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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The results, in real time

Putting together the election edition for our newspaper with complete results used to depend on machines that worked, election clerks who didn't leave before letting us know who won and the ingenuity of reporters to get it all straight when things didn't go smoothly. No more. The Web sites put up in both Monmouth and Ocean counties bring the results in real time - a real service to their residents and to us.

And if you're following a close race, like the one for Monmouth County freeholder this year, it can be exciting ... much like a horse race. One candidate is ahead by 75, then he's behind by 100 and then he pulls ahead by 125. There are only a handful of polling districts still to report. Will they swing the race? And wouldn't you like to know whether they're traditional strongholds for one party or the other?

Elections have entered the high-tech age with candidate and party Web sites, blogs and ready commentary about all developments. Election night results should not be a waiting game. Those county Web sites make sure you know the score.

But you have to know your Monmouth County history to follow the strange list of towns, seemingly in alphabetical order, on the Web site. Aberdeen is between Matawan and Middletown, Hazlet is after Oceanport and before Red Bank and Lake Como is between Shrewsbury Township and Spring Lake. That's because Aberdeen used to be Matawan Township, Hazlet was Raritan Township and Lake Como only recently was called South Belmar. I suspect its Webmaster(s) will get working on that, too.


Anonymous reformer said...

Voter turn-out for yesterday's election was estimated to be about 26%.

Here's a few solutions for the problem of low voter turn-out: (1) Move Election Day to a Sunday when most folks are not working; (2) Permit voting via the Internet (If I trust enough to hand over my credit card information on their web site, then surely we can develop sufficient anti-fraud measures that would make voting via the Internet a feasible option) and; (3) Allow the electorate the very real option of casting a ballot for "NONE OF THE ABOVE."

When I say that voters should have a real option to vote "none of the above," I mean there should be an actual button that I can push or an actual lever that I can pull that says that I disapprove of all of the candidates running. If the "none of the above" option should happen to win an election, then there would be a run-off election in three weeks in which "none" of the candidates that lost the first election would be permitted to appear on the run-off ballot. And what if by chance the "none of the above" option should win the run-off election? In that case we would keep voting until we found some candidate that the electorate tolerates.

Oh, and while I am rambling, here is another proposed solution that I have for the problem of low voter turn-out: (4) GIVE VOTERS A WILDCARD VOTE.

Here's how the wildcard voting scheme works: In addition to casting a ballot for all of the current offices and/or questions that are normally presented to a voter, the voter would get a single wildcard vote that he could use in any election. If the voter really liked a particular candidate in his own district/state, he could use his wildcard vote to vote for that candidate twice. If, however, the voter wanted to vote in an election where he was not a resident, he could use his single wildcard vote to cast a ballot in that particular election as well. (e.g., a voter in Texas could cast his wildcard ballot for whomever is running against Ted Kennedy, a US Senator from MA)

The Wildcard Option might require some tinkering with the Constitution, but I think it's worth it. Voting should be at least as much fun as is watching the NBA Draft or American Idol.

One more proposal: (5) Outlaw political contributions to campaigns, including contributing to one's own campaign. People don't willfully hand over their hard-earned money unless they expect something in return. It's that "something in return" part that corrupts the whole process and which has left us in the mess we are currently in. Let the taxpayers fund each and every political party and/or candidate with the same amount of cash and then let the games begin. If we did that, we would be hearing from voices that are otherwise never heard from. And that would be a good thing. I have to believe that all too many people that are sitting on the couch on Election Day feel that no one adequately speaks for them.

If these proposals fail to draw a sufficient number of voters to the polls, then we should consider doing what the churches do now: (6)offer free food and (7) free daycare for a few hours.

God bless America! Any thoughts?

3:55 PM, November 07, 2007  
Anonymous Ray said...

Yeah, I have a thought. Why don't you just post this once instead of blathering it all over the place?

11:01 PM, November 07, 2007  

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