Sunday, September 24, 2006

Polls are like casinos (Part 2)

One Voter's Adventures From Primitive Pleb To Savvy Sovereign

... continued from Part 1 (Saturday, September 23) ...

The first several times I voted, I looked just like the people I usually see at the polls ~ serious, bored, and somewhat tense.  Although I had researched and carefully considered, there were still lots of question marks.  I felt the weight of the future decisions "my" candidates would make if they won their races.  Serious business, this delegation of decision-making.

After putting that much effort into voting, I felt obliged to follow up by reading the results the next day.  I happened to notice a peculiar pattern in my ratio of input to output.  As one election cycle followed another, I learned more about issues and candidates and adjusted my selections accordingly.  But as I gained more and more awareness, the candidates I selected got fewer and fewer votes, until I had a better chance of winning a lottery jackpot than my candidates had of winning their races.

Being a mathematician of sorts, my attention was piqued by this puzzle. Might these events be correlated?  I commenced to muse...

My first theory is inspired by an old joke known among number-nerds like me, that is, that the state lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math.  Going a step further with that reckoning, one concludes that voting is community service for people who are bad at logic.

Heretical, maybe even blasphemous, to say this in a nation of loudly touted democratic ideals, but bold is my mode, so I'll say it again: One is as true as the other.

... to be continued ...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Polls are like casinos (Part 1)

One Voter's Adventures From Primitive Pleb To Savvy Sovereign

Going to the polls is like going to the casino, with less noise, fewer strobes, no food, and longer lines.  I fully agree it's not the same thrill, but voting is less work and more fun when your purpose is to entertain yourself.

... to be continued ...

OGM: I'm listening...

Hi.  Christy Welty's busy, so I've just been sitting here, waiting for your call.  Now that we're connected, I want to hear everything!  So tell me; I'm listening...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Votedown at the OK corral

I voted earlier this evening (on Tuesday) in our local school board election.   Noticed lots of little changes.   The voting booths had new digs in the room right beside the room that the last school district election was held in.   The voter registry had new printouts on standard copier paper, not the green-and-white-striped oversized paper that goes through old-fashioned spoke-fed printers.   The printouts had bar codes next to the name of each registered voter, lending an aura of product processing (some call it efficiency) to the atmosphere.   There was a brand-new vote counting machine, one of those electronic devices.

Some things had not changed since the last school district election ~~

Each voter still got to mark a sheet of paper with their choices.   There is a very active and alert group of voter advocates in this county who insist that paper ballots not be replaced by all-electronic systems.   They believe a paper trail helps maintain the integrity of voting system.   (They were proved right just 3 months ago.)

The volunteer poll workers were efficient and kept traffic going through the office at a steady pace, and even near the end of the day after repeating their instructions hundreds of times, they continued to be pleasant to interact with.

Yet, same as the last election, the atmosphere was tense, but it didn't seem to come from the poll workers.   It seemed to come from the voters.   Taking part in this exercise seemed not just a chore, but a contest.   And I suppose it was.   Same as the last election, it was a contest between the spending large and spending less.

It's too bad people take this exercise personally.   On the other hand, how could they not?   One side wants to reach into people's pockets to take more money, and the other side wants their money left alone.   Of course it gets personal.   When one's money gets hijacked by taxes because of other people's votes, it kinda gets one's undies in a bunch.   It would be really nice to say, "If you want to spend money on your pet projects, go right ahead, have yourself a ball and invite all your friends, but leave me and my money alone!"

But Iowans act so civil and polite to each other ~ especially the kind of Iowans who show up at the polls thinking that if more people vote for a hijacking than vote against a hijacking, then that hijacking must be fair.

I suspect this is why so many people don't vote.   Voting doesn't establish truth or justice.   In most elections these days, voting merely establishes what kinds of charades get played during the following season.

I refuse to take the holdup personally.   It's easy for me -- I have very little earnings or spendings to tax.   But I can't help but think that the people who vote for more taxes do have a grudge against anyone who doesn't agree with and share their spending priorities.   Why else would they try to force other people to pay for their choices?