Saturday, 25 October 2008
Voting and actually voting
I am currently in the great state of Michigan. News from here is that a whopping 98% of eligible people have registered to vote. This is amazing news from a democratic and Democratic stand-point. 98%. Wow.
In the whole nation you'd be hard pushed to find a more liberal neighbourhood than Ann Arbor, MI, which is why the "Bush Legacy Tour Bus" seemed not to be struggling for visitors when I passed it earlier today on the campus of the University of Michigan.
(Incidentally, the town seems to be in something of a fury because the U of M and Michigan State are playing each other at the football thing tomorrow. As I believe they say in these parts, "Go Blue".)
So kudos to Michigan and big fat raspberries to Florida whose Republican-controlled legislature have actually restricted the time early voting centres can operate. So people wanting to avoid big lines on Nov 4 are having to put up with big lines now instead. The Miami Herald is reporting lines of up to 5 hours.
This simply should not be allowed to happen in a democracy. This palaver should remind us in the UK how lucky we are to have overwhelmingly well-organised and operated elections compared to the shambles we often see in the US.
And encouraging people to vote shouldn't be a partisan issue, and, to be fair, in the UK I don't think it is. I don't actually care whether increased turnout is a positive for Labour, the Tories, Republicans or Democrats, making people wait 5 hours to vote, and making them do it during the working day rather than early morning or at night, is unacceptable.
And on that point I will be homeward bound tomorrow. It has been a delight seeing the election and my American friends over here this past week. It's not my intention to stereotype the American diet but I have eaten more fat, sugar and calories than I would normally eat in three months, and trust me I'm starting from a high base. And I am actually missing home a lot.
So thanks to my tour guides, Chris, Chris and Dani and to this great nation. And finally, to the one, maybe two American readers of this organ, don't forget to VOTE!