Vote.

By Phil Plait | November 6, 2006 4:40 pm

I had a lengthy entry written about voting that I was going to post tonight (Monday). It was an allegorical tale of an out-of-control government, and how you can help.

But screw that. The time for stories and allegory are over.

Vote. Go on, do it. Vote.

I’m posting this a little early because in fact I don’t want you to just vote. I want you to vote in an informed manner. Take some time tonight and make sure you understand the issues, or enough to be able to make a sound decision.

I’ve seen the garbage ads on TV and listened to the garbage ads on radio and literally threw out (well, recycled) the garbage ads in the mail. Ignore that partisan stuff. Go online, like at The League of Women Voters, or their sister site, Smart Voter, and get the lowdown on the issues without the partisan filtering and obscuration.

Once you’re educated, then vote.

Do it.

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion. Enlighten the people generally and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.

— Thomas Jefferson

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Piece of mind, Politics, Rant

Comments (57)

  1. Mark Martin

    Here in Indiana there are at least a couple of guys running for state treasurer. I’ve been getting flyers from one of them in the mail for a while. The one which arrived a week ago convinced me which candidate *not* to vote for: the guy sending me the flyers.

    His principal opponent is an experienced geologist. So what did Flyer-Guy do with this fact? He put a staged photo of an actor on the paper, dressed & posed as a comic-book mad-scientist, with disheveled hair, a satanic beard & mustache, thick-rimmed spectacles and a white laboratory coat. The guy stared rather insanely over the tops of his glasses, as he greedily fondled a geologic specimen -a rock- with both hands.

    The ad let slip the fact that the other guy is not only experienced in geology, but he stopped working in the field 27 years ago to become CEO of his company and raise its revenues by tens of millions of dollars.

    But the mad-scientist pic was enough for me. I was insulted, and I will vote.

  2. Times like these I regret not being an American citizen (yet). In fact, this is the primary reason I’m going to apply for citizenship, so I’ll have to power to change things.

    In the meantime, could someone otherwise not planning to vote go out and vote against the Republicans for me?

  3. I’m proudly supporting the Republican gubernatorial and representative candidates in my state, even though I’m too young to vote yet.

  4. skepted56

    I’m going to vote tomorrow. I voted in the primary. And I just got finished phone banking for the Democratic candidate for governor in my state.

    Throw the bums out!

  5. I want you to vote in an informed manner.

    Aye… there’s the rub.

    Idiots get to vote too, blindly drawing their X or otherwise making their mark without having any clue as to the ramifications of what they are doing or why they are doing it.

    It’s municipal election time in Ontario, and we vote on 13 Nov.

  6. Chip

    I Vote. I’m also volunteer precinct poll watcher.

  7. TheBlackCat

    Already voted. Voting absentee means you get to miss the rush and chaos and don’t have to worry about potentially buggy or hacked voting machines.

  8. Tim G

    Unlike 2004, I did not mail in my ballot. That’s fine as I have the day off and will vote before the late afternoon rush.

    I have a sample ballot right in front of me and will be online this morning doing final reviews of people and propositions.

    I haven’t seen too many “garbage” ads because I’ve watched much less television than usual these last couple months.

  9. One of the cute things about Canadian elections is that the party or candidate that runs a negative ad is usually doomed. Traditionally running a negative ad has always backfired here.

    Of course, that doesn’t stop people from doing it, but so far He Who Runs the Negative Ad, Shall Never King of Canada Be.

    I’ve been a counter/scrutineer. It’s a bit boring, but I think it’s important to chip in once in a while, and it’s cool to see the process work. In fact, two federal elections ago, we caught someone cheating at our poll and had to get the electoral officer and her big stick.

  10. Melusine

    It’s so pretty to see the moon still shining bright while the sun rises; my quiet morning is now punctuated by the cars already zipping by on the highway. It will be a beautiful day in Houston, Texas, which means there is no excuse of bad weather to keep voters away. (I intend to vote after work.)

    Happy voting, all! :-)

  11. Terry

    For what it’s worth, another British soldier has been killed today in Basra.
    I hope you voters know what to do.

