The Manatee County Commission on Tuesday voted 6-1 to approve a cut in the number of polling locations by almost 30 percent, despite pleas from speakers to delay the plan to provide more time for public vetting. Commissioners OK'd plans submitted by Manatee Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett to trim the number of precincts from 99 to 69.
[C]onservative critics of early voting runs don't just mistrust early voters; they mistrust voters in general. As I explained here, there is is a fundamental divide between liberals and conservatives about what voting is for: Conservatives see voting as about choosing the "best" candidate or "best" policies (meaning limits on who can vote, when, and how might make the most sense), and liberals see it as about the allocation of power among political equals. Cutting back on early voting fits with the conservative idea of choosing the "best" candidate by restraining voters from making supposed rash decisions, rather than relying on them to make choices consistent with their interests. In a sense, the more barriers to voting, the better. Consider how Jonah Goldberg put it in a 2005 Los Angeles Times column: "Voting should be harder, not easier—for everybody. ... If you are having an intelligent conversation with somebody, is it enriched if a mob of uninformed louts, never mind ex-cons and rapists, barges in? People who want to make voting easier are in effect saying that those who previously didn't care or know enough about the country to vote are exactly the kind of voters this country needs now." It is probably no coincidence that the comments on Adams' piece on the Washington Times website go even further, by endorsing things like literacy tests or civics test before voting. I wish the calls to cut back on early voting were merely partisan. But I fear not.