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Redrobes
11-04-2008, 03:39 PM
<snip>

BTW - is election going well. I have another question about that. In our elections we get a election card which we take to the polls. The clerk takes that and finds you on the list then from a thick pad rips off a vote slip / ballot paper and notes down the number of it (from the pad stubs) next to your name on the roster - but the number is also printed on the back of the ballot paper. The vote slip is then punched with a set of holes which somehow authenticate it (or presumably tie it to that polling station and that pad stub) and you vote. Now name and vote slip are tied together so our vote is not anonymous. I read on 'El Reg' today (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/04/peo_pete_inside_the_election_machine/) about the US voter clerk who implied that the US one was anonymous. Can you ask whether that is the case or do they have numbered ballot papers like we do ? I always though it sucked that ours wasn't.

jfrazierjr
11-04-2008, 03:49 PM
BTW - is election going well. I have another question about that. In our elections we get a election card which we take to the polls. The clerk takes that and finds you on the list then from a thick pad rips off a vote slip / ballot paper and notes down the number of it (from the pad stubs) next to your name on the roster - but the number is also printed on the back of the ballot paper. The vote slip is then punched with a set of holes which somehow authenticate it (or presumably tie it to that polling station and that pad stub) and you vote. Now name and vote slip are tied together so our vote is not anonymous. I read on 'El Reg' today about the US voter clerk who implied that the US one was anonymous. Can you ask whether that is the case or do they have numbered ballot papers like we do ? I always though it sucked that ours wasn't.

It is anonymous... Unfortunately, it is so anonymous that voter fraud is fairly easy to accomplish. In many places, you can show a phone bill (even a cell phone) and register. When you go to the polling location, no one asks for any ID, you tell them your name, the find your name in a book of stickers and ask you to verify your address. However, the address is plainly visible, so there is nothing stopping me from voting as my next door neighbor(s). At least that's how it is in my state(states have a lot of control over how the voting laws are configured.)

Redrobes
11-04-2008, 03:59 PM
Ill quote this from that article - its from a guy who operates the booths at the voter stations.



I have a little speech I give sometimes when people ask why we don't ask voters for identification. I tell them that historically, stringent ID checks and literacy tests have been used to disenfranchise the poor and minorities, we don't do that in Iowa, that's the law.


So I can see both sides of the fence here. But you say that even though you don't have much ID proof, the ballot paper is clean of serial numbers etc. It would seem best to me to have stringent proof that you could get one (and only one of course !) but once that's passed you get a blank slip - not some ID tagged one.

I had the feeling it was just Britain (and other nut job control states) that do this sort of shenanigans.

torstan
11-04-2008, 04:32 PM
I'm a UK person in the US so I'm just a fascinated observer. I'll let the actual Americans answer the US electoral questions :)

Interesting question about the gravity gradients. I'd be surprised if you get much in the way of serious tidal forces outside of the central black hole's immediate vicinity. There are a lot of stars, and so gravity will be much stronger - but in freefall - ie when you are out in space - its only the difference in gravity between two points that makes a difference rather than the absolute value of gravity at a point. It needs to be changing pretty fast for that to have a significant effect and I'd guess that only something as exotic as a black hole will have those sorts of gradients in its vicinity. I know that's awfully hand wavy. If I get a chance I'll have a look at getting you something more precise.

jfrazierjr
11-04-2008, 04:39 PM
Ill quote this from that article - its from a guy who operates the booths at the voter stations.



So I can see both sides of the fence here. But you say that even though you don't have much ID proof, the ballot paper is clean of serial numbers etc. It would seem best to me to have stringent proof that you could get one (and only one of course !) but once that's passed you get a blank slip - not some ID tagged one.

I had the feeling it was just Britain (and other nut job control states) that do this sort of shenanigans.

I have no problem with your proposed method, stringent verification of right to vote, followed by anonymous balloting. For example, image you live next to someone who is an invalid, and you know that they cannot get out to vote and failed to fill in an absentee ballot. There is nothing stopping you from going in at 6AM and voting for yourself, and the 7PM going in to vote as your neighbor. Given the long hours of the poll being open, the chance of anyone noticing the same person voting twice is minuscule. And with pretty much non existent ID verification, it would be fairly easy to get away with. Likewise, there is nothing stopping criminals from getting a "free" vote (as Felonies not longer have the right to vote) by doing such as I mention above.

As for poor and minorities being disenfranchised by ID and/or literacy tests, there are many arguments for that. For example, in order for a foreign born national to have the right to vote, they must take a written citizenship test(and pass of course). Is it any more restrictive to hold natural born citizens to the same standard? As for poor, I would ask how the poor are able to function in society without some form of picture ID? At least in my experience, almost every place I have been requires a picture ID in order to write or cash checks, so I assume anyone who has a job would be paid via check and thus would have a picture ID. Even those who are on some form of welfare and have no job would receive said money in the form of a check and thus back to needing some form of ID. Perhaps I am just naive and and vastly misunderstand how many people don't work (for example, those that may be married to someone who does work), but I just can't see the number being that great. AND if there were such a hardship, I would have no problem with the state picking up the tab for the $10 or so it would take to issue such an ID to someone who could not afford it if the result would reduce the chance of voter fraud.

Sorry... I dont want to turn this into a political thread since the goal is to see your super sweet map entry, so perhaps if you want to know more, you can PM me or perhaps open a thread on the general discussion forum.

Steel General
11-04-2008, 04:48 PM
The system is fundamentally flawed, though better than most of the world. It is my understanding that the electoral college is not obligated to follow the popular vote, though they usually do.

Redrobes
11-04-2008, 04:51 PM
Thats great info - I dont want to get political and its not about policies or candidates but about the gov process on this day. Y'see I tell people all the time that the ballot here is not anonymous and they go "well it was when I did it" etc so eventually I did a walk out, got my voting slip and never voted. This was in a local election which is not so important. So I have the proof and so on this day there is the opportunity to turn the ballot paper over and see because most people take it to the booth put the mark on it and fold it and post it. There's no time to examine it in any detail - unless your looking for something.

Well - lets leave it there for the ballot papers unless anyone thinks differently or can tell me that there is a number on it. I would think in the land of the free that you would get a free vote. We all know full well that were not free over here ;)

I think that I will ask the official who is jotting the number down next time and see what excuse he gives.

jfrazierjr
11-04-2008, 05:08 PM
The system is fundamentally flawed, though better than most of the world. It is my understanding that the electoral college is not obligated to follow the popular vote, though they usually do.

Yes, but that is fully by design. Let's just say for example that in New York City, LA, Miami, Seattle, and Philadelphia (I just picked a few cities) there are a combined 110,000 registered voters. Now, say that there is a total of 200,000 registered voters combined. With straight popular vote, if the voters in those cites when 100% for a single candidate for President and everyone else voted for the other candidate, 99% of the landmass of the country is totally unrepresented.

From my understanding, the Electoral college is apportioned almost exactly as the congressional seats are so that a State has an equal number of EC votes as they have Congressional representatives. Each state then has laws as to how they will appropriation those votes. Many states simply award the entire portion to whoever won that states popular vote, which gives some of the same effect as you mention. A few states can apportion votes split, ie part of their votes for one candidate and part to another based on the popular vote percentage. In my state, the ruling party recently changed from the first method (popular vote in the state winner gets all) to have the US popular vote winner getting all. Basically, this was a change since most of the presidential elections have gone opposite of their our state ruling parties favor for years. Not really fair, but hey, we elect these bozos. Hell, I would be fine if we could get a stalemate in the House and Senate and keep the whole damn lot from interfering in our lives, regardless of side....

