Friday, July 3, 2009

Write On, New Paltz!

The other day while attending a seminar on small business marketing I got my first election pen of the season. I was surprised, because with the cold, rainy season we've been having, it just doesn't seem like it's late enough in the year to be handing out election pens already.

Climate change aside, I think pens as campaign tools are a very important symbol in New Paltz. We recently decided, if my count is correct, a third race with a write-in candidate winning, and that's pretty amazing. We know how to write in a candidate in New Paltz, and I think that it's the purest form of democracy. I think we should consider institutionalizing it.

Yes, I would like to propose that, instead of voting for a party slate, we just get rid of candidates on the ballot completely. Here's how it could work:
  1. Town or village clerk publishes the requirements for the position. This is already available, but it's got to be easy to find on the town and village web sites, as well in the local newspapers.
  2. Voting machines wouldn't have a single name listed.
  3. Instructions for writing in a candidate would be posted in large boards outside, and small posters inside the booths.
  4. Votes would be counted as always.
  5. Votes for candidates found to be ineligible would be discarded as always.
So what's the benefit? I can see a couple.
  1. Voters have to think before they vote.
  2. They can't assume someone is qualified because of the line they're running on, because nobody's listed.
  3. Candidates will have to really work to win a seat, like Jeff Logan did.
I understand that Jeff might not like this idea, but he was blindsided - the man should have had his party's nomination. In this plan, nominations don't particularly mean squat. I'm sure that the Democrats would campaign for their chosen candidate, and they may even have a leg up still, but it would be a real election. Anyone wanting to vote would have to actually pay attention if he or she wanted to make sure that his or her vote was for an eligible individual. Furthermore, it's possible that you may vote for someone who doesn't want the job, if you're just another mindless voter.

I can't wait to see the reasons people won't like this idea, because I predict that they will mostly be thinly-veiled suggestions that people aren't actually smart enough to vote without help. That's where the Founding Fathers went wrong with the Electoral College, and I challenge anyone to use the "stupidity clause" and put their name to it.

Of course, the pen I was given stopped writing almost immediately, which could mean that the candidate chose promotional products poorly, or it could be an ominous portent. We shall see.

1 comment:

Brittany Turner said...

Good luck convincing the parties of this... oh, and changing the election law.