Tag Archives: Election

Over 40% of the World’s Population Will Vote in 2014

A few days ago in a post about global museum attendance, I mentioned that there were going to be a number of people voting across the world this year. In fact, that number is almost 3 billion. That’s right — over 3 billion people will be voting in an election this year. The total world population only broke 3 billion in the 1960s.

The Economist had a great graphic showing the different elections there was going to be this year and I thought it was worth taking a closer look at.

For instance, as you might expect there are nearly no elections taking place during the summer months. In fact, from May to September, there are only 2 elections taking place, whereas, aside from December, there is only one month that has only 2 elections (January).

Any election is important and has lasting repercussions, but one of the elections that I’m most interested to see the results of is the election in South Africa in April. This past November, South Africa opened voter registration and had over 2.5 million people register. Of those 2.5 million, 1 million were new voters. There will be another voter registration taking place in February of this year. There are quite a few people expecting the current party in power (African National Congress) to lose quite a bit of their support. Since 1994, all the Presidents of South Africa have been from the African National Congress (ANC).

Currently, the African National Congress has almost 70% of the seats in the National Assembly. The polls are predicting the ANC to lose some of their seats. In fact, support is expected to drop nearly 10%. If this hold true, the ANC would still have a majority of seats in the National Assembly, but there are still many days between now and the election in early April. If that support were to dip below 50%, it would be the first time since 1994 that the ANC had less than 200 seats.

Is There No Easier Way To Choose a President?

I think this cartoon — while meant to be funny — also has a good point. The USA just went through one of the longest and most expensive campaigns — isn’t there an easier way to do this?

I understand that some folks think that there might not be and I really don’t have a definitive answer to the question. I would look to some of the European countries like France where the campaign/election takes a fraction of the time as it does in the US. Or, there are the US’s neighbors to the North — Canada. An election is called and 6 weeks later, there is voting! I realize that the US has quite a larger population than Canada, but I wonder how much more productive the policymakers of the US would be if campaigning/elections were only 6 weeks long.

Think about all the time that lawmakers spend at fundraisers or campaigning. Just about all of that time could then be reallocated to creating public policy! One would think that things might move along quicker, but who knows, maybe they wouldn’t.

If you have an idea for how you think elections should run in the US, I’d love to hear. Let me/us know in the comments! On the face of it, there certainly seems to be a need to reduce the time it takes to choose a President in the US. If we start counting the time all the way back to the primaries, it takes over a year to pick a President in the US. That certainly seems like a long time, especially given that some of these same people are also tasked with running the country.

Democrats Get More Votes Than Republicans — Still Lose The House of Representatives

I’ve written about politics a great deal in the last couple of weeks. Part of that is because it’s one of my interests (and one of the categories that I write for) and part of that is because the US just had a presidential election. I do have some other posts in the coming days that won’t be about politics, but this will be another one about it.

In the US, every two years, Congress is up for an election. That is, all the seats in the House of Representatives are up for election every 2 years. The Republicans had a majority in the House going into the election and were expected to keep that majority (they did). Though, something intriguing did happen during the election — there were more total votes cast for Democratic Representatives than there were for Republican Representatives. According to ThinkProgress:

Although a small number of ballots remain to be counted, as of this writing, votes for a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives outweigh votes for Republican candidates. Based on ThinkProgress’ review of all ballots counted so far, 53,952,240 votes were cast for a Democratic candidate for the House and only 53,402,643 were cast for a Republican — meaning that Democratic votes exceed Republican votes by more than half a million.

For those people who follow American politics, it’s quite understandable as to why this happened. Every 10 years, there’s a Census in the US and as a result, an update on the population of the states. By extension, those states are then responsible for redrawing the districts [areas of representation]. Since the 2010 election was one where there was a great deal of Republicans swept into office, it made it easier for them to redraw the districts in a way that made it easier for members of their party to keep their seats. This is known as gerrymandering and it’s not unique to the Republicans. had the Democrats won, they most certainly would have done the same thing.

Lost in this discussion is the apparent “will of the people.” I realize that taking a straight popular vote can silence minorities (and was one of the primary reasons for the Electoral College), but it does seem a bit strange that there will probably be 1 million to 2 million more votes cast for Democratic Representatives than Republican Representatives and yet, the Republicans will maintain a 35- to 45-seat advantage.

Redistricting (called redistribution outside of the US) isn’t a problem that Americans have to deal with — it happens in other countries, too.

An Evening of Historic Proportions

Last night was a historic night. It was the first time in the history of social media that I was “locked out” of Twitter. Okay, probably not the historic event you thought I was going to cite, but it did happen.

While I was busy tweeting and retweeting last night, I didn’t even consider that I would hit the “daily update limit” — but I did. The irony is that just before I sat down at my computer to begin watching the coverage (on TV and online), I saw a tweet from someone who was speaking for @TheStalwart — who had just hit the daily limit and thusly wouldn’t be participating in the “Election Party” on Twitter last night. It was a bit strange last night — to — in a way — be excluded from the excitement on Twitter, especially just after the networks were calling the election.

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All kidding aside, last night was a historic evening. Since the United States is such a major player on the world’s stage, there is certainly interest around the world in the person who holds the office of the President of the United States. As you can see from the graphic on the right, some may say that the rest of the world was happy with the result of last night’s election.

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There’s just one more thing I want to share in this post and it does have to do with history. After Pres. Obama was declared the winner by most of the networks, his Twitter account tweeted a photo that has been retweeted more than any other tweet in the history of twitter — and it’s still going! It surpassed the record (somewhere in the 200,000’s or the 300,000’s last night), but in looking at the tweet a few minutes ago, it’s almost up to 750,000 retweets. That’s a lot of retweets! In case you haven’t seen it yet, I’ve included it below:

 

 

Integrity, Please: Campaign Finance and Elections & American Public Policy, Part 2

In of this series, I wrote about public policy in America as it relates to economics. As I said quite clearly in the 1000 words or so, it’s difficult to surmise such a vast topic in such a short space, but I think I made an important connection between altruism and economic policy. While this series is aimed at American Public Policy, the first post in this series on economic policy is relevant to most countries in the . In Part 2, I’ll talk about two things: campaign finance and elections. First, elections.

The has been recently and likely will be for the next couple of days after an FEC official told a New York Times reporter, “,” (after having learned that something they [FEC] were told may not have been true). The FEC will also, undoubtedly be in the news anytime anyone decides to . For anyone that enjoys political satirist Stephen Colbert, you’ll know that he has spoken at length about his trials and tribulations to create a PAC and (then a Super PAC) on his show. While what he is doing is initially intended as humor, there is also a .

Earlier last year, the heard and ruled on what is a rather famous case, . There are so many different interpretations of what this means for elections in the US. Keith Olbermann had a rather . Rachel Maddow was a little , but she shares a similar viewpoint to Olbermann. Much of what you’ll find on YouTube are videos not in favor of this decision, but I was able to find one video from Congressman of California . I like the use of animation and moving picture, so another good video to check out is the one by .

When I first made a point of wanting to write a post about campaign finance, my initial thoughts were to have candidates donate all of the money they receive. Maybe that’s too idealistic? Really though, shouldn’t it be that money plays little to no role in who is elected? I understand how difficult it would be to sell Barack Obama on of his campaign contributions to charity, or whomever the Republican candidate happens . I think that . I think the problem that elections have become so “difficult” is that the citizens doing the electing don’t trust their elected officials. While we could bring in any number of psychological theories to help us understand, I think the bottom line is there should be an inherent honor (in the elected official) and, maybe, a covenant between elected officials and citizens.

There’s one more thing I want to say about campaign finance that is a nice segue into elections. I found a video of a professor at Harvard (who also happens to be the same guy that founded ) offering on the decision rendered by the Supreme Court on Citizens United [I’ve added emphasis]:

Many people will see this decision as a decision they should fight because they think corporations should be silenced. I don’t think the point here is that corporations should be silenced. I think the point is we need a political system where people can trust that the decisions Congress makes are decisions based on the merits; on what makes sense or what the people in their district want and not what the funders demand. This decision will only exacerbate the current problems with the system. And the way we should respond is by pushing for an alternative that gets us a system for funding elections that doesn’t lead people to wonder whether it’s money rather than sense that is producing a political result.

