JT’s Humiliation is complete »« Gallagher: Romney Not Anti-Gay Enough

Agreeing With David Frum

I could not agree more with David Frum, who points out the madness of allowing partisan elected officials to run our elections, something no other stable democracy in the world does. When you see problems with too few voting machines, battles over long lines and early voting periods, this happens because those elected officials, especially at the state level, have a clear incentive to make those things happen.

Almost everywhere else, elections are run by impartial voting agencies. In France, elections are the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior, which establishes places and hours of voting, prints ballots (France still uses paper) and counts the votes. In Germany, an independent federal returning officer oversees a complex state and federal voting system. In Canada, federal elections are managed by a specialized agency, Elections Canada. Mexico, emerging from a sad history of electoral manipulation, created in the 1990s a respected independent agency, the Federal Electoral Institute. Brazil has nationwide electronic voting, producing instantaneous, uncontested results…

Politicians of one party do not set voting schedules to favor their side and harm the other. Politicians do not move around voting places to gain advantages for themselves or to disadvantage their opponents. In fact, in almost no other country do politicians have any say in the administration of elections at all.

He cites one obvious example:

tory from the 2000 election.
Like many old cities, St. Louis has not invested in modern voting equipment. Voting delays are notorious. At the scheduled poll-closing time, voters were still lined up throughout the city. Al Gore’s campaign, desperate to win the state, asked a judge to extend voting for three more hours in the heavily Democratic city — but only in the city. A state judge agreed. Republicans appealed, the state judge was overruled, and the polls were closed after remaining open a total of 45 additional minutes beyond the legal closing time.

Republicans won Missouri’s 11 electoral votes by a margin of 78,786 out of the almost 2.4 million cast.

Think about what’s incredible here:

Lines were lengthy in St. Louis City because in the United States, almost uniquely, local governments choose how voting is cast and counted. People who live in localities with less capable governments, such as St. Louis, will face greater delay and difficulty in casting their vote.

When local Democratic officials saw themselves disadvantaged by the existing rules, they appealed to a judge for special treatment for its (likely) voters — and only for those voters. (Good news: In Missouri, circuit judges are appointed by the governor and then confirmed in office by nonpartisan vote. In many states, however, judges are themselves elected in partisan elections.)

The other party demanded that the existing rules be upheld, and the case was litigated on the fly, ending in a weird compromise that only failed to become a national scandal because the events in Florida were so much more dramatic.

This is absolutely accurate. Elections should be run and controlled by a non-partisan federal agency and the system should be the same nationwide. Every precinct should have the same voting machines and the same ratio of machines, and polling places, to the number of voters. Early voting should be instituted nationwide and it should last a full month. And election day should be a national holiday. All of these things would fix the problem with long lines, not enough voting machines and many of the causes of voting day chaos.

Comments

  1. says

    And how about voting on weekends (with accomodation for various “sabbeths”), as in Australia, and once that’s done, “mandatory” voting (a small fine for not at least checking in at the polls)?

  2. dogmeat says

    All of these things would fix the problem with long lines, not enough voting machines and many of the causes of voting day chaos.

    You speak of these issues as if they were a “problem” or a “bug” and not a “feature.” It has become a political issue because, quite frankly, higher voter turnout tends to favor the Democrats. Because of this the Republicans don’t want to change the system. It’s the same reason they want to maintain the outdated and flawed census system; it systematically under-counts cities, denying them more accurate representation. Again, a feature, not a bug.

    Similar problem with congressional districts. Here in AZ the governor and the legislature tried to fire the independent member of the redistricting committee because they were “favoring the Democrats.” Their definition of favoring the Democrats meant, of course, giving them an actual shot at winning elections. By the way, despite their efforts, if Barber and Sinema win, AZ’s House delegation will be 5-3 Democratic. If they’d just run a competent candidate for the Senate, they would have had a shot at a Senate seat as well.

    Nationally, total congressional turnout favored the Democrats, Republicans lost seats but retained control of the House and announced a “mandate.” Only in our seriously flawed system could you lose the total popular vote for the House, lose the popular and Electoral College votes for the Presidency, and lose seats in the Senate and declare not only a victory, but have a mandate because “the people” support your policies.