  12. Pablo

    I’ll just copy infophile’s comment, since it’s exactly how I feel:
    “Times like these I regret not being an American citizen (yet). In fact, this is the primary reason I’m going to apply for citizenship, so I’ll have to power to change things.

    In the meantime, could someone otherwise not planning to vote go out and vote against the Republicans for me?”
    :-)

  13. gopher65

    I’ll go vote … the next time there is an election in Canada:).

  14. gopher65

    I’m still getting an error screen every time after I post btw.

  15. Terry
    Says:
    November 7th, 2006 at 6:37 am

    For what it’s worth, another British soldier died today in Basra.
    I hope you voters know what to do.

    Excellent point. I am also British so I obviously can’t vote, but I would like to remind Americans that their votes don’t just affect their own country. They affect more or less the whole world now.

  16. L Ron Hubbub

    I thought this was an Astronomy blog!!!!

    Just kidding, folks. I’m voting this evening here in SE Pennsylvania. I leaning toward what Roman voters used to call rerum novarum – new things.

  17. L Ron Hubbub

    …or was that res novis? What I remember from Latin class (in 1965) was that Roman voters seeking a change would write RN on their ballots. I think Rerum Novarum was an papal encyclical. It might have been the same phrase, though.

  18. Paul Clapham

    I never studied Latin formally, I just learned it on the street, so what I say could be wrong. But to me, “rerum novarum” sounds like genitive plural of “res novis” so that would have been the right form for you to use. Unless “toward” takes dative case or something else, in which case I’m in over my head.

  19. Chaos

    I think “rerum novarum” means “About New Things”; I´ve got to agree with L Ron Hubbub (nice name, by the way), this sounds like a papal encyclical.

    “The new thing” (singular) would IIRC be “res nova”, as “res” is feminine, as you can see in “res publica”, “the public thing” (or “public affairs”). I´ll be damned if I know what the proper plural for “res” is, though. (For “nova” it´s “novae”)

  20. I’d be interested if anyone has any experiences with the voting machines. The stories are enough to make a conspiracy theorist out of me.

  21. I got the best education in Latin and classical literature that the Alabama public schools could provide (cough), so let’s see here. . . De Rerum Natura by Lucretius means “on the nature of things”, so it’s pretty easy to remember that rerum is genitive plural (“of things”). And according to the trusty Perseus database at Tufts, res novae means “political changes, a revolution, etc.” (from Lewis and Short’s A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879). Here, res must be a feminine, nominative plural. Rerum potiri means “to obtain the sovereignty, control the government”.

  22. Irishman

    I voted early. I found out that early voting in my district was by E-slate, and if you wanted a paper ballot you had to come back voting day (today). So, to quote Scott Adams, “I think I voted”.

    The first person who accuses this post of Phil’s as being partisan get’s a power wedgie!

  23. icemith

    In a democratic society, one with the right to vote, should. No poor excuses should be an excuse to not vote. Or at least make the attempt, find out the issues, especially if what is happening is not to your liking. And even if it is, (I’m not sure what planet you are on!), then it is still your responsibility to exercise your vote.

    For those who reason that their little vote doesn’t matter, your’s or anybody else’s is the one at the end of counting, that determines the winner. I may not actually have your name on it but it would have added to the bulk that made up the total. It’s a winner if that total is one more than the opposition, and you can still be proud of that vote.

    In Australia we have compulsory voting, (there are certain exemptions of course, such as the inmates of jails), so we vote. But, if considering the issues, we do not have to follow blindly the “how to vote” card, though some consider that they have to. One can vote but deliberately fail to correctly vote legally by defacing or omitting to follow the procedure, thereby rendering it an informal vote. Voting informal, either by design or in-advertently, is not a problem, but not voting can render one liable to a fine later. Most would vote properly though.

    We may or may not be on the winning side, but if things get tough later, we know who to blame, and also know what to do about it next time!

    So I say to all U.S. citizens, do dote, it is your responsibility. How you vote is up to your concience. The U.S. and the World needs responsible Government.

    Ivan.

  24. Prowler67

    I voted a couple of week ago. As my part of being a citizen, I voted informed. Gotta love early voting, in and out in 30 min. Stayed away from electronic voting just to be safe.

