Friday, August 08, 2003

The editor of The Progressive magazine has a brief, but spot-on argument in favor of recall elections. I know the California race seems silly. Here are some problems I see with it:

-- over 500 candidates? That's potentially problematic, but I like the feel of it.
-- All you need is a plurality to win? That's bad.
-- You can buy your way onto the ballot? That's bad (see the 500 candidates).
-- It is too easy to get a recall: I figure you should only get a recall if something like 30% or 40% of registered voters sign the petition, and I don't think a recall drive should be funded like the one in Cali was.
-- If I understand correctly, when people go to the polls they will 1) say "yes" or "no" to a recall AND 2) choose the candidate of their choice IF they said yes. Surely that's not right.

I could dig it if there was only one question, going something like this:

"Who should be governor? 1) Gray Davis (incumbent) 2) Gary Coleman 3) Arianna Huffington 4) Darryl Issa 5) Arnold Schwartzeneggar 6) etc."

That would be nice and simple and democratic. If no one candidate gets over 50% of votes cast, run it again one week later with the top 3 or so vote getters. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

To really work correctly you'd need some of the things I mention above plus hardcore voter-education programs (so that, for example, people know what the word "incumbent" means: I'm sure lots of people don't). Also, the polls would have to be convenient: perhaps open for 24 hours with NO reporting of results at all until all polls are closed.

Given the state of things in the US, we need more of this sort of stuff, but it needs to be done correctly. The Cali deal is, pretty clearly, another example of the Right trying to subvert the system we have, but with any luck this one will bite them on the ass.

By the way, is Jello Biafra running? If not, why not?

I'm listening to a Ben Elton comedy album, by the way.


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