    The election system is only one small part of a seriously flawed system. It isn’t going to be repaired unless we can put together a movement like the Progressive movement, a bi-partisan recognition that our system needs to be reformed. As long as the Republicans destroy any members who suggest reform, Republican media stands to make billions in profits selling the story that we have a Socialist-fascist-muslim-atheist-anti-colonial-lizard king from Mars “occupying” the White House, any chance of reform is categorically impossible. As long as the Democrats fulfill the role of liberal, moderate, and conservatives in our political system (badly), we’re screwed.

  3. steve84 says

    Also note the extensive gerrymandering made possible because politicians somehow have the power to define voting districts at will

  4. steve84 says

    @John Pieret
    This is just another holdover from the old days; read: over 160 years ago

    The vote is in November because that’s after the harvest is in and everyone has time. It’s not on the weekend because in the old days travel times were much longer. People may be on the road for a day to get the polling places and another day home. Being religious nuts they couldn’t travel on the sabbath (the Christian Sunday one I guess), so by holding the election Tuesdays means they can start traveling on Monday.

  5. nomennescio says

    “And election day should be a national holiday.”

    It must be nice not having to work on a national holiday. I love the early voting idea, that gives me plenty of time to find a day off. I’m tired of having to choose between standing in line half the day to vote and likely losing my job (I work in an industry where there’s no such thing as coming in late or sick days), or going to work and getting a vote. I suspect that’s not an accident that I and millions of others face that choice every voting day.

  6. Michael Heath says

    This issue is merely a symptom of a far deeper problem. We can no longer succeed at an optimal rate of change while remaining incompetent at governance. We have to be far more productive with our resources while our competition is far more daunting. The very structure of our government now lacks a sufficient set of technocratic resources while one of the two parties literally rejects technocratic solutions, even ones that would give no political power to technocrats.

    I think it’s possible for elected officials in a republic such as ours to govern competently without delegating powers to technocrats. But that reality is simply not feasible in our republic in the short- or intermediate-term; with no indications we’ll be able to reverse course and become more committed to technocratic-friendly administration of policy development and execution of policy. This growing defect has been with us since at least Truman and started to emerge as an attribute of the GOP during Newt Gingrich’s reign as Speaker of the House.

    Perhaps the best way for the Democrats and the country to confront this weakness in the Republican party is to promote policies which delegate authorities to technocratic groups; precisely because the trend in the GOP continues to slide ever deeper into lunacy.

    What’s ironic about this defect is that it’s my perception that the Democrats started to understand the importance of being right rather than popular in the 1980s and have responded accordingly. So I do perceive them as being capable of developing technocratic friendly policies and executing it without necessarily needing to delegate some powers away from elected officials to technocratic groups. However this newly developed competency within the Democratic party at the federal and state level, along with the rise of technocracy in competing nations, only clarifies how far down the rabbit hole the GOP has sunk and how they’re pulling the entire country down with them.

  7. says

    I suspect weekend elections wouldn’t work in North America. Too many people are doing things like shopping or watching major league sports. Given the monster that is Monday night football in the States I doubt we’ll ever see a Monday election there. Mandatory voting seems equally unlikely.

  8. marcus says

    “Elections should be run and controlled by a non-partisan federal agency and the system should be the same nationwide. Every precinct should have the same voting machines and the same ratio of machines, and polling places, to the number of voters. Early voting should be instituted nationwide and it should last a full month. And election day should be a national holiday. “
    QFT!

    Like, duh.

  9. Reginald Selkirk says

    steve84 #5: It’s not on the weekend because…

    … the rules were set before labour unions had invented the weekend.

  10. D. C. Sessions says

    Every precinct should have the same voting machines

    And a chill ran down my back. Instead of a plethora of diverse local officials, we now have one company which can (as Diebold promised a few years back) “deliver the election.”

  11. says

    timgueguen @9

    I suspect weekend elections wouldn’t work in North America. … Mandatory voting seems equally unlikely.

    Oh, I know. Neither are we likely to wrest election control out of the hands of local politicians. We only notice the problems during national elections. There’s too much at stake in all the rest of contests to mount the kind of political will sufficient to change the entire system.

  12. katkinkate says

    For a country that that some considers the most ‘advanced’ nation on earth, they sure love to hold on to the most backward ideas.

  13. says

    steve84 beat me to it with the gerrymandering, which is maybe in the top 3 issues facing our election system. It doesn’t matter how fair the voting is on an individual scale if the districts are drawn to ensure that certain candidates will always win. Republicans are the driving force, but specific Democrats with safe seats will often act as enablers for their personal benefit.

  14. Maureen Brian says

    Dearie me, D.C. Sessions, if you had enough polling places and competent, non-partisan officials you could do the whole thing cheaply and entirely with pieces of paper.

    This Thursday we in England and Wales, except London, have elections for police and crime commissioners. (Forget for a minute that this is another daft and evidence-free scheme brought to us by The Coalition.)

    About a month ago, I received a letter from the Electoral Registration Officer, Town Hall, Halifax. It reminds me that I’m entitled to vote, shows how my details and number are shown on the register, gives me the square from the Ordnance Survey map showing my polling station – all of five minutes’ stroll away – and tells me what times the place is open.

    It also manages to fit on that one sheet of paper the application for a postal vote, notes on how to vote, how to apply for a proxy vote, how to apply for a proxy vote on the day in a medical emergency and assorted phone numbers, email addresses, URLs for help and information – and all that in large type for the visually impaired.

    I suppose it does help if a significant proportion of public servants can count beyond 10 but the only times paper-based voting will not work is if ballot boxes are going to be hijacked by armed gangs on the way to the count. We’ve not had any such fears in the UK since before universal suffrage.

    And how do I get on the register? Once a year that same Officer writes to say this is what’s on the register and do I want to change it? I do that by post or on line – easy!

    Please don’t tell me that counting would take too long. Florida, remember? In general elections the polls close at 10.00 p.m. and we usually have the first couple of results by 10.30!

  15. steve84 says

    @Maureen Brian
    The whole voting registration thing is something else Americans can’t do properly. In many European countries you are officially registered with the city you live in. So they know you are there and then sent you stuff like voting invitations and registration cards.

    Of course the US doesn’t register its citizens because that would be fascism and if the government knew where everyone lived they’d soon ship off to FEMA camps. So instead people need to register themselves and in another stroke of pure insanity voters can register a party affiliation before they even vote.

  16. says

    It could get even worse in 2016, if the Ohio Secretary of State has his way. He already says he wants the state Republicans to enact a law that would apportion the Electoral College by congressional district as opposed to winner takes all. Given the recent gerrymandering, that would make it an extremely safe Republican state.

    If the same exercise was conducted over all the swing states, there would be no chance of a Democrat winning the White House in the next two presidential elections, and perhaps not for years after that.

    The only upside if they actually tried to do this (and it’s something that seems to already be making some conservatives queasy) is that it increases the likelihood that the Supreme Court would some day (finally) rule that gerrymandering of this sort was unconstitutional.

    How can Florida, which is a 50-50 state, get away with rigging the electoral system so that they give themselves a permanent 80-40 advantage in their House of Representatives and it be allowed under Constitutional law?

    I live in NW Austin. In 2010, I shared the same congressional district with parts of SE San Antonio, 100 miles and two cities away. This year, the other end of my district is now in NW Houston, 150 miles away. In a recent article, a Texas Republican spokesman explained “to the victor the spoils.” Again, how on earth is this true representative government under the Constitution.

    Seems to me that the only way this is going to be fixed is if the Supreme Court finally rules that gerrymandering for political advantage is unconstitutional. Of course, we would need to see the back of a couple of the conservative justices before any sanity would rule in that regard, but if it happened, it would almost be trivially easy to define a set of rules that would prevent 90% of the gerrymandering from happening. The other 10% we can live with.

  17. steve84 says

    Moving away from the winner takes it all system is actually a great idea. But the only logical replacement is statewide proportional representation. Other than rigging the election, there is no point for artificial districts when you elect a single person.

  18. says

    Moving away from the winner takes it all system is actually a great idea.

    It’s only a great idea if all the states do it at the same time, otherwise you are still leaving the door wide open to state political parties colluding to rig of the presidential election. Thus Texas would remain winner take all because of their overwhelming Republican advantage, but swing states like Florida, Ohio, North Carolina etc. would switch to proportional apportionment thus ruling out chance of an offsetting Democratic win.