Steel General
11-04-2008, 07:32 PM
Hmmm... I thought it was based on population as Florida and California have gained some where some of the states in the North East have lost them, but you may be right.

jfrazierjr
11-04-2008, 08:07 PM
Hmmm... I thought it was based on population as Florida and California have gained some where some of the states in the North East have lost them, but you may be right.


It is based on population. Both Congressional seats and electoral college seats are based on per X people within the state. I cant say for sure that they are the exactly the same, but they are generally very close in number if not identical. As populations move around, states gain or loose both electoral college and congressional seats.

Gamerprinter
11-04-2008, 10:10 PM
OK, I voted today, and for whom, well that's my business, however...

I'm all for online voting, by popular vote only and complete elimination of the electoral college. I still believe we need political professionals like senators and representatives to ply congressional muck to respond to their constituents, but shouldn't have overriding power to the popular vote.

With hacking, is there a possibility of fraud, sure but money is exchanged fairly securely online. The level of voting fraud is far less than the joke of local voting laws which allow for all kinds of manipulation, every state, often even every county within a state has its own method and requirements for voting - such that corruption is fairly easy.

By applying the popular vote, the big enemy (in my eyes), lobby groups would have far less power, since the real vote comes from individuals not the "college".

Oh, don't get me started on what's wrong with American politics - I don't want to go there! :(

GP

jfrazierjr
11-04-2008, 10:35 PM
I still believe we need political professionals like senators and representatives to ply congressional muck to respond to their constituents, but shouldn't have overriding power to the popular vote.

I don't want to take your comments at any more than face value hence the underlined part, but I believe 100% opposite in that professional and politician are two words that should be far from ever associated with each other. I am a firm believer in term limits, and for me, the fewer, the better. They should get in, do their job, and get out and go home and get a job.

To me, career politicians are part of the problem with the power of lobby groups. Granted, term limits will not totally destroy this power, but if a person has no chance of being reelected, suddenly lobby/PAC campaign donations are much less of an issue. I think so many people who enter politics do so in good faith and end up being corrupted by the system to maintain power or social status they have manage to aquire.

Gamerprinter
11-04-2008, 11:13 PM
When I said, "political pros", I did not mean career politicians, rather people spending at least a limited term in the full time job of politicking. I could see it as a way of community service that many people from many backgrounds could serve in these positions.

Still, someone with some familiarity and interest in the matters at hand. I'm still refering to such as "them" as in "not me".

I'm all for the democratic process in our government. I couldn't do it, I'd have to be a dictator to participate, I'm not good with "committees". I've some experience in a board of directors for an Art organization - I don't play well with other committee members. Its not for me...

GP

CC_JAR
11-05-2008, 02:11 AM
I would honestly like to see congress open up and have open votes online where any american legal to vote, could vote on issues that congress goes through.

that way, the ordinary people have even more of a say in what they feel is important, they can vote their opinion on whichever topics they feel influenced by.

jfrazierjr
11-05-2008, 09:00 AM
I'm all for the democratic process in our government. I couldn't do it, I'd have to be a dictator to participate, I'm not good with "committees". I've some experience in a board of directors for an Art organization - I don't play well with other committee members. Its not for me...



Heh... I have that disease. Every report card it got in schools had a failing mark beside "Plays well with others"!

jfrazierjr
11-05-2008, 09:31 AM
I would honestly like to see congress open up and have open votes online where any american legal to vote, could vote on issues that congress goes through.

that way, the ordinary people have even more of a say in what they feel is important, they can vote their opinion on whichever topics they feel influenced by.


Errrr, I believe that to be a good idea in concept, but a horrible idea in implementation. The problem is that bills are not just as simple as "Raise taxes on the rich", "cut taxes for everyone", etc. Pretty much every bill comes up with like: "cut taxes on everyone, but every forth person gets a tax increase, and every 9th person gets shot". Likewise, how many people would vote no to the financial bailout package because they percieve it as a way to save "rich" bankers. Granted, I did not support the bailout package, but it had no basis in either political affiliation, nor with class hatred against millionaires. Frankly, I want the government to have less hand in my pockets and life, not more.

Political adds a such a crock... "my opponent voted no for bill xyz", however, no one explains that the person voted no to the bill that would save the endangered doodo bird from extinction because it would cost 20000 people their jobs. It's kind of like asking someone if they would be willing to be shot in the foot for $1000. Very few people would willingly let themselves be shot, but many would for money.

On the same note, the ignorance of many people to vote one way or another based nothing more than liking how a candidate looks or who their parents voted for or what they say they want to do without looking at exactly what they have done in the past is frightening. To be honest, in my adult life, I have never voted FOR any one particular person for President, I have always had to vote against another. For me, it has always been the lesser of two evils, I have held my nose as I marked tbe ballot.

I find it disheartning to see things like the Tonight Show's Jaywalking where Leno walks around asking various people questions and just how ignorant the people are. It's just sad that people who have no idea about history, economics, taxation, etc could in good conciense vote.

Please note, none of what I say should be taken in an inflamitory way. I truely am sad to see people vote for a particular candidate without knowing and understanding what the candidate stands for regardless of political affiliation. I would much rather those people, Republican and Democrats just stay home. Or better yet, look beyond the hype and your parents preferences and investigate the issues, ALL the issues and make an informed vote on things that will help your town, county, state, country, and not just as those that you percieve will help yourself. To understand what I mean by that, let's go back to my gun arguement. How many people would take $10000 if it meant someone ELSE, whom you do not know, had to be shot in the foot? Suddenly, when it's not you, people tend to become a lot more willing to let someone else get the shaft.

Karro
11-05-2008, 11:16 AM
OK, I voted today, and for whom, well that's my business, however...

I'm all for online voting, by popular vote only and complete elimination of the electoral college. I still believe we need political professionals like senators and representatives to ply congressional muck to respond to their constituents, but shouldn't have overriding power to the popular vote.

With hacking, is there a possibility of fraud, sure but money is exchanged fairly securely online. The level of voting fraud is far less than the joke of local voting laws which allow for all kinds of manipulation, every state, often even every county within a state has its own method and requirements for voting - such that corruption is fairly easy.

By applying the popular vote, the big enemy (in my eyes), lobby groups would have far less power, since the real vote comes from individuals not the "college".

Oh, don't get me started on what's wrong with American politics - I don't want to go there! :(

GP


I disagree that the Electoral College should be eliminated. It serves an important function, one of which is to ensure that the many do not trample the rights and beliefs of the few. One of the key successes of America is allowing the majority to have its way only after compromising with the minority in order to ensure that both are as satisfied as possible. The Electoral College enshrines this into the process of choosing a President by ensuring that smaller/more rural/low-population states still have some power--i.e. they are garaunteed 3 Electoral Votes, no matter how small their population, by virtue of having 2 Senators and a Representative in Congress, and no matter what happens to their population, they won't lose those 3 votes.

