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Elections: How do you do it at home?

Ebbie 22 Nov 00 - 09:26 PM
GUEST,Bardford 22 Nov 00 - 09:56 PM
mkebenn 22 Nov 00 - 09:57 PM
Ebbie 22 Nov 00 - 10:22 PM
GUEST,Bardford 22 Nov 00 - 11:36 PM
Ebbie 23 Nov 00 - 12:56 AM
Bob Bolton 23 Nov 00 - 03:48 AM
Lady McMoo 23 Nov 00 - 04:17 AM
Wolfgang 23 Nov 00 - 08:18 AM
GUEST,Brian 23 Nov 00 - 08:42 AM
Manitas 23 Nov 00 - 08:53 AM
sophocleese 23 Nov 00 - 09:32 AM
Ebbie 23 Nov 00 - 04:15 PM
Ebbie 23 Nov 00 - 04:35 PM
Mrs.Duck 23 Nov 00 - 05:37 PM
CamiSu 24 Nov 00 - 12:51 AM
MudGuard 24 Nov 00 - 02:47 AM
Wolfgang 24 Nov 00 - 07:15 AM
Giac 24 Nov 00 - 08:22 AM
Ebbie 24 Nov 00 - 05:26 PM
Metchosin 25 Nov 00 - 12:38 PM
P05139 25 Nov 00 - 12:47 PM
Ebbie 25 Nov 00 - 01:27 PM
wildlone 25 Nov 00 - 02:31 PM
Manitas 25 Nov 00 - 05:21 PM
Ebbie 26 Nov 00 - 01:53 PM
GUEST,Frankham 27 Nov 00 - 01:20 PM
Bardford 27 Nov 00 - 02:11 PM
Bardford 27 Nov 00 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,John Leeder 27 Nov 00 - 02:31 PM
GUEST,John Leeder 27 Nov 00 - 04:41 PM
CamiSu 28 Nov 00 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,John Leeder 28 Nov 00 - 12:00 PM
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Subject: How do you do it at home?
From: Ebbie
Date: 22 Nov 00 - 09:26 PM

Mudcatters, I'm curious. It seems that there is a tremendous amount of cynicism felt by non-USers regarding US elections. I would, #1: like to know how your elections are run and how expensive, efficient and corruption-free your process is. #2: Are you satisfied with your system?

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: GUEST,Bardford
Date: 22 Nov 00 - 09:56 PM

In my part of Canada, I go to my polling place with my voters card or ID, they cross my name off the list and hand me a ballot (or ballots - during our civic elections, we elect school boards as well as city council.) I take my ballot into the booth, where one of the technological marvels of humankinds tenure on this bright blue planet sits, waiting for me to unleash its wondrous power. I speak of course, of the pencil. The candidates names are on the left, a circle to the right of the name. I recall that the names and circles are in alternating black and white bands, like they have on mileage charts on maps, if you get my drift. I select my choice of candidates by marking an 'x' in the appropriate circle. I then fold the ballot, and place it in the ballot box, which is outside of the booth. What happens to it after that is not clear to me. I assume it gets counted, but my candidates don't usually win, so who knows? I assume the ballots are hand-counted on a riding by riding basis, and tallied. One of the concerns at my end of the nation is that the bulk of the population (ergo, most of the Parliamentary seats)is in Ontario, two or three time-zones away, so often the outcome is decided before the polls close on the west side of the country. It would seem that the 'X' ballot is less prone to the problems we're seeing in the U.S.
"If you can mark an 'X', you're my kind of people."

Bardford


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: mkebenn
Date: 22 Nov 00 - 09:57 PM

Can'nt help ya' Ebbie, I live in New York. We use mech lever machines from the '60s. thanks for your thoughts on the grief thread... MB.


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Ebbie
Date: 22 Nov 00 - 10:22 PM

I'm actually asking what you know of the election process and why it is better than the US system. It would also be interesting to discover our opinion on how it's done in your region of the US.

