civic duty
“civic duty”

For someone who votes every year the polls are open, presidential election years always feel like everyone has discovered my favorite bar and now I can’t be assured of finding a seat when I show up on weekday evening. There are lines, and they can be quite long leading up to the opening of the polls at 6am. But any other year I can walk in, give them my ID, and go immediately to a voting booth.

All things considered, though, I wish everyone voted every time. If you’re not sure where to go, here’s a resource that will tell you where your polling place is, and who’s on the ballot. It doesn’t include anything more than the candidates, though, so do your research on any local measures.

winner-take-all v. proportional representation

Third parties don’t work in the USA by design, albeit unintentional.

Some time ago, a friend sent me this article from Common Dreams. The premise is essentially, “Don’t vote Ralph or W will win.” However, what I found most interesting about it was a clear and concise explanation of the whys and wherefores of the differences between the USA representative democracy setup and most of the rest of the free world’s setup. We are a winner-take-all democracy that by its very nature only works in a two-party system. Third parties are almost never moderate, and therefore are likely to be pulling from only one of the two major parties, no matter what Ralph may want you to believe. When the setup is Major Party 1 at 41%, Major Party 2 at 39%, and Third Party leaning towards Major Party 2 at 20%, the Major Party 1 will win, even though they are a minority and do not truly represent a majority of the people. In a proportional representation system, the percentage of votes would translate to the number of seats won by each party, and thus coalitions would have to be formed in order to get a true majority. If the USA changed to this system, more people would feel that their interests are represented in the government and we wouldn’t be worrying about spoilers.