Sunday, November 02, 2008

New voting policy

I think in this election I'm going to vote by a process of elimination. Any party whose website has annoying flash-based graphics, or that uses the word incentivisation is getting crossed off my list. So is any party that lists as one of its priorities "breath of life from our ancestors."

I've pretty much decided what I'm doing with my party vote. But I'm worried about my electorate vote. (Well, not seriously concerned, because it's not like Brownlee isn't going to win no matter what I do.)

Usually as a matter of course I would give my electorate vote to Labour, since the smaller parties' candidates have no chance of winning in Ilam, and Labour needs all the help it can get. But this election, their guy's profile doesn't inspire me in any way that doesn't involve getting seriously stabby with a red pen. I'm perfectly aware that you can't judge a person's intelligence by their competence in a second language. But you can judge them for not caring enough or being self-aware enough to employ a good editor. "There area good mixed of people in this electorate."? "Our Labour Lead Government give the Health back to all New Zealander."? AND I'm not convinced that "raise enough funding to run next year campaign" should appear in your list of what you want to achieve in your term as MP.

On the other hand he does seem likely to be a good advocate for immigrants and minorities (not merely because he is one himself, but judging from the line under "services" where he offers help dealing with the Immigration Department, and translation/interpretation in seven languages).

Incidentally, as today's internet surfing consisted in equal parts of reading American blogs talking about the US election, and reading up on the NZ election to try to make a decision, it struck me that North Americans usually talk about whether they will "vote for Obama" or "vote for McCain". You hardly ever hear about NZers talking about "voting for Clark" or "voting for Key" (admittedly, you sometimes hear someone say they are "voting for Helen"). But generally NZers seem to talk about voting for a party, rather than for a person.

This reminds me of a plan I had a while ago for what I'd do about elections if I ran the world.

For a start, I'd let people from other countries vote too, since especially with big countries like the USA, the election results have a huge impact on the rest of the world as well.

But I would also require that presidential/prime minister candidates remain anonymous—no one would know until after the election the candidates' gender, race, or personal background. No one would get to hear them speak directly. Journalists and even the general public could put questions to them just as they do now, and the candidates could still debate each other, but it would all happen from inside some sort of black box, with voice distortion.

I wonder if that might force people to actually vote based on policies, rather than personality. What do you think?


Rebecca said...

I think that's a great idea. Keep them all in an undisclosed location and let them take/answer questions by e-mail. Except, hmmm....

By that method, we would have totally lost the effect of McCain's helter skelter trip to Washington to save the day and his return without saving the day. And, personally, I think that whole bit actually capped it for people who were worried about his stability.

Oh, and we also would have missed that wonderful moment on Meet the Press when he couldn't remember all 5 Secretaries of State who'd endorsed him...hee hee.

I mean, really, can't most of us remember at least 5 of the 7 dwarfs? It always seems to me that it's the just 7th one we can't quite place.

So, on second thought, now that we've established ourselves as being open to electing females and minorities to our highest office (and, damn, I can't believe we had to choose between the two in our first year of real choice), perhaps we are better off with the fullest disclosure.

ScienceGirl said...

I think personality matters as well. When these people meet other presidents, wouldn't you want to know if your guy/gal will blow up at the person they are talking to, wink at them, or calmly achieve their agenda? Or how they would handle themselves in a crisis? Or manage others on a day-to-day basis?

Grace Dalley said...

Yeah, I think personality matters a bit. And a leader has to be able to think on their feet and speak well.

And we all know how hard it is to really know what someone is like by email if you've never met them. You wouldn't want to elect a dork by mistake.

Can I suggest a compromise? Candidates all have to wear burkhas. :-)

Lucy said...

People talk about voting for Obama or McCain because they are voting directly for one of them and it has nothing to do with which party has control of the House/Senate. With a system like that, I think personality does matter, since they're not as accountable to their party (or anyone). PMs are a lot more interchangeable.

I think the whole world being able to vote would be great, though. Have you seen this global electoral college map for the US elections?

I also think compulsory and preferential voting are good things. The idea that an election outcome can be influenced just by encouraging/discouraging different groups to vote is pretty horrifying.

Grace Dalley said...

Regarding candidates in Ilam, I met this guy last week and he seemed very nice: .

And I'm sure he knows how to write grammatically ;-)

StyleyGeek said...

Okay, you guys made really good points. Especially Sciencegirl has me convinced. I guess I hadn't really considered that someone who might blow up at or wink at foreign leaders would make it to the point of being a serious candidate. But I guess I was thinking of the NZ system where, as Lucy points out, the candidate is only a candidate by virtue of being leader of his/her party.

Maybe the Burqa idea is better :)

Grace, I am voting Green for my party vote, but it seems kind of pointless as an electorate vote, since past elections in Ilam put the Greens on about 5 percent, with only the Labour candidate having a serious chance of dislodging National (50-something vs 30-something). If all the left-wing voters banded together to vote Labour, we might be able to do it, but if we split our vote across multiple parties, National is just going to keep winning Ilam without trouble.

StyleyGeek said...

Also, Lucy, thanks so much for linking that map. I wanted to link it in my post, but couldn't remember where I had seen it, and stupidly hadn't bookmarked it. I spent about 30 minutes searching for it before giving up.

I find it interesting how little of the map is shaded red :)

Dorie said...

The US system is odd in that the Executive really can't do a thing without the support of Congress. We make such a big deal every four years of how the new administration will make sweeping changes- but actual change comes slower than that.