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November 06, 2008 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-11-06

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4A - Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

74C e MC4*oan 3a*Ip

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109




Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views oftheir authors.
A vote for reform
Despite calm election, changes still needed in process
W hat America needed Tuesday was an uncontrover-
sial presidential election, free of the election fraud
accusations that have plagued its last two presiden-
tial contests. Thankfully, that's what it got. But despite the calm,
there are still glaring problems with our current system - nation-
wide and in Michigan specifically. While 2012 may seem like it's
light years away, if we want to avoid a debacle next time around,
lawmakers must start thinking about how to solve our most glar-
ing election problems now.

No longer can pundits and politicians
say we don't vote."
- Heather Smith, executive director of Rock the Vote, commenting on the growth in youth
turnout in this years presidential election, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.
S yourntire pcal Conservatism is inseparably
deolo was crush ut linked to the greatness of this I could whie and , but I
the polls on Tuesday country The mvensent has know a took a jimmy Carter
What do you dot taken a hit, but its concepts to give us a Ronald Reagan
ane neioqers remain os u
Whenfree speech doesn't ,apply


We all remember what happened in
2000. Based on a slew of miscast ballots in
Florida, George W. Bush stole the election
from Al Gore, with a little help from the
U.S. Supreme Court. But what is almost as
important in that story is what else came
out of that election: Congress's 2002 Help
America Vote Act. Promising to update
voting procedure across the country, this
law was supposed to remedy America's
most pressing electoral problems. Six years
later, it's time to move beyond HAVA. At
the state and federal levels, our next pack-
age of election reform should focus on two
main goals: boosting Americans' confi-
dence in our voting system and making the
process as easy as possible.
One small place to start is the long lines
at polling stations on Election Day. There
are many voters who arrive at the polls to
discover that they will have to wait in line
for hours, causing them to leave. Making
Election Day a national holiday may be one
way to fix this problem. The better solu-
tion would be to expand early voting and
mail-in voting options. Another intriguing
solution would be an online voting option.
While such a method would obviously need
to be made safe before it could be put in
use, giving voters choices other than vot-
ing booths results in less congestion at the
polls and more turnout.
And when it comes to the actual voting
booths, our government hasn't fixed the
glaring problems with electronic voting
machines. Many states don't back up elec-
tronic ballots with paper ones, and as evi-
denced Tuesday,electronicmachinesare still

unreliable. The companies who make these
machines haven't fixed the many glitches
that leave them open to fraud either.
concerns also plague the pre-Election
Day stages. The voter registration process
continues to be inconsistent and subject
to partisan meddling. With cut-off dates
scheduled weeks before the election, some
voters miss out because they don't register
in time. A same-day registration option
would address this problem and improve
voter turnout.
Though these reforms often receive the
most attention, Michigan, in particular,
has some troublesome voting laws of its
own. Chief among these is Rogers's Law,
which requires that the address on a vot-
er's registration card matches the one on
the person's driver's license. Many stu-
dents are stricken from the voter roster and
don't even find out about it until they get to
the polls and are turned away. Other con-
voluted rules like Michigan's ID require-
ment, its requirement that first-time voters
who want to vote absentee return to their
home clerk's office and its lax restrictions
on voter registration purges only further
complicate voting in Michigan.
The next national election may be two
years away, but that's no reason to put off
fixing America's voting system. Thousands
ofAmericanswere unable to or discouraged
from voting because of problems with the
current system. Our federal government
and state governments owe them a speedy
solution. By the time the next election rolls
around, no willing American voter should
be barred from the polls.

Like all of you (hopefully), I love
my right to free speech. The
First Amendment allows me to
say things like "Pol--
itician X is a big fat
doodiebead" with-
out worrying about
gettingshot, provid-
ed that Politician X
is not Dick Cheney.
But some people -x
and I know people =
will raise a lot ofE
pitchforksaboutthis EILEEN
statement - take STAHL
the First Amend-
ment too far. No, I'm
not advocating censorship; I'm talking
about people who think free speech
applies universally to themselves, even
when it disproportionately obstructs
the speech of others.
What brings me to say this is the
recent ban on political gear at the polls.
About a week before the election, a dis-
trict judge upheld the ban against par-
tisan paraphernalia within 100 yards
of polling sites - including political
T-shirts - and there were those who
claimed this was a dastardly plot to
keep expected legions of kids wear-
ing pro-bama gear from voting. Fortu-
nately, some groups like the Michigan
Student Assembly's Voice Your Vote
commission stepped in to hand out
plain white T-shirts to anyone wear-
ing political clothing near the polls. So,
problem solved, right?
For the most part. However, there
emerged a small but vocal group who
maintained that this legislation violat-
ed - you guessed it - our free speech
rights. According to them, people have
the right to show support for whom-
ever they want wherever they want,
24 hours aday. Anything less than that
is a First Amendment restriction and,
therefore, a travesty on par with fas-
cism, Republicanism and terrorism.

