I voted for Nixon! (voting then and now)

A secret ballot doesn’t preclude a correct count, just ensures anonymity. Nobodies business who I vote for. As an extreme example, consider those wack-job people’s democratic-republics who have 100 per cent votes for the incumbent dictator. That’s why we should care about that. A fair, open and yet secret ballot is the key to any successful electoral system. If I had to guess, it may go back to Greek or Roman times?

The Controvert:

To ensure that violence or threats of violence won’t affect the election. If anyone can tell who you voted for, you can (theoretically) become a target for those who are unhappy with that.

You voted for Boss Tweed, right? I sure hope you did, because it’d be a darned shame if you didn’t, and someone came by and accidentally trashed your house. The Boss would sure hate it if that happened.

To be hardnosed about it, life’s a bitch and then you die. Maybe we should have a “vote on wheels” for bedridden people. And, of course there is always absentee voting for those who can’t handle punching holes in cards. How far do we go to cater to the outliers in the distribution?

In addition, it would take a lot to convince me that the Florida hanging chad problem was a result of the handicapped not being able to punch through cards. I get the strong feeling that it was much more likely to be damned fool carelessness.

Apparently, not being perfect is considered to be some sort of outlier. The point is to permit everyone who is eligible to vote. If it means that we need to be somewhat flexible in our methods, so be it. The other direction - eliminating every ballot that is not perfectly marked, punched, voted - runs the risk of disenfranchising too many people. Some of us are willing to make the extra effort necessary to consider those abberrant versions, rather than eliminating their imperfect votes. It’s an inclusive point of view that some folks find obnoxious, obviously. As written above, in this country, there seems to be too much effort at making it too hard to vote as it is. Hardly the image that the paragon of democracy needs to be showing to the rest of the world these days. Or maybe you’d just like to shoot those who are guilty of damned fool carelessness and be done with them?

Isn’t this the real source of the problem:

Instead of focusing on the ballot issue, why not focus on what strikes me as the real problem here - that all the elections are clumped together and makes it technically very difficult to have a single ballot.

Has there been any thought in any state to changing the dates and uncoupling the federal, state and municipal elections?

For example, the federal elections are always held in the even-numbered years. Why not have the state elections always in the odd-numbered years? And the municipal elections in the spring rather than the fall?

That way, since there aren’t federal referenda, the ballot for the federal elections would have at most three choices (Prez-Veep; Senate; Reps), and in mid-terms elections, it might only be one Rep.

Similarly, having all the state elections in the odd years in the fall, and muncipal elections in the spring, would cut down the number of choices that have to be accomodated on the ballot.

It may be more expensive to run, but if it makes it simpler and more reliable, wouldn’t there be some benefits there?

We already have elections every year. How many elections do you want us to have? One election with 30 issues is a damn site simpler than 30 elections covering one issue each.

David, I assume you’ve never used a balky IBM 026 punchcard machine that hasn’t gotten cleaned in a while.

We used to have punch card machines here, and they are my least favorite way of voting. I’m not exactly disabled, but they are a pain, especially when you reach your 20th California Proposition. There is no real feedback to tell you whether you got the hole through.

I too helped my mother vote for Stevenson on an old lever machine in 56. We had them in New Jersey when I lived there, and they are my favorite type. My county tossed out touch screen machines, except for the disabled, and now uses paper ballots read by an optical scanner. It’s a perfect mix of paper ballot and computer counting. It will be interesting to see how they handle all the candidates and propositions, but we include the Northeastern part of Silicon Valley, and they decided they didn’t trust the touchscreen machines for good reason.

Yes, paper ballots with ovals filled in SAT style and scanned by machine make perfect sense. That’s what we have in Washington state, I have no idea why anyone would do anything else.

When we used punch cards in California they were hand punched. You put the card in a fixture that had a hand operated punch that slid on a guide up and down the length of the card. When the index pointer pointed to your choice you pushed the lever all the way to the stop. There wasn’t any of this nonsense about not punching all the way through. Even a child could do it as far as physical effort went.

Now we use the marked paper ballots that are machine read as lemur866 described.

This whole furor about electronic machines is another example of the panic approach to problem solving. Instead of sitting down and figuring out exactly what was wrong in Florida there was a rush to electronics, even in states that had no problems with punched ballots.

