Archive for December 2nd, 2008

How Elections Work Today

December 2, 2008

I grew up thinking that the election process was fairly simple and straight forward.  You have an election on a Tuesday, start counting the ballots after 8:00 PM, and have a fairly good idea who or what won or lost by the next morning.  If a particular election was extra close, the final count might take an extra day or two to get the complete picture.

Thanks to the 2000 presidential election and the Florida fiasco, the process is completely different now.  Now, we have an election on a Tuesday, count the ballots, and get a preliminary count.  If the count is close and you are behind, you demand that the count continue until your numbers exceed your opponents.  You insist that every vote be counted, unless it is for your opponent’s, in which case you file a protest against that ballot.  If you still come up short, then it’s time to go to the courts.

That is pretty much how things went in Florida in 2000.  The final results, as tabulated officially, and also counted by the national news media, clearly showed that George Bush won the election.  However, many, many people still believe that the election was stolen by him.  Emotions, not the actual count, are how you now decide who wins.

If you want a good education in how to try to steal an election, read Bill Sammon’s At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election.

The same thing is happening today.  The US Senate race in Minnesota between Norm Coleman and Al Franken is still being contested.  After the recounts, the incumbent, Norm Coleman, has a lead of 344 votes.  That should be the end of the story.  Nope, Al Franken is considering taking the issue to the US Senate.

California’s Proposition 8 won with the same percentage of the popular vote as Senator Obama won the presidency.  Should be the end of the story.  Nope.  Prop 8 opponents have filed suits with the California Supreme Court seeking to overturn the results of the election.  There have been many “community gatherings,” formerly considered unruly protests, which have blocked streets and have caused destruction of property.  Again, the actual winning margin of more than 500,000 votes doesn’t matter.  It’s the emotions that need to determine the winner.

Elections are becoming only the opening act in the electoral process.  If you win, great–the play is over.  If you lose, quickly move to Act II and then to Act III, and keep going until your side wins.  Afterall, it’s not how you play the game, but who wins or loses that really counts.

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Georges Seurat

December 2, 2008

Today is Georges Seurat’s birthday.  The picture above is Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. It is part of the permanent collection of the Art Institute in Chicago. When I saw it there, I was surprised at its size. It is over 10 feet wide. Seurat worked on it for 2 years. The style is Pointillism, when small dots of primary colors are placed closely together. The eye blends the colors.  This same process is used by televisions and computer monitors.