The Rachel Maddow Show | November 07, 2012
>>> in south phoenix , arizona, yesterday, a voter named gabriel melonco needed four trips to the polls before he was allowed to vote. poll workers could not find his registration, and then they would not accept his i.d. in chicago, voters got sent from polling place to polling place , in some cases, berated by election judges , given the wrong ballots. in orangeberg county, south carolina , voters were asked for their party affiliation, even though voters in south carolina do not register by party. in pennsylvania, one poor guy voted for barack obama , but the machine flipped his support to mitt romney , before his very eyes. in detroit, michigan, gena porter turned up to vote yesterday at 5:00 a.m . she discovered 200 people had beaten her to the line. 5:00 a.m . in racine, wisconsin, they ran out of ballots, which makes it awfully hard to vote. in florida , republicans cut the days for early voting in half. then early voters in miami had to wait while clerks printed out several pages of the ballot for each voter. it took until 1:00 in the morning for miami's last early voting voter to actually vote and took them until 1:00 a.m . on election day as well, waits of seven hours and more. with lines of a dizzying length in florida and virginia and ohio and maryland and north carolina and nevada and indiana, this was the stay in line election. people urging voters to please stay in line. no matter who you're voting for, stay in line, do not give up. #stayin #stayinline. not for any partisan outcome, but for the sake of your right the to vote. your heroism and patriotism were inspiring. you were going to vote, doggone it, no matter what. by making that sacrifice, you, you may have inspired change, or at least the chance for change.
>> i want to thank every american who participated in this election. whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time -- by the way, we have to fix that.
>> i don't know if that was an an lib or not, but my heart leapt, "by the way, we haby the way we have to fix that." could we? elections are a state affair . those mistakes are made by the state. to the extent that those problems are the product of bad election rules and regulations , those are generally state rules and regulations . can president obama or congress fix all these horrendous state-level problems with voting? can we reach a consensus on what those problems are? is there a technocratic nonpartisan solutions here that could solve this problem for the country and make our right to vote not part of partisan campaigning? and if we cannot fix it now, after the stay-in-line election, when else could we ever fix this? why couldn't we do this now? joining us now for the interview is rick haszen, a professor of law at uc irvine , and the author of "the voting wars" from 2000 to the next voting meltdown, thanks for being here. glad we were able to get you on the show.
>> great to be with damn long in this election?
>> well, some of the reason is because there was a deliberate effort in ohio and florida and other places mostly with republican legislatures to cut back the numbers of days and hours of early voting . i think this was seen as a way of depressing democratic turnout. people seemed to stay in line for a long time but it certainly seemed to be intended to make it harder for people to vote.
>> you have argued that congress should step in and do something to fix the problems. what power does congress hold here?
>> well, you know, congress can do a lot more than you might think. because the constitutions gives congress the power to set the rules for congressional elections. it can't set the rules for local elections , but if it sets for local elections as it did in 1993 , the states basically all come along and change their rules with it. the problem is not one of constitutional power but of political will. is there going to be a movement after the president's comments to actually make changes in how we run our elections.
>> what kinds of changes, if the political will was there, what kinds of changes originating with federal legislation are the kind of thing that you think would make a difference that could help.
>> we could start big, small would be congress could provide incentives, money for states that implement early voting . you could have a federal ballot that just lists president and congress and senate on it and it would be a simple form. congress can mandate which machines are used. congress could, if we want to get broader, congress could set up a nonpartisan agency to administer our elections. let the federal government take over all voter registration and register every voter when a person turns 18, they get registered. when they move, turn in a change of address , your registration moves with you. we could do what most mature democracies do have a administration which is nonpart son and professional.
>> are there a couple of stalts that could be seen as models for the nation? to reflect best practices in the states where it works great, what kind of states should we look at at the model.
>> there are pieces. at the state level, the state of wisconsin has a pretty good government accountability board but at the local ever level they've made all kinds of mistakes in the past. if we want to look for a model, i would look outside the country to australia, canada, almost all of these democracies have agencies and do a good job.
>> imagine a election in the modern united states in which the way that we voted was not one of the things that we had to worry about to make our decision between candidates. rick hasen, stu for being here tonight. i really appreciate it.
>> thank you.
>> if you tossed a billion dollars in cash into a fire place you would at least get warmth from it and the warmth would be more than america's moet noted pollute krats got this year and what they did with