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[P]
Citizenship and Responsibility In Voting

By thelizman in News
Thu May 23, 2002 at 07:30:11 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

The breaking news today is that several cities and counties in Florida will face a federal lawsuit over the 2000 elections. Among the issues at hand is the failure of some counties to provide assistance to spanish speaking individuals at the polls.


To the average person, voting isn't all that difficult. Unfortunately, however, there will always be the odd person who isn't intelligent enough to figure out a ballot machine (in the case of the 2000 elections, every odd person was clustered into Palm Beach County). More importantly there are a number of people in America who fail to see voting as a tremendous opportunity to participate directly in their government. With voter turnouts at the half way marks, most Americans clearly view the right to vote as a right to also not vote. Notably, in some democracies around the world, voting in mandatory; Not voting is a crime.

So here we have an issue: What responsibility do voters have in participating in the process? On the issue of spanish speaking voters needing special assistance, this smacks of incompetance. Voting is not a process which requires a high degree of literacy. It has also been alleged that black voters were kept away from the polls by police roadblocks erected on roadways leading to the polls from largely black areas. Assuming that the roadblocks were due to road work, and not more sinister reasons (as is being alluded to), are we to assume that the right of someone to vote can be infringed by making them drive a few more miles to the polls? People use any number of excuses to justify their cavalier attitudes towards this important process, from not having enough time, to their vote not counting.

If democracy has a failing, it is that it places too much faith in the common people to participate in it. It should be expected that people would brave some degree of inconvenience in order to participate in government, especially when the blood of so many form the foundation of that government.

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Poll
When Do You Find It Important To Vote
o Every time the opportunity presents itself 64%
o Only when an issue or candidate matters to me. 18%
o Only in local elections 0%
o Only in national elections 4%
o Never 12%

Votes: 150
Results | Other Polls

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Citizenship and Responsibility In Voting | 271 comments (247 topical, 24 editorial, 0 hidden)
democracy in America is a sham (3.50 / 10) (#1)
by tiger on Tue May 21, 2002 at 06:53:38 PM EST

If democracy has a failing, it is that it places too much faith in the common people to participate in it.

I do not vote, because there is no meaningful choice in America’s national elections. The whole system is rigged, with two imperialist parties that are essentially the same. As many have said, it is a choice between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

--
Americans :— Say no to male genital mutilation. In Memory of the Sexually Mutilated Child



Proving My Point (4.40 / 5) (#17)
by thelizman on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:00:55 PM EST

Your unwillingness to participate, for whatever trumped up reason, is the precise mechanism by which your expectations are never met in government. You perfectly proved my point.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
ah yes, the sexy collegiate-anarchist stance: (4.90 / 10) (#28)
by roprice on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:26:15 PM EST

I used to say the same type of shit in college to get laid and I even voted for Nader in 2000. Paying a modicum of attention to the political system however, has made me realize how sophomoric that stance was -- the two parties have never been, and probably never will be, the same.

For example, would gore have tried to end guaranteed interest rates for Federal Financial Aid? If you're rich (or poor), you don't care, but if you're a middle/working class kid like me, there's no other way to got to college.

Also, would Gore have signed the Kyoto accord? Of course he would have, if he had any hope of getting re-elected in 2004. You can't underestimate the benefits that signing the Kyoto Protocol would brought our country, internally and externally, and the world. Look at the good that signing the Montreal Protocol may have wrought.

And would Gore be using the White House to press for drilling in ANWR? Of course not.

How about domestic policy, would Gore have given a 1.3 trillion dollars in a meaningless and inneffectual, PR-ploy, tax cut? No, and then we'd have some money left over to help kids get through college and pay Senior Citizens their social security so they can buy food. Of course, you're probably not a senior citizen, which means you don't give a rats ass in that case anyway.

Show me a bill signed by Bush that you believe Gore may have signed also, and I'll show you two that he surely wouldn't have. And if you don't understand why that's important, you may be a lost cause until those hormones die down.

The system is not rigged, your elections are not rigged. In fact, your vote contributes equally to determining who gets elected, and who gets elected determines the what city, county, state and national laws you live under.

[ Parent ]
but but but... (none / 0) (#175)
by humpasaur on Wed May 22, 2002 at 07:42:26 PM EST

Didn't Gore WIN the popular election?

Isn't that proof enough that voting doesn't change anything?
----

*sigh* Must I explain FURTHER?
[ Parent ]

We don't really know that (none / 0) (#221)
by PresJPolk on Thu May 23, 2002 at 01:28:22 PM EST

In states where Bush or Gore were clearly the winner, counting was done as closely as it was in places like Florida and New Mexico.  In fact, as I udnerstand it, sometimes counting stops completely when one person has the clear victory, ignoring absentee ballots or whatnot.

If the popular vote mattered we would have had recounts *everywhere* and then we'd know who really won the popular vote.

[ Parent ]

It's exactly that kind of attitude (5.00 / 1) (#64)
by KilljoyAZ on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:04:27 AM EST

which gives groups who DO go out and vote en masse (for example, the elderly) disproportionate power over your life. No political party would DARE piss off the AARP for any amount of soft money, because their members turn out in droves for every election. Any party that foolish would be tossed out of office come the next election cycle.

===
Creativitiy cannot be SPELT by over 98% of all American troops. - psychologist
[ Parent ]
Empirically false (none / 0) (#81)
by streetlawyer on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:56:58 AM EST

Ahem. Social Security reform.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
What reform? (none / 0) (#104)
by wiredog on Wed May 22, 2002 at 10:50:37 AM EST

Serious reform? Where? Is anyone seriously talking about it? The last reform I heard about was a new prescription drug benefit for the elderly.

"one masturbation reference per 13 K5ers" --Rusty
[ Parent ]
Try again (none / 0) (#105)
by KilljoyAZ on Wed May 22, 2002 at 10:58:01 AM EST

The reason it hasn't happened is precisely because the AARP throws a fit anyitme a politician even talks about touching it, and those currently in the AARP will likely be dead before American demographics catch up with the program and reform becomes necessary. Everybody knows a train wreck is coming; they're just all too scared to do it. Bush's privatization scheme will never happen - I'd bet money on it.

===
Creativitiy cannot be SPELT by over 98% of all American troops. - psychologist
[ Parent ]
Why? (none / 0) (#106)
by streetlawyer on Wed May 22, 2002 at 11:02:18 AM EST

No political party would DARE piss off the AARP for any amount of soft money

Nevertheless, the Republican Party under George W Bush did in fact stand for election on a ticket to reform Social Security. So perhaps things aren't quite as simple as you suggest.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Saying and doing are two different things (none / 0) (#108)
by KilljoyAZ on Wed May 22, 2002 at 11:29:20 AM EST

If a bill is introduced, the AARP will step up its lobbying efforts.

You doubt the power of the AARP? Then why is Bush proposing to include prescription drug benefits under Medicare, when that program is in even worse trouble than Social Security?

===
Creativitiy cannot be SPELT by over 98% of all American troops. - psychologist
[ Parent ]

Indeed they are (none / 0) (#109)
by streetlawyer on Wed May 22, 2002 at 11:31:40 AM EST

However, your original post was about saying, not doing.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Good point (none / 0) (#110)
by KilljoyAZ on Wed May 22, 2002 at 11:36:37 AM EST

But Bush also said on the campaign trail he would keep the program the same for those currently retired, and those about to retire in order not to scare off the AARP.

===
Creativitiy cannot be SPELT by over 98% of all American troops. - psychologist
[ Parent ]
I hate to be an arsehole, but... (4.00 / 1) (#68)
by avocadia on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:18:53 AM EST

I keep hearing two reasons why representative democracies like your's and mine seem to degenerate into two-party systems. One is the people who people who vote for a party no matter what they do. The other is the people who decide not to participate at all. Alternative party's can't come influence the system if no one will vote for them, and it is the people who don't want to vote for the big two parties that should be voting for the Alternatives.

[ Parent ]
democracy IS failing... (3.37 / 8) (#3)
by rohrbach on Tue May 21, 2002 at 07:15:08 PM EST

...and that not just in the US.

if voting would have real impact on society, it would be forbidden.

--
Give a tool to a fool, and it might become a weapon.

Wow, that's so deep! (4.50 / 2) (#119)
by jmzero on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:34:10 PM EST

You should start up a political party.  Today.  It might be hard to gather support - but you could do it.  After long days of campaigning and spreading the word, perhaps you could be elected governor of your state.  Or mayor.

Your can-do, can-change attitude would spread like wildfire as people finally opened their minds up to the truth.  Your ability to reason and persuade would show people a better way.

Then the government would clamp down on your revolutionary ideas.  You'd be arrested and hanged by cowboy gunmen from Texas - but perhaps you'd become a champion to the next generation of revolutionaries.

Or perhaps you're a lazy ass who won't do anything but complain.  

How are you working to change the world?

America has changed many times.  Difficult changes - and they've come through action.  They've come through reasoning.  Many have come through the political process.  

The American public can change, if you can reason with them.  Nothing can stop you but you and your own pessimism - and apparently it's doing a good job.

Democracy is good.  If you don't like the choices on the ballot - make a new one.  

Or just keep complaining.  Cause that's good too.

.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Spanish-speaking voters (3.20 / 5) (#5)
by theboz on Tue May 21, 2002 at 07:32:33 PM EST

That's a bunch of bullshit really. The language barrier is no excuse to not vote. In the example of presidential elections, how much of a difference is there in "president" and "presidente?" Not enough to confuse someone. I think illiteracy is probably a bigger problem than being literate in Spanish.

Stuff.

Yes... (2.25 / 4) (#19)
by Ressev on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:01:55 PM EST

And a couple of groups representing "Latinos" claim Star Wars Episode II is somehow racist in selecting Latino looking men for Jango Fet and his son. As a Latino myself, I felt no threat to myself from Jango being the bad guy.

What if some Ivory Tower White Intelectuals sued Lucas because Darth Sidius and Dooku are white and bad guys who may cause people to feel white intelectuals are out to rule the world with an Iron Fist (one earlier poster made me think of this - Tiger). They would be laughed out of the court room just as these 'minority groups' should be. Imagine if Darth Sidious were Black? NAACP would be suing too.

So sorry to run off the mouth... But the body of your peice is not what you represent it to be. Palm Beach is old and tired. Lets have some real discussions and real truth...
"Even a wise man can learn from a fool."
"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." - Mark Twain
[ Parent ]

Offtopic, but... (5.00 / 1) (#151)
by Armaphine on Wed May 22, 2002 at 03:20:06 PM EST

The funniest thing about the whole Jango Fett controversy... Jango Fett was played by a Maori actor. (Bascially, a New Zelander) Nothing like those claiming racism being racist themselves.

Question authority. Don't ask why, just do it.
[ Parent ]

Have you considered... (5.00 / 3) (#67)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:18:26 AM EST

The language barrier is no excuse to not vote. In the example of presidential elections, how much of a difference is there in "president" and "presidente?" Not enough to confuse someone.

There are other positions in most ballots whose translation is not obvious. There are also propositions to be approved or rejected, which consist of a *paragraph* of English. There are printed directions for operating a machine. There are regulations that indicate that you're allowed a write-in vote or options like that. And so on. Where, clearly, the fact that English has a latinate term for its first executive is not going to help you much.

--em
[ Parent ]

You missed my point (5.00 / 1) (#96)
by theboz on Wed May 22, 2002 at 08:54:03 AM EST

I do think that the language barrier might be some of the problem, but illiteracy is worse. A lot of people that come from Spanish speaking countries are illiterate. Even if the ballot was in Spanish, they would not be able to read it. This problem even applies to many Americans. Illiteracy is probably the biggest problem preventing people from voting who might otherwise want to.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

But you miss mine... (none / 0) (#162)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed May 22, 2002 at 05:37:54 PM EST

A lot of people that come from Spanish speaking countries are illiterate.

How many? Do you have numbers, or is this just your impression?

According to the SIL Ethnologue, the literacy rate in Mexico is about 87%, Dominican Republic 68% to 94%, Puerto Rico around 89%, Cuba 94%; these are the countries with the most immigrants in the US. (The US has a 95% to 99% rate.) Many other Latin American countries have significantly lower literacy rates, but the number of immigrants from them is much lower.

I think you are exaggerating the ineffectuality of written materials in another way. How many illiterates have access to literate family members who could explain Spanish-language materials to them?

When you bring illiteracy into the question, a further issue arises, that of minority volunteers who assist voters. One of the problems I best recall from the Florida race was that in many poll places there were bilingual Haitian-Americans who volunteered to assist monolingual Haitian Creole speakers with voting (I confidently assume there were no printed materials whatsoever in Creole; I should also mention that Haiti is 23% to 33% literate). However, they were more often than not refused. p.So just one final point. Printed materials do not only benefit individuals literate voters who speak the language in question; given that languages are always tied to communities, and communities have individuals with all kinds of skills (like reading, writing, and organizing), printed materials benefit *the community as a whole*. If literacy is restricted to some members, still, the materials facilitate many things that the literate people can do in order to help their peers.

--em
[ Parent ]

Voting (4.57 / 7) (#8)
by AmberEyes on Tue May 21, 2002 at 07:44:19 PM EST

When I know my vote goes directly to my candidate, and not the electoral college, I'll vote. Until then, I don't see much of a point. I live in Ohio, which is horribly Republican. I can vote until I'm blue in the face, and Ohio will always vote Republican. So really, my vote is useless.

Also, you should have put this in editing, so we could have told you to take out the cheap shot at Palm Beach. :P

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
so um... (5.00 / 3) (#32)
by /dev/trash on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:39:58 PM EST

You don't care about state and local races?

---
Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
[ Parent ]
Oh boy (4.14 / 7) (#36)
by jagg on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:55:39 PM EST

Not another electoral college bashing, please. How often in the history of the US presidential elections have party electors NOT voted according to the candidate chosen? IIRC, a bare handful and none made a serious difference one way or another; certainly not in the 20th century.

Your vote is NOT useless. By not voting, you(and other people who think like you) miss out on the chance to show <insert party you would vote for> that there is a growing number of people in your state, district, etc, that are interested in a change, which means, more money thrown at your state, district, etc. If the party you would like to win never sees change, it will NEVER, EVER, commit any resources.

Will your party win the next election? Nope. The next? Probably not. But if progress is shown, there is a chance, however small, that something COULD change. And really, that's what casting your vote is all about where you are seriously outnumbered.


--
A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. --James Madison
[ Parent ]
Always Republican? (4.50 / 2) (#71)
by Torgos Pizza on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:39:14 AM EST

That's funny. When I lived in Ohio in the 80's, it was very Democratic. I've got letters from D-John Glenn and from the Governor who was a Democrat to prove it. Do some searching and you'll find that people and attitudes change over time. It also applies to voting trends as well.

I intend to live forever, or die trying.
[ Parent ]
Not voting is still participation (4.91 / 12) (#9)
by notafurry on Tue May 21, 2002 at 07:45:01 PM EST

The democratic process assumes that every person has an opinion and the right to express it, which includes the possibility that the person's opinion might be that it's not worth the effort to vote. If that person can't tell the difference between the proposed candidates, for example, what is the point in voting?

Laws requiring participation in candidate voting are nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to preserve the power of the incumbent, since the majority of people who don't care one way or the other will choose the name they're most familiar with - which is more than likely the name of the incumbent candidate.

In the UK, you can vote "No Confidence" (4.00 / 6) (#18)
by sacrelicious on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:01:20 PM EST

And accomplish the same thing as not voting.

In fact, it's better, since you are telling the establishment that something's wrong. I'm not sure of the details, but it's a hell of a lot better than not voting, if you really are concerned.


[ Parent ]

Its called a spoiled vote (4.75 / 4) (#87)
by PhadeRunner on Wed May 22, 2002 at 05:04:10 AM EST

In the UK, if you turn out to vote but mark your ballot paper in a way that does not signify a vote it is still counted but counts as a spoiled ballot.  

This is better than not turning out to vote at all as there is a differentiation between people who didn't bother at all and those who offered their opinion at a polling station.  

The system is not perfect however as there are a proportion of stupid people who turn up to vote, ruin their ballot (typically by not understanding you have to X just one box) and their votes also get counted as ruined papers.  This can disproportionately skew the number of ruined votes.  It also devalues the power of the ruined ballot as regular voters just think its stupid people who spoil ballot papers not intelligent people who truely want a protest vote so the numbers are not typically taken seriously.  

The perfect system is the "None of the above" vote that says, "I bothered to vote and intelligently decided that I like none of the candidates or that the system itself is flawed."  Not turning out to vote basically says "I can't be bothered," moaning about it later by saying it was an informed decision doesn't redeem you.  

If however the voting system was altered so there was a more representative spread of candidates and people actually felt their vote counted would make much more sense.  


[ Parent ]

Send a message (none / 0) (#248)
by Wildgoose on Fri May 24, 2002 at 03:46:04 AM EST

In the UK all "spoiled" ballot papers have to be confirmed by the candidates and/or their agents.

This means that in extremis you can "send a message" to them. I have done this once, in a local election in which there was no Liberal Democrat candidate, just Conservative and Labour.

I wrote "Which Conservative is the Tory?" on my ballot paper...

[ Parent ]

A 'vote of no confidence' (4.66 / 3) (#107)
by FredBloggs on Wed May 22, 2002 at 11:20:17 AM EST

is mechanism which members of the House of Commons can employ to remove someone mad or crap - its not an option on standard General Election voting slips.

[ Parent ]
Not choosing is participation, not not voting (3.00 / 2) (#65)
by avocadia on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:11:00 AM EST

since the majority of people who don't care one way or the other will choose the name they're most familiar with - which is more than likely the name of the incumbent candidate.

Care to come up with some supporting evidence for that theory?

The experience I have of mandatory voting (Australia) doesn't exactly contradict the theory, since at the time the majority of people most certainly *did* care. But during the early- and mid-nineties when Australians were given a choice between the Centre-Right party and the Centre-Left party, ten percent of the country decided to choose the Very Right Nationalist party. If it was a thinly veiled attempt to keep the Centre-Right party in power, it very nearly turned around and bit them on the arse.

Maybe there should be a system where you can choose 'None of the Above' and have those votes count. If the majority of votes are None of the Above, nobody on the ballot gets elected. What you do at that point is beyond my point. I imagine that this is an idea that has been tossed around a few electoral systems before. I can't really see it getting adopted, it works against the established political power centres (assuming your theory is correct).

On the other hand, imagine what mandatory voting would do for the US system. No more piously claiming the right to beg for corporate handouts for the purpose of 'get out the vote' campaigns :- ) Okay, that was off-topic.



[ Parent ]
Evidence (4.00 / 1) (#132)
by notafurry on Wed May 22, 2002 at 01:24:43 PM EST

I don't recall the precise sources, it was a discussion in the one political science course I took while at the University. The two relevent portions of the discussion that I remember was that the professor didn't like the "turn out the vote" fads that were (still are) going on because they falsely suggested the act of voting was more important than the decision itself, resulting in masses of people going to vote with no idea of what they were voting for or who the candidates were. I distinctly recall him mentioning that if you take a group of people who do not know the issues or the candidates, and force them to choose, they will simply go based on the name - and that in that case, they'll pick the name they're familiar with. I think he mentioned a study which showed up to 20% of the study sample voting for a dead guy and giving as their reason that "they had heard the name" on the news.

The other thing I remember from the course was that in the US at least, roughly 80% of the population simply votes for their party, Republican or Democract mainly, and does so for the dumbest reasons - because their parents always did, because they met a prominent member of that party once, whatever - and that they won't change that vote for any reason, no matter who the candidate is.

[ Parent ]

English is a de facto standard (4.18 / 11) (#10)
by jabber on Tue May 21, 2002 at 07:49:13 PM EST

English is not the Official Language of The United States. The United States does not have an Official Language. If you do not believe me, Google for it, you lazy Civics-ignorant bastiches.

Anyone who feels that equal resources should not be given to any other, statistically significant (nay, statistically existant), language; anyone who does not support the idea that their tax dollars should be used to bring this end about; anyone who feels that standards are a Good Thing, should get in touch with their legislator, and make their wishes known.

Realize that, since the United States does not have an Official Language (and a Constitutional Amendment will be needed to make it so) any form or document provided solely in English can be viewed as discriminatory. Discimination is illegal in the United States.

I am an immigrant to the US. I learned English with very little trouble. Having done this, I see no reason why anyone else can not do the same. Personally, I feel that English ought to be the Official Language, but, so long as it is not, any and all State business, needs to necessarily be available in any language of any Citizen.

Do you really want to foot the bill for that?

Write your representative. Make it Official.

And while at it, give some thought to the Metric System. It's about time you did.. Base 10... Ten fingers... Coincidence? I think not!

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

The Latin Alphabet is the Latin Alphabet (1.00 / 1) (#12)
by The Littlest Hobo on Tue May 21, 2002 at 07:55:57 PM EST

English or not. If speaking English isn't the end-all of being American, understanding the latin alphabet sure should be.

[ Parent ]
Well, yeah, that's pretty much clear (none / 0) (#63)
by jabber on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:01:53 AM EST

I don't think anyone could reasonably expect much information to be provided in Greek, Cyrillic, Arabic, Kanji or via Hieroglyphics.. However, so many vastly different languages use the Latin alphabet that knowing it is pretty much moot.

Unless of course you're looking to exclude everyone that is not a child of the Occident from the American Dream. But that's a discussion for a different site.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Then how would people get confused??? (none / 0) (#70)
by The Littlest Hobo on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:34:33 AM EST

You just pick a name... Anyways..

Unless of course you're looking to exclude everyone that is not a child of the Occident from the American Dream. But that's a discussion for a different site.

You might get some mild amusement over my rudest diary entry ever, assuming you haven't already bumped into it.



[ Parent ]
A rose, by any other name, is still full of pricks (none / 0) (#103)
by jabber on Wed May 22, 2002 at 10:38:40 AM EST

Good GOD man! That diary is, well, damn man..

As for voting for a name, that's not at issue. Once this all goes 'lectronic, all we'll have is touchscreens with pictures on them.. We'll be able to vote for the people with the facial features that best represent our sense of aesthetic.. Sure, all the elected officials will be incompetent, but they'll look damn good on teevee.

The issue here is in the documentation that goes along with the voting process. Juan, Jose and Julio, as Citizens, need to understand that they have to poke the picture of the guy they like, not the guy they don't like.. Someone has to tell them this, and if they tell them in English, it's as good as telling them to Super-size it.. If they tell them in badly broken Spanglish, then they may misunderstand, and vote for the guy who's brother is in a position to issue a last-minute pardon of their third cousin who is up for execution next week..

A fair and impartial government would make sure that all Citizens were well informed of their rights and the consequences of their choices. But a deceitful and manipulative government is assured a strong, hard-working middle class.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

measurement (1.50 / 2) (#14)
by roprice on Tue May 21, 2002 at 07:57:14 PM EST

haha, actually the metric system is based upon the circumference of the earth (the english measurement system is also base 10).

