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Author Topic: "My vote won't make any difference...."  (Read 4206 times)

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Online MithlomwenTopic starter

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"My vote won't make any difference...."
« on: November 01, 2012, 11:40:15 AM »
I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day, when the inevitable topic of the up and coming election reared it's head.  She asked me if I was going to vote.  I told her that I was, and asked her if she would be.  Her answer was no.  I asked her why not, and she rattled off the excuses of not wanting/having time to stand in line....etc, and that there really wasn't any point, her vote wouldn't make any difference anyway. 

I paused for a moment, trying to think of something besides, "Every vote counts!" to say to her.  Not able to come up with anything, I just let the subject drop, but it got me thinking.  Does one vote really make that much of a difference?  I'll be the first to admit that I'm not very well versed on the whole Electoral system.  But from my understanding, once voting is closed, the votes for each candidate (I'm referring to Presidential not local) are tallied.  Once a winner is established, said winner then wins the Electoral votes for that particular state correct?  Each state has a different number of Electoral votes, if I remember correctly?  So the candidate that ends up with the most Electoral votes wins the election.  If not, please correct me.  :-) 

But anyway.....as I ramble on....

What do you say to people who say that one vote won't really make any difference in the scheme of things? 

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2012, 12:15:25 PM »
Actually, my understanding is that our votes are called the 'popular votes' and just because a candidate wins the popular vote does not mean they will win the election because the Electoral College has not had it's vote.

The Electoral College is a controversial mechanism of presidential elections that was created by the framers of the U.S. Constitution as a compromise for the presidential election process. At the time, some politicians believed a purely popular election was too reckless, while others objected to giving Congress the power to select the president. The compromise was to set up an Electoral College system that allowed voters to vote for electors, who would then cast their votes for candidates, a system described in Article II, section 1 of the Constitution.

Each state has a number of electors equal to the number of its U.S. senators plus the number of its U.S. representatives. Currently, the Electoral College includes 538 electors, 535 for the total number of congressional members, and three who represent Washington, D.C., as allowed by the 23rd Amendment. Most of the time, electors cast their votes for the candidate who has received the most votes in that particular state. Some states have laws that require electors to vote for the candidate that won the popular vote, while other electors are bound by pledges to a specific political party. However, there have been times when electors have voted contrary to the people's decision, and there is no federal law or Constitutional provision against it.

So, going by that, I tend to agree that one person's vote does not really matter.

Offline Oniya

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2012, 12:17:22 PM »
Well, first off, even if she doesn't believe her vote for President will count, there are all of those local issues to be decided on.  It's not like you walk in, get handed a slip of paper with the presidential candidates on them, and that's the only check-box to mark.  There are representatives to vote for or against (which can then affect how 'well' the President does), local mandates (where did that 'long grass fine' come from?), and local budget issues (more money for schools?).  Those things are also more likely to affect her directly, compared to the seemingly abstract drop in the Electoral College bucket.

There are two states that have provisions for splitting their Electoral vote - Maine and Nebraska - using the Congressional Districts as 'counters' (win the popular vote in a district, and get that district's electoral vote).  Nebraska is the only one that has actually done so, and it was in the 2008 election.  Otherwise, you have the idea of the Electoral College right - get the popular vote in the state, even by 50.1%, and you get all the Electoral Votes.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2012, 12:27:00 PM »
You know, there are some claims that Bush won florida by less than 700 votes in 2000 and New Mexico by less. Can't find the source at the moment, but it could be argued that a LOT of the 'voter reform' actions of the last 4 years was in response to the electorate finally VOTING.

If we continue vote, and do other thing I've preached about here and elsewhere, sooner or later folks in the parties WILL realize that things are a changing.

Offline Valerian

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2012, 01:33:16 PM »
From the time I was about five, my dad took me with him when he went to vote so that I could learn about the process in a more concrete way then they teach at schools.  My dad knew many of the volunteers at the local polling place personally, as well as a good many of the candidates and serving politicians at the state and local levels.  Throughout my childhood he encouraged me to learn about the system, to study the candidates and the issues, pay attention, get different perspectives, be involved, and I've tried to do that.

Local elections are the most obvious reasons for those doubtful types to go and vote, but as Callie mentioned, voter turnout is also a big issue.  Many politicians may comfortably assume that the vast majority will never start paying attention, and even if they do, they won't bother to vote because one vote seems like nothing.  But if more and more people actually do start showing up and casting votes, that just might make a big difference.

Offline Chris Brady

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2012, 01:50:48 PM »
Actually, IO pointed out, your vote does NOT matter because you Americans have a barrier between you and your choice.  The Electoral College.  Like she says (And my dad confirmed, as he was an American until the mid 60s) there are some states that will vote one way or the other no matter what the popular vote decides.  And the other issue is that outside of a few notable ones, not many people know if their State is one of them or not.

Do you know if your State is?

