Friday, October 24, 2008

Talk about voting

This year a large number of people who are registered to vote are expected to vote. The Board of Elections for my area expects an 80% turn out. They are completely not prepared for it, expecting many law suits. To lesson the impact of massive crowds they are allowing early voting this year. Which makes me wonder how many people will vote early and how long the lines will be for voters? During the primaries my voting place had a fairly large turnout and not enough voting machines. I had to wait over an hour and a half to vote and others had to wait even longer. I came during a time of day not expected to be as crowded, many people have to work on that day and can't come until after work so it becomes really crowded.

Personally I like that we are allowed to vote early now, but I still think that Election Day should be made into a national holiday so that more people can show up. People will still have to work, since many places do not give holiday's off and people can't afford to leave work to vote, but it would allow some people to vote that wouldn't otherwise. If not a federal holiday at least a state holiday. My state is kind of in need of a holiday, since there are no state holiday's for my state.

A lot of the voting practices really annoy me. The one that bothers me the most is that my county had purchased many electric voting machines (touch screens) spending somewhere between 21 million and 35 million (the exact amount is unknown to me since several different source's of information give different figures). They then spent an additional 14 million supposedly in training poll workers how to use them, mailing instructions in the use of them to voters, and related costs. The machines had many errors, particularly in my county, which resulted in many lawsuits (makers of the touch-screen voting machine's used in my area even acknowledged that the machines have a programming error that led to votes being dropped in the March primary). This cost the county and the state millions more dollars. The machines slowed down the voting process quite a bit, enough so that judges ordered polling places to stay open for hours longer than they were supposed to. For this election they are not using those voting machines, they are returning to the very basic, least error prone, cheapest means available - namely paper and a pencil where you just fill in the circle for who you want to vote for. What the hell are they now going to do with all those crappy voting machines they purchased that have no use? In case you were wondering prior to the electric voting machines they used the punch out cards that caused so much trouble in Florida, resulting in problems here as well (things like lawsuits, demand for recounts and hanging chads). I wonder what problems reverting back to paper is going to have, the most obvious one I see is that some places are not going to have enough ballots on hand.

I have voted in just about every election that I have been able to. Though I did miss two (that I know of), one because it truly did not matter to me - any of the candidates up for election would have been acceptable (mainly because it was for a replacement who will only be in office for a very short time before they have to run for office). The other time was because I did not know about it, they had a special election that had next to no publicity for one issue, this one angered me because I would have voted against it and many others would have as well had they known of it's existence.

The reason I vote is because I feel it is important to do so. It's the easiest means of effecting change in the government. Though I do admit that it sometimes feels like I'm voting for the lesser evil. Way too much corruption, particularly near me. The FBI/IRS has raided county offices. The local city government has made so many damn mistakes it's ridiculous, not going to go into that at this time, just think of the most incompetent things you can think of and it probably is worse than that.

While some people might argue that there is no point to vote, I don't agree. Look at how close the last presidential election was a few hundred people could have changed the results. Even if you think the person you'd like to win, will win if you vote or don't vote, remember they have to win electoral votes not just have the majority of votes. Meaning they need to win area by area not just overall. History shows this, since the person with the popular i.e. majority hasn't always one. For example, the 1876 election Samuel Tilden had the popular vote but Rutherford B. Hayes won the electoral college (could use the much more recent example but figure most people know that one and I want to point out that it has happened before).

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