[ Parent ]
There is no such thing as a kilofoot (5.00 / 1) (#21)
by xriso on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:09:29 PM EST

I think that's what jabber was talking about.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]
Measurement of the Earth? (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by jabber on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:34:51 PM EST

Ok, now, I'm very curious. Are you confused while trying to be semantically pedantic about the Latin root of the word "metric". AFAIK, the term means, colloquially I'll grant, the SI system of measurement. Please, do tell me the relation to the circumference of the Earth. I've never heard of this.

The Imperial system is not standardized on a base 10 radix across all units. 2 feet is 24 inches, not 20. 2 pints is 32 ounces, not 20. Nevermind that dekafeet and dekaounce would be much more intuitive. The name of an Imparial unit changes by rote when the next radix is reached. It's still clumsily fractional when dealing with partial units. Weight is commonly referenced in units of mass. It's all very bulky and clunky.

Imagine for a moment dealing with bits (1 bit), nibbles (4 bits), bytes (8 bits), chomps (15 bits), gulps (2431 bits), mawfulls (31789 bits) and feasts (1932043287 bits) instead of our current system. It's not as if we didn't have enough confusion between megabytes being a million bytes, and 1024x1024 bytes, depending on whom you ask.

Now, take that binary nightmare and apply it to all forms of measurement everywhere. That's the Imperial system to someone familiar with the SI standard, trying to make sense of miles and feet, gallons and ounces, and pounds and ounces. That last one makes the gallons bit all the more fun.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Originally (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:58:57 PM EST

The original definition of the meter was 1/10,000,000 of the distance between the north pole and the equator.  In other words, the Earth's polar circumference was 40,000,000 meters.

The definition of the meter has been revised since then.  It is now based on the speed of light in a vacuum.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Florida Constitution (5.00 / 4) (#20)
by blablablastuff on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:08:09 PM EST

ARTICLE II SECTION 9.  English is the official language of Florida.--

(a)  English is the official language of the State of Florida.

(b)  The legislature shall have the power to enforce this section by appropriate legislation.

History.--Proposed by Initiative Petition filed with the Secretary of State August 8, 1988; adopted 1988.

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?Mode=Constitution&Submenu=3&Tab=statutes


[ Parent ]

True enough (none / 0) (#59)
by jabber on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:58:12 PM EST

This was a Federal Election that is in question, so it is an arguable case as to whose responsibility it is to furnish language support.

Even if it is shown that the State laws regulate Federal Elections in any given State, the issue of there not being an Official National Language is a pretty significant one in my eyes.

Bully for Florida for having made it Official. This way at least, they are protected/excepted from the responsibility to provide language support for anyone who does not speak English.

Although, I'm sure that they do provide materials in Braille, don't they? Why should the blind be given 'preferential treatment' while the non-English-speaking Hispanics are 'denied representation'? (Note the sarcasm) Yes, the blind have a medical disability, but it's not as if a Spanish-speaker's inability to use English is willful. They to have a 'disability'. It takes years to learn English properly, especially for an adult. Why should non-English-speaking people be denied their rights as Citizens, or at least Residents?

Yes, I'm being facetious, to a point, but unless a working knowledge of English is required for obtaining Citizenship, information will have to be provided in other languages, all sorts of them, to not discriminate against some under-represented minority. Unless of course there is a legal disclaimer that English is the Official Language, and anything else, Braille included, is provided solely as a courtesy.  

That's the point. And I'm all for making English mandatory. To go out on a limb here, I'd love to see all the Valley and Ebonic dialects die out.

As for providing support in other languages, I'm all for that to. It's just that until there is an Official Language, logic seems to dictate than any and all others should also be provided. Since this is already the case in Florida (as you point out), if it is decided that Florida Law governs the Federal Election process in Florida, then I see no issue with not providing adequate linguistic support for Spanish-speakers.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

There are no Federal Elections. (5.00 / 3) (#74)
by physicsgod on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:10:06 AM EST

Not in the US anyway. When you vote for president you're actually voting for a slate of electors, much like you vote for a senator.

Indeed, if all states were to make the distinction more explicit the US would immediatly transition to a combination proportional voting/instant runoff.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#66)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:14:05 AM EST

I am an immigrant to the US. I learned English with very little trouble. Having done this, I see no reason why anyone else can not do the same.

Perhaps then you should reconsider the weight that your opinion on the issue should merit. Some people find it relatively easy to learn languages. Most don't.

--em
[ Parent ]

I completely agree (none / 0) (#102)
by jabber on Wed May 22, 2002 at 10:24:59 AM EST

I'm brilliant by comparison to all the dirty, ignorant, huddled masses, yearning to breathe free and steal American jobs. ;)

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

standing corrected..yet questioning Metric-worship (none / 0) (#76)
by roprice on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:30:34 AM EST

Those of you who jumped on my ass for casually mentioning in parentheses that the English Measurement system is not base 10, are absolutely right and I am completely wrong. I stand corrected. Let me expound a bit, however, on the point I was trying to make in mentioning the Metric System's origin.

As CaptainSuperBoy has corroborated, the recently invented Metric system is based upon the circumference of the Earth (the value of a meter has since been refined, not redefined, using various methods -- it's still based upon the Earth's circumference). I point this out because if the metric system is based upon a completely arbitrary, organically-occurring, value, the earth's circumference, then isn't the Metric System itself completely arbitrary as well? And when we do make contact with life from other planets, won't the Metric System seem provincial, random, hopelessly 'Earth-Centric'? In the nearer future when the Chinese establish a permanent base on the moon, they will be measuring the distance between their Moon bases in arbitrary, Earth-based values if they use the Metric System. Why not just use miles?

I think the best answer reason is not only that it does have a superior nomenclature (though hopelessly Eurocentric), but that it satisfies the demands of standardization, the philosophy behind which I completely understand and support. Most of the world uses the Metric System, thanks to savage and rapacious French colonialization and the resulting deference to that culture, so why not use it on the Moon (or on the US, for that matter)? But it's a little arrogant to assert that any one system is any more or less arbitrary, or inherently common-sensical, than any other, as if any 10-digited creature in the Universe could simply gaze upon its digits, and voila, contrive the Metric System, as though it were a universal system, programmed into the logic of the universe.

[ Parent ]
Blah! Blah-Blah! (5.00 / 1) (#101)
by jabber on Wed May 22, 2002 at 10:23:29 AM EST

Ok, I see your point of view as valid, but I disagree with it.

It makes much more sense, in my opinion of course, to base measurements on commonly observable phenomena, such as the (estimated) circumference of the Earth or the freezing and boiling point of water at easily reproducible conditions, than on the melting point of some regionally variable wax (which in and of itself is a scientific fallacy since wax is an amorphous solid and so does not actually have a 'melting point') and the shoe-size of some long-dead Monarch.

As for rapacious colonization, right back at ya! The US expects everyone in the world to speak English, does it not? The US, it's government (Wow! Holy Crap! We're back on topic?? How??) and it's Citizens while abroad, self-righteously assume that some French waiter in a little caffe some place in Morocco (ok, I'm ranting) would speak English. Arrogance!

The Metric system is much more rational than the Imperial one, simply due to the two facts that: a) The fundamental units, with the exception of only the kilogram at this point (IIRC), are all defined in terms of scientifically observable phenomena. The Imperial system is still based on standard artifacts. Yes, it's easy enough to say that an ounce weighs as much as some fraction of a mole of Paladium, or something of that sort, but it simply hasn't been done.. So if one were to set up a lab on Pluto, you'd have to send these standard artifacts there to calibrate the tools. Yeah, it's a hypothetical, theoretical, potentially paradoxical, 'principle-based' reason, but still, having to store and guard your fundamental unit of measure definitions is aesthetically ugly to me. No one will steal an observable phenomenon. No one will damage it. So, in a way, the Imperial system of measure is based on Proprietary IP, while the Metric system is Open Source.. (Wow, that would make a great troll)..

Ok, and b) the Metric system scales conveniently. Using it allows a better sense of scale than the Imperial system, because the scaling factor is explicit in the unit used. Talking about traveling a distance of 14 miles gives you little sense of the time required to walk that distance, because the conversion to yards (the approximate length of an eager step) is not forthcoming.. When you mention 20 kilometers, well, that's easily translated to 20,000 meters, or 20,000 steps since a meter is roughly a yard, give or take a few inches or a dozen centimeters or so.

Metric, in my lazy-minded world, makes more sense because given a small number of base units, I can very easily derive the rest. Imperial requires me to memorize many more basic units, and to think about them periodically lest I forget how they relate to one another.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

France: The Great Lie. (3.00 / 2) (#128)
by roprice on Wed May 22, 2002 at 01:17:44 PM EST

Relative merits of measurement systems aside, let me pick up the nationalist-cultural tangent. It's really absurd to cite the US for arrogance imperialism on behalf on the absurd French, who surely would impose all things French, including their language, on the rest of the world if they had the chance. In fact, only a century ago the rapacious and arrogant French -- for centuries the colonizers, torturers and rapists of Southeast Asia, Africa and South America, not to mention aiders and abetters of Nazi anti-semitism -- did expect the world to bow. And their duplicity has not faded. French people try to pass off their anti-Americanism as a recent phenomenon, a reaction to newly the powerful US empire. In truth, they've always scorned and hated us and only gave us aid in the Revolutionary War to fight the English.

[ Parent ]
assuming speaking English (none / 0) (#198)
by kubalaa on Thu May 23, 2002 at 08:29:41 AM EST

I don't know, but I've never met any of these self-righteous Americans who get mad when someone can't speak English. Sure, Americans in foreign countries /try/ speaking English to everyone -- what else are they going to do? Is it now a requirement to know the language before you visit the country? In Berlin I ran into an old Italian couple waiting in line for the TV Tower -- "quanti euro?" they asked. I always get Italian and Spanish numbers mixed up, so rather than embarass myself I held up my fingers and said "sechs". "Sei" she said, smiling. I mean, how is what Americans do any different? I think it's good to spread your language around a bit, even if it's better to learn someone else's.

[ Parent ]
English is the "official" language (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by Demiurge on Wed May 22, 2002 at 04:53:41 AM EST

To become a United States naturalized citizen, you need to able to read and speak English proficiently.

Therefore, why should the government provide support for anyone who can't?

[ Parent ]
'ease' of voting relative to character of public (4.66 / 6) (#11)
by roprice on Tue May 21, 2002 at 07:54:27 PM EST

Perhaps in 70 years we will all speak Greek and English, and in that case the voting ballots must be printed in those two languages. Perhaps, in contemporary America, people are more poorly educated than 30 years ago, or do not speak English adequately, in which case, again, ballots must be adjusted accordingly. The point is that the ability to cast a vote should not in any way be undermined by national origin, first language, mental ability, literacy, or any other practical considerations. To undermine the ability to vote for any citizen is to undermine the most fundamental premise on which a democracy is based: one person, one vote.

Perhaps if we continue to accurately perceive, and then remove, voting obstacles, such as we did in 1920 when we removed the gender one (voter participation doubled, curiously), we will be more likely to have the leaders and laws that the majority of us want.

There's a Difference... (4.50 / 4) (#22)
by thelizman on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:11:54 PM EST

What you're talking about are legitimate obstacles to voting, at least with respect to womens suffrage. However, in a country where the vast majority of people speak English, it should be expected that those people at least make the effort to become proficient enough to understand some basic words. This is part of the greater point: Access doesn't necessarily guarantee motivation. I remember reading about Nigerias recent free elections where people stood in line for an average of 8 hours to cast their vote. In America, most people are too lazy to stand in line at all. You even have some morons who have replied to this story to say that in effect "because my single vote doesn't outweigh that of all other voters in my state, I won't participate".
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
yes , there is a difference... (4.33 / 3) (#37)
by roprice on Tue May 21, 2002 at 09:00:11 PM EST

between legitimate and illegitimate obstacles. what you're basically presuming is that English is an illegitimate one, that it shouldn't be considered an obstacle to voting. Honestly, I'm not sure where I come down on this one: on the hand I think it's arrogant and ulimately harmful to one's fellow citizens, not to learn your country's dominant language, and otherwise, embrace, to a reasonable extent, its culture (*cultures*, in America's case). On the other hand, what if some Americans, born elsewhere, and having learned a foreign language such as Korean, try very hard but have an immensely difficult time learning English, yet have a desire to vote for the leaders of their adopted country? They don't lack motivation, but ability.

And as for 'Access not necessarily guranteeing motivation', that's a valid point but isn't germane to this discussion, which is dealing with those who *do* have the motivation vote. (Interestingly more americans voted in the 1990's than in the 1920's).

In any case, Florida voters may have been hampered by more than linguistics, and as I said, we should strive to 'perceive' as well as eliminate all voting obstacles. Perhaps what we should be perceiving in this case, is that the ballots were visually confusing, depriving dyslexia-stricken voters, for example, of their ability to choose clearly. Or perhaps, it was not one, but some combination of conditions: poor language skills, dyslexia, claustrophobia, underdeveloped spatial intelligence, etc. The point is, let's be as careful as possible to let every American citizen have an opporunity to vote. Otherwise, in the case of naturalized citizens, why let them become American in the first place? So they can do Systems Analysis for IBM or sweep floor for Dunkin Donuts? No, it is crucial that with regards to those who *do* have a desire to vote, they be able to do so.

[ Parent ]
We'll have to agree... (5.00 / 1) (#115)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:09:09 PM EST

...to disagree. I don't believe that it is incumbent upon any other citizen to aid another citizen in the excercise of their rights, especially wherein that excercise would become open to abuse. Further, I don't believe that voting or any other excercise should be so easy as to be actually encouraged. As long as there is no blatent attempt to prevent the excercise of a right such as voting, there is no justification for a person not excercising that right.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
morons? (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by streetlawyer on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:52:38 AM EST

You even have some morons who have replied to this story to say that in effect "because my single vote doesn't outweigh that of all other voters in my state, I won't participate".

Why is being able to understand the Voter Paradox a symptom of mental retardation?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

No, read that again (5.00 / 2) (#114)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:03:13 PM EST

The crux of their argument is that because they are almost always outvoted, they don't bother to vote. Essentially, this is the "my sandbox" attitude, that just because their team isn't winning they should'nt bother to show their support. They only guarantee solid victories for the opposition with this piss poor attitude. THAT, to me, is easily a sign of mental retardation. Most of us outgrew that in 5th grade.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
spare me your morals (5.00 / 1) (#117)
by streetlawyer on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:25:54 PM EST

If you're almost always outvoted, it is rational to believe on any one occasion that you will be outvoted this time. If you believe that, it is rational to do something you enjoy more than going to the polling station. The fact that this results in the certainty that you will be outvoted if everyone else on your side thinks the same does not diminish the force of this paradox, and it is now clear that your "morons" jibe was based on nothing more than equal parts moral condemnation plus lack of understanding.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
It's a Self Reinforcing Paradox (5.00 / 1) (#135)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 01:34:56 PM EST

"My Side Never Has Enough Votes To Win, So I Don't Vote".

If you don't see that as utterly moronic meme, then I have nothing to offer you but candy and soda.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
fool (none / 0) (#194)
by streetlawyer on Thu May 23, 2002 at 07:56:57 AM EST

It is not a "meme"; it is the rational solution to a problem of optimisation under uncertainty (specifically, the Nash equilibrium of a multiperson, single period game), and the fact that you don't understand this is your problem.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Nonsensical Ramblings (none / 0) (#216)
by thelizman on Thu May 23, 2002 at 12:31:51 PM EST

It is a meme, and your nonsensical ramblings still do not justify the fact that when people fail to participate simply based on their perception of the outcome they skew the reality of the outcome.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
I teach; you don't learn (none / 0) (#220)
by streetlawyer on Thu May 23, 2002 at 01:09:20 PM EST

So what? The fact that behaviour is self-reinforcing doesn't mean it is irrational, let alone "moronic". If everyone was running to take their money out of the bank, what would you do?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Splitting Hairs With Bald People (none / 0) (#229)
by thelizman on Thu May 23, 2002 at 04:00:52 PM EST

The fact that behaviour is self-reinforcing doesn't mean it is irrational
It does when the reinforcement is not logically sequiter to the behavior.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
learn some math and don't dodge questions (none / 0) (#246)
by streetlawyer on Fri May 24, 2002 at 02:19:51 AM EST

So what would you do if you saw everyone else running to take their money out of the bank? There is no requirement in logic or fact for locally rational solutions to fit your political beliefs.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
If Everyone Jumped Off A Bridge (none / 0) (#253)
by thelizman on Fri May 24, 2002 at 12:11:51 PM EST

So what would you do if you saw everyone else running to take their money out of the bank?
Not a damned thing. My meager balance is FDIC insured. The people running to the banks are flipping morons who comprise "the mob".
There is no requirement in logic or fact for locally rational solutions to fit your political beliefs.
My "political" beleifs are not in dispute here. The issue at hand is that if you fail to participate in a system, you can expect to be its victim every time. If you actually have something other than rhetoric, I'd love to hear it. Meanwhile, consider yourself a troll.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Your attitude/knowledge ratio is high (none / 0) (#254)
by streetlawyer on Fri May 24, 2002 at 12:17:18 PM EST

Not a damned thing. My meager balance is FDIC insured

Ever wonder why there is such a thing as the FDIC, dimwit?

The issue at hand is that if you fail to participate in a system, you can expect to be its victim every time

No, the issue at hand is that you can often expect to be a victim whether you participate or not, in which case you are best off not participating if it involves inconvenience.

If you actually have something other than rhetoric, I'd love to hear it.

Try "game theory".

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

The Dimwit Ball Is In Your Court (none / 0) (#261)
by thelizman on Fri May 24, 2002 at 07:51:53 PM EST

Ever wonder why there is such a thing as the FDIC, dimwit?
In keeping with the failure of your logic circuits, "why" he have the FDIC is not germain to the fact that having it means I'm not going to be running with a bunch of the idiots to a bank to take my money out because a bunch of idiots are running to the bank to take their money out, because a bunch of idiots are running to the bank...
No, the issue at hand is that you can often expect to be a victim whether you participate or not, in which case you are best off not participating if it involves inconvenience.
Again, you're logic is highly flawed because the one hypothetical situation reinforces itself. If you do not participate, your effort will not effect the outcome. If you do participate, your effort may affect the outcome. The result is not participating means you always fail to influence the outcome, whereas your participation does not in and of itself guarantee either outcome. But then, that's why the little crybaby doesn't vote to begin with. He doesn't get his way with his one vote and that isn't fair (pout pout).
Try "game theory".
I've let you be an ass long enough; Game Theory doesn't apply to non-participants. Shove it and your irrelevant reference to "Nash Equilibrium" up your right nostril and think about it.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
mucking foron (none / 0) (#268)
by streetlawyer on Mon May 27, 2002 at 03:03:14 AM EST

In keeping with the failure of your logic circuits, "why" he have the FDIC is not germain to the fact that having it means I'm not going to be running with a bunch of the idiots to a bank to take my money out because a bunch of idiots are running to the bank to take their money out, because a bunch of idiots are running to the bank...

You do realise that you're appearing an idiot here? I have no idea where you got the notion that you were in a position to patronise me, but you've just made my point for me. The FDIC exists because bank runs are rational. If there is doubt over the solvency of a bank, and if deposits are paid back first come first served, then the people who run on the bank are definitely not idiots and you are wrong to call them so. The existence of rational expectations bank run equilibria was proved by Diamond and Dybvig in 1980, although the intuition was there in Bagehot's "Lombard Street" for anyone who care to chase up the references.

Now what ammunition have you got, little man?

By the way, "logic circuits" makes you look quite the Star Trek fan.

If you do not participate, your effort will not effect the outcome. If you do participate, your effort may affect the outcome. The result is not participating means you always fail to influence the outcome, whereas your participation does not in and of itself guarantee either outcome.

Indeed. And if you participate, you incur the costss of doing so (time spent when you could be doing something you enjoy more), so everything comes down to questions of cost versus expected benefit. And the knowledge that everyone else is reasoning in the same way affects (as it should) your assessment of the expected benefit. Which is the engine that drives the Voting Paradox.

But then, that's why the little crybaby doesn't vote to begin with. He doesn't get his way with his one vote and that isn't fair (pout pout).

Stupid fucker. Nine times out of ten, people bring up the Voting Paradox in support of changes to the voting system which would reduce the number of people who are caught in it (measures such as abolishing the electoral college, for example). The only person pouting here is you, because you don't understand political science and I've called you on it.

I've let you be an ass long enough; Game Theory doesn't apply to non-participants.

And you are now officially a cunt. Unless you can tell me how an enfranchised adult could possibly be a "non-participant" in the game of deciding whether to vote or not. You really don't understand what you're talking about here, by the way; you've clearly made up that stuff about "non-participants" yourself, because every introductory course on game theory clearly makes the point that the participation decision has to be modelled as part of the game.

Shove it and your irrelevant reference to "Nash Equilibrium" up your right nostril and think about it.

And a prude, too. Of course, since the Voting Paradox is a multi-person version of the Prisoner's Dilemma, and the self-reinforcing non-participation decision is its (non-unique, but stable apart from degenerate cases) Nash Equilibrium), my use of the term is not irrelevant and could not possibly be characterised as such by anyone who knew what they were talking about and were arguing in good faith. You may take that, shove it up your arse and swivel on it.

This is the point at which you intimate that you have a huge coherent refutation of every point I've made (with references) but that you can't be bothered posting it because I'm an "obvious troll", by the way. Bye-bye, little man.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

palm beach (3.66 / 3) (#16)
by blablablastuff on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:00:22 PM EST

I honestly don't think the real root of the problem was the palm beach voters, at least not in the beginning. OK yeah eventually they became quite a funny bunch, what with demands to vote twice etc. but I really think that whoever of Al Gore's people dreamed up the idea of trying to throw lawsuits after everything is the one that caused the problem. After that, the media just latched onto it and did what the media does....find the most stupid lump they can and put them on TV. There are thousands of people down there and I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of them were able to figure out that there's only one president, and you only get to pick one name.
The recounting pocess down there, that's what was making the country the laughingstock of the world. Having people sit there on CNN holding punch cards up to the light and 6 different people staring at it with magnifying glasses, each one arguing that the person might have ACTUALLY voted for Nader, or Buchanan, or wrote in his first grade teacher, but he REALLY meant that to mean Gore. Or Mickey mouse. Or Bush AND Gore, but that it could only legally count for Gore because c'mon, you really think they wanted to vote for Bush?
I think the counties down there should be sued just for the damage that did to our reputation.

i disagree totally (4.50 / 12) (#23)
by turmeric on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:12:45 PM EST

we had 3 people on the ballot in my state. you call this a choice? ralph nader had tens of thousands of signatures in a state of 3 million people and he still couldnt get on the ballot, signature collectors were harassed by police. you call this choice? you call this democracy?

I was told once that there are write in ballots. Then i was told there are not write in ballots. Then I was told I could write on the ballot anyways, but that my vote wouldn't count. So I did, and then they started denouncing me for 'wasting my vote'.

I call this soviet style voting, where you have 1 or 2 people on the ballot and the state punishes everyone who doesnt 'participate' as 'non-patriotic'. I dont call this democracy.

the US has a diseased ballot process, restricted by illegal and unconstitutional ballot access laws, debates controlled by the two major parties, media that refuses to cover third party politicians and then acts innocent when the third parties get little showing at the ballot box.