  25. L Ron Hubbub

    Thanks, guys. Just like back in Latin class I got th ebase words right and the declensions wrong. mea culpa

  26. Pity

    It’s a pity we’re stuck primarily with Dem vs Rep and the occasional independent or Libertarian. I don’t like many of the things the democratic party stands for and am completely embarrassed by the republican party, which used to stand for things I care about. So what to do? I’ve looked at the alternate candidatets, if there are any, and very often these folks sound as rational as Hoagland.

    Another sad thing is that many elected officials think we voted FOR them instead of AGAINST their opponent.

    If only we had a “none of the above” option, and if it hit a certain percentage, we’d be forced to vote again for DIFFERENT candidates. Perhaps require some percentage of campaign funds be put in escrow to pay for the new election…

  27. Buzz Parsec

    Every time I see one of these discussions of proper Latin grammer, I think of John Cleese (centurion) forcing Brian to write “Romans go home” correctly 500 time in red paint on the walls of Jerusalem. A movie for our times (complete with UFO, to make it vaguely on-topic for BA.) Silvianula Domanus! (or is that corrupted Greek?)

  28. Pity

    FYI, below is the result of submitting my previous post. It worked, but the feedback could be a bit better :(

    Regex ID: 18261 () appears to be an invalid regex string! Please fix it in the Blacklist control panel.

    Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /home/badastro/domains/badastronomy.com/public_html/bablog/wp-content/plugins/SK2-/sk2_util_class.php:208) in /home/badastro/domains/badastronomy.com/public_html/bablog/wp-comments-post.php on line 55

    Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /home/badastro/domains/badastronomy.com/public_html/bablog/wp-content/plugins/SK2-/sk2_util_class.php:208) in /home/badastro/domains/badastronomy.com/public_html/bablog/wp-comments-post.php on line 56

    Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /home/badastro/domains/badastronomy.com/public_html/bablog/wp-content/plugins/SK2-/sk2_util_class.php:208) in /home/badastro/domains/badastronomy.com/public_html/bablog/wp-comments-post.php on line 57

    Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /home/badastro/domains/badastronomy.com/public_html/bablog/wp-content/plugins/SK2-/sk2_util_class.php:208) in /home/badastro/domains/badastronomy.com/public_html/bablog/wp-includes/pluggable-functions.php on line 272

  29. Gary Ansorge

    Here in CArtersville, Ga, despite the cold, drizzling rain, voter turnout has been excellant. I hope that’s good. I voted to turn out most of the incumbents, though our Republican Senator I hope remains, as he is a doctor(MD) and a pretty intelligent guy.

    Gary 7

  30. John Oliver

    The BW and I voted early a week ago. We have what I think is a good compromise tween electronic and paper ballots. We use a felt marker on ovals on a paper ballot. This is sucked ito a scanner which checks to make sure we have not voted for two items in the same category (we would get a chance to fill out a replacement – it does not note or complain if we leave a category blank). In the infamous 2000 Florida recounts our district recounted these ballots in hours, this time with visual examination of ballots with apparently blank fields. Out of nearly 100,000 ballots only about a dozen required a human judgement and the result on the presidental race from these ballots changed by 2 votes (plus another 6 votes change on the absentee ballots). Of course with about 70 voting districts in Florida a net change of 9 votes towards Al Gore would have changed history.

  31. Adam

    Just got done voting and forced a few of my friends to go with even though I knew they were voting the oppisite of me. I got sick of hearing them wine about politics and Bush. So I told them if they didn’t vote they couldn’t wine to me any more. So thank me for helping some of you out.

  32. I voted early – electronically (I sure hope I voted!). My wife just left to cast her votes. Like some others have said, I’m not enamoured of either major party (that being the Republicans and Democrats). Locally the “third” party candidates generally do have a chance to win so I feel good about voting independent. But nationally the two parties have a near lock on the process. I like the suggestion for “None Of The Above” – that’s the way I feel a lot lately.

    jbs

  33. Wayne

    I voted for every independent/Libertarian that was remotely credible as a candidate. Unfortunately, it wasn’t even a third of the races. I’m a little worried about Libertarians at the National level because of their anti-NASA (and anti just about every federal agency) stance. I agree that big federal buracracies are not efficient, but do they really think the states would have their own space programs? I have no problem with them at the state and local level, though. I hope some of them get in.