The first time I voted (2000), Bernalillo County used the mechanical lever system. I know the county used them for years and years, as you could see the machines everywhere a location was going to be a polling place (I saw them multiple times at various schools growing up–we got the general elections off from school–and at church, for instance) and I rather liked the setup. The last three elections I’ve only voted absentee and now all of New Mexico has gone to paper ballots with optical scanners. I’m not sure what the paper ballots look like, but I’d assume they are exactly the same as the absentee ballots.

How can more elections, held at more times, with more campaigns be simpler and more reliable?

They can’t and won’t. Adding to the number of elections would create more problems. Given the sheer number of elected positions, there really are very few problems and so few contestable races that the small number make the news as oddities.

You admit it would be more expensive and that’s true: it would be vastly more expensive. You have to make the venues available, make the personnel available, and have all the supporting paperwork/bureaucracy available.

It would make party costs skyrocket, since parties can piggyback the costs of the minor elections onto the federal/major state elections. With your plan all races would be separate and volunteers, paid advisers, advertising, polling, mailings, headquarters, and all the other expenses of running campaigns would be duplicated throughout the cycle.

When would the primaries be held? Today all the primaries can be held a few months before November. With your plan, primaries would need to be held near other elections to have time before the next cycle, which would already be onrushing.

And it would certainly cut participation drastically. Anyone involved in government knows how much the percentage of eligible voters falls from a presidential year to a midterm election to an off-year election. Putting all but federal races into off-year and off-month elections would drop voting percentages into the teens.

It’s true that there are many off-month elections for various offices in various parts of the country already. But the trend for decades has been to consolidate elections because the gains from economies of scale are so great.

Per this week’s Time Magazine, all of New York state is still voting by lever.

On my ballot in Los Angeles County, I have 50 separate things to vote on. The majority of them are approving or disapproving members of the State Judiciary, but it still makes for a long ballot.

It’s hard enough to get Americans to vote for President. If you start separating out every election, you will get fewer and fewer people turning out except cranks like me who vote in every election come hell or high water and fill out the whole ballot.

Moved to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

Here we have what is called a blue book, produced by the non-partisan research staffers of the state legislature. It contains the title and text of the propositions, a more or less unbiased description of what the proposition would do, and comments from proponents and opponents. It’s mailed to all voters in the state, and is also on-line. It helps a lot!

Voting is compulsory where I live, but we tend not to vote on things - isn’t that what the politicians are for? Occasionally we’ll have a referendum on an issue if it’s going to affect the constitution. There are calls for a more popular, direct approach to government (involving more direct single issue voting), but I don’t think I like that.

In any event, it’s possible to completely discharge your voting duties on election day by using only two pencil strokes (a “1” marked on both ballot papers, which means you’re voting for that party (and the other parties in order) exactly as your preferred party wants you to - voting “to the ticket”). I’m another crank, and I tend to do the laborious “voting below the line” in which I might give my favourite party my number “1”, but I decide for myself the order of the others. It’s fun being a crank.

[slight hijack]

[Bolding mine]


I have been sitting here staring at my screen for almost 30 minutes now trying to understand that statement.

I sincerely want to believe that you really did not think about what you wrote.

"How far do we go… "???

Are you cereal? We go as far as necessary to insure that any citizen of this country who wants to vote and has registered to vote has the means to cast their vote.

It is a right - guaranteed to every citizen of this country - by The Constitution of the United States.

Along with so many others (perhaps even yourself?*), I put my ass in Harm’s Way to help protect that right for each and every citizen.

As well as your right to express your opinion.

And my right to tell you that I believe that statement of yours shows just how big a jerk you can be at times.

So - while I really do sincerely want to believe you did not mean to say some people should be denied their Constitutional Rights due to some type of handicap, or because they live on the outskirts of acceptable mainstream society - as it stands, I can only see that, at times, you can really be a jerk.

Just like anyone else who engages in communication prior to engaging their brain.

Despite all of that, I am *still *willing to defend, to the death, your right to express your opinion.

Even if I think you’re being a jerk.


*If you are a Veteran, your attitude baffles me even more! Did you forget what we risked our lives for?

Sorry folks, no point to debate here, therefore I don’t think it’s pit worthy … however, I could not let this go completely unchallenged [/slight hijack]

So is my town in Connecticut, for one.