When the system gets cleaned up so that my vote actually means something, maybe i will feel like voting again. Until then, please do not insult my intelligence by telling me that somehow it is 'the voters fault' that they dont vote.

Well, duh (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by The Littlest Hobo on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:16:43 PM EST

No shit you Americans have a fucked up electoral system... most democratic countries have at least a half-dozen 'contenders, has-beens or soon-to-bes,' what did you guys do to get a one-party (The Republicrats) system anyways?

[ Parent ]
yes but (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by roprice on Tue May 21, 2002 at 09:58:54 PM EST

At the risk of having been trolled...

we do not have a one-party system, we have a de facto two party system and a de jure infinite-party system. that is, there is no legal limit to the number of people or parties who may run president.

In fact, during every presidential election, at least 5 or 6 different parties usually run. In 1992, a third party candidate, Ross Perot, got 20% of the vote, and greatly influenced both the outcome of the election and the administrative policy of the president who won (Clinton made it a priority to eliminate the budget deficit in large part due to Perot and his supporters).

Now, would we be better off with a run-off system for electing our president? Perhaps we would. But eliminating the electoral college would not be easy -- a democracy's voting system is it's foundation -- its Operating System -- and tampering with it is not an endeavor to be taken lightly. In any case, we do not have a one-party system: there huge policy discrepencies between republican and democratic presidents, as another of my posts makes clear.

Also, please keep in mind that the electoral college applies only to the presidential election; city, county, and state elections (which determine our nation's lawmakers) are decided using the direct vote method employed in Europe and elsewhere.

[ Parent ]
that is not true (5.00 / 2) (#53)
by turmeric on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:30:21 PM EST

we do not have a dejure two party system. states are fully free to restrict the number of partieson a ballot, to institute whatever ridiculous ballot-access laws they want to enact, and for the in-power parties to use these laws to crush competition. www.ballot-access.org

[ Parent ]
Example please (none / 0) (#82)
by roprice on Wed May 22, 2002 at 03:40:11 AM EST

of a ridiculous ballot-access law?

I know of no law which could be called ridiculous and which also restricts candidates from appearing on the ballots of the elections held in this country. Many states, and the federal government, have in place laws requiring a minimum number of endorsement signatures that must be collected before a candidate is placed on the ballot for big elections, such as governor or president. But since these laws prevent ballots from being hundreds of pages long, they are not ridiculous. In fact, in a society in which surely tens of thousands of people would put themselves on the ballot for president, such laws are necessary for the proper functioning of democracy. Bear in mind that you may write in any name for any elected office.

As for presidential debates, let me offer a carrot and conceed that it was ridiculous and cowardly for the Bipartisan Debate Comittee not to allow Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan to debate the major party candidates. But keep in mind that though perhaps unethical, that was certinaly their legal right. Mad? Well, the people you have or have not voted into office are responsible for it being their legal right, so in effect, you by virtue of your not voting, are responsible for Ralph Nader not being allowed to debate Bore and Gush.

Our society and our government have enough problems without contrived ones being attributed to them. Our country's election process, though it may have problems, is all in all an excellent and democratic one, free of laws that unreasonably prevent its citizens from being on the ballot for elections. It's a shame more people don't vote.

[ Parent ]
It's all rather transparent (none / 0) (#46)
by kerinsky on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:00:44 PM EST

I think people tend to look at government in a rather people-centric way. The government is much more than the sum of a bunch of people running around. In the end we can put all those people in a big black box and hide all the decision making processes from view. Simply look at the end result, the output of the black box, which is what the government actually does. If all you can see is this output by reading bills once they have been passed and seeing what policies are enforced you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a two, ten or hundred party system. In the end all those parties get funneled into one unit "the government."

Furthermore parties can, and do, change over time. New members, new leaders and new positions on policies are constantly being introduced. A party can try to stay exactly the same, but like a large stiff tree in the windstorm of public opinion it will eventually be shattered and left behind. But if a party really wants to stay in power it will change with the times, always aiming at that moving target that represents the people's will. The Republican and Democrat parties that we see today are not the same as they were ten or twenty years ago. H Ross Perot came on strong in 1992, so the parties adapted and did their best to nullify his position in 1996.

After the 2000 election I read a very good op-ed about extremely close elections being the best thing for the country. The theory goes that an ideal election would have N candidates each getting about 1/Nth of the votes. This represents N centrist candidates who will have subtle differences but probably agree very well on the major issues that are important to the people. A 40/40/20 split shows that something is wrong with the system and the only way to get back in balance is to move to 33/33/33 or 50/50. It's obvious that the Democrats and Republicans would never willingly give up power, so what we saw in 2000 makes sense, as does our fairly stable two party system. I'm not saying it's the best, or better than anything else for that matter, but in the end I'm not sure it's any worse than other systems either.

Of course you're right, we DO have a rather f'ed up electoral system...
Kerinsky

-=-
A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking.
[ Parent ]
almost forgot, electoral college (4.50 / 2) (#25)
by turmeric on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:18:34 PM EST

like ambereyes said, electoral colleges make it pointless to vote in many states. Bush, for example, was elected even though he got fewer votes. Just another straw on the back of this camel.

[ Parent ]
But It Is Your Fault (3.50 / 4) (#27)
by thelizman on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:21:11 PM EST

Other than a bunch of ad-hoc baseless accusations, you've really failed to justify how the voting system is unfair. You complain about Ralph Nader not getting on your ballot in spite of "tens of thousands of signatures"? At best, tens of thousands in a state of 3 million still amounts to about 3%; Not a real public mandate. And this "soviet" business: Try looking up the word. By the way, the "state" doesn't punish anyone for not participating. You punish yourself when you do that.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
you can't vote for who you want, thats why (3.00 / 1) (#29)
by turmeric on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:26:19 PM EST



[ Parent ]
so shut up and do something about it (none / 0) (#56)
by Rahaan on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:42:08 PM EST

get his name on the ballot.


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]
how would they count write-ins? (none / 0) (#75)
by physicsgod on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:18:53 AM EST

Considering the total number of write-ins would be rather small in any case, and most of those would be for things like Elvis, Letterman, God, or "myself" why should the count it? It's almost impossible that a write-in will win, so it makes no difference in the final selection if they're counted as "null votes".

As for those people who gave you crap about "wasting your vote", they're party hacks, next time tell them "It's my vote, and if you don't like it, shove it up your ass."

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

The 2 party system sucks (4.33 / 3) (#31)
by blablablastuff on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:38:39 PM EST

The point is, with the current system, frequently you're left with "None of the above" being the only real choice you can make and not feel like you're violating your principles.
The democrats are turning into a big happy bunch of socialists, whos main plan for seizing power seems to be promise everything to the poor, and to hell with those people who might complain about having to pay for it. The republicans are moving towards a lock-step Heil Jesus routine and making arguments that make no real sense, other than the fact that it's usually the exact opposite of whatever the last democrat said.
The problem is that the system is so...well I dont want to say corrupt, but if you look at the Gerrymandering practices they use to ensure that Party candidates will have a free ride, thats about the only description that fits.
Some how, some way the 2 big parties need to split, preferably near simultaneously, because going to the polls is usually to engage in a choice between the lesser of 2 evils. And I'd like to think that there are people in America worth being elected for some reason other than he's slightly less shitty than the only other guy you can choose from.

[ Parent ]
I have to correct this (none / 0) (#33)
by The Littlest Hobo on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:41:32 PM EST

The democrats are turning into a big happy bunch of socialists

This couldn't be further from the truth. Have a little perspective, will you?



[ Parent ]
OK I admit (4.50 / 2) (#34)
by blablablastuff on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:51:58 PM EST

They're usually not very happy.


[ Parent ]
They're not big on socialized public services (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by The Littlest Hobo on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:54:20 PM EST

Either. What's that you say, America doesn't have universal basic health-care?

[ Parent ]
they take it too far (2.00 / 5) (#38)
by blablablastuff on Tue May 21, 2002 at 09:15:46 PM EST

The government is going too far in providing too many services. The democrat party screams loudly that welfare, or medicare, or social security is "broken". The "rich" don't pay enough taxes. The poor who are paying NO taxes and getting large refunds ON TAXES THEY NEVER PAID need a tax break.
Many of the social aid programs that are so "broken" today aren't broken, they're abused. Temporary measures put in place to try and ease the suffering of the country during the great depression are being thrown in our face time and again as required and absolutely necessary functions of government.
I am not against the government providing services to the public. I'll support damn near anything that makes public Education better. I have no problem with STRICTLY LIMITED aid programs.
But I get a little tired of paying for jobless crackwhores to have 16 kids, or when the government foots the bill for 98 year old human vegetables requiring hundreds or thousands of dollars of medical care each day, until they finally get around to dying.
The problem with far too many of the government social programs is that they are one way. You sign up for program X, you get X. There are far too many people who can list their occupation as "Government leech" because there is no responsibility of the people enrolled in these programs. If there is, it's not enforced.
Yet the democratic party (and increasingly, the republicans, now that they've figured out this is a great way to get cheap votes) seems to have no problem promising taxpayer cash to non-taxpayers.
I never said, and I never will say, that the republican party is without blame, or perfect, but the democrats have this down to a fine art. Which is strange, from the party who gave us the president of "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

[ Parent ]
ah the jobless crackwhore with 16 kids... (2.00 / 1) (#177)
by humpasaur on Wed May 22, 2002 at 08:06:42 PM EST

How many of those do you know?

I for one am sick of hearing that argument as the reason we should cancel all social welfare spending.

Surely, some of the money this government throws at social problems is being misspent. Agreed. How are we going to fix it? If you cut off that crackwhore mom's welfare, you'll have 16 hungry kids. Instant increase in crime.

And then there is corporate welfare. Talk about individuals getting something for nothing! Corporations are the classic example of what you describe: Getting huge tax refunds on taxes they don't pay. Isn't that a Republican's wet dream?
----

*sigh* Must I explain FURTHER?
[ Parent ]

Solution (none / 0) (#255)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Fri May 24, 2002 at 04:14:58 PM EST

Offer $5,000 dollars to anyone who goes to the local clinic and gets their Fallopian tubes tied or their Vas Deferens cut.

No more 16 kids...

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

Efficacy (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by kerinsky on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:05:51 PM EST

Just because the Democrats didn't get it passed doesn't mean that they don't want it. This would be like saying that Republicans aren't anti-abortion because it's still legal...

Kerinsky

-=-
A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking.
[ Parent ]
Right.... (5.00 / 1) (#112)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 11:56:14 AM EST

They turned into a miserable bunch of socialists back in the 50's...
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
True Election Reform (5.00 / 1) (#113)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 11:56:47 AM EST

Granted, inspite of my impassioned statements that the two party system is an artifact of the American political environment, it DOES suck. Personally, I'm not very happy with my party (registered Republican), but given the alternatives right now I happily settle for them. And I further agree that gerrymandering is not only a bad idea, but it may very well be unconstitutional. I would prefer to see "at large" representation by congressman, rather than microdistricting. I would also like to see approval voting (NOT the flawed Condorcet method - a number of people seem to like to equate these two) combined with a 1% default rule (if 1% of the population of a district or state petition for a candidate to be on the ballot, they get on) for national elections.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 0) (#116)
by karb on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:25:41 PM EST

But the two party system is a direct result of our voting system. Voting directly for the winner of an election results in a two party system, because there is little incentive to vote for a candidate that doesn't stand a chance of winning.

Unfortunately, Every Other Voting System Has Similar Drawbacks. Although having a load of parties like the UK does always seemed cool to me :)

If you don't believe that our democracy works, here are two easy ways you can be heard:

  • Find a group of, say, 5,000 people in your immediate area that agree with you. Start a non-profit that has political views. Make sure that about 90% of you vote. No state politician in her right mind (reps, sens, govs) would not do at least one thing to placate you and win your vote. (assuming you have at least one issue that won't lose them more votes than you're willing to provide). Add an order of magnitude or two, and you can start effecting things on the national level.
  • Or, take about the same amount of people, raise money, and start lobbying directly. Then you can get a politician's attention either by having really good lobbyists (which cost $), or simply by having a lot of members. Many politicians will actually listen to you if you make an appointment. Almost any politicians will at least listen to people who represent a decent sized block of voters.

To boil it all down, the system does work. But don't think just voting is enough. :) Also, because you and your buddy agree on something, don't think that you'll be able to affect major policies (even some of the president's advisors can't do that). :)
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?
[ Parent ]

You're a Special Interest (5.00 / 1) (#167)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 06:23:51 PM EST

Although having a load of parties like the UK does always seemed cool to me :)
Unfortunately, although it "sounds cool" in actual practice having a "load of parties" without one party holding a clear majority leads to gridlock and coalition governments. Looking at the Japanese Diet, or the Israeli Kinesit, it's easy to see why this is a horrendous idea.
If you don't believe that our democracy works, here are two easy ways you can be heard: Find a group of, say, 5,000 people in your immediate area that agree with you. Start a non-profit that has political views.
Be advised: This makes you a "special interest", and immediately the enemy to some people.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
1% of the people should be sufficient! (none / 0) (#156)
by Shren on Wed May 22, 2002 at 04:13:09 PM EST

If 1 in 100 people in a state want someone on the ballot, that's good enough for me. That signifies interest.

[ Parent ]

Outlook Uncertain, Please Try Again (5.00 / 1) (#166)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 06:20:49 PM EST

When your margin of error is 3 out of 100 people, I wouldn't trust 1 out of 100. However, in the case of a petition (not an actual vote), I would accept as little as 1% myself. The point is, however, this guy is placing a great weight on Nader not making the ballot with only 3% of people actually wanting him on there. People talk about wasted votes, and this is wasted space for the other 97%.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
how many people do you really expect... (none / 0) (#193)
by Shren on Thu May 23, 2002 at 07:07:58 AM EST

To support a new, untested canidate, when the canidate has to gather the signatures themselves? Trying to get 3% of the state to sign for a new canidate as a private effort is an incredible effort, especially now that the spoiler effect of additional canidates has been seen. For mere inclusion on the ballot, I think that 1% is sufficient.

I don't get your bit about margins of error at all...

[ Parent ]

Support (none / 0) (#214)
by thelizman on Thu May 23, 2002 at 12:24:32 PM EST

They're not being asked to support the candidate by signing the petition, they are being asked to allow the candidate onto the ballot. Either way, if you can't get a signficant number of people to support someone getting on a ballot, then it's obviously not important to the general electorate. If the candidate were truly effective, there would'nt be a problem. I've personally done petition gathering (a wholly unenjoyable process, especially when you consider the result is nothing more than a inactionable demostration of intent that politicians are free to ignore and even scoff at), and it's not all that difficult to get a shitload of signatures.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Why not always write-in? (4.00 / 1) (#45)
by Pseudoephedrine on Tue May 21, 2002 at 10:05:26 PM EST

Just out of curiosity, why have little boxes you check at all? Why not simply have a blank, and force the person to write in the name of the person they want? If necessary, you could have a little title card hung up in the booth with the names of the registered candidates in that state so that voters can spell the names of the 'mainstream' candidates properly.

Personally, I try and submit a legitimate ballot whenever possible. However, I always vote for myself. That way, I'm still participating in democracy, without legitimising the rulership of politicians I don't agree with.
"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[ Parent ]

it would cost more money to process ballots (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by turmeric on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:21:04 PM EST

that is the classic reason given by anti-write-in folks, they claim it would cost too much to have 100% write-in ballots.

on the other hand, another significant reason is that the democrats and republicans control the ballot access laws and do not want competition.



[ Parent ]

No more than recounts (none / 0) (#77)
by Pseudoephedrine on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:37:24 AM EST

If they want a quick method of checking it, then scanning _printed_ text might be the best way.

What you could do is have a keyboard and a monitor hooked up to a cheap computer and a special printer. You type the candidate's name, it's printed on a ballot, and you hand that it. Then, they run the ballots through a scanner, which reads the text and assigns it appropriately. Technologically, it's no more complex than scantron-type machines, and most counties need to update their equipment anyhow.

"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[ Parent ]

too ambiguous (none / 0) (#173)
by j1mmy on Wed May 22, 2002 at 07:22:07 PM EST

Ballot Checker 1: Does that say 'Goatse' or 'Gore'?
Ballot Checker 2: Must be Gore.
Voter: Damn!


[ Parent ]
Try a little empathy (4.63 / 11) (#26)
by tudlio on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:19:32 PM EST

On the issue of spanish speaking voters needing special assistance, this smacks of incompetance. Voting is not a process which requires a high degree of literacy.

Your post smacks of a contemptuous or at least callous attitude. I'm a native English speaker who has been voting regularly for 15 years, and I still find the process a little intimidating. I can easily imagine how much more so it would be if I didn't speak English and there was no assistance in my language. What identification do I need to provide, and to who? Which of the three people behind the table do I give my ballot to, or do I put it in the box myself? Where do I need to sign? How do I affix my punch card to the machine so my votes line up correctly?

It has also been alleged that black voters were kept away from the polls by police roadblocks erected on roadways leading to the polls from largely black areas. Assuming that the roadblocks were due to road work, and not more sinister reasons (as is being alluded to), are we to assume that the right of someone to vote can be infringed by making them drive a few more miles to the polls?

Let's try to put this into perspective. Less than 50 years ago, there were laws on the books that prevented black men from voting unless they could (for example) name all the Vice Presidents and Supreme Court Justices throughout America's history. The police ensured that those laws (and many more) were obeyed, with violence if necessary. Even today, if you're a young black male you can count on being stopped by the police, searched and interrogated at some point in your life.

Now imagine you're black and on the way to the polls to vote. The road's blocked by police who tell you you can't go that way. Maybe it's just road work, probably it's just road work, but on the other hand, maybe these police officers with their guns and sticks are trying to give you a subtle hint: don't vote.

It's not about the inconvenience of having to take a different road, it's about the intimidation that black people were made to feel.

One last point: it's the Justice Department bringing these law suits against the counties. While I'm sure the Justice Department is unimpeachably non-partisan (sarcasm fully intended) they're also institutionally conservative. Would they be bringing lawsuits in these circumstances if there wasn't an egregiously clear violation?

I'll save you the trouble of answering: no.




insert self-deprecatory humor here
Of Butterfly Ballots and Billy Clubs (4.28 / 7) (#30)
by thelizman on Tue May 21, 2002 at 08:33:14 PM EST

Your post smacks of a contemptuous or at least callous attitude. I'm a native English speaker who has been voting regularly for 15 years, and I still find the process a little intimidating. I can easily imagine how much more so it would be if I didn't speak English and there was no assistance in my language. What identification do I need to provide, and to who? Which of the three people behind the table do I give my ballot to, or do I put it in the box myself? Where do I need to sign? How do I affix my punch card to the machine so my votes line up correctly?
Excuse my callous attitude, but they don't make up a new system each time. I don't expect everyone to sail through it each time, but it certainly isn't rocket science. If the issue is important enough, you should invest in the effort to do it even if you have to bring along another head to figure it out.
Let's try to put this into perspective. Less than 50 years ago, there were laws on the books that prevented black men from voting unless they could
That's not in perspective, it's not even in proportion. We are talking about issues of initiative as opposed to legitimate obstacles. Playing the race card may appeal to the lowest common denominator, but it won't fly with me.
Now imagine you're black and on the way to the polls to vote. The road's blocked by police who tell you you can't go that way. Maybe it's just road work, probably it's just road work, but on the other hand, maybe these police officers with their guns and sticks are trying to give you a subtle hint: don't vote.
This one just boggles the mind. Dr. King and his followers sang "We Shall Overcome", they did'nt sing "Oh Well, Fuck It, This Is Too Damned Hard".
It's not about the inconvenience of having to take a different road, it's about the intimidation that black people were made to feel.
I would laugh in your face if I did'nt think you were actually serious. Intimidation? Club-weilding police with firehoses and dogs didn't manage to intimidate the parents of the same people who make a U-turn because they'd miss "The Simpsons" if they took a detour to the voting booth.
One last point: it's the Justice Department bringing these law suits against the counties. While I'm sure the Justice Department is unimpeachably non-partisan (sarcasm fully intended) they're also institutionally conservative. Would they be bringing lawsuits in these circumstances if there wasn't an egregiously clear violation?

I'll save you the trouble of answering: no.
It's called "playing politics". You'll notice Ashcroft wasn't the one announcing this. By having a minor player float a trial balloon, they can judge initial public support and democratic reaction. The democrats are way on the ropes in Florida right now (as they are with the rest of the country), and their party shares a hefty load of the blame for the fiasco of the 2000 elections. If it's a Republican administration, and the governers brother, that brings about these sweepign investigations just prior to a primary, it'll definately improve the public image of that party with the voters.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
This is beautiful (2.00 / 1) (#42)
by blablablastuff on Tue May 21, 2002 at 09:29:38 PM EST

Dr. King and his followers sang "We Shall Overcome", they didn't sing "Oh Well, Fuck It, This Is Too Damned Hard".

You sir, are an artist.

[ Parent ]

Thank You (none / 0) (#111)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 11:50:02 AM EST

But I must admit, I am not alone. This guy became my hero yesterday with that post.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Apathy (4.00 / 2) (#57)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:48:58 PM EST

This one just boggles the mind. Dr. King and his followers sang "We Shall Overcome", they did'nt sing "Oh Well, Fuck It, This Is Too Damned Hard".

Riiiiight.. because the civil rights movement consisted entirely of everyone joining hands and singing cliches.  Have you heard of all the inner city riots?  What do you think caused them?  Apathy.  There was a message, loud and clear, that black people were not welcome.  What do you think, people just responded by singing songs and protesting peacefully?  You're dead right that a large portion of the population said "Fuck it" in the face of widespread oppression.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Empathy is the key word (4.00 / 3) (#122)
by tudlio on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:58:58 PM EST

Do you think it's fair to make people with black skin work harder than people with white skin to vote?

I'm not taking exception with your argument that people should take their responsibility to vote seriously, and should exert effort to do so. I agree with that point.

What you seemed to be saying in your initial post was that (1) a lawsuit was ridiculous because there was no discrimination; and (2) that even if there was discrimination that's no excuse not to vote.

But the point of the lawsuits is to get the jurisdictions in question to change their behavior, to make it equally easy for all eligible voters to exercise their responsibility. The whole point of the civil rights movement was to remove impediments to equal black participation in civil society, which is (partially) the point of the lawsuits. So what's your problem with them?

I also took exception to what seemed like your cavalier attitude towards the difficulties of others. I admit I'm making an assumption that may well be erroneous: I'm assuming that you are male, white-skinned, and probably in college or employed in a white collar job. If I'm correct, you're awfully quick to judge others without having walked in their shoes.

