Disenfranchising Pitt Students

One of the reasons why I have not written much about electronic voting machines is that there are far easier ways to game an election and make sure that only groups XYZ and not A or G show up in high numbers to vote for candidates. Voting machines are part of the entire process of voting, but they are pretty far on the downstream end of being able to manipulate a ballot. Via Pittsburgh VIE whose E-mail I just got, we are seeing a good example of the good old fashion way to effectively and temporarily disenfranchise some voters:

As you probably know, Gene Riccardi resigned his seat on City Council
(District 3) as he was sworn in as District Judge. This cleared the
way for a Special Election to be held.

** Council District 3 includes Pitt Towers, where 12% of ALL
REGISTERED VOTERS in the district reside **

The date of the special election will be set by actions taken by
Council President–and 25-yr-old–Luke Ravenstahl. As things stand
now, the special election will be scheduled for March 7–RIGHT IN THE
MIDDLE OF PITT’S SPRING BREAK. Ravenstahl can, however, take action
to have the election scheduled for March 14, after Pitt students have
returned.

This special election is the first time in quite a long time that Pitt
students can have a real say in their representation on Council, and
it is a slap in the face to all of us who have worked to mobilize
voters locally.

Young voters here ARE engaged.. A couple of notes.
* While citywide, turnout was down 13% in the mayoral election,
turnout was UP by 40% in Pitt Towers
* Citywise, turnout was up 14% in the presidential election; turnout
was up 62% in Pitt Towers

So we know that the Pitt Towers, working off of a very small baseline of previous voters is actually doing a decent job of mobilizing itself politically. However if all of the voters are at their parents houses or at the beach, it is pretty hard for them to vote. Moving the election within the permissible time frame seems like a reasonable request to me to make sure that all the voters are in the district at the time of the voter. However, if I am reading my city political demographics correctly, the Pitt Tower voters are probably the least likely voters to vote for the machine candidate, and Ravenstahl is part of that same machine.

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