Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision.” In violation of this precious right, state and local officials across the country have imposed voter restrictions in order to take the vote away from the people.
Even as they claim to honor the integrity of the ballot, politicians creatively suppress voting in order to achieve political outcomes favorable to their own interests.
There are many ways to do this: strict voter ID requirements, purging the voter roles, underfunding the election process, to name a few.
In a local election here in Oceanside, councilmember Jerry Kern has found yet another path: voiding the power of the ballot by substituting a calculated political appointment. By this means he is trying to make sure that votes cast in the current race for Oceanside City Treasurer literally do not count.
Kern is openly asking people to invalidate their ballot by urging them in mailers and phone calls to vote for a deceased person who passed away too late for his name to be removed from the ballot. Should the deceased candidate get more votes than his opponent, the City Council would appoint an unnamed person of its own choosing. For all intents and purposes, this would invalidate the many thousands of votes the only viable candidate is likely to receive. Would the appointee be beholden to Kern instead of the taxpayers? Possibly.
People are being asked, in effect, to cast their vote for an unknown candidate to be named later by others, rather than a candidate chosen by the voters. My neighbor’s 12-year-old grandson saw an account of this on local TV last week. At first puzzled, he quickly realized this made no sense at all — “That’s crazy! Isn’t that cheating?”
Many Oceanside voters readily see through the ruse. The concern is that many others will not know that one of the candidates is deceased and will unwittingly be disenfranchised if they vote for him. Conniving politicians will be counting on the confusion.
The viable candidate in the race, an attorney and long-serving government agency treasurer, is well qualified to fill the position. She has kept her campaign positive, vows to keep the office nonpartisan, and will answer only to the taxpaying public. As Lincoln said, elections belong to the people. Let them decide, let their ballots count.
Max S. Meyerson is an Oceanside resident.