If you get right down toit, yes, this is
technically a FirstAmendmentrestric-
tion. Of course, opponents of this ban
are acting like free speech has never
been restricted in the history of the
United States. The truth is that free
speech is often compromised in order
to protect the rights and well-being of
others. In the classic example, it's not
your right to scream "fire" in acrowded,
theater and cause a dangerous stam-
pede. As it stands, the ban against
political T-shirts at polling sites is an
extremely minor sacrifice that helps
ensure other people get an unhindered
chance to voice their opinion.
I have a little secret for you: People
are ridiculously easily influenced by
their peers. There have been a lot of
studies done regardingthe bandwagon
effect in the political arena, and find-
ings consistently show that people
often vote for a candidate as a result
of peer pressure, whether or not they
agree with his or her politics.
Let's look at my friend Joe the Lum-
berjack. He lives in Washington as a
proud member of a thriving lumber-
jack community. However, despite the
pro-lumberjack propaganda he faces
every day, he finds himself secretly
wishing to support the tree-loving
Ralph Nader. He gets up his courage
to go to the polls, but what does he
see? Everyone wearing John McCain
T-shirts! Suddenly, he realizes Nader
doesn't have a prayer and he must be
making the wrong choice. His mind
is swayed, even though his stances on
the issues aren't.
Joe is just one example, but if you
allow millions of people to be walk-
ing billboards for their candidates of
choice at polling locations, it can cer-
tainly turn the tide in an election. Joe's
buddies may notenter the voting booth
with him, but it's a fact that the band-
wagoneffecthas been showntobe very
effective in political context.

You're free to support your candi-
date for the months leading up to the
election and however many months
after. And that's beautiful. But Ibelieve
in courtesy. It is courteous to stop
shoving your political views down
others' throats for the 10 minutes it
takes them to perform one of the most
important duties of an American citi-
zen. I promise, you can put your T-shirt
on right after. Therefore, although it is
ultimately Joe's choice, he has the right
tI spend 10 minutes in the polls undis-
turbedby political advertisement.
Just leave your
campaign shirts at
home, please.
Because. even if you only intended
to support your candidate, political
T-shirts in this context are very much
a form of advertisement - which
happens to be one of the things not
universally protected by the First
Amendment. In fact, there's a lot not
protected by the First Amendment.
You can't publish libel. You can't vio-
late copyrights. And you can't film
pornographic movies with minors in
them. See a pattern? These could all
potentially harm people.
You're not "harming" Joe by put-
ting a gun to his head, but you're cre-
ating an emotional hindrance to his
free expression. You can afford to
make a minor sacrifice. It wouldn't be
the end of the world if this legislation
weren't in place, but as it stands, it's a
good thing.
Eileen Stahl can be reached
at efstahl@urich.edu.




Appreciating Obama, while
disagreeing with his policies

predicted an era of
to "move to Canada
We are all Ameri
and love my counts
ticular candidate sI

TO THE DAILY: American dreams,1
In 1854, delegates gathered in Jackson, Mich. have the freedom t<
because they were frustrated with the current Let's all just take s
political situation and appalled at the lack of historic moment an
dignity afforded to black people in this nation. partisan divides.
They vowed to fight against slavery and to
ensure that dignity be given to all Americans, Christopher Wee
regardless of race. The dream of the Republi- LSA junior
can Party has been fulfilled today.
Truly this season, this candidate and. this
time have been that of a government shaped StolenpiCn
"by the people." It remains to be seen wheth-o
er President-elect Barack Obama will govern e Str
for the people, but I fervently hope and pray
he' will. On campus, the College Republicans TO THE DAILY:
will work toward making sure that the govern- Something horrit
ment functions in a manner that protects our housemates on Tue
interests. We will still be raising issues, aware- table was stolen, fro
ness and being an active voice in the debate on single one of us in
our nation's direction. troubles me, and I'll
I would like to take some space to thank our First, stealing is,
partners in this debate, the College Democrats, it would occur to
who, with the exception of some vandalism piece of furniture fr
on Election Day eve, have been honest, forth- ently I was wrong.
right and open in their campaigning. It's been a Second, this was;
true pleasure working with them now, and we ly an easy one to car
look forward to ensuring this great debate and two really mean p
excitement does not fade away. express intent of t
I drove three hour
Brady Smith on Craigslist. It'sn
The letter writer is the chair of the University's picnic table with a
chapter of the College Republicans it. On nice days, I"
doing homework on
always made it av
Post-election partisanship alwdysngateigh
on during the Nigh
not in our best interests party (except thisy
If these thieves th
table, they could h
TO THE DAILY: wanted.
As I took my John McCain signs down and Finally, we wer
put my campaign apparel into storage, I listened people who stole it1
to President-elect Barack Obama talk about the when we were arou
resurgence of the American Dream. Despite what they might d
my initial disappointment and disagreements know the economy
with him on numerous issues, I went to sleep students do things
content as I relished what his historic victory want whoever tool
means for this country and the world. they made me andn
But I was quickly disappointed by the reac- really sad.
tion of some students to the result of the elec- Also, if someone
tion. Through informal conversations and picnic table in the p
Facebook status changes, I became disheart- neighbor in the fac
ened with the pessimism and partisanship in person to return m
this country. Some elated Obama supporters
declared that only now do they "believe in Geneva Shaunette
America," while disgruntled McCain backers Kinesiology senior

