Madison County Opinion...

NOVEMBER 3, 2004


Column
By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
November 3, 2004

Frankly Speaking

The choice of leaders belongs to ‘We the People’
I object! The major political parties have hired over 15,000 lawyers who had already filed dozens of lawsuits before the first vote was counted. We must not allow the choice of President to fall into the hands of unelected lawyers and judges. We the People, either directly, or thought our elected delegates, must make that decision.
How do we settle disputes during an election? Each state has an elected legislature that directly represents the voters of each state. Any problems arising from a presidential election should go to the legislature of that state for solution. After all, the original system for selecting a president placed the responsibility for selecting members of the Electoral College with the state legislatures.
In the 2000 election, the Florida legislature was prepared to declare the presidential election in that state void and name a slate of electors. That should have been done. The state and federal supreme courts should not have become involved.
This year, with the new rules about early voting and provisional ballots, the chances of fraud are greater than ever. Several counties in Ohio have more people registered to vote than they have eligible voters. Paid voter registration groups have filed hundreds of thousands of forms that cannot be verified. Mail enquires to the addresses on the forms frequently were returned as undeliverable. Thousands of people have been found to be registered in two states. That adds to the fiasco.
Look, voting is a right of all United States citizens. But all individual rights must be protected by individual responsibility. All voter registration forms must be filed by the individual, not by someone going around collecting registrations. When possible, registration should be done in person. When health, military service or other causes makes it impossible for a person to visit a registration center, they should register by secured mail. Any registration form delivered by someone other than the registrant should automatically be rejected.
Anyone who cares enough to take part in the election process will be willing to go to the trouble of registering themselves. Those who wait for someone else to file their registration forms will likely wait for the same people to tell them how to vote.
Finally, only legal citizens of the United States should be allowed to vote.
Thanks to “motor voter” rules, virtually anyone with a valid driver’s license can register. Eight of the 9/11 hijackers were registered. None of them were citizens.
My suggestion is this. If we are going to use driver’s licenses to identify voters, we need to have two distinctive licenses: one for citizens and one for non-citizens. The visitor licenses should clearly identify the bearer as ineligible to vote. The same should be required for any other document used to prove residence.
Every legal vote should count. No illegal vote should ever be counted.
Every voter should be responsible for their own registration and vote. The choice of leaders for our states and nation belongs to We the People, not political parties, politicians, lawyers or judges.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is frankgillispie@charter.net. His website can be accessed at http://frankgillispie.tripod.com

Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
November 3, 2004

In the Meantime

Looking at Republican dominance at the county level
If partisanship truly matters at the county government level, then Tuesday was a historic day for Madison County Republicans.
Consider that Madison County entered Tuesday’s general election with four Democrats and two Republicans at its commissioners’ table.
Come January, there will be five Republicans and one lone Democrat — Mike Youngblood, who faced no opposition this year.
The shift at the BOC table includes the defeat of two incumbent Democrats, Bill Taylor and Johnny Fitzpatrick. In the old days, the defeat of incumbent Democrats would be unthinkable. Now the roles are reversed.
The reasons for the change in the South are deep and everybody has their own opinions on what led to the transformation. I’ve offered long-winded ideas related to Bill Clinton, Southern suburban growth, etc. — maybe I’ll get into such theorizing again another time.
But I’m interested now in looking at how Tuesday’s transformation at the BOC table, from 66.7 percent Democrat to 83.3 percent Republican, could affect county politics — and how it might not.
First of all, a look at what won’t change:
Partisanship, in some ways, isn’t so important at the commissioners’ table. Think about it, you see more examples of local folks of different parties working in unison together at the commissioners’ table than, say, on a legislative floor. For one, commissioners, by and large, aren’t faced with partisan pressure to vote “yes” or “no” on road paving, sheriff’s department funding, recreation programs, etc. Partisanship is generally irrelevant in such issues.
Also, you look at county politics and you can see that alliances aren’t generally partisan in nature. No, they’re personal. Representatives at a commissioners’ table have to sit through countless meetings together and have to face the same tough dilemmas in front of sometimes unfriendly crowds. Eventually, those commissioners usually become somewhat friendly toward each other through their shared experience or they choose a certain coolness and detachment, even hostility.
Conflicts at a commissioners’ table most often seem rooted in something personal beneath the surface, some relationship that’s soured over time. Or, perhaps, one particularly ugly disagreement has left a lingering grudge. In any event, partisanship seems secondary to all the good feeling or animosity that develops in a long-time working relationship at the BOC table.
But I believe partisanship does matter these days in Madison County politics in two distinct ways: 1.) the rural versus development debate and 2.) getting elected.
If there’s been a clear party platform in Madison County over the past several years, it’s been this: Republicans tend to push more for business and development; Democrats tend to push more for maintaining the farming way of life.
Of course, no Republican or Democrat appreciates being pigeon-holed like that. Naturally, a Republican will say he supports farmers. A Democrat will say he’s for business growth. But when push comes to shove, partisanship is a decent indicator of how a commissioner is going to go on tough issues where rural and development interests clash. (Yes, you find leaders who break that mold, but there is some truth in that general statement.)
So will business and residential growth gain steam in Madison County over the next four years with a Republican BOC?
Time will tell, but I expect so. (Because I’d say Tuesday was clearly a pro-growth vote by Madison County.)
Now, apart from growth issues, partisanship seems most relevant at the voting booth. Of course, it’s overly simplistic to say that the victories for Republicans at the BOC table are the result of having an “R” by their name. In fact, all Republican commissioners offered well-articulated views on how they would approach serving at the BOC table.
But being a Republican on a Madison County ballot surely doesn’t hurt your chances — the same can be said for being a Democrat on an Athens ballot. (Of course, Clarke County voted Tuesday to hold non-partisan elections in the future.)
So I expect future candidates in Madison County are going to take notice of Tuesday’s death nail to the Democratic Party in Madison County, seeing that their chances are certainly hurt by having an unpopular “D” next to their name. And if this county doesn’t go to non-partisan local elections, then the natural result will be that our most important local elections will begin to fall more and more in July, during the Republican primary, with general local elections growing increasingly irrelevant.
Just as the Democratic Party has become in these parts.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

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