Offline Valerian

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2012, 02:37:58 PM »
What you're talking about is called a faithless elector.  Twenty-four states have laws that allow them to charge faithless electors with a misdemeanor, which also carries a fine.

I don't think the entire issue of faithless electors is as significant as you're making it out to be, either.  Until the 2000 election (where the main problem was not so much with the electoral college as with that embarrassing mess of hanging chads in Florida), the last time a difference between popular vote and electoral vote actually changed the outcome of a U.S. presidential election was when Benjamin Harrison won in 1888.  It's a rare thing for an elector to change his or her vote.  Electors make a pledge to follow the popular vote, and most of them take that pretty seriously.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2012, 02:41:53 PM »
I suppose the new face of the issue, this time around, is that Sandy will matter much more to the vote than any individual voter, or even any group of five hundred voters in an individual state. Both directly - making it harder to get to polling stations, wrecking some people's ID papers, illness - and indirectly because of the reporting on the hurricane (probably good for Obama) and some cancelled events. But I'm not counting on any suggestions to move the elections ahead three or four days, although it would probably be possible...


Tight elections? Yes, they occur even outside of the US. Two years ago around here, the parliamentory elections came down to a margin of 26 votes in two regions in western Sweden. If the liberal party, which was and is part of the cabinet coalition - and which isn't a big one because so many of the others have gone liberal in some way - had got those votes or had got thirty more of their own core voters out, there would have been a safe majority - and there's no electoral college here. For a population óf American size the margin would have been slightly below a thousand ballots. But that was in a multi-party system - with two cabinet alternatives, each backed by three or four outfits, and there was a newcomer, um, ultra-right wing party involved that no one really wanted to be supported by, so it was a bit special.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2012, 02:44:09 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline consortium11

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2012, 03:12:47 AM »
Two years ago around here, the parliamentory elections came down to a margin of 26 votes in two regions in western Sweden. If the liberal party, which was and is part of the cabinet coalition - and which isn't a big one because so many of the others have gone liberal in some way - had got those votes or had got thirty more of their own core voters out, there would have been a safe majority - and there's no electoral college here.

There may be no formal electoral college but in practice (when was the last time the faithless electors were an issue?) the use of regions/constituencies as opposed to a nation wide popular vote does render some votes virtually meaningless. To give an example I'm most familiar with, the UK has a first-past-the-post constituency parliamentary system; that is each constituency tables up the votes and elects the person with the most votes to parliament. The party with the most members of parliament gets to (attempt to) form the government and its leader becomes Prime Minister. What that means in practice is that if in a single constituency a party gets one less vote than the eventual winner it gets nothing.

The effect of this can be seen quite easily; the Conservatives had roughly 47% seats in parliament from 36% of the vote, Labour had roughly 40% of the seats from 29% of the vote and the Liberal Democrats had roughly 9% of the seats from 23% of the votes. Under such systems it's far more important to have focused support in smaller areas than less focused support across the country.

You can look at the contrasting fortunes of our largest "small" parties. UKIP (essentially libertarians) had 920,000 votes (about 3%) but had no seats, BNP (right wing socialists) had 565,000 votes (about 2%) but had no seats while the Green Party had 265,000 votes (about 1%) but gained a seat as much of that was focused in a single constituency while both the BNP and UKIP had a larger vote but spread across more constituencies. It's better to come 1st once and dead last every other time then to come 2nd in every constituency.

As such votes are "wasted". Even for the three major parties there are some places where unless the world spins off its axis they won't be elected in the foreseeable future and therefore a vote for them doesn't really matter. For smaller parties it's even worse; unless a situation similar to the Greens in the last election happens the best you can hope your vote to achieve is to "send a message". I've voted in every election that I've been able to but because of the nature of the constituencies I've lived in and my own political views I know the chances of my vote really making a difference are essentially nil.

Offline Vekseid

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2012, 03:37:54 AM »
Actually, IO pointed out, your vote does NOT matter because you Americans have a barrier between you and your choice.  The Electoral College.  Like she says (And my dad confirmed, as he was an American until the mid 60s) there are some states that will vote one way or the other no matter what the popular vote decides.  And the other issue is that outside of a few notable ones, not many people know if their State is one of them or not.

Do you know if your State is?

The electoral college now only elects the president.

The president actually has relatively few powers in the US. It's considered important insofar as they have the bully pulpit, a tiebreaking vote in the Senate, massive powers of appointment, some small degree of resource allotment, and represent our diplomatic face at the highest level.

The most powerful decisionmaking bodies in the United States are the state legislative branches. If 3/4ths of them unite behind a cause they can enact any change in government short of removing states of their senatorial representation.

Offline Skynet

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2012, 02:33:56 PM »
Here's how I think of it.

If enough people became politically apathetic, then it can make a difference.  Many college-aged people don't bother voting, and the Baby Boomer generation's the group which goes out to the polls most often.  So in many cases you get elected officials with extreme positions or whose views don't match the majority of voters.

