Current Observations Home Current Observations Home Current Observations Home

I Vote for a Change in Voting

Friday, November 24, 2006

The maxim is Qui tacet consentiret: the maxim of the law is "Silence gives consent".
~ Sir Thomas More
You've probably seen those clubs--CD of the Month or DVD of the Month--where they offer you some ridiculously enticing introductory offer. Then, after 12 months, they hit you with the fine-print which states something like: We will ship you one CD every month at full price. It is your responsibility to cancel orders within 5 days of receipt or you will be billed for said items plus shipping and handling.
The following was cut from BMG Music Service's 'About Membership' page to illustrate what I'm talking about:
Freedom Of Choice.
You will receive updates via email or postal mail, whichever you choose, about every 3 weeks (18 times a year) with information on a Featured Selection tailored to your specific listening interest. If you want it, do nothing; it will be shipped to you automatically. If you don't want it, respond online or through the mail by the date specified. If you receive an unwanted Featured Selection, return it within 10 days at our expense and we will credit your account.
The catch is that you've got to do something or else you end up buried under a mountain of CD's or DVD's or whatever it was that you were suckered into buying. This is a perfect example of the above quote: Qui tacet consentiret. By your silence you consent to purchase CD's... and you're contractually on the hook for every last one of them. Most people I've talked to hate this sort of fine-print deception. It's purposely geared to default the purchaser into debt if he doesn't act. Most people agree that the default should be to let the purchaser out of the deal. In other words, it would require his action instead of his inaction to continue with the contract. I couldn't agree more. It's deceptive and assumes that the purchaser will always be attentive to what shows up in his mailbox.
After looking at this sort of sales tactic, I can assume that we all pretty much agree it is a loathsome way of doing business. If we feel this way, then, may I ask why do we put up with it as our way of government? I see all the eyebrows go up. Whaaa?!? Let me explain. Mark, host of South Puget Sound Libertarian, recently posted "Democracy: Tyranny of the Minority" in which he explains that it is often times not the majority that decides the fate of the whole population, but a majority of those who took the time to vote. Our system of government has been perverted into Qui tacet consentiret. If you don't vote, you give your consent to whatever those who voted-and won--decide to do to you and your pocketbook.
Let's look at some real numbers. I whipped these up yesterday to illustrate what Mark touched on in his post. These numbers were taken from the Snohomish County General Election Results webpage. The text in blue indicates the winner in each vote, while the last column takes into consideration all registered voters--not just the ones who cast a ballot:
Snohomish County Election Results
Registered Voters Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Election Day Turnout 392 0.19% 0.12%
Absentee Turnout 206,706 99.81% 61.82%
Total 207,098 100.00% 61.94%
INITIATIVE 920 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Yes 77,679 38.54% 23.23%
No 123,861 61.46% 37.04%
Totals 201,540 100.00% 60.27%
INITIATIVE 933 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Yes 78,742 39.04% 23.55%
No 122,929 60.96% 36.76%
Total 201,671 100.00% 60.31%
INITIATIVE 937 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Yes 99,378 50.16% 29.72%
No 98,726 49.84% 29.53%
Totals 198,104 100.00% 59.25%
HJR 4223 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Approved 154,833 79.21% 46.31%
Rejected 40,641 20.79% 12.15%
Totals 195,474 100.00% 58.46%
CHARTER 1 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Approved 140,652 73.64% 42.06%
Rejected 50,344 26.36% 15.06%
Total 190,996 100.00% 57.12%
CHARTER 2 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Approved 102,412 55.12% 30.63%
Rejected 83,376 44.88% 24.94%
Total 185,788 100.00% 55.56%
CHARTER 3 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Approved 89,510 47.40% 26.77%
Rejected 99,329 52.60% 29.71%
Total 188,839 100.00% 56.48%
CHARTER 4 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Approved 169,606 89.55% 50.72%
Rejected 19,783 10.45% 5.92%
Total 189,389 100.00% 56.64%
CHARTER 5 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Approved 155,319 83.88% 46.45%
Rejected 29,854 16.12% 8.93%
Total 185,173 100.00% 55.38%
CHARTER 6 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Approved 85,669 52.51% 25.62%
Rejected 77,480 47.49% 23.17%
Total 163,149 100.00% 48.79%
*Note: Snohomish County had 334,369 Registered Voters of which 207,098 voted.
As you can see, all but one item actually failed when the whole voting population is factored in. Our way of voting is to disregard those who don't show up at the polls or who don't bother to mail in their ballots. Their silence is their consent. That's why we see measures pass by what appear to be decent margins, but you can never find anyone who actually voted for it. Most of the numbers in the left column show that just three out of ten or four out of ten voters get to impose their will on the rest of us. Mark is absolutely right when he said it was tyranny by the minority!
Let's take a quick look at some numbers from King County's election results:
King County Election Results
INITIATIVE 920 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Yes 202,538 33.61% 20.79%
No 400,065 66.39% 41.06%
Totals 602,603 100.00% 61.85%
INITIATIVE 933 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Yes 197,039 32.88% 20.22%
No 402,257 67,12% 41.29%
Total 599,296 100.00% 61.51%
INITIATIVE 937 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Yes 352,063 59.36% 36.13%
No 241,044 40.64% 24,74%
Totals 593,107 100.00% 60.87%
HJR 4223 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Approved 475,997 81.93% 48.85%
Rejected 104,975 18.07% 10.77%
Totals 580,972 100.00% 59.63%
KING CO PROP 1 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Approved 370,340 68.64% 38.01%
Rejected 169,183 31.36% 17.36%
Total 539,523 100.00% 55.37%
KING CO PROP 2 Vote Count Percent Actual Percent*
Approved 325,277 56.44% 33.38%
Rejected 251,027 43.56% 25.76%
Total 576,304 100.00% 59.15%
*Note: King County had 975,340 Registered Voters of which 618,755 voted.
Not a single initiative or proposition passed in King County when you factor in all the non-votes. Why do we exclude their numbers when we count up the votes? Why is it decided only amongst those who voted? Should those who voted be allowed to foist their will on those who chose not to participate? Do we not have participatory democracy? Do we not remove our consent to be governed by removing ourselves from participation? It seems to me that the only avenue left to the non-participants would be to take up arms against those who impose their will on them. Is that what we really want?
I propose that all future items that are put up for a vote are structured in such a way as to make a yes vote the only way it can pass. That is to say, "If you want Proposition 920 to pass, then you better vote 'Yes' at the next election." The default position would have all items fail if not enough voters (50% + 1) vote for them. That way if an item really is wanted by a true majority of the people--not just of those who voted--it passes. We need to stop these "Vote of the Month Club" type shenanigans and get government back to its legitimate purpose: protecting the rights of the individual--not imposing the will of a tyrannous minority.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Powered by Blogger |



Who Links