Thus the title of my comment.




insert self-deprecatory humor here
[ Parent ]
These Aren't The Droids You're Looking For (5.00 / 1) (#165)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 06:17:59 PM EST

Do you think it's fair to make people with black skin work harder than people with white skin to vote?
It's not any more fair than making it any degree easier for blacks to vote than whites. Your statement is predicated upon the false assumption that there was any sort of uniform impediment to black voters in south Florida. If the polling places had signs on them that said "Whites Only", you might have a point.
What you seemed to be saying in your initial post was that (1) a lawsuit was ridiculous because there was no discrimination; and (2) that even if there was discrimination that's no excuse not to vote.
My point in my original post is that voting is an excercise of will, not of convenience, and that those people who don't undertake the initiative to vote responsibly don't really have a right to complain. But, aside from that I can say yes on 1, not necessarily on 2. Lets take a worse case scenario; There were roadblocks on the major roads between the "black" neighborhoods and the polling places, and lets say they were manned by toothless shot-gun toting backwoods rednecks (deliverance style) wearing white sheets (Eric Cartmen style). If I were a black person, I'd at least take an alternate route, even if it added a couple extra miles to my trip. If I were ME and black, I'd ram the effin road block, get out, and take a leak on the klanners, but then I'm just stubborn that way. In any event, if anyone truly and honestly perceived an impediment to their constitutional and legal rights to participate in government, they should've expended that much more effort to do so, not simply give and go home. There are countries in this world (very near to our back door in fact) where people face terrorism when they go to the polls; Where participating in a democracy is a life and death game of chance. Here, they can't be bothered to go through a drunk driving checkpoint.
But the point of the lawsuits is to get the jurisdictions in question to change their behavior, to make it equally easy for all eligible voters to exercise their responsibility. The whole point of the civil rights movement was to remove impediments to equal black participation in civil society, which is (partially) the point of the lawsuits. So what's your problem with them?
Because the intent and actions do not match up: Most such actions have only worked to disenfranchise one set of the population, without actually enfranchising another. Moreover, everyone is working on the assumption that there is validity to the allegations, which as has not been widely reported in the media, there were no such shenanigans
I also took exception to what seemed like your cavalier attitude towards the difficulties of others. I admit I'm making an assumption that may well be erroneous: I'm assuming that you are male, white-skinned, and probably in college or employed in a white collar job. If I'm correct, you're awfully quick to judge others without having walked in their shoes.
You're assumption is mostly correct, but does that say anything about who I am, or your racial/sexual prejudices which are obviously patterned on stereotypes. If you want to know about my background, I am enlisted in the Army, I work at a small computer imaging reseller doing web site work, I have some post-secondary education but not a degree, and I grew up in a mostly black neighborhood in a small city in the rural south. I make just under $25k/yr, which means I know something about being at a disadvantage (something that is supposedly the domain of minorities). But then, I'm not crying about the man keeping me down. You'll have to excuse my lack of empathy, because I am closer to sympathy, and I still have neither because it isn't warranted.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Non participation as a type of social protest (4.80 / 5) (#40)
by strlen on Tue May 21, 2002 at 09:19:00 PM EST

There's also the issue of people being so disgusted with the political systme (and I'd argue that there's plenty of reasons to be), that they simply find it an act of protest to not participate in it. Keep in mind that the Soviet Union, flaunted 99% or so voter turn-out, due to mandatory voting -- and it was far from democratic, as the elections meant very little to the highly corrupt and tyrranic system in place. The only way to protest that system, actually was by non-voting, even though that would quickly get you labeled a dissident.



--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
Social Protest and Pyrhic Victories (5.00 / 1) (#131)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 01:24:21 PM EST

If you want to abstain as a "social protest", just keep in mind that your "social protest" doesn't mean shit in terms of the vote count.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Vote count vs. Real result (5.00 / 1) (#157)
by strlen on Wed May 22, 2002 at 04:47:20 PM EST

What if the person who's obstaining is not satisfied with neither of the candidates. That form of protest, however, may attract a deal of public attention, and force candidate to actively address the issues, that none of the candidates have addressed before, leading to an improvement in the system.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
The Reasons Are In Front Of Your Face (5.00 / 1) (#159)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 05:25:53 PM EST

With nearly half of the eligable electorate abstaining now, how much do you see any of the politicians doing to enfranchise new voters? The turnouts get lower and lower! Get realistic sometime soon, will you! But if you don't like either candidate, go ahead and abstain. That makes my vote that much more powerful, because it doesn't have to counter your vote (assuming we're not for the same candidate).
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Let it go (1.28 / 14) (#48)
by theElectron on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:19:50 PM EST

For the love of God, won't you whiny leftists ever stop this never-ending circle-jerk you call "voting reform." Algore lost--get over it, already.

--
Join the NRA!
because we believe in democracy? (3.00 / 1) (#51)
by turmeric on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:22:23 PM EST

this fight has been going on long before al-gore was a gleam in his parents' eyes.

it is not about whining, it is about standing up for all those 'stupid principles' we got taught in school as youngsters.

[ Parent ]

Don't feed the troll, please :) (1.00 / 1) (#100)
by Torako on Wed May 22, 2002 at 10:18:21 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Moronic (none / 0) (#99)
by gbd on Wed May 22, 2002 at 10:05:14 AM EST

Leftists?  What in the world are you talking about?

These actions are being taken by the Justice Department, genius. That's right -- the Bush administration's Justice Department.

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]

Election Reform Is Obviously Necessary (5.00 / 1) (#130)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 01:22:24 PM EST

As a right-wing conservative Republican who hated Algore more deeply then my Jedi training allows, I firmly believe that Al Gore's loss is precisely why we need voting reform. Not that I would like to see him win, because he did have the popular vote, but the whole fiasco placed a considerable stain on my man Bush and his presidency. Elimination of the electoral college, the use of approval voting, and standardization of ballots and vote tallying methods among the states can make elections alot cleaner and more efficient. More importantly, we need to encourage the other half of the country to get off their ass.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Well fan my brow (4.00 / 1) (#134)
by theElectron on Wed May 22, 2002 at 01:31:51 PM EST

Ok, so you're a Jim-Jeffords-Republican, what's your point? The fact that you're actually in favor of eliminating the electoral college betrays a very substantial ignorance on your part about the necessity and logic behind that institution. As for the other half of the country getting off their asses--what the hell is it to you? The fewer people who vote, the more my vote counts.

--
Join the NRA!
[ Parent ]
Fuck You Bitch (4.00 / 1) (#140)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:09:26 PM EST

Sorry, but the Jim Jeffords Republican smite got my goat.

As to the electoral college, I know perfectly well why it's there, and it no longer makes sense for this country. We are no longer a nation of gentleman farmers, nor are we so limited that it practically expedites the tallying process. The electoral college, historically, was a half assed compromise designed to insulate the people from their states choices in electing the president. Call it a buffer against mob rule, it is outmoded and no longer serves any practical purpose. It is especially dangerous because a) it diminishes the electorates confidence in the system, and b) it really don't change anything about the outcome: nobody has ever lost a significant majority in the popular vote and still won the electoral vote. I think the ignorance-ball is in you court now, biatch.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Tooshay (4.00 / 1) (#180)
by theElectron on Wed May 22, 2002 at 09:53:07 PM EST

The electoral college existed, in part, as a way to combat the tyranny of the majority. We may no longer be a nation of gentelmen farmers, but that doesn't mean we should completely discount the views of those who aren't in your image of "modern America" (i.e. big city, etc.). Now, this case has been made before and I'll make it again: without the balances of the electoral college, what keeps candidates from completely ignoring the concerns of rural America and focusing solely on the needs of high-population centers? It's the same old debate over the pros & cons of Democracy vs. Republic, and the electoral college does a darn fine job of reconciling them. And if you really believe that it "really don't change anything about the outcome," perhaps you were off-planet during the most recent Presidential election.

--
Join the NRA!
[ Parent ]
Taken out of context (none / 0) (#215)
by thelizman on Thu May 23, 2002 at 12:28:54 PM EST

And if you really believe that it "really don't change anything about the outcome," perhaps you were off-planet during the most recent Presidential election.
Given that my statement continues to say that 'no candidate has ever lost a significant part of the popular vote and still won the electoral vote', you'll notice that the margin of victory for Gore in the popular vote was far and well within the margin of error fore tallying votes.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
The philosophy of modern democracy (4.40 / 5) (#50)
by jesterzog on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:22:15 PM EST

If democracy has a failing, it is that it places too much faith in the common people to participate in it. It should be expected that people would brave some degree of inconvenience in order to participate in government,

I don't live in the USA, so take it in that context. I do live in a democracy however, although New Zealand has a different system.

In any case I was eligible to vote for the first time in the election about three years ago. I looked at the system and the options, and it seemed silly to me. Democracy (at least that's what it's called) in the developed world is an exercise in sociological manipulation of large groups of people. Getting somebody right for the job can only be complete luck when the means to choose them are based on an ability to speak well and ridecule any opposition in the eyes of the general public. That's what the system encourages, and so that defines the sort of leaders who usually get elected.

At least from the way the local media portraits it, the USA seems to implement modern democracy better than anywhere else in the world. I'm only seeing it from the outside, though. Here it's not quite that bad because there are certain constraints that help to dampen the campaigning. It's not exactly good though, either. All of the stupidity elements are still there, only a little less noisy. As far as I'm concerned, whatever happened in the US before and after the Federal Election is just another minor part in an ongoing farce of international western democracies.

I decided several years ago that I don't want to support a system that claims to be the best way for choosing responsible people when it's based on a popularity contest. Perhaps this is what democracy is supposed to be as many see it, and it might be okay for most people, but I don't want to help it along.

I don't not vote, though. Last election I protested by voting for the minor party with the crazy manifesto. (Making straight roads curved, requiring 1/3 of the population to be homosexual, and so on. It's a great read.) From doing this I was able to look in the paper the next day, and I'd accounted for an entire third of the votes for that party in my electorate.. which really made me stand out. :)

Unfortunately though after 15 years of existence, that party recently dissolved in a whallop of egg throwing where the leader walked around town wearing a sign stating he was a liar... so I don't have anyone to vote for later this year.

What I'll probably do instead is to spoil my voting paper, because here at least they count the spoiled ones. I'm not voting, but I'm also actively and objectively not voting for anyone. Since it represents exactly what I think, I see it as being much more responsible than voting for someone.


jesterzog Fight the light


Snap (none / 0) (#58)
by Tatarigami on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:49:59 PM EST

I voted for the same party. I think I'd look good in a kilt.

:o)

Let's see; Labour (the left) are fiscally irresponsible. National (the right) are socially irresponsible. NZFirst (centre) are xenophobic, egotistical compulsive liars. Everyone else is way out on the fringe, so what choice does that leave us?

Maybe this year I'll vote Natural Law. If they can get enough yogic flyers in the air, I might not need an umbrella anymore...

[ Parent ]
That's the gist of it (none / 0) (#92)
by jesterzog on Wed May 22, 2002 at 08:11:30 AM EST

Yep, that's true about the options. It's not entirely the policies that annoy me.. even though they're very much a result of the system. Mostly it's just the system in general. It encourages candidates and parties to campaign using methods that are specifically designed to socially engineer large groups of people, most of whom wouldn't be qualified to hire someone to actually do the job in question.

I'm not suggesting that everything should be shut down so most people can't take part. I don't really have any feasible alternatives and maybe there aren't any. What I do think though is that the current system is silly, and that's why I'll be spoiling my voting paper if there's no reasonable alternative by the election. (I thought about Natural Law, but I don't agree with a lot of their policies. :)


jesterzog Fight the light


[ Parent ]
Man, if only speaking well was what mattered. (5.00 / 1) (#89)
by goatse on Wed May 22, 2002 at 06:05:50 AM EST

Instead, we have the "who gets the most oil money to run commercials system."  Speaking well would be an infinitly better qualification.


[ Parent ]
Write in votes (none / 0) (#93)
by akma on Wed May 22, 2002 at 08:12:49 AM EST

I tend to vote for "people" like Mickey Mouse, Batman, etc.. when I simply don't find any candidate running for something acceptable. I just confuse the hell out of the people running the local polling station for a few minutes usually (sometimes they don't know what a write in vote is. :-/ )by telling them I want to do a write in vote which allows me to vote for anyone. Even cartoon characters.

__
Those in the world shouting "Yankee go home" should bear in mind that the people of the South have been saying the same thing for over 100 years now, but the damned bastards won't leave.
[ Parent ]
re: Write in votes (none / 0) (#172)
by jesterzog on Wed May 22, 2002 at 07:10:52 PM EST

I wish they allowed that here, but at least they count the spoiled ones. Is there a justifying reason for allowing write-in votes?

Is it supposed to be for candidates who registered too late to get on the voting register, or is it just to let people officially protest against the candidates?


jesterzog Fight the light


[ Parent ]
do not vote for someone! vote for something... (none / 0) (#192)
by johwsun on Thu May 23, 2002 at 06:02:55 AM EST

I'm not voting, but I'm also actively and objectively not voting for anyone. Since it represents exactly what I think, I see it as being much more responsible than voting for someone.

..you got to fight for your rights to vote for something.

Because the Real meaning of Democracy( as defined in ancien athens and as can still be found as a second meaning of the word democratic in your dictionary) is voting for decisions and ideas, not for persons. Of course vote for soemone is still the easy solution, if you are bored go voting, but you should always keep the right to tune the votes the representative cast on you behalf. Otherwise, if you give full power at your representative and you dont keep the tuning right, you are just what we called slave in acien athens, and your vote is stolen by you. Because slave==sklavos it is just the person that has not the right to vote.

Actually today we are time-limited slaves (4 years slaves and one second free persons), and our system is just a time-limited oligarchy or monarchy, not a Democracy.

[ Parent ]

And you called me a bigot (4.60 / 5) (#55)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue May 21, 2002 at 11:37:30 PM EST

I'm sorry.. I had to say that! :)

The United States has no official language.  A community where a significant percentage of the population speaks only Spanish has a duty to assist voters in their native tongue.

At what point does it become voter discrimination?  It's interesting that you bring up literacy, because southern blacks were effectively prevented from voting because of 'literacy' requirements, until the 1960s.  Impossibly hard literacy tests were administered to black people, while whites were free to vote.

Let the ranting begin.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.

States determine official language (4.00 / 1) (#83)
by blablablastuff on Wed May 22, 2002 at 04:02:42 AM EST

And florida's constitution clearly states that the official language is English. There's a number of other states with similar laws. All elections are done on the state level, according to the laws of the respective states. There is no such thing as a federal election. When voting for president, you are voting to determine how your specific state's electoral votes will fall. Even should there ever be another Constitutional Amendment proposed, when that goes to be voted on you would be voting to determine if your specific state ratifies that amendment.
If the legislature of a specific state passes a law that ballots are to be Pla-Do voodoo dolls of the candidates, and you stick pins in all the guys you don't want to vote for, I guess thats their right. Just as long as they make sure everyone gets enough pins.

[ Parent ]
Its never been a problem before. (none / 0) (#88)
by goatse on Wed May 22, 2002 at 06:02:46 AM EST

America sees lots of imigrents and there are "significant minorities" who only speak a variety of langauges.  Spanish is jsut the largest.  Still, you should draw the line based on criteria besides, lets reward the largest minority.

We have seen massive waves of non-english speaking immigrents before in the states.  Immigrent cultures usually switch to english as uickly as possible.  The children of immigrents will generally speak flawless english and the native langague.  The parents generally take a little longer to learn.

Shure, you are right that "reasonable effort" should be made to accomodate non-english speakers, but lightly funded local ellection crew can not reasonably be expected to accomodate everyone.  I'd suggest one of the following two criteria:

a) If the ellection commity is able to find suitable voluntears who speaks the langauge (or higher someone for not more then 10% what it pays everyone else).

b) If there are more speakers of the langauge then there are deaf people (by law you gota accomodate deaf people nayway).  Actually, its not even as importent to accomodate non-english speakers as it is to accomodate deaf people, as deaf people have *no* choice in the matter.

Either of these criteria would result in many more lagnague being included.

Regardless, this is not a problem that will last very long.  All immigration waves die out eventually.


[ Parent ]

There is an official language, Youre Still a Bigot (4.50 / 2) (#127)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 01:16:30 PM EST

j/k on the bigot issue (dead horse). BUT, we do have an official language, just not one established by law. The de facto language is American English. Societies around the world recognize the imporatance of learning the lingua franca of a particlar society or trade, but only here in America do we quibble over the rights of the majority in a democracy being subordinate to the wishes of the minority.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Gee. (none / 0) (#189)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu May 23, 2002 at 03:18:58 AM EST

BUT, we do have an official language, just not one established by law.

I think this statement is ridiculous enough to exempt me from mocking it.

--em
[ Parent ]

Mockery Is What You're All About (none / 0) (#219)
by thelizman on Thu May 23, 2002 at 12:52:06 PM EST

I think it'd be more accurate to say that you disagree with the statement, but you are unable to justify why because there is nothing wrong with it. Kindly step off the platform, this train is leaving and you don't have a ticket.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Nah. (none / 0) (#235)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu May 23, 2002 at 05:01:19 PM EST

I think it'd be more accurate to say that you disagree with the statement, but you are unable to justify why because there is nothing wrong with it.

Well, you glaringly contradict yourself by saying there is such a thing as an official language not established by law. The only way you can claim otherwise is by using an idiosyncratic definition of "official language"; in that case you wouldn't be self-contradictory, but merely intellectually dishonest.

--em
[ Parent ]

Simple Concept (none / 0) (#237)
by thelizman on Thu May 23, 2002 at 05:05:04 PM EST

The "Federal" government is not the only body which has the authority to declare an official language. There are 50 states with sovereign powers. You overlook this simple fact, and that is why you are confused.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
You evidently don't value consistency. (none / 0) (#245)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri May 24, 2002 at 01:15:48 AM EST

Nor intellectual honesty, if I may add.

The "Federal" government is not the only body which has the authority to declare an official language. There are 50 states with sovereign powers.

None of the 50 states has the power to declare an official language for the US.

I should also point out that you started this "discussion" by countering a claim that the United States, i.e. the federation referred to in the US constitution and ruled by the principles laid down in that document, has no official language. And, your counter was that there is an official language for said federation, but "just not one established by law". If you now change your tune towards state jurisdictions with official language laws, you will be contradicting your earlier statements on both points.

--em
[ Parent ]

You Evidently Don't Value Context (none / 0) (#257)
by thelizman on Fri May 24, 2002 at 05:27:14 PM EST

None of the 50 states has the power to declare an official language for the US.
Nobody ever said they did. But they have the power to declare an official language within their individual state borders. Each state is a politically separate entity.
I should also point out that you started this "discussion" by countering a claim that the United States, i.e. the federation referred to in the US constitution and ruled by the principles laid down in that document, has no official language. And, your counter was that there is an official language for said federation, but "just not one established by law". If you now change your tune towards state jurisdictions with official language laws, you will be contradicting your earlier statements on both points.
If you take it out of context, which you seem want to do, it would seem so. However, taken in the present argument there is nothing wrong with pointing out that Florida, which is the location of the disputed ballot in question, does have an official language. Don't question my "consistancy" or "honesty" based on your inability to follow the discussion and your ignorance of the American political system.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Yeah, right. (none / 0) (#262)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri May 24, 2002 at 10:46:37 PM EST

If you take it out of context, which you seem want to do, it would seem so. However, taken in the present argument there is nothing wrong with pointing out that Florida, which is the location of the disputed ballot in question, does have an official language.

If if you had been talking about Florida when you stated "we do have an official language, just not one established by law", then you'd have been plain wrong, because Florida *does* have an official language law.

This is simple. Here is the context: you said that (a) the US has an official language, and that (b) something can be the official language of a jurisdiction without being legally established as such (just being the dominant or "de facto" language doesn't make a language official, contrary to what you state). When called to task for this, given that point (a) is false, and point (b) contradicts the definition of "official language", you mention that the individual states can pass official language laws in their own jurisdiction. Which does nothing to answer point (a), and presupposes precisely the obvious criticism I made of (b), that the official language(s) of a jurisdiction must be established by law. Thus your present answer, at best, is irrelevant to the points I raised; in which case you wouldn't be contradictory or dishonest, but merely incoherent.

So just admit it. Contrary to what you plainly said, the US does not have an official language at all. No amount of diverting the topic to whether some state or another has an official language is going to change that.

--em
[ Parent ]

Make Up My Mind (none / 0) (#263)
by thelizman on Sat May 25, 2002 at 02:42:43 AM EST

If you had been talking about Florida when you stated "we do have an official language, just not one established by law", then you'd have been plain wrong, because Florida *does* have an official language law.
Could you please make up my mind. You attack me for a statement made in one context, but then attack me for a statement made in an entirely different context which when devoid of context contradicts the first. If you were me, I'd be totally confused as to what you/I/me/we said.

Or perhaps you need a definition for context? In the first instance, I was discussing the national scope. In that respect, we don't have a de jure official language, we have a de facto official language. However, later the conversation devolved to a situation specific to Florida - as a State - where English is the official language de jure. Again, if you don't understand something, you can certainly ask for clarification, but don't imply that my statements are incoherent simply because you refuse to take them at face value.

And think carefully about the term "official language". It is not established that the Federal Government is the only body capable of determining a languages officiality. In fact, the Federal Government has done quite a good job of being laissez faire about declaring English as official, which rather implies that it is not within the scope of the Federal Government's powers to do so.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Ballot Confusion (4.50 / 2) (#61)
by DarkZero on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:00:33 AM EST

To the average person, voting isn't all that difficult. Unfortunately, however, there will always be the odd person who isn't intelligent enough to figure out a ballot machine (in the case of the 2000 elections, every odd person was clustered into Palm Beach County).

Try taking a look at some of the different voting processes around the country. Maybe yours is a sane, easy system, but it isn't where I live, and it isn't in Palm Beach County, either. Granted, the butterfly ballot is only mildly confusing. It has the names coming horizontally out of the buttons in different directions and in different colors for no apparent reason, but the name for the person you're voting for is still attached to a single button with no other name attached to it.

Where I live, however, it is a great deal less sane. In many elections in parts of New Jersey, people have been faced with a ballot that asks them to pull small levers. You pull one lever for the person you're voting for and another lever for the person you're not voting for for a given seat. One lever is a check, one lever is an X, and they do not tell you which is positive and which is negative. For anyone that has ever seen the responses people use when taking a test made up of True/False questions via check boxes, the problem becomes obvious. When taking a True/False test, roughly half of the respondents will respond with a check for their answer and a blank box for the opposite answer, and the other half will respond with an X for their answer and a blank box for the opposite answer. So essentially, the ballot is not only asking people to cast their vote as, "YES, I will vote for Mr. Democrat/YES, I will not vote for Mr. Republican", but you're also not telling them which box is "Yes, I will vote for" and which is "Yes, I will not vote for".

This, I suspect, is the reason why there are many, many questions asked by voters at the voting booths in the towns near me. I have no idea how they even manage to handle the voting process in one day in the less educated areas of the United States that use similar systems.

How incredibly confusing. (none / 0) (#91)
by gcmillwood on Wed May 22, 2002 at 07:40:35 AM EST

In the UK we make do with a bit of paper and a pencil.  All I have to do it put an 'X' in one (and only one) box on the bit of paper, then put the bit of paper in the ballot box.  Electoral law states that as long as I make my intentions clear then the vote is valid, so if I got really confused, and put a tick in one box and a cross in all the others this will still get counted correctly.

