Give me your coded, your rfid tagged, your addressed masses
September 8, 2008 8:44 AM   Subscribe

As simple as a typo. Your vote in the 2008 U.S. election won't [2:00-9:00] count if voter caging parties can help it. Vote caging works basically like this - (1) Send do-not-forward mail to the address listed on your registration. (2) If it comes back return to sender, your registration is challenged and can be thrown out without notice. "A challenged voter will likely cast a provisional ballot....Nearly a third of all 1.6 million provisional ballots cast in 2004 were thrown out." Previously (somewhat).

The BBC's Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are working on a documentary to publicize voter caging. Their site: stealbackyourvote.org. They hope to produce a 14-page voting guide in the next week.

The advancement project is also threatening to sue to ensure voter's rights.
posted by cashman (82 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Every vote counts doesn't get counted.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:52 AM on September 8, 2008


Somewhat related is this article about efforts to scare college students away from registering to vote.
posted by inigo2 at 8:53 AM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yes, it's the Republicans' fault. But the Dems have been in charge of the House and the Senate now for two years, and they have had time to address voting laws and irregularities. They haven't, so this year will be a clusterfuck just like any other.
posted by billysumday at 9:01 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


There will be blood
posted by Mick at 9:05 AM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


TBUTTLE
posted by furtive at 9:07 AM on September 8, 2008 [20 favorites]


Guess you better update your registration info, then.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:09 AM on September 8, 2008


Remember, you don’t just have to win, you have to win past the margin of cheating.
posted by Artw at 9:11 AM on September 8, 2008 [6 favorites]


billysumday You appear to be operating on the erroneous conclusion that the Dems want to win elections, gain power, and actually do something. After watching their actions for several years I've reached the inescapable conclusion that their actual agenda is to accomplish exactly nothing, to capitulate to the Republicans at every opportunity, and to whine a lot.

We need to throw the whole lot out, starting with Nancy "impeachment is off the table" Pelosi, and Harry "No quiet filibusters from Democrats" Reid.

I don't know if they're incompetent, bought off, or simply so cowed by years of Republican shouting that they've genuinely become convinced that America hates Democrats and that their only chance for survival is to imitate Republicans. Either way, they and the entire "Democratic" caucus need to be replaced by fighters.

I back whatever candidate the Democrats field in the general election, but I am a strong advocate of primary challenges for Democrats who lack spine, fighting spirit, and a willingness to actually serve their constituency; which, unfortunately, is pretty much all of 'em.
posted by sotonohito at 9:21 AM on September 8, 2008 [10 favorites]


better update your registration info, then.
posted by klanawa at 9:22 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


sotonohito: Yes, Harry Reid is the absolute worst. Don't cross that guy - he just may write you a VERY strongly worded letter!
posted by billysumday at 9:26 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


damn you furtive
posted by klanawa at 9:33 AM on September 8, 2008


I've been volunteering two or three times a week, going house to house making sure that people's voter registrations have the right address and correct name. We have lists of everyone in PA who shows up on other lists at their address but not on the registration list. If we find that people have moved or gotten married (and changed their name), we have them fill out the form right there and then we drop the forms off at the court house to make sure that they actually get submitted.
posted by octothorpe at 9:54 AM on September 8, 2008 [7 favorites]


Take a gun to the polls. Seriously. If everyone had done that in 2004, America might be a strong, wealthy, respected country today and her people a people with dignity.
posted by Naberius at 9:57 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


The UN needs to send people in to observe US elections.

Also, why the fuck are partisan bodies in charge of the elections? Who thought that was a good idea?
posted by chunking express at 10:19 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Take a gun to the polls. Seriously. If everyone had done that in 2004, America might be a strong, wealthy, respected country today and her people a people with dignity.

Everything about this statement is wrong. Are you suggesting that when someone tries to mess with your vote on a technicality, the response should be to shoot them right there?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:20 AM on September 8, 2008


Yes, anyone who fucks with your right to vote needs to be shot, then and there. Enough of this.
posted by interrobang at 10:23 AM on September 8, 2008 [11 favorites]


why the fuck are partisan bodies in charge of the elections? Who thought that was a good idea?