  34. Personally, I’m opposed to mandatory voting. Should those who honestly haven’t studied the issues and don’t have an opinion be forced to vote? That’s what happened to me last year in the Canadian elections. I’d only been back in Canada for around 10 months total, and I barely had any idea of the politics there (American media never pays attention to it). I could have gone out and voted nevertheless, but I just didn’t feel right doing it.

  35. Nigel Depledge

    Buzz Parsec said:
    “Every time I see one of these discussions of proper Latin grammer, I think of John Cleese (centurion) forcing Brian to write “Romans go home” correctly 500 time in red paint on the walls of Jerusalem. A movie for our times (complete with UFO, to make it vaguely on-topic for BA.) Silvianula Domanus! (or is that corrupted Greek?)”

    Me too! Romanes Eunt Domus!

    Or should that be Romani ite domum! ?

    Also, BTW, they won’t let me vote either, because of not being a US citizen or some similar such technicality…

  36. Nigel Depledge

    Gopher65: I, too, am getting error messages for every reply.

  37. Adam

    Can I only hope that if the Republicans win that this site doens’t become a conspiracy site. Argue the point that what the people voted is wrong but don’t lower yourself to the level of some other the sites.

  38. david

    well I live in canada so i already voted but I live on the us border so some of the decesions that are made in the US can have an effect here so I try to stay informed on what is going on south of the border.

  39. Adam. OK, maybe not a conspiracy- but I think it’s fair to question the ineptitude of the voting machine system being used.

    I can’t work out why the US hasn’t fixed the many problems left in their system after the debacle of the last two general elections.

  40. james

    Uh, cos that would mean spending money?

    to quote: The english gentleman will ignore any inequity or outrage so long as the solution threatens to put an extra penny on the pound in income tax.

    as true over the pond as it is here.

    as to the libertarians axing NASA, I think the general idea is with government regulation out of the way, there would be a booming private space industry before to long. To be fair, NASA has torpedoed a lot of private enterprise over the years. On the other hand, private industry just doesn’t do good science (reality tends to be unpalatable to the consumers)

  41. anomalous4

    “One of the cute things about Canadian elections is that the party or candidate that runs a negative ad is usually doomed

    You Canadians are such a class act!

    I have a good friend who voted against a candidate today simply because he’s been getting 3 robocalls a day from that candidate’s campaign. The candidate happened to be the Republican. What a shame.

    SANTORUM IS GOING DOWN IN FLAMES!!!!!!!!!!! Cue the Hallelujah Chorus, and crank up those blaster boxes!

  42. david

    Another good thing is we do not have a fixed date for elections and the peroid for campaigning is usually like a month or so, so we do not have two or four years of campaigning from one election to another.

  43. Yeah, I won’t shed a tear for Santorum. Besides being a tremendous bigot, he tried to force through ID words into No Child Left Behind. That travesty was still used by ID proponents in various states to get their garbage into school board decisions.

  44. I’ve got some santorum still stuck on the bottom of my shoe.

  45. icemith

    Infophile (at 3.32pm), you don’t really imagine that ten months back in the country is not long enough to get an idea as to the direction and purpose of your local political parties surely. Is that why busy News teams and reporters don’t submit anything as they have only had 24 hours since the last crisis? I think not.

    Excuses, excuses.

    While there are many reasons for one to be un-decided who to vote for, or if you like, against, though a more sensible person would see that any vote for a candidate is effectively a vote against another. Unless you have to number all candidates, in order of preference, and the most disliked is then placed last, voting against a candidate is no sure way to prevent another unknown from being elevated in the outcome.

    The idea of “none of the above” is superficially appealing, but I would guess you would have to like recurrant elections to want to go dpwn that road, not to mention the cost. Responsible Government ensures stability, even if some have to accept the verdict. And that also means fair elections and no dodgy systems a la Florida’s debacle.

    It seems the emphasis is on “I” and “Me” and “Us”, rather than the common good. I see that as UStocracy rather than Democracy.

    I hope you voted early but not often.

    Ivan.

  46. gopher65

    I chose not to vote in the local municipal election because of all the robocalls I was recieving. Every halfway decent candidate spammed me to death, so in the end, I was about ready to hang them all on the general principle of “you’ve annoyed the hell out of me”.

