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Elections in 2012

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... I wish we could have a "Western Issues" topic, with stuff like water rights and beetle kill. I think the rest of you would be bored to death just skimming it, though.

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Great article (the Guardian one).

 

Europe's strength is it's culture. It kind of gets buried beneath a lot of this economics b.s.

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At least you lot have a choice whether or not you want to vote. I have the option to void citizenship or vote. I have the right to void freedom to vote in Australia.

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I've never understood why people wouldn't want to vote. Everyone pays taxes, everyone enjoys government services, and everyone seems to want to complain how X aspect of the government is terribly horribly bad. Why not just excercize your right to vote and fix that? Doubling voter turnout could have massive impact on the political makeup of the country, but people seem to be too lazy to spend a few minutes in line once every two years to be bothered to...

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My understanding is that, you should have a choice and the freedom to vote. As far as I see it, Australia takes it to the extreme where it's you don't have the freedom to choose if you vote, you are a criminal and you have no freedom if you do not vote.

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Originally Posted By: Cairo Jim
My understanding is that, you should have a choice and the freedom to vote. As far as I see it, Australia takes it to the extreme where it's you don't have the freedom to choose if you vote, you are a criminal and you have no freedom if you do not vote.


Actually, the only thing you're required to do is show up at a voting booth and get your name struck off the list. You're perfectly free to submit a blank ballot card if you don't want your vote to be counted.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
Originally Posted By: Cairo Jim
My understanding is that, you should have a choice and the freedom to vote. As far as I see it, Australia takes it to the extreme where it's you don't have the freedom to choose if you vote, you are a criminal and you have no freedom if you do not vote.


Actually, the only thing you're required to do is show up at a voting booth and get your name struck off the list. You're perfectly free to submit a blank ballot card if you don't want your vote to be counted.


You have to be enrolled first. In which I am not. Which means, apparently I "know nothing".

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Call me crazy, but I think mandatory showing up for polls is a good idea. It'd cut down on the people who mean to vote but just don't get around to it. I'd also really like to see voting day become a holiday so that work stops interfering, but you can't have everything.

 

I'll just throw a few more cents into the drug arena. Alcohol kills a lot of people. Some of that is overdose and complications of long-term use. Some of that is alcohol-related violence and vehicular accidents, both of which are strongly influenced by the availability of alcohol and cultural norms around it.

 

Cigarettes are highly addictive. The overdose potential is negligible, but the health consequences are exhaustively described. The long-term risks are high.

 

Marijuana can contribute to vehicular manslaughter/homicide. It doesn't seem to cause lung cancer, nor is it clearly addictive or harmful if not smoked. Relatively few people smoke and drive. It's safer than alcohol and safer than cigarettes combined.

 

Cocaine's highly addictive and highly dangerous. Even 'responsible' use causes psychiatric and physical damage, often irreversibly.

 

Heroin, for all its horrible reputation, is relatively safe. Withdrawal is terribly unpleasant, the addiction is never over, and overdose rapidly deadly, but long-term, careful use of heroin really isn't that bad as long as it's not intravenous, or at least is done well and with clean needles.

 

Why are the first two legal and the last three illegal? Legacy and moralism. But reasonably, heroin, or at least opioids, should be legalized and standardized so the risks could really be minimized. Marijuana should be legalized for minimal risk. Alcohol can't feasibly be banned: there's too much desire, as Prohibition shows, and bowing to the inevitable beats repeating that. Cigarettes and cocaine are both terrible stuff, and using the same leverage applied to cigarettes to limit cocaine would hopefully reverse addiction. People use many available tools to overcome nicotine addiction, and it would be great to have just as many options for cocaine without legal and social hassles.

 

Laws don't have to make sense. They happen over time, based on imperfect people with imperfect biases. That's written into the Constitution too.

 

—Alorael, who is straying into strong feeling territory, which is coincidentally also CoC-displeasing territory. He'll get off his hobby horse and be done. And yes, he's aware he's setting himself up for hypocrisy.

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Hypothetical question time for everyone! Imagine if alcohol was currently illegal the way marijuana is, and the range of attitudes towards legalizing it was roughly the same as legalizing marijuana. Would you support legalizing alcohol?

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Killerdrug.jpg

(Because I couldn't find an equally amusing piece of temperance propaganda. Guess I'll have to be happy with Victory Gin.)

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Having a holiday for voting day is a great idea, actually. I bet that would increase voter turnout tremendously without making anyone feel forced to do anything.

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Most business I've dealt with are pretty lenient about long lunches and leaving early on election day, but yeah, I could see that working.

 

There's also, you know... mail in. (Although it can cause some frustration for the traditionalists, who still expect to turn up at the Town Hall without their ballots and just vote).

 

The best of all works would be something electronic and internet based, but I understand that it would be a security nightmare (even if there was a central database checking SSNs).

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Elections in Australia happen on a Saturday.

 

Some have said that voting on Tuesdays in US discourages people who can't afford to take time off work.

 

Originally Posted By: Dantius
I've never understood why people wouldn't want to vote.

 

I haven't voted for many years despite being required to. The fact that the body elected by the populace to administer the nation is able to indiscriminately keep 'secrets' from the people they represent is not something I support. And there isn't a 'none of the above' option on the voting card.

 

By participating I am sort of condoning a political/governance system (duopoly) that I don't believe is working.

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The reason alcoholic drinks have such a fore over marijuana in all cultures is because alcohol is a strong anti-septic while marijuana is a mild anesthetic.

 

From antiquity up to the industrial age drinking water from any source was very likely to get you terminally ill (of course you could boil them, but who would want to keep a boiling vat of water for 12 hours on and there was no ice so you had to wait until it cooled down after you pour it, which if your'e not trying to drink tea or coffee isn't very handy) so drinking any type of alcohol, from mead (Norse if you believe The Settlers) to sake (Japanese) (even Arabs had their own forms of alcohol before Islam set in), was the best way to keep yourself saturated and healthy (and pseudo-warm due to the alcohol's vein expanding effect).

 

That alcohol has extremely adverse effects is well known, IIRC in 15th century Britain there was a great christian upheaval over a case where a mother tried to sell her baby in order to be able to buy another bottle of gin or rum, which caused many a priest to call it things like the devil's drink and yet it persevered because it had such an important role (even though western medicine took a wrong turn for a time and decided boiling pig fat was a great anti-septic, when Napoleon's chief medical officer admitted his mistake he was promptly executed smile ).

 

Another thing is IIRC it's not the nicotine which causes the cancer but rather the tar put in by the tobacco manufacturers to thicken the something or the other of the cigarette, so according to that logic if you make joints legal you'll find very soon that they also induce cancer.

Why are cigarettes legal? One word Lobbyists!

There is a general movement of phasing cigarettes out of the law by different health associations but they just don't stand a chance without public support. (Just like in Britain they were able to pass a law that prohibits junk food companies from advertising their wares during shows or periods of time that are known to be designated for kids which succeeded because of enough public awareness).

 

The bottom line is alcohol in moderation is healthy, pot in moderation not so much (it just dulls the pain) and cigarettes in moderation not at all but they don't distort people's perception and don't set them out on a murderous rampage to find the next fix.

 

Lets not forget chocolate, white sugar and caffeine are also considered addictive. (Now I'm also making your point for you :))

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Originally Posted By: HOUSE of S
Having a holiday for voting day is a great idea, actually. I bet that would increase voter turnout tremendously without making anyone feel forced to do anything.
We have those here. They also decided to stop counting white ballots because so many people used them, so people just stopped coming. White (blank) ballots should count for something, when over 50% of the votes are white ballots there should be a mandatory chairman seat change across all parties.

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Quote:
We have those here. They also decided to stop counting white ballots because so many people used them, so people just stopped coming. White (blank) ballots should count for something, when over 50% of the votes are white ballots there should be a mandatory chairman seat change across all parties.


Or, at bare minimum, a "No Quorum" option on ballots.

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The argument, as it appears to me, is whether a government should have jurisdiction over how people conduct their private lives - within reasonable parameters.

 

I'm not sure how introducing thousands of young pot smokers into the criminal justice system every year is of benefit to anybody. The war isn't on drugs but, unfortunately, on drug users.

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Originally Posted By: Erasmus
The bottom line is alcohol in moderation is healthy, pot in moderation not so much (it just dulls the pain) and cigarettes in moderation not at all but they don't distort people's perception and don't set them out on a murderous rampage to find the next fix.

I was with you up until this point. How is pot in moderation less healthy than alcohol in moderation? Maybe I'm missing something, but doesn't the "in moderation" part imply that you aren't going overboard with either? I think the contrast between cigarettes (with potential physical health problems) and the other two (with potential mental health problems) makes sense.

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Originally Posted By: waterplant
The argument, as it appears to me, is whether a government should have jurisdiction over how people conduct their private lives - within reasonable parameters.

I'm not sure how introducing thousands of young pot smokers into the criminal justice system every year is of benefit to anybody. The war isn't on drugs but, unfortunately, on drug users.

There is no magic solution here, unfortunately the first rule of wizards applies here with force major. If people after being shown what addictive drugs can do to a person still insist on trying out for (and on) themselves, nothing short of killing them will stop them from trying. (and of course killing them will be counterproductive).
And of course there is the part where people are coerced into becoming an addict (and I don't mean cajoled I mean coerced).

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Originally Posted By: Enraged Slith
What health benefits does alcohol provide in moderation?

Originally Posted By: wiki

A 23-year prospective study of 12,000 male British physicians aged 48–78, found that overall mortality was significantly lower in the group consuming less than 2 "units" (British unit = 8 g) per day than in the non-alcohol-drinking group. Greater than 2 units per day was associated with an increased risk of mortality.

However there is also a slightly increased/elevated risk of cancer because alcohol is one step way from being a radical, but from what I could find from my shallow search seems to form mainly from abuse and not from moderation.
Also fair disclosure: I don't usually drink alcohol, I just dislike the taste of all beverages, but given the way my life is going I might as well start.

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Did that study specify what kind of alcohol? I know that certain properties in red wine are supposed to be good for your heart, but I haven't heard about anything directly related to alcohol itself.

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Originally Posted By: Enraged Slith
Did that study specify what kind of alcohol? I know that certain properties in red wine are supposed to be good for your heart, but I haven't heard about anything directly related to alcohol itself.


there have been several such studies done, some on specific kinds of alcoholic beverage and others on alcohol consumption in general

overall there's some evidence that low-level alcohol consumption (about one drink every 2 days) may reduce the risk of heart disease. the evidence still isn't very strong, and tends to be weaker in studies that aren't funded by the alcohol industry.

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Quote:
If people after being shown what addictive drugs can do to a person still insist on trying out for (and on) themselves, nothing short of killing them will stop them from trying. (and of course killing them will be counterproductive).
And of course there is the part where people are coerced into becoming an addict (and I don't mean cajoled I mean coerced).


That is patently ridiculous. That's like saying after someone has seen what war can do to a person, only the mentally ill would consider being soldiers. Or that after seeing what age does to a person, the only rational course would be to commit suicide. The potential for negative outcomes - even grossly negative - does not eliminate the value of an activity, especially when a large portion of the information regarding drug use and what constitutes excessive drug use comes from biased, sensationalist, or simply unbelievable sources. Skepticism regarding what is and is not responsible drug use is not an irrationality. Nor does being open to using drugs mean that one suddenly begins behaving like a true addict. And even true addicts will rarely pursue their addictions to the point of the loss of all self-preservation.

And people can certainly be coerced into drug use, but people are just as coerced - if not more - into drinking alcohol, simply because they're a part of a culture and society in which alcohol occupies a place as an acceptable drug. I would argue that alcohol consumption is consistently presented as the norm, and that deviation from that norm is socially discouraged, or at least looked on as strange.

And in my personal experience, alcohol has a far more pronounced (and negative) effect on behavior than marijuana, in dosages excessive or moderate. As far as health, the health of a person is their own responsibility and their own concern, not the concern of legislators, society, or anyone but those directly dependent on them.

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Originally Posted By: HOUSE of S
Originally Posted By: Erasmus
The bottom line is alcohol in moderation is healthy, pot in moderation not so much (it just dulls the pain) and cigarettes in moderation not at all but they don't distort people's perception and don't set them out on a murderous rampage to find the next fix.

I was with you up until this point. How is pot in moderation less healthy than alcohol in moderation? Maybe I'm missing something, but doesn't the "in moderation" part imply that you aren't going overboard with either? I think the contrast between cigarettes (with potential physical health problems) and the other two (with potential mental health problems) makes sense.


Yeah, I'm pretty sure that by definition, nothing can be bad for you if you take it "in moderation" because it's in, well, moderation.

Of course, the question of what exactly "moderation" is is rather more contentious. A shot/glass/joint a day? A week? A month? That's a little bit harder to unravel that just "in moderation"...

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Originally Posted By: Thin Gypsy Thief
That is patently ridiculous. That's like saying after someone has seen what war can do to a person, only the mentally ill would consider being soldiers. Or that after seeing what age does to a person, the only rational course would be to commit suicide. The potential for negative outcomes - even grossly negative - does not eliminate the value of an activity, especially when a large portion of the information regarding drug use and what constitutes excessive drug use comes from biased, sensationalist, or simply unbelievable sources. Skepticism regarding what is and is not responsible drug use is not an irrationality. Nor does being open to using drugs mean that one suddenly begins behaving like a true addict. And even true addicts will rarely pursue their addictions to the point of the loss of all self-preservation.

And people can certainly be coerced into drug use, but people are just as coerced - if not more - into drinking alcohol, simply because they're a part of a culture and society in which alcohol occupies a place as an acceptable drug. I would argue that alcohol consumption is consistently presented as the norm, and that deviation from that norm is socially discouraged, or at least looked on as strange.

And in my personal experience, alcohol has a far more pronounced (and negative) effect on behavior than marijuana, in dosages excessive or moderate. As far as health, the health of a person is their own responsibility and their own concern, not the concern of legislators, society, or anyone but those directly dependent on them.


Sound comment Gypsy.

While ever a debate of this sort concentrates on the extreme effects it will ignore the vast bulk of cases where these effects aren't relevant. The abuse is often the problem not the activity itself. This then takes us into behavioral issues (which prison time will surely exacerbate).

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Rational_scale_to_assess_the_harm_of_dru

 

This comes from a paper in Lancet cited by Wikipedia. (I can't find a freely available copy of the paper online, or I'd cite it too.)

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If I can file my taxes online, I should be able to vote online.

 

More people in the US would vote if voting involved choosing fewer things. Wading through state propositions, county ballot measures, local rent stabilization board members, etc., is a nightmare. We should vote for at most two legislators and one executive at each of the three levels of government (local, state, federal) in each election. (And for god's sake, I should never be voting for judges. Or board/committee members of any kind.) I can handle nine votes. Fifty is beyond me, especially when they're for such minor positions/measures that even Google has no idea who/what the hell these people/things are.

 

Basing drug regulation on pharmacology would probably be a good idea. Mass incarceration is probably a bad idea, and it stems directly from current drug laws. So...

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Originally Posted By: Kelandon
Fifty is beyond me, especially when they're for such minor positions/measures that even Google has no idea who/what the hell these people/things are.


Combined with my frustration at a lack of a "none of the above" type option for positions in government (what if I don't want to pick the lesser of two evils?) this issue of ballot fatigue has got to be the worst. I'm not extreme in my desire to go the other way; I like the idea of referendums and state propositions being voted on, as long as they're intelligible at the ballot. It's the truly minor positions that frustrate me - how am I, as a regular voter, supposed to evaluate technocratic positions when quite possibly the only campaign "literature" is a sign that says "VOTE XXX FOR CORONER"? Judges, head librarians, etc. should not get to be voted in like this.

The results of the Progressive Era truly are a mixed bag.

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I don't want online voting - that way, people can make you show them how you voted. (I don't like postal voting for the same reason, and think it should only be allowed if you have a reason).

 

On the other hand, voting day should be a national holiday and there should be enough polling stations that you don't have to queue for more than fie minutes.

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I am spared the oddity of voting for county coroner by dint of Holt's repeatedly unopposed status. Really, though, I assumed it was some sort of holdover from a strange era of the past. For the rest, though, the local papers do a pretty good job of interviewing everyone who is on the regional ballot. Is that not the usual practice?

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Even if local papers interviewed all 100 odd candidates (they don't) how would anyone read all those interviews, analyze them and keep the candidates straight without some serious study? Kelandon wasn't exaggerating much when he said you cast fifty votes.

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... I am obviously not receiving my full ballot. I'm used to 10-20 people every year (2011 was all school and college related), plus a mish-mash of mill levees, amendments, and referendums. Perhaps urban counties have more to vote on.

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If you are in an area with lots of propositions you have the legalese versions, the state approved commentary explaining the legalese, and all the newspaper and political action committee versions telling you what they mean. Some years that can mean 20 votes on questionable ideas.

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It varies a lot by where you are. San Francisco and surrounding counties have specifically insane local elections. California has insane state elections. As a result, anyone in the SF Bay Area is hit with a double-whammy. I'm led to believe that filling out a ballot is a lot easier in, say, New York.

 

But yeah, it's usually 10-20 people, plus another couple dozen local and state initiatives or referendums. Almost makes me wish for a parliamentary system.

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Why pay legislators when you're doing their job for them? Referenda should be reserved for big, momentous issues that everyone can understand if they pay reasonable attention to current events.

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Because the legislators aren't really paid by us. They're paid by whoever funds their campaign and they act in their interests, not the general public's.

 

At least, that is the perception of a significant percentage of the populous.

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Been away for a bit. Some thoughts on right vs. left:

 

I don't see legalization of drugs as a one-sided issue, but there are both differences and areas of common ground. Libertarians (right) don't want the government involved in drug use (or only minimally.) Progressives (left) want drugs to be treated like abortion: safe, legal and rare. In other words: legalize it, tax it, educate it. Both sides see the status quo as the War on Drugs the American People.

 

The second amendment seems to be much more one-sided. Again, there is room for common ground. Most gun owners that I know are left or centrist hunters. They favor reasonable gun control, in the sense that mega-round, man-killing machines are good for exactly one thing. Most are also quite reasonable about mental health and other background checks. They don't see the need for impulse gun purchases. Libertarians have had a huge effect on gun laws. Universal concealed carry laws are about as libertarian as it gets. My personal feeling is that any powerful lobby (NRA) must be viewed with skepticism. Only the survivalist types would be close to full agreement with all NRA viewpoints.

 

Encouraging people to vote is where there is a sharp divide between left and right. Much of the the right operates out of fear, and wants to limit the numbers who vote. Voter impersonation fraud is a smoke screen used to cloud the issue. Controlling who votes can control the outcome of the election. The left is on the side of democracy, with little room for debate. Universal suffrage, married to an informed electorate, is the goal. Limiting any of the following works against that goal: registration, access to polls, freedom of the press and freedom from censorship/control of communication, in general.

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Originally Posted By: Excalibur
What do you mean by libertarian?


it's a word for librarians named Bert

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Originally Posted By: HOUSE of S
This comes from a paper in Lancet cited by Wikipedia. (I can't find a freely available copy of the paper online, or I'd cite it too.)

As a shorthand, fine. As a real basis for comparison, it doesn't work. Cigarettes have no risk of overdose but a moderate chance of addiction and large long-term risks. Heroin has high risk of overdose, high addiction, and quite low long-term risk. Cocaine is risky in all three categories. Alcohol isn't highly addictive (although it's complicated), has a very real risk of serious overdose that's a reasonable concern but easy to avoid, and has mixed long-term consequences, depending on level of use (its threshold effect is rather unusual). Marijuana is somewhat addictive (again controversial), but incredibly hard to overdose on and has few long term effects, so your risk is almost entirely based on immediate side effects.

How do you weigh all those?

—Alorael, who would gladly support marijuana over alcohol. It's less unhealthy, safer, and while you're not okay to drive while stoned, you can be far less okay, and far less aware that you're not okay, while drunk. And he's dubious about alcohol as a way to disinfect water: spirits may be sterile, but beer isn't. Mostly, ethanol is easy to produce, and marijuana requires a specific plant, so it entered into Western popularity far too late.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
Originally Posted By: Excalibur
What do you mean by libertarian?


it's a word for librarians named Bert


yay - free books! smile

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Sigh *takes deep breath of clean air before plunging into discussion of politics*

 

Originally Posted By: Soul of Wit
Encouraging people to vote is where there is a sharp divide between left and right. Much of the the right operates out of fear, and wants to limit the numbers who vote. Voter impersonation fraud is a smoke screen used to cloud the issue.
Okay, first of all I'm an admitted Republican, so that kind of hurt. I'll concede that both parties use fear to motivate their base; that's just the way politics is. However, if you're going to make the argument that voter fraud is a false issue I'm going to have to ask you to back that up. I did a little bit of digging (and I do mean little; it's 1:40 in the morning over here) and found a very interesting article that argues the opposite (note: the title of that article is not meant to be a be a slight against anyone, so please do not take it as such)(note2: I did find that article to be biased, but still found the argument to be valid). An interesting little factoid I found through that article is that in most states you don't even need to be a citizen of the United States of America to register to vote. frown

 

Quote:
The left is on the side of democracy, with little room for debate.
In my modest experience, people who say that there's no debate on an issue are either so biased toward one side of the discussion that they do not want to hear the opposing side or are not educated enough to question what they have been told. I dearly hope you are neither.

 

Quote:
Universal suffrage, married to an informed electorate, is the goal.
This is one of the goals of the Republican party as well.

 

Quote:
Limiting any of the following works against that goal: registration, access to polls, freedom of the press and freedom from censorship/control of communication, in general.
There are such things as reasonable limitations for voter registration, such as requiring proof of citizenship (to prevent aliens from casting ballots they have no right to cast), requiring proof of residence (to prevent one state from influencing the democratic process of another state), and requiring a photo ID at a poll (which, IMHO, would help guard against voter impersonation). As for limitations of freedom of press and free speech, barring situations that cause significant harm to others, I agree with you.

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Originally Posted By: Born and Bed
...

This discussion is becoming increasingly un-kiddy safe, so I've decided to stop replying. To each his own opinion.

Originally Posted By: B.J.Earles
However, if you're going to make the argument that voter fraud is a false issue I'm going to have to ask you to back that up. I did a little bit of digging (and I do mean little; it's 1:40 in the morning over here) and found a very interesting article that argues the opposite (note: the title of that article is not meant to be a be a slight against anyone, so please do not take it as such)(note2: I did find that article to be biased, but still found the argument to be valid). An interesting little factoid I found through that article is that in most states you don't even need to be a citizen of the United States of America to register to vote. frown


I don't know about the US, but where I'm from there was a big scandal when it was discovered that a political party sent people to vote on behalf of a few thousands of the deceased.

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Originally Posted By: B.J.Earles
Okay, first of all I'm an admitted Republican, so that kind of hurt. I'll concede that both parties use fear to motivate their base; that's just the way politics is. However, if you're going to make the argument that voter fraud is a false issue I'm going to have to ask you to back that up. I did a little bit of digging (and I do mean little; it's 1:40 in the morning over here) and found a very interesting article that argues the opposite (note: the title of that article is not meant to be a be a slight against anyone, so please do not take it as such)(note2: I did find that article to be biased, but still found the argument to be valid). An interesting little factoid I found through that article is that in most states you don't even need to be a citizen of the United States of America to register to vote. frown


Devil's advocate here: provided there isn't a single party that has a stranglehold on power, why is voter fraud actually a problem for democracy? Presumably every party that has the opportunity to engage in voter fraud will be about equally inclined to do so, and will do so roughly in proportion to their resources, which in turn will be roughly proportionate to the size of their support base (or at least, no more disproportionate than their ability to do other things that increase the number of votes they get, like advertising). Which is to say, the number of votes a party obtains through voter fraud will be proportional to the number of legitimate votes it's getting, and it'll all come out in the wash, so to speak -- the final election results will most likely be the same as they would have been without fraud.

It follows from this, by the way, that everyone committing equal amounts of fraud is much better for democracy than only one party committing fraud, even if it may be worse than nobody committing fraud. In fact, given that voter fraud exists (which it does) and can't be eliminated (which it can't), one could argue that every political party has an obligation to commit fraud to the same degree that they believe their rivals are, in order to level the playing field and ensure that the final result reflects the will of the people.

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Election fraud was blamed in 1960 in Illinois for Kennedy getting elected over Nixon. In Chicago the dead still vote Democrat and Downstate the cows vote Republican.

 

Of course the dead turn out in greater numbers at the polls than cows. smile

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Lilith: Interesting thought. Does that apply equally to positive fraud (parking meters and ghosts voting) and to negative fraud (finding ways to prevent legitimate votes from being cast or counted)?

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