  19. sheila says

    I’m a British citizen living in Spain, so I only get to vote in local elections.

    I live a 30-second walk away from the polling station, although some people might have as much as a 5-minute drive. I don’t need to guess, where it is, because it’s the same place every election.

    The polls open at 8 am and close at 8 pm. At really busy times, you might have to stand in line for 5 whole minutes.

    We have paper votes, and the count is supervised by a member of each party, plus educated people drawn at random from the electoral roll. Pretty hard to cheat.

  20. shouldbeworking says

    Every year I check a box on my income tax return allowing the revenue system to release my name and address to Elections Canada. Easy, painless (except for the tax part).

  21. steve84 says

    @tacitus
    In Texas 41.4% voted Democrat. Yet their votes were lost. Having proportional representation may actually motivate more people to vote for a minority party because their vote would suddenly start to matter. It would have given Obama about 15 electoral votes

  22. steve84 says

    Though yeah, I agree that it needs to be done in a consistent matter. Which is why just as with gerrymander, this can’t be left up to partisan politics.

  23. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    The whole voting registration thing is something else Americans can’t do properly. In many European countries you are officially registered with the city you live in. So they know you are there and then sent you stuff like voting invitations and registration cards. – steve84

    Another bright idea our (UK) current government wants to import from the USA is to switch from the current compulsory household-level registration to individual voluntary registration. Why, when the current system works well? Only a cynic would suspect that the idea is to reduce the number of poorer people who register.

  24. sanford says

    To the person who said voting wouldn’t work on weekends. While more people probably do shopping on weekends and watching sports. People do shop every day plus work. If you made it easier to vote, you wouldn’t lose shopping time or watching sports. I would think it would be easy to find more polling places in bigger cities. There are always empty stores in Malls or empty store fronts where they can open up a polling place.

  25. Nepenthe says

    Every precinct should have the same voting machines and the same ratio of machines, and polling places, to the number of voters.

    Only do kindly remember the rural populace. One shouldn’t have to drive for an hour or two to get to a polling place just because one lives in the middle of forgettable nowhere.

  26. MattieF says

    When local Democratic officials saw themselves disadvantaged by the existing rules, they appealed to a judge for special treatment for its (likely) voters — and only for those voters.

    The thing is, when those are the only polling stations with lines out the door, why should not those be the only polling stations mandated to stay open longer? Unique problems require unique treatment.

  27. zmidponk says

    Call me a cynic if you like, but the real problem with moving systems to fix these problems is that many politicians, of all stripes, are perfectly fine with systems that are open to abuse or manipulation, as long as those options are also open to them. As such, I would not be too surprised if any attempt to fix the problems simply doesn’t get anywhere because the people who are in a position to do this are fine with those problems being there.

  28. Scott F says

    First, here in Oregon we have vote-by-mail (which the Oregon Republican platform opposes (paragraph 16.8)). There are no polling places, no lines, and we have actual paper ballots that are counted by the end of the day.

    Second, the problem in America is the way we vote: the winner-take-all voting method. With winner-take-all, there is no chance for a third or fourth party. Too often I hear, “Well, Obama doesn’t represent me. I didn’t vote for him.” If we had a truly representative voting system, where seats in the legislature were based solely on the number of people who voted for a given candidate (or party), there wouldn’t be the same incentives to gerrymander the voting districts or to suppress the vote in the first place.

  29. dogmeat says

    The unfortunate reality is that both of our parties are dedicated to the current system. The Democrats favor it because data suggests they have an electoral college advantage despite population movement, etc. They also, correctly, fear that attempts to correct flaws within the system will likely become political battles that Republicans will try to twist to their advantage.

    On the Republican side, to a certain degree, they hope that the population movement of the 80s and 90s will once again benefit them. To a certain degree I think that this is a poor strategy because they wont see much impact until at least 2012, which means they’ll be starting out slightly behind in the presidential elections of 2016 and 2020. They also benefit from the current system by creating massive districts that shove large numbers of Democratic voters into safe districts while creating numerous Republican friendly districts. This is, realistically, the only reason they managed to maintain control of the House in 2012.