To start this off, I have to admit I don't know much of how it's done in Alaska. I do know we have some fairly scary representatives and senator here. And of course, since they have built up seniority, they have become pretty powerful in the various committees in Washington DC- and a lot of Alaska citizens don't want to lose that clout. Let's hear it for term limits!

Mike B, a friend of mine's mother died two years ago on December 20- on my friend's birthday. She wiped out both Christmas and my friend's birthday in one swoop! The only thing I can do is believe that there is a reason there that we just don't yet understand. My sympathies to you and your friend.

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: GUEST,Bardford
Date: 22 Nov 00 - 11:36 PM

Ebbie,

One of the big differences in Canada is the fact that each voter doesn't vote for the leader. Party leaders are selected by the party. So, if I want a particular leader for Prime Minister, I vote for the party candidate in my riding. If the majority of ridings elect members from that party, my guy/gal becomes PM. (Assuming that guy/gal wins his/her riding. I don't know if an unelected person can hold a prime minister position, although recently, the PM appointed an unelected guy to a ministerial post - that smells bad, to me.)

For me, the problem during elections is this - if a party ( say, the Greens or the Marxists, or the Natural Law Party, or the Rhino party) doesn't hold a seat in Parliament when the election is called,( which, BTW, is called at the PM's discretion, or every 5 years) they are seen as fringe or wing-nut entities, which in some cases may well be true. The result, though,is that these parties are not invited to Leader's debates, get virtually no press, and their platforms are not heard. This troubles me, and I'm sure it happens elsewhere as well. (Sure was interesting to see Mr. Nader's influence in the states, though.)

The major parties, for the most part, seem to me to be converging policy-wise, and what is being marketed as choice is not really that different from what we've got now. Is the system corrupt or prone to abuse? Darn tootin', but I can't prove it.

I think it was National Lampoon magazine a number of years ago had a futuristic national election where the parties on the ballots were Burger King and MacDonalds. I wonder how close we've come to that chilling concept...

That doesn't come close to answering your queries, I know, but man it's nice to vent. Thanks for indulging.

Bardford


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Nov 00 - 12:56 AM

Thanks, Bardford. Maybe I'll get a little closer to understanding the processes.

BTW, a 'riding' is what? How big is it? Is it the equivalent of a US county or possibly - darn, I can't think of the designation of, for instance, in New York City: Brooklyn, Queens, Manhatttan, the Bronx...

(In Alaska we don't have counties- probably because of the mostly sparsely populated interior. We have just a bit over half a million in population statewide even though we have more than 560,000 square miles of area. Even at that, we have a fairly high population density in Juneau, the capital, due to the limited land. The city runs along the coastline for about 30 miles, but the width is rarely a mile. We have the ocean (and islands) on one side and mountains and icefields on the other.)

Here elections are conducted by a State Division of Elections; there are four regional offices with everything eventually funneled to the Director's Office in Juneau. I've never heard of any corruption in the election process in Alaska- but that doesn't mean it can't happen.


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 23 Nov 00 - 03:48 AM

G'day Ebbie'

I don't know what a Canadian riding looks like, but originally it was an area about which you could ride in a day ... still, that could be like the Australian joke:

A visiting Texan was claiming ranches were big back home - "Why it takes me 3 days to ride across one of my paddocks!". An Australian (a Northern Territorian, from where stations can be thousands of square miles) replied -"Yeah ... I had a horse like that once."

Anyway, I did recently hold forth at length, in a private e-mail to Art Thieme, about the way it all works here in Australia ... I don't think you really want to know - unless America gets serious about democracy - it's a lot of work. (And you probably don't want to vote on Senate election papers that could be printed neatly on small table cloths.)

Well, when I get back to the machine I posted that from ... I will review it and see if it is germane.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 23 Nov 00 - 04:17 AM

Mainly electronic voting here in Belgium. Seems very difficult to make a mistake and the count is almost instantaneous. However, there are usually about 40 political parties and a list of about 20 candidates for each which makes choosing more of a problem, especially when none of them are any good. Voting is also compulsory. You get a stiff fine if you don't vote.

