Among the 10 Oregon legislative races we highlighted a few weeks back, one of the more problematic was the race for the district 39 House seat, now held by House Majority Leader Wayne Scott, R-Canby. Scott is a central leader in the Oregon House, a formidable personality, and apparently well-entrenched in his district.

Wayne ScottOr maybe the entrenchment is more apparent than concrete. Scott won with 56.8% in 2004, and only eked out 51.5% in 2002, hardly powerhouse numbers. The senator whose district includes House 39, Kurt Schrader, took 55.6% in his last run, in 2002. Schrader is up for re-election this year, but is unopposed – not a good situation by itself for Scott, since Schrader has some direct reason for preferring to see him ousted. Scott and Schrader were the co-chairs of the legislature’s budget committee last session, and things didn’t exactly go smoothly.

The district has been changing too; the region around Oregon City and Canby has been shifting fast from its exurban and agricultural roots to a more clearly suburban mix. That doubtless has been affecting the politics of the area too.

Mike CaudleWith these points in mind, we checked out a Saturday campaign event by Mike Caudle, the Democrat running against Scott. He seems to have entered the race initially with the idea that he’d be a longshot, but since then several things have changed. Some of them, including blog questions about Scott’s business, the incumbent seems to have gotten past without trouble. But Caudle has been organizing hard, raised upwards of $20,000 by September 1 – enough to do some serious campaigning – and points to internal polling suggesting Scott is vulnerable. (The early polling gave Scott a 46%-25% lead, Caudle said, but much less after various specific issues are raised.)

And then came the string of Oregonian headlines last week about the batch of legislators who took a relaxing trip to Hawaii on the dime of the state’s beer and wine distributors, and then failed to report it as they should have. Caudle, whose case against Scott has for some time been that he’s too close to established interests, said that his phone has been running hard since those headlines hit.

The event itself, held in the ballroom a remodeled older Oregon City building, attracted just a modest crowd, two dozen or so. (It did conflict with a key Oregon State football game.) That was largely made up for by the passion in the room, where the speakers also included a group of local Democratic legislators (including Schrader) and Governor Ted Kulongoski.

This looks like a live race.

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Eugene City ClubOn his campaign website, Jim Torrey, the Republican nominee for the Senate in district 7, has posted four video/television spots. The one that gets the most attention is the last, “Outside the box,” an animated spot. It shows (a younger and slimmer) Torrey being chased by a woman (his Democratic opponent, incumbent Vicki Walker) who is “trying to put him in a partisan box. But Jim has always thought outside the box. Jim leaves party politics at the door.”

Weren’t left at the door today, though, when Torrey met Walker for their big debate, at the City Club of Eugene. Not that that was Torrey’s doing, or that he wanted it.

The debate made three things clear. One is why Torrey, twice elected mayor of Eugene, is such a well-regarded political figure in town, and beyond. A second is that Walker is no pushover. The third, which we’re starting to think may be decisive in this close and pivotal race, is that partisan considerations may prove decisive in the outcome – to Torrey’s detriment.

Jim TorreyFirst to Torrey: The man has solid campaign skills. the City Club debate drew a crowd of upwards of 300 (well above the norm, organizers told us), and Torrey worked it like a pro, doing his best to leave no hand unshaken and no face ungreeted. His speech has just enough rumble in it to give it an authoritative edge, but he comes off as friendly and has a fine knack for knowing when to use his sense of humor. As a public speaker and figure, he seems completely comfortable. Republicans have in the past talked him up as a prospect for higher office, and it’s no hard to see why, or why he won his terms as mayor and was considered a given for a third term if he’d wanted it.

Vicki WalkerWalker, by comparison, is a little stiff, more tentative as a crowd worker and not quite the natural crowd pleaser. But she displayed, once the debate started, a sound capacity for armor-plating her record and launching truly sharp jabs at Torrey – better than he did at her.

In the ask-your-opponent-a-question phase, Torrey asked about Walker’s failure to inform the Lane County commission about her objections to a proposed ballot issue for public safety funding, before they went public with it. His point (of doing what one can to work with others) was legitimate enough, but it was hardly a silver bullet. And elsewhere – starting with her opening remarks – Walker rattled off a long list of legislative and related accomplishments, and said that almost 60 bills she worked on in the last session had passed. At the debate’s end, she noted that Torrey had not once in the entire debate criticized her work as a legislator – and that was true, at least directly. It was a startling omission, and a fundamental gap: The first thing a challenger always has to do in taking on an incumbent is to explain (nicely preferably, but still clearly) why the incumbent has to be fired. Torrey never did.