"socialism" and threatened
cans, and I am still proud of
ry. The election of any par-
hould not make or break our
because in this country we
o forge dreams on our own.
some time to appreciate this
nd work toward healing our
c table indicative
eak in students
ible happened to me and my
esday last week: Our picnic
m our front lawn, with every
the house - at 9 p.m. This
. tell you some reasons why.
wrong. I never thought that
someone to steal an 8-foot
rom a bunch of girls. Appar-
apicnic table, and not exact-
rry. This means that at least
eople got together with the
aking my picnic table that
s to pick up after buying it
not like we don't share our
nyone who wants to sit on
ve come home to neighbors
n the picnic table, and we've
ailable for strangers to sit
htmare on Elm Street block
year, because it was stolen).
ought it was a cool picnic
ave sat on it anytime they
e home, meaning that the
had the audacity to be mean
nd, which worries me about
do when I'm not around. I
is in the hole, and college
they shouldn't, but I just
k our picnic table to know
my housemates really, really,
down your block got a new
ast week, please punch your
e and then politely ask that
y picnic table.

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca, Satyajeet Deshmukh, Brian Flaherty, Matthew Green,
Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke, Shannon Keliman, Edward McPhee, Emily Michels, Kate Peabody, Matthew Shutler,
Robert Soave, Eileen Stahl, Jennifer Sussex, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Margaret Young
A revolutionary celebration

It began asa rally in the Diag. They sallied forth from all
corners of the campus, of all hues and creeds. They chanted
"Yes we can" and "Yes we did"; "Obama" and "U.S.A." Who
they were was insignificant. What they stood for both liter-
ally and figuratively was a sacred idea that from time to time
requires the blood and sweat of patriots and tyrants. They
were students but foremost they were Americans. From the
Diag they marched, led by a diverse group, including a few
friends of mine. They came to the junction of North Univer-
sity Avenue and State Street, where they another generation
years ago staged sit-ins. The crowds swelled and bubbled
with energy and excitement.
Next they marched like pilgrims in spiritual ecstasy
down State Street to the Michigan Union where another
young reformist president, John F. Kennedy, announced
his intent to create the Peace Corps in 1961. Here the march
became an outpouring of patriotism unlike anything I've
seen since the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. Students flour-
ished flags and chanted "U.S.A' again, but this time they
sang the National Anthem. Drums and cowbells filled the
night sky with melody.
They took to the streets still again, this time crossing
onto South University Avenue and arriving atthe President's
House, shouting, "Wake up Mary Sue." Young men perched
in trees and the crowd pushed forward down the street. As
they passed East University Avenue, the pace quickened
and the march turned into a charge reminiscent of that in
Eugene Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People." I thought
to myself, "Sweet God, it's a revolution and I'm in the van-
guard." They reached the intersection of South University
Avenue and SouthForest Street, where theyagain staged sit-
ins and chanted. The crowd had grown exponentially since
departing Mary Sue Coleman's house.
Sittingattheintersection,the crowd graspedwhatbecame
their ultimate goal: the Big House. Word spread like hope
through the crowd, and the forward elements began to turn
back down South University Avenue the way they had come.
Yet another crowd had coalesced outside Coleman's house.

Returning now, the second crowd collided with the first in
a bout of celebration. I moved forward with a group trying
to continue to the Big House, but to no avail. The combined
crowd turned back down South University Avenue, proving
this first surge was a false start toward the Big House and
deferring the promise of progress alittle while. Still, we had
been warned to expect setbacks and false starts.
Finally the crowd returned, like Joshua's army before
the town of Jericho, to the pulsating beat of drums as
young men and women danced in the streets - their bodies
quivering in excitement and anticipation, .communicating
the latent sexuality that inhabits moments like these. The
uncontrollable character of crowds ensured that an under-
current of possible violence accompanied these emotions.
At any moment the gathering could have turned violent.
Yet caught up in the elation of the moment and mindful of
the message they had heard, remarkably fewif anyviolence
or acts of vandalism occurred.
A much-diminished crowd reachedthe Big House around
2:30 a.m., preceded by police officers. Arriving at the Big
House, they finally realized their dream, so long deferred.
They rejoiced awhile to music from the drums joined by
an assortment of horns. While the crowd departed several
minutes later, the makeshift band struck up the messianic
"Battle Hymn of the Republic."
I departed this festive company minutes later, though I
can't help but reflect upon this movement and attempt to
assign some significance or meaning to it. Ukraine had the
Orange Revolution, Kyrgzstan the Rose Revolution; the
students at the University of Michigan and across the coun-
try had a Blue Revolution. We awoke yesterday tired and
exhausted, wondering what exactly our actions achieved.
If nothing else, we will reflect on Tuesday evening and
Wednesday morning and remember the passion, the ideal-
ism and the revolution. But most of all, we will remember
what it truly means to be American.
Paul Leahy is an LSA senior.

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