Show Me Democracy

In about a week, Missouri will officially certify John McCain as their presidential candidate of choice, losing their bell and becoming just another wether.

The state’s shift toward conservatism has been noted by many. Theories abound about causes, from progressive drain (which I hadn’t yet contributed to, I voted as a St. Louisian this last time) to racism to closer socioeconomic alignment with the South.

The rural vs. urban dichotomy performed as expected. The voter turnout distribution isn’t particularly surprising; minority urban voters are known to turn out in lower numbers. But after a campaign expected to draw them to the polls, the “usual” distribution was a bit unexpected.

It was clear on election night that it would end up close, so when Marc Aminder tweeted about long lines I began to fear resource gerrymandering (which would be more subtle than redistricting). Most reports brought comfort, though, that voters were patient.

But even if every voter in Velda City stood their ground, how many throughout the state gave up because their polling place was ill-equipped, or in a dangerous neighborhood? (When I voted in person, I left the relative sanctuary of my yuppie loft neighborhood for a disintegrating old community center on an intimidating block of housing projects. I know neighbors who refused to wander that direction.) Or were any neophyte voters swayed by misleading messages and rumors? Even I just about gave up on casting my absentee ballot, considering how confusing the messages about notarization were; the envelope, web site, and included instructions used completely different language and needlessly singled out first-time voters, felons, &c.; (Fidelity came through with convenient notary services, but I doubt most voters are so fortunate.)

With a difference of only 3,903 votes of 2,925,205 cast, even subtle dissuasions might have tipped the scales. If the Presidential election had been decided by Missouri’s electorates, the attention to these concerns would be white-hot. As it stands, does anyone care?

I posted this in November 2008 during week 1812.

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