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US turnout – the single advantage of having a stupid elected monarch

Written By: - Date published: 7:27 am, December 12th, 2018 - 19 comments
Categories: Donald Trump, International, us politics - Tags:

I think that this graphic on the mid-terms shows the only major effect of Trump on the American ‘democracy’ (actually it is really more of an elected monarchy) to date. He increased mid-term turnout. Just how much becomes obvious in this graphic from Fair Vote

Yeah. That makes the 2018 turnout effect a bit clearer. It was the highest turnout in a century for a mid-term, but still below 50%.

This is hardly surprising, Voters braved the active (mostly republican) racial discrimination in voting laws, the incredibly long lines, and the classic case-study on why having a fetished adherence to obsolete constitutional laws is stupid.

Here is a the charitable version of why the US election day is a particular day

In 1792, a law was passed allowing each of the states to conduct presidential elections at any point in the 34 days before the first Wednesday in December. This was the date when the meetings of the Electors of the U.S. president and vice-president, known as the Electoral Colleges, were held in each state. A date in November or early December was preferable because the harvest would have been finished, but the most severe winter storms would not have begun.

As long distance communication improved and became quicker with the advent of trains and telegraphs, allowing each state to conduct its elections at any point in a period of more than a month, became outdated. The results of the elections that were announced earliest could influence the outcomes of elections held later in the permitted period.

In 1845, the United States Congress chose a single date for all national elections in all states. The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November was chosen so that there would never be more than 34 days between Election Day and the first Wednesday in December. Election Day is held on a Tuesday so that voters will not have to vote or travel on Sunday. This was an important consideration at the time when the laws were written and is still so in some Christian communities in the United States.

Get that? The reason why the electors had specific times to meet was because of a constitutional requirement for the electoral colleges. A travel issue in 1792 (pre-train, telegraph, telephone, cars, or airplanes) specified the earliest day. This was followed by it getting rigidified in 1845 to what was the usual market day (mostly pre-trains in the US) and to satisfy a religious group in what was meant to be a secular state.

So what that means now is that vast majority of people (apart from the odd state that has a public holiday on a tuesday) will have to take time off a work day to stand for hours in a queue to vote. When they get to  the front of a queue, especially if they are black citizens, then they are likely to be told that their vote can’t be cast or won’t be counted.

The wonder of it is that many take the time to vote.

But for a change, Donald Trump actually managed to achieve something more than reckless boasting and ineffectual hand waving. I think that the royal Me of the US and he alone can take the credit for the high turnout. Especially in the massive increases in early voting.

Personally I prefer our voting systems where the self-interested gerrymandering is largely constrained by the electoral commission, where our eligibility to vote is damn near forced down our reluctant attention by the electoral commission, where we vote on saturday, and where I can’t remember if I ever stood in a voting queue for more than 15 minutes on election day.

19 comments on “US turnout – the single advantage of having a stupid elected monarch”

  1. Tricledrown 1

    Search Idiot on google

  2. Andre 2

    Another factor that may depress voting in the US beyond the long lines and deliberate suppression tactics is that it’s fkn complicated.

    You’re not only voting for the federal seats, in most places (if not all) you’re also voting for all the local government positions. So you front up to the polling booth trying to hold in your mind who you want to vote for, then you’re faced with some complicated system or contraption brainfarted out by a committee of rabidly partisan officials unlikely to include any expertise on user interface design. These systems get changed often enough it’s reasonably likely you’ve never seen it before. So you’re trying to work it out while feeling the time pressure to get it done quickly so the huge long queue behind you can keep moving.

    All in all, it’s such an unpleasant experience I’m mildly surprised turnout is even as high as it is.

    • lprent 2.1

      Yeah. Same problem with our local body elections in Auckland.

      The form is a booklet and the ‘brief’ descriptions of candidates and the various ways to vote is a book. That is from process that wasn’t designed to finangle the elections.

      Of course they then make it harder by requiring that it be posted using snail mail. Which means that it is usually about the only bit of outgoing mail that I have every 3 years. Sending the mail… It lies there as a obsolete cultural practice like using a chequebook.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        Which means that it is usually about the only bit of outgoing mail that I have every 3 years.

        Which is why I almost forgot to post mine last time.

        IMO, that ‘forgetting’ is what keeps local election turnout low.

        Snail-mail elections need to be banned and either replaced with a voting booth or online voting.

  3. Wayne 3

    I wonder how accurate the graphs are. It shows a significant increase in turnout for the 2016 presidential election, but at the same time there is a significant reduction in the congressional vote.

    In all previous cases the trend lines are the same.

    I appreciate that clearly more voters participate in presidential elections than congressional, but that is an odd anomaly.

    I also wonder if 2018 midterms really had the highest turnout in 100 years.

    • Andre 3.1

      I think you might be misreading the graph. The time axis is marked off in 6 year divisions, not four year divisions which would make it much clearer. So half the time presidential years are on a marker line, half not. Same for mid-terms. So there’s only the one data point for 2016, being a presidential year off a marker line. The low point that looks like it’s directly below on the mid-year elections line is for the 2014 mid-term, also not on a marker line.

      • Wayne 3.1.1

        Andre,

        On relooking at the the graph, you are right, but for different reasons. Both the presidential and the congressional results are in four year blocks, but they are not the same blocks.

        For the presidential graph, it is obviously the presidential election, for the Congress, only the mid terms are recorded. So the graph for the Congress does not record the turnout for the Congressional election when the presidential election occurs.

        I suspect the turnout for congressional elections at the time of the presidential elections would be quite close to the turnout for the presidential election.

        • Andre 3.1.1.1

          Turnout for congressional elections is identical to turnout for presidential election in presidential years. Because you vote for your House Representative and your Senator (if one is up for election, or both if there’s a special election as well) on the same ballot paper or the same voting machine session as your vote for President.

