The Spokesman-Review


Editorial: Use vote as antidote to imperfect process


It will be the most important thing you do today for yourself, your family, your community and your country – unless you are serving in the military.

In Washington, you’ve had two weeks to ink in the ballot ovals, stuff it into the envelope, stuff it into the second envelope, and put it in a mail or collection box to send it on its way.

Idahoans still vote old school by trooping to the polls, which allows them to bask in the sense of common democratic (small “d”) purpose denied vote-by-mailers.

Although supporters of Dino Rossi in 2004 might disagree, elections in the two states have rarely been blemished by official hijinks or party manipulation. Secretaries of State Sam Reed in Washington and Ben Ysursa in Idaho have well-deserved reputations for assuring votes are collected and counted fairly.

But neither state’s election process is perfect.

Washington’s mail-by-midnight voting means a credible count might take days. And why is the state paying for precinct committee elections instead of the parties?

Washington Democrats have been making a stink about Republican ballot-collection drives – workers pick up ballots of the party faithful at the door – but the Dems did likewise in 2010. The solution is simple, and relatively cheap: ship the ballots out with return postage prepaid.

Idaho’s closed primary system disenfranchises thousands of voters who do not care to divulge their party allegiance.

Of course, both states have the advantage of predetermined outcomes in the presidential elections – Washington for President Barack Obama, Idaho for challenger Mitt Romney – which keeps the big-money manipulators and litigators focused on the battleground states. The efforts under way in Florida, Ohio and other states to deny the vote to Americans would be an outrage in Third World countries. Officials regularly bemoan low voter turnouts, then encourage cynicism by closing poll doors with hundreds lined up to vote (Florida), or contesting legitimate ballots (Ohio).

Election tampering is almost as old as the republic, but the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that effectively handed the presidency to George W. Bush has tainted for at least a generation the sense there is an impartial referee that will assure an ultimate fair counting of ballots.

The best antidote is your vote. The more who participate, the less the chance any one exercise of trickery will foil a legitimate outcome. Don’t let the lawyers win. Don’t let the anonymous money from the political action committees win.

Liberal or conservative, libertarian or socialist, there is no place for you on the sideline.

To respond to this editorial online, go to and click on Opinion under the Topics menu.

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Members of The Spokesman-Review editorial board help to determine The Spokesman-Review's position on issues of interest to the Inland Northwest. Board members are:

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