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Voting Round Up. It’s Time.

Oct
15
2004

Chapter One: Doing It
Vote. If you live in California the registration deadline is Monday.
Vote. If you live in San Francisco, the deadline to request your absentee ballot is Oct. 26, a week from Tuesday. And the polls in City Hall are open all day until the election.
Vote. If you are a registered voter and want the chance to win $100,000 sign up for the VoterorNot contest being run by the guys over at HotorNot.com. The contest carries a no-spam guarantee. Promise.


Chapter Two: Stopping It
A few weeks ago, I talked with California Voter Foundation president Kim Alexander about voter fraud and how rampant it is. And how not too many people realize this. Of course, until this year, not too many people bothered to vote.
Some recent news is making Alexander’s point more important. For the past few days, stories about Voters Outreach of America have been building into what looks like a pretty good size scandal. The company has been – through a variety of incentives – encouraging employees in Oregon, Pennsylvania and Nevada to dump Democratic ballots in favor of Republicans. And, it seems, they’ve gotten a little RNC funding.
The New York Times’ Paul Krugman has the round up in today’s paper. Read it. Or take your pick of other media sources here. And think about what Alexander has said about voting. It’s not voting – which is the same as not caring – that makes this stuff possible. So Vote.
Chapter III: Trying Not to Get Confused By It
I confess: I hate “instant run-off voting.” In theory, this new anti-runoff balloting which is also known as “ranked choice” is a fine idea. Made popular by Ted Halstead and Michael Lind in “The Radical Center,” the idea seemed like one that might increase the variety of political parties and candidates in a hind-bound two-party system.
Well, one look at San Francisco’s District 5 election – where there are 22 candidates vying for the votes of less than 50,000 residents – demonstrates the difference between theory and reality. In a bad way.
Here’s what’s going on: The candidates have broken into blocks of co-operating units. They’re even talking about fundraising for each other so the monkey business is just getting started. Besides, anything that makes politicians cooperate during an election when they’re all running for the same office isn’t what I call a good idea. They’re supposed to be running against each other. It’s an election, not a TV reality show.
Here’s the other reason I hate IRV. It’s a bad story (for a reporter) because it’s hard to explain. The poor souls over at the city elections commission are doing their best. You can go to this site right here to practice. Basically, you get to vote three times for each office. First you pick the person you want to win, you vote for them. Then you pick the person you like okay. Vote for them. Then you pick the person you can live with and you vote for them.
How are the votes counted? Carefully, one hopes. It’ll work like this: All the ballots will be tallied. Then, starting with the candidate who received the lowest number, ballots will be consolidated moving up the popularity scale until someone – anyone, please – gets a majority, more than 50 percent of the votes cast.
So, if they guy you can live with doesn’t get a majority then his votes will, in theory, go to the candidate you like whose votes, in theory a majority still being absent, will go to the person you want to win. In theory.
When you see the ballot, all this explaining (did I mention I hate this story?) gets a lot clearer. Really. I’ve got one right here in front of me. Right now, I’m going to go find my big black pen.
Vote. Regardless. It’s important.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 12:27 PM | Permalink

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