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Oh, the disenfranchisement!

| Saturday, March 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Call it ignorance.

Call it poor critical thinking skills.

Call it intellectual vapidity.

But whatever you call it, there can be no doubt that America is suffering a pandemic of brain flatulence. And one of the latest symptoms is “early voting.”

Common Cause is the latest group to come out in support of “early voting” in Pennsylvania. Citing “long lines ... that too often cause people to leave the polling place before voting,” it has thrown its support behind House Bill 548, which would allow voting for a week before Election Day.

“When people are subjected to hours-long lines to vote they can be disenfranchised,” said Common Cause's Julie Edgar. “House Bill 548 will make Pennsylvania's elections considerably more voter-friendly by giving voters a full week to exercise their franchise so that they may vote when they are best able.”

The only problem is that Ms. Edgar's premise is bosh, seated in the detritus that is “progressivism.”

The average wait time for a Pennsylvania voter in last November's election — a presidential election year, of course — was a whopping 9.1 minutes. The national average was 14 minutes (combining Election Day voting and “early voting,” now available in 34 states). And that's based on research by the reliably liberal New York Times.

Oh, the disenfranchisement!

But wait, it gets worse — for Ms. Edgar.

The average national waiting time to cast a ballot for Election Day-only voting was 12.4 minutes. But the average waiting time for early voters nationwide? Try nearly 20 minutes.

Even if Common Cause's premise were true — that “many voters simply give up because they have to go to work, have to pick up a child or their ride to the polls can't wait and many are unable to return” — there's a perfectly acceptable alternative that can be employed and with only a modicum of education and forethought.

It's called the absentee ballot.

If “early voting” doesn't make voting more timely in pursuit of enfranchisement, what then is its purpose? Dare it be said but reasonable people could conclude that it's not common cause but common fraud.

“Early voting” is another in a long line of proposals from the intelligentsia designed to “save democracy,” “make life fair” and “promote social justice.” But, and as per usual, they actually do the exact opposite.

Think of the arguments (quite poor, mind you) that raising the government-dictated minimum wage somehow boosts employees, employers and the economy. Never mind that wage floors divorced from skill and productivity actually decrease the number of entry-level jobs and deny jobs to those seeking their first employment experience and, with it, the ability to work to learn how to work.

Or think of everything from “gun control,” which attempts to infringe a constitutional right of law-abiding citizens, to ObamaCare, which, in the name of controlling costs, will only explode costs and, yes, ration care for the sickest and poorest among us.

Common Cause closes its news release with a quote from the late American novelist John Gardner:

“We share the conviction that as citizens we have every right to raise hell when we see injustice done, or the public interest betrayed, or the public process corrupted.”

How ironic it is then that Common Cause would embrace a practice that corrupts the franchise, one of our most sacred processes.

Colin McNickle is Trib Total Media's director of editorial pages (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

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