While much of establishment Washington continues to hyperventilate over the fairy tale intrigue of “collusion” between the Russians and members of the Donald Trump campaign to “tamper” with the presidential election, real vote manipulation is going on out here in the real world every day.
It's called politics as usual.
The Indianapolis Star has documented a nice case of the Indiana version of such ballot box hijinks. State and local Republican officials, it seems, have expanded early voting in GOP-dominated areas of Central Indiana and restricted it in Democratic areas, prompting a significant change in voting.
From 2008 to 2016, GOP officials expanded early voting stations in Republican dominated Hamilton County, from one to three, the Star's analysis found, and decreased them in the state's biggest Democratic hotbed, Marion County, from three to one.
That made voting more convenient in GOP areas for people with transportation issues or busy schedules. “And the results were immediate,” the Star noted: Hamilton County saw a 63 percent increase in absentee voting from 2008 to 2016, while Marion County saw a 26 percent decline. Absentee ballots are used at early voting stations.
Other Central Indiana GOP strongholds, including Boone, Johnson and Hendricks counties, also have added early voting sites — and enjoyed corresponding increases in absentee voter turnout.
In criminal justice proceedings, defendants are told they have the right to remain silent, and their silence is not supposed to be used to assume guilt on their part. But our usual experience with politics and politicians leads us to take silence as a confession of sorts. The Star tried to get comment from prominent Republicans of all sorts, including Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Secretary of State Connie Lawson. They all declined to comment.
We do not mean to single Republicans out for criticism. Democrats would employ the same tactics if they were in power, in fact have done so in the past. Those with power will always seek ways to keep and strengthen that power.
That's why voters should join efforts to remove any politics they can from elections, with such things as citizen commissions to set district boundaries. And it's why officials, no matter what they say for public consumption, will resist those efforts with every fiber of their being.