’s not disenfranchisement.

I think that word has been far to liberally used in cases where it makes no sense (but some people love the chance to use a $3 word, even if they don’t really know what it means). In fact, a “USA Today” opinion column from Sept. 19th made this claim in it’s opening paragraph:

In 2000, more than 4.5 million Californians voted for George W. Bush. Yet none of their votes counted. Ditto for the 2.4 million Texans who voted for Al Gore.

How did this happen? How did all these people who, as the editorial says, successfully voted for the candidate of their choice, get their right to vote taken away?

The reason: the winner-take-all system for awarding a state’s Electoral College votes. Though Gore carried California easily, he still would have won all 54 of the state’s electoral votes had he defeated Bush by 1,300 votes instead of 1.3 million. Likewise, Bush would have won Texas’ 32 electoral votes had his home-state landslide been a squeaker.

OK, let’s consider an election where electoral votes are proportionally handed out based on the popular vote as the editorial suggests, or even if the President is elected by a direct popular vote. If Candidate A wins, does that mean that everyone who voted for Candidate B was disenfranchised? That’s what this editorial is suggesting happened on a state-by-state basis. How would this be any different on a national level?

Quick civics refresher: When you step into the voting booth, you are not casting your vote for President. You are casting your vote for your state’s electors to give your state’s electoral votes to the candidate of your choice. We do not have a national election for President; we have 51 state (and D.C) elections for the handing out of electoral votes. You are voting in a state-wide election to determine which candidate gets your state’s electoral votes.

(Maine and Nebraska, the rules are slightly different for you. Depending on how the popular vote goes, the electoral votes are split up. This means that the candidate with more popular votes in a close election is likely to get a piddling electoral vote gain as a result, making you about as, or less, significant as Rhode Island (no offense to Rhode Island). Colorado voters would do well to realize this come Nov. 2.)

Thems the rules and, like ’em or not, they are in effect for this election. Now read this carefully: Not getting your way in an election does not mean you were “disenfranchised”. I know this may come as a shock to Democrats, “USA Today” editors, and people who get all their news from the mainstream media, but that’s the cruel truth. The right to vote presupposes a modicum of intelligence and responsibility on the part of the voter. If you don’t follow the instructions, that’s your fault, not the governments. Or Karl Rove’s.

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