Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Rutherford Letter in Star

Libertarian Party of Indiana State Chair Mark Rutherford's letter on fair elections was printed in today's Star. The letter:

Libertarians all in favor of user-friendly voting
Five cheers for the Star editorial "Let's try user-friendly voting" (Focus, May 7). An end to gerrymandering, increased hours at the polls, inclusive rather than exclusive ballot access, fall school board elections and the proper use of modern technology for voting should be on "the tip of the tongue" of every candidate this fall. You'll hear about these from Libertarian candidates again this year!

Mark W. Rutherford
Chairman, Libertarian Party of Indiana

You have already been hearing about these issues from me. I hope that other Libertarian candidates will also discuss these issues when the opportunity arises.

Here are the five points Rutherford references, from the original Star editorial:

1. End gerrymandering: It's the single most important step needed to encourage competitive races and increase turnout.

Gerrymandering results in the creation of safe political districts, usually for incumbents, and leads to lopsided results. Many potentially strong opponents choose not to run when they see little chance of winning. The major political parties tend to offer few resources to the inexperienced opponents recruited to take on entrenched incumbents in the legislature and Congress. The results are predictable months in advance.

It's the voters, however, who are the true losers.

The Indiana House this year passed legislation that would have put a halt to gerrymandering in the state. The bill died in the Senate.

With Bob Garton out of the way, the new Senate leadership should make approval of gerrymandering legislation a priority.

2. Increase hours at the polls: This suggestion always sets off groans from loyal poll workers who put in long, exhausting days in May and November. But, really, a 6 p.m. close is entirely too early in an age where few workers are released from jobs by the 5 o'clock whistle, commutes are long and most households sport dual incomes.

Other states have figured out the challenges of staffing polls until 8 p.m. or later. Indiana surely can as well.

3. Encourage third parties: Everyone from Libertarians to Greens has complained about Indiana's obstacles to third-party ballot access.

Allowing minor parties to field more candidates might not make much of a difference after the votes are counted. But greater choice should drive up voter participation, a good thing for a society trying to encourage a sense of power and purpose among ordinary people.

4. Shift school board elections from the spring to the fall: Granted, this one would give voters even less of a reason to show up for the May primary. Yet, the move undoubtedly would increase voter participation in selecting representatives to fill these vital local offices.

5. Embrace technology: We live in an era when companies around the world can share sensitive information with one another over the Internet; folks can lounge in their pajamas while trading stocks, paying bills and managing bank accounts; ordinary customers can, using credit cards, purchase everything from plane tickets to California wine.

(Emphasis is mine. These are things I have been talking about.)

In a side note, it appears that Libertarians have received increased inclusion in the Star since the Tully article. If that's what it takes, I'm all for it.

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