Her question to him was more telling and wickedly sharp, even if there was no explicit criticism at all in it. She asked: You emphasize your independence but, although the Oregon Senate now has two independents in its ranks, you’re running as a Republican. Why?

Walker’s advocates must smell blood on this point, because the question of partisan identity kept recurring through the rest of the debate – what you think of your party’s platform, what about your party you disagree with, on and on. Running in Democratic Eugene, Walker breezed through the questions. But Torrey had a devil of a time with them.

His core answer to why he was running as a Republican, the one that came closest to satisfying, was its support of entrepreneurialism. Beyond that, he sounded like a Democrat running in Idaho: we need two parties, two points of view, my wife is a Democrat, we need to reach across the aisle. All the things you say when, metaphorically and practically, you’re a Democrat in Idaho.

(He glitched himself at one point and didn’t seem to catch it, though some in the crowd did. Asked how he would be distinctive from other Republicans, Torrey replied that he would be “in that I’m an independent thinker and make decisions based on common sense.”)

He went on to define himself as a Republican in the mold of (former governor and senator) Mark Hatfield, University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer, and moderate Republican Senator Frank Morse of Corvallis, and a few others. But excepting Morse, all of the Republican figures he named were politicians of the past. Frohnmayer may be the most influential figure in Eugene but he seems unlikely to return to elective politics, and Walker acidly noted that she hasn’t “even seen the ghost of Mark Hatfield in the eight years” she’s been at the statehouse. And Torrey didn’t name Senator Gordon Smith or his party’s gubernatorial nominee Ron Saxton – did not even name-check them for any reason at any point.

And you could almost see the blood being drawn when Walker mentioned that Torrey had contributed the maximum amount to George W. Bush’s campaign for president in 2004. Torrey returned to the point even after the subject had moved on, seemingly trying to patch the hole in the balloon where air was leaking out. Then it got worse, when someone asked the candidates about Iraq. Torrey said he had supported the war when it started and still thought it makes us safer. Walker said it was a disaster, a decision “made by one man who wanted to bully the world” – and the crowd ate it up.

On many of the substantive issues, on education, health and other matters, the two actually weren’t all that far apart, using different verbiage and frames to suggest answers that were not far off. Torrey’s and Walker’s world views are very different, and they would be quite distinct senators, but Torrey’s votes might not be radically different on a quite a few matters, if his City Club debate is an indication.

But he may have picked the wrong year to leave his nonpartisan candidacies for mayor behind, and run for the legislature as a Republican. For the moment, Walker seems to be boxing him in.

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We can readily track political ideas entering the environment when they arrive from politicians, from the media, from interest groups, but some of the sources, while intuitively evident enough, are harder to track.

Goldy at Horse’s Ass located one in a post today, in noting material which has been removed from a church’s web side. This is the Cedar Park Church (Assembly of God) at Bothell – a megachurch, with around 2,000 members – led by Pastor Joe Fuiten. We should all be watching him and it, closely (we’re adding it to our regular check-list). The Seattle Weekly reported in November 2004 that, operation through the Washington Evangelicals for Responsible Government, “the pastor sent 2,700 such voter registration boxes to churches across the state, netting what he estimates to be 45,000 to 90,000 new voters. Those are huge numbers that are impossible to verify; he says they come from a sample survey of churches that received the boxes.” We have no reason to doubt the numbers.

The church has redone its web site, and some of the old material isn’t visible. That drew Goldy’s attention, and a reply from the church that the old material will be reposted soon. Meantime, courtesy of Google’s caches – where would we be without them? – some material from an October 20, 2001 sermon.

It is absolutely necessary that we compare one religion with another. The old idea was that it didn’t really matter what a person believed. What we discovered on September 11th was that religion does matter. A person’s beliefs are not just private because we all have to share this planet. As long as we all share the Christian concept of doing good to your neighbor, then what particular brand of that belief a person holds is not so important. But when people hold religious views that allow them to kill their neighbor, when war against unbelievers is a core tenet of their faith, then we have a bit of a different situation.

We now know that the old secular idea that religion is not relevant to the public square wasn’t true. We now have to evaluate religion by its fruit. What kind of results does that religion produce? If one of the fruits of Islam is the rubble of the World Trade Center then we need to get some answers about this religion.

