Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Democrats: Don't Forget Worry
About the Delegates!


The Sound of Democracy by Joe Shlabotnick on Flickr


For all the wall-to-wall media coverage of Super Tuesday, no one bothered to mention that - at least in New York State - when you get into the voting booth, beneath the Democratic candidates' names, you'll find a row of delegates' names.Apparently you need to pull those levers - as well as the the headliner's lever - to really make your vote count.

UPDATE: A good friend called BS on this, so we dug a bit deeper into this mystery, got a little more confused, became somewhat fascinated, and realized we were at least partially mistaken. We'll leave it to NYTimes.com commenter 'FlyOnTheWall' to explain:

The distinction between voting for delegates and for a candidate is this: Your vote for the candidate determines how many delegates they will receive, your vote for delegates determines who those delegates will be. So, for example, if Hillary were to win 3 of 5 delegates in a district, the Hillary delegate with the highest vote tally would win the first slot. Then the Hillary delegate of the opposite gender with the highest vote tally would win the second. And then the Hillary delegate of the same gender with the highest vote tally would win the third. (Each CD is allocated a certain number of delegates of each gender, to ensure overall balance.)
Sorry for the confusion. The good news is, unless you're a potential delegate, bucking for a seat at the Denver Convention, those other levers don't make a damn difference.

One other milestone on this Super Tuesday: for those of us who grew up in New York State, this is the last Primary - and the final year - that we'll get to use the gunmetal grey, stolidly mechanical, reliably solid-state voting booths we grew up with. The 1950's era booths - beloved for the confidence-inspiring 'thunk' of the candidate levers, will be retired after the general election this fall in favor of mandated (and often unreliable) electronic voting machines.

Flickr member Joe Shlabotnik (thanks for the photo) put it perfectly: "I'm especially going to miss the resounding CHHUNK sound the big red lever makes when you pull it. To me, that's the sound of democracy."

The Levers of Power [Joe Sclabotnik is my Hero]

Mystery of New York Democratic Delegates, Explained
[nytimes.com]

21 Comments:

At 11:47 PM, Blogger Aimee said...

Just out of curiosity, do you have a friend who works at a coffee shop in Syracuse?

 
At 4:59 PM, Blogger mborino said...

Don't be too reassured by the "thunk" of those levers in the voting booths. Those ancient contraptions are prone to myriad mechanical failures resulting in miscounted and uncounted votes. They can be tampered with workers try to get the votes out of a machine that breaks down in the middle of election day. Breakdowns are not uncommon as spare parts are in extremely short supply. When the machines stop working in the middle of the day, the poll sites are sometimes without the proper paper ballots (if they have any at all). That's not to say the electronic machines won't present their own problems (like tampering and lack of paper trail). But the state of the current mechanical system is highly dysfunctional.

 
At 11:12 AM, Blogger i'mnotsayin said...

aimee, hmm...not that we know of but we spent a good deal of time in the mid 90's working in and around the Orange town so anything's possible

 
At 4:43 PM, Blogger Peter said...

Hey, "Joe Shlabotnik" here - as I said in my blog post, I have no faith that the machine is actually working, I just like flicking the little levers and pulling the big one. Given a choice between unreliable machines (electronic vs. mechanical), I'll take the one with levers any day.

 
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