• Philip Ammerman

How NOT to Run a Rodeo

Or why the US Voting Systems Sucks



Photo (c) David Goldman, AP


My thoughts below are prompted by a news item on "naked ballots" in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which you can read here. But more generally, they are prompted by the ramblings of current President, who insists that the balloting system is rigged, and by several credible reports in press on measures being prepared to suppress voting in the upcoming Presidential Election. And by memories of "hanging chads" and the Florida vote recount.


It’s so strange how a country so [theoretically] advanced as the United States can’t seem to get a basic exercise in democracy done properly.


Compare that to countries like Greece or France:


  • You are registered in a polling location. It’s your choice where, but it’s typically based on where you live and registration is required.

  • You vote typically within a 1 km walk of where you live. Typically at a municipality or public school.

  • You show up with an ID. Yes, we all have IDs.

  • The voting day is typically a national holiday or a weekend.

  • Voting stations are not “protected” by shouting rent-a-mob Republicans or “militiamen” with automatic rifles.

  • The vote is a paper ballot that anyone with an elementary school education understands.

  • Every election and every ballot in the country has the same layout and procedure. So if you’ve voted before you understand what to do.

  • Votes are tallied the same day and election results are known usually by 2200 the same day.

  • A packed Supreme Court doesn’t steal an election by voting along partisan lines on the victor of an electoral process.

  • No one with an ID and registration is prevented from voting. We don't disenfranchise "felons" or people with a criminal record.

  • While votes are organized regionally, the winner of the popular vote is always elected.

  • There is no Electoral College needed to “cleanse” or “modify” the results of a vote. Our democracy is direct. The person or party that wins the vote gets elected.

  • No one complains that voting is rigged.

  • Votes are overseen calmly and transparently by nominated officials or members of the bar together with officials.

  • Russians can’t “hack the election”: it’s paper based, local and transparent.

  • Yes, we can vote during a pandemic, because we follow the rules.

  • We don’t spend billions on defective election equipment or procedures. It’s the same equipment used for generations.

  • As far as I know, no one in recent generations has said they would not abide by the results — except dictators.


How much longer will Americans tolerate a system which undermines their own self interest and society?


On second thought, don’t answer that. The answer is pretty clear already.


How the US State Department has the temerity to lecture other countries on democracy and elections is beyond me.

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Philip Ammerman

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