There are no non-partisan bodies, only parties with declared or undeclared biases.
posted by Jahaza at 10:35 AM on September 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


If you commit a felony to protect your vote, that's a little bit counterproductive since felons can't vote.
posted by smackfu at 10:38 AM on September 8, 2008


Eh, I don't have anything to worry about, I haven't done anything wrong. Besides, those people hate us for our freedoms.

Oh, wait, am I in the wrong political outrage thread?
posted by davejay at 10:44 AM on September 8, 2008


smackfu: "If you commit a felony to protect your vote, that's a little bit counterproductive since felons can't vote."

Gah, that's not true in many states. You're, inadvertently I hope, spreading a right-wing lie that's really darn hard to combat. Here is a map of states and their rules for felon's voting rights. Ex-Felon's can vote in my state, PA, but no one seems to know that fact and many people refuse to believe even when you show them the state rules. We've even heard of people saying that their parole officers told them that they can never vote again.
posted by octothorpe at 10:53 AM on September 8, 2008 [8 favorites]


Yes, anyone who fucks with your right to vote needs to be shot, then and there. Enough of this.

Meh. People talk a good game, but when the chips are down they generally knuckle under in about two and a half seconds. Maybe less, if there's some nice catering already laid out. Toss in an NPR tote bag, and it's a done deal.
posted by aramaic at 11:05 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Take a gun to the polls. Seriously. If everyone had done that in 2004, America might be a strong, wealthy, respected country today and her people a people with dignity."

"If you commit a felony to protect your vote, that's a little bit counterproductive since felons can't vote."

"Gah, that's not true in many states."


Plus, unless you are convicted of a felony between the time you brutally murder that innocent single mom who volunteered to help her community and the time you shove your blood- and brain-smeared ballot into the box, your vote'll probably be counted.

And anyway, with "Vote or Die" Diddy still on the loose, it's her or you.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:05 AM on September 8, 2008


Elections Canada doesn't seem to go out of its way to rig elections, get people not to vote, etc. I'm sure bodies around the world work in a similar manner. I'm guessing the way America does things is part of what makes the country so exceptional.
posted by chunking express at 11:15 AM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


inigo2,
I know the College Dem's here at my school in WI are trying to re-register any IL voters to vote here instead. I assume this is the sort of practice that Republicans are trying to prevent rather than just the registration of new collegiate voters. I'm sure that for their purposes, it would be better if no college age students voted at all.
posted by andythebean at 11:25 AM on September 8, 2008


I really hope that the Voting Rights Act gets some preemptive teeth if the Dems actually get into office this time around. Maybe creating a standard guideline for adding / removing people to vote, especially for federal elections, with consequences such as removal of federal funding for non compliance or something. Also, criminal charges brought against people who are running the voting groups.

I mean, you don't let all your citizens vote in a federal election, you don't get federal money. Or even better, your electoral college votes do not count. You want to participate in the system, you got to make it so everyone in your state can, not just those who will keep you in power.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:41 AM on September 8, 2008


(of course, that would require that voting in a federal election be deemed a right)
posted by mrzarquon at 11:46 AM on September 8, 2008


I used to be a poll judge.

Provisional ballots do get counted as long as you really are eligible to vote. That's the purpose for which they exist to begin with. But it never hurts to check and make sure you are registered, and registered at the right place. If your Board of Elections has early voting, why not take advantage of it?

I know that lots of times folks move, forget to transfer their registration, or for whatever reason haven't voted for a long time, etc etc....please know that your local Board of Election is committed to make sure that every single eligible voter gets to cast a ballot. At least here in Cumberland County, they bend over backwards to do just that.
posted by konolia at 12:20 PM on September 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing the way America does things is part of what makes the country so exceptional disfunctional.

ftfy
posted by Thorzdad at 12:35 PM on September 8, 2008


Take a gun to the polls. Seriously. If everyone had done that in 2004, America might be a strong, wealthy, respected country today and her people a people with dignity.

Okay so the individuals you want to shoot are the ones who:
-have volunteered to work a very long day for very little pay or gratitude
-- done so out of either extreme poverty or a desire to do a civic duty and help the process go more smoothly, or out of an interest in the political process.
-can't allow someone who is not registered in their books to vote on the machines - that being voter fraud, and the act of messing with the machines and books making them complicit in it.

