Paying for Our Transportation Infrastructure

Mac Zimmerman had an interesting editorial in May 26’s Wall Street Journal.  He correctly points out that our Highway Trust Fund will soon be empty unless Congress acts.  Our current fuel tax is insufficient to keep up with current spending, so the easy answer is to increase the gas tax.

However, Zimmerman pointed out this was not necessary.

If Congress directed the fund to spend its money only on highways and other road-related infrastructure—what it was initially created to do—it would be 98% solvent for the next decade.

That is an excellent suggestion.  Zimmerman references other sources that show that a minimum of 20% of the Highway Trust Fund’s spending went toward items such as light rail, bike paths, and transportation museums.  All of these may be laudable projects, but it is unfair to use fuel taxes for these other purposes, especially when our highways and bridges need more funding.

Zimmerman also had some other good suggestions based on facts and economic analysis.  I recommend you read the entire article if you have access.

Disenfranchised by the Bureaucracies of Virginia

When I moved to Virginia last year, I registered to vote at the DMV when I got my license. They gave me a form, I completed it front of them, and they told me that was all I needed to register. The form asked if was currently registered in another location so I provided my Colorado information. A few weeks later, I received a letter from Colorado stating they had been informed I was no longer a state resident and asked me to confirm that I should be removed from their voting roll. So kudos to Colorado for being efficient.

On November 3rd, I looked up where I should vote – this was easy to find online. So early on November 4, I drove to the appropriate high school and parked where the signs told me to park. I was only the third car in the lot, so I figured I’d be in and out very quickly. As I’m walking toward the high school, a gentleman asked if I wanted a slip that showed the straight Democratic ticket. There were only three items on the ballot in my county (US Congress, US Senate, and a non-controversial state amendment). Assuming I wanted to vote a straight ticket and had no idea who was running, surely I could have figured it out from the party affiliation listed on the ballot – guess this gentleman didn’t have a high opinion of voters.

At any rate, I get inside, took only a minute for someone to ask for my ID and look me up. Then I was told I was not listed in the pollbook. I explained how I had registered and was told that the DMV often loses registration forms. It took 45 minutes of paperwork and calls before I could complete a provisional ballot. I do not blame the volunteer workers for this – they were doing their best to follow the rules.

On Wednesday afternoon I called the Registrar to see if my vote counted. I was told that a decision would be made shortly. I called back on Friday was told a decision would be made that afternoon, but I didn’t need to call back – they would send me a letter next week.

Today (November 25), I called them because I never received a letter. I was told my ballot did not count because they had no record of my registering (never mind that they informed Colorado that I had moved). They said if I had registered within 12 months, they could trace it, but since I had done so earlier, they had no way to check it.  So despite my sworn written testimony that I had registered (part of the process I went through to file a provisional ballot) and their own actions in informing Colorado, my vote did not count.

This was a close election. One vote didn’t matter, but I wonder how many other people registered at the DMV and were disenfranchised by the bureaucracies of Virginia. So if you register to vote at the DMV, don’t trust Virginia to get it right. Call your registrar well before the election and make sure you are registered.