Tuesday, November 8, 2011

For Tuesday I Walk to the Village

I voted!

Certainly a real nothing of an election here in my part of Texas. Only 13 marks to make on the ballot! Ten incredibly obscure Texas Constitutional Amendments to approve, two at-large seats on the San Antonio River Authority, and a local school district bond measure.

Which meant, in practice, one thing that ordinary people might have some clue about, and 12 guesses. For example, the River Authority. Now, first of all, I doubt that 5% of eligible voters could tell you what a River Authority is, or even take a reasonable guess. Second...well, there was no campaign that I noticed. Maybe some candidate yard signs or street signs? Can't say I noticed them, but I can be oblivious about stuff like that. There was one article in the local paper, which I recall reading a week or so ago (or three weeks? I know there was an article), and I recall deciding who to vote for at that time. But I thought I had saved the paper, and didn't...hmmm, thanks for the modern world: off to google. Alas, that didn't really work very well, although eventually I did manage to figure out who the incumbents were on the ballot, which was what I was looking for at this point, so I was OK after that. In which "OK" means that I successfully figured out who I intended to vote for after reading one article in one newspaper. I have zero way of knowing whether I correctly interpreted the cues in the article, or for that matter whether the quotations in the article were accurate reflections of what the candidates wanted me to know about themselves.

Yes, this is an insane way to organize elections. Again: as long as we get partisan cues, we're all capable of casting reasonably informed votes, based only on party affiliation. But for non-partisan contests (especially for obscure offices) and ballot measures, it's extremely difficult for voters to have any clue about what they're doing. Which surely must have something to do with why local turnout today is expected to be under 5%. Despite the fact that at least the school board bond measure is, one could argue, reasonably important, and certainly is very easy to understand (since they have to detail exactly what they plan to do with the money).

Anyway, 13 votes cast today, the second local Election Day we've had since the midterm elections last year. That makes 15 votes cast so far over the two-year election cycle, after 115 votes cast on five different local Election Days in 2010. I'm not aware of any remaining election in 2011, but of course we'll have plenty in 2012.

Actual biggest complaint: we don't get those "I voted" stickers. We have early voting around here, and I've seen people walk around with the stickers for voting early, but they don't seem to hand them out on Election Day, at least not at my local polling place (which is, by the way, our local elementary school).

Oh, and if my earlier post didn't make you sufficiently patriotic, enjoy Matt Glassman's voting story he posted this morning. I love voting stories! Hey, here's a bunch, from last year.


  1. There's something oxymoronic about the phrase "incredibly obscure... Constitutional amendments." If the laws involved are so obscure, why are they being enshrined in the state constitution? Can't they just be passed as laws?

  2. I voted.

    It was our first election since moving to San Francisco, and we nearly sat it out, being essentially clueless about candidates and measures. (The election here was purely local.) But my mother taught me that your vote is your right to bitch, so I pulled out the enormously thick voter guide.

    As it turned out, it wasn't hard to make a semi demi informed vote. Endorsements are your friend! I am an establishmentarian by temperament - the Beltway has strained this near the breaking point, but SF City Hall has not, so they got my vote.

    On ballot measures, the Republicans and Libertarians helpfully outed themselves on some, so I knew to vote the other way. (None of the measures were the sort where I might actually agree with Libertarians.)

    So we have earned our right to bitch, at least until the next election.

    @TN - In California, all sorts of minor stuff gets passed as amendments to the state constitution. There are hundreds of the things. Presumably it is the same way in Texas.

  3. Oh, and if my earlier post didn't make you sufficiently patriotic,

    Whatever feelings of nationalistic pride roused up by your earlier post were extinguished by this one. I mean, seriously. 115 votes in a year? Referenda on ten incredibly obscure topics? 5% turnout? This can't be a good way to run a democracy.

  4. Why in the name of (fill in the blank) is the River Commission elected? That's assuming we can find a reason for it to exist.

    In Indiana, we get to vote for Township Trustees and Township Assessors (92 counties, an average of 6+ townships per county, 3 trustees and 1 assessor per township...so over 1700 elected officials), who have no discernible impact on anything. About the only thing I agree with Mitch Daniels about is that the townships and their elected officials should be eliminated. I mean, who the hell knows if Pat Smith or Maria Gonzales will make a better Trustee? Or Assessor?

    Frankly, who the hell cares?

  5. Yeah, same story here. Here there was only the mayor and some council people. But we have a council and city manager in an inner-ring suburb, so the mayor doesn't actually do anything even though that was the higher profile election (which isn't saying much).

    There were I think 8 total candidates. Two websites, both shabby free sites without any information. It's non-partisan but one had a Reagan quote so I knew who not to vote for, but it was a mayor candidate's website and the mayor doesn't matter.

    Out of the council candidates, one didn't even have an e-mail address, someone else has a silly-name@aol.com address. Two had facebook pages, but didn't actually have any information on them.

    So I didn't bother voting. :\

  6. All the marxist school board members got whacked hereabouts.

    Memo to marxist school board members: Stay away from Facebook, and never record video of what you truly believe. Stay in the shadows. It'll improve your survival rate considerably. One of these guys might just as well have impaled himself on a spike as gone on Facebook, as that took him to the same electoral outcome.


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