The ones you don't apparently have as big a problem with are the ones who:
-create terrible voting laws and regulations aimed at disenfranchising voters
-people who actively work to make sure others aren't correctly registered in the first place.

Somehow I don't think you've ever been a poll worker. I have, and you're full of shit. Seriously.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:35 PM on September 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


This reminded me to change my name & address on my voter registration, so thanks.
posted by geeky at 12:47 PM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Provisional ballots do get counted as long as you really are eligible to vote. That's the purpose for which they exist to begin with. But it never hurts to check and make sure you are registered, and registered at the right place. If your Board of Elections has early voting, why not take advantage of it?

This isn't true. Many provisional ballots do not get counted, even if you really are eligible to vote. As this Federal Election Assistance Commission report explains, every state handles provisional ballots differently and many states do not count the majority of provisional ballots. During the disputed Gore/Bush election, for example, Florida only counted about half of the provisional ballots cast, regardless of voter eligibility.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:07 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


(should have warned that second link is a pdf)
posted by saulgoodman at 1:07 PM on September 8, 2008


Yes, anyone who fucks with your right to vote needs to be shot, then and there. Enough of this.

Not that I really think you're actually anything more than a douche who talks tough on the internet, but on behalf of other poll workers I say anyone who suggests engaging in violent action against innocent volunteers should have a stroke and die slowly before eventually burning in a lake of eternal suffering. Enough with them.

Plus what Solon said.
posted by phearlez at 1:11 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


billysumday writes "Yes, it's the Republicans' fault. But the Dems have been in charge of the House and the Senate now for two years, and they have had time to address voting laws and irregularities. They haven't, so this year will be a clusterfuck just like any other."

"Yes, but ..." equals no. In this case, you're arguing for the moral equivalence of two wrongs.

This may be an effective argument with the uninformed voter, but it is specious reasoning. Congress does not operate on simple-majority rules.

The Democratic margin is hair-thin and is neither veto- nor filibuster-proof. Senate votes frequently risk a Cheney-decided tie-breaker, though this isn't obvious because Reid frequently uses procedure to steer away from the obvious conclusion. With the hotly contested 2008 election approaching, Pelosi and Reid took the approach (rightly or wrongly) of playing it safe until they get a bigger majority after the election.

I happen to think that basing your decisions on playing it safe is worse than following your principles (which by all rights should have led toward impeachments and indictments). So I think their course of action was ill-advised. But right or wrong, they allowed themselves to be led by the Republicans rather than following a Democratic course.
posted by Araucaria at 1:13 PM on September 8, 2008


In Wisconsin, 22% of voter registrations were found to have a mismatch with at least one of the cross-check databases (e.g. Social Security or DMV).

When the members of the Government Accountability Board were checked, four of six failed.
posted by dhartung at 1:14 PM on September 8, 2008


As this Federal Election Assistance Commission report explains

I love how in Table D, 25,000 ballots were thrown out (from the November 2006 general election) and the reasons listed in the pdf are "other" and "not categorized".
posted by cashman at 1:22 PM on September 8, 2008


The BBC's Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are working on a documentary to publicize voter caging.

Great. That'll begin to start to have an impact in the general direction of considering addressing improvements sometime before 2044, then?
posted by rokusan at 1:49 PM on September 8, 2008


The BBC's Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are working on a documentary to publicize voter caging.

Great. That'll begin to start to have an impact in the general direction of considering addressing improvements sometime before 2044, then?


I'm sure it's going to have the same quick and sweeping impact as past documentaries showing the flaws and vulnerabilities in electronic voting.
posted by phearlez at 2:16 PM on September 8, 2008


Why do you think that the federal government has anything at all to do with voting procedures in federal elections? When you vote in a federal election you are voting for state representatives to the house and to the electoral college.

All voting procedures are determined at the state level, which is why every single state does it differently. In some sense, there is no such thing as a "federal election": there are 49 state-run elections for state representatives to the federal government.
posted by djfiander at 4:08 PM on September 8, 2008


We just got our cross-check mailings from the Secretary of State today. Hey, at least she's trying to clean up the mess left behind by Mr. Ken 'Honorary' Chair of the Ohio Bush Re-election Campaign Blackwell, our former SoS.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:17 PM on September 8, 2008


Yeah, bitter-girl.com. I have some amount of hope for Jennifer Brunner, who at least doesn't seem to radiate evil.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:14 PM on September 8, 2008


The UN needs to send people in to observe US elections.

