There are 17 propositions on California's ballot this year (average is 18). According to the L.A. Times, California voters will be asked on Nov. 8 to sort through the longest list of statewide propositions since the PlayStation 2 was on the market and the St. Louis Rams won the Super Bowl. Trying to make sense of each of them is going to be a project, so here we go, one by one. First links are to the official ballot measures. Controversial measures have more links. Add to the discussion with more links in comments. [more inside]
A Dream Undone: Inside the 50-year campaign to roll back the Voting Rights Act.
Among the ballot initiatives up for consideration on Tuesday is California's Proposition 34, which would eliminate the death penalty in favor of life imprisonment without parole. If successful, this measure would make California the 18th state to abolish capital punishment, following Connecticut's April 2012 abolition. It would also apply retroactively to the 727 people currently on death row in the state, the most of any state in the country by nearly 100%. While support has been increasing for Prop 34, as many as 17% of California voters remain undecided. [more inside]
The possibility of voter fraud in the US has spawned a number of state laws requiring particular kinds of identification at the polls, as well as grassroots organizations that search public records to challenge certain voters' registrations . Much of the modern debate about potential voter fraud has been driven by Hans von Spakovsky, a Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow, former member of the Federal Elections Commission, and former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights, where he worked on voting issues. Writing for the New Yorker, Jane Mayer describes von Spakovsky's influence on conservative groups like True the Vote, various state attempts to disqualify registered voters, and the lack of evidence for many claims made in support of voter ID laws.
Question 3 is a Massachusetts ballot initiative concerning the legalization of marijuana for medical use. There are some organizations opposed to the initiative, who failed to register certain domain names. The Massachusetts voter's guide accidentally directed voters to one of the unclaimed domains, now the satirical VoteNoOnQuestion3.org
Right around 1879, the fishwheel (historical images, McCord replica) came to the Columbia River. A clever application of mill-like thinking to traditional net fishing techniques, the fishwheel's river-powered automation of upstream harvesting revolutionized canning in Oregon and Washington, drawing both commercial attention and critical concern [NYT 1881, PDF]. Two men, Thornton Williams and William Rankin McCord, each filed patents for fishwheel designs in 1881 (#245251) and 1882 (#257960) respectively; Williams brought an infringement suit against McCord which was dismissed on the grounds that the invention was not new, being based directly on the publicly documented work of one Samuel Wilson in 1879. Fishwheels were fair game. [more inside]
It's that time of year again! Time to vote for the 2011 Name of the Year! This year's contestants include such heavyweights as Col. Many-Bears Grinder, Ebenezer Noonoo, Yolanda Supersad, RexAchilles Imperial, and La'Peaches Pitts. [more inside]
Voting Documents for sale on eBay: A Nebraska man upset that his absentee ballot wasn't counted has attempted to rally support for his cause by contacting local new agencies. When that failed... post it on ebay.
The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot is an option for the many American citizens overseas who have not yet received an absentee ballot, and therefore will not be able to mail ballots prior to Election Day. There is also additional information on how various states handle the ballot, and further information from the two main parties at Republicans Abroad and Democrats Abroad.
Why have I never seen this before today? It turns out that the funniest mockery of the Florida ballot comes from BET; I find this much better than the oft-emailed wiggly-line ballot.
So the infamous ballot designer if feeling pretty low, but is protesting outside her office the correct thing to do? "Noisy demonstrators protested on Thursday outside her office, demanding a new election. Several lawsuits have been filed, claiming the ballot was illegal under Florida law. LePore, who has been named in at least two lawsuits, has been devastated by the controversy, friends and acquaintances have said."
Poor user interface elects George W. The second hole on the right does not correspond to the second candidate on the left (Gore), but rather to the first candidate on the right (Buchanan). While many people will notice this, many others, especially those with poor vision, will not. About 20% of Buchanan's votes in FL came from the county that used this ballot.