Change in voter turnout over time for five selected countries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Proficiency in basic math may not be universal among adults living in the United States, but it should be relatively close. Despite this fact, it continues to amaze me how few people question or challenge elected officials who claim to have a mandate from the people despite never actually winning a majority of the votes. I know what you may be thinking: that elected officials, by definition, have won a majority of the votes cast, otherwise they would not be in office. Okay, hold that thought while I explain why I believe most elected officials should not claim such a mandate.
Start with voter turnout in ANY election. In local elections around the country voter turnout can be as low as ten to fifteen percent. Even in presidential elections we are lucky to get anywhere near sixty percent—great. Let us focus on the big ticket race, the presidency. If sixty percent of eligible voters vote in the election that means forty percent did not vote for any candidate. Now, if the winner of the election wins with fifty-five percent of all votes cast (to be generous) he or she gets the job with a majority of the vote, right? I get that, but that’s not my point. I’m saying they can’t claim to represent a majority of the people. In my estimation the winner of the election only had around thirty-three out of every one-hundred votes possible if you base your analysis on all eligible voters. In defense of my point of view you can’t discount the significance of non-voters with the argument that they didn’t vote so they don’t count. Not voting is a choice in most cases, similar to voting “none of the above.” I also don’t accept the argument that those who do vote somehow represent those who do not (usually based on surveys of non-voters), therefore the results of the election are representative of the people. If that argument had any validity we should just replace elections with some representative sample from a survey and save everybody a lot of time and money. In my estimation, everybody that wins an election should be wary of hubris, and assume their seats with a measure of humility. I would like to know what you think about my argument as it is played out here. Does it hold water?
Conservatives and their media division are up in arms over voter fraud, coincidentally almost entirely in swing states with Republican-controlled legislatures.
BATTLEGROUND STATES 08 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The direction of the 2012 presidential election will become increasingly apparent in the days and weeks to come as the candidates and their supporters target important battleground states. Battleground states are states that are considered to be contestable in the upcoming election; in other words, the state is worth visiting and investing substantial resources in. Non-battleground states are states that candidates do not expect to win, making them less likely to receive much attention from candidate or their surrogates. The identification of battleground and non-battleground states begins just as the election results of the previous presidential election are being tallied. Campaign managers, political scientists, journalists, and others have been studying campaign maps for decades; especially Electoral College maps for presidential elections going back to the 1960s.
Battleground states are more likely than not to be states that have a history of voting democratic or republican. Battleground states can also be determined by the margins of victory by various statewide elected officials (governors, etc.) in recent elections. For example, if republican candidates have won recent elections in a state by what are considered wide margins the state is not likely to be considered a battleground state by the democratic party (they will basically write it off). Once the battleground states are identified the process shifts toward identifying swing voters in battleground states that can make all the difference in a close election. Hispanics, women, younger voters are likely voting blocks that will be targeted by candidates in the 2012 election. What do you think about candidates for the Presidency targeting some states and ignoring others? Should all fifty states receive their fair share of attention? Is this even possible given the costs associated with national elections?
Posted in Campaigning, Campaigns, Civil Rights, Democracy, Elections, Individual Rights, Interest Groups, Media, Political Participation, Political Parties, Presidency, The Media, Third Parties, Voting and Elections, Voting Behavior
Tagged Electoral College, swing state, Voting
Vote Oregon! (Photo credit: jugbo)
According to the Constitution of the United States individual states are required to provide to their citizens a republican form of government. The guarantee of a republican form of government in the Constitution is vague, but it provides a wide door for rights related to voting, representative-based government, and the sovereignty of the people in all fifty states. The clause in the Constitution is also used as a foundation for each state to organize and conduct all elections in a state, whether the elections are for local, state, and even federal offices.
The state of Florida is currently involved in a legal dispute with the federal government over the issue of voter registration rolls. The state of Florida is arguing that it has the right to purge voter registration rolls of names of persons not eligible to vote in Florida elections. The state is arguing that it has the right to establish voter qualifications that do not directly deny citizens of the United States their fundamental right to vote and that maintaining voter registration rolls that are accurate and based on state law includes taking reasonable steps to protect their integrity. In the current dispute, the federal government is arguing that the state of Florida recently purged properly registered voters from the rolls causing citizens of the United States to be denied their right to vote simply because they have the same name as a person who is ineligible to vote. Both sides of the dispute are well-grounded in law, precedent, and practice—unfortunately, the specters or partisanship and electoral self-interest are seen at work on both sides as well. The current dispute is about to peak in the middle of a presidential election year in a well-known battle ground state. Do you believe the issue can be addressed by the courts impartially? Do you think the current dispute is a legitimate clash of opinions and positions or a side-show of the election season we are watching unfold?
Posted in Bill of Rights, Campaigns, Civil Rights, Democracy, Elections, Federalism, Individual Rights, Judiciary, Political Participation, Political Parties, State and Local Government, Voting and Elections
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of independence (1776) were all of British descent. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution include references to due process any time a person is in jeopardy of life and property. While the Amendments themselves do not specifically define what due process is, the Constitution itself provides elements of due process as have subsequent court decisions through the years. For example, the right to know what one is charged with in all criminal matters is in the Bill of Rights, as are the rights to a public trial and the right to cross-examine witnesses who testify against you. Any legal proceeding in the United States that fails to uphold these protections is not living up to the protections we claim to value so highly.
A former U.S. Senator is currently fighting for his freedom, as is a former Hall of Fame caliber baseball player. All over America, people high and low are depending on due process to level the playing field, to diminish the power of Goliath, and to stand a chance when forces that want to destroy them are at play. In some cases the guilty will go free; in others the innocent will be punished unjustly. Regardless of the particulars, every American should take a solemn oath to protect and defend the tents of due process, just like the oath sworn by the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.
We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor
What do you think? Is due process something most Americans understand? Can you identify how various elements of due process have been important in your life? How important is due process to the American creed? As for me, I pledge my life, my Fortunes and my sacred Honor.
Posted in Bill of Rights, Civil Liberties, Constitution, Democracy, Individual Rights, Judicial Review, Judiciary, Supreme Court
Tagged Bill of Rights, Constitution, Due Process, Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, United States Declaration of Independence