I view my votes as bringing a candidate one step closer to victory.  If I feel that they represent my ideology and values, I've got no problem endorsing them with a vote: it's a way of saying "I approve of your positions."

Offline Valerian

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2012, 02:52:48 PM »
Just ran across this linked on another site:

Paul Weyrich - "I don't want everybody to vote" (Goo Goo)

Paul Weyrich, the man in the video, has since passed away, but he was an ultra-conservative, who helped found groups such as the right-wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation.  He was also in favor of creating a Christian nation, governed according to a conservative interpretation of biblical law.  Michele Bachmann has similar goals, for instance.

It's a short clip, but it deals directly with what's been discussed here.  Here's what Weyrich had to say (emphasis mine):

Quote
Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome — good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.

Offline Serephino

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2012, 03:07:46 PM »
This is how my Civics teacher put it, and I think it has a a lot of truth to it.  Whoever wins elections affects everyone, yet, only a small percentage of eligible voters are actually registered, and less than half of those actually vote.  Back then at least, the average person who actually voted was age 35-65.  This means that politicians only have to make that demographic happy.  They don't have to do what's best for the country as a whole, just what will get the people who actively vote.  In short, not voting is sitting back and letting others make major decisions for you.   

Offline Shjade

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2012, 04:29:36 PM »
The issue I have with this topic isn't so much that "my vote doesn't matter." I understand votes matter, perhaps more in some cases than in others. The issue I have is that votes can only be taken for the options available.

Voting for "the lesser of two evils" seems somehow wrongheaded to me, and voting for someone who isn't in the two major parties (specifically in presidential elections, of course) really does mean your vote makes no difference for all the impact it has on the outcome.

See also: song of the month.

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2012, 11:15:27 AM »
In addition to voting for the presidential candidates...

~~ Learn about and support your local candidates including judges
~~ Learn about and support your state candidates including judges
~~ Learn about and vote on referendums, issues and acts that will effect your community and state
~~ Learn about and vote on national issues that come up for a vote

Each vote not cast is a vote lost and in close elections those lost votes could have effected the outcome.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2012, 11:21:11 AM »
In addition to voting for the presidential candidates...

~~ Learn about and support your local candidates including judges
~~ Learn about and support your state candidates including judges
~~ Learn about and vote on referendums, issues and acts that will effect your community and state
~~ Learn about and vote on national issues that come up for a vote

Each vote not cast is a vote lost and in close elections those lost votes could have effected the outcome.

Additionally for Judges.. LEARN WHY they are up for recall. We have SIX Judges up for recall. I looked into it because of a segment on PBS. Turned out a lot of folks were pushing to have them sent out because they weren't militantly Tea Party in outlook.

Offline Caehlim

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2012, 10:40:53 PM »
What do you say to people who say that one vote won't really make any difference in the scheme of things?

Well, they are correct.

Their vote, individually, doesn't make a difference and the investment of time and money required to become politically aware, educated and informed on the issues and then to take political action is huge compared to the extremely low percentage of the population that any individual's vote represents.

Don't get me wrong, I want everyone to vote because I think that once a group of the populace becomes known for not voting, the government feels free to disregard their opinions because it no longer affects their election chances. Then some really horrible stuff can start to happen.

But it's one of those nasty game theory problems, where the effect on the group level is very different to the effect on the individual level. To persuade someone to vote, is persuading them to take actions against their own best interest. However persuading everyone to vote benefits everyone in the group.

That makes it difficult to argue for voting, while at the same time showing how important it is to do.

Sorry that's not much of a solution. But it's how I see the problem.

Offline ExisD

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2012, 04:26:00 AM »
Even if one person's vote becomes "worthless" because of all of the other people voting there is still a reason to vote.

A few years ago I got to speak with a few congressmen about their jobs and they told me, at least in their eyes, the most important reason to vote. Voting makes your elected officials more likely to listen to you if you call them up about an issue.

It is easy to find out which elections someone voted in, not how the voted. If you contact an official about something many will pull up your history and use that as part of the metric of wither or not their constituents as a whole feel like this. The more elections that you've voted in, relative to your age, the higher they rate your opinion on an issue. Not everyone does this, but even if there are a few who do it makes voting a very important thing to do.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2012, 04:43:19 AM by ExisD »

Offline Vekseid

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #18 on: November 10, 2012, 04:31:22 AM »
It's also easy to underestimate the power of your state legislature and gathering friends to vote.

A US rep might think you're insignificant. This is much less true of state-level reps

Offline Stattick

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2012, 05:12:49 AM »
Man looses election because his wife didn't vote. Yep, the election was tied... and his wife didn't vote. Who says that one vote can't make a difference?

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/race-city-council-tied-wife-candidate-doesn-t-161355890.html

Offline Moraline

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2012, 08:09:44 PM »
On the topic of, "Does my vote make a difference?"

The answer is, "yes." