Margaret Martin

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Election Reform: Is the Cure Worse than the Disease?

ballotEarlier this month, the Center of the American Experiment released a report, entitled “No Longer a National Model: Fifteen Recommendations Fixing Minnesota Election Law and Practice.”The report, authored by American Experiment Senior Fellow Dr. Kent Kaiser with the input of numerous (but unnamed) contributors, criticizes aspects of the election system in Minnesota and proposes solutions for some of the problems seen in recent days, especially in the lengthy and controversial recount process in the 2008 US Senate race.

The fifteen proposals have already been lauded by the Pioneer Press and Politics in Minnesota. Many of the proposals are no-brainers. For example, it’s unacceptable that “Military absentee ballots were 16 times more likely to be rejected and that most of them were rejected because they were received after Election Day.” Logistical problems and a tight schedule from primary to election day in Minnesota are to blame. Another example: (although the debate often carries a partisan edge) the inability to verify voters at the polls with something as simple as a photo ID requirement is a problem. Allowing voters who vote absentee to “verify” their ballots as valid by running them through a test machine seems like a reasonable idea, although the ability to do that doesn’t seem like it would help people mailing in ballots, especially from afar. Yet another example: checking to make sure that people aren’t voting in multiple states. If somebody applies for a drivers’ license in another state, the license in the other state is automatically cancelled. Why not the voter registration? Many of the technical solutions being proposed are sound and simple and one may ask why haven’t they been proposed before? One suggestion is already on the table. Senator Al Franken has just submitted a bill to Congress requiring states to grant at least 45 days for overseas ballots to be issued and returned.

There are other suggestions that may generate more controversy. Not, as you might imagine given the Center’s conservative bent, with liberals who might find changes to be a handicap to access, but rather to conservatives and libertarians who might well ask, how do these suggestions fit with constitutional principles? We are talking about a basic element in our democratic government, one that defines it, gives it is shape and credibility.

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Remembering Rose Friedman


This past week, Rose Director Friedman, economist, co-author and wife of Dr. Milton Friedman died at her home in California. She was believed to be 98 (no birth records exist for the village she was born in, in what is now the Ukraine). The Friedman Foundation has this to say about her passing. Minnesota Free Market Senior Policy Fellow King Banaian wrote the following remembrance:

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Health Care Critics: An “Angry Mob” or “Expressing Their Concerns”?

health careThe health care debate is generating some press as members of congress hit their home towns with Town Halls. As some of the discussions have become heated, commentators are complaining that critics are promoting irrational fears and not engaging in serious debate.

Hyperbole aside, there are serious issues being raised by many ordinary citizens about the wide scope and massive changes that Congress and the President are considering making to how Americans receive their health care and how it is paid for.
Here are some stories to consider:

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