Thursday, October 30, 2008

Voter Turnout and the Efficacy of the System

ABC News is wondering, can the voting infrastructure handle a massive turnout election?

A fair question, but let see if we actually have a massive turnout. Keep in mind, voter turnout predictions have been wrong in the past, and burnout among voters is a real possibility. Even I, a political junkie, have not exactly been engaged in this election. Neither candidate inspires me. The constant attention on inconsequential things like Sarah Palins' wardrobe versus Michelle Obama's wardrobe costs just don't get me engaged. With both sides pandering and offering little more than soundbites, it really is hard to see what is what in this election. So if I am getting burned out, imagine how the average voter feels.

So lets take a look at the turnout first. With the advent of early voting, I would think that a number of states won't have the problem of a flood of voters. Also keep in mind the stories that will come from the media, i.e. "turnout is really heavy" as they report from one polling place in the early morning hours when commuters head to the polls or late at night when last minute voters get in line. Turnout is a fundamentally hard thing to gauge before the actual day.

Will there be glitches and problems? You bet, with tens of thousands of pollling places, tens of thousands of poll workers and the glare of the media, mistakes will happen and it will get ugly.


Nancy Flanagan said...

Matt: "Even I, a political junkie, have not exactly been engaged in this election. Neither candidate inspires me."

Umm, Matt? You haven't exactly been "engaged" in this election? Even though 448 of your recent posts are tagged "2008 Presidential Election?"

Saying that you find campaign stories shallow is one thing--welcome to the world of female candidates and their hairstyle "issues." But saying that you don't care much about the outcome of this election--undoubtedly a watershed in American politics--or that you're not engaged by the candidates is disingenuous. To say the least.

We're all a little fatigued and ready for it to be over. But for millions of Americans, this election represents a rebirth of hope, at a time when national confidence has been demolished.

At a candidates' debate, in my heavily Republican county last night, all candidates were asked to name the Democrats and Republicans they most admired. The Dems came up with a dozen names, from FDR to (MI Senator) Carl Levin. The Republicans could name only one: Ronald Reagan, because he was "the great communicator."

What we have here is failure of imagination.

Matt Johnston said...


Thanks for coming by. Yes, there are 448 posts tagged with the label 2008 presidential Election. But considering I have almost 4100 posts, we are talking less than 10% and I consider myself fairly well involved. Similarly, if you look at my postings for the past several months, you will see far more soccer than anything else. I really am somewhat burnt out on the election.

But your comment presents a problem for the GOP in general, i.e. that we, the GOP, are too hung up on Ronald Reagan. Was he a great communicator? You bet. Was he a great president--I would probably put him in my top five, but not number 1.

The fact that your local GOP candidates can't name a republican other than Reagon is indictative not only of a failure of imagination, but a failure to move forward as a party.

That could be one reason why I am not engaged in this election--my own party can't get me engaged.

Nancy Flanagan said...

My first thought is "four thousand posts?" Holy cow. That's a lot. But--and not to be math-nerdy about it--if you did one political post per weekday, 448 takes you back more than 21 months. That's still a lot of stirring the political pot.

There have been times when my usual party of choice has seemed to be ideologically flailing and incapable of putting forward an inspiring candidate. But I like a lot of what I see this year. Especially on education, the issue nearest to my heart. It's time to re-unite this country.

Thanks for your response.