Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Middletown Council Against Straight Party Ballot

On your ballot you can fill-in the arrow & vote a straight Party ticket. It's like one-stop shopping. Quick and dirty. Some people don't like this- OMG. Witness Operation Clean Government- a Republican front if I've ever seen one.

In the past this item has proven to be backed by mostly (well, all) Republicans. Heaven forbid actually putting forth some decent candidates or a philosophy that R.I.'ers can adopt. But lately, a few Dems have jumped on the bandwagon.

With a heavily Democratic lege, this bill doesn't have much backing. Surpise, surprise. While some have come out in its favor, it's pretty much a red herring. While a local legislator may say they favor it, they also know that it will never make it out of a lege committee hearing. It will just be set aside for "further study." Lege hearings don't make it to the local rag. It may not even involve YOUR legislator.

So all this talk is just that- conversation.

So, setting all this aside, let me discuss what happened at the T.C. meeting. It was Councilor Silveira who put forth a resolution supporting a bill eliminating this straight ticket voting option. Sounds good; means little, but I digress. He was not there last night. Usually, when a Councilor is absent, they postpone discussing whatever he's put forth on the agenda. They did NOT do so last night (he's been in the hospital). So why not? Hmm. Let me ponder... You knew it all would pass & you didn't want him there to take any credit for it. Can't think of anything else. You're supposed to play nice together. Only one cookie for break, but you can still have your milk. BTW, his name is SILVEIRA. Forget the SilverIA monikker. It comes off mean & petty.

Former Sen. June "Let's not let facts get in the way" Gibbs spoke to the pending bill. While reading from prepared her prepared text she was outstanding! She compared it to the original straight Party lever when you could actually view the 'X's" marked under names. No-can-do now. Good point. She also pointed out that when you mark this item now, some forget to vote in non-partisan elections. Another good point.

Ah, but it couldn't last & then she blew it. 10% difference in Middletown between those voting for T.C. & School Committee. You're supposed to conclude that this is because people forget to vote because of that damned master lever. Au contraire, that % is baloney. Kellie DiPalma rec'd more votes for School Committee than ANYONE rec'd for T.C. Same thing for some of the referenda. How many actually used that Master arrow here? 1635 for DiPalma (out of 6558 total votes) and 827 (out of 5955 votes)for Gibbs. Would the results have changed without the lever? Hard to believe. The difference in voting for various offices or items frequently happens now and in the past. Nothing to do with the straight ticket stuff. But why let actual facts get in the way? Yeah, fairness.

She also brought up Sen. Chuck Levesque's name a few times as formerly backing this bill. Yup, appeal to the liberals out there, not to mention the Dems. She also mentioned that he denied it but she had "proof." Ah, former math major Gibbs is certainly play foot-loose & fancy free with her logic. If Chuck supported it- it MUST be good (and non-partisan)

When the script went down, we the just-begun voyage into la-la land continued. Councilor Santos voiced the opinion that approval of this bill would "have voters really scrutinize." Better watch out here. Since you barely made the Council, that scrutinizing too carefully could cost you! Some out of you out there (and you know who you are) are BLOODY STUPID! You're just not voting the right way! The good former Senator then stated that it would "take away those who blindly vote." Gee, I wonder who THEY might be and exactly where are we going to take them? Might I suggest Guantanamo?

She then went even further suggesting that this would result in better candidates. ??? Rather than educating voters regarding straight ticket voting (God forbid that), she ventured that both she AND the Board of Elections are unsure of whether or not it would be an overvote (not counted) if you voted straight ticket AND THEN voted for non-partisan school committee.

Say What? Hello!! Big problem here! If you did this (and you should) -when you fed your ballot through the scanner, you would IMMEDIATELY receive an ERROR message. You could then have your ballot voided & vote again (this from the town Voter Registrar). But this isn't true!

Instead of challenging this rather important point, Council Bozyan asked her if this bill passage amounted to solving a mechanical problem rather than a philosophical one. Not to be picky, but we're talking about a computer & software system here (voting). None of it is mechanical. Perhaps you meant a systemic problem? Either would required a "fix" rather than a law. Since we ALL know that this has NOTHING TO DO WITH POLITICS (a frenquent mantra whenever this topic is brought up). It's about fairness. Whatever.

To make a long story short- it passed. Do I care? I'm not really against this. I do know as a young mom with a screaming baby, this straight Party option is a decided convenience. I also know as a senior with a rapidly increasing hand tremor and LONG LINES, this is a decided voting option on very LONG & complex ballots. None of this figures very high on my "must change" list. But that's me.
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