Apparently the EU sent observers in 2004. They were excluded at the last moment from polling places in Ohio.
posted by jb at 6:30 PM on September 8, 2008


As an American female, I sort of owe my voting rights to community organizers so what's it really worth?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:38 PM on September 8, 2008


The only way the USA is going to get out of its mess is for Joe Citizen to get involved in making sure things are changed. The upper end of the political system is so catastrophically compromised that democracy is simply no longer truly possible. Between caging, gerrymandering, tampered voting machines, and lobbyist ownership of representatives, there's simply no way to believe that one is fairly represented.

I really hope that, first and foremost, Americans take the opportunity this next election to toss the dirtbags out on their ears; and secondly, that they then not be complacent and instead demand better of the new cadre of representatives.

I don't think it's too late to fix the system yet, but within the next couple of election cycles I think the opportunity to fix what's gone wrong is going to be lost and, with that, the opportunity for representative government.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:02 PM on September 8, 2008


All voting procedures are determined at the state level, which is why every single state does it differently.

That's sorta yer problem, right there.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:56 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Concerns abound over voter access in November.

"The Justice Department pledged Monday to send election monitors around the country to help ensure access to the polls in November, even while acknowledging its limited power to enforce election laws.

Civil rights groups fear that an unprecedented minority voter turnout due to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama might be countered by efforts to intimidate or otherwise block people who seek to cast their ballots.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey and other Justice officials met with about 42 representatives from voter access watchdogs, hoping to assure them that having a smooth Nov. 4 election is a priority.

...

Others who attended the 90-minute meeting gave it a mixed review, describing department officials as promising to protect voters' rights but failing to take steps to prevent past problems."
posted by cashman at 8:02 AM on September 9, 2008


Upsetting news: Justice department equating voter access and voter fraud.

"Attorney General Michael Mukasey and officials from the Justice Department's civil-rights and criminal divisions met with dozens of state and local election officials, along with civil-rights groups on Monday. Mr. Mukasey told the officials, "Ballot access and vote fraud are two sides of the same coin," according to Grace Chung Becker, acting assistant attorney general for civil rights.

"Vigorous enforcement of all our voting laws is a priority for the Civil Rights Division," Ms. Becker said.

Some critics of the Bush administration said the Justice Department appears to be giving equal weight to preventing vote fraud and enforcing laws aimed at helping minorities cast ballots. "For the department, the focus should be on voter access," said Kristen Clarke, voter-participation co-director for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. "It does seem the criminal division is spending some of their capital on vote fraud, which is disconcerting."

In the 2006 election, the department came under criticism from Democrats and some judges for pursuing cases involving Democrats that courts later ruled should never have been brought."
posted by cashman at 8:07 AM on September 9, 2008


I have every confidence in Bush's Justice Department to assure a smooth election. A fair one, no, but smooth, yes, I think they can. Smooth as silk, silent as death, right into McCain's pocket. But this is no small part due to the spineless nature of the voting public. They gave up their vote quietly, for the most part (to my big surprise), and any continued complaints have been largely marginalized to the ranks of the nut cases.
posted by Goofyy at 8:49 AM on September 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


All voting procedures are determined at the state level, which is why every single state does it differently.

That's sorta yer problem, right there.


Looking at the recent way we've been governed nationally, I'd say that federalism continues to be a feature of US Government, and not a bug.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:38 AM on September 9, 2008


Looking at the recent way we've been governed nationally, I'd say that federalism continues to be a feature of US Government, and not a bug.

Yeah, but we've been governed that way as a direct result of flawed election processes that suffered primarily for their lack of standardization and uniformity. Having uniform election rules isn't an act of governance--it's establishing the ground rules for the governing system. You wouldn't call establishing the rule that a chess board should consist of an eight-by-eight grid of squares a part of playing the game of chess. Why would you call establishing election standards part of governing?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:13 AM on September 9, 2008


Precisely.

