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Stateside With Rosalea: Getting Down To The Wire

Stateside With Rosalea: Getting Down To The Wire

By Rosalea Barker

**Bush's secret revealed**

Honestly, how daft can these television pundits be? All week they've been ruminating on the mysterious sudden surge in Bush's popularity among women, when it's perfectly obvious that there is no mystery. Leading up to the first debate, TV stations like to show side-by-side graphics of each of the candidates with a Stars'n'Stripes backdrop from somewhere out on the campaign trail. Bush is always shown standing behind two big fat mikes and Kerry behind two mikes that look like cocktail swizzles. Repeat after me guys: Sub. Lim. In. Al.

**Electoral envy**

I've been trying to figure how San Francisco could adapt that eye-catching banner ad for STV that I've been seeing on New Zealand websites. Very simple idea - three iconic faces of outstanding Kiwis next to three circles in which the numbers 1, 2, 3 cycle using a Flash animation.

San Francisco's new electoral system is not STV, and the physical SF ballot is a very different animal but voters still will get three choices. People have to mark their ballot the same way they'd mark a Lotto ticket, or - more commonly here - a multiple choice exam. So there are three columns headed 1, 2, 3, each listing all the candidates, and in each column only one candidate should be marked. There also has to be a space for people to vote for a write-in candidate if they so desire.

The September issue of Governing magazine has an article about Instant Runoff Voting - or Ranked Choice Voting as it is called here in San Francisco so as not to arouse public expectations that they will get the results instantly. You can see that article online at:
http://www.governing.com/archive/2004/sep/voting.txt

**Electoral vote splitting**

For a nice simple explanation of how the Electoral College system works - ie, how the president and vice president get elected - here is some background from the League of Women Voters of Colorado:

"The president and vice president are now elected by the Electoral College. Each state is allotted electoral votes equal to the number of the state's representatives and senators in the U.S. Congress. Out of the current 538 electors from the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Colorado has nine. In all states except Maine and Nebraska, the candidate who gets the most votes gets all of the state's electoral votes. A candidate must receive at least 270 electoral votes to win the presidency."

Maine and Nebraska use the District method of apportioning electoral college votes, which still ended up with one candidate or other getting all of them in 2000, but Colorado has a measure on the November ballot that would allow the votes of its nine electors to be divided proportionately according to the number of popular votes each candidate gains. If passed, this amendment would take effect in this year's presidential election because electors don't meet in their state capitals to cast their votes until the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.

In the 2000 election, Colorado had eight electoral college votes and they all went to George W. Bush, who got 50.75 percent of the vote. If votes had been allocated proportionately in Colorado, Bush would have gotten five and Gore (42.39 percent) three, making the final nationwide total 268 for Bush and 269 for Gore. I guess that would have thrown the election into the House of Representatives to be decided, since neither would have the 270 required.

Colorado, it seems, has a very independent-minded voting populace. Ralph Nader got 5.25 percent of the vote there in 2000, and in 1992 it was one of Ross Perot's best states. For that reason, it's possible that Amendment 36 to Colorado's constitution will pass, and perhaps pave the way for more states to have their electoral college votes allocated proportionately. For more about Amendment 36 see:
http://www.members.aol.com/lwvco/AMEND36.html

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