  47. Caledonian

    Keep in mind that some people have been making repetitive phone calls on the behalf of their opponents in the hope that people would be annoyed into voting for them.

  48. sirjonsnow

    I never understand the stories I hear about long waits to vote. I live in a decent sized town (around 50,000) and I don’t think it’s ever taken me more than maybe 5 minutes from entering the building to leaving.

  49. Pity

    I voted early – last Thursday in a “suburb” of Denver. Arrived at 1745, doors were locked to newcomers at 1900 as advertised and I walked out of the building just before 2000. There were only 8 (EIGHT) terminals for us to use!

    According to this AM’s news, many in Denver and vicinity suffered the same yesterday. Electronic checkin was mentioned quite a bit, as in laptops, etc needing to reboot or just down.

    We used a machine other than Diebold and it seemed OK to me. One votes on the screen, then when all done, press CAST BALLOT (not really) to print a paper copy of votes that appears under glass. If happy with choices, press CAST BALLOT again and a “stamp of approveal” plus barcode is added to the paper printout, then it scrolls out of view, ready for the next victim – er, voter.

    Last year we had the “fill in circle” type of paper form that would be scanned for correctness, then dropped into a 2nd slot (not unlike a shredder…) to be counted and stored. Seems to me that with the proliferation of home computers, many of us could print and fill out such a form at home. Then we could skip the voting booth and speed up the process….

  50. metempsychosis

    You know what I’ll find funny? When we have the exact same out-of-control party situation in ’08 after a Democrat is elected President, only everyone is okay with it because Bush isn’t involved.

    I’d consider fleeing the country if there were anywhere worth running to.

  51. tjm220

    With the success of the Democrats is there any chance that execrable habeas corpus thing can be tossed?

  52. Ars Technica, which is a pretty good geek site has a good technical piece on
    “How to steal an election by hacking the vote”

    http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/evoting.ars

  53. Kelfazin

    Well sirjonsnow, while 50,000 is enough to consider “decent sized”, consider that here in Phoenix we have a population of a little over 5,000,000. So since we’re 100 times larger than you, you can assume that our wait time is significantly longer as well :)

  54. tjm220

    Calgary has a population a smidge over 1,000,000 and voting times for me was at most 10 minutes. Maybe it’s the time of day or an organizational difference?

  55. Irishman

    Pity said:
    >We used a machine other than Diebold and it seemed OK to me. One votes on the screen, then when all done, press CAST BALLOT (not really) to print a paper copy of votes that appears under glass. If happy with choices, press CAST BALLOT again and a “stamp of approveal” plus barcode is added to the paper printout, then it scrolls out of view, ready for the next victim – er, voter.

    Seems better. First, you see your vote committed to paper and can verify it matches what you intended. Then you authenticate it with a stamp. Difficult to tamper with, written record stored in the machine to provide independent audit trail.

    >Last year we had the “fill in circle” type of paper form that would be scanned for correctness, then dropped into a 2nd slot (not unlike a shredder…) to be counted and stored. Seems to me that with the proliferation of home computers, many of us could print and fill out such a form at home. Then we could skip the voting booth and speed up the process….

    There are concerns over that. One is ballot box stuffing. If I’m able to download the correct form, print it on whatever paper I like, fill it out at home, then mail it in, there are no safeguards to prevent me from sending in multiple votes. Okay, there are identity checks required for the voter, but there are still ways to stuff the box. Even if the polling locations are monitored to make sure you don’t slip in two forms when submitting, there’s no identity on the forms themselves, so once they go in the box they’re anonymous. That is good for anonymity, but bad for auditing. Ballot swapping can occur – trade out a box full of real ballots with your own batch of alternate ballots. Thus all the other regulations on maintaining security of ballot boxes and such. One control is that the only official ballot is obtainable from the precinct. Thus ballot swapping is more difficult – the cheater has to get access to real ballot forms.

  56. Buzz Parsec

    I think my bogus latin may have come out exactly opposite of my intention :-(
    Maybe “silvanula ite domum”? “Silva” meaning woods, forest, or tree, “ula” diminutive (as in Caligula), “ite” to go, “domum” as in house, home.

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