A Fair electoral system?? - October 25, 2004
Having read my local paper’s editorial endorsement of President George W. Bush’s re-election, I suppose I could have written a passionate rebuttal to the editorial’s reasons for their endorsement. I could have mentioned that Bush didn’t inherit a recession; the official start date for our most recent recession was March 2001, three months into W’s presidency. I could have mentioned the fact that he is the first president to actually preside over a net job loss since Hoover. Or this administration’s disastrous foreign policy that has left our world a much more dangerous place and resulted in the needless loss of over 1000 U.S. troops. I won’t mention the tens of thousands of innocent lives lost as “collateral damage” all in a reckless and foolish approach to battling terrorism that has only made things worse.
Nope, I won’t mention any of this because it just simply doesn’t matter here in California. Despite the best intentions of my local paper’s editorial endorsement and the projected votes of more that 4 million Californian voters for President Bush, all of that will not contribute to a single electoral vote for President Bush. So of the 538 total electoral votes in our country, of which California has 55, with the Presidential winner needing 270 electoral votes to win, not 1 California electoral vote will go to President Bush. Whereas my misguided brother’s Republican vote for Bush in Alaska will be one of 140,000 thousand Alaskan votes that will result in 3 electoral votes for Bush. Hmm… 4 million votes in California will result in 0 electoral votes, 140,000 votes in Alaska equals 3 electoral votes. So much for that fantasy that all U.S. votes are equal. And heaven forbid that in such a closely contested election, there is a 269-269 electoral vote tie. In the case of a tie, the election goes to the House of Representatives, where each state delegation gets 1 single vote – one vote for Wyoming’s 500,000 residents and one for California’s 35.5 million. That’s fair??
In a country that claims to be the world’s greatest democracy, that light shining on a hill, shouldn’t we have an electoral system that treats every citizen’s vote equally? So for my California Republican friends, quit wasting your time and energy for President Bush. In fact, why not all of us strive to make our electoral system fairer for all of us, including Republicans. A great place to learn more is the Center for Voting and Democracy at www.fairvote.org. In the meantime, I’ll be in Nevada canvassing for John Kerry.
// posted by george at 03:49 PM
Reno 10/16 - October 22, 2004
First of all, mental note... maybe not the greatest idea to go to an REM concert in Berkeley the night before getting up at 5:30am the next day to drive to Reno and canvass for John Kerry.... for some reason my recuperative powers aren't the same at 40 as they were at 20..... but as the concert was ending, Michael Stipe took off his jacket to reveal his John Kerry T-shirt and implored the assembled bastion of liberalism, to get out there and make a John Kerry win a reality... So after 5 hours of sleep, a little coffee, I was on my way....
This was the 4th trip I was on and by far the most positive.....
It was awesome... The vast majority of people on my canvassing sheets were home. 95% of them were strong Kerry supporters and were definitely planning on voting. A good number of people were not aware of early voting and after talking to them about it, especially in light of some shady Republican registration activities, thought that they would try this early voting thing. My group actually took 5 people to the polls to vote on Saturday.
I've written in some evaluations that ACT needed to have something a little more substantial than Krispy Kreme donuts in the morning and not waste so much time coming back to debrief and have lunch at noon. Couldn't have been more different on Saturday. Tons of Bagels, OJ, water... the box lunches for us to take into the field and eat there were great....
A very positive day, tons of 1st time voters who were planning on voting, made new friends, ran into other groups who were canvassing as well, MoveOn, Nevada Democrats, etc... ACT's canvassing sheets were very, very good. Looks like they have weeded out a ton of bad names and addresses.... talked to some immigrants who were so excited to vote in this coming election.... "We watch Debates, Kerry win easily, we vote for him" A woman stuck in a minimum wage job who was thinking of voting for Bush, reminded her that Kerry wants to raise the min wage and Bush doesn't, she changed her mind on the spot..... A great day...
I'll be back in Reno on Saturday with my wife, 4yr old daughter, 2-yr-old son and my inlaws... I'll be hitting the pavement but maybe they can make phone calls....
// posted by george at 11:49 AM
Reflections of a DrivingVotes Rookie.. - August 15, 2004
For the opening of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911, I went online in search for some flyers I could pass out at one of our local theatres. During the course of my research I quite accidentally stumbled across this www.drivingvotes.org website. Being a Californian, I know that there is a strong likelihood that Kerry will easily carry the state in the general election and win all of the state’s 54 electoral votes regardless of his margin of victory be it 1 vote or 1 million votes. Now granted there are other reasons to be active in California for the general election, i.e. propositions, local races, state senate and assembly races, but in terms of the presidential election, it makes more sense to direct our efforts in battleground states where hundreds of votes really can make a difference. No one needs to be reminded of the 537 vote difference in Florida, a 7000 vote difference in Oregon, 20,000 vote difference in Nevada, a 366 vote difference in New Mexico.
One can only be struck by the irony of the fact that while our government is trying to impose democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, our own democracy awards the presidency to the guy who came in 2nd in the popular vote. I can only complain that my brother’s and sister’s vote in their home state of Alaska carries greater electoral weight in our electoral system than my vote in California or that neither of the two major candidates for President will spend much time campaigning in the state that has 1/7th of our nation’s population.
Lamentations on our nation’s presidential electoral system aside, our current electoral system does provide one justification for such a group as drivingvotes.org. Real political grassroots efforts to register voters and GOTV (Get Out the Vote) activities in these battleground states can have huge consequences for our nation. It may not matter that much in the presidential election that I can register an extra 200 voters in California, but 200 voters in Nevada could very possibly swing the state and award all of the state’s electoral votes to Kerry.
Internet activism has transformed how campaigns are conducted now. I have clicked on more “sign our petition” buttons than I can count over the course of the last year and maybe that does have an impact but who knows. The beauty of drivingvotes.org is that a simple click leads to very real world activities that lead directly to getting more people involved in the political process, many of whom might not have gotten involved if you didn’t find yourself going door to door in 107 degree heat in a Las Vegas neighborhood taking the time to ask fellow citizens what concerns they wanted addressed in the upcoming election. Maybe I’m just chasing windmills, but I truly believe that I and the other great people I’ve met in drivingvotes.org can make a difference in this election. My two kids are counting on me.
// posted by george at 05:10 PM
Plan a trip to register swing voters in swing states.