Conversely, however, I believe that Election procedures, laws, and rules ought to be standardized across the nation. However, this shouldn't be done at the Federal Level, but at the State level. This, for example, is how UPCs and Seat Belt Laws became ubiquitous: not by Federal mandate, but by States banding together and agreeing as one to adopt these standards. It's hard to get the individual States to agree, but it can and should be done, IMO.

Further, I think part of this standardization of the Electoral College process should involve Electoral Vote apportionment. The 2 Senate-based Electors should be pledged to the overall State winner and the remaining Electors in each State should roughly match the net popular vote in that State (This means that a State with only 3 Electors will have all three pledged to the overall winner in that State, but a large State like California with 50+ Electors would have a number of their Electors split between the two main Candidates).

I also think another major problem with American Politics is that we remain a 2 Party System. This ensures that only the most extreme views on either side are the ones nominated by each party: the only way to get Nominated by your Party is to pander to the basest and most reactionary elements at the fringe of your party. (That Obama was able to shift his campaign back somewhat toward the Center, where politically the vast majority of Americans lie, was likely a Herculean feat, and necessary for his final victory.)

I disagree, also that the Electoral College has anything to do with the power of lobbyists (though I agree with Joe that Term Limits on Senators and Representatives could help--especially Term Limits with Senators, who are less beholden to the voting public at large, being elected for 6 years at a time, and therefore more susceptible to the temptations and evils of wealthy lobbyists).

Unfortunately, I don't know a good solution to Lobbying, at the moment, since anything that wiped away the power of large corporate lobbyists would also eliminate the influence of groups of actual concerned citizens, constituents, and voters who had organized to get their opinion known by their Congresspersons. And finding something that would pass the muster of respecting Freedom of Speech would have to be delicately crafted. Unfortunately, our system is currently designed such that it is in our Congress' economic self interest not to craft any such legislation that would eliminate the power and influence of corporate lobbyists.

CC_JAR
11-05-2008, 11:29 AM
Errrr, I believe that to be a good idea in concept, but a horrible idea in implementation. The problem is that bills are not just as simple as "Raise taxes on the rich", "cut taxes for everyone", etc. Pretty much every bill comes up with like: "cut taxes on everyone, but every forth person gets a tax increase, and every 9th person gets shot". Likewise, how many people would vote no to the financial bailout package because they percieve it as a way to save "rich" bankers. Granted, I did not support the bailout package, but it had no basis in either political affiliation, nor with class hatred against millionaires. Frankly, I want the government to have less hand in my pockets and life, not more.

Political adds a such a crock... "my opponent voted no for bill xyz", however, no one explains that the person voted no to the bill that would save the endangered doodo bird from extinction because it would cost 20000 people their jobs. It's kind of like asking someone if they would be willing to be shot in the foot for $1000. Very few people would willingly let themselves be shot, but many would for money.

On the same note, the ignorance of many people to vote one way or another based nothing more than liking how a candidate looks or who their parents voted for or what they say they want to do without looking at exactly what they have done in the past is frightening. To be honest, in my adult life, I have never voted FOR any one particular person for President, I have always had to vote against another. For me, it has always been the lesser of two evils, I have held my nose as I marked tbe ballot.

I find it disheartning to see things like the Tonight Show's Jaywalking where Leno walks around asking various people questions and just how ignorant the people are. It's just sad that people who have no idea about history, economics, taxation, etc could in good conciense vote.

Please note, none of what I say should be taken in an inflamitory way. I truely am sad to see people vote for a particular candidate without knowing and understanding what the candidate stands for regardless of political affiliation. I would much rather those people, Republican and Democrats just stay home. Or better yet, look beyond the hype and your parents preferences and investigate the issues, ALL the issues and make an informed vote on things that will help your town, county, state, country, and not just as those that you percieve will help yourself. To understand what I mean by that, let's go back to my gun arguement. How many people would take $10000 if it meant someone ELSE, whom you do not know, had to be shot in the foot? Suddenly, when it's not you, people tend to become a lot more willing to let someone else get the shaft.

I'm not sure, but you may have misinterpreted what I was trying to say.
Now true, I believe most people should research anyone/thing they are voting for, or not vote if they have no idea (and are just going on preference).
But what I was trying to say was that anyone that felt the urge to vote on bills that pass through congress, could have their say about it, rather than just calling/writing our senators like it is now.

And when it comes to media.. my views on that may be a little extreme (heh, yeah little) But I would like it, if the media would either shut down for the 3-4 months before elections, or just keep their opinions out of it.
There is too much 'telling us what we do/n't want to hear, and too little telling us where they stand, and what they'll really do in office'.

Karro
11-05-2008, 11:36 AM
I'm not sure, but you may have misinterpreted what I was trying to say.
Now true, I believe most people should research anyone/thing they are voting for, or not vote if they have no idea (and are just going on preference).
But what I was trying to say was that anyone that felt the urge to vote on bills that pass through congress, could have their say about it, rather than just calling/writing our senators like it is now.

And when it comes to media.. my views on that may be a little extreme (heh, yeah little) But I would like it, if the media would either shut down for the 3-4 months before elections, or just keep their opinions out of it.
There is too much 'telling us what we do/n't want to hear, and too little telling us where they stand, and what they'll really do in office'.


If the Media shut down during the 3-4 months before elections, how would we research anyone/thing before voting on it? The media is the means by which information is disseminated. (Opinion masquerading as Media Journalism is a different problem, and one that is probably intractable.)

Furthermore, if the Media shut down during the 3-4 months of an election, how would we be able to tell when those who are running for office are lying to us? The fact-checking alone is an invaluable service.

The democratic process breaks down completely with a free and independent news source.

Instead, I think, at least in America, Americans should seek out a variety of news sources, to ensure that they are getting at the facts, and not just reading Opinion Masquerading as Journalism.

[Edit] In your last sentence, it sounds like your problem is the depth and breadth (or lack thereof) of the Candidates' campaigns, statements, and campaign promises. Again, this has little to do with the Media. Ideally, an independent news media only reports what the Candidates are saying. Without a national news media, a candidate can go to one place and make one fatuous promise or statement, and then to another and make a completely different, even contradictory statement, allowing him/her to be elected on a fractured foundation built on lies and/or intentional deceit. We wouldn't hear a word of what they'd "really do in office" if we didn't have a national news media that had the ability to fact check the candidates and call them out when they are being deceitful. (I believe this is largely what brought down McCain's campaign--as you say too little talking about policies and specific plans, and too much... well... I'll let you decide what there was too much of.)

Generally, that's why we have the Debates (which are disseminated via the Media)... it's a forum that forces the candidates to talk about the issues and debate specific policies.

CC_JAR
11-05-2008, 11:49 AM
If the Media shut down during the 3-4 months before elections, how would we research anyone/thing before voting on it? The media is the means by which information is disseminated. (Opinion masquerading as Media Journalism is a different problem, and one that is probably intractable.)

Furthermore, if the Media shut down during the 3-4 months of an election, how would we be able to tell when those who are running for office are lying to us? The fact-checking alone is an invaluable service.

The democratic process breaks down completely with a free and independent news source.

Instead, I think, at least in America, Americans should seek out a variety of news sources, to ensure that they are getting at the facts, and not just reading Opinion Masquerading as Journalism.

[Edit] In your last sentence, it sounds like your problem is the depth and breadth (or lack thereof) of the Candidates' campaigns, statements, and campaign promises. Again, this has little to do with the Media. Ideally, an independent news media only reports what the Candidates are saying. Without a national news media, a candidate can go to one place and make one fatuous promise or statement, and then to another and make a completely different, even contradictory statement, allowing him/her to be elected on a fractured foundation built on lies and/or intentional deceit. We wouldn't hear a word of what they'd "really do in office" if we didn't have a national news media that had the ability to fact check the candidates and call them out when they are being deceitful. (I believe this is largely what brought down McCain's campaign--as you say too little talking about policies and specific plans, and too much... well... I'll let you decide what there was too much of.)

Generally, that's why we have the Debates (which are disseminated via the Media)... it's a forum that forces the candidates to talk about the issues and debate specific policies.

Ok, I was being a little over-exaggerative there.. more truthfully of what I'ld like/ what I meant is,

The media's affiliations should have nothing to do with how they cover the candidates and the topics they cover.

If you noticed in this election, everytime they talked to/about Obama, they held him up on a pedestal (oh god, it's so historic, the first black prresident! ...or possibly female vp..) and everytime they talked to/about McCain they would grill him on all the tough questions!

Where were those tough questions for Obama!? I watched the debates, neither candidate ever gave a clear answer to any question asked!

jfrazierjr
11-05-2008, 12:00 PM
Ok, guys.... let's not get into candidate bashing. The other admins were nice enough to leave this topic open, but it will be closed off if there are any more remarks about a particular candidate or party.

Karro
11-05-2008, 12:06 PM
Ok, guys.... let's not get into candidate bashing. The other admins were nice enough to leave this topic open, but it will be closed off if there are any more remarks about a particular candidate or party.

Sorry... don't mean to let my political affiliations show too clearly (I consider myself one of those centrist Americans I touted earlier).

Karro
11-05-2008, 12:09 PM
Ok, I was being a little over-exaggerative there.. more truthfully of what I'ld like/ what I meant is,

The media's affiliations should have nothing to do with how they cover the candidates and the topics they cover.

If you noticed in this election, everytime they talked to/about Obama, they held him up on a pedestal (oh god, it's so historic, the first black prresident! ...or possibly female vp..) and everytime they talked to/about McCain they would grill him on all the tough questions!

Where were those tough questions for Obama!? I watched the debates, neither candidate ever gave a clear answer to any question asked!

I respectfully disagree that there were not some very hard questions asked of both candidates. Though I had mostly made my own decision relatively early, some of the hard questions asked made me second guess and decide for myself whether those issues brought up were ones I was concerned about. It's up to us as voters to decide whether we think those questions were answered appropriately.

Anyway, I agree that the media's affiliations oughtn't enter into their reporting. However, as I said, I think that's an intractable problem, since human beings by their very nature are biased beings. That being said, one means of combatting the problem is by increasing transparency and disclosure in the media (i.e. the media fully disclosing whom they support and why, so that media consumers can judge the news they receive via that media through the filter of that knowledge). The problem with this, however, is it violates the principle of a secret ballot by exposing the voting paterns of those in the media.

On the other hand, it is relatively easy to discern the general political leanings of any given media outlet, I think. And this fact has contributed to another problem: people on the right get their news predominately from news sources that have a rightward leaning reporting, and people on the left get their news from leftward leaning media. The result is a politically segregated information gap, where each side is only informed by their own echo chambers. I actually make it a personal pursuit to seek out news and ideas from the opposite side--which actually lead me to, at least temporarily, change my political leanings during this election cycle--but this isn't the kind of thing you can mandate... You can't force the media to be completely unbiased, really, and you can't force voters either to inform themselves or, when doing so, to inform themselves in an unbiased fashion.

jfrazierjr
11-05-2008, 12:15 PM
I also think another major problem with American Politics is that we remain a 2 Party System. This ensures that only the most extreme views on either side are the ones nominated by each party: the only way to get Nominated by your Party is to pander to the basest and most reactionary elements at the fringe of your party. (That Obama was able to shift his campaign back somewhat toward the Center, where politically the vast majority of Americans lie, was likely a Herculean feat, and necessary for his final victory.)

I agree that the 2 party power structure is a horrible thing. However, to play devils advocate for a second, multi party systems have not always worked out to well. As an example, my understanding is that there were over 100 political parties(200+ IIRC) in Germany after World War I. I want to state emphatically, that I am not a history major, nor should I be considered an expert. In any event, the German people were fairly destitute and the political infighting between so many parties pretty much meant nothing could get accomplished to help the average Joe in the country. Also, note that this was around the time of the US Great Depression so this whole time period was bad for everyone in the world. Ultimatly, this political infighting lead to a few parties banding together and this lead to the power rise of Hitler. Hitler then began creating his secret police force to silent opponents as well as increasing his military might (which was expressly forbidden by the WWI treaty).

Of course, history is always re-written by the winners of any conflict to make themselves look better, so take this all with a grain of salt and look into the facts and make up your own mind. Your conclusions could be different from mine.

Karro
11-05-2008, 12:26 PM
I agree that the 2 party power structure is a horrible thing. However, to play devils advocate for a second, multi party systems have not always worked out to well. As an example, my understanding is that there were over 100 political parties(200+ IIRC) in Germany after World War I. I want to state emphatically, that I am not a history major, nor should I be considered an expert. In any event, the German people were fairly destitute and the political infighting between so many parties pretty much meant nothing could get accomplished to help the average Joe in the country. Also, note that this was around the time of the US Great Depression so this whole time period was bad for everyone in the world. Ultimatly, this political infighting lead to a few parties banding together and this lead to the power rise of Hitler. Hitler then began creating his secret police force to silent opponents as well as increasing his military might (which was expressly forbidden by the WWI treaty).

Of course, history is always re-written by the winners of any conflict to make themselves look better, so take this all with a grain of salt and look into the facts and make up your own mind. Your conclusions could be different from mine.


Neither am I a history major, just an occassional armchair enthusiast, but I think you're about right. And I agree... multi-party systems are also frought with problems--many problems of which I'm not keen on having crop up here in the USA. That said, I think it might be nice, perhaps ideal, to try having between 3 and 5 major parties.

(Effectively, we kind of do, but they are shrink-wrapped into two permanent party coalitions. On one side you have the Christian/Family Values party permanently tied to the Fiscal Conservative party and the Defense/Warhawk party. On the other side you have the Free-love and Liberal Values parties permanently tied to the Social Reform party, the Environmentalist party and the Government Regulations party [please let those sound mostly neutral to everyone else]. But there's really nothing inherrent to these two coalitions that ought to bind them together. What if, for instance, you have a voter who is a strong Christian Values voter, but who also believes in Social Reform and Environmentalism as well as Fiscal Conservatism... There's not a party that represents this voter's collection of values.)

jfrazierjr
11-05-2008, 12:41 PM
Unfortunately, our system is currently designed such that it is in our Congress' economic self interest not to craft any such legislation that would eliminate the power and influence of corporate lobbyists.

Agreed. That's why we have the abysmal tax system we have. It is really in neither parties favor to make sweeping overhauls of the US tax system. But really, is there any reason for it to be 60,000 pages (or what ever the crazy number is). Why can't it be simple, perhaps 15 pages via some form of National Sales tax. No deductions, no credits, no paper work to keep up with. Personally, I favor the Fair Tax(132 pages) idea brought forth by Congressman John Linder(R-GA) and Neil Boortz(Talk show host), but again, such things get little to no play in Washington due to lobbyists whose interests would not be served. I would expect that large number of lobbyist spend majority of their time dealing with tax issues and such a plan would eliminate this junk entirely.

