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Goat vs. Rat, the Great Early Voting Debate

May 26, 2019

Regular readers of The Day who enjoy the comics will be familiar with the strip “Pearls Before Swine,” whose characters provide sardonic and darkly humorous commentary about the foibles of society, politics and the human condition.

I at times can hear the voices of two of cartoonist Stephan Pastis’ characters — Goat and Rat — in our letters to the editor.

Goat is the intellectual — or the elitist depending on your perspective — who always sees the good in people. He taps his philosophical and historical knowledge to advocate for the broader social good, though the other characters often don’t get it or don’t care.

Rat is cynical to the core, convinced that most of humankind is motivated by self-interest, not terribly smart and easily manipulated. He is not in the business of saving society. He worked for his, they can get theirs.

It made me wonder what Goat and Rat would think of the recent debate over whether Connecticut should join the 39 other states that allow early voting.

Making the change would require that voters approve a state constitutional amendment. The House approved such an amendment overwhelmingly but hopes of placing it on the 2020 ballot disappeared when the Senate approved it 23-13, four votes short of the 75 percent super majority needed to send it right to voters. Republican opposition stalled it.

If the House and Senate again approve it in 2021, by any margin, it will go on the ballot in 2022.

So, what say ye, Goat and Rat?

Goat

I can’t understand why anyone would oppose making it easier for people to exercise their right to participate in the democratic process. As Alice Oswald, the British poet, observed, “It’s a relief to hear the rain. It’s the sound of billions of drops, all equal, all equally committed to falling, like a sudden outbreak of democracy.”

Consider the construction worker who may have difficulty getting to the polls on a single evening after a hard day of labor; the busy working mom whose days are long as she shuttles children, feeds her family and keeps all on schedule; and the working student balancing school and a job. They all deserve a greater opportunity to fill the democratic stream that powers our governance.

The more people who can participate in the process because it is made a bit easier, the more representative will be our government to the will and the needs of all the people. Those who fear the broader participation of the electorate display a distrust in the very roots of our populace republic.

Rat

Great, just what we need; to make it easier for more clueless morons to cast votes.

So, you’re trying to tell me it is some major burden to get registered to vote and then find time, once a year between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., to cast your vote? Oh, and if you can’t manage that you can get an absentee ballot.

If someone cannot bother to do that than they are also likely disinterested in learning what the heck is really going on. They’re probably politically ignorant, ready to be led by the nose with promises of free stuff. Hey, why not vote with an app? Airheads can hop from Facebook, to Instagram, to choosing their congressman or senator.

“Harry Whalen? Oh, I love whales! I’ll vote for him.”

And who knows what fraud comes with all this early voting?

We should make it harder to vote, then only people who care will bother and maybe fewer stupid politicians will be elected.

Thanks Goat and Rat, with apologies to Stephan Pastis.

Paul Choiniere is the editorial page editor.

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