19 October 2008

American Voting

Traditionally, Americans vote by going on a certain day to a prearranged place in their general neighborhood. It might be an actual government building, a public school, or even a church. It can't be some other place than the assigned one, which is decided by home address, and it has to be between certain hours.

Once there, we might stand in long lines if we go at the same time as everyone else in the neighborhood. Then we are confronted with lots of names that we may have never heard of,* vying for obscure governmental positions that we may also have no clue about.** And at the end there are usually a bunch of questions about referendums, propositions, initiatives, constitutional amendments, etc. that are worded as confusingly as possible so that we have no idea what any of them would actually do if enacted.*** In Georgia, these tend to be about taxes. Shall we tax this group of people if they meet these particular qualifications? Shall we give tax breaks to this other group of people if they don't? etc.

But now we have the Internet! Furthermore, at least here in Georgia, we no longer need a reason to apply for an absentee ballot - we can get one for fun if we want. And since I want, this year I did. So I could look stuff up while I'm filling it out. Then send it back out in the mail at my leisure. It's working out a lot better this way overall. I'm not looking up as much stuff as I could,** but I like having the option. :)

* Seriously, the only time I ever got non-"vote for me!" pleas in the mail from a candidate at less than the federal level was 20 years ago back in Indiana. Her name was Vi Simpson, a state rep, and I kept voting for her simply because she actually tried to keep me up to date on what she was doing. Hers is also the only name I remember. Likewise why I vote for U.S. Rep John Barrow now - I get mail from him several times a year. (Well, that and the fact that up until this year, the other guy was this crazed rabidly anti-gay wacko...).

** This year there's tons of judges and assorted bureaucrats running unopposed. I'm too apathetic to figure out who they are or what their positions do.

*** To wit: just take a look at what the second one for this year says: "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize community redevelopment and authorize counties, municipalities, and local boards of education to use tax funds for redevelopment purposes and programs?" To which I ask the obvious question, community redevelopment purposes such as ...? Now read the explanation under it. Does that clear it up at all? :p It sounds like they're saying "we should let developers steal tax money meant to run our public schools" to which I'd have to go with "no."

(But see also this blog post, which breaks it down a lot better than the official government-run site and also provides links to actual documentation. Where would we be without the Internet?)


Janiece said...

Could mail-in ballots be any more fabulous?

MWT said...

They are indeed dandy. :)

Nathan said...

Sorry, I still like pulling the levers. (And I don't vote for the judges because I haven't got a clue who any of them are.)

Anonymous said...

Washington and Oregon are completely vote-by-mail. I actually don't like it, I prefer the ritual of voting in person - it feels too much like filling out a junk mail rebate offer to me.

Although I do agree with you, MWT, the open-book-test aspect of it is kind of nice.

Megadeus said...

I hope my absentee ballot gets here soon! Each passing day increases my worry that it won't make it back in time to be counted. The clerk I spoke with said that it would be counted as long as it was *postmarked* by Nov. 4th, so I guess I'm okay...