There is only one sure bet to make about next week's elections: We'll wake up to a bevy of lawsuits the next morning.
A prominent Democratic political consultant recently admitted to me that lawyers have been regularly calling him offering their services for after-election lawsuits. Make no mistake — that's happening on the Republican side, too.
There will be almost countless lawsuits on behalf of groups and individuals who argue that their votes weren't counted for some reason that couldn't possibly have anything to do with their own carelessness, or they couldn't vote for some reason that of course is not their fault or responsibility, so they want some kind of restitution, and they'll sue to get it.
Why? Because voters are, apparently, America's new victim class.
I'm not talking here about corrupt election officials who deliberately keep certain votes from being counted or work to intimidate certain voters, or other such rare occurrences. When there is fraud or organized efforts to deny certain qualified people the franchise, that should be prosecuted. But such cases are typically a small minority of election-related lawsuits.
I'm talking about the vast majority of lawsuits that are filed and will be filed after the election on Tuesday, on behalf of, well, whiny voters.
I mean the able-bodied who argue they couldn't understand a perfectly understandable, if complicated, ballot, or that while they waited in line they were made to feel silly because people knew who they were going to vote for, so they left without voting. (Such an instance during "early voting" was a topic on one morning news show recently.) Or, many would-be voters will argue, they arrived as the polls were closing and so they weren't allowed to cast a ballot — I mean, why couldn't the polling place have stayed open just 10 extra minutes? That's a common complaint, and it will be the subject of many lawsuits.
Part of this is fueled by the 2000 cliffhanger, of course. If this election is at all close, the lawsuits will only intensify.
But even before 2000, voter-related lawsuits were becoming more common. That's because we have become a nation of whiners, and we hate taking responsibility for ourselves. That's now true for voting, too.
I hate to sound radical, but hello: When we vote next Tuesday we have certain responsibilities: Assuming we've registered to vote — and if we didn't, that's no one's fault but ours — we need to arrive in time to vote. If we can't make that a priority that day, or plan ahead and get an absentee ballot, or vote early in the states that allow it (and I don't think they should, but that's another column), then voting isn't that important to us. We shouldn't turn our lack of planning into a federal lawsuit. Literally.
Read the ballot carefully. If we don't understand it, we need to ask an election official for help. (Sometimes a mistake can even be reversed if attention is called to it immediately.) If we leave the polling place having made a mistake anyway — that's our problem. We can't ask a federal judge to fix our carelessness.
If we are standing in line, and somehow other voters know for whom we are likely to cast our ballots and they make us feel silly about it — we should vote anyway. If our soldiers can put their lives on the line for our right to vote, we should be able to handle a little embarrassment when we are in line to vote.
We Americans have a responsibility to take voting seriously, to be smart about it, and to even go to some inconvenience, if required, to do it.
Voting shouldn't just be seen as a right, but as a privilege. Through the centuries, Americans have died to give us the tremendous privilege of casting a ballot. They didn't die so we could whine about it afterwards.
Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by e-mail at letterstohart@Comcast.net.