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And how do Idahoans view Governor Jim Risch a month after his signature event – the property tax special session?

According to this month’s Survey USA polling, not so well. His favorable/unfavorable numbers were 53% to 32% a month ago – pretty good. This month? 44% favorable, 38% unfavorable – a net fall of 15% in the margins.

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Afew quick observations about the hour-long debate on children’s issues, most notably education, between the Oregon candidates for governor: No slam dunks, with two contenders gradually warming to the topic and running in a few good shots.

Ron SaxtonRepublican Ron Saxton was probably a little smoother; public education clearly is a topic he feels comfortable discussing. The subject matter was interesting; compare him to a typical Idaho Republican or even many Washington Republicans and he sounds off-the-charts moderate for his party; such subjects as charter schools and home schooling didn’t even come up.

He moved fluently through some of the specific organizational topics, including school spending procedures and foster child programs. His fluency had a slight cost, though; the smoothness gave him a bloodless, policy wonkish aspect, even on subjects where his words make clear that he feels very strongly.

Ted KulongoskiTed Kulongoski, the Democratic incumbent, was a little less smooth but conveyed a lot more passion. His answers on a range of policies were tethered a little took often to the idea that “the government has an obligation,” but his pitch about the needs at stake was involving.

In strategic messaging, Kulongoski had a somewhat more interesting debate. Saxton has been pushing the idea that Oregon can oeprate better with more efficiencies, and he pursued that idea solidly. But Kulongoski had the more pointed barbs. He hammered in the message – which he’s been using in TV ads – that “I’m on your side,” conveying the sense that Saxton is not. By itself, that’s a little vague. But elsewhere in the debate, he clarified what he means, and you have to wonder if this is what’s coming next in the next round of Kulongoski spots: Saxton, he charged, is interested in looking out for “the privileged few” and “the corporate elite.” (The recent story about Saxton’s school residency, not mentioned at all in the debate, would be a perfect tie-in to that.) There was no similar heads up – if that’s what it was – on the Saxton side about what new may be coming.

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The United States Senate today passed what is euphemistically called “the detainee bill” (S. 3930 As Amended) on which the Northwest Senate delegation was split. The three Democrats, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington and Ron Wyden of Oregon, voted against, and the three Republicans, Larry Craig and Mike Crapo of Idaho and Gordon Smith of Oregon, voted in favor.

With that vote, the latter three have entered, and may be leading us down, a dark back alley in history. They forfeited any moral right to describe their public positions or efforts in terms of freedom, liberty or justice. They have just voted against these principles as decisively as it is possible to do. (At last check, they do not appear to have noted their votes, or reasons for them, on their web sites.)

This assessment is not too harsh: Their votes enabled the single most stunning slash at civil liberties in this country since the days of slavery. The mass of power handed over to the president is of the kind more typically handed over in countries whose form of government is not described as either “free” or “democratic.”

Here is what Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman said about it in today’s Los Angeles Times:

The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.

This dangerous compromise not only authorizes the president to seize and hold terrorists who have fought against our troops “during an armed conflict,” it also allows him to seize anybody who has “purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.” This grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison.

Not to worry, say the bill’s defenders. The president can’t detain somebody who has given money innocently, just those who contributed to terrorists on purpose.

But other provisions of the bill call even this limitation into question. What is worse, if the federal courts support the president’s initial detention decision, ordinary Americans would be required to defend themselves before a military tribunal without the constitutional guarantees provided in criminal trials.

The Washington Post‘s Andrew Cohen remarked: “Of all the stupid, lazy, short-sighted, hasty, ill-conceived, partisan-inspired, damage-inflicting, dangerous and offensive things this Congress has done (or not done) in its past few recent miserable terms, the looming passage of the terror detainee bill takes the cake.”

Before harsher denunciation followed: “Do you believe the Administration has over the past five years earned the colossal expanse of trust the Congress is about to give it in the name of fighting terrorism? Do you believe that Administration officials will be able to accurately and adequately identify so-called ‘enemy combatants’ here at home so as to separate out the truly bad guys from the guys who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did you want your legislative branch to abdicate so completely its responsibility to ensure that there are adequate checks and balances upon executive power even in a time of terror? You might have answered ‘no’ to all three questions. But your answer doesn’t matter. And neither does mine. To Congress, the answer is ‘yes, sir.'”