The election is national. That there is not a standardized system of doing it is, frankly, ridiculous.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:02 PM on September 9, 2008


dirtynumbangelboy is being too polite. That your federal elections are not governed by a federal body is pretty stupid. Of course, the fact that such a body would probably be partisan in America may make state control of elections a good thing. It's hard to say. (Of course, America elected Bush -- twice -- so I can't imagine how things could be worse.)
posted by chunking express at 12:25 PM on September 9, 2008


Also, I totally meant to swear more in my comment: the too polite thing would make more sense in that case. (So imagine my comment with more fucks thrown in.)
posted by chunking express at 12:26 PM on September 9, 2008


Civil rights groups fear that an unprecedented minority voter turnout due to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama might be countered by efforts to intimidate or otherwise block people who seek to cast their ballots.

I thought that this was a self-correcting problem from the GOP perspective. Put the broken machines at the poor/minority precincts so that people have to wait 8 hours to vote. If more than normal show up, the line will get even longer and more people will leave in frustration. All that you have to do is be 'surprised' at the turnout.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:30 PM on September 9, 2008


Elections should be standardized, simple, and run by an independant non-partisan agency. (okay, I totally plagerised that last from the wikipedia entry on Elections Canada, but seriously guys, you need one of these. No one's neutral, but Elections Canada (or Elections ____ [whatever province you are in] for provincial elections) hires people from all the major parties, and has to have observers from all the major parties when people are voting.

That, and also when we vote we don't try to replace half our public servants at the same time. No prosecutors, judges or dogcatchers to crowd out the big stuff. Just one vote for a federal election: for your MP. You get to pick one of a short list. The whole ballot is the size of an index card, is done in pencil and counted within a few hours.

You could do this too. Just hold off on all the local voting for another day. Do it on an odd year. Picking your next president and your congressman (and your senator every six years) -- already there are three very important votes to be made. That's enough for any person on one day. Frankly, voting for your congressmen every two years is a waste of time and money as it is - they spend more time campaigning than actually doing things - and the vast majority are re-elected anyways. Just give'em four years already -- off-set to the president, just the summer and winter Olympics so there is still that cool mid-term effect.

(I could so run the US more efficiently. Why don't they just make me dictator already! I promise lots of nice marching and some stirring statues.)
posted by jb at 6:16 PM on September 9, 2008


people from all the major parties, and has to have observers from all the major parties when people are voting.

What is this "all the major parties" phrase you keep using? Is that like the American phrase "both parties"? Could you translate from the Canadian?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:21 PM on September 9, 2008


Frankly, voting for your congressmen every two years is a waste of time and money as it is - they spend more time campaigning than actually doing things - and the vast majority are re-elected anyways. Just give'em four years already -- off-set to the president, just the summer and winter Olympics so there is still that cool mid-term effect.

Hell, there average terms are around 10 years--why not make it that, but give constituents the power to call for a special referendum to remove legislator's from office whenever they see fit. That'd keep them on their toes.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:25 PM on September 9, 2008


damn. 'their.'
posted by saulgoodman at 7:26 PM on September 9, 2008


Metafilter: I totally meant to swear more
or, alternatively,
Metafilter: imagine my comment with more fucks thrown in
posted by bakerybob at 9:23 PM on September 9, 2008


Why would you call establishing election standards part of governing?

My point is that someone has to make the rule to establish it, and the someones who are in charge right now I don't find all that trustworthy.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:38 PM on September 9, 2008


What is this "all the major parties" phrase you keep using?

In Canada there are several parties, not just two.

Having two political parties that are almost exactly the same is another example of American exceptionalism I suppose.
posted by chunking express at 8:04 AM on September 10, 2008


chunking express wrote Of course, America elected Bush -- twice --

Ummm, no, we didn't. In 2000 America elected Al Gore, by a margin of over half a million, and had there been a full recount in Florida Gore would have taken the electoral vote as well, despite the best efforts of the governor of Florida (his opponent's brother) to purge black voters. Bush *took* the 2000 election by fiat of a Supreme Court packed by his father and members of his father's party, he did not *win* them, nor was he elected in 2000 by the American people.

Now, to our undying shame, the USA did (to all appearances anyway) actually elect the man in 2004. But you can't say we elected him twice, not and be factually correct anyway.
posted by sotonohito at 8:10 AM on September 10, 2008


What is this "all the major parties" phrase you keep using?

That's me covering up the fact I can't remember how many major parties we have.

Also, I seriously doubt that the Bloc bothers with observers in ridings where they don't have a candidate (do they run any outside of Quebec?). So the number of observers will depend on who is fielding candidates.