Peace

mcmoo


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 23 Nov 00 - 08:18 AM

Seriously, Ebbie, I nearly had not opened this thread since I was convinced it was a follow up to the infamous 'Have you done it' thread.
The voting procedure itself in Germany is very similar as the one described by Bardford for Canada. I also know the counting procedure from own experience. It is easy since there are exact rules when and how a vote has to be counted. We (members from all parties) count the votes twice (or more often until there is agreement) in our local polling station directly after the election. It takes about two hours and the final result is know when the last local polling station has phoned in the results (about four hours after the election). Of course, there is always an official recount (the phone message could be wrong, e.g.) which takes about 4 weeks. But I cannot remember that any result has been turned by this recount.

Since the rules are extremely clear (stating e.g, that no vote by mail will be accepted after closing time of the polling stations), there are usually perhaps only one or two votes among our local 400 that remain undecided at the evening of the election and have to be decided about later by others.

I completely trust the counting procedure. Of course, there is a margin of error in our precedure as well, but my impression is that it is considerably smaller than in the USA. So my feeling is that a difference in votes of about 400 in the whole of Germany is trustworthy, but I wouldn't bet on a nationwide difference of let's say 12 votes.

The legal problems we had with elections are rarely if ever with counting (only locally when there is a 2 or three votes difference), but with undue influence. In our town an election had to be repeated because there were rumours in the days before the election that one of the candidates was an alcoholic.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: GUEST,Brian
Date: 23 Nov 00 - 08:42 AM

Here in the UK seems to be much the same system as in Canada, only we don't have time zones. Al the Polling Stations open at the same time , close the same time, and nothings counted until after they close. It's simple, works, and not prone to technical difficulties (unless the pencil breaks!). So we'll probibly change to the US system soon, just to make it more entertaining. God, what a fiasco!

We in Europe shouldn't gloat too much though. Imagine trying to come up with a unified voting system, that would suit all of Europe. We'd never get to voting, just argue about the system forever.

Brian


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Manitas
Date: 23 Nov 00 - 08:53 AM

The UK system is pretty much as described for Canada for all elections, local and national. The local elections (for borough elections) are carried out on a ward by ward basis with each ward having two councillors. The party having most councillors gets to choose the Mayor for the borough but all councillors (of whatever party)have a say in council decisions.

At national level we vote for a Member of Parliament to represent our constituency (which may or may not coincide with the borough depending on population). Each candidate usually represents a party so most people actually vote along party lines. All Members of Parliament have a say in legislation but the administration is carried out by the party with the majority of MPs. What actually happens is that the Queen invites the leader of the majority party to form an administration (this hasn't always happened). This leader isn't obliged to make up the administration from his or her own party and it is possible to have coalition governments where a minority party has enough members to side with another party to block legislation in Parliament.


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: sophocleese
Date: 23 Nov 00 - 09:32 AM

In Canada you cannot broadcast any information about the polls that have closed in the East in the West until after the polls have closed there. I was startled to learn that this is not the case in the US. One man on the radio said that it would infringe on the rights of the broadcast media to have to wait until the western polls close before mentioning the eastern polls. An example of the difference between Canada and the US.

But just so that you don't think I can only criticize the US, I'll tell you about how they voted in the hospital on Monday. This was an advance poll as our federal election is on next Monday. A friend of mine is at the hospital right now. She was in her bed when a group of people showed up to help her vote. She was given a ballot with a blank space for her to write in the name of the candidate. When she asked she was told who the candidates were and who their parties were. She then asked "What if I can't spell?" They did not have a written list of the candidates for her to look at.Then she filled in the name of her candidate in full view of three people standing around her bed. She made a joke about it not being a very secret ballot. Then the ballot was sealed and put in a ballot box.