The results are counted by hand the night after I vote, and when I wake up in the morning the results are known.  (There is always a race to see which electoral constituency can declare their result first).

Now I realise that the US is a slightly larger country than the UK, but why would a similar system not work there too?  In urban areas you should be able to walk to the polling station.  If you live hundreds of miles from anywhere then you could get a postal vote.

Ralph Nader not being bale to get listed on the ballot in his state seems ridiculous to me.  We have many names on our ballot papers, not just the three main parties.  To stand for election you need to pay a (significant, but affordable) deposit to the government.  As long as you get anough votes, you get your deposit back.  This discourages most frivolous or silly candidates, but allows people who want to get their names on the ballot to do so.  The only real problem with this is that you can have a 'Labour Party' candidate, an 'Official Labour Party' candidate, an 'Independant Labour' candidate and several other variations along the same theme listed.  Even so this doesn't happen too often, and without really trying it is easy to find what the name of the cadidate you really want to vote for is.

[ Parent ]

For fuck's sake. (4.00 / 2) (#72)
by kitten on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:47:52 AM EST

This really isn't a difficult situation. It has an easy and inexpensive solution, and either our politicians haven't thought of it, or they have and are just ignoring it so they have something else to squabble about.

In my high school - and virtually every school across the nation - inexpensive and reliable machines called "Scan Tron" (probably the brand name) were used for multiple choice questions. You bubble in A, B, C, or D, and the machine records that.

I believe a similar system is what they term the 'optical' voting method, but even that is unnecessarily complicated.

Give every district a couple of these machines, let the people fill in A, B, C or whatever, and be done with it. Everything is homogenous - no differences between districts in voting methods and ballot styles and all this other nonsense which should have disappeared so long ago.

And if the machine makes a mistake, it's easy enough to tell what the person meant to fill in. If there's a pencil mark on A and the machine overlooked it, you can be fairly certain they meant to vote for candidate A. No more hanging pregnant swinging chads or any of this other crap.

No more worries about what language the voter speaks. It's pretty simple:

A: Bush
B: Gore
C: Browne
D: Buchanan
E: Nader

Simple. Written instructions aren't even necessary for that. If you can't figure that out, you're probably in a coma and it doesn't matter anyway.

This is the 21st century, ladies and gentlemen. This is the information age. Let's start acting like it.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
Need more bubbles. (none / 0) (#79)
by NFW on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:51:16 AM EST

I voted for Hagelin, for example. But I think we already did a piece on voting systems...


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

Cheapshot: Scantrons in South Florida (none / 0) (#126)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 01:13:21 PM EST

A south florida voter coloring in the lines? (something I feel requires far more skill than stabbing a hole in a piece of paper and plucking a chad).
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
actually ... (none / 0) (#170)
by j1mmy on Wed May 22, 2002 at 06:59:20 PM EST

I believe a similar system is what they term the 'optical' voting method, but even that is unnecessarily complicated.

Optical ballots are essentially scantrons. I had an absentee ballot in the 2000 election that was a quick-and-easy fill-in-the-bubble deal.

[ Parent ]

What about the black woman? (none / 0) (#266)
by SteveA on Sat May 25, 2002 at 07:38:50 PM EST

>
> No more worries about what language the voter
> speaks. It's pretty simple:
>
> A: Bush
> B: Gore
> C: Browne
> D: Buchanan
> E: Nader

I wanted to vote for the black female candidate, but none of the above come close.

Democracy? Pah...

[ Parent ]

How about a poll tax? (2.80 / 5) (#84)
by Demiurge on Wed May 22, 2002 at 04:14:34 AM EST

Or a literacy test?

Maybe you should have to serve in the military for a short time before becoming a full fledged, voting citizen?

The problem with any such qualifications is that their primary use in the past has been to keep undesireable minorities from voting, not to make sure that every voter was intelligent and well informed.

Read it again (5.00 / 1) (#125)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 01:09:52 PM EST

We are (at least trying to) talking about the difference between legitimate obstacles (like the illegal poll taxes and literacy tests) and obstacles placed upon themselves by votes who don't want to exert at least the degree of effort required to order a McDonalds happy meal.

On another note, I just realized something: How many south florida voters can't order a McDonalds value meal because it's too confusing?
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
voting rights after army, for women too (none / 0) (#224)
by Quietti on Thu May 23, 2002 at 02:43:03 PM EST

Maybe you should have to serve in the military for a short time before becoming a full fledged, voting citizen?

Before that, you would have to make military service mandatory for women too, which most countries refuse to do. So much for the equality of sexes...



--
The whole point of civilization is to reduce how much the average person has to think. - Stef Murky
[ Parent ]
Add pictures to the ballot (3.00 / 3) (#85)
by 8ctavIan on Wed May 22, 2002 at 04:45:08 AM EST

If you add pictures of the candidates to the ballot then our elections will have finally become identical to South American elections, which is what the Bushies pretty much want.


Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice. -- H.L. Mencken

What The Bushies Want? (none / 0) (#144)
by titivillus on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:40:07 PM EST

The Bushies want to have a black socialist as president?

[ Parent ]
Maybe you're thinking (none / 0) (#163)
by davidduncanscott on Wed May 22, 2002 at 05:40:55 PM EST

of South Africa? Just go east from South America until you're dry again.

[ Parent ]
Doh! (none / 0) (#234)
by titivillus on Thu May 23, 2002 at 04:57:46 PM EST

Yes. I saw it as South Africa. Argh. I hate it when I'm stupid.

[ Parent ]
spread is important. (4.66 / 6) (#90)
by Surial on Wed May 22, 2002 at 06:24:50 AM EST

I live in The Netherlands. I can vote on 15 different 'lists' (parties), and I can vote for any person on a list (typically around 30 to 50 per list).

There's no mandatory voting, but turnout is generally fairly high. Last elections (may 15th), turnout was exceptional, but this was expected; a largely one-man show (Pim Fortuyn) was already increasing interest for the political scene until he got murdered just before the election.

However, that spread is why I vote. I can generally sift through each party's stance on various things and pick the party which appears to think like me.

Take the USA. There's effectively a spread of 2. You pick republican or democrat. If you add the wildcards (Nader and that libertarian), a tentative 4, maybe.

They all promise less taxes, though only the libertarian can be believed for that particular issue, for obvious reasons. There's no democracy here; not in the voting process.

There's barely any democracy in the dutch system either. Even 15 parties isn't very much. Voting occurs every 4 years. That means you can vote on issues by picking the 'right' party for all those issues that come up around election days, but for the remaining 3 and a half years, you have to trust your party to do what you want them to do.

What's commonly called 'Democracy' actually means nearly everyone with some skill and a drive can become a politician. Not that 'the people vote what happends to the country'.

Hence, forcing people to vote is a good idea in principle, especially to prepare them for 'direct voting' (On issues, not parties), but as a single measure, without changes to the democratic system, I'd be thoroughly against it, eventhough I always vote.

Making voting easier is paramount too. Can't force the public to vote something like 10 times a year (on issues) while voting is difficult. Research in internet systems combined with postal delivery (example: Deliver a card with 'authentication codes' by snailmail. One code per party. Can't be hacked easily) is required.

I'm not sure suing voting stations over making things difficult accomplishes anything. So far as I can see, much USians are happy with their system. Suing a few folks left and right won't bring about any kind of change, in that case.
--
"is a signature" is a signature.

You Don't Know What You're Talking About (5.00 / 1) (#124)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 01:06:15 PM EST

Take the USA. There's effectively a spread of 2. You pick republican or democrat. If you add the wildcards (Nader and that libertarian), a tentative 4, maybe.
4 is about the least number of candidates I have ever seen on a ballot for a national election in any of the 3 states I have lived in. Let's take the disputed florida ballot for instance. There are 10 tickets to choose on that ballot. And people on this forum like to complain that there are only two parties to choose from (but then admit they don't vote because of that).
They all promise less taxes, though only the libertarian can be believed for that particular issue, for obvious reasons. There's no democracy here; not in the voting process.
This is so very wrong. What makes you think that a libertarian can be trusted simply because he/she is a libertarian? ALL POLITICIANS ARE LIARS! Not all politicians start out to be, but it is the game of politics that you can't always do what you want, especially in a democracy.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Responses. (none / 0) (#160)
by Surial on Wed May 22, 2002 at 05:29:27 PM EST

4 is about the least number of candidates I have ever seen on a ballot for a national election in any of the 3 states I have lived in.

Right. As I said, 15 isn't enough, so 10 won't cut it either. I wonder how many other non-USians realized there are that many parties to choose from.

This is so very wrong. What makes you think that a libertarian can be trusted simply because he/ she is a libertarian?

Apparently 'obvious reasons' aren't obvious enough. A libertarian promising to cut taxes actually follows logically from what a libertian wants to do (reduce government). That doesn't say anything about lies; reducing taxes isn't the only thing everybody says.
--
"is a signature" is a signature.

[ Parent ]

Class, Let's All Try To Stay Together.. (5.00 / 1) (#168)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 06:51:40 PM EST

4 is about the least number of candidates I have ever seen on a ballot for a national election in any of the 3 states I have lived in.

Right. As I said, 15 isn't enough, so 10 won't cut it either. I wonder how many other non-USians realized there are that many parties to choose from.
There is a fundamental flaw in your thinking: What is good for non-USians is not necessarily good for USians. Our political spectrum is far to compressed for any more than a small number of parties in a national election. It is precisely why this country has alwasy been dominated by two parties. I would explain beyond this, but it'd spoil my upcoming article on why this is. Coming to a K5 near you in June.
Apparently 'obvious reasons' aren't obvious enough. A libertarian promising to cut taxes actually follows logically from what a libertian wants to do (reduce government).
Apparently, logic isn't logical enough. Libertarian philosophy is nothing more than a subset of conservatism. By your 'obvious reasons', a Republican should have equal trust since they actually do cut taxes; A demonstrable record exists.

Your statement to that effect is bullshit precisely because it fails to justify why a class of politician is to be trusted simply based on their class. It's the same kind of thinking that goes behind racism, sexism, and all the other "isms", so "partisanism" should have the same level of rejection as they do.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
A few things (3.00 / 3) (#94)
by karb on Wed May 22, 2002 at 08:25:04 AM EST

First, don't assert a bunch of things that are, in themselves, questionable, and then say "but the _real_ question is this other thing." Because when people disagree with you it becomes to easy to say "but that's not what the discussion is about."

As for one of your assumptions, I really resent the idea of the florida voters being stupid. Why? Even though I'm a republican, and Bush probably would have lost the election if the ballots has been properly designed, the voters weren't stupid.

The ballots were just very poorly designed. This is a user interface point, and a political point.

The ballots were designed by a democrat. So, somehow, magically, all the problems in the florida voting caused by republicans were deliberate, racist, and part of a conspiracy to keep the people from being heard. However, when a democrat did the same kind of thing, the voters are stupid.

It's kind of like when a guy was shot last year at a halloween party in LA because he pointed a gun at a cop. There was, initially, indignation and charges of racism ... until it turned out that the cop that shot him was himself african-american. Why would it have been any less of an accident if a white police officer had shot him?

People need to be more respectful towards hanlon's razor, I believe. Of course, kuro5hin is filled with people who believe roosevelt's pre-knowledge of pearl harbor is irrefutable truth, so, whatever.
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?

Tweedlee and TweedleStupid (3.50 / 2) (#123)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 01:05:25 PM EST

As for one of your assumptions, I really resent the idea of the florida voters being stupid.
"Stupid"? Let's see....

stu·pid (stpd, sty-)
adj. stu·pid·er, stu·pid·est
  1. Slow to learn or understand; obtuse.
  2. Tending to make poor decisions or careless mistakes.
  3. Marked by a lack of intelligence or care; foolish or careless: a stupid mistake.
  4. Dazed, stunned, or stupefied.
  5. Pointless; worthless: a stupid job.
I certainly don't think this applies to 100% of the voters in Palm Beach or any of the other contested counties, but the people who shamelessly shreiked that they were confused by this ballot fit a number of the definitions provided for "stupid". So resent on brother, but in a language where words have meaning, there are some damned stupid people down there on a number of levels.
The ballots were just very poorly designed. This is a user interface point, and a political point.
Not at all a valid point in either case. Any fool should be able to look at that ballot and given the commen knowledge that you only choose one candidate, make a selection. In terms of user interface, this ballot (which was designed by a republican and approved by a democrat, and published to the public far in advance of the election) is rather obvious as to it's function. This brings me back to my point. The voter has a degree of responsibility incumbent upon them to excercise some level of concentration and effort in this process. Any way you design a ballot you'll have a minority of stupid people who just won't get it, and that is their problem not that of society in general.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Nonsense (none / 0) (#142)
by shrike7 on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:27:36 PM EST

It's a badly designed ballot. It looks like a book, and the natural inclination when reading a book is to see those items on the left coming before those on the right (unless you're used to reading Arabic). So if you'd decided to vote for Gore before entering the voting booth, it's very easy to see how you might well punch the second hole, before realizing that you'd voted for Buchanan, panic, punch the third hole, realize you'd screwed up, and then feel too ashamed to ask for another ballot. And why would you feel ashamed? Because elitists are only too happy to make fun of people who make mistakes. The elitism in this article is sickening: 'Voting is a privilege, so it doesn't matter how hard it is to exercise that privilege. If people need help, tough.' Democracy is only legitimate if the will of the people is accurately reflected and sometimes people need help to get their message out. If you had to go several miles out of your way to perform an optional duty, you might well decide not to vote. That's the least important reason the roadblocks were disturbing.
CXVI
[ Parent ]
Too Bad, So Sad (5.00 / 1) (#147)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:58:37 PM EST

and then feel too ashamed to ask for another ballot
I'd have a hard time believing that these people felt too ashamed to ask for another ballot over a simple mistake, but were more than happy to get on national television and advertise this fact. Try again.
Because elitists are only too happy to make fun of people who make mistakes. The elitism in this article is sickening: 'Voting is a privilege, so it doesn't matter how hard it is to exercise that privilege. If people need help, tough.' Democracy is only legitimate if the will of the people is accurately reflected and sometimes people need help to get their message out.
And it is precisly the job of the PEOPLE to demonstrate their will. This is the same elitist attitude you railed against in the above statement - that the people are so ignorant and incapable that they need someone to speak for them. That's the opinion of Marxism, not of democracy. Your arrogant ignorance is more sickening than anything in my article.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Hang on a second (none / 0) (#148)
by shrike7 on Wed May 22, 2002 at 03:09:34 PM EST

Don't twist my words. I said people needed help. You interpret that to mean 'people need people to speak for them.' What I meant was that people might-and sometimes do-need help to understand a ballot, what their rights are, etc. When you consider that your original example was Spanish-speaking immigrants, this doesn't seem unreasonable. And did everyone who screwed up that execrable ballot 'go on national TV?' Somehow I doubt it. I'm not suggesting the votes should have gone to Gore-they should have had the courage to ask for a fresh ballot. But the ballot itself was screwed up to begin with. Finally, if you make it unnecessarily hard for the people to illustrate their will, you wind up with a broken system. Hence, making it onerous to vote-see, roadblocks in heavily black precincts, Florida 2000 election-is a perversion of democracy. The elitism I was talking about is your apparent attitude that the authorities can do no wrong, an attitude well summed up by the title to your last comment. What, it's 'too bad' that the authorities in Florida unjustly disenfranchised hundreds of black voters before the election? It's 'too sad' that spanish-speaking immigrants can't get help to understand their ballot in a new country? I'm glad that you vote, and that you find it easy. What on earth is wrong with making it easy for everyone?
CXVI
[ Parent ]
Let's Make It Easier To Corrupt The Process Then (5.00 / 1) (#158)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 05:25:50 PM EST

Don't twist my words. I said people needed help. You interpret that to mean 'people need people to speak for them.' What I meant was that people might-and sometimes do-need help to understand a ballot, what their rights are, etc.
You said what you meant, and just because you don't want to be connected with Marxist philosophies doesn't mean you're not expousing one of their core tenants. The sanctity of the democratic process demands that at no level is there any undue influence in the free excercise of the voters's will by any other individual.
When you consider that your original example was Spanish-speaking immigrants, this doesn't seem unreasonable.
Okay, so will you let me with all my partisan influence go into the booth with your non-english-learning voter and explain to them the ballot? I sure as hell don't want you to have that level of influence on my non-english electorate.
And did everyone who screwed up that execrable ballot 'go on national TV?' Somehow I doubt it.
No, just the exceptionally stupid and photogenically pathetic ones that made for good 6-o'clock sound blurbs.
But the ballot itself was screwed up to begin with.
There was nothing wrong with that ballot whatsoever. I put my four year old neice in front of it and she easily selected Nader (apparently, I've still got alot to teach her).
Finally, if you make it unnecessarily hard for the people to illustrate their will, you wind up with a broken system.
There's a difference between "unnecessarily hard" and just plain apathetic voters who don't even put forth the level of effort used in selecting a McValue meal when it comes to participating in government.
Hence, making it onerous to vote-see, roadblocks in heavily black precincts, Florida 2000 election-is a perversion of democracy.
Simply putting up a road block did'nt prevent anyone from getting to the polls in Florida that night. In no single instance would anyone have had to drive more than a few miles out of their way, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who actually claims that they did'nt vote because of a road block. Get off this one already, it is rediculously weak.
The elitism I was talking about is your apparent attitude that the authorities can do no wrong, an attitude well summed up by the title to your last comment.
I have never made any such statement, nor have I even put forth the idea as such. My entire essay, not that you are capable of comprehending it, has been about the responsibility of voters to excercise a reasonable degree of effort in participating. In no way have I ever releived "authorities" (a word I haven't used until now) of their responsibilities to, among other things, ensure that the ballots were correctly punched and cleared of chads.
What, it's 'too bad' that the authorities in Florida unjustly disenfranchised hundreds of black voters before the election?
It's too bad that no such thing ever happenned, otherwise you might have a leg to stand on. But then, you have spend this entire thread misrepresenting, making up your own suppositions, and even attributing statements to me which I never made, and doing so as direct quotes. If you have to LIE to make your argument, I think that is primafascia evidence that you have no substance.
It's 'too sad' that spanish-speaking immigrants can't get help to understand their ballot in a new country?
Yes, it is entirely too bad that they don't get to participate because they failed to learn a sum total of less than 20 words, most of which are nearly identical to their Spanish counterparts.
I'm glad that you vote, and that you find it easy. What on earth is wrong with making it easy for everyone?
Because it will *never* be easy for everyone; There will always be a small percentage of idiots who though eligable to vote simply cannot understand what everyone else gets right away. You factor for the average person, not for the lowest common denominator. The point you fail to miss is that voting, participating in government, and the democratic process in America is already so pathetically easy, that any further step risks a degree of vote rigging.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Okay (none / 0) (#174)
by shrike7 on Wed May 22, 2002 at 07:37:54 PM EST

I appreciate your taking the time to go through my post and respond to it. In kind then:

You said what you meant, and just because you don't want to be connected with Marxist philosophies doesn't mean you're not expousing one of their core tenants. The sanctity of the democratic process demands that at no level is there any undue influence in the free excercise of the voters's will by any other individual.

You are still twisting my words. It was obvious that I was referring to help understanding the voting process. And define 'undue,' please. The order in which the candidates influences the vote, if minimally. The method used to vote, the tabulation of the vote-it all has an effect.

Okay, so will you let me with all my partisan influence go into the booth with your non-english-learning voter and explain to them the ballot? I sure as hell don't want you to have that level of influence on my non-english electorate.

This is a strawman argument. You don't necessarily need a person to do the explaining: how about a Spanish language poster at the poll, agreed on by all parties, explaining the ballot and voting procedures? A Spanish speaking poll official to help if needed? Where is the partisan influence here?

There was nothing wrong with that ballot whatsoever. I put my four year old neice in front of it and she easily selected Nader (apparently, I've still got alot to teach her).

Wonderful. I'm glad to know that your neice is already thinking right politically. But one example does not prove the rule. At first glance, the ballot is confusing-it confused me at first glance. My example doesn't prove anything either. But I would submit that most people would agree that a one-column ballot is a hell of a lot less confusing than a two-column one.

Simply putting up a road block did'nt prevent anyone from getting to the polls in Florida that night. In no single instance would anyone have had to drive more than a few miles out of their way, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who actually claims that they did'nt vote because of a road block. Get off this one already, it is rediculously weak.

Of course it didn't prevent anyone from voting. If you're going to tell me it wasn't a hassle, I don't know how you're going to justify that. And the more hassles you create, the less likely people are to bother, because voting is not all that important to most people. And they're right. There are far more important things to do, like working and spending time with one's family, and if you demand that citizens give up an unreasonable amount of time to participate in an exercise that is one of the least imprtant parts of being a citizen in a democracy, they won't do it. Arguing otherwise is foolish.

I have never made any such statement, nor have I even put forth the idea as such. My entire essay, not that you are capable of comprehending it, has been about the responsibility of voters to excercise a reasonable degree of effort in participating. In no way have I ever releived "authorities" (a word I haven't used until now) of their responsibilities to, among other things, ensure that the ballots were correctly punched and cleared of chads.

Well, okay. I think your essay is wrongheaded. I may be misinterpreting it. But don't go around calling your opponents stupid, or you will look stupid. My point wasn't in response to any specific part of your essay, but to the general tone of it, which I felt was an elitist rant about the ingrates who make up the electorate. Tone is hard to read. I may have been off. But if I'm right about it, I stand by what I said: this sort of elitism is insidious, and leaches away at the foundations of democracy.

It's too bad that no such thing ever happenned, otherwise you might have a leg to stand on. But then, you have spend this entire thread misrepresenting, making up your own suppositions, and even attributing statements to me which I never made, and doing so as direct quotes. If you have to LIE to make your argument, I think that is primafascia evidence that you have no substance.

Point one, I believe that the phrase you're stumbling around in the dark after is prima facie. It happened. You could look it up. It was discussed at length in either the February, March or April edition of Harper's, and while I will concede that that is not a very good reference, I don't have a copy close to hand. Funny, I can't pass through solid substances, so I suppose I must have substance of some sort. Pity. I would have enjoyed being able to pass through walls and locked doors and such. What you should have said was that my argument had no substance. And again, calling your opponent a liar doesn't really do much to advance the debate.

Yes, it is entirely too bad that they don't get to participate because they failed to learn a sum total of less than 20 words, most of which are nearly identical to their Spanish counterparts.

I'd like to know where you got the '20 words' figure. I figure I know already, but there's always the off-chance you know what you're talking about. I speak Russian. I know I might have trouble with a Russian election ballot, and if I did, it would be nice to get help in English. It would be unreasonable to expect this in Russia, where Russian is the official language and English is a non-factor. In the multi-lingual US, where official documents are printed in Spanish in some states, it doesn't seem like an undue stretch to me.

Because it will *never* be easy for everyone; There will always be a small percentage of idiots who though eligable to vote simply cannot understand what everyone else gets right away. You factor for the average person, not for the lowest common denominator. The point you fail to miss is that voting, participating in government, and the democratic process in America is already so pathetically easy, that any further step risks a degree of vote rigging.

