Thursday, October 23, 2008

Voting from South Korea

A couple of days ago, I sent in my absentee ballot - which I think ought to be renamed... can you think of one positive or even neutral phrase with the word absentee in it? All day after I mailed it, I had a Paul Simon line running through my head: "I registered to vote today, felt like fool."

It was expensive to vote from Korea. 16,500 won (US$11.60 today, because the won has been getting beaten on for a while now) for each of two mailings, but at least they could be split with Melanie and mailed together.

The Boulder County Clerks Office was on it. They answered our questions by email, helped with foreign addressing, and we can check if our votes have been counted online.

The whole transaction took a little over a month, with us shelling out for 3 - 4 day mailings each time. Because of an earliest date for requesting ballots, it's unclear whether we could have used surface mail. But at least we have a reliable public postal system here. In less developed countries, folks have to pay up for a private courier each time, which would get very expensive. I stumbled upon a suggestion to use the army's mailing system for all official election correspondence - seems like a good idea to me.

To the actual voting. I think my subconscious was calling me a fool because I voted strait down the party line. I like to think of myself as a critical thinking, independent, well-informed citizen. And in this, my most important civic duty, I could have just copied off the Boulder County Dem's cheat sheet.

I'm not at all embarrassed to have voted for Barrack Obama. I was a little bit with Kerry in '04, and I stand by my Nader vote (in Colorado) in 2000. As Noam Chomsky notes, despite the cliche, voting for the lesser of two evils is in fact voting for less evil, and the decision to do that should be balanced against the potential benefits of voting for a third-party candidate.

I am a little embarrassed to have voted for Mark Udall for the Senate. He's a Democrat that has been representing my congressional district for almost a decade. The Colorado 2nd is one of the most liberal districts in the country, and I would have liked to have seen more fierce advocacy on the environmental front and the stand-up-to-President-Bush front. But, I'd love to see the Democrats achieve a filibuster-proof majority (60-40) and push some real legislation through. I think there is some real chance for reform in the coming terms. And I'm not sure the legislative branch is the place for third party support - it seems a third party executive would be much more powerful.

On the amendments, I struggle with affirmative action and so was tempted to vote yes on amendment 46. I think it's the wrong way to right historical and contemporary racism. But it doesn't need to be banned in the constitution. And what really got me is this argument: we all know that many jobs are gotten by networking - who you know, rather than what you know. That tact doesn't work for someone with poor parents, who is striving to enter a new societal stratification. Affirmative action works to counter-act the old-(white)-boys club that clearly still dominates the sphere of power in the United States.

I wanted to vote for amendment 50, not so much on any ideology, but that I still play a bit of poker, and poker with $5 bet limits is a little like fat-free ice cream. But I find deplorable the political maneuvering that led to the increased revenues from increased betting limits going to community colleges (they should be funded, massively, but strait-away, not through this obvious political scheme). Highway 6, a two lane road up one of the most beautiful canyons I've even seen has become an accident magnet, and the new highway built to connect I-70 to the casino towns is a scar a top otherwise pristine mountains, save the new suburban-style subdivisions built there in the middle of nowhere. And as much as I'd like to be able to play real poker an 45 minutes from Boulder, it's just not worth having Atlantic City 45 minutes from my home.

Finally, my favorite amendment, 53 - criminal liability of executives for the actions of corporations - was withdrawn in order to get a group of influential business-owners to oppose an anti-union amendment elsewhere on the ballot. I nevertheless shaded in the yes box and quietly dreamed of a day when business will have no more power, no more wiggle room, and no less culpability than do us sentient beings.


Julie said...

Good thoughts. I'm holding out for Election Day (which really ought to be a national holiday) to cast by vote at my polling place...what a tradition! I still haven't made up my mind on a couple of amendments - need to do a bit more research. But it looks like we'll have a fun victory party on Tuesday night for Obama and maybe even a fillabuster proof Senate! Yee haw!

Alice said...

I sure hope the amendment about gambling DOES NOT pass. It's a stupid amendment - that kind of thing should not even be an amendment. It's a "pull the wool over the voters eyes" trick by the big casino companies. They way the advertise it is only about community colleges getting extra funding - they don't even tell you that the amendment is about extending gambling hours and $$$ in Colorado. Reminds me of the nightmare scene in the movie "Its a Wonderful Life" when Jimmy Stewart sees Bedford Falls under the rule of Old Man Potter. Do we really want our community colleges to be funded by GAMBLING??? So there. ;-~~~~~~~

Michael Levy said...

Hey, I agree with you, I voted against it too. The movie parellel it brought to my mind was Biff Land in Back to the Future. I'm surprised that I'm surprised that they're advertising it that way, but yes, it's about casino expansion... big time. 24 hours, medium stakes and craps & roulette = mini-vegas in Blackhawk. Yuck.

Alice said...


Anonymous said...

Unions are bad for America

Anjole said...

Unions are good and an historical necessity. Hey anonymous, what you say is meaningless cause your anonymous.