Voted-For Rights

There’s been a lot of richly-earned laughter this week at the expense of Republican presidential candidates (mainly Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry) who are whining about not being able to get on the March 6 primary ballot in Virginia. These worthies certainly haven’t expressed any sympathy for voters struggling to exercise their right to vote for candidates, which their party has been aggressively fighting to restrict in state after state.

But the irony and hypocrisy are worse than what immediately meets the eye. As Ezra Klein notes, presidential candidates have a lot more resources for gaining access to the ballot than individual voters:

Perry is an experienced politician who has hired a professional staff for the express purpose of navigating the logistical hurdle of ballot access. And he still failed to make the Virginia ballot, despite the fact that the rules were well-known and unchanged since the last election.

In Texas, however, Perry has sharply changed the rules, changed them on people who do not have a staff dedicated to helping them vote, and in fact made it harder for outside groups to send professionals into the state to help potential voters navigate the new law.

Yeah, it’s hard to get worked up about the denial of the rights of politicians to be voted for by citizens whose right to vote seems so disposable.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.