Right. Which is why a thousand people in one county screwed up this 'pathetically easy' process. By the way, I believe you mean to say that I 'fail to grasp' your point, not that I fail to miss it. Otherwise we agree. Which I don't think we do. As to the actual substance of your final paragraph, this is the sort of argument that's been advanced against every democratic initiative in history: 'Let the mob vote, and by Gad, unscrupulous demagogues will rig it!' Half the population is below-average. You have to set a system up that is accessible to everyone, or else you're not being democratic. And to say that you're not being elitist when you say things like that seems a stretch to me. Thanks again for taking the time you must have with my post.
CXVI
[ Parent ]

True Democracy Demands Free Will Participation! (5.00 / 1) (#178)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 08:14:29 PM EST

You are still twisting my words. It was obvious that I was referring to help understanding the voting process.
Perhaps you're failing to grasp the simple point that "any" help is an opportunity for influence. Even the tone of your voice could be construed as pressure, especially in light of many of the arguments being made here. Regardless of their validity, it is better to leave a person to their own devices then let someone else interpret it for them.
Wonderful. I'm glad to know that your neice is already thinking right politically. But one example does not prove the rule. At first glance, the ballot is confusing-it confused me at first glance. My example doesn't prove anything either. But I would submit that most people would agree that a one-column ballot is a hell of a lot less confusing than a two-column one.
Perhaps, but you have plenty of time to rationally figure it out; There's no time limit to being in the booth. It's voting, not Jeopardy.
Of course it didn't prevent anyone from voting. If you're going to tell me it wasn't a hassle, I don't know how you're going to justify that. And the more hassles you create, the less likely people are to bother, because voting is not all that important to most people. And they're right. There are far more important things to do, like working and spending time with one's family, and if you demand that citizens give up an unreasonable amount of time to participate in an exercise that is one of the least imprtant parts of being a citizen in a democracy, they won't do it. Arguing otherwise is foolish.
Not nearly as foolish as that one statement. Elections happen ONCE A YEAR, there's nothing unreasonable about surrendering a few hours a year to guide and form your government, especially considering the government takes the first 480 hours of your year for taxes (as in, you work the first three months of the year to pay your income tax on average).
But don't go around calling your opponents stupid, or you will look stupid.
And I did'nt...I was calling some Palm Beach County votes stupid, and the definition fits.
My point wasn't in response to any specific part of your essay, but to the general tone of it, which I felt was an elitist rant about the ingrates who make up the electorate. Tone is hard to read. I may have been off.
You weren't off in my tone: I do see the American electorate - especially the half that doesn't even bother to vote - as a bunch of lazy ignorant mindnumed cogs in a machine.
But if I'm right about it, I stand by what I said: this sort of elitism is insidious, and leaches away at the foundations of democracy.
Encouraging people to NOT vote, justifying their excuses for not participating, and lending creedence to half assed copouts is insidious. There is nothing at all elitist about democracy when it's practiced.
And again, calling your opponent a liar doesn't really do much to advance the debate.
So I suppose your tactic of misrepresenting my views and muddying the waters is healthy for the debate?
I'd like to know where you got the '20 words' figure. I figure I know already, but there's always the off-chance you know what you're talking about. I speak Russian. I know I might have trouble with a Russian election ballot, and if I did, it would be nice to get help in English.
If you spent enough time to be in a country where Russian is the language, and you didn't take the time to learn the fundamentals of the electoral system there, then tough crap tovarish.
In the multi-lingual US, where official documents are printed in Spanish in some states, it doesn't seem like an undue stretch to me.
Without getting to Buchananesque, English is our official language, it is simply not codified such by law at the federal level. In Florida, at least, it is. Moreover, it is the lingua franca.
Half the population is below-average.
I really dont have time to argue bell curves, and how what is easily understandable to the average American is within the grasp of 80% of the rest of us.
You have to set a system up that is accessible to everyone, or else you're not being democratic.
The system is accessible to (damn near) everyone, and in spite of that nearly half of Americans do not participate. THAT IS THE IRRESPONSIBILITY OF THE VOTER!
And to say that you're not being elitist when you say things like that seems a stretch to me. Thanks again for taking the time you must have with my post.
It was fun, even if I failed to reach you.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
There he goes again! (none / 0) (#181)
by shrike7 on Wed May 22, 2002 at 09:59:16 PM EST

Perhaps you're failing to grasp the simple point that "any" help is an opportunity for influence. Even the tone of your voice could be construed as pressure, especially in light of many of the arguments being made here. Regardless of their validity, it is better to leave a person to their own devices then let someone else interpret it for them.

Human contact is inevitable at some point in the process. If this contact is supervised by representatives of the contestants of the election, or provided by parties agreed to by them, you have to trust that it's impartial. And this is the case. Again, I fail to see how a Spanish-language poster would skew the election.

Perhaps, but you have plenty of time to rationally figure it out; There's no time limit to being in the booth. It's voting, not Jeopardy.

I agree. It's not jeopardy. Why not make the ballot as simple as possible then?

Not nearly as foolish as that one statement. Elections happen ONCE A YEAR, there's nothing unreasonable about surrendering a few hours a year to guide and form your government, especially considering the government takes the first 480 hours of your year for taxes (as in, you work the first three months of the year to pay your income tax on average).

Which one statement? That there are more important things in life than voting? That people won't spend a lot of time showing up for a headcount that they don't have to go to? That there are far more important duties in a democracy than voting? What?

I agree that a few hours a year doing your democratic duty is not a lot to ask. As I note, there's more to that than voting, and spending a few hours of your valuable time to mark an 'x' on a piece of paper is may be too much for busy people, for whom time is money.

And I did'nt...I was calling some Palm Beach County votes stupid, and the definition fits.

Except you did. You said I wasn't capable of comprehending your essay. Whether you like it or not, you used personal attacks in this argument, and now you've either forgotten about it or are lying about it.

You weren't off in my tone: I do see the American electorate - especially the half that doesn't even bother to vote - as a bunch of lazy ignorant mindnumed cogs in a machine.

Fine. So what on earth do you have against measures designed to involve more people in the process? It's intimidating to deal with officials in a second language you're not entirely comfortable with-what's wrong with trying to alleviate this intimidation?

Encouraging people to NOT vote, justifying their excuses for not participating, and lending creedence to half assed copouts is insidious. There is nothing at all elitist about democracy when it's practiced.

Yes! I've converted you! More voters are a good thing! Wait... you're still against these measures. Again, I fail to comprehend why you say you're for inclusiveness but against measures designed to make it easier for citizens to vote.

So I suppose your tactic of misrepresenting my views and muddying the waters is healthy for the debate?

Where? We've already established that I was right about your tone, and I can't think of anything else you bristled at in my original post.

If you spent enough time to be in a country where Russian is the language, and you didn't take the time to learn the fundamentals of the electoral system there, then tough crap tovarish.

Well, hypothetical examples will get you in trouble every time. I will say that Russian ballots are a hell of a lot simpler than the butterfly ballot you seem to think is a model of simplicity. I find electoral systems fascinating. I'm well aware, however, that I'm in a very small minority. Do you spend much time thinking about the mechanics of the electoral systems when you're not voting?

Without getting to Buchananesque, English is our official language, it is simply not codified such by law at the federal level. In Florida, at least, it is. Moreover, it is the lingua franca.

If it isn't codified, it's not official. Obviously, it is the lingua franca. But when some states print official documents in Spanish as an aid to immigrants and Spanish-speaking citizens, I fail to see why this courtesy should not extend to the electoral system.

I really dont have time to argue bell curves, and how what is easily understandable to the average American is within the grasp of 80% of the rest of us.

All right, I will concede the facile nature of my comment. However, that's still 20% of the population excluded by your reasoning. If twenty percent of the electorate has trouble exercising their rights, what kind of democracy do you have?

The system is accessible to (damn near) everyone, and in spite of that nearly half of Americans do not participate. THAT IS THE IRRESPONSIBILITY OF THE VOTER!

Less accessible that most Western democracies, all of which-I suspect this is not coincidental-have higher participation rates in elections than the United States. I note that you concede it's not accessible to everyone. Would people whose first language is not English fall into the 'unfortunate' category, by any chance?

It was fun, even if I failed to reach you.

And the same to you, I'm sure.
CXVI
[ Parent ]

Like Talking To A Wall....That Answers (none / 0) (#212)
by thelizman on Thu May 23, 2002 at 12:16:05 PM EST

Human contact is inevitable at some point in the process. If this contact is supervised by representatives of the contestants of the election, or provided by parties agreed to by them, you have to trust that it's impartial.
You cannot trust that this is impartial. Why in the hell do you think we have partitioned booths, often with curtains?
And this is the case. Again, I fail to see how a Spanish-language poster would skew the election.
Nevermind the fact that up until now we have been talking about people providing the assistance, but you are now violating your own argument; A person has to be literate to read a poster, and that is a more agregious violation. Literacy tests are outlawed, remember?
I agree. It's not jeopardy. Why not make the ballot as simple as possible then?
It doesn't get any simpler then marking a single box.
Which one statement? That there are more important things in life than voting?
Thanks once again for demonstrating my point about lazy voters. Your right to vote is also a responsibility. If you think there are more important things to do in life than voting, then go do them, but don't you dare argue that people have a right to be coddled and led by the hand into a voting booth if it's not that important.
Except you did. You said I wasn't capable of comprehending your essay. Whether you like it or not, you used personal attacks in this argument, and now you've either forgotten about it or are lying about it.
You're clearly not capable of such, so perhaps you are stupid. However, I did not make that asessment, so we'll chalk this up to the list of lies you've generated to further your own argument.
Fine. So what on earth do you have against measures designed to involve more people in the process? It's intimidating to deal with officials in a second language you're not entirely comfortable with-what's wrong with trying to alleviate this intimidation?
Apparently I have to draw you a picture, because you keep returning to the same tired and baseless points each and every time. Voting in America is not at all confusing, intimidating, or bothersome. Your attempts to make it so center around far flung hypothetical situations with no basis in reality. Next you'll want to hand out packets of Zoloft at the polls so people can have a "more comfortable" experience doing something that takes no more will power, courage, or intelligence then selecting a McDonalds value meal.
Yes! I've converted you! More voters are a good thing! Wait... you're still against these measures. Again, I fail to comprehend why you say you're for inclusiveness but against measures designed to make it easier for citizens to vote.
Perhaps if you yourself would excercise some thoughtfulness, you'd realize that the ENTIRE POINT here has been that people need to get off their own asses and vote. What you want to do is mollycoddle them into voting. Voting is a right, and with rights come responsibility. It is the responsibility of that 50% to make their way to the polls and vote according to their beleifs. That takes a little bit of effort, and nothing you are talking about will change that.
Where? We've already established that I was right about your tone, and I can't think of anything else you bristled at in my original post.
Read above.
Well, hypothetical examples will get you in trouble every time.
Yet you still use them to try to justify your meager points.
I will say that Russian ballots are a hell of a lot simpler than the butterfly ballot you seem to think is a model of simplicity.
Again, there you go misrepresenting my argument. The butterfly ballot IS simple, but not the simplest. But then, it is not so complex as to prevent even a 5 year old from voting.
I find electoral systems fascinating. I'm well aware, however, that I'm in a very small minority. Do you spend much time thinking about the mechanics of the electoral systems when you're not voting?
The electoral system hasn't got a damned thing to do with people being too lazy to vote.
If it isn't codified, it's not official.
Another example of your inability to comprehend basic English, I just wrote that it IS codified as law in the State of Florida.
Obviously, it is the lingua franca. But when some states print official documents in Spanish as an aid to immigrants and Spanish-speaking citizens, I fail to see why this courtesy should not extend to the electoral system.
In state where they print Spanish language documents, they do this. However, each state is an independant political entity, and they can do it however the hell they like. It is far more laborious a task to print up thousands of documents in another language - and ensure the translations are correct - just to satisfy a small number of people than it is to expect that small number of people to excercise a bit of initiative.
All right, I will concede the facile nature of my comment. However, that's still 20% of the population excluded by your reasoning. If twenty percent of the electorate has trouble exercising their rights, what kind of democracy do you have?
If their inability to vote is related to their unwillingness to invest a bit of initiative in learning a few basic simple things, then they have failed themselves.
Less accessible that most Western democracies, all of which-I suspect this is not coincidental-have higher participation rates in elections than the United States. I note that you concede it's not accessible to everyone. Would people whose first language is not English fall into the 'unfortunate' category, by any chance?
For starters, it's well established that you cannot compare the US to "other democracies" any more than you can compare apples to oranges. But if you want to play that game, then perhaps you can explain how France has a low voter turnout at 74%, but no official document in France is printed in any other language than French? It is the official state language, codified by law. It appears that I just sank your battleship.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. In that respect, I will restate this one more time, and then proceed to ignore your stupidity (see above). It is incumbent upon the voter to excercise a degree of initiative to participate in the electoral process, and no barrier aside from physical exclusion is sufficient to justify non-participation, or failing to properly perform ones duty.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Fine (none / 0) (#227)
by shrike7 on Thu May 23, 2002 at 03:26:50 PM EST

I don't particularily care if you think I'm stupid. What does bother me is your narrowmindedness when it comes to an argument. I say 'Look, here are Spanish speaking naturalized citizens, making their way to the polls of their own initiative. If they need help, now that they're here, why not give it to them?' You then turn around and say something like 'People need to get off their lazy asses to vote.' Huh? Also, if you wanna call me stupid, go right ahead, but have the guts to stick to it. Don't do it, lie about it, and then call me a liar when I call you out on it.
CXVI
[ Parent ]
It's Clear You Never Had A Point (none / 0) (#231)
by thelizman on Thu May 23, 2002 at 04:19:15 PM EST

If they've been in American long enough to be naturalized, they ought to know enough English to handle voting. If that's all your blustering can come down to, you really shouldn't have wasted the bandwidth.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Oh for God's sake (none / 0) (#238)
by shrike7 on Thu May 23, 2002 at 05:18:43 PM EST

Yes, I'm sure that these citizens speak sufficient English to pass the citizenship test. Congratulations. You've scored a miniscule debating point. But, as someone else pointed out, what about ballot initiatives? First-time voters? The elderly? As far as I can tell, your entire position boils down to an entirely irrational belief that people should not be encourage to exercise their right to the franchise. Why? Yes, it's a responsibility, a duty, something our ancestors fought and died for, a cornerstone of the republican system of government, etc etc ad nauseum. This is not an argument against making it as accessible as possible for the citizens of a nation to vote. What is? You haven't advanced anything, preferring to stick to personal attacks and misleading changes in position. If you want to argue about this, wonderful. Tell me why you hold that encouraging people to vote perverts democracy. If you don't, I'm sure you'll write something similar to your last comment, and I really can stop wasting bandwidth and time arguing with you.
CXVI
[ Parent ]
Wherever you get that from (none / 0) (#241)
by thelizman on Thu May 23, 2002 at 06:15:29 PM EST

As far as I can tell, your entire position boils down to an entirely irrational belief that people should not be encourage to exercise their right to the franchise.
I really cannot begin to conceive of where in the hell you picke that up. It's clear that you did'nt read a damned word I wrote, but merely picked out points to argue with, because this entire time I have argued that it is the duty of the voters to vote. How much freaking clearer do I have to be before you'll shut up and realize that you're arguing a point that nobody else is disputing!
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Not so (none / 0) (#242)
by shrike7 on Thu May 23, 2002 at 07:39:37 PM EST

You've been arguing the entire time that no help should be given to people to vote. Sure, you say it's everyone's duty to vote, but for those who say they need help you have nothing but contempt. You've slagged me repeatedly for having the temerity to suggest measures that would make it easier for people to vote, and you've never failed to call me stupid while failing to address my points.

We agree it's important to vote. You seem to believe, however, that making it easier for people in some way cheapens the franchise. And yes, I have read your goddamn article. If you think it's not harder to vote in a second language, or to go through a roadblock to exercise your franchise, then you aren't fucking thinking. So I presume we agree there: it's less onerous to vote when there is Spanish-language assistance or an absence of police roadblocks in predominantly black areas.

Here is where we diverge. I say it's a good thing to make it less onerous to vote, i.e. encouraging people to get out and contribute in an election. You don't. And for that reason, I think it is entirely fair to say that you are against encouraging people to vote. Sure, you'll do the whole, 'Vote, it's your duty' public service announcement, but when it comes to actual constructive measures designed to increase turnout, there you are, opposing them, bleating about how they skew the results. Tell me, specifically, where this is unfair, and I'll look at it and apologize if I'm wrong. However, I'm fairly sure you won't do that. What you'll do is to attack me, calling me either a) a liar or b) stupid or c) both. That's fine. I just wish you'd actually argue, rather than being juvenile and attacking someone just for disagreeing with you.
CXVI
[ Parent ]

'stupid' people (5.00 / 1) (#153)
by karb on Wed May 22, 2002 at 03:44:42 PM EST

First of all, there's no way to know for certain if that ballot would have confused you or not. That you figured it out now is not proof. Your subconscious makes many of your decisions for you. Figuring out something in conscious thought doesn't mean your subconscious would have thought the same thing.

Furthermore, the definition of 'stupid' doesn't necessarily describe the voters that messed up. Stupidity implies either slowness to learn or a tradition of careless mistakes. By your own definition, making one careless mistake does not characterize one as stupid. If there was a study that showed a correlation between careless mistakes in real life and a careless mistake at the voting booth, then perhaps you would have a case.
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?
[ Parent ]

No no, lets face it: They were stupid. (5.00 / 1) (#161)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 05:32:07 PM EST

First of all, there's no way to know for certain if that ballot would have confused you or not.
Yes, we can. We can say it because I started voting at 18 in North Carolina where exactly the same butterfly ballot system was used. It took me all of ten seconds (most of which was finding the stylus which had fallen behind the table) to figure this out, and I was nervous about my first time participating so 10 seconds was a record.

Butterfly ballots were not a new invention, and I seriously doubt any of these voters were using it for the first time.
Furthermore, the definition of 'stupid' doesn't necessarily describe the voters that messed up. Stupidity implies either slowness to learn or a tradition of careless mistakes. By your own definition, making one careless mistake does not characterize one as stupid.
"My" definition came out of the dictionary - you can click the link. Stupidity does not require a repeated demonstration, as a single act can certainly be labelled stupid. Stupidity quite accurately describes those voters, especially the ones who selected more than one candidate and then turned that ballot in.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Commen (sic) knowledge? (none / 0) (#182)
by MrYotsuya on Wed May 22, 2002 at 11:31:33 PM EST

You mean, like, spelling the word common?

[ Parent ]
Heh, I must be stupid then. (none / 0) (#188)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu May 23, 2002 at 03:12:54 AM EST

Because I found that ballot you linked to pretty confusing.

I think that now, for the benefit of personkind, I'll just refrain from finishing my Ph.D. dissertation and from breeding.

--em
[ Parent ]

Broke your own rules (none / 0) (#264)
by Perianwyr on Sat May 25, 2002 at 01:23:00 PM EST

Either that, or you don't know a troll when you see it.

[ Parent ]
I Understood It (none / 0) (#143)
by titivillus on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:38:39 PM EST

The ballots were just very poorly designed. This is a user interface point, and a political point.

I've seen the ballot, and I've never thought it was that bad. I've heard the people complain about it, and I find it mind-boggling. Of course, I have two bachelors' degrees (Journalism and Computer Science), and I'm 32 with well-corrected vision, so I don't think I'm in the demographic that had a problem.



[ Parent ]
I said this to somebody else (none / 0) (#154)
by karb on Wed May 22, 2002 at 03:49:18 PM EST

But looking at it and figuring out with 'no problem' does not mean that you would be able to figure it out on election day in a school in miami somwhere. You're applying different thought processes to "Can you understand this ballot" than "Wow, so this is what the school gymnasium looks like. I wonder who's going to win this election? My aunt agnes refuses to vote. I don't agree with that."
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?
[ Parent ]
The roadblock (5.00 / 2) (#95)
by karb on Wed May 22, 2002 at 08:45:55 AM EST

There were some explanations of why the roadblocks existed. You can believe them, or just take them as evidence of the enormous extent of the conspiracy ;)

From the first thing that turned up on google.

The newspaper reported that one allegedly intimidating "roadblock" near Tallahassee was a routine check for faulty auto equipment that stopped a total 150 drivers and gave 18 warnings or citations, six to minorities, 12 to whites. Another "roadblock" near Tampa turned out to be a police response to a burglary near a polling place in a black neighborhood. According to USA Today, one man was stopped for questioning, then sent on his way.

--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?
Why I don't vote.. (4.00 / 8) (#97)
by ignatiusst on Wed May 22, 2002 at 09:05:13 AM EST

I don't vote because all the candidates are lying, cheating, promise-you-the-moon, sophistical glad-handers. But, of course, they do what they have to for the greater good.. bwah-ha-ha-ha!

What responsibility do voters have in participating in the process? What process? The process of electing an official who will promptly sell you and your ideals out to the Special Interest that line his/her pockets? Is that the process I should be participating in? Or is it the process that wants me to believe that this politician is different and I can really, really believe when s/he tells me that my interests (that is, the interest of the people vs. those of the conglomerates) come first.

I am frankly tired of being told of my responsibility to the democratic process. What about the responsibility of the elected official? Give me a candidate who is more interested in serving the people than s/he is in preserving entrenched power, and I will run to the polls.

You want to take away my rights because I won't vote? Go ahead, but you had better hurry.. There aren't that many more left for you to claim.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

Democracy is an excercise in the common senses (4.50 / 4) (#120)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:44:14 PM EST

I don't vote because all the candidates are lying, cheating, promise-you-the-moon, sophistical glad-handers. But, of course, they do what they have to for the greater good.. bwah-ha-ha-ha!
They are that way because we, the American voter, make them pander to us. If they don't promise us the moon, we switch to someone else who will. The politicians are animals of the game, evolved to service us the way we think we want them to. That is still a piss poor excuse for taking yourself out of the game.
What responsibility do voters have in participating in the process? What process? The process of electing an official who will promptly sell you and your ideals out to the Special Interest that line his/her pockets?
Everytime I hear this diatribe, I cringe. Do you know what a special interest is? Have you ever met one? It's easy to rail against what you don't know, but a special interest is nothing more than a body of individuals representative of a particular issue. They are the latest greatest target of political smashmouth, but the fact of the matter is a special interest has as much right to "lobby" a politician as big business, the NRA, or the NAACP (themselves falling into the classification of "special interests"). Try not using buzzwords so freely and without respect to their meaning.
Is that the process I should be participating in? Or is it the process that wants me to believe that this politician is different and I can really, really believe when s/he tells me that my interests (that is, the interest of the people vs. those of the conglomerates) come first. I am frankly tired of being told of my responsibility to the democratic process. What about the responsibility of the elected official? Give me a candidate who is more interested in serving the people than s/he is in preserving entrenched power, and I will run to the polls.
And until that happens, you'll not participate at all? You deserve exactly what you get year after year. I can at least respect people with honest political differences, but you are roughly akin to the five year old in the sand box who won't let anyone play with his toys untill they promise to be your friend.
You want to take away my rights because I won't vote? Go ahead, but you had better hurry.. There aren't that many more left for you to claim.
Histrionics is a good word here. I'm telling you to USE YOUR RIGHTS, and you think that constitutes taking them away? Maybe it's good you don't participate in the electoral process afterall.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
A reply.. (none / 0) (#218)
by ignatiusst on Thu May 23, 2002 at 12:50:21 PM EST

Generally, I can take a lot of criticism with the grain of salt it was dealt with. And while there is not much I can argue against in your comment, I hope you will at least forgive me for trying..