          You can choose to leave any of the choices blank, ie you can make a vote for president but not bother for the House Rep or Senator if you want, and it will be a valid vote and recorded in the turnout stats. Any discrepancies between total number of valid ballots cast (turnout) and the sum of votes cast for the candidates in individual races is an undervote, not a turnout issue. (if there’s an overvote, there’s a problem).

          Interestingly, undervotes featured prominently in the recent wrangling over this year’s Florida senatorial and governor elections, where Nelson (Dem Senate candidate) received a lot fewer votes than Gillum (Dem Governor candidate), and some fingers were pointed at the ballot design.

  4. Ad 4

    It’s a really bad idea for Trump’s team to propose that he is somehow strengthening democracy in the United States. That’s because democracy will be the undoing of not only him but also the entire movement behind him.

    In June 1973 in the middle of Watergate hearings that holed President Nixon below the waterline, there was one major Republican who said Watergate was nothing more than a distraction.

    As he put it, “I think it’s too bad that it is taking people’s attention from what I think is the most brilliant accomplishment of any president of this century.” He called the investigation a “lynching” and a “witch hunt.” That Republican was Gov. Ronald Reagan.

    Sure, Nixon resigned due to the Watergate legal proceedings, but it was good old revivalist politics led by Reagan that enabled the Republicans to totally tilt US politics and fully replace the New Deal compact.

    All the Democrats need now is …

    • Tricledrown 4.1

      Charismatic articulate candidate.

    • DJ Ward 4.2

      To stop referencing Trump to those things. He didn’t do those things.

      The Democrates need to sit back and relax for a bit. Now they have the house they need to realise Trump is not part of the Republican Machine. Really he is an independent, rejected by the Democrates and got revenge by stealing the Republican candidacy.

      Trump is also an agent of change. He sets a goal and if your the target, or something in his way then it’s a bit unsettling. Nothing makes people, especially politicians get off there arses like a little bit of panic. It forces the target to not want that unsettling feeling anymore. The catch is with Trump is people realise that you can ask for things. That Trump wants to hear how to go from the present situation, fixing what he wants, and he wants to hear what you want fixed. How to get win, win deals. His bribery, or bully behavour is to force this issue, to expose in his mind the wrong.

      The Democrates need to work out not what to stop but to work out what it wants. How to get a win for its goals. Trump will do a deal on Immigration, on healthcare, on infastructure, on climate change.

      If you win and what you want gives Trump a win. That the deal is smart, gives Jobs, increases education, or housing, infastructure etc. Trump will fight for those deals.

      He is an agent for change. The Democrates need to understand he is in reality an Independant. So much could be done if the bullshit stopped.

      The psychology for Trump lies in the rejection, then shame, and then revenge towards the Democrates. To Trump this is about respect in his mind. Look what I could have done if you didn’t reject and shame me. A bit narcissistic maybe. The door is actually open, they just need to walk in, make peace even if it’s just behind closed doors.

      His behavour towards the Democrates is the same as NAFTA, Cinese, or immigration. I’m going to win, tell me what’s a win for you.

      The wall, legal sensible immigration, and you get everyone legal that’s presently in the US. Deal. Agree to this infastructure project, and you get this large, profit orientated Renewable energy infastructure project. Deal.

      Trump is an exceptionally rare event. The disrupter.
      The agent for change.
      Use it, don’t waste the opportunity.

      • Ad 4.2.1

        He’s presiding really well with no crises, lots of debt-funding, a booming economy, no domestic policy, no domestic terrorism, the same old empty promises, and the same deregulation platform as any other Republican since Nixon.

        No disruption to anything.

        And despite all those accomplishments he is historically unpopular.

        • DJ Ward 4.2.1.1

          This future isn’t about comparisons to the past.

          You can place him in some steriotype box if you wish.

          The possibility of change is in the Democrates hand.

          They have the house. The President wants the deal made.

          The Senate Republicans become the Boogymen.

          The Dems get a win of some kind.

      • Tricledrown 4.2.2

        Trump is only interested in fame the only reason he was interested the Democrats because of the rock star status of RFK and his sexual conquests Trump is only interested in his own legacy which includes his family he wants to be royalty like Henry the 8th.he is running up massive debt so the economy tanks. He is a property speculator sell high buy low. When he Leaves office his family will buy up cheap property at fire’s ale prices while the Democrats get the economy going again. Republican history Reagan ran up massive debt, Bush ran up massive debt they deliberately tanked the economy for their monopoly mates.

  5. JennyHow to get there? 5

    Will there even be another election?

    Trump hints at a new Kristallnacht

    Donald Trump: People would revolt if I were impeached

    Trump’s supporters already have their targets for new Kristallnacht,

    Black Lives Matter,

    Immigrants,

    Jews,

    <a href='https://edition.cnn.com/2017/11/29/politics/donald-trump-muslim-attacks/index.html&#039;Muslims,

    LIberal and Left media outlets.

    Inevitably those on this list at the receiving end of this Right Wing violence will resist, 

    Trump will go before the nation’s TV cameras to condemn the violence “On both sides” and promising to restore order.

    Before going on to say:

    As of to today, I am signing an Executive Order declaring a State Of Emergency..

    “Ladies and gentlemen, the last president of the United States,” Michael Moore

    Maybe Donald Trump will get his military parade after all.

  6. Jon 6

    Has anybody noticed that when you get your voting papers at the polling place, they have a number on them and the person issuing them to you makes a notation connecting you to your vote? I asked the staff about that and they acted like “Oh?”. But they didn’t deny they are doing it. I told them it was a violation of our right to privacy, but things haven’t changed so far.

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