My mother and I were apalled at this sloppy way of conducting an election. Mom being more vocal than I said she would call about it. She talked to one of the candidates who then directed her to the returning officer. The returning officer found nothing strange or weird about this and was concerned only that the ballot had been sealed. According to him if it had been sealed then it was a secret ballot whether three other people had watched my friend fill it in or not. Would anybody like to borrow or rent a returning officer? Mom then called the local newsapaper who seemed unsurprised but eager to hear more. I don't know how much more we will hear about it.


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Nov 00 - 04:15 PM

Wolfgang, it was only after I hit Submit that the earlier title occurred consciously to me. I was appalled at my use of it. I'm glad you did open it anyway.

I like your voting system as you recount it. However, if no vote by mail is accepted after closing time, how is it handled when citizens are out of state or abroad on election day? How early can they vote?

Here we have to request an official absentee ballot before we can vote. And the absentee ballot cannot be mailed before a certain date; the voter then fills it out, gets it notarized or witnessed by two people 18 or older, and mails it back no later than Election Day.Bardford, with that many candidates do the people do their homework? Does a fine for not voting create a more informed and politically involved populace?Bardford, do you as a voter need to be registered as a partisan for the party for which you vote? Or can you vote for any party?Bob Bolton, please do post it. I would imagine Australia has different time zones- does that complicate matters?Guest/Brian, I think different time zones do complicate the process for us, but it would seem like we could come up with a better way to deal with it. As for a unified system encompassing all of Europe and the complications that would cause (And that day may actually come!, I think that the US has a good many of those problems.Sophocleese, believe it or not, it's not as bad as it used to be. In the past the east coast media have projected the winner at 3 o'clock on the west coast! I remember getting off work at 4:30, and going to vote knowing full well that my vote had no effect. In recent years, they have agreed not to do that until much later although they do broadcast exit polls.

As for secret ballots, we have a pretty good system there, I think. It is rigorously outlined and the exceptions are clearly stated. In one exception, we allow representative voting where a rep can go to a home-bound voter's home and help the voter fill out the ballot according to the voter's commands. The rep agrees in a legal form to follow guidelines to the letter.

Another exception is absentee by fax voting. Each voter is told that they are waiving their right to a secret ballot. However, the voted ballot goes directly to just one person who faxes the forms to the voter and receives all the incoming ballots. In our system, the 'secret' voting your mother was subjected to would be grounds for legal action.

Thanks for your responses, despite the unfortunate title, and keep 'em coming!

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Nov 00 - 04:35 PM

Sorry- I swear I put the breaks in but they didn't come through...

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 23 Nov 00 - 05:37 PM

Its all pencil and paper in Britain. This is a somewhat cynical view but basically we have several months of people telling us what they are going to do and how bad the others are and then whoever gets elected does exactly the same and blames the other side if it doesn't work.Postal votes have to be sent prior to the date so that by the end of the night we know who has one. As the policies seem to vary very little these days it really doesn't make a lot of difference. We used to have a Labour Party in Britain but it got hijacked and it's only a matter of time before it disappears completely!


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: CamiSu
Date: 24 Nov 00 - 12:51 AM

Funny, but here in Vermont it is much as Bardford described it. We go in and state our name, (it is a small enough town that we generally don't have to have ID, because we all know each other), we get get our ballots, go in the booth, mark x's with our pencils, fold up our ballots, and put them in the box as we check out. If we spoil our ballots we tear it up and ask for another. I even asked if my kids' ballots had come in by mail and the town clerk told me they had and were in the town vault. After the polls close, the clerk, the election board and the justices of the peace count, and recheck. Then they call in the results to the state. If you call the next day you can get the exact numbers and the overall results. Hence I know the republican challenger for our state representative, who had run a rather dirty campaign, won in our town by 18 votes, but lost overall. It works around here. Florida is too big and those chad things can be a real pain...


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: MudGuard
Date: 24 Nov 00 - 02:47 AM

Ebbie, instead of <br> you put in <br<br>. This is the cause why the breaks did not come through.
MudGuard


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 24 Nov 00 - 07:15 AM

Ebbie,
I have to be embarrassed for admitting to having opened a thread expecting a theme I despise.

Anyway, we can vote about four to six weeks in advance. That's normally safe enough, but of course there are individual difficulties as German scientists in an Antarctic station or once a German in a Russian space station during elections and I don't know how they handle that.

I should add that there is an agreement (or a law, perhaps) in Germany that prediction polls are not to be published by whoever in the last couple of days before an election and that exit polls may not be made public before closing time of the polling stations in order not to influence the late voters. The parties, however, know the exit polls early and so at about noon they know whether they have lost or won and start preparing thier statements.
If it is too close, however, the poor politicians have to wait for the final result as all others. I remember when years ago in the largest German land (North-Rhine Westphalia) one party had 4.997% of the votes (parties with fewer than 5% are not allowed in the parliaments) and everybody had to wait until 4 am next morning until it was sure whether the socialists had the absolute majority or the conservative opposition had a big win. Politicians and journalists hate these situations, I love them.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Giac
Date: 24 Nov 00 - 08:22 AM

In East Tennessee, we show a voter registration card, or a photo ID, the name is checked off on a roll book for that precinct. Then the name is checked off on another book, where the voter signs beneath the printed name. The voter receives a paper, which is then given to the person manning the voting booths. You walk in, facing a list of candidates (no party affiliations are listed in the general election). The choice is designated by pushing a pressure-sensitive button, which then lights up. After making all the selections, one may cancel the whole thing and start over, or push another electronic button which registers the vote. There is a running count in each machine and when the polls close, the vote is tallied in very short order.


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 Nov 00 - 05:26 PM

Wow, Giac, when did Tennessee get that system? Sounds like a good combination of the electronic and manual. In Alaska we went to the Accu-Vote Optical (Texas (!) company) system less than two years ago- very expensive but thought to be accurate. Sounds like your system is a better one.

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Metchosin
Date: 25 Nov 00 - 12:38 PM

One of the things that hasn't been mentioned so far, for Canada and I suppose Britain, is that it is possible to have what is termed an minority government. If one party usually does not get quite enough seats to hold a majority in parliament during votes in the House (form a government), they may form a coalition with another elected party (this has happened a number of times in Canadian politics).

This is called a minority government. As long as the government (the one with the most seats) puts forward legislation that the supporting party agrees with, they stay in power or have the "confidence of the House". In this way, the party with whom they have formed the coalition, has considerable power and in the past, some good social legislation has been passed in this manner and (seems like a good form of democracy in action).

This works as long as the coalition holds and if members of parliament wish not to support legislation put forward by the government, they can bring the governing party down (a vote of non-confidence where the government cannot get 51% of the votes in the House) and a new election would have to be called. (I think this is basically correct but I'm not an expert on parliamentary process).

Sort of like Nader agreeing to support Gore as long as Gore tows the line. (well not really)


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: P05139
Date: 25 Nov 00 - 12:47 PM

I have no idea because in Britain you're not allowed to vote till you're 18 and I'm only 16!

I'm not interested in politics anyway, because as far as I'm concerned it's adults telling lies even though kids aren't really allowed to!


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Ebbie
Date: 25 Nov 00 - 01:27 PM

Firecat, if I may say so: You're not that far from adulthood yourself. Does that mean you assume that you will then join the others telling lies? It is our young people coming up all over the world who will inherit the mantles. See to it that you do better...

"All that's required for a bad man to win is for a good man to do nothing."

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: wildlone
Date: 25 Nov 00 - 02:31 PM

I feel that the system used at the present in most elections is far from ideal. but whoever wins the losers will never be happy. Who am I to run down other countries on how they conduct themselves when the country I come from is far from ideal its self.
ie,baning land mines but still allowing the UK arms industry to sell them.


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Manitas
Date: 25 Nov 00 - 05:21 PM

Metchosin,

In the UK we only regard a government as a coalition if the minority party holding the balance of is seats actaully is rewarded with posts in the administration. In fact I'm sure that this would always be the case as what party is going to prop up another party without some reward?


