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Monday, February 28, 2005


Count the votes

A General Election will be held some time in the next few months, and the smart money seems to be on May 5th as being the day of the vote. It seems appropriate to post this depressing reminder of the limits of democracy conceived as simply a system of electing governments. I have argued here before, and will argue again, that democracy demands the active participation of all people in the debates of government, from the drawing up of the agenda to the determining of policy.

But until we move towards that state of government, here is your lifetime supply of democracy at the General Election ballot box:

x x x x x x x x x x x

What an articulate contribution to the debate. Please do not steal the pencil.

Borrowed, or rather stolen, from Is This The Real Life?

According to that, I'll have run out of votes this year, which is odd, because I only started voting in 1966,at age 21.
Well, I'm guessing that the people who I stole the idea from were assuming that there was a General Election every 5 years, which, with 11 'X's makes for a 50 year democratic life. Now, not everyone will be lucky enough to vote in a General Elction in the year of their 18th birthday. If they are every 5 years, then the average will be a first vote in the year of their 21st birthday, which means that by the time that person has used 11 'X's they will be 71.

So it seems that the people that I stole the idea from underestimated life expectancy, and also the variations in the democratic process that bring General Elections at shorter intervals. However, a few more 'X's is neither here nor their, I was simply trying to show that the vote alone is both an inarticulate and extremely limited form of political engagement.

By the way, use your last vote wisely.
'Neither here nor their'!?

"..that democracy demands the active participation of all people in the debates of government, from the drawing up of the agenda to the determining of policy."It surely would be nice if more people actively participated but all?.
I did not find the exact place where you stole it from but if you intend to make a link to the role of the media I agree.
My oneliner on this is save democracy from direct elections

Coming from the Chicago area of the Democratic Party Mayor Daily I would encourge you to remember that counting all the votes means:

Vote early and vote often

Don’t panic until the last graveyard is counted.


The big benefit of things like the Electoral Collage in a country of 300 million is that it localizes problems with out upsetting the whole election. A recount can only affect a relatively small number of electoral votes. The effect of voter fraud is limited. If the Daily’s steal enough votes to get Illinois votes there is no point in stealing more since it will get no extra electoral votes. In a full general election they could steal extra votes to offset popular votes elsewhere.
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