    A comprehensive reform of our political system should, realistically, eliminate the role of the states or at least minimize that role. Highly unlikely to happen. In addition, it would likely mean that California would have far greater representation and/or that Wyoming would have far less. The cry would be that CA is already “overrepresented” and that WY is “underrepresented.” The reality is the opposite, there are districts in California that have twice as many people in them as the entire state of Wyoming, but people tend to ignore that.

    Finally, a comprehensive reform should go to a parliamentary style where third-parties actually have a role. IE my vote for Dr. Stein of the Green Party would have had more of a direct impact on policy along with those who voted for the Libertarian party. That is virtually impossible because the two major parties hate each other (recently) but wont take any chance on the idea that “those other parties,” have any say in what’s going on.

  30. redpanda says

    @ Reginald Selkirk #1:

    What are the chances that that article might have some selection bias considering the topic and source?

  31. laurentweppe says

    prints ballots (France still uses paper)

    Also, France :
    • Still uses human beings to count votes. You have no idea how surprisingly reliable meat bags are compared to voting machines.
    • Has a list of voting rules and regulations longer than a chimp’s arm
    • Is not shy about draging by their arses’ skin to a court of justice politicians who meddle with the voting process, up to and including former heads of state
    • Is not shy to cancel elections and demand a new vote when the sincerity of the ballot is in doubt
    • Has very strict campain finance laws.
    • Put every voting days on Sunday

  32. raven says

    First, here in Oregon we have vote-by-mail (which the Oregon Republican platform opposes (paragraph 16.8)).

    IIRC, so does Washington state.

    A lot of states have early voting and/or voting by mail as an option.

    I’ve been mailing in my ballot for many years now. It’s so much easier than finding the polling place and waiting in line.

    This spread out voting has to be done everywhere sooner or later. The one day voting is an anachronism. It made sense when the USA had 100 million people but these days we are 314 million and we all are busy one way or another.

    There is really no reason why not, except that easier, spread out voting lets more people vote. That is a problem for the Tea Party but it should be their problem. If they hate democracy that much, maybe they shouldn’t even try to participate.

  33. says

    Also note the extensive gerrymandering made possible because politicians somehow have the power to define voting districts at will

    I personally think that we should remove humans entirely from districting. Write a computer program, enter a population map of the state. The program lays rigid grid pattern, then starts adjsuting the size of the squares based on population density until each square has the same number of people in it. Bam, done.

    Only do kindly remember the rural populace. One shouldn’t have to drive for an hour or two to get to a polling place just because one lives in the middle of forgettable nowhere.

    Here in Oregon, we’ve got mail-in votes; they mail you your ballot a few weeks before the election ,you fill it out and mail it back, or drop it at a polling station (which are located in County offices, public libraries, etc.). Should solve that problem, I think?

  34. says

    As such, I would not be too surprised if any attempt to fix the problems simply doesn’t get anywhere because the people who are in a position to do this are fine with those problems being there.

    Thus there are only two realistic possibilities for change — ballot initiatives and the courts, ultimately the Supreme Court (albeit only one where “originalists” are in the minority).

    At some point enough people may get sick enough of political shenanigans to do something about it. For example, if Florida trends Democratic so that it becomes a safe 60:40 state by 2020 and there is still an 80:40 Republican majority in the House there, there could be a groundswell of support for ballot initiative requiring gerrymander reform ahead of the next redistricting. At that point even the Democratic party machine could be in favor of it.

  35. Chiroptera says

    laurentweppe, #33: Still uses human beings to count votes. You have no idea how surprisingly reliable meat bags are compared to voting machines.

    Yeah, and I’m guessing that part of that is due to the fact that every single step of the process, from watching a voter drop her ballot into the box, to the actual counting and reporting of the votes, can be observed by representatives of each candidate, each party, and each side of every ballot initiative.

    But this would never work in the US. We in the US put more value on convenience over actual honest and trustworthy results.

    We also put a lot of value on doing everything as cheaply as possible.

    Plus, hand counting doesn’t allow us to tune in 10 minutes after the polling stations on the east coast have closed to find out who won the election.

  36. davem says

    Early voting should be instituted nationwide and it should last a full month. And election day should be a national holiday.