And torture? Oh yeah, got that too – the president pretty much gets to define whatever he thinks is okay. There’s even been analysis suggesting that the bill could legally authorize the rape of detainees. That’s been disputed. Sorta. (We’re old enough to remember when torture was something the bad guys did – and when we were better than that.)

There is much, much more.

A commenter to Cohen’s post: “The fact that we – mere citizens – have allowed Congress to reach the brink of passing one of the most reckless and foolish laws in decades is astounding. Congress is set to gut the Constitution of one of the central rights our Founders fought for, and we are all asleep. Shame on the Republican majority for going lock-step with the President. Shame on Democrats for fighting for what’s right in order to avoid looking ‘soft’ on terrorism. Shame on us for not saying this is wrong.”

The core is this: The United States Senate today did its part toward turning this country into the kind of place we always thought we were better than.

Remember who did this to you, and to your country.

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Indications of this have been coming for a while, but it seems time now, with three consecutive polls showing the candidates within a couple of percentage points of each other, to call the Washington House District 8 contest a clear tossup. Among major office contests in the Northwest, it now appears to be the only such.

We won’t say, yet, that Democrat Darcy Burner is poised to defeat Republican Representative Dave Reichert. But we will say the momentum is hers, and unless she stalls in the next month – maybe even then – he will have to find a way to turn things around, quick, if he’s to survive.

A year ago, such a situation seemed maybe not wildly improbable, but less than likely. Reichert had just been elected by not a big but a significant margin, is a very well known figure in the area, has endured no big scandal, and faces a candidate who started out not only virtually unknown but also without ever having run for office before. And bear in mind that almost all congressmen who run for re-election win.

So what has happened to shift the balance?

Washington 8th House District

There seems to have been no single factor, rather a collection of circumstances, good and bad fortune, a few errors and a few smart calls.

Timing is crucial in politics, and this is the best year – so it seems now – for a Democrat in eastern King County for a long time. The state legislative delegation has been trending Democratic, to include an incumbent Republican switching parties this year. The national mood is favoring Democrats, and President Bush is not in favor there. All this is true, to this point anyway, to an extent not easily envisionable a year ago.

Reichert and his advisors certainly do not seem oblivious to all this, and in a number of cases have pointed (ostentatiously, sometimes) to their centrist or moderate tack on this issue or that. But campaign visits by President Bush and especially advisor Karl Rove were bad calls; every such linkage tied him ever more tightly to all that he tried to loosen himself from on other occasions.

One of Reichert’s big advantages was campaign money, which he could have used more effectively to carefully define himself. That didn’t happen. In the meantime, Burner turned into a ferocious fundraiser, out-raising Reichert three quarters in a row, and her money has been put to work.

She is still a relatively inexperienced candidate, and from time to time it shows. her advertising and materials have been variable in effectiveness, though generally pretty good. Mostly, though, she comes across as likable, as both friendly and serious, and her numbers have steadily risen as she’s become more visible in the district. Some reports have it that Burner is running not far behind Reichert in the southern, Pierce County, part of the district, an area where down-home pleasantness is good for sales. If that’s true – since this is the part of the district that should be most difficult for her to crack – then Reichert has big problems.

Reichert’s campaign people may have entered the year with the idea that, sitting as they were on a huge financial advantage and no enormous specific problem in sight, they could for the most part do the usual and ordinary and otherwise run out the clock. Regardless, their mindset now has to be on executing a turnaround. If not, Burner’s momentum could well allow her to run out the clock and finish first.

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Typically, we don’t report much here on technical election complaints to either the Federal Elections Commission or to state elections offices. While some may be serious, many are simply attempts to barb an opponent with an embarrassing “gatcha!”. But now from Michigan, of all places, comes one worth more attention.

The local background to this is in Idaho’s 1st U.S. House race, where Republican Bill Sali won his primary campaign in considerable part because of the help of Club for Growth, a supply side/tax cut group based in Washington. The Club’s money was the biggest reason Sali’s finances were well ahead of everyone else’s in the primary and have continued so large. Sali has, in debates, acknowledged the group is an important part of his support, and said they simply believe the same things he does.

The FEC complaint just filed by Michigan Republican Representative Joe Schwarz, however, takes this to another kind of level.

