Wednesday, November 08, 2006

How a Copy Editor Votes

[posted by Callimachus]

OK, so now I'll tell you what I did yesterday. We had terrible voting machine problems in this part of the world. Nothing worked: The electronic machines were set up improperly, and the paper ballots kept jamming the scanners because the poll workers put them in wrong. How I miss the old tab-and-lever machines already, after just two elections.

The computer-voting set-up they bought here was designed by someone who never used computers, I guess. The interface was baffling, there was no cursor, no mouse, you moved around the screen, in which things were listed up-and-down style, by spinning a dial wheel like the mechanism of an old rotary telephone. Somehow, you were supposed to interpret "round and round" into "up and down." When there were long lists of candidates, as there was in one case for me, and you had to pick, say 11 out of 40, it took forever.

Now for the vote. Casey vs. Santorum. Not hard. Rick was right on the Jihad War, wrong on just about everything else. If you last long enough to get to be a legislative leader, you can carve out your niche for yourself and your pet causes. I didn't like the niche he chose. Casey I can tolerate. He's a cardboard conservative Democrat, the kind Pennsylvania still manufactures.

Gorvernor, I voted for Swann over Rendell even though I knew Rendell would win and felt Swann wasn't ready for the job. I explained this before. I wanted him to get a respectable showing.

House race, Pitts vs. Herr, I had to go with the GOP incumbent, Pitts, even though he's not too far behind Santorum. He did just enough good things (like trying to loosen the Patriot Act immigration restrictions to let people in who belong here). And his opponent, or her handlers, just made one too many efforts to convince me that a vote for her was little more than a vote against George W. Bush and against the overthrow of Saddam.

Well, they convinced me. I voted for the other guy.

State representative, I voted for the GOP challenger against the Democratic incumbent, who has had my vote every time until this. The challenger was a legitimate candidate with school board experience. The incumbent seems to have gotten too comfortable in the job, and he took the notorious midnight pay raise the legislature voted itself. The incumbent won anyhow.

There was a state ballot issue question on spending more money in Gulf War veterans: Voted for it but wondered why that is a state, not a federal, issue.

Then there was a county home rule study question: Do we want to form a committee to look into writing our own rules for county government, rather than following the standard three-commissioners format. At the same time, you had to vote for 11 people from a long list of candidates to sit on such a committee.

The candidates basically broke down into two groups: One set nominated by the group that is pushing for the change, the other by the local GOP, which is perfectly happy with the way things are running now, since it has mastered the art of manipulating and exploiting it.

I ignored this distinction. Instead I voted for them based on my knowledge of them. I voted for the most annoying people on the list, the ones who I knew were troublemakers, just for the pleasure of forcing them all into a room with one another. Then I voted for the one guy I knew would tell the truth, just so we'd have someone to go to. After I ran out of names I knew, I filled out the rest using my headline-writer's self-interest instincts: I voted for the candidates with the shortest surnames.