[PLUG-TALK] Voting (was Citation needed...)

Paul Johnson baloo at ursine.ca
Mon Feb 11 19:09:08 PST 2008

On Feb 11, 2008 6:39 PM, Keith Lofstrom <keithl at kl-ic.com> wrote:
> The purpose of the electoral college is to:
> (1) approximately match presidential results to congress/senate results.
> Since the president has to work with congress, it is best if the
> processes are congruent.

It hasn't been in my lifetime.  Congress works by direct elections and
everybody within the district represented gets to have one vote per
person.  The president's district is all 50 states.  Do we get to
vote?  No!  WTF?

> And the congressional representation is
> skewed from exact demographic proportionality to give the less populous
> regions representation proportional to other essential characteristics
> besides head count.

In other words, flyover country gets overrepresentation and more than
it's fair share of federal expenditures without paying into it
proportionally.  It's a system that would work great if the county
were still entirely rural and essentially without urban centers.  Now,
it's a tyranny of the few.  This wouldn't be a problem if that few
weren't isolated and out of touch with reality.  Instead, you get
bumpkins like Joe McCarthy from Minnesota and Ted "Series of Tubes"
Stevens from Alaska having more say and authority than really ought to
be given to people representing sparse cow pastures and oilfields.
Until cows and oil rigs can pass a Turing test, they don't count as
people worthy of having opinions.

> (2) isolate individual state voting fraud.  Since states run elections
> and count the votes, then a state can hijack its own electors, but it
> can't hijack the country unless the election is metastable anyway.

Until people figure out how to game the system, then you get a
candidate pulling a fifth of the country and getting no votes that
count, the next leading person getting only 40% of the popular vote,
yet wins with 60%.  Or you get an entire state that forgets how to
count.  Or you get several states with clear majorities or pluralities
in favor of a particular candidate going into a 2-way tie on the
electoral votes, causing a less popular candidate to win, pissing off
most of the country.  The system worked for the era it was designed to
function.  We're WELL beyond that now.

>  As
> bad as 2000 and 2004 were, imagine what it would be like if we needed
> national recounts.

I'm not suggesting we start a federal elections authority.  This is
something the existing election authorities could handle just fine.
The only difference with what I'm proposing from the existing system
is that we eliminate the middle man that keeps screwing it all up for

>  With a national popular vote, the state government
> with the least scruples has the most clout.

As long as California, and to a far lesser degree New York, have the
most votes, that's always going to be the case, no matter what system

>  While the current system
> can sometimes elect a president with a slightly smaller number of votes
> than an opponent, it would be very difficult for a candidate with 40%
> to win against an opponent with 50%. If corrupt states could inject
> phantom votes into the system, then a "40/50" ratio of legitimate
> ballots is possible.

Someone forgot 1992 already:  That's how Clinton became President and
Perot got no votes, despite having 20% of the popular.  It shouldn't
be possible for someone who carries 40% of the vote to come out with
"62%" of the vote.  40=40!

> Yes, it is annoying that recent elections have given the "red" voters
> more apparent power than the "blue" voters.  However, I would rather
> the "red" voters throw their weight around during elections, rather
> than vote by cutting off food and energy to the "blue" regions.

Not sure how that affects us here.  This region is a net-exporter of
food and energy.

>  When
> I look at a map of voting patterns, it is pretty clear that we need
> them more than they need us.

We both could stand independently and do quite well for ourselves.
It's something each of the 7 major regions of the US ought to consider
for themselves seriously, as it's becoming increasingly obvious each
region doesn't have a whole lot to do with the rest of them other than
some potentially obsolete political boundaries.  You can no sooner
unite the US politically than you can unite Europe.  Perhaps it's time
we acknowledge that, and keep our friendships at arms length like they
do instead of each other's pockets like we do.

Paul Johnson
baloo at ursine.ca

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