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Comments

Roger McNeill

While I wholeheartedly agree that low voter turnout jeopardizes the "legitimacy of government", I don't believe that promoting third-party or independent candidacies is even on the same planet as a plausible solution to the problem.

Recent history suggests just the opposite; that third party candidates serve mainly to divide, confuse voters and split votes. Split votes help elect people without majority support, thus further alienating the average voter from the system.

Just as bad, it's a healthy two-party system that provides the election officials, poll workers, and all the other folks that enable the elections to actually happen. How many wins for the Whig Party (or whatever) would it take to drive these people off and cripple our ability to even hold an election?

The real problems lie elsewhere. In no particular order, some the peripheral problems are:
1. Negative campaigning,
2. Chameleon candidates that say one thing during campaigns and then vote differently,
3. Politicians for whom the be-all, end-all of their existence is their own re-election,
4. The absolute joke that is our "press",
5. Politicians that promise things that they have no intention of delivering, nor would government be the one we want delivering the services anyway.
6. An out-of-control judiciary that legislates from the bench.
7. Both parties trying to litigate their way from defeat to victory.

But the root problem is .... us. We ALLOW negative campaigning to work, or just react by getting turned off and not voting. We don't hold candidates feet to the fire if they fail to fulfill campaign promises. We fail to do what it takes to stay informed, and the press does their part to make sure we stay that way as they report on every smear, rumor and salacious innuendo and we continue to buy their "news"papers.

We've allowed ourselves to become poorly educated about the process. We've gotten jaundiced by unfulfilled promises. Our vote just doesn't seem to count.

Some real solutions? The major parties doing a better job of finding qualified candidates. Term limits (including judges). And at least a pretense of balanced reporting in the press.

But most importantly, someone, some entity needs to work very hard and spend a lot of money closing the education gap that causes people to think that their vote doesn't count. People need to understand how important and precious their vote is. People need to understand WHY the electoral college exists and how that empowers small States. People need to understand the concept of "consent of the governed".

Is there anyone, any entity that would take this on? Doubtful, and the angels weep.

Bill Henessey

Roger, you made the assumption that "it's a healthy two-party system that provides the election officials." Thats not the reality.

Karen Goldner

Somehow I feel the need to add the words of Ogden Nash to an otherwise very interesting discussion:

Election Day Is a Holiday
By Ogden Nash

They have such refined and delicate palates
That they can discover no one worthy of their ballots,
And then when some one terrible gets elected
They say, “There, that’s just what I expected!”

(You can read the whole thing here:
http://squalor.blogspot.com/2005/11/election-day-is-holiday-by-ogden-nash.html)

I don't disagree that there are logical or rational reasons why people feel it doesn't matter if they vote - but in my opinion those reasons are a self-fulfilling prophecy based on a perspective that reflects the decline in civic education in our country and the rise in privatism (defined as "The social position of being noncommittal to or uninvolved with anything other than one's own immediate interests and lifestyle" by http://www.answers.com/topic/privatism).

Regardless, it should be easier for third parties to be on the ballot - Indiana's standard is so high as to be obviously designed to keep anyone but D's and R's out.

Andrew Kaduk

"Others choose not to participate because a choice reflecting their view is not on the ballot. These folks may be resentful at the comparative lack of choices between candidates nominated by the two major parties."

Wow. I think you nailed it here, Mitch. Why go out for ice cream if you want strawberry and all they offer is vanilla?

Roger McNeill

Bill, perhaps I should have said "FURTHER" cripple our ability to hold an election. We can barely man the polling stations as it is.

I don't think the current system and party structure is healthy at all, but I'm still not seeing how promoting multi-party and independent candidacies solves that at all.

I like, though, the thought that goes into the main post. We've got some serious brainstorming to do.

Jon Olinger

Over the past few months I have seen post after post on this blog and other blogs complaining about Mark Souder and why he needs removed from office. As I sit here two hours into Election Day I have no doubt that Souder will win in a landslide, although it will be a smaller landslide than is typical of a Souder campaign.
Who elects a congressman? If Souder wins district wide by 55% and we have a 35% turnout, then that means that 9.6% or (1 in 10) of the citizens of the 4th district voted for him. Voter turnout reflects the number of registered voters that actually show up at the polls and vote; however, only about 50% of the people are registered. Thus in a race with 35% turnout only 17.5% of the eligible population are voting. Thus only 8.75% of the population is required to win. Sad isn’t it, or is it.
One thing consistent about bloggers is that they are well informed, much more so than the general public. If we were to poll the general public today it is likely that more people would know that Nick and Jessica have split than would be able to identify their congressman. Whether they are lazy, ignorant or hopelessly brain dead I thank God on a daily basis for the folks who do not vote. If one is too lazy to register to vote, if one does not take the time to educate one’s self as to the issues and the candidates, then it is a good thing their not voting. What would bring into question the legitimacy of government more, 35% turnout, or 100% turnout with the majority voting without the slightest idea of what the candidates stand for?

Mike Sylvester

Mitch hit it right on the head with this post and said it much better then I could...

We need to encourage more participation in our electoral system, not less.

This year the Indiana Election Board has eliminated several third Party candidates. The Indiana State Election Board seems to be doing everything it can to ensure that only Democrats and Republicans are on the ballot.

I think there should be more political Parties then we currently have. I know that a lot of people who vote are very discouraged due to the negative campaigning and the lack of choices.

If this topic is important to you I highly encourage you to vote for Libertarian Mike Kole for Secretary of State. The only way we can ensure that our elections are open to all is to put people in office who believe in 3rd Parties...

One last thing that I found discouraging was the large number of candidates running for offices they are completely unqualified for!

Mike Sylvester
Fort Wayne Libertarian

Mike Sylvester

Roger McNeil makes an interesting point in the problems Reps and Dems have getting enough people to work the polls.

Libertarians and other 3rd Party supporters still work the polls. Even after I was the Chairman of The Libertarian Party of Allen County the local Republican Party called me and asked me if I would work the polls for them. Even after I told them that I was a Libertarian they assured me that I could still work the polls as a "Republican."

My best friend has worked the polls for the Republicans for many years. He recently joined the Libertarian Party; however, before he joined he verified that he could still work the polls.

Third Parties can and do work the polls. They are just forced to do it "for another Party."

That will be the case until we get 10% in The Secretary of State Race.

Vote for Mike Kole, Libertarian for Secretary of State.

Mike Sylvester
Fort Wayne Libertarian

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