Schwartz recent lost his primary election to Tim Walberg, an evangelical minister, and since has decided not to fade quietly away. Club for Growth was also a key factor in Walberg’s campaign, and after some checking Schwartz fired off to the FEC a complaint alleging a string of violations including sharing campaign resources – such as polling and media consultants – among four campaigns. One of those four campaigns was Sali’s.

This is, so far, a complaint only and not a finding. But the implications ought to get people to take notice, because the sharing aspect of all this suggests that the Club was not merely the largest contributor among several, but was playing a managing role as well – running, in part at least, these campaigns from its central office in Washington. That might seem a bit of a reach except for the very large amounts of money pouring into these campaigns.

Again, this is a complaint and not a finding. But it is worth quire a bit more review and discussion.

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We’d not suggest that the Portland Tribune‘s report Tuesday about Ron Saxton double householding 10 years ago rises to anything in the area of scandal. But it does seem to offer a useful insight into the mind and impulses of this man who seeks to be, and might be, governor.

Ron Saxton Saxton maintained that he got thorough legal advice at the time, did his proper disclosures at the time and that nothing illegal or unethical has occurred. A surface reading of the situation indicates that’s about right, although the Tribune raises a string of useful questions about the matter of residency. But there are other levels of propriety, and different people may reach different conclusions about them – and they call into play the sort of dynamics that governors often deal with.

The Tribune‘s summary of what happened: “Saxton and his wife, Lynne, wanted to enroll their son at Lincoln [High School]’s competitive International Baccalaureate program — the only one in Portland at the time — for the 1996-97 school year. But when they tried to transfer their son, Andy, into the program, he was turned away because Lincoln was overcrowded. In response, the family decided to move from its Mount Tabor home to an apartment on the South Park Blocks for a year to establish residency there, so Andy could enroll at Lincoln as a neighborhood student. It was perfectly legal as long as it was their primary residence for a year, according to the school district’s policy. The family moved back to its Mount Tabor home at the end of Andy’s freshman year, in the summer of 1997 — shortly after Saxton was first elected to the school board by the district where the family’s permanent home is located.”

Operating inside the law and inside policies, people still have a good deal of maneuvering room, and what they do with it says quite a bit. It’s called gaming the system, and it means that people with money and connections can outmaneuver people without them, if they choose to. There’s certainly no headline news in that.

Saxton’s wife Lynne, speaking to the Tribune in response, “explained that moving out of their 3,000-square-foot home into a cramped two-bedroom apartment in 1996 was a sacrifice they made because they believe all students should have access to the education they want, regardless of where they live.”

The Saxtons’ belief that all of the students in the district should have an equal shot seems genuine enough; erasure of geographic boundaries has been built into Saxton’s campaign, and was long before the new headlines hit. But Lynne Saxton clearly isn’t being forthcoming about the reasons for the family’s 1996 move: The only useful reason for doing that was to benefit one of the family’s children; no other students were benefitted, and one other student in the Portland School District lost a spot at Lincoln as a result.

Variations on this theme happens daily and has happened back into the roots of civilization. The whole story offers a number of insights into Saxton’s character, and prompts a number of questions. One of them might be this: What happens when a system gamer becomes governor?

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An Idaho city is planning a pilot wireless Internet – WiFi – project to cover a downtown area. And which one is it?

Meridian subdivision image - City of MeridianYou might logically guess Boise. Wrong. Or Pocatello, with Idaho State University close by, or Moscow with the University of Idaho. Wrong again. Tony Ketchum or Hailey? Nope. High-tech Idaho Falls? Guess again.

The first, apparently, will be Meridian, which plans to set up a WiFi network in its downtown.

You might call this counterintuitive. Meridian is one of Idaho’s hottest growth spots, certainly, and sometime this year – if not already, then probably soon – it leaps past Pocatello to become the state’s third largest city. But its growth pattern is more like Henderson, Nevada, or Phoenix, Arizona, than like any of those other Idaho cities – it is spreading out over scads of new subdivisions, miles in every direction from downtown. And the downtown area looks, considering the astonishing change around it, not sio drastically different than it did a decade or two ago. It is not a downtown area in the same sense as Pocatello’s, or Idaho Falls’, or Nampa’s. It is still a small-town downtown, characterized most obviously by the heavy traffic passing through it on the way to residential and shopping centers out on Fairview or Eagle roads, or somewhere else.