CC_JAR
11-05-2008, 12:44 PM
Ok, guys.... let's not get into candidate bashing. The other admins were nice enough to leave this topic open, but it will be closed off if there are any more remarks about a particular candidate or party.

sorry about that, I understand.. I just get a little carried away at times..

jfrazierjr
11-05-2008, 12:47 PM
Karro, as a follow up to your post 17, I have always been in favor of the 17th Amendment being kicked to the curb. Being more of a states rights person myself, I would have no problem with a system whereby the Senators were appointed to protect the rights of each individual state rather than by the people's popular vote. This method worked fine for 130+ years. Ah well.. I can keep dreaming...

CC_JAR
11-05-2008, 12:49 PM
Neither am I a history major, just an occassional armchair enthusiast, but I think you're about right. And I agree... multi-party systems are also frought with problems--many problems of which I'm not keen on having crop up here in the USA. That said, I think it might be nice, perhaps ideal, to try having between 3 and 5 major parties.

(Effectively, we kind of do, but they are shrink-wrapped into two permanent party coalitions. On one side you have the Christian/Family Values party permanently tied to the Fiscal Conservative party and the Defense/Warhawk party. On the other side you have the Free-love and Liberal Values parties permanently tied to the Social Reform party, the Environmentalist party and the Government Regulations party [please let those sound mostly neutral to everyone else]. But there's really nothing inherrent to these two coalitions that ought to bind them together. What if, for instance, you have a voter who is a strong Christian Values voter, but who also believes in Social Reform and Environmentalism as well as Fiscal Conservatism... There's not a party that represents this voter's collection of values.)

another thing would be to have equal amounts of money for all candidates running, no fundraising, and limits set for how much they are allowed to spend campaigning.
(ie: no more than 1mil on paper ads, 2.5 mil on transportation, 3mil on tv ads) <thats an example, I have no clue what actual values would be, but just so you understand what I mean..

Karro
11-05-2008, 12:53 PM
Agreed. That's why we have the abysmal tax system we have. It is really in neither parties favor to make sweeping overhauls of the US tax system. But really, is there any reason for it to be 60,000 pages (or what ever the crazy number is). Why can't it be simple, perhaps 15 pages via some form of National Sales tax. No deductions, no credits, no paper work to keep up with. Personally, I favor the Fair Tax(132 pages) idea brought forth by Congressman John Linder(R-GA) and Neil Boortz(Talk show host), but again, such things get little to no play in Washington due to lobbyists whose interests would not be served. I would expect that large number of lobbyist spend majority of their time dealing with tax issues and such a plan would eliminate this junk entirely.

It is mind-numbingly comlex, which makes it easy for those with a well-paid staff of tax lawyers to find loopholes, and a simpler approach ought to be instituted. (However, I disagree with the Fair Tax national sales tax proposal as a replacement for the Income tax, as from what I've read about it I don't think it's really all that fair and will disproportionately tax the poor; some version of progressive income tax is a century-old concept in this country, effectively pioneered by Theodore Roosevelt, who saw that it was necessary to level the playing field of opportunity for all--some may get rich, and that is fine, but the next generation needs the same chance for everyone to get rich as well... or at least that was apparently T. Roosevelt's belief.) But I think a fairer and simpler system than what we have in place can be figured out, if there was the political will for it.

jfrazierjr
11-05-2008, 12:57 PM
another thing would be to have equal amounts of money for all candidates running, no fundraising, and limits set for how much they are allowed to spend campaigning.
(ie: no more than 1mil on paper ads, 2.5 mil on transportation, 3mil on tv ads) <thats an example, I have no clue what actual values would be, but just so you understand what I mean..


I was thinking the exact same thing just yesterday. Would it be nice to see someone become elected that was not already a gazillionaire? Someone the average person could relate to, a dentist, a teacher, a highway construction worker, or a restaurant manager.

Karro
11-05-2008, 12:59 PM
Karro, as a follow up to your post 17, I have always been in favor of the 17th Amendment being kicked to the curb. Being more of a states rights person myself, I would have no problem with a system whereby the Senators were appointed to protect the rights of each individual state rather than by the people's popular vote. This method worked fine for 130+ years. Ah well.. I can keep dreaming...

Hmm. Honestly, I'm not sure what the implications of this would be. Whether we vote for our own Senators or the State Legislature which we voted for appoints our Senators... I don't know quite what difference it would make. Either way, they still think they're above their constituents.


another thing would be to have equal amounts of money for all candidates running, no fundraising, and limits set for how much they are allowed to spend campaigning.
(ie: no more than 1mil on paper ads, 2.5 mil on transportation, 3mil on tv ads) <thats an example, I have no clue what actual values would be, but just so you understand what I mean..

Yeah, I think I'm with you--that would seem most fair--but the Supreme Court apparently disagrees... they think it would be a violation of Free Speech if one party were not allowed to spend more money than the other party, or if we limited what sources the party could use for funding. (i.e. the SC swatted like so many gadflies the few reforms of McCain-Feingold that would have done something even approaching this).

CC_JAR
11-05-2008, 01:00 PM
I was thinking the exact same thing just yesterday. Would it be nice to see someone become elected that was not already a gazillionaire? Someone the average person could relate to, a dentist, a teacher, a highway construction worker, or a restaurant manager.

yeah, sorry if this is endoursing a candidate, but it doesnt matter at this point,
but I saw Sarah Palin as that person, she had only been governor for 2-3 years, before that a mayor of a small town. she wasn't our average politician, she really was an average joe, and didnt have corporate america at heart.

but then again Obama kind of came from nowhere too..

Karro
11-05-2008, 01:03 PM
I was thinking the exact same thing just yesterday. Would it be nice to see someone become elected that was not already a gazillionaire? Someone the average person could relate to, a dentist, a teacher, a highway construction worker, or a restaurant manager.

That sounds like a great idea--the realization of the great American Dream. But those Dentists, Teachers, Highway Construction Workers and Restaurant Managers better work d**n hard to learn everything that is necessary to learn and gain the expertise necessary to run this country and not be a major screwup. Governing this country--whether as a lowly city counselor, state legislator, Congressperson, or President, is an awfully complex and difficult proposition. These days, your average everyperson is simply uninformed enough to even know how our government works, much less have anything approaching the skills necessary to run it. The Founding Fathers knew this was the case, and that's largely why they designed it the way it is.