But yeah, it's standardised, and simple, and there is this body which deals with counting problems.

I don't know if we also have more smaller polling stations rather than fewer big ones - all I do know is that I've never lined up long at all to vote. Waiting 20 minutes would be unusual, let alone hours.

I wouldn't say our first past the post system is perfect and I would be happy to ban political television ads, but certainly our actual voting system is quite admirable.
posted by jb at 8:51 AM on September 10, 2008


Ummm, no, we didn't.

Sorry, I should have said the US elected him once -- after he fucked up fantastically for four years -- by a healthy margin, and prior to that sat on their asses while he stole an election. I'm not sure what the point of your comment is? America has had 8 years to fix the system and haven't. You can complain about my semantics, but at the end of the day Bush was president of the US for the past 8 years, because he 'won' two elections.
posted by chunking express at 8:59 AM on September 10, 2008


In Canada there are three "traditional" parties that have national representation: the Liberals (which have roots back to the British Whigs), the Conservatives (which can claim a genealogical link to the British Tories of the 18th c), and the NDP (a modern social democratic party). There is also the Bloc Quebecois, a more recent party that only fields candidates in Quebec, but wins most of the seats in that province.

In the past couple of elections, the Greens have taken a significant percentage of the national popular vote (almost 5% in the last election), and they are polling at 7% - 10% right now. Because of the first-past-the-post election system we use, the Greens have not been able to turn their thinly spread popular support into actually seats in the house, but the do qualify for election funding because of the popular vote.

So that's four "major parties".

As an indication of the usefulness of an "independent" elections oversight body, Elections Canada has charged the Conservative Party with violating funding rules in the last election. The fact that this was being investigated by various committees in parliament was probably one reason why we're having an election now (and the Conservatives have already broken the rules again, by some accounts).
posted by djfiander at 9:33 AM on September 10, 2008


Bah. "So that's FIVE 'major parties'."
posted by djfiander at 9:36 AM on September 10, 2008


djfianders: on paper, we have five (though I've never even heard of at least one of them, and none of them are invited to participate in major televised debates), but in general, none but the two major parties are taken seriously--in fact, I happen to know for a fact that components of a certain state legislature's IT systems until recently didn't even allow for the possibility of other parties. So in reality, we have only two parties, which in an odd twist were both originally a single party.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:52 AM on September 10, 2008


I wouldn't write the NDP off so quickly. They have had better success provincially, this is true, but they still manage to secure seats and get a good chunk of the popular vote. I'd probably vote for the Bloc if they had a dude run in my Toronto riding. That party is awesome except for the whole separatist thing.
posted by chunking express at 10:20 AM on September 10, 2008


Just hold off on all the local voting for another day.

Or even two separate ballots! On paper. Marked with pencil.

One for President.

One for all the ridiculous excess of positions you elect.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:09 PM on September 10, 2008


dirtynumbangelboy is being too polite. That your federal elections are not governed by a federal body is pretty stupid

You get a by on this as Canadians, but you think this - or at least you state it in this way - because you don't have a proper understanding of the nature of the US's political structure.

The Fed doesn't run or intervene in the election process because how they are run has nothing to do with federal law. Federal requirements mandate - well, let's let the actual Constitution tell you.

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

As it happen, every state in the Union runs a popular vote where every citizen (minus various obnoxious felon restictions) indicates their pick but they don't have to. There was some discussion in Florida in 2000 about the state government making a pick (which, being Republican controlled at the time, would have certainly picked Bush) because the Florida state constitution allowed for it.

Now, that same link above also lists a number of constitutional amendments that spell out reasons a person cannot be denied a vote - color, taxes, age, etc. However you'll note that none of them have wording elaborating reasons a person must be allowed to vote, or given a vote. If you look in the election section of the aforementioned Florida constitution you'll see how they declare who is an elector. That is a decision that the organization of the United States of America leaves up to the state level.