    Jebus H Christ on a pogo stick! Even backward African countries with illiterate populations, living in the bush, can do all this in a day or two.

    Given that you actually have a postal service, and you have nearly 100% literacy, just post your ballot. You could even download a ballot form off the Internet, if you want to be an advanced nation. It really is that simple.

    The rest of you turn up at the polling station, on your way back from work, or just before you go to work, spend the 2 minutes required to mark ‘X’ on the ballot form, and drop the ballot in the sealed box. That’s how nearly every democracy in the World does it.

  37. pacal says

    Someone mentioned that if you took time off from work to vote you could be fired for missing work!? If that is true that is insane. Here in Canada the general rule is that your employer must give you time off to vote, although he/she doesn’t have to pay you for the time off. Firing someone for taking time off to voting would get you a wrongful dismissal suit which you would lose.

  38. martinc says

    I hope I don’t run into a mindless chant of “USA! USA! USA!” when I say that we foreigners (Australia here) look at America’s politicized electoral bodies and are astonished at how patently open to corruption they are. (Let me temper adverse reaction by saying there’s a bunch of things where I think America’s politics is world’s best practice: separation of church and state, codified Bill of Rights/Constitution etc.).

    Australia has an Electoral Commission. It’s part of the Public Service. It controls everything to do with any election. Any attempt by politicians to politicize it would be met with extreme disapproval from the electorate.

    I agree with Maureen Brian @ 16 as well: voting machines seem far easier to manipulate than paper voting.

  39. says

    What is this ‘non-partisan’ you talk about? You’ve had this two-party system for so long, and the battle lines drawn so deep that there would be no trust of a ‘non-partisan’ answer. Even trying to base it on ‘facts’ would have half the republicans shouting and frothing at the lips. Sorry, you’re so fraked up with your two party identity that trying to dig yourselves out of it isn’t going to be solved by ‘non-partisan’ anything.

  40. says

    Chiroptera #37:

    Plus, hand counting doesn’t allow us to tune in 10 minutes after the polling stations on the east coast have closed to find out who won the election.

    Funny, because it does in Canada — or it would, if Elections Canada didn’t have this bullshit about how you can’t release results in places where polls haven’t closed because something something unfairness of some sort.

  41. Chris from Europe says

    @Chiroptera
    Hand counting seems to be faster and more reliable in practice, however.

    The US should consider banning voting computers. If they can’t deliver the same guarantees as hand counting (or computer-assisted counting with barcodes etc.), then there’s no reason to allow it.

  42. steve84 says

    @martinc
    There are countries that do separation of church and state better than the US. France for example. There is a huge amount of church in American politics and churches have a ridiculous amount of privileges they shouldn’t have. In France it’s deeply frowned upon for politicians to bring up religion in debates. In the UK too to some extent, to maybe more by the public than by politicians themselves.

    There are also countries with constitutions that guarantee more explicit rights than the US one. Like the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and the South African constitution. The US Bill of Rights is pretty timeless, but unfortunately that also means that lots of groups had to wait ages until the courts granted them any rights.

  43. says

    I can’t recall which W Bush administration official derisively referred to “Old Europe” back in the day.

    But I feel it is worth mentioning that one reason so many democracies have, bluntly put, superior electoral systems is because they are almost all of them have much younger existence, as constitutional democracies, than the US.

    Your average “Old European” country’s present constitutional arrangements date back to ye olde 1945 or later.

    By comparison, the US’ setup (election logistics, Congressional districts, and so on) can be quite sclerotic.

  44. dogmeat says

    I hope I don’t run into a mindless chant of “USA! USA! USA!”

    Martinc,

    You’re unlikely to get such a response from this crowd. For the most part, the tendency is to be more liberal/liberal-Libertarian than the average American. In that sense, you then end up with the old argument that Democrats/Liberals and Republicans/Conservatives see their country differently. For the latter, America is like their mother, anything said that questions its perfection will lead to anger. For the former it’s more like their wife, recognition that it’s pretty special, but not perfect and open to improvement.

    when I say that we foreigners (Australia here) look at America’s politicized electoral bodies and are astonished at how patently open to corruption they are. (Let me temper adverse reaction by saying there’s a bunch of things where I think America’s politics is world’s best practice: separation of church and state, codified Bill of Rights/Constitution etc.).