Politicians do pander to their constituents because we demand it. While I can appreciate your stand that the fact being is a "piss poor excuse" for not participating, I can't help but wonder what excuse is good enough to compel me to vote for men and women whom I don't trust. Because it is my obligation of democracy?

To suggest that special interest are nothing more than a body of individuals representative of a particular issue is being a bit pollyannaish about the whole issue. I am not saying that you are wrong in your statement, just that I don't really look at Ernst & Young, Citigroup, Viacom, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Time/Warner, Bellsouth, Anheuser-Bush, ADM, Enron, and every other major corporate special-interest as "nothing more than a body of individuals representative of a particular issue". In fact, I look at them as Corporate Powers who don't have the right to elect a representative but who (quite successfully) manage to insinuate their influence into the political system with their deep pockets much more effectively than, say, you or I with our right/obligation to participate in democracy.

Finally, you are right. I do deserve what I get year after year. I really cannot argue against that. I choose not to vote, so I really can't legitimately complain. But, do you mean to suggest that if I did vote, I would not have my rights impeded, or just that I wouldn't deserve it?

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

Void your ballot. (4.33 / 3) (#121)
by HypoLuxa on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:52:44 PM EST

For the past four elections, I have voted a write in "VOID" for every category (except bond issues, which are yes/no only - i don't vote on those).  I happen to agree with you that the system is entirely beholden to money.  I simply cannot trust anyone to honestly tell me what they are going to do.

Voiding your ballot sends a clear message, which is that I am concerned about democracy in my country, and that the choices I have been offered are simply unacceptable.  Does this actually make a difference in the process?  Not one whit.  Why do I do it?  I feel a responsibility to go to the polls and express my opinion.

--
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]

Two words (4.50 / 2) (#139)
by davidduncanscott on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:07:43 PM EST

Write in.

If you don't want to endorse either candidate, then fine, write in Pat Paulsen, Donald Duck, Jesus, None of the Above, or yourself, if you like. Right now, you leave the impression, not that you despise the candidates, but that you're fat, dumb, and happy, and can't be bothered to go to the polls.

Personally I'd like to see a simple system: issue receipts for voting. Show me a receipt, I might listen to you bitch about the state of the country. Don't have one, go away -- if you didn't think your opinion was worth expressing in November, why should I give it any weight now? No legal sanctions, just social.

[ Parent ]

Two more words (none / 0) (#155)
by jolly st nick on Wed May 22, 2002 at 04:00:49 PM EST

Run yourself.

If you don't think there are any candidates for public office that meet your standards, stand up.

Now, it is unrealistic to run for president or senator, but most of the democracy that goes on in this country is at a local level. And it's not impossible to get elected in local elections. My town a few years back elected a mayor who was in his twenties and had never held a job other than working as a gofer for the local state senator. Now he was a lousy mayor, but that's a different story. He stepped up because there weren't any Republicans running and presto -- he won. You can run for alderman or school committee. My local alderman won just by shoe leather and a few printed handbills.

Speaking of party, you can volunteer to work for a political party, and run for elected positions within the party, including delegate to the presidential convention.



[ Parent ]

Responsible voting is a can of worms. (4.66 / 3) (#98)
by SaintPort on Wed May 22, 2002 at 09:47:21 AM EST

It sounds good to say that it does not take much intelligence to vote.  It also sounds good that we have a responsibility to the democratic system.  But in some elections I found myself too ignorant of the issues and the true stands of the politicians to feel I can make the best choice.

Now the Bush - Gore contest was easy for me.  I read Gore's book and realized that his worldview conflicted with mine, while Billy Graham (whose worldview I respect) endorsed Bush.  So I trotted out to the polls and felt good about doing my civic duty.

But during other elections I end up questioning myself.  Is it really best to vote with slight bias?  This candidate is Democrat, maybe he can help the working man; this candidate is Republican, maybe he won't waste money; I've met this guy and he seemed nice.  So we have my tentative vote and all the other votes swimming in competition.  But too often, I fear, the votes are not based on the things that end up mattering.

Thank God for this republic with its set of checks and balances.  Maybe we won't screw the nation up too badly.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

What is responsibility in voting? (5.00 / 2) (#118)
by thelizman on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:31:10 PM EST

The most important part is to vote to begin with. If the best you could manage is to go in and "eeny meeny miney moe" your way through it, I would take that as being better than nothing. However, part of responsible voting is being educated about the candidates and issues. This is the "hard work" part, because if you rely on what the candidates say, you'll only get half of the picture. If you rely upon what the newspapers say, you'll get less than half. There are resources out there like opensecrets.org and motherjones.com. Culling a variety of media resources is the second best tool, and in my opinion the single best tool is to not trust a damned thing the politicians say (and everyone in public office is a politician, elected or not).

My belief is that rights are like muscles: If you don't excercise them regularly, you will lose them. BS like the "Gun Control" legislation would have gotten their supporters tarred, feathered, and rode out on a rail 50 years ago. Now it's "ho hum".
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Well said! (none / 0) (#137)
by SaintPort on Wed May 22, 2002 at 01:48:40 PM EST



--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]
I found myself too ignorant of the issues ... (none / 0) (#195)
by johwsun on Thu May 23, 2002 at 08:01:03 AM EST

..thats right...we are all ignorant to some issues while we are experts to some other issues. This is the purpose of choosing a representative, in order to vote for the subjects we dont know what to do...

But for the subjects we do know what to vote, or at least we think we know, we should be able to overcome our representative's vote, and cast our personal vote. This is how Democracy should work.



[ Parent ]

what conflicted? (none / 0) (#265)
by SteveA on Sat May 25, 2002 at 07:35:23 PM EST

What about Gore's worldview conflicted with yours?

[ Parent ]
How about mentioning some REAL issues? (4.57 / 7) (#133)
by bobaloo on Wed May 22, 2002 at 01:28:49 PM EST

I think the main complaint is that the state of Florida hired a consulting firm to "purge" the voting rolls, and managed to improperly prevent thousands of people, an undue percentage of them black, from voting. This was done in the name of getting ex-felons off the voting rolls, but the procedure was egregiously flawed.

Or, how about the state not supplying enough voting machines to black precincts, or supplying broken ones, so that long lines of people were turned away at poll closing hours, unable to vote?

Picking a straw man to shoot down and then dismissing the charges doesn't constitute a story.

Felons (none / 0) (#184)
by Pseudonym on Thu May 23, 2002 at 12:01:19 AM EST

I've never understood this one. Can someone please explain to me the reasoning behind felons and ex-felons not being allowed to vote?



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
It's called giving up some of your basic rights... (5.00 / 1) (#201)
by What She Said on Thu May 23, 2002 at 09:22:21 AM EST

When you are convicted of a felony, there are certain basic rights that you give up. One of them is temporarily(generally) your liberty.One of them is voting. This right can sometimes be reclaimed under certain circumstances.

[ Parent ]
It is pretty dumb (none / 0) (#204)
by cpt kangarooski on Thu May 23, 2002 at 10:14:17 AM EST

IIRC, the U.S. is one of the only first world countries that actually does this -- though it is by no means consistant. In some states, you can vote in jail, in others you may be disenfranchised pretty easily.

The intent behind this in many instances is racial discrimination -- and it was admitted to be such by post-15th Amendment drafters of a lot of these laws.

Given that there are a huge number of felonies on the books these days (one of the numerous reasons for the continuing evisceration by the courts of the felony murder rule), that it has little to do with the prevention of future felonies (as opposed to restricting an ex-felon's access to firearms -- which itself should hinge on the type of felony committed), and that it is likely to have little impact on the outcome of elections, there's really no compelling reason to continue this practice. Indeed, if there were a bloc of felon votes that were large enough to have some real effect, this likely is indicative of there being a serious problem in our society or legal system, which voting is probably going to be better at correcting than disenfranchisement.

Voting isn't an entitlement after all -- it is a right. It is fundementally important to preserving our society and government. We've managed to continue to enfranchise our citizens over the course of our history; why wouldn't we want to continue that tradition still?

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Prison Voting (none / 0) (#233)
by Mzilikazi on Thu May 23, 2002 at 04:41:14 PM EST

A big issue on the refusal of the vote for people currently in prison was the fear of two possibilities:

1. Candidates representing a district with a large prison population who could add a simple "better prison breakfasts" or "reduced sentances"-type of issue to their platform in order to gather a lot of prison votes.

2. That a corrupt warden, connected to a certain candidate or paid off, could spoil the vote either through intimidation or fabrication of the votes, or simply throwing away the ballots for the other guy. These fears were more warranted back in the early part of this century than today, but should not be entirely dismissed today.

I do think there is a big difference between allowing prisoners to vote (which I disagree with) and allowing convicted felons to vote after they've served their term (which I agree with). In the first case, you've got people that are being punished for some crime by being removed from society and who knew the risks going into the criminal activity, and in the second case, you've got people that have completed their term of imprisonment for their crimes, and are (hopefully) rehabilitated and able to get on with their lives.

Cheers,
Mzilikazi

[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#243)
by cpt kangarooski on Thu May 23, 2002 at 08:01:43 PM EST

Frankly I'd be happy just to make ANY progress on this, but I'm all for extending the vote to all adult citizens without exception, personally.

I do see what you mean regarding how prison votes could be significant, although I'd still imagine only for a very local election. Which would probably not be able to do too much for the prisoners anyway, if they're in a state or federal prison.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

i don't see that @ all.. (none / 0) (#271)
by Oni1111 on Wed Jun 26, 2002 at 05:26:46 AM EST

so you are then likening this to what we already have: soft money, and corporate conflicts of interest: better 'jobs' versus bigger profits. if we are suggesting that prison voters can be bought off.. what do suggest we do with "Big Oil" Bush ?

[ Parent ]
Re: mandatory voting (3.00 / 4) (#136)
by Kasreyn on Wed May 22, 2002 at 01:40:31 PM EST

Personally, I vote. I think it's pretty much treason and a vote for tyranny, to NOT vote. But you can't force it on people. Make voting mandatory, and you'll get more people just voting whatever, to get it out of the way. Crank votes. I hardly think that would be better.

No, it seems most Americans have decided tyranny will be good enough for them, so apparently they don't need to vote any more. A wonderful future is in store for this once great nation. I personally plan to be dead.


-Kasreyn

P.S. I'll tell you who should be sued, and it's not Palm Beach, it's the fucking Supreme Court for arbitrarily deciding there should be a time limit on the presidential election. WTF? Where in the constitution does it state "and if the election is taking too damn long, just go ahead and pick one for chrissakes."
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Is that the Florida or US Supreme Court? (4.50 / 2) (#138)
by titivillus on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:06:37 PM EST

P.S. I'll tell you who should be sued, and it's not Palm Beach, it's the fucking Supreme Court for arbitrarily deciding there should be a time limit on the presidential election. WTF? Where in the constitution does it state "and if the election is taking too damn long, just go ahead and pick one for chrissakes."

Pre-existing law said that things had to be in by a certain time, if I recall correctly. The Constitution provides the broad strokes and statutes and conventions (both kinds) provide the particulars. The Constitution never said anything about political parties, conventions, primaries, or poll workers. They're still part of the system.

The biggest villain of this thing, from my seat, is the Florida SC, but the Dem who created the butterfly ballot.



[ Parent ]
Why people don't vote.. (none / 0) (#208)
by Sc00tz on Thu May 23, 2002 at 10:58:57 AM EST

1. They're really busy, they work 12hr shifts and can't make it.

2. They don't understand the issues, so rather then putting in a crap vote, they just don't bother (I'd rather they do this then give a crap vote)

3. They don't care.. so fuck'em

4. They're protesting the system. They feel that it's flawed and to take part in it would admit that it is flawed.<p>
-- http://scootz.net/~travis
[ Parent ]

Number 5 (none / 0) (#222)
by epepke on Thu May 23, 2002 at 02:11:30 PM EST

5. They don't want to be called up for jury duty.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
More then just registering to vote (none / 0) (#239)
by Sc00tz on Thu May 23, 2002 at 05:39:57 PM EST

They get you on selective service, and your drivers license.. One way or another, they'll find you.
-- http://scootz.net/~travis
[ Parent ]
Universal Franchise (4.66 / 3) (#145)
by jolly st nick on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:44:49 PM EST

is extended even to people who in our opinion might not be intelligent enough to vote. Naturally, at some point practical difficulties do arise, but to a large degree I am for making the exercise of the franchise as convenient and accurate as possible for everyone.

I think it is worth considering that intelligence also often comes in different flavors. Some people are brilliant at human relations, but hopeless in mechanical tasks. Some people are wizzes at forms and procedures but can't see the forest for the trees. Most people have fairly well balanced faculties, but it is not uncommon for people to be very strong in some areas and remarkably weak in others.

One extreme example was an elderly acquaintence of mine who was a writer. She was mainly interested in architecture and anthropology. At the drop of a hat she could give you a disertation on the vernacular architecture of the muslims in northwest China, but mechanically she was one step above the proverbial whiteout on the computer screen. Her husband, who was a long time computer guy, told be about the time he bought her an ironing board that had a convenient electrical outlet on it. He came in one day and found her trying to do her ironing and cursing the thing.

"Let me see," he said. "Here's the problem, you forgot to plug the ironing board in."

"You have to plug it in?" she asked.

"Of course," he replied.

"Then what good is it?"

Actually, I'm not entirely sure who was being the obtuse one ;-) But in any case this lady was not stupid. Quite the opposite. She's just the mirror image of a personality we all know -- the brilliant computer geek who can do all kinds of mechanical or logical things effortlessly, but doesn't have a grasp of the simplest of social niceties. I'm fairly certain she would be a shrewd judge of candidates, but very likely to mishandle her ballot unless it was very well designed.

One last point. As a software designer, I can state that one of the hardest lessons to learn is that all people aren't like you. An interface which seems sensible and intuitive to you and your colleagues may be frustrating and confusing many people. It is extremely important not to underestimate the value of good design, or the difference between a software development environment and the real world where the pattern of use is different.



laziness (5.00 / 1) (#197)
by kubalaa on Thu May 23, 2002 at 08:07:38 AM EST

Mostly these extreme cases are people who just use stereotypes to avoid thinking (at all) about something they'd rather not. It's not that the lady is too stupid in a certain way to grasp the concept of electricity -- she's just too lazy. Same with socially-inept hackers. Nobody expects charisma, but learning basic manners and smalltalk is purely a matter of will and practice -- hackers don't do it because they refuse to, not because they can't. And that's their problem.

[ Parent ]
Oh humbug (none / 0) (#199)
by jolly st nick on Thu May 23, 2002 at 08:33:46 AM EST

It's not that the lady is too stupid in a certain way to grasp the concept of electricity -- she's just too lazy.

Oh, humbug. We are talking about a lady who in late middle age (I would hesitate to call her old), when most of us are content to limit our physical exertions to riding our air conditioned SUVS to the mall, explored the burning deserts of northwest China in search of ancient mosques, and brought back documentary evidence. At the same age when most of us have turned into permanent couch potatoes was trekking the high expanses of the Himalyas. "I can climb any mountain so long as I can go at my own speed," she used to say.

Lazy? No way.

The fact is, people like this don't put less energy into figuring out things they aren't good at, they put more. The social misfit spends much more worry and energy than someone who is simply easy and fluent with people.

[ Parent ]

explain how this can work (none / 0) (#209)
by kubalaa on Thu May 23, 2002 at 11:04:48 AM EST

My problem is I don't see any fundamental difference between the simple statements "electrical devices must be plugged in to work" and "the oven must be turned on to work." Since I assume this lady can cook, the only possible explanation I can come up with for why she can't "cope with" electronics is some psychological aversion to the concept and an unwillingness to overcome it.

Nerds don't put in more effort -- and the only reason they spend more worry is because they're fighting their human social nature. I know, because I am a nerd. When I don't talk to people, it's because I don't enjoy it and I'm not willing to make the effort to do it for their benefit. And sometimes this bites me, when I really would like some company. But it's not as if small talk is difficult.

[ Parent ]

Same problem as software UI design. (none / 0) (#210)
by jolly st nick on Thu May 23, 2002 at 11:32:50 AM EST

It's easy not to imagine how users can misunderstand your program, because they have a surface experience and thus a superficial understanding of how the software works. They do things that to the designer, simply make no sense because they don't see the software as a system, but as a set of manifest interfaces. To people who have a systems view of the software, the problem seems to be user obtuseness or obstinacy, rather than a lack of mimetic clarity.

Likewise, to some people, electrical outlets provide electricity, because you plug your appliances into them. Their experience is mainly limited to the manifest interface, and they have never given much thought to the fact that there are electrical systems behind them -- wiring, circuit breakers, distribution panels, and a whole system for the distribution and production of electricity behind that. It's not that they can't grasp them when explained, its just that their mental model of the system begins and ends at the outlet. The same person might have an exquisite understanding of how different contruction and us patterns fit together to make a building work, because its an area they spend a lot of time thinking about.

We've veered a little off topic here, so lets bring this back to fundamentals: there is a tremendous difference between good design and bad design. Bad design will lead people to make mistakes, even intelligent people who, if told to be on their guard against a misleading design, might otherwise be able to handle it.

You may say there is no excuse for somebody making a mistake on a form, even if it is badly designed. I say there is no excuse for a badly designed form, no matter that many people will be able to handle it.



[ Parent ]

I'll buy that (none / 0) (#240)
by kubalaa on Thu May 23, 2002 at 06:15:07 PM EST

Now that you're not talking about some fundamentally different ways of thinking. Yes, everything possible should be done to make things accessible to everyone. But I'm still convinced that difficulties aren't so much a matter of ability as motivation. Motivation is always the hardest and most important part of teaching. A motivated kid can learn the most arcane stuff, while a granny who's afraid of computers won't touch hers even if it's simpler than her toaster oven. (Until you find a motivation... like emailing the grandkids.)

[ Parent ]
Motivation (none / 0) (#250)
by jolly st nick on Fri May 24, 2002 at 10:34:09 AM EST

Motivation can always increase peformance. I know I'm a lot smarter at work than doing similar tasks in my private life.

Motivation is a funny thing though; it depends on two things: values and attention. The people who, for example, messed up their butterfly ballots valued voting enough to go to the polls, but the problems with the ballot escaped their attention. Anyone forewarned that the ballot is badly designed can readily see the correct way to fill it out, but they have had their attention drawn to this.

An example showing this effect is the people who, when they heard about the problem immediately realized that they had made a mistake. What was wanting was a critical examination of the ballot itself. Bad design requires this kind of thought, good design minimizes it.

[ Parent ]

required post (1.50 / 4) (#150)
by Anonymous 23477 on Wed May 22, 2002 at 03:16:19 PM EST

I'll make the comment required in all voting stories:
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

3 easy solutions (5.00 / 2) (#152)
by DeadBaby on Wed May 22, 2002 at 03:31:39 PM EST

I think several things need to be done:

1) Voting should be held over a several day period. The way things are now, it's very easy to have absolutely no time to vote in 1 day. Devote an entire weekend to it, release no numbers until the polls have closed nation wide.

2) Put electronic voting machines in shopping malls, schools, public parks, etc. Make it impossible for the average person to avoid a means of voting over this weekend period.

3) Make the voter have to confirm their selections. After they've voted simply display a collection of yes/no questions, "Do you vote for <candidate> for <office> ?" should be easy enough for most people.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan

alternatives (none / 0) (#169)
by j1mmy on Wed May 22, 2002 at 06:54:56 PM EST

In response to 1 or 2, I've always felt that national elections should be a national holiday. People would have no excuse NOT to vote on that day.

[ Parent ]
thoughts on the 3 easy solutions (none / 0) (#179)
by ReF UgEE on Wed May 22, 2002 at 08:41:24 PM EST

Here are some thoughts:

1) I do not think that voting should be held over several days. First and foremost, voting SHOULD take precedence over any activity someone plans to do in that given day. Second, votes almost completely paralyze a country, since they make people do something else instead of their usual job, and are held in public buildings that, most of the times, have other usages, such as schools, here in Italy.

2) While I think that electronic voting machines would be useful because of their ease of use and the fact that they could provide instantaneous voting results, they have several problems. The most obvious one, is that of making sure that any given person only votes once. This could be done by handing out electronic cards to people allowed to vote, looking at the voters' fingerprints, etc. Moreover, all the electronic voting machines need to be connected to a central machine that makes sure that people only vote once, not just on a given machine, but all over the contry/state. This makes the use of these machines very expensive and virtually impossible to use in poorer countries.

3) I totally agree with this one, assuming that electronic voting machines are used. If a similar system were to be used on a non-electronic vote, the number of invalid votes would raise exponentially, since it would raise the amount of thinking involved in casting a vote to something unmanagable for some people.



[ Parent ]
electronic machines (none / 0) (#196)
by kubalaa on Thu May 23, 2002 at 08:02:54 AM EST

They needn't be all-electronic; have a slot where the person inserts a paper ballot-card. The machine asks them questions (in their native language, with pictures) and ensures they don't do anything silly like vote for two people for the same office, then it makes marks or punches or whatever in their card and spits it back out to be handed in like a normal ballot.

The problem is that this doesn't save costs by automating ballot-handling -- it's purely over-and-above the current system. But it would be nice.

[ Parent ]

Uniform standards (none / 0) (#183)
by Pseudonym on Wed May 22, 2002 at 11:58:27 PM EST

There should be uniform national standards for national elections. Everyone should vote the same way, over the same amount of time and everyone's vote should contribute to the overall result in the same way and to the same degree.

Other countries based on federation (e.g. Australia) manage this. The problem with this theory, of course, is that no politician has ever voted against the system that put them into office.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
Reform Ideas (5.00 / 2) (#185)
by godix on Thu May 23, 2002 at 12:43:42 AM EST

I'm not going to comment on the 2000 election other than to say I think stupidity rather than partisanship explains that election up until the FL & US supreme court decisions. On the plus side of it all, in many countries across the world the 2000 election situation would have lead to mass rioting, oppression by the ruling government, and perhaps open revolution; so US should get some credit for being somewhat civilized about it all.

  I perfer the discussion of voting reforms. Here's some ideas I like. Some are mutally exclusive and most are ideas I've heard rather than my own original creations.

