Thursday, October 16, 2014

In The Bubble

Sorry for the relative lack of original content here on the Deeth Blog. I've been deep inside the election process bubble. Right now life is less District Of The Day and more "how do I fix this kid's problem voter registration?"

So the story that leaped out to me the most this week was a logistics question: the death of Doug Butzier, the Libertarian Senate candidate.

The Libertarians have a second tier "party organization" status. You can register as a Libertarian (or Green) but they don't have primaries like the two full status parties, the Ds and Rs. The only way to get full party status is 2% of vote for governor or president. The Greens and Reform Party both had it and lost it in the last couple decades.

Because they don't have full party status, the Libertarians don't get to name a replacement candidate, but the votes get counted. And to be honest, most people voting Libertarian, especially in a race as close and as big a deal as this one, are doing so to Make A Statement without the expectation that Butzier would "win" in the traditional, take office sense of "win". Very few were voting for Doug Butzier the person. They were voting for Libertarian the label. So the statement doesn't really change with the candidate's death.

If Ernst or Braley had died, the whole senate election would be called off. The rest of the election would go on but there would be a special senate election in December. The dead candidate's party could replace them, the other candidates would be the same.

This happened in 2012 when state Senator Pat Ward died, at exactly the same point in the cycle, three weeks out. The Republicans replaced her, the Democrats had to keep the same candidate. In that case there were no third parties. If there had been they would have stayed on the ballot. (There's not a way for third party candidates to qualify for the special election unless they qualified for the regular one first.)

The law varies by state, with high profile examples. Anyone reading this blog remembers Mel Carnahan's posthumous election to the Senate in 2000, followed by the appointment of widow Jean Carnahan. But two years later, when Paul Wellstone died about two weeks before the election the Minnesota DFL had to replace him at the last minute with Walter Mondale.

And in the UK, if the even most minor of minor Monster Raving Loony (this is a real party) candidates dies, the whole election for that seat is rescheduled.

So the Senate race goes on despite Butzier's death, and if you think things between Braley and Ernst are getting nasty, check out THIS classic election from 1950: Yosemite Sam vs. Bugs Bunny.

I've never understood why the default frivolous write in vote is supposed to be Mickey Mouse followed by other Disney characters - and yes, it's true. Always Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. And never, despite the similar alliteration, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

While I'm at it: you have the absolute right to cast a write in vote - in Iowa, at least, but not in California or other top two "open primary" (sic) states.

And 15 rural township offices in Johnson County will be decided by write in because no one filed. It's likely someone will win with one write in vote and getting their name drawn out of the hat. (I'm offering a beret if needed.) We used to have a rural voter who wrote his own name in for every uncontested office. (Yes, his ballot was secret so we don't KNOW that it was him, but come on.) Then, finally, it happened. He wrote himself in for an office with no candidate, and got his name drawn. so after finally winning an election... he turned the job down.

But my point is: use that right to write with some good judgement. No one's going to see your Mickey Mouse vote except the people working the polls. They won't laugh. They have to count them by hand, they've seen it all before, and they've worked a very long day.

And don't even get me started on Fred Hoiberg. That's actually the origin of the nickname: a write in vote for Ames Mayor. Which, if Iowa State has another good season, he could probably win for real.

It's a common though that the pollworkers are volunteers. They get paid. In our county it's $10.50 an hour, with time and a half after 8 hours a day. And we need more workers. Specifically, we need REPUBLICAN workers. The law says we have to balance evenly, Dems and Rs (the law allows  room for a few no parties and third parties). So if you have six workers at a site, it's 3 and 3. If you have seven, it's 4 and 3.

So basically we have to balance 50-50, in a community that's two to one Democratic. I have no idea how 80% Republican Sioux County does it but they aren't my problem. Republican readers, your services are needed and welcomed.

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