Now, you may or may not think this is moronic - that's your right, and I happen to think there's valid cases to be made on both sides. But like it or not, it's an incontrovertible fact that the Fed cannot run elections at the state level because the exact nature of those elections are decided by the state, so long as they happen within certain restrictions.
posted by phearlez at 2:40 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Saulgoodman: there are lots more than five parties in Canada (once upon a time, there was even a "Nude Garden" party). Living where I do in the deep south of southern Ontario, I will probably see signs for the Christian Heritage Party, but there are only five "majors": parties that gathered more than 2% of the popular vote nationally (which used to determine whether or not the party qualified for election expense subsidies).
posted by djfiander at 3:01 PM on September 10, 2008


Hmmm. It seems that the Nude Garden Party still exists.
posted by djfiander at 3:03 PM on September 10, 2008


That's good and all, phearlez, but it doesn't change the statement that it is a pretty stupid way of doing things. I don't think either of us were contesting that's how things are done; we were pointing out that how things are done is fucking stupid.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:50 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Conservatives (which can claim a genealogical link to the British Tories of the 18th c)

I am not convinced the Conservative party can make that claim any more. IMO, YMMV, the Refoooorrrrmm party (smartly) took their name from them when the original Conservative party was annihilated.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:24 PM on September 10, 2008


I was contesting how US elections are done. If people can propose constitutional amendments to do stupid things like stop people from having the right to marry, then constitutional amendments aka corrections can be proposed to fix a broken election system.

Or at least start founding non-partisan state-level electoral bodies, which can adhere to certain standards and make sure that elections are clean and well functioning.
posted by jb at 5:12 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lose your house, lose your vote: Michigan Republicans plan to foreclose African American voters
posted by homunculus at 10:53 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


There needs to be a forty million man African American march, demanding the restoration of the black vote.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:57 AM on September 11, 2008


five fresh fish: I wouldn't necessarily disagree with you too vociferously, which is why my description of the C link to the Tories was much less definitely than my description of the L connection to the Whigs. Don't forget the CCRAP we had in between: the rump of the Progressive Conservatives did vote to merge with the Refooorms, probably in a shameless bid to get back into power with a total failure to understand who would hold the power.
posted by djfiander at 6:11 AM on September 11, 2008


No doubt of that, djfiander. Deals with the devil and all.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:06 AM on September 11, 2008


phearlez Interestingly enough, that same provision is what's allowing us people who actually like democracy, as opposed to aristocracy, to try an end run around the entire, pathetically stupid, electoral college nonsense and get a directly elected President.

The National Popular Vote movement is exploiting the ambiguity on *how* electors are chosen and getting states to pass laws that their electors will go to whoever wins the national popular vote, regardless of how the vote went in that state. To avoid various problems, the law won't kick in until states controlling 270 electoral votes pass it.

Right now its the law in 4 states, and has passed both legislative houses in an additional 4. It won't be in effect for this election, but I'm hoping that by 2012 we'll see a presidential election where my vote actually counts, and based on a one person one vote system as opposed to the current one acre one vote aristocratic nonsense.

I think it sucks that we have to do it this way, but I do like the irony that we modern folk are exploiting the evil aristocratic anachronisms in our Constitution to get a proper system in place.
posted by sotonohito at 7:15 AM on September 11, 2008


That's good and all, phearlez, but it doesn't change the statement that it is a pretty stupid way of doing things. I don't think either of us were contesting that's how things are done; we were pointing out that how things are done is fucking stupid.

You're saying something that is about as productive as "it would be better if cars ran on water." The fact that elections are not operated by the Fed is because a deference to the States in how they choose to accomplish this is encoded in the figurative DNA of the country.

Now, JB actually has a productive idea.

Or at least start founding non-partisan state-level electoral bodies, which can adhere to certain standards and make sure that elections are clean and well functioning.

While the Fed can't found State-level bodies, it can certainly create restrictions on how votes are collected, just as it requires that votes not be denied based on color, gender, or financial status. I overall think it would be a good idea if certain standards were set for vote-collecting bodies, though my fear is that it would be just one more thing that would join the Age of the Corporation and we'd have SAIC and the like contracted to run our elections.

I'm not sure I think you could get such a change shoved through, though, given how many agencies it would completely upend. And as far as proposing a constitutional amendment, proposing is easy - getting it done and ratified is a taller order.
posted by phearlez at 9:33 AM on September 11, 2008


homunculus: that link is nuts.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:15 AM on September 11, 2008


« Older Data-Driven Enhancement of Facial Attractiveness...  |  A Promise Kept:... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments