Spreading Freedom

I’ve just read an extremely disturbing article online from Rolling Stone Magazine, link via MetaFilter. Wow. Just… wow.

What the fuck is wrong with you people?

In this meticulously footnoted article, a vast litany of illegal behaviour is exposed. Widespread vote tampering, fraud, voter disenfranchisement; this is the sort of thing you would expect to be reading about elections in, say, Rwanda. That this should be happening in a country with the resources to do so much better is simply astounding. What’s worse is the sheer complacency on all sides. Where are the world famous lawsuits? Where are the criminal prosecutions? Where are the consequences for what may well be the most incredibly illegal act of the new century.

I’m simply gobsmacked by some of the details that are apparently not even central to the point of the article. Do you people seriously expect that you might have to wait in line to vote for more than an hour? On average!? Are you out of your minds? This from a country with the collective attention span of an overly caffeinated housecat with ADD. Well to do suburbanites only have to wait 22 minutes on average. That’s got to be close to the maximum amount of time I’ve ever taken to vote, including having to walk a block and a half from where I parked.

I live in Australia, which is blessed with a voting system that can be recounted and verified because we use that new fangled voting technology of paper and pencil. We have this massive sheet of paper with 186 names or something for the Senate. Single Transferable Vote, I believe it’s called. No hanging chads. If you can draw a line, you can vote. Once you’ve voted, it goes into an anti-tampering, sealed box in plain view of everyone in the voting centre. If someone were to try to mess with the votes, you can bet there’d be an awful noise made about it.

I cannot recall a single instance of widespread voting problems in Australia. There’s always a heated discussion about who a given party will distribute their preferences to, which only affects those who use the STV method and vote ‘above the line’. You can still use a weighted preference if you can count past 100 and number every damn box. I am not aware of a single election ever being in any doubt of being rigged or stolen. Our supreme court has never decreed that votes shouldn’t be counted.
I just can’t undertand why you US folk put up with it. What sort of complicated mess have you gotten yourselves into? For Pete’s sake, sort it out before Mad King George decides he wants to nuke Iran or North Korea. Unlike you lot, a majority of Australians apparently want Little Johnny to play war mascot for your would-be sovereign.

Update: One last thing that is important to mention: in Australia, voting in mandatory. I’m not familiar with the reasoning behind why this is so, but I support the idea on its face. Voting is the singlemost important thing that you, as a citizen, can do for the democracy in which you live. It is because of your votes that everything else happens. The people who make the decisions about what goes on in your country are only there because people voted for them. If you don’t want them running your country, vote for someone else.

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