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Cameron's House of Fun

Fatherhood, politics, education, random thoughts (heavy on the random thoughts) and stuff (always stuff).

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Refugee Camp Is Open; or the sofa is waiting

Ok, so as I write this the dust hasn't settled in Ohio, New Mexico and Iowa. Unless something pretty amazing happens in Ohio (which I guess I am not ruling out entirely), the wheels came off the cart pretty spectacularly last night.

The American People have spoken, blah blah blah... AND THAT IS THE BLOODY PROBLEM!!!

Paul Wells
has a very interesting commentary pointing out that some exit polls show that gay marriage and abortion wound up being more important than terrorism or the economy. Which means several things: 1) Karl Rove is a genius, an evil, blood sucking, baby eating genius, but a genius none the less. 2) A significant part of the American populace doesn't mind the economy going down the shitter, wars raging around them, the rest of the world hating or being scared of them just so long as they get to tell their fellow citizens what they can and can't do with their lives and wombs.

Wedge issues are apparently important, and I'm having a hard time figuring out which ones would actually get Democratic (or lefties in Canada for that matter) out to the polls in large numbers. I'm mindful of the quote in the Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy "They care, we don't. They win."

But there is one thing that this election has really show anyone with a brain and a TV: the mechanics of the US election system need a major overhaul. I'm not talking about the Electoral College, which seems a bit insane, but may have it's place. I'm talking about how people actually vote, the nuts and bolts.

First things first, there needs to be a National Elections body down there. County by county is madness. Every American should vote in exactly the same way as every other American. To do otherwise is to invite disaster. I can hear you now "States rights.. blah blah blah"... do you really think that having your President decided by lawyers and judges is some how better than surrendering a bit of power from the States to a central elections authority? At the very least, at a bare minimum, there should be a body that establishes national standards, each state can send it's Secretary of State and it's chief election supervisor and they can hash it out.

Second, the President, Senate races and Governor races need to be on a separate ballot. This crap where you don't know who won the Presidency of the United States of America because the close race of Bob Smith, Republican Dog Catcher Extraordinary in some state slows down the count is just bonkers. Two ballots, all the big deals on one ballot and all the lesser positions and the ballot initiaves on another.

Third, get rid of the damn ballot initiatives. You elect people to govern, with the exception of constitutional amendments, they should just get on with it.

Finally: NO. MORE. VOTING. MACHINES. IKEA sized pencil, paper ballot, ballot box, cardboard voting privacy screen, two poll workers paid minimum wage and meals to work the day.

England does it that way, Canada does it that way, lots and lots of places do it that way. I know, I know, you're saying that these places are all smaller. First, I don't buy that argument, there is this way of extrapolating populations and programs, it is called "per capita", please look into it. Second, lets assume that some how you are right and size actually is an issue. Canada has a population of roughly 30 million people. The last election, which was a squeaker and very complicated, was called, with a high degree of accuracy, before 10 pm. Just over 600,000 people voted in New Mexico. At 10:55 the day after the election, they still don't know who won. How is this possible?

All I know is that there was an overhead shot, from a chopper maybe, on the news last night of people lined up in the dark to vote. The line looked at least a kilometer long. At the same time as this was heartening, I couldn't help but think "All that is missing is an APC or a technical and I could be looking at any election in the Third World."

Finally, reports out of Ohio and Florida make it sound like a lot of lawyers are readying themselves for war. Let's hope that if there are any irregularities that the Democrats don't roll over this time.

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