    Sadly our current mess is based upon the original idea that there wouldn’t, or at least shouldn’t be any parties. Madison spoke of factions in Federalist 10, Washington warned of sectional battles in his farewell address. The reality is that the parties exist and that they have a vested interest in the methodology of our election process. Because of this, efforts to reform the system are likely to be very difficult. Anything that benefits the one party over the other will be fought tooth and nail. Anything that makes it more feasible additional parties to succeed will likely be fought even more vigorously.

    Australia has an Electoral Commission. It’s part of the Public Service. It controls everything to do with any election. Any attempt by politicians to politicize it would be met with extreme disapproval from the electorate.

    Within our system this would lead to a battle over “rigging” elections. As I mentioned, an independent on an election commission was nearly removed because he was “rigging” the process. What he was actually doing was his job, but the Republicans in the state legislature saw creating districts that Democrats could win as “cheating.” Fortunately the court shut down the effort.

    I agree with Maureen Brian @ 16 as well: voting machines seem far easier to manipulate than paper voting.

    While I agree, the problem is with 120 million to 130 million votes being cast, paper voting could prove to be quite problematic. If we implemented a system where there were legitimate third parties that had a shot at truly participating, the number of votes cast would likely increase to 140-150 million, making the paper ballot question even more difficult.

  45. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    Someone mentioned that if you took time off from work to vote you could be fired for missing work!? If that is true that is insane.

    It can’t be done legally – that is to say, employers are required by law to allow employees time off to vote in almost every state. In fact, many require this time to be paid time.

    However, most states allow employers to fire a person without giving a reason. This is called ‘at-will employment': “any hiring is presumed to be “at will”; that is, the employer is free to discharge individuals “for good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all,” and the employee is equally free to quit, strike, or otherwise cease work.” (from the Pfft! of all knowledge) So the employer doesn’t usually even need to make up a fake reason to fire somebody – they can legally fire for no reason at all, and when it goes to court they can just lie.

    And of course, if an employee was fired for voting, (s)he’d have to hire a lawyer to do anything about it – and (s)he just lost their job.

    The end result is that for most people in most of the country, the law (and almost any law regarding wrongful termination) is almost completely unenforceable.

  46. fastlane says

    We need to get rid of gerrymandering at a national level. I think it would not be that difficult to use a computer algorithm, similar to a finite element meshing, weighted for population and state boundaries. Hell, I could probably write the software.

    Maybe I should get a kickstarter going.

    That would be a good start, at least, then we can work on getting some kind of proportional representation, and instant runoff.

  47. caseloweraz says

    I know it’s become a shopworn cliché, and maybe I’m missing some election-process complexities in the places named, but—

    If Oregon can make vote-by-mail work (and it does); if Brazil can make nationwide electronic voting with instantaneous tallying work (as it apparently does), WTF is wrong with the nation that sent men to the Moon and brought them back safe?

  48. says

    If Oregon can make vote-by-mail work (and it does); if Brazil can make nationwide electronic voting with instantaneous tallying work (as it apparently does), WTF is wrong with the nation that sent men to the Moon and brought them back safe?

    Two words: conservative paranoia.

  49. says

    Even trying to base it on ‘facts’ would have half the republicans shouting and frothing at the lips.

    Yes, but what doesn’t? It’s time we stopped letting that affect our actions, because it’s not going to change. They’re going to shriek and froth at the mouth about anything anyone else does, so who cares? It’s not like they shriek any less when you act conciliatory towards them, after all.

  50. zmidponk says

    steve84 #45:

    There are countries that do separation of church and state better than the US. France for example. There is a huge amount of church in American politics and churches have a ridiculous amount of privileges they shouldn’t have. In France it’s deeply frowned upon for politicians to bring up religion in debates. In the UK too to some extent, to maybe more by the public than by politicians themselves.

    I find it one of life’s little ironies that the UK, which, on paper, is a country with religion seeping through the entire government, is actually very secular in it’s politics, and the USA, which has the idea of ‘separation of church and state’ enshrined in it’s Constitution, is actually far more religious.

Leave a Reply