Commentary

My Turn: Taking away democracy

By From page A5 | September 20, 2017

First, my congratulations to Bill Schultz — our retiring, elected El Dorado County recorder-clerk and registrar of voters. Bill has done an honorable job over the years in his office, including making sure our elections and the democratic process are fair and above-board in our county. That’s why he was reelected several times. His will be tough shoes to fill, but that’s what new elections are for.

Except, wait, I’ve heard that the county Board of Supervisors may want to take away the democratic process and turn the registrar of voters into an appointed (by them?) position and/or turn it into a career bureaucrat’s job.

Neither prospect sounds good.

Someone appointed to run our county elections could owe their job to supervisors who run for election, uh, yeah … nothing could go wrong there.

Or the supervisors take away the people’s right to vote and turn it into a career bureaucrat’s job to oversee democracy in El Dorado County. Keep in mind a civil service job, unlike in the private sector, often becomes an entitlement, an apparent right, that the bureaucrat then “owns.” If someone isn’t doing a good job, good luck trying to make a change.

Talk about lack of accountability; talk about a bureaucratic nightmare. Think old school DMV running our elections. No thanks.

The stated reason is to “take the politics out of the job.” And on the surface that sounds good. Politics, also known as democracy, is not a pretty business and I think the supervisors mean well.

Making this change though would be bad on many levels.

Fiscally, it is not responsible with the apparent creation of three or more jobs where there was just one, elected, job before; it smacks of favoritism with the hint, if you read between the lines, that someone within the bureaucracy already has the inside track for getting hired/appointed. It is a strengthening of bureaucracy when less should be more and, most fundamentally, it is a taking away of the people’s power to vote when we should be encouraging more voter participation, not less.

Think about it, making this change would be saying to the voters, “We don’t trust you; We, the supes, know better.” That should make all of us feel very uncomfortable.

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, messy as democracy is, I believe in it because I see no better form and I am not sure that it is not the best this Earth has or ever will see.

Trust the people to find a strong independent voice to represent them — let them vote. If we happen to get it wrong so be it. We get another chance to find someone better in four years. That’s the beauty of true democracy vs. hiding it all away within the bowels of a bureaucracy.

Don’t take away our ability to vote; don’t take away democracy.

Alan Day is an El Dorado Hills resident and serves on the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors.

Special to Village Life

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