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Ebbie
Date: 26 Nov 00 - 01:53 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: GUEST,Frankham
Date: 27 Nov 00 - 01:20 PM

Ebbie,

I think that one of our greatest problems has to do with the electoral college. It's a thorn in the side of basic democracy which many have used as an argument to classify our system of government as a republic rather than a democracy.

I think that there is corruption in South Florida and it has taken place at the voting booths in those respective counties that were cited. Still, our system of government was designed to withstand that particular shock and I believe it has the potential to right itself even in the face of an unjust election. I for one hope that Al Gore will not concede to the Bush forces for if he refuses this will keep our democracy alive.

I am not concerned about a constitutional crisis because our system of government has safeguards against this. Our bicameral legislature, separate executive and judical branches act as a check and balance. This means that most Americans will vote for gridlock while they like it or not but I have a suspicion that they do prefer it because this is a consistent voting pattern which keeps any one party from having too much control. It's the American way.

Frank


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Bardford
Date: 27 Nov 00 - 02:11 PM

Ebbie,

Here's a link to Elections Canada for everything you need to know about the process in the true north strong and free:
Click here


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: Bardford
Date: 27 Nov 00 - 02:16 PM

Damn. I was using the "butterfly browser" and got confused when I made my selection...lets try that elections Canada link again:

Click here


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: GUEST,John Leeder
Date: 27 Nov 00 - 02:31 PM

Re the meaning of "riding": My understanding is that it is based on an Anglo-Saxon word meaning "thirding", because Yorkshire was divided into three voting districts (still today called the "East Riding", etc.). Why the term came to be imported into Canada for all electoral districts, I'm not sure.


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: GUEST,John Leeder
Date: 27 Nov 00 - 04:41 PM

Continuing on after break: Watching this US election affair from Canada, I hear some people advocating doing away with the electoral college system. It seems to me that, if the President were elected only by nationwide popular vote, and there were a close election, there'd have to be a recount nationwide -- and think of the time that would take and the confusion that the differing voting systems from state to state would cause!

There probably hasn't been a Presidential election where the nationwide popular vote was close enough to have made a recount necessary in that situation (correct me if my knowledge of American history is inadequate, which it likely is!), but I think this election is demonstrating that it *could happen*, and people should be prepared.

It seems to me that trying to count machine ballots by hand is one of the big screwups with this recount. It takes a lot longer by hand than by the machines, and there's the further element of the human vote-counters having to make value judgments as to what the voter intended to do, which of course gives the loser lots of scope to complain after then fact.

Perhaps a standardized voting system across the country would be a good idea. Perhaps it should be a return to paper ballots. A recount then would take only a bit longer than the original vote (since it would have to be done a bit more carefully). You have ten times the population we have, so you'd need ten times the vote-counters, which shouldn't be a problem.


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: CamiSu
Date: 28 Nov 00 - 11:00 AM

A lot of us wouldn't have to change to "go back to paper ballots". It also might be enough faster when people were actually voting (it doesn't take very long to figure out how to use the pencil) that we wouldn't get as many complaints of people being turned away because the polls had closed while they were waiting in line...

Cami Su


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Subject: RE: How do you do it at home?
From: GUEST,John Leeder
Date: 28 Nov 00 - 12:00 PM

Getting back to the "riding" question from earlier, Canadian ridings don't have to correspond to counties/cites, etc., although sometimes they do. After every census (every ten years) an electoral boundaries commission examines the existing ridings and readjusts them to conform to population shifts, etc. There would appear to be scope for gerrymandering in this, but the commission is supposed to be independent of the parties and the government. I don't ever remember any scandals over redistribution.

There are 301 ridings for 22 million people, so each riding represents an average of 73,000 people. Rural ridings tend to have fewer people and urban ridings more, with defined upper and lower limits. The Yukon and Nunavut have one member each by law, even though their populations are lower than the minimum.


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