Joho the Blog » elections

November 6, 2012

Keep your ballots private

In 2008 I posted a photo of myself holding my filled-in write-in ballot next to a cardboard cutout of Obama. I thought it was a little amusing, and I had made no secret of who I was voting for. But I got chided via social media, for what seems to me to be a good reason: we wouldn’t want the posting of ballot photos to become a common practice since it could lead to social pressure on people who don’t want their actual vote to be known. Imagine, say, a coal mine owner who is pressuring employees to vote for a particular candidate, and who puts up a “voluntary” “Post your Ballot Photo!” page. An employee might assume that a failure to post would be taken as a vote for the “wrong” candidate, and thus would be in a difficult position.

Now, that’s a hypothetical of course, but it captures a reason to preserve the norm that actual ballots are private, not public. Brag all you want about who you voted for — please! — but I think it’s a good idea to keep your actual ballot secret.

On the other hand, if you posted your ballot, it’s not something I find publicly chide-worthy.

(PS: I voted for President Obama. Quelle surprise!)

1 Comment »

November 4, 2012

Your vote counts, but exactly that way

If when the votes are counted you feel betrayed because you were told “Your vote counts!” but it turns out that the election would have gone the same way even if you had stayed home, I understand. If you take “Your vote counts” as really only being true when your vote determines an outcome, then in my lifetime of voting, my vote has never counted. (For a different reading, see the the incredibly smart Peter Norvig’s election FAQ.)

Still, I vote and I hope you do too — even the young, despite some contempt for them). But my reasons have more to do with community than outcomes.

First, voting is a a rite that affirms the most basic and magnificent thing about our country: We believe everyone has an equal voice.

Second, my vote is unlikely to determine an outcome of an election, but it is certain to affect — fractionally, for sure — the total number of people who have voted. And that bears on our sense of the success of our democracy and of our national community. This is not merely information about community, but is information that forms community.

Third, if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain. So, vote or for God’s sake STFU.

As for who to vote for: (a) check my Twitter feed for links to the vids etc. that I find amusing/moving, and (b) really?


(To volunteer to help Pres. Obama’s Get Out the Vote effort, click here. And because I’m a liberal, here’s Romney’s GOTV site.)

1 Comment »

April 10, 2009

This election brought to you by Starbucks

Well, not exactly. Starbucks is offering a free cup of coffee to everyone who votes in the Indonesian elections. (Via Mong Palatino at GlobalVoices

[Tags: ]

2 Comments »

November 19, 2008

Electoral Windex

WhoVoted.net tells you who voted, based on public election records. So far it’s only ratting out those dirty stinking voters in four states (Florida, Idaho, Ohio, and Washington).

Who voted and who contributed money to campaigns has always been public info in the US. But when you had to blow dust off of ledger pages in the basement of your town hall, we didn’t feel quite so exposed. Welcome to the fishbowl!

[Tags: ]

Be the first to comment »

November 1, 2008

Twitter the vote

Report any voting problems you have using #votereport in your tweet. You can see them aggregated at TwitterVoteReport.com,

[Tags: ]

Be the first to comment »

October 28, 2008

Crowdsourcing a fair election

Just a reminder: MyFairElection.com is asking people to sign up to report on the conditions they find at their local polling place so that the site can create a “weather map” of electoral fairness.

[Tags: ]

Be the first to comment »

October 23, 2008

Twittering for fair elections

Volunteer programmers, designers and activists across the country will coordinate in online chat rooms and at real-world coding parties on Friday to build Twitter Vote Report, a groundbreaking web election monitoring system to fight voter suppression and disruption efforts. Anyone with a Twitter.com account will be able to use their cell phones or computers to send a message notifying voters, election monitors, and the media of problems around the country. A web map will display incidents in real-time.

For more info about how you can help, here. And if you want to help out on Friday’s code jam, go here. [Tags: ]

1 Comment »

July 6, 2008

My Fair Election

Archon Fung, at Harvard’s Kennedy School, is proposing that we crowd source the fairness of the upcoming presidential election at MyFairElection.com. You can watch a 7 minute video presentation or read a brief paper.

[Tags: ]

Be the first to comment »


Switch to our mobile site