So, while I was in Magnolia this time two weeks ago I went by the courthouse to see if I could find a really good Columbia County map (I did, thanks the the county judge's office) and discovered that early voting was already underway. I'm no longer a resident, and it's been many years since I voted absentee in Arkansas elections, but I'm still interested in how things go in my old home state, so I picked up the sample ballot and several of the informational leaflets regarding the various initiatives.
One in particular caught my fancy: PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 1: REMOVING OBSOLETE LANGUAGE FROM THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION AND ALLOWING ALTERATION OF POLL WORKER QUALIFICATIONS. Briefly put, this amended the state constitution in three ways.
(1) It wd remove the ban on state workers serving as voting officials (clearly an anti-corruption measure to prevent incumbents from rigging an election in the Bad Old Days--memories of the Brooks-Baxter War lingered a long time in Arkansas).
(2) It removed a reference to having to show a receipt that you'd paid the poll tax before you can vote, the poll tax itself having been abolished long ago.
(3) It removed a ban "providing that no idiot or insane person shall be entitled to the priviledges of an elector".
That right: until this election idiots and lunatics were banned from voting in Arkansas. This is no longer the case, as of two weeks ago, when that language was struck from the state constitution on the grounds that such terminology was "disrespectful" and in any case lacked legal definition. This wd not have been the case back when the constitution first took effect, of course -- cf. S.J.Gould's THE MISMEASURE OF MAN for the notorious Oliver Wendell Holmes ruling.
So the general upshot is that now idiots and crazy people can vote in Arkansas, just like anyone else.
Now that's progress for you.
inside Edmund Wilson
1 day ago