Punch Card Madness; Clever Lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 20, 2003 | Go to article overview

Punch Card Madness; Clever Lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union


Byline: Tony Blankley, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

There are days when it doesn't pay to contemplate the inanities of modern life. Today is such a day. The ACLU is in court in California trying to block the recall election on the theory that some voters are being discriminated against by virtue of having to vote by the dreaded punch card method. For those who have never suffered through that mental ordeal, let me describe it. In order to cast a ballot, the voter must look at the candidate's name on the ballot, see a hole next to it, pick up a needle-like device with an ergonomically designed handle, grasp the handle and put the point through the hole.

Let us recall that Jane Goodall authoritatively described chimpanzees in the wild picking up thick stalks of grass or twigs and sticking them in holes in trees to extract termites for lunch. Exactly who is not smart enough to use a punch card ballot? Lemurs? Other prehensile-tailed lower primates? Keep in mind, the human voter can have the process described to him or her both in writing and orally. The chimpanzee, on the other hand, had to invent the process himself or herself. We are not asking the voter to invent the punch card method, just to use it.

The implicit suggestion is that the punch card voting method is a backdoor form of the outlawed literacy tests that were used in the Old South to deter black voters. For those who don't remember such tests, aspiring voters were asked simple questions, such as who was your favorite Civil War general? If you answered Grant or Sherman, you were judged unqualified to vote (OK, I made up that last bit). But my point is that punch card voting as literacy or intelligence test - even if that was its intent (which it is not) - would fail to screen out any humans. It's too easy to pass. I have been all over the world and have met people of every race and class - from primitive South American tribal peoples to degenerate European ex-nobles. I have never met a human who wasn't smart enough to put a stick through a hole. Even Swedish weapons inspectors could figure that one out.

Not that there is anything wrong with literacy tests. A fair test that did not invidiously discriminate against anyone would be a fine proposition.

In fact, I could propose a good test right here. Every aspiring voter should be asked to write out the Pledge of Allegiance. …

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