CC_JAR
11-05-2008, 01:07 PM
That sounds like a great idea--the realization of the great American Dream. But those Dentists, Teachers, Highway Construction Workers and Restaurant Managers better work d**n hard to learn everything that is necessary to learn and gain the expertise necessary to run this country and not be a major screwup. Governing this country--whether as a lowly city counselor, state legislator, Congressperson, or President, is an awfully complex and difficult proposition. These days, your average everyperson is simply uninformed enough to even know how our government works, much less have anything approaching the skills necessary to run it. The Founding Fathers knew this was the case, and that's largely why they designed it the way it is.

that is true, though most of that is the fault of our failed school system. Here in Western NC (Burke Co.), our high schools are where we start learning chemistry, civics, economics, Calculus (if they even teach it)(dont even think about trig), and other subjects that are being tought to middle school students around the world.

jfrazierjr
11-05-2008, 01:08 PM
[quote=Karro;37429]as from what I've read about it I don't think it's really all that fair and will disproportionately tax the poor;/quote]

Note, I can't say I have studied the thing in great detail, but it if you(or anyone), has not looked at it, you might want to get into it more detail. High level, here is what I understand:



Anyone below the poverty level would in effect pay zero taxes.
Everyone else would only pay(federal) taxes on the things they buy.
Drastically reduced complexity. The most involved tax complications would take minutes instead of hours/days.

Granted, i am sure it has it's flaws, but the current system isn't working to well, at least not for me...

Karro
11-05-2008, 01:08 PM
yeah, sorry if this is endoursing a candidate, but it doesnt matter at this point,
but I saw Sarah Palin as that person, she had only been governor for 2-3 years, before that a mayor of a small town. she wasn't our average politician, she really was an average joe, and didnt have corporate america at heart.

but then again Obama kind of came from nowhere too..

It's true, both come from humble backgrounds. The difference is in the level of expertise and knowledge the two have gained. One has a significantly greater level of education and expertise, especially as regards the Constitution itself, than the other. That's what I meant by my above comment about any given everyman that wants to run for office having to work d**n hard to have the skills and expertise necessary to work well when/if they achieve the office they seek. It's hard work, and guts and chutzpah alone will not a good public servant make.

CC_JAR
11-05-2008, 01:13 PM
It's true, both come from humble backgrounds. The difference is in the level of expertise and knowledge the two have gained. One has a significantly greater level of education and expertise, especially as regards the Constitution itself, than the other. That's what I meant by my above comment about any given everyman that wants to run for office having to work d**n hard to have the skills and expertise necessary to work well when/if they achieve the office they seek. It's hard work, and guts and chutzpah alone will not a good government person make.

true but in this circumstance, and this may be going into testy waters again, you have to look at just how they got to where they are, and the choices that they make even now. I'm not going into details, you can look for yourself if you're interested, but one suddenly got sponsored to go to college, the other worked their way through.

jfrazierjr
11-05-2008, 01:13 PM
That sounds like a great idea--the realization of the great American Dream. But those Dentists, Teachers, Highway Construction Workers and Restaurant Managers better work d**n hard to learn everything that is necessary to learn and gain the expertise necessary to run this country and not be a major screwup. Governing this country--whether as a lowly city counselor, state legislator, Congressperson, or President, is an awfully complex and difficult proposition. These days, your average everyperson is simply uninformed enough to even know how our government works, much less have anything approaching the skills necessary to run it. The Founding Fathers knew this was the case, and that's largely why they designed it the way it is.


Oh... I understand your apprehension, but I think the debate/campaign process would ultimately let the people weed out the idiots (of which there may be many) Besides, no matter your political affiliation, can you really look at Washington and say "most" of those bozos up there have your individual best interest at heart above their own? I can't.

Karro
11-05-2008, 01:20 PM
that is true, though most of that is the fault of our failed school system. Here in Western NC (Burke Co.), our high schools are where we start learning chemistry, civics, economics, Calculus (if they even teach it)(dont even think about trig), and other subjects that are being tought to middle school students around the world.

I have yet to figure out this dichotomy: how is it that we have one of the worst public primary and secondary education systems in the world... and yet one of the best (if not the best) collegiate and university systems in the world. I don't know, but the facts speak for themselves.

Anyway, I agree wholeheartedly. Our early public education needs to be overhauled. Unfortunately, by all accounts, "No Child Left Behind" wasn't the thing that will do it.

Karro
11-05-2008, 01:39 PM
true but in this circumstance, and this may be going into testy waters again, you have to look at just how they got to where they are, and the choices that they make even now. I'm not going into details, you can look for yourself if you're interested, but one suddenly got sponsored to go to college, the other worked their way through.

I've investigated the matter as much as I felt was necessary, and done my best to separate the slander from the facts. There is a lot of misinformation regarding said topic, and it's impossible to know with absolute certainty what the real truth is. Further, Obama is not the first to have records of this sort sealed off (both the Bush and Clinton White House bids enjoyed a similar lack of transparency). Given that, I made the decision to ignore that which is not verifiable as fact, and not to be swayed by rumor and innuendo.


Oh... I understand your apprehension, but I think the debate/campaign process would ultimately let the people weed out the idiots (of which there may be many) Besides, no matter your political affiliation, can you really look at Washington and say "most" of those bozos up there have your individual best interest at heart above their own? I can't.

Touche. Although I don't know if I trust the collective idiot filters of a nation with a sub-par education, either. It's a catch-22, I guess.


[quote=Karro;37429]as from what I've read about it I don't think it's really all that fair and will disproportionately tax the poor;/quote]

Note, I can't say I have studied the thing in great detail, but it if you(or anyone), has not looked at it, you might want to get into it more detail. High level, here is what I understand:



Anyone below the poverty level would in effect pay zero taxes.
Everyone else would only pay(federal) taxes on the things they buy.
Drastically reduced complexity. The most involved tax complications would take minutes instead of hours/days.

Granted, i am sure it has it's flaws, but the current system isn't working to well, at least not for me...

I have read a bit about it already. (I was curious about this alternative to paying taxes as I do now.) I don't see how it can possibly remain simple, for us the taxpayers, and meet the criteria you list though. If there are certain people who will not be paying taxes, by virtue of their poverty, then this would entail that there be some system, almost necessarily a complex system, to discern those who have an obligation to pay the tax from those who do not. And as a general rule, I think it undertaxes the vast resources of those very wealthy who conspicuously don't consume (while their consumption may be lavish, as a percentage of their wealth, it their spending is proportionately less than the spending of most middle-class Americans) as opposed to the large middle class who conspicuously consume...

jfrazierjr
11-05-2008, 02:15 PM
Touche. Although I don't know if I trust the collective idiot filters of a nation with a sub-par education, either. It's a catch-22, I guess.


Heh.... well....again, how is the current system any different/better? People still tend to vote for people that they like based on personality(or the effectiveness of the opponents negative adds really), not based on what the persons political goals are. Ultimatly, being rich does not nessisarily make one better qualified by default to lead the country, nor does education a leader make. Of course, I would feel a bit better about a candidate who built their own wealth, especially one who had created wealth and lost it for some reason and rebounded, than someone who was born into wealth.

CC_JAR
11-05-2008, 02:20 PM
I have yet to figure out this dichotomy: how is it that we have one of the worst public primary and secondary education systems in the world... and yet one of the best (if not the best) collegiate and university systems in the world. I don't know, but the facts speak for themselves.

Anyway, I agree wholeheartedly. Our early public education needs to be overhauled. Unfortunately, by all accounts, "No Child Left Behind" wasn't the thing that will do it.

no child left behind, in fact slows the learning of the children who can compete.. we need more of a specialization in our schools..

Now I cant personally blame the schools for my actions, but as I went through school, the way they had it set up, was 75% of your final grade was the end of grade (or EoG) test, and I knew this, so I didn't do any of the work during the year, because I already understood it, and it bored me.
I made perfect 4's on the EoGs, and therefore passed.
However when I got to high school, the End of Course (or EoC) tests were only worth 25% of the final grade, and my work ethic was so skewed by that point, that I failed many of my classes.