Elections can be a fickle thing, not just in the US, but around the world. I would think in a society that is so developed, elections fraud would not be something so rampant through its politics, but that seems not to be the case. A search for United States Elections Controversy on Google returns nearly 10,000,000 hits. One interesting article I found was one author’s view of the most significant (in the US). As I furthered my search, it wasn’t difficult to start turning up articles about controversy in US elections. In fact, there’s more than I can really talk about in the bit of space remaining for this post. There’s one about a , one about , and who could forget the ? In case you did forget, there was even a made about it.

For anyone who follows Wisconsin politics, there’s the by Waukesha County clerk, Kathy Nickolaus, . I don’t work in elections, so I don’t know how hard it is to organize these kinds of events, but I would think someone who has made so many errors that have been made public would probably not be hired (nor should she apply?) for jobs that require such finite detail.

Anyway, the more I read about elections in America (and the world), the more I wonder about integrity. I would expect that people involved in creating these laws and upholding these laws would operate with a sense of high moral integrity. Wouldn’t you? These people are being put in some of the more important (but undervalued) positions a country can have, and it seems that they just don’t see it that way. Maybe they do, but it’s not showing. Campaign finance and elections needn’t be dirty words. The people who create laws around these issues shouldn’t look for (or intentionally leave open) loopholes. In an upcoming post, I’ll talk about how inequality within a nation is bad for everyone in the nation (including the rich).

Elect Effective Decision-Makers, Not Politicians Catering to Sects

Why do some people get elected and others don’t? Outside of the obvious answer of (more votes), there are oodles of books, articles, and dissertations, trying to answer that question. In fact, some people’s entire career is spent being hired as a because they are an ‘expert’ on getting people elected. They will usually have a very good track record as evidenced by the other candidates they’ve helped to elect. Even though there is so much information on how to get people elected, some people still decide to check one candidate’s box over the other or maybe .

Once the politician becomes an elected member of government (at any level), they are then faced with decisions, decisions, and more decisions. Depending on how high they are in the pecking order of the government, they may have more decisions or less decisions. Most of these decisions that I’m talking about refer to voting, specifically on pieces of legislation. As politicians vote on pieces of legislation, members of the press will inform the general public as to how certain politicians have voted on certain issues. Because of this cycle where the information is disseminated to the public, .

While many people will understand a politician’s desire to get reelected, I wonder if they maybe aren’t doing the public a disservice by going against their conscience and I think this stems all the way back to how it is that politicians are elected. Because candidates are all fancied up by their consultants (mostly because this is what the consultants think the public wants to see), rarely do candidates ever really talk about how they actually feel about one issue or another. So, once they get elected and have to vote on something, instead of having the confidence to vote on what they believe, instead, they vote in a way that they know will make them favorable for reelection.

I think that part of the problem here is that in the cycle of disseminating the information from vote to the people, the information is disseminated in such a way that can paint a particular politician in a certain light. I doubt that this is done in a malicious intent (at least not intentionally), but even still, the public viewing/reading said report would then regard the politician negatively even though they might actually agree with how the politician voted. More than that, when the politicians vote a certain way on a bill because they’re worried about reelection, I think that they may really be catering to a smaller minority of people (based on sets of poll numbers fed to them by consultants).

There are many different reasons to elect one person to an office over another, but somewhere high (if not at the top) of that list should be about their decision-making ability. I don’t mean whether they can pick apples or oranges from the supermarket, rather, how it is that said person comes to a decision. I think it is impossible to know the sorts of issues that will arise during one’s term in an office, so instead of electing someone based on their views of long-standing issues, I think it’s better to elect someone because one trusts in the inherent ability of the candidate to make effective decisions.