The Idiocy of Ballot Bouncing
By Harold Meyerson | Aug 01, 2019
Today’s pop quiz: In the election of 1860, how many popular votes did Abraham Lincoln receive in the Southern states?
Answer: None. The Southern states refused to allow Lincoln’s name, or that of any Republican, to appear on their ballots.
I was reminded of good old Dixie’s commitment to democracy earlier this week, when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that required presidential candidates to release their tax returns as a condition of getting their name placed on the state’s November 2020 ballot. The new law is clearly intended either to force Donald Trump to comply, or to forego having his name put before Golden State voters.
I fear, though, that California Democrats have made an elemental and deeply stupid mistake—forgetting that law of motion stipulating that every action has an equal but opposite reaction. The California statute may just prompt Republican-controlled states to require every presidential nominee to, say, support the ongoing criminalization of undocumented border crossings, or call for the repeal of Roe v. Wade, to get their name on the states’ ballots. If the Democratic nominee’s name were not put before voters in Alabama, it wouldn’t really matter, since Alabama is bound to go for Trump. Then again, California is just as bound to go for the Democrat, no matter who it be.
But what about Republican-controlled swing states like Georgia and Florida—or, for that matter, Arizona and Texas? Should the courts rule that states have the legal right to engage in ballot-bouncing, the Democratic nominee may be bounced to far greater, and more disastrous effect, than Trump. I’m not predicting courts will rule that way, but why take a chance that just might ensure Trump’s re-election and the ensuing end of civilization as we know it.