If there’s one thing that people on both sides of the political aisle can agree on it is this: eligible voters should be able to vote. That idea is the basis of the most popular election debates of late: those over voter ID and the illegal purge being conducted in Florida.
Both sides tend to emphasize that the focus should be on good elections that instill faith in the voting public. At least that’s what they have claimed in the past. Now it appears, some are straying from the script.
This past weekend, the Pennsylvania House Majority Leader, a Republican named Mike Turzai, admitted that the recently passed photo ID law was a partisan move. Stating that the bill “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania,” it appears that Turzai is confessing what voting rights advocates have argued from the beginning: photo ID bills are politically motivated to disenfranchise democratic-leaning voters.
It is possible that voters have become accustomed to bitter partisanship surrounding election related laws, leading to a lack of backlash against Turzai’s comments. Contributing to this may be the belief that while voting rights may be under attack from the outside, voters can take comfort in the idea that they can at least rely on local election officials to act in the interest of voters. On Election Day they know they can count on election officials to conduct fair and impartial elections, or at least that is the hope. Unfortunately, this trust may be misplaced, and voters may lose their best ally on Election Day in some areas.
In Florida, term limits on elected positions have left numerous elected officials with time on their hands and no office to fill. As a result, many partisan figures have decided to run for local Supervisor of Elections offices. While it is true that Supervisors of Elections in Florida run for office in a partisan manner, the recent refusal of Supervisors across the state to continue Rick Scott’s illegal voter purge has shown that these partisan elected officials tend to operate in the best interest of their voters and not necessarily along party lines.
While the candidates seeking Supervisor positions may have extensive experience in the political arena, many come with partisan baggage which leaves voters lacking confidence in the impartiality of election administration if elected. This isn’t to say that all elected officials with partisan pasts should remain outside of election administration, but if elected, these officials will be under increased scrutiny and must run their elections perfectly or risk alienating the voting public.
Regardless of the partisanship which rages on outside of polling locations, every American should be able to count on their local election official to be in it for the voters, and not for the six-figure salary or lack of term limits. This is especially true in a state like Florida, where Supervisors of Elections have worked tirelessly to re-establish faith in the electoral process for voters. Voters should be able to trust someone on Election Day.