28 August 2014

Unintended Consequences

My dad use to offer what we called, "Beyer's Postulate." For those of you who were wise and skipped Geometry in school, a "postulate" is a proposed application of an axiom, that is it is something that a person might reasonably derived from the axiom, which can be tested. Dad's was related to "Murphy's Law which states that whatever can go wrong will." Dad postulated, "Murphy was an optimist." OK, he included several modifiers too, but this is a family blog.

Some years ago, there was a drive to migrate the election of the State's, "constitutional officers" that is the governor, secretary of state, and the like, to the even numbered years without presidential elections. So some years, those evenly divisible by 4, are presidential years, and others are "off year" which means State executive and various legislative elections.

The idea was that the State offices were being over-shadowed by the presidency, and would be more visible. This it was hoped, would make those elections more visible, and Congressional and State legislative attention. Illinois where I live, Missouri, Wisconsin, and a number of other States amended their constitutions to make this happen. I recall voting for Governor thee times in 6 years as we implemented the change in Illinois.

Murphy struck.

What the reformers hoped for was more turnout in, "off years" and more attention to State offices. What has happened is we now have two electorates. One, the presidential year one, elects a president and vice-president, a House of Representatives, and a third of the Senate every 4 years. The other, also using a 4 year cycle, but offset by 2 years, elects State executives, the House of representatives, and one third of the Senate also on a four year cycle. The key is that the electorates are starkly different.

The presidential electorate includes about half of the possible minority voters. Afro-Americans in particular turn out in droves. In fact, some survived Republican attempts to limit voting by waiting in line for hours last time. Ah, but in off-years, they stay home.

If the voters do not vote, if the majority allows the Republican conspiracy of voter suppression, to define the electorate; then the reform has failed. It is really all up to us.

What will do>?

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