Thursday, November 30, 2006

What if they held an election and nobody came out to vote?

What if they held an election and nobody came out to vote? In Georgia, on December 5th we may find out — at least in a number of precincts. As I’ve been talking to people, many who are usually “in-the-know” when it comes to politics, I’ve found that the vast majority have no idea that there is a statewide run-off on December 5th.

I understand that in some counties there are local contested races, so we’ll see some number of voters in areas. However, we may be getting ready to break records for the lowest percentage of voters as compared to population.

This election is going to cost a bundle. Polls have to be opened, election offices must be staffed, the machines have to be transported and whatever else is involved in elections still has to happen. Along with the possibility of the lowest turnout ever, we may have the highest cost per voter ever, too.

Which isn’t to say we shouldn’t have the run-off. The Republican, Chuck Eaton, would have won the election if not for the Libertarian on the ballot. I don’t have a problem with Libertarians, nor do I have a problem with having them on the ballot. I haven’t put much brainpower into looking at alternatives to having a statewide election for a race that doesn’t garner much attention even in presidential election years. I’d bet that many don’t even know what the Public Service Commission does.

Maybe some bright politician will propose a bill to change the rules. Instead of a clear majority being needed to win in the lower rung of offices, maybe the candidate with the highest number of votes should win. In that case, Eaton would have won and we’d have all saved a lot of money.

In a run-off issues and personality usually take the back burner. It boils down to who is able to get the larger number of supporters out to vote. Only the die-hards come out for run-offs… along with those who have an ax to grind. I doubt there are too many with axes to grind in a PSC race.

It is not unusual in run-offs for the candidate who originally had the highest number of votes to lose. Why? I think it’s because people “assume” they have it in the bag so they’re not motivated. The underdog’s supporters are motivated.

If you do take ten minutes out of your day on Tuesday to vote, know that your vote will be the most powerful it has ever been. I haven’t heard any projections on voter turnout. Actually, I don’t think I’ve heard the fact that there is an election even mentioned in any newspaper or on any news program. Vote on Tuesday and you and I may be the only ones at the polls aside from the candidates and their immediate family and volunteers! Bring a couple of friends along to vote and you’ll probably ensure your candidates victory!

2 comments:

Bradley Forschner said...

Your absolutely right about the cost of this. However, I disagree with the "most vote wins" thought.

Please consider the following

Counties hold special elections on any set of days as given by the SOS. The cost to a county for an election of this type is identical to any other, unless a county chooses to do limited polling places. Choosing to use a date other than a general election date, ensures lower voter turn out. It's been studied that lower turn out corresponds to a higher approval rating for items such as SPLOSTs.

Primaries
Primaries are only for major parties to nominate their party's candidate in the general election. Other political organizations by law, choose their candidate by party nomination. Third parties pay their own tab to debate and nominate their candidate. Taxpayers pay for the Democrat and Republican parties to nominate their party's candidate.

The primary run off is an additional election paid for by the taxpayers to nominate the democrat and republican nominee. In 2006, there was a statewide primary run off election that cost the taxpayers a great deal for the two parties to nominate their candidates.

The general election brings in the major party candidates and the third party candidates and then we have a current law of 50%+1 of ballots cast to win, else be forced into a runoff.

How could we change it?
Wipe out the primary system and let the parties choose their own candidates on their own dime. That would have saved twice the cost to put on an election this year alone.

I like the 50%+1 to avoid a runoff, and this was just recently changed from 45%+1. Each state has a different threshold, and some states are simply the highest vote getter wins. In a close three way race, this could mean merely 33%+1, but in that situation, a person who 66% of voters did not vote for wins.

Some alternatives to runoff elections have been spoke of, such as IRV or instant runoff voting. In IRV, you vote for your first and second choice. If your first choice is eliminated, your second choice counts.

I am also a fan of the "None of the above" option in any election. If "None of the above" wins 50%+1, the race is scrapped and the parties must nominate new candidates.

I think the easiest way to save money on elections if that is the concern, is to politely ask the republicans and democrats to hold their own conventions to nominate candidates and stop wasting tax dollars purely for their own party building efforts.

Bradley Forschner said...

Your absolutely right about the cost of this. However, I disagree with the "most vote wins" thought.

Please consider the following

Counties hold special elections on any set of days as given by the SOS. The cost to a county for an election of this type is identical to any other, unless a county chooses to do limited polling places. Choosing to use a date other than a general election date, ensures lower voter turn out. It's been studied that lower turn out corresponds to a higher approval rating for items such as SPLOSTs.

Primaries
Primaries are only for major parties to nominate their party's candidate in the general election. Other political organizations by law, choose their candidate by party nomination. Third parties pay their own tab to debate and nominate their candidate. Taxpayers pay for the Democrat and Republican parties to nominate their party's candidate.

The primary run off is an additional election paid for by the taxpayers to nominate the democrat and republican nominee. In 2006, there was a statewide primary run off election that cost the taxpayers a great deal for the two parties to nominate their candidates.

The general election brings in the major party candidates and the third party candidates and then we have a current law of 50%+1 of ballots cast to win, else be forced into a runoff.

How could we change it?
Wipe out the primary system and let the parties choose their own candidates on their own dime. That would have saved twice the cost to put on an election this year alone.

I like the 50%+1 to avoid a runoff, and this was just recently changed from 45%+1. Each state has a different threshold, and some states are simply the highest vote getter wins. In a close three way race, this could mean merely 33%+1, but in that situation, a person who 66% of voters did not vote for wins.

Some alternatives to runoff elections have been spoke of, such as IRV or instant runoff voting. In IRV, you vote for your first and second choice. If your first choice is eliminated, your second choice counts.

I am also a fan of the "None of the above" option in any election. If "None of the above" wins 50%+1, the race is scrapped and the parties must nominate new candidates.

I think the easiest way to save money on elections if that is the concern, is to politely ask the republicans and democrats to hold their own conventions to nominate candidates and stop wasting tax dollars purely for their own party building efforts.