November 11, 2016

Horse 2189 - Don't Blame Third Party Voters For The Result

I have heard and seen a lot of comments in the few days that have passed since Donald Trump became president elect, blaming people who voted third party for his ascendancy to the top job in America. I know that I'm going to cop a lot of flak for suggesting this but the US Presidential Election this week has proven to me that the system of selecting the President is immensely stupid and should be done away with immediately if not sooner.

Quite apart from the fact that the system threw up the two candidates with the worst approval rating history, the system itself is a relic from a time when only wealthy land owners had the franchise and women and people of colour were excluded entirely. Proof that the system was busted should have been obvious some considerable time ago when several acts and amendments had to be passed to extend the franchise to people who should have had the right already.

I should also point out that I live in Australia; that means that by accident, I live in the country with the best voting system in the world. In my opinion, if the United States does not immediately adopt the following changes,  then it deservedly will be condemned to the kakistocracy which it currently employs until it pulls its head out of the bucket of whatever vile muck it currently has its democracy head in.

In Australia, Elections and Voting are covered by the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. Personally I think that this happens to be one of the single most brilliant pieces of legislation ever passed by a government ever and that it should be immediately adopted by the United States in its entirety.

A link is prevoded here: Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

Contained within its almost 400 sections, are some of the most well thought out regulations ever passed by any parliament and given that they came during the shadow of the First World War, this is even more remarkable.

Here then, are four simple reasons to begin with, why Australia has the greatest set of electoral regulations in the world, why America needs to get its act together and why blaming third party voters makes you a terrible person and you should hang your head in shame.

Compulsory voting
(1)  It shall be the duty of every elector to vote at each election.
- Section 245 (1), Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

Australians do not have the right to vote. This is framed quite differently at law and Australians have the duty to vote. If Australians do not vote, then a token fine is sent out.
People might like to argue that voting should be a right and not a duty and that people should have the right not to vote should they so desire. I think that that is 100% rubbish and here's why. In this Election, of the 245.2 million people who are of eligible voting age, only 55.6% bothered to show up at a polling place. This means that slightly over half the population didn't vote at all.

Don't go blaming the 2.47% of the population who bothered to show up and vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or others, they have indicated at the ballot box that they were unhappy with the choices set before them. Those people took their democratic voice and used it. Those people might have normally been Republican or Democrat voters and through the ballot box, these people said that the choices that were before them were unacceptable.
No, blame the 44.4% of the population who thought that staying at home and shoving chips into their faces was more important than showing up at a polling station once every few years. Okay, maybe there were some people who stayed away because they are disgusted at politics or because they think that participating in democracy by voting only validates the system but functionally, it's identical. Those people didn't make their voices heard and I'm not changing my opinion if I'm lumping passive protesters with the bone idle lazy.

Also, one of the consequences of forcing people to vote at law is that voter disenfranchisement is very much negated. If the government is bound by law to let everyone fulfill their duty, then the whole side show of Voter ID requirements, more or less goes away. In Australia where we do have compulsory voting, the franchise is viewed to some degree as an annoyance. Voter Fraud is so incredibly small as to be statistically negligible. Quite frankly, and I'm mainly looking at backwards racists and hicks, Voter ID laws are nothing more than an attempt to rig the results. They are corruption by another name and are the exact opposite side of the coin which saw voters vote many times in New York City when Tammany Hall still ran the joint, when voters would grow beards and moustaches and then vote in multiple places, and then go around again by first shaving off their beard and then their moustache.

Polling to be on a Saturday
The day fixed for the polling shall be a Saturday.
- Section 158, Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

Tuesday voting in the United States dates from a time when people lived far away from polling places and it took time to get there. Saturday was no good because that was the day that Sabbath followers held church services and Sunday was no good because Protestant churches held their services on Sunday. Monday was out because people needed time to get on the road to vote and that meant voting on a Tuesday.
The idiocy is that in an era when you can drive a thousand miles in a day and when they parties which are private organisations some times hold primaries on the weekend, tradition and nothing else means that the Presidential Election is held on a Tuesday; to the inconvenience of as many people as possible.

Hold the election on a Saturday when the least amount of people are affected. You shouldn't have to wait for hours to cast a vote. In the 2016 double dissolution election on July 2 this year, I went in the afternoon when the crowds had died down to a sleepy stupor and it took me more time to fill in my ballot paper than it did to wait in line. Also, because it was held on a Saturday, it meant that it was held in a local school hall and surprise surprise, no children were disaffected because it was Saturday.
Okay, Sabbath followers, some Catholics, Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists might have a problem in a state like Utah; so let them vote early. It's seriously not a problem.

Marking of votes in House of Representatives election
(1)  In a House of Representatives election a person shall mark his or her vote on the ballot paper by:
(a)  writing the number 1 in the square opposite the name of the candidate for whom the person votes as his or her first preference; and
(b)  writing the numbers 2, 3, 4 (and so on, as the case requires) in the squares opposite the names of all the remaining candidates so as to indicate the order of the person's preference for them.
(2)  The numbers referred to in paragraph (1)(b) are to be consecutive numbers, without the repetition of any number.
- Section 239, Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

Okay America, this year you have excelled yourself with your rank idiocy when it comes to the Presidential Election. If you want to keep the Electoral College because it's easier to count then fine but the fact that the Presidential Election always comes down to a binary choice is most bigly idiotic.

If you had preferential voting, say with seven Republicans, seven Democrats and anyone else who wanted to put themselves on the ballot paper, then the sheer torture of the primaries can be done away with in an instant. On top of that, you wouldn't be left with two candidates who were literally the most unpopular in US political history.

Suppose for a second that you had four candidates:
24 votes - We Love Kittens
25 voted - Cute Puppies
25 votes - Fluffy Bunnies
26 votes - Burn All The Animals
Under the First Past the Post System, which is what America uses, then Burn All The Animals wins despite having three quarters of the electorate opposed to them. Think that that's imposible? In the Electorate of Belfast South in the 2015 UK General Election, Alasdair McDonnell of the Alasdair McDonnell was returned as MP having gained only 24.5% of the vote.

If we assume that everyone who didn't vote for Donald Trump, including the 44% of the people who weer shoving chips into their faces and didn't show up, then Trump was actually only positively voted in by 26.4% of Americans. How does this make any sense at all?

Part of the problem with only having two viable candidates at the end is that voters might end up having to vote for someone for President whom they didn't like. I am now watching some of the most vile remarks being levelled at people who said that they voted Republican, even though they probably abhor Donald Trump, because of the consequences of other things such as the Supreme Court nomination.  These are decisions that have consequences much further than just the term of one President and so what might have been a measured decision, where someone felt chained to an awful candidate, is now tarred with brush that they are Satan incarnate.

Right of voter to receive ballot paper
(1)  If, under section 200DG, the voter is entitled to vote by pre-poll ordinary vote, a voting officer must give the voter a ballot paper, duly initialled by the officer.
- Section 200DJ, Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

Voter to mark vote on ballot paper
Except as otherwise prescribed by the regulations, the voter, upon receipt of a ballot paper under section 200DJ, must without delay:
(a)  go to an unoccupied compartment of the voting place and mark his or her ballot paper in private; and
(b)  fold the ballot paper so as to conceal his or her vote and deposit it in a ballot-box; and
(c)  leave the voting place.
- Section 200DK, Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

All voting systems can be subject to compromise. However, electronic voting where you have a black box that can't be easily scrutinised, or a punch card machine that can leave pregnant or hanging chads, and don't even get me started on running anything on the internet when it collapses (I'm looking at you Australian Bureau Of Statistics - we remember Census Night), are far less secure the. physical paper. Paper requires no fancy or expensive machines to count and it is far far far harder to compromise because of the physical difficulty of tampering with many ballot papers. Someone is going to notice if you start stuffing ballot boxes and or rub out people's ballots. Voting fraud where physical paper ballots has been used, is far harder to do and if there happens to be a dispute, it's easier to do a recount or hold a fresh election.

So don't go blaming people who voted third party. Those people more than anyone demonstrated that they voted according to their conscious; which is more than be said for the 44% of the people who sat idle. People who voted third party made their voices heard. They stood up and said that "this is not acceptable".


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