Now if there had been more of a specialization for me at a younger age, I wouldn't have gotten bored with my work, and I would be in a college right now under a good scholarship, on my way to doing something great, but instead, here I am stuck in a backwoods town, perhaps for the rest of my natural life.

Karro
11-05-2008, 03:14 PM
Heh.... well....again, how is the current system any different/better? People still tend to vote for people that they like based on personality(or the effectiveness of the opponents negative adds really), not based on what the persons political goals are. Ultimatly, being rich does not nessisarily make one better qualified by default to lead the country, nor does education a leader make. Of course, I would feel a bit better about a candidate who built their own wealth, especially one who had created wealth and lost it for some reason and rebounded, than someone who was born into wealth.

There's the catch-22. The current system pretty much is full of holes and generally sucks, but it's proven profoundly difficult to find an alternate system that isn't also full of holes or sucks in whole new and different ways. And even if we could, since there is no political will to enact change, it would be profoundly difficult to institute such change. (I read an article today that referred to the U.S. Senate as "the place sweeping reform goes to die", and suggested that this is exactly the way the Founding Fathers intended it to be... I think it's right on both counts.)

But yeah, I agree, I'm no big fan of the idea of the people who run our country being little more an unofficial aristocracy of inherrited wealth. That's the barely concealed reality, generally, but it still rankles. The American dream is one of self-made wealth and prosperity. It still happens, but it's getting harder to make it happen all the time.



no child left behind, in fact slows the learning of the children who can compete.. we need more of a specialization in our schools..

Now I cant personally blame the schools for my actions, but as I went through school, the way they had it set up, was 75% of your final grade was the end of grade (or EoG) test, and I knew this, so I didn't do any of the work during the year, because I already understood it, and it bored me.
I made perfect 4's on the EoGs, and therefore passed.
However when I got to high school, the End of Course (or EoC) tests were only worth 25% of the final grade, and my work ethic was so skewed by that point, that I failed many of my classes.

Now if there had been more of a specialization for me at a younger age, I wouldn't have gotten bored with my work, and I would be in a college right now under a good scholarship, on my way to doing something great, but instead, here I am stuck in a backwoods town, perhaps for the rest of my natural life.

I was lucky enough to get through my public schooling, and finish college, before NCLB came along. And even though I went to a small, backwater college in a backwater town (after graduating from a backwater high school), simply by virtue of the fact that the U.S. Universities are generally so stellar, even my crappy State University provided a decent education.

But most of my graduating high school class probably knew less coming out of High School then they knew going in.

jfrazierjr
11-05-2008, 03:32 PM
But most of my graduating high school class probably knew less coming out of High School then they knew going in.

lol. It's amazing to see that 3rd grade Standardized tests kids are generally staying the same or getting better, while the 8th grade tests are generally falling when compared to other countries. It's like the longer you go to school, the dumberer you get. Don't get me wrong(I am a college drop out, which I attribute mainly to ADD now that I have been diagnosed at the age 35), I have several teachers(Mother, cousin, one deceased aunt, another aunt) in my family and I don't blame them, I blame the buttinskis in the "administration" who basically handcuff them the ability to actuall do their job with any success. It's almost like those in charge want them to fail , and are lowering the bar every year(hmmm perhaps I should go find my tinfoil hat :)).

Korrigan
11-05-2008, 05:22 PM
If I can allow me to put the focus back to the primary subject (which was, I think, electoral system)...

I'd like to give you a hint of how things are done in my small country...

In Belgium, voting is not a right, it's a duty. Every person over 18 y.o. has to go voting, not to vote being a crime. Each voter gets a summoning around 1 month before the election day telling you where you have to vote. On the D-Day (which is ALWAYS a sunday, so that fewer people are working) you go to the voting place (primary schools - always), give your ID to the official (BTW what's that about picture ID and non-picture ID - we all have the same ID, here) who marks your name in the list, then you receive your ballot paper - which is free from all personal marks - and vote.

Any ballot paper bearing personal marks such as name, adress,... is disqualified and counts as a blank vote (you have to go voting but can decide to vote for no one, here).

Political system here is fully representative (there is no "winner takes all", representation is proportional). We have 4 major parties (socialist -means left wing but not communist-, liberal -means right wing, not progressist-, ecologist and catholic -called humanist now, cause they want to free from religious references) and a lot of others who don't get more than 2% of the votes. Parties must then negociate and form coalitions to have a majority.

I'll pass on language-related issues, our country having three official languages (french, dutch and german), but the northern part (dutch speaking) and the southern part (french and german-speaking) have different parties - 4 to the south and 5 to the north (they have a major extreme-right party there).

The system is far from perfect, but it kinda works...

We are coming back from electronic voting. We bought it cause politicians told us it was safer, cheaper and faster than paper votes. It comes now that there are more frauds and errors, it is 4 times more expensive and we only gain two hours for the results. I prefer the good old paper ballot, seems more democratic to me (there are a chosen number of independent citizens and parties witnesses to do the counting, and democratic control is purely impossible with the computer assisted method).

Well, I think it is almost all. I thought it could be interesting to have the point of view from a European citizen on how things work here. It's fairly different because of two major differences : 1 We have a much much much smaller country, with as many inhabitants as in NY. 2 We don't have the same political culture.

I hope it interested you (anyway you didn't have to read it if it didn't ;-) ) and it was understandable (my english isn't as good as I would want it to be - especially for such technical matters)...

If you have any question don't hesitate - I love talking about politics...

Karro
11-06-2008, 01:08 PM
If I can allow me to put the focus back to the primary subject (which was, I think, electoral system)...

I'd like to give you a hint of how things are done in my small country...

In Belgium, voting is not a right, it's a duty. Every person over 18 y.o. has to go voting, not to vote being a crime. Each voter gets a summoning around 1 month before the election day telling you where you have to vote. On the D-Day (which is ALWAYS a sunday, so that fewer people are working) you go to the voting place (primary schools - always), give your ID to the official (BTW what's that about picture ID and non-picture ID - we all have the same ID, here) who marks your name in the list, then you receive your ballot paper - which is free from all personal marks - and vote.

Any ballot paper bearing personal marks such as name, adress,... is disqualified and counts as a blank vote (you have to go voting but can decide to vote for no one, here).

Political system here is fully representative (there is no "winner takes all", representation is proportional). We have 4 major parties (socialist -means left wing but not communist-, liberal -means right wing, not progressist-, ecologist and catholic -called humanist now, cause they want to free from religious references) and a lot of others who don't get more than 2% of the votes. Parties must then negociate and form coalitions to have a majority.

I'll pass on language-related issues, our country having three official languages (french, dutch and german), but the northern part (dutch speaking) and the southern part (french and german-speaking) have different parties - 4 to the south and 5 to the north (they have a major extreme-right party there).

The system is far from perfect, but it kinda works...

We are coming back from electronic voting. We bought it cause politicians told us it was safer, cheaper and faster than paper votes. It comes now that there are more frauds and errors, it is 4 times more expensive and we only gain two hours for the results. I prefer the good old paper ballot, seems more democratic to me (there are a chosen number of independent citizens and parties witnesses to do the counting, and democratic control is purely impossible with the computer assisted method).

