Tag Archives: Early voting

About That Swamp…And Your Vote

Early voting is now underway in most states; here in Indianapolis–thanks to Common Cause and the pro bono efforts of local attorney and all-around good guy Bill Groth–we have nearly as many satellite voting sites as our rural, Republican neighbors. Preliminary reports are that those sites have been flooded with early voters.

This is one of those years where most voters have made up their minds weeks, if not months, ahead. But just in case anyone reading this is tempted to send a less-than-emphatic message to the current iteration of the once Grand Old Party, let me remind you of the “quality” of the people in the Trump Administration, and the fact that electing any Republican to any position in any level of government is an endorsement of the “best people” that constitute Trump’s Swamp.

Who did they get to vet these people? Rod Blagojevich?

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is plagued by scandals — facing about a dozen different investigations of his conduct — but he may have found a solution to his oversight woes: replacing the person investigating him with a political stooge.

Subsequent reports suggest this particular appointment was reversed, but the fact that Zinke tried this stunt simply confirms his sleaziness. Of course, he has lots of company. CNN recently published a compendium of cabinet scandals and embarrassments.

The term “embattled” has now been thrown around so often in news coverage of Trump Cabinet secretaries’ assorted foibles, it’s practically been fused to the front of some of their titles. The President himself, perhaps for variety’s sake, referred to Jeff Sessions in a tweet last year as his “beleaguered” attorney general.


Some of the alleged (and confirmed) transgressions have been more damaging than others. The White House’s handling of the Rob Porter scandal might have been its darkest episode, an ethical failure leavened by bureaucratic incompetence. Mostly though, the administration’s scandals and embarrassments have been characterized less by furtive malfeasance than some kind of open disdain for (or ignorance of) basic ethical standards (or a lack of due diligence).

That lede was followed by a rundown of some of the most glaring “embarrassments,” from the nomination of White House doctor Ronny Jackson to head the Department of Veterans Affairs (he withdrew after reports emerged of his excessive drinking, creating a “toxic” work environment, handing out prescription pain medications without proper documentation, wrecking a government vehicle after a going-away party, and drunkenly banging on the door of a female colleague during an overseas trip) to the multiple transgressions that led to Scott Pruitt’s resignation from his position destroying the EPA, to Ben Carson’s $31,000 dining set, to White House Secretary Rob Porter’s penchant for domestic violence, to Tom Price’s pricey flying habits. And much, much more.

It’s a long list–an inclusive one would make a much too-long post– and the ethical problems continue to mount. Vox suggests that the administration is unable to clean house because the President himself is too “soaked in scandal.” As the story says,

But inside the Donald Trump White House, grifters, abusers, racists, and harassers still get hired; they lurk around the Oval Office after they’ve been found out; and even in the rare instance where they’re forced out, it’s only grudgingly.

We have an administration that is setting a new (low) level for corruption; a racist President who proudly proclaims his Nationalism; and a GOP controlled Congress that is at best feckless and at worst in active collaboration with the criminals and thugs in the administration.

A vote for any Republican–no matter how unconnected that person might be to the Trumpists’ constant affronts to democracy and the Constitution–will be seen as an endorsement of the GOP’s corruption and White Nationalism.

Is that unfair to local candidates who may be nice people? Yes. But it’s necessary. We can go back to being fair when we get our country back.

Very Good News, For Once

The next time you see local attorney Bill Groth, buy him a drink. Hell, buy him two!

According to the IBJ, 

The Marion County Election Board unanimously approved a bipartisan proposal that would convert the county’s traditional polling places to vote centers starting with the 2019 primary election. That way, Marion County registered voters can use any of 300 vote centers, rather than only a designated polling place. The county currently has about 300 polling sites.

The proposal also expands the use of early voting in the county and creates electronic pollbooks to be used county-wide.

Several months ago, I blogged about the lawsuit brought by Groth on behalf of Common Cause, challenging the lack of satellite polling places for early voting in Marion County. Thanks to a provision of state law that requires all election board decisions to be unanimous, the Republican member of the Marion County Board was able to block the designation of any early voting sites other than the one in the Clerk’s office in the City County Building.

The meticulous petition Groth filed in the case detailed the number of early voting sites in other whiter, more Republican counties, and the comparison was devastating: for example, Hamilton County had a ratio of one early site for every 76,929 registered voters; Hendricks County had one early voting site for every 27,476 registered voters, and Johnson County had  one early voting site for every 17,924 registered voters.

Marion County? The state’s most populous county’s one inconvenient site–with parking problems– had to serve 699,709 registered voters.

According to the IBJ’s report, the Republican member of the Election Board has changed her tune, and the vote to establish vote centers and expand early voting was unanimous. The article ended with this “throw-away” observation:

The changes comes after a previous impasse over early voting in Marion County between the two major political parties.

In May 2017, Common Cause and the NAACP filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Marion County’s single location for early voting provided unequal access for voters and that it was discriminatory and caused voter suppression.

“After this, therefore because of this” is a famous logical fallacy, but in this case, it’s quite obviously true. Had a good lawyer (in both senses of the word “good”–i.e., a good guy and a highly competent practitioner) not been willing to take this case pro bono, and had it not been more likely than not that he would win it, I am confident this sudden turnabout would not have occurred.

The only disappointment is, it appears from the reporting that we will still have to get through November’s election with the old rules. It will be up to all of us who recognize the incredible  importance of these midterms to get people to the polls.

After that–chalk this up to one win against voter suppression.