That said … maybe Wi-Fi is a good idea. Meridian would probably be well served in efforts to develop its downtown area into something more (which at least to some extent its overwhelmed city staffers have tried to do). An a Wi-Fi system might be a useful tool in that effort.

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Asuperb sum-up paragraph on Oregon campaign finance in the Oregon Catalyst blog, from Dan Meek:

money

Oregon is one of just five states with no limits on campaign contributions. Laws are so lax here that what Tom Delay was indicted for in Texas, channeling corporate money to state legislative races, is not only legal in Oregon but would hardly be noticed (since it was only $155,000). Corporations routinely contribute 100 times that much in an election cycle in Oregon.
The 2002 race for Governor broke all records, with each major party candidate spending over $4 million and each serious primary contender spending over $1.5 million. The unions contributed over $1.2 million to Ted Kulongoski’s campaign, while Loren Parks and the timber companies were generous with Kevin Mannix. This year, Ron Saxton’s campaign for Governor plants to spend over $6 million, and Kulongoski will not be far behind. It now typically costs over $500,000 to win a contested race for State Senate and over $250,000 to win a contested seat in the Oregon House of Representatives. In legislative races over the past 3 cycles, the candidate spending the most money has won over 90% of the time, and the few exceptions are candidates who almost outspent their opponents and had the benefit of name recognition from service in the other body of the Legislature.

The article is in support of Measures 46 and 47, which seek to limit campaign contributions. We’re a little torn on this, supportive of the concerns Meek has about heavy contributions but uneasy that the measures may be structured in such a way that they allow some lopsided loopholes. Campaign contribution reform is awfully difficult; we refer back to the old analogy of planting a thumb on a drop of mercury to pin it down.

By the way, the first of Oregon’s C&E reports (contributions & expenditures = campaign finance reports) are due next Monday, October 2, and the Secretary of State’s office says they expect to post them on line that day, though the crush of work is likely to push the posting into the evening.

Those reports will be eagerly read, not least by this site.

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When we started voting in elections back in the mid-70s in Idaho, the procedure was that we’d walk into the polling place, announce our names, receive a ballot, vote, and drop the ballot into a box, at which point one of the poll workers would announce that we – by name – had voted. It was a simple process, and there wasn’t a lot of special security attached to it, but it seemed to work. Hardly ever did you see a report of anyone casting a ballot who shouldn’t have done.

In that, that’s close to how it’s still done, and it still works. In some places in recent years you’re required to show some form of identification, but that’s usually not too difficult a task – most of us have some sort of identifying paperwork.

The new Federal Election Integrity Act, on the other hand, is another in the long line of federal measures in recent years which is closer to the opposite of what its name portends, because elections of integrity are in no way being addressed and are actually being attacked. The more serious threats to election integrity involve such concerns as hackable voting machines and efforts to suppress voting; this bill does nothing to help in that area. On the other hand, this bill does its bit to suppress voting, by imposing ever more intensive document requirements (“are your papers in order?”) to cast a vote. The effect is going to be a discouraging of people to vote.

It will have special impact on mail-voting places like Oregon, where voters will have to send copies of documents like birth certificates through the mail to cast a vote.

On the Blue Oregon comment section about this, an official at the secretary of state’s office notes, “This ID requirement would throw up roadblocks to all sorts of people voting: the elderly, young people, and persons with disabilities, to name a few. We’ve made gains getting people engaged in voting through vote by mail. It would be a shame to backslide.” This is in effect another end run at a poll tax, a device to try to limit in specific ways the people who vote – as underhanded and politically obscene a maneuver as any tried in the Jim Crow Deep South.

(On top of which: do the feds really expect over-burdened elections officials to double-check the validity of all those documents? They must be out of their minds …)

Is there a rationale for this? The theory – the political theory, that is, there being little other – behind the document mania is millions of illegal aliens live in the country, and some of them might try to vote.

That seems ridiculous on its face. While you could understand the interest an illegal alien might have in trying to obtain some other governmental services, such as medical or education, why would they bother to draw the unneeded attention to themselves to vote in someone else’s country? Why run the risk?

Apparently none or almost none actually do. From the official at the secretary of state’s office: “The stats we’ve seen in the Sec of State’s office on ineligible voters voting are: since 1991, of 10 million votes cast, 10 complaints were filed – two of which ended up in prosecution. You have a higher likelihood of being struck by lightning than of being an ineligible voter voting in Oregon.”

One in a million, at most.

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