Monday, October 30, 2006

Election Weirdness

One of my talks here is about election administration in the U.S. People are stunned at the decentralization and partisanship of election administration: the idea that the officials who run elections are, usually, Democrats or Republicans (and often are closely involved in some state or national campaign -- Katherine Harris) is just bizarre. National elections here involve at most two races (House and Senate), and even though the voting rules are complex, the process of voting is simple. And compuslory, but that's another story.

In the states, the combination of state, federal, and local elections on the same ballot makes for a complex voting process. The California voter guide this year is 192 pages long. That's ridiculous. Not one person in 10,000 is actually going to read more than a few pages of it.

And then we have stories like this: a tied school board election in Alaska was finally settled by a coin toss. That in itself isn't unusual. But one of the candidates died on election day. I don't understand why you'd still need a coin toss to settle the tie if one of the two candidates is dead. If you're thinking it would be very odd to have the dead person win the coin toss, you're probably right. But that's what happened.


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