Well, I think it is almost all. I thought it could be interesting to have the point of view from a European citizen on how things work here. It's fairly different because of two major differences : 1 We have a much much much smaller country, with as many inhabitants as in NY. 2 We don't have the same political culture.

I hope it interested you (anyway you didn't have to read it if it didn't ;-) ) and it was understandable (my english isn't as good as I would want it to be - especially for such technical matters)...

If you have any question don't hesitate - I love talking about politics...

Making it illegal not to vote would never fly here in the U.S. Regardless of whether you had to choose a specific candidate or not, requiring people to vote would be considered as much of a strike against civil liberties as refusing a legitimate voter the opportunity to vote--maybe even more so (vis-a-vis the attempts by one party or another to try to suppress the get-out-the-vote efforts of the other party or to challenge new registrations, etc.)

It is interesting to learn about how other countries do it.

Korrigan
11-06-2008, 04:48 PM
Making it illegal not to vote would never fly here in the U.S. Regardless of whether you had to choose a specific candidate or not, requiring people to vote would be considered as much of a strike against civil liberties as refusing a legitimate voter the opportunity to vote--maybe even more so (vis-a-vis the attempts by one party or another to try to suppress the get-out-the-vote efforts of the other party or to challenge new registrations, etc.)

It is interesting to learn about how other countries do it.

It is a law that was put up when the votes were censal here in belgium (back in the mid-19th century) and when it was necessary that everybody who had the right to vote did so.

The law has never been changed since but somehow I think it isn't worse... Problems of citizens not enough involved seems to be quite the same where voting isn't an obligation...

Anyway, the controls are seldom and you don't risk a lot if you fail to vote once... but if you are caught failing a few times, you can say goodbye to some of your civil rights (voting, being elected, and a few others I never remember - I never had to know, I was into politics even before I could vote ;) )... and of course you'll have to pay a fine...

Redrobes
11-06-2008, 07:03 PM
Thats interesting Korrigan. I dont want to too much extended life to this thread but ill say how ours works just for interest. There may be some errors in it but its basically about it.

We don't have to vote but about half the population do on the general election which is every 5 years or so. The country is divided up into regions called constituencies which is represented by a Minister of Parliament or MP. Each constituency is supposed to contain about the same number of people but is adjusted for geography too. When you vote you vote for which MP you want in your area not for the total government party. The MP is usually affiliated with one of the main parties but can also be an independent. When the MP is affiliated with a party he/she is supposed to generally go with the party policies but can vote against the party in which case he is known to rebel on certain issues. I.e. its important to know what your MP thinks as well as the party line. Only one MP is elected per region so all the losing MP's votes in a region are discarded. I.e. we don't have proportional representation and is kinda similar to the US representatives.

The Houses of Parliament (the building you see on the TV with Big Ben clock) is made up of all the MP's and votes on law are made with them each having a vote. There are usually two main parties of the left and right (although both are very center nowadays) so if the number of MP's in the house is nearly even then the effect of the smaller parties is more exaggerated because their alliance with one or the other makes a big difference - i.e. lots of back room deals and corruption fosters. If one party has an even modest majority then there is almost nothing anyone else can do - i.e. abuse of power with little moderation.

Once bills are voted into law they then go on to the House of Lords where it all gets kind of messy. The Lords are a group of unelected people of significance and often large land owners and also often of historical significance. I am not sure how you can become one but the old prime minister Margret Thatcher gave herself an hereditary peerage which meant she became one and also that all her children and grandchildren will take on the title. She is now Baroness Thatcher because of it. Some of the Lords take their place in the House of Lords and some others do not and a few choose to go and yet say nothing. Its odd. Anyway, their job is to look at the proposed new law and decide if it is enforceable within the justice system. They often throw laws which have just been passed out or bounce them back to parliament for amending. Parliament can override this in a similar way that the US president has presidential veto. Once a bill passes the Lords then its signed by the Queen and is then active. She otherwise has very little formal activity in the process of government though the prime minister consults with her each week so I guess her ideas do get in there somehow.

Well that's our system and I think by the state of my country it shows that it doesn't work. The system leads to short term thinking where getting into government for the next cycle is more important than the process of government itself. Governments of all parties and over many years have sold off the profitable, valuable and working bits of the country's infrastructure to give them the money to stay in power rather than leave it to the next party but all have had to take on the necessary unworkable rest of system. But they have hardly anything left of worth to sell now so its all falling apart.

The problem is that the vast majority of people don't vote for the ones which will make things right for the country - only what will immediately benefit their own circumstances in isolation. We also have very similar policies by all parties and that because minority parties votes are discarded then if you vote for anyone but the bigger ones you might as well not vote at all. This leads to many people thinking that its pointless voting generally and the cycle continues. Also, the two big parties don't want to change that system and the smaller parties do, so the system will not change unless there is mass civil unrest which is very un-British.

Im not going to dwell on actual parties except one. Our longest serving electable MP who never actually won any of his elections and who has unfortunately died is a chap known as Screaming Lord Such (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screaming_Lord_Sutch) of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_Monster_Raving_Loony_Party).

That scene in Monty Python was directly parodying him and Lord such then had an MP elect in one of the constiuencies named after the sketch as:

Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarquin_Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F%27tang-F%27tang-Ol%C3%A9-Biscuitbarrel#Candidates)

But best of all, his party actually won a council seat in a by election. And some of their extraordinary election manifesto ideas have actually become law - like the passports for pets which you can actually get in the UK now.

You don't see so much of them any more since the death of Such which I think is a tremendous pity.

Korrigan
11-07-2008, 01:19 AM
I didn't know your famous english sense of humor which I am fond of had room in politics too ;)

Actually, different systems interest me a lot for the world I'm building... One of the countries in it discovered democracy recently and I realize that the system I created looks a lot like yours !

But considering what you were saying about short-time view in politics, we have pretty much the same problem here. Federal elections are every 4 years, regional elections every 5 and local elections every 6... Make the count and you'll see that we vote close from every year... Which greatly limits political courage at every level of power... But I have no miracle solution to counter that, especially since I see other democratic systems face the same problems...

I'd be curious to discover how things work in Australia or South-Africa...

Karro
11-07-2008, 11:05 AM
I didn't know your famous english sense of humor which I am fond of had room in politics too ;)

Actually, different systems interest me a lot for the world I'm building... One of the countries in it discovered democracy recently and I realize that the system I created looks a lot like yours !

But considering what you were saying about short-time view in politics, we have pretty much the same problem here. Federal elections are every 4 years, regional elections every 5 and local elections every 6... Make the count and you'll see that we vote close from every year... Which greatly limits political courage at every level of power... But I have no miracle solution to counter that, especially since I see other democratic systems face the same problems...

I'd be curious to discover how things work in Australia or South-Africa...

I think the time horizon is an ever-present problem of representative democracies. If the time between elections is too short, the representatives are given to focusing exclusively on the next election cycle. They are constantly in election-campaign mode, and never focused on actually getting anything done. Too long, and the representative stays in power so long that they stop caring what the constituent public thinks or cares about, and becomes influencable primarily by financially powerful special interests. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be an equilibrium point between the two extremes, as somewhere around the middle, the two problems start to overlap a little, and then you have to deal with corruption from two directions at once! It takes some serious moral integrity to overcome these twin pitfalls...