  Do not allow staight party voting and do not put a candidates party on the ballot. If someone really managed to get through 2000 without realizing Gore was a democrat and Bush was a republican, do we need to tell them and influence their vote right in the ballot box?
  This would have to be very carefully monitored, but I'm in favor of voting tests. Nothing complicated, just things like 'All candidates have experience in elected roles T/F' or 'Gore gives high priority to the enviroment, Bush gives high priority to tax cuts, Nader gives priority to people who claim to have been anally probed by aliens, and Buchanan is an alien who gives anal probes. T/F' or even 'This ballot is for the election of the US President. T/F'
  Change the finance laws. I don't mean the current reforms, those are stupid and arguably  unconstitutional. I mean any person who is a valid candidate gets federal funds and is not allowed to spend any other money. Alternatively you could have no federal or party funds are allowed, every candidate only has what they personally can raise for themselves. The current half assed system of using government funds, party funds, and individually raised funds can not be fixed by making fatally flawed laws trying to limit some types of those funds.
  Change the voting date to April 15th, the tax day (or change tax day to Nov). Making voting day a national holiday with strong incentives for every non-essential person to have it off (and give the essential people time to vote of course).
  Uniform rules across the nation. All voting machines are the same, the same ballot is used for every voter. Before the ballot is used, it is given to a group of pre-schoolers who are asked 'Vote for choice X. Now vote for Y.' If the pre-schoolers can't, the ballot is redesigned.
  The laws on voting should be standardized for whichever region the vote is for. National stanards for national votes, state standards for state votes, and so on down to city votes. The standards should specify what voting method is used and ballots should be the same across the region.
  There should be a preschool test. Before any voting method is used, a typical pre-school class should be brought in and told 'Vote for choice X. Now for for choice Y.' If the pre-schoolers can't, that method isn't used.
  Ballots should be printed in all major languages of the region voting. There should be someone on hand to answer questions in whichever major languages are in that precinct. This should be done until the US decides to pass a law specifying the official language, which I doubt it ever will.
  A binding 'None of the Above' option. If it wins, the entire election is redone and none of the original candidates are allowed to run the second time.
  Also have a 'Leave the position empty' option. If it wins, no one occupies that position until the next election. I don't think it would ever win, and I don't think it's really a good idea to leave the presidental office empty for 4 years, but the grassroots organizations pushing for it would be really interesting to watch.
  For real fun, count each registered voter who didn't vote as a 'none of the above'. This can easily be done without reveling identifying info on voters, just compare # of votes to # of registered voters. Since registration is optional, on average only people who intend to vote register. Knowing they their vote will be a 'none of the above' unless they specify otherwise should act as an incentive to get out and vote. Perhaps having the 'leave office empty' be the default would be better for those elections many people don't bother with, like sheriff or dog catcher.
  This one has lots of problems with it, but then again so does our current system. Allow candidates to campaign as currently until 6 months before the election. At 6 months before the election take any candidate with over X% in the polls and have them make a list of their top 10 issues. Then do not announce who the people are who made over X%, ban all campagining and advertising for the last 6 months, and prohibt politicians from announcing their lists. At election time the ballot has all issues that were listed and the voter is asked to rank them in order of importance. Whichever candidate closest matched the voters list gets that vote. About the closest you can get to voting the issues instead of the politician in a republic.

On the editorial side: The article is misclassified. The news in the article was just there to hang an opinion about the actions of Democrats on, this should have been in the op-ed catagory.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.

Measuring with a micrometer, cutting with and axe. (none / 0) (#251)
by jolly st nick on Fri May 24, 2002 at 11:07:34 AM EST

That's what most of the currently proposed "reforms" amount to.

In the case of Florida, we are talking about a margin so slim, that the election could have been thrown one way or the other if it were held a day or so earlier or later, or if there were a traffic jam in some major metro area, or any number of minor incidents. I don't think either side would have too much reason to scream bloody murder if the state and fallen into either column; I can say this in all fairness as a Gore voter. The fact is, Gore and Bush were essentially tied in Florida. It's like the time my friends and I flipped a nickel on the table to decide what movie to see, and it ended up standing on its edge.

There is a fierce argument about things which could have thrown the election one way or the other. This is a fruitless exercise. There is no end to objections that could be raised that would throw a few hundred or even thousands of votes into question.

The real problem is this. It is highly likely that absent Mr. Nader (whose right to run in the election I do not for one instant dispute), Gore would have most likely won by a narrow but statistically significant. The plurality election system we use does not give rationally defensible results in any three way race.

There are many other voting systems; I don't want to start a debate on which one is best. Mathematically, none of them are perfect, but practically, nearly all of them are better than what we have now in a three or greater way races.

It's hard to find a web site that talks about the different alternative voting methods without advocating one. Anyone who has been motivated to consider the problem probably has a favorite (mine is Approval voting, although I would also accept Condorcet). Here are a few:

http://www.siam.org/siamnews/10-00/consensus.htm
Good short introductory article from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.
http://condorcet.org/emr/index.shtml
Election methods resource page. Categorizes well known methods and their problems.
http://electionmethods.org/
Advocates for Condorcet method and Approval method, some introductory discussion.
If anyone has any good introductory web resources on voting methods, I'd like to hear.

[ Parent ]
Cutting with an axe or killing a messed up system? (none / 0) (#256)
by godix on Fri May 24, 2002 at 05:14:42 PM EST

I wasn't refering to the 2000 election with my reform ideas, although I did use it to show a few of my points. I'm not really interested in the 2000 election anymore. Both parties showed that they were being run by complete idiots during the entire election, and how long can you discuss 'Boy that was dumb'? You don't want to start a debate on alternate voting methods, while that was pretty much exactly what I'm interested in discussing.

[ Parent ]
I think it's related though. (none / 0) (#258)
by jolly st nick on Fri May 24, 2002 at 06:48:22 PM EST

Which I should have made clearer.

The problem is that we have a system which only works under two parties. If there are only two credible parties, then they will take the following approach: divide the electorate along some arbitrary dimension, and try to balance off the need to keep their extreme wings motivated while poaching as far on the other side as they dare.

Is it any wonder that the parties act functionally stupid? The political struggle is about turf, not ideas.

A voting system which made it possible for additional parties to gain some foothold, and which was simply more responsive to what voters wanted, would destroy the landscape on which political battles are now fought. If you want radical change, this is the only way.

[ Parent ]

I agree (none / 0) (#259)
by godix on Fri May 24, 2002 at 06:58:23 PM EST

I think the US electoral system is very flawed and only works if you define 'works' as meaning no one has successfully overthrown the system yet. I'm for the major changes, but I understand why many other people aren't (although I notice more are after the 2000 elections, it's still a tiny minority). For that reason some of my suggestions might help clean up the system as it is and would not require changing the consitution, but the ones I really like would require a consitutional ammendment. Unfortunatly the reality is that elections will continue to operate the same way they have for the last 200 years, with the occasionally minor change instituted when there are problem elections like we just had.

[ Parent ]
Constitutional changes not needed. (none / 0) (#260)
by jolly st nick on Fri May 24, 2002 at 07:07:38 PM EST

The constitution does not dictate that the electors of the president must be chosen by simple plurality. It doesn't even say this for congressional seats of senators. Any state could simply choose to put in a superior voting system, such as Condorcet or Approval voting. It would probably have to be hashed out in the Supreme Court, simply because the Democrats and Republicans would scream bloody murder, and do their best to confuse the issue of "the principle of one man, one vote" with the principle of equality.

[ Parent ]
am i the only person.... (2.33 / 3) (#187)
by zzzeek on Thu May 23, 2002 at 01:08:34 AM EST

who thinks this line is extremely extremely close to calling spanish speaking voters incompetent ?

On the issue of spanish speaking voters needing special assistance, this smacks of incompetance.
Everything is in English, and Spanish speaking voters dont speak English! Of course they need special help and translations! And you are implying they are just "incompetent" ? I cant believe I read through dozens of comments and not a single K5'er seems to have a problem with this statement. So much for diversity.

I suppose you would next say that there's no need for handicapped access to voting machines, as people in wheelchairs are perfectly able to crawl up the stairs if they want to vote ? Since voting, as you say, should not be convenient ???



No, that isn't what they need. (4.50 / 2) (#202)
by cyberbuffalo on Thu May 23, 2002 at 09:34:11 AM EST

Everything is in English, and Spanish speaking voters dont speak English! Of course they need special help and translations!

They should, *gasp*, learn English.

[ Parent ]

all american citizens have the right to vote (none / 0) (#223)
by zzzeek on Thu May 23, 2002 at 02:20:31 PM EST

are you suggesting if someone doenst speak a certain language, this right is revoked ? or that they have the right, but they should have extra hardship? does the fact that learning a new language takes a significant amount of time come into play ?

voting is extremely important, and placing arbitrary hardships on groups of people who, by US law, have the full right and responsibility to vote, is illegal, as it should be.

There are many concessions made so that everyone is able to vote, such as my example of handicapped access, and absentee voting. Voting is not meant to be a "test" of hardship. Save the "voting is only for the strong" rules for your new libertarian state.



[ Parent ]
Normally I would agree... (1.00 / 1) (#228)
by Eater on Thu May 23, 2002 at 03:38:50 PM EST

...if we were talking about handicapped voters, or blind voters, or something like that, but not in this case. English is the official language of the United States. In order to obtain US citizenship, you must either be born in the US, or pass a citizenship test (it's actually a bit more complex than that, like you have to live in the country for X number of years). One part of the test is, you guessed it, an ENGLISH test. So, if these US citizens are incapable of passing the citizenship test (one can only assume they were born in the US if they are citizens), then why should they be allowed to vote? If there are that many Spanish speaking people that don't speak English, make Spanish a second national language, but until it is, the state has no obligation in my opinion to offer any help to those that cannot understand English. Eater.

[ Parent ]
Dry Up (none / 0) (#232)
by thelizman on Thu May 23, 2002 at 04:25:35 PM EST

Spanish speaking people (who haven't already done so) can learn enough English (at least) to vote. People in wheelchairs can't learn to walk. Quite being a weenie.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Democratic and Democracy. (1.00 / 1) (#190)
by johwsun on Thu May 23, 2002 at 03:56:50 AM EST

If you search in your english dictionary, you will see that the word democratic means also equality on decisions. This is the REAL meaning of Democracy. Democracy is NOT voting for persons, but voting for decisions and ideas.

Thats why nowdays, many of the persons who have democracy running into their veins are feeling sick with all those violators of the Democracy idea.

The word Democratic at the dictionary.. (none / 0) (#267)
by johwsun on Mon May 27, 2002 at 02:09:27 AM EST

From the Collins Cobuild english Dictionary:

Democratic: Something that is democratic is based on the idea that everyone should have equal rights and should be involved in making important decisions.

[ Parent ]

EGADS! (3.00 / 3) (#191)
by gnovos on Thu May 23, 2002 at 04:05:13 AM EST

Unfortunately, however, there will always be the odd person who isn't intelligent enough to figure out a ballot machine (in the case of the 2000 elections, every odd person was clustered into Palm Beach County).

There will, no doubt, also be the odd person who can't pick up a knife without feeling the urge to stab somone with it, but we do not placate his flaws and try and understand his "special needs".  Instead we throw him in the looney jail and leave him there.

If somone is literally too stupid to understand a ballot (and remember, they have an unlimited amout of time in those booths, give or take a few hours, to figure it out), they need to step out of the booth, fold thier ballot in half, and tear it to shreds.  

They don't deserve to vote.

A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen

What a load of FUD (4.00 / 1) (#211)
by outlandish on Thu May 23, 2002 at 11:37:42 AM EST

If somone is literally too stupid to understand a ballot... They don't deserve to vote.

Have you seen the contested ballots from West Palm Beach? Findlaw.com had a pdf scan of them on their website in the days and weeks after the non-election. They're not the easy to understand flip-switch kind that we use here in NYC: they're bits of paper you punch a hole in with a sharp thing. The candidate's name is pretty far from the hole and to make it more confusing it folds in half in such a way that you can only see half the candidates if you do it wrong.

Bush was the top pick, and (because they were working in alphabetical order) Buchannan was the second. Gore was third. A lot of elderly people with poor eyesight made the understandable mistake of thinking that they would list the two top candidates (Bush/Gore) #1/#2 and punched the second hole, falsely casting their vote for Buchannan.

Sure, we'd all like to have only the "smart" and "capable" making decisions as to who's running the country. Heck, I'd like it if people had to get a licence to make babies so they'd prove basic communications and parenting skills, but all that gets you into the dangerous realm of mench/ubermench, dunnit? The real scandal is that we have a faulty, antiquated voting apparattus and until now no-one really cared. I'm originally from Oregon, where all elections are now vote-by-mail. Turnout is up, errors are down. It's the sensible choice to make.


-------------
remote-hosted soapboxing, mindless self-promotion, and salacious gossip -- outlandishjosh.com

[ Parent ]

I hope you are joking (none / 0) (#217)
by gnovos on Thu May 23, 2002 at 12:36:52 PM EST

Have you seen the contested ballots from West Palm Beach? Findlaw.com had a pdf scan of them on their website in the days and weeks after the non-election. They're not the easy to understand flip-switch kind that we use here in NYC: they're bits of paper you punch a hole in with a sharp thing. The candidate's name is pretty far from the hole and to make it more confusing it folds in half in such a way that you can only see half the candidates if you do it wrong.

I have seen the ballots, and there is no way to "fold" them in a wrong way.  The books are welded to the table, and you slide the paper punch in a slot behind the book.  I guess if you intentionally cover half of the book, and if you completely disregard the arrows pointing to the correct holes, and you make no mental connection between the numbers which correspond to the correct hole (for example, never questioning for an instant why the first candidate's arrow has the number 3 instead of the number 1, and oddly is three units down from the top), then yes, you could mess this ballot up...  But seriously, it takes almost a concerted effort to be unintelligent to do this.  If voting in an election is such an unimportant thing to you that you just whip in ther punch randomly without spendsing, say, two minutes examining the ballot, then I say again, you don't deserve to be voting.


A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen
[ Parent ]

spanish etc... (none / 0) (#200)
by cyberbuffalo on Thu May 23, 2002 at 09:01:27 AM EST

A few people have mentioned the language barrier and illiteracy as obstacles to people voting. But if these people were naturalized it shouldn't be a problem since "to be eligible for naturalization, you must be able to read, write, and speak basic English."

Can't read your ballot? Too damn bad.

de-naturalize them all! (none / 0) (#205)
by axxackall on Thu May 23, 2002 at 10:18:44 AM EST

But they have already been naturalized and as such they have all their right to vote.

Fine. Before every election ask all US citizens to pass naturalization exams again - like they do to renew their major national ID, Driver License. What to do with those who failed? There several ways, modern and classic ones:

  • Classic American way: Suspend their right to vote. Wait for new Martin Luter King. Bad way.
  • Modern Geopolitical way: Deport them to Ciprus like Israil has deported Palestinian terrorists. Some Europian countries may take care about them. At some point Europe will stop it as it is not a human-trash place. Then what, ... Russian Sibiria?
  • Communist way: build a special "re-naturalization" campus in Alaska, where students must learn English and how to elect. They would exit only after passing the exam. Otherwise they have to stay and work hard on some chemical or nuclear plants until they pass their exams. Or die.
  • Budda way: Ignore the problem. US elections do not change anything - it's just a show. Once Americal people will learn how to read - they will understand it. And then they will ignore elections themselves.

Personally, I hate all ways I mentioned above.

[ Parent ]

"Forcing" voters to vote would be worthw (none / 0) (#203)
by bobzibub on Thu May 23, 2002 at 10:08:00 AM EST

As a Canadian living in the US (and a political junkie), I believe that a $20 fine for failing to vote would be a useful tool.

Right now, so much US policy is controlled by special interest groups.  Policies on Cuba are controlled by the Cuban swing voters in Florida.  Policies on Isreal are controlled by IAPAC.  Policies on copywrite are controlled by media companies.  The media companies don't even represent voters, simply money;  money which politicians know they can use to target certain segments of voters (who do vote) to the exclusion of the majority.  This is representative democracy at its worst, because of the distortions it creates.

If you folks down here could increase voter turnout from around 20% to around 60% or so, it would make special interests much less powerful in the US political system relative to the well being of the average citizen.  You'd all be better off, not to mention the Cubans and Isrealis.

Some will never vote regardless--You only have two parties making choice difficult.  But at least a small fine for failing to vote would provide some incentive to people to think about it and make the effort.


I don't know about this.. (none / 0) (#207)
by Sc00tz on Thu May 23, 2002 at 10:54:42 AM EST

People wouldn't become more informed or anything, they'll just stop in on their way to/from work, walk in the voting booth, randomly select something and vote for that just to get out of paying the fine.

You'll also hear bitching from the poor saying that rich people can afford to blow it off and pay the $20 but they get the fine even if they're working 2 full time jobs and physically don't have the time to get to the voting booth.
-- http://scootz.net/~travis
[ Parent ]

How about a $20 credit? (none / 0) (#213)
by bobzibub on Thu May 23, 2002 at 12:21:48 PM EST

worth a try?
-b


[ Parent ]
eek (none / 0) (#225)
by vinay on Thu May 23, 2002 at 02:54:25 PM EST

Actually, I find the entire idea of money (either given or taken away) for voting to be kind of nonsensical.

I won't vote on an issue that I'm not familiar with.

I try to stay informed of the things happening around me, but that's not always possible. When it's not, I choose not to vote because I believe that uninformed voting is worse than not voting.

-\/


[ Parent ]
California (none / 0) (#247)
by astatine on Fri May 24, 2002 at 02:26:00 AM EST

has a state law mandating that hourly employees be offered up to 4 hours paid time off on election days to facilitate voting, if memory serves.


Society, they say, exists to safeguard the rights of the individual. If this is so, the primary right of a human being is evidently to live unrealistically.Celia Green
[ Parent ]
Switzerland (none / 0) (#206)
by CaptainZapp on Thu May 23, 2002 at 10:40:32 AM EST

There where some comments about extending the vote-period. Here's how it works in Switzerland (City of Zurich, there might be slight differences).

The voting-/election-/referendum material is sent by mail approximately 1 month before the event. Included is printed material informing about the issues, including what the executive-, legislative branch thinks. The printed matter provides room for the oponents, or the group bringing up the referendum to make their point.

Then you vote on the issues, put the ballots (?) into a sealed envelope, sign the enclosed card, which conveniently serves as the return address, stick the whole enchilada into the envelope in which you received it in and send it up to a week in advance, no postage required.

The sealed envelopes guarantee voting confidentiality and are not to be opened until the actual election weekend. There are ~ 3 referendums on local, cantonal and federal level a year and the ability to vote by mail increased participation by factor 1.8 [educated guess]

If voting were mandatory (none / 0) (#226)
by Fon2d2 on Thu May 23, 2002 at 03:21:39 PM EST

there would need to be a binding none of the above option. Otherwise votes would be meaningless.

A good reason not to vote. (4.50 / 2) (#230)
by jugglhed on Thu May 23, 2002 at 04:10:05 PM EST

In my small town, it's often the case that there are several offices where the only candidate is a Republican. It's something of a joke.

Also, I think the fact that people don't vote doesn't always indicate they are stupid or lazy (or people who 'accidentally' got forbidden from voting because they have the same name as a felon in another state who died in 1976....wait...ok, back to what I was talking about). I think low voter turnout is a sign of alienation from the process, or disgust with the 'at your service for only $1000 a plate at our fundraising dinner' aspects of the government.

There is no "Right to Vote" (none / 0) (#244)
by NateTG on Thu May 23, 2002 at 11:44:17 PM EST

There is no right to vote. Sufferage is a privilege. Originally sufferage was a privilege reserved for those who own land.

Since everyone owned land in the new world, that restriction was impractical, so they established the electoral college as a safety measure. Recall that the electors can vote any way they want, and IIRC have occasionally voted against the state's majority.

Although there would be a civil uprising, the electors could independantly vote in a candidate that got no votes.

The government has a history of denying peope who we now think should have the vote that privilege. Slaves, natives, women, and 18 year olds.

The phrase "Right to Vote" indicates the cavalier attitude that society has taken towards that privilege.

Now, considering that about 3% of the U.S. population is in prison, the denial of sufferage to felons probably had a significant efffect on the result of this most recent election.

Reference for electoral college:
http://gi.grolier.com/presidents/ea/side/elecollg.html

You've Got That Backwards (none / 0) (#270)
by thelizman on Tue May 28, 2002 at 12:05:53 PM EST

There is no right to vote. Sufferage is a privilege. Originally sufferage was a privilege reserved for those who own land.
Voting is a right in a democracy.

Voting as a right was never uniformly guaranteed only to land owners. Some states required that you owned property, others required you to pay a tax, or prove that you had payed taxes.
Since everyone owned land in the new world,
Factually incorrect.
the denial of sufferage to felons
They lose that right when they become convicted of their felony crimes.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
This is all too complicated (5.00 / 2) (#249)
by 0xA on Fri May 24, 2002 at 04:25:35 AM EST

Unfortunately, however, there will always be the odd person who isn't intelligent enough to figure out a ballot machine

Okay so why the machine, really? Picture this pice of paper (whoo ACII art)

| | Bush
| | Gore
| | Nader
etc.

Now to vote I grab my piece of paper and a pencil. Upon my piece of paper I make a mark like so:

| | Bush
|X| Gore
| | Nader

I then proceede over to the box, fold it in half and drop it in. During my country's (Canada) last federal election I even had to have someone help me fold it and stick it in the box as I was dead drunk at the time (I made up my mind the day before). The nice lady who helped me was an official election type with a little badge. Very civilized.

I watched the whole debate over voting machines and chads and all that other garbage on TV. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what all the gear was for. Do you not have pencils in the US?

Now pesonally I wasn't especially excited to go vote last time around. The only candidate I was really considering showed his ass by sponsoring some really negative adds (a first here I think) attacking the ruling party. I ended up voting for the least offensive available jackass, who btw, didn't stand a chance. I felt rather apathetic twards the whole process but I still got off my ass and walked the two blocks to do it.

Ease of use is not the only factor. (none / 0) (#269)
by Just Swing It on Mon May 27, 2002 at 11:01:33 AM EST

When the ballots are to be counted, any system where you just check off a box with a pencil will take a long time to count and is subject to human error (rather than machine error, which is usually smaller) during counting.

Example: 5 sec/voter/ballot option, with 10 ballot options and 10,000 voters will take 500,000 man-seconds to count. That's almost 7 hours with 20 people counting. Consider a punch-card machine (for example, Florida): that's probably around 15 cards per second, regardless of the number of ballot options on each card. With one machine, it will take 666 and 2/3 seconds, or a little more than 11 minutes.

Where I live, in Rhode Island (or Roe Dyelin if you're from South County), we have fancy new systems where you connect an arrow next to the candidate you want: you change:
>--   --> into
>------>
With a felt-tip pen. You then insert the ballot into an optical device which will spit the ballot back out at you if there are marks next to two candidates, or something similar. They even send out literature that includes some sample arrows for you to connect to each of the registered voters before voting time. Before that system, we had the oldest voting machines in the nation: they were huge mechanical booths with a voting board and a curtain. You would enter the both, and pull a lever, closing the curtain and activating the voting board. You would then flip levers next to each ballot candidate or question that you wanted, and a small ``X'' would appear. When you pushed the lever back, the votes would be recorded and the curtain would open. I thought that the machines were simpler, but I guess the new system is quicker to count.
1/((sin x)^2*cos x) - (cos x) / (sin x)^2
[ Parent ]

Citizenship and Responsibility In Voting | 271 comments (247 topical, 24 editorial, 0 hidden)
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