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Posts Tagged ‘voting

“It’s not opinion polls that determine the outcome of elections, it’s votes in ballot boxes”*…

 

This Nov. 8, even if you manage to be registered in time and have the right identification, there is something else that could stop you from exercising your right to vote.

The ballot. Specifically, the ballot’s design.

Bad ballot design gained national attention almost 16 years ago when Americans became unwilling experts in butterflies and chads. The now-infamous Palm Beach County butterfly ballot, which interlaced candidate names along a central column of punch holes, was so confusing that many voters accidentally voted for Patrick Buchanan instead of Al Gore.

We’ve made some progress since then, but we still likely lose hundreds of thousands of votes every election year due to poor ballot design and instructions. In 2008 and 2010 alone, almost half a million people did not have their votes counted due to mistakes filling out the ballot. Bad ballot design also contributes to long lines on election day. And the effects are not the same for all people: the disenfranchised are disproportionately poor, minority, elderly and disabled

More– with some encouraging examples of remedies– at “Disenfranchised by Bad Design.”

* Nicola Sturgeon

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As we pull the lever, we might spare a thought for Rex Todhunter Stout; he died on this date in 1975. A writer of detective fiction, he created master sleuth Nero Wolfe and his assistant Archie Goodwin, who were featured in 33 novels and 39 novellas between 1934 and 1975– earning Stout the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award.

But as importantly, Stout had a vital career as a public intellectual and activist: he was active in the early years of the American Civil Liberties Union and a founder of the Vanguard Press. He served as head of the Writers’ War Board during World War II, became a radio celebrity, and was active in promoting world federalism, and was the long-time president of the Authors Guild.

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Written by LW

October 27, 2016 at 1:01 am

The old ball-and-chain…

 

 Photo: MARKKU OJALA/EPA/Landov (source)

Mental Floss reports:

At the annual Wife Carrying World Championships in Sonkajärvi, Finland, male competitors race around a track hauling their female partners on their backs. The winner takes home his wife’s weight in beer.

It’s no ordinary racetrack, either. Competitors must wade through a neck-deep pool of water, climb over hurdles, and run through pits of sand before crossing the finish line.

While some participants don crazy costumes for the pre-race, the actual event is pretty straight-laced. Wives must weigh at least 49 kilograms (108 pounds). Any woman lighter than that is required to carry a heavy rucksack until she reaches this minimum. A participant who drops his wife will be penalized 15 seconds. But there is one catch: contestants don’t have to carry their own wives. A friend’s wife, stranger’s wife, or even a random grandmother will do – as long as she’s over 17.

Contestants flock from 47 countries across the globe to show their stuff in this epic display of brute strength. This year, Finnish couple Taisto Miettinen and Kristiina Haapanen [above] captured the title for the fourth consecutive year. The 46-year-old lawyer and his wife completed the 235-meter course in one minute and four seconds.

Like any dedicated athlete, Miettinen reported that he’d been training for a while. “In last autumn, I started running in the track, one hundred, two hundred and four hundred meters,” Miettinen said in a post-race interview.  He also practiced the course in ski boots to build leg strength.

The competition, which began in 1992, is supposedly rooted in the legend of Ronkainen the Robber — a hardnosed gang leader who hazed potential members by making them lug sacks of grain or live pigs over a similar course. He and his comrades also made a habit of stealing women from neighboring villages (as a nod to this practice, many men “steal” friends’ wives for the competition).

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As we tote that bale, we might recall that it was on this date in 1920 that Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendement to the Constitution, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it law.  The culmination of more than 70 years of struggle by woman suffragists, it guaranteed that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

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Written by LW

August 18, 2012 at 1:01 am

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