Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our system sucks: A nonpartisan political rant

I'm really looking forward to going to family fishing camp in a couple of weeks, but there's quite a bit to be done in preparation. Besides packing, figuring out what menu items to bring, and arranging a cat-sitter, I have to fill out my absentee ballot for the August primary. I've been thinking about the races quite a bit (it's hard not to when signs crowd the lawns and verges everywhere in town), and was planning to do the usual research, checking out the LWV website for candidate information, as well as several newspaper editorials. I take voting seriously, and haven't missed a primary or election since we returned from living abroad.

So I'd been cogitating over the various races, giving it some real thought, when I saw something on the ballot that brought my civic enthusiasm to a full halt: "Partisan Section: VOTE ONLY 1 SECTION."

Okay, so I get the "pick-one-party rule" when you're choosing a presidential candidate (although don't get me started on the disenfranchising mess that was Michigan's presidential primary this year). You want people to choose the candidate they want, not try to sabotage the other party's race. And since there's only one race, whichever route you decide to go, at least your voice is being heard.

This is not what's happening in August, however. And here's how our two-party system sucks: for the most part, it's weighted toward one party or the other, depending on how a district is gerrymandered, so there's no real choice in November. For instance, I live in Wayne County, Michigan, which also holds the city of Detroit. As a result, county government officials are almost uniformly Democratic, so picking the winner of the Democratic primary is where my vote counts the most. (In some instances, there is no Republican candidate, so it's the only time my vote counts.) My Congressional district is also gerrymandered Republican, so it's hard to get a decent Democratic opponent, and I'd definitely like a say in that as well.

Unfortunately, I also live in a township that swings Republican. Almost all our township officials are Republican, so my vote counts the most when I pick the candidates in the Republican primary. (In some races, only one Democrat is running unopposed.) Unfortunately, my official ballot says I have to choose: in which races do I want to have a real say? Township or County? Because according to our system, I can only pick one. And that sucks.

1 comment:

  1. Diane,
    You are so right on elections. If you want to split your ballot. . . forget it.
    The only election that counts in my township is the Republican primary. So, since I usually vote democratic, do I vote or not?
    Frequently one opponent has views more in line with mine. But I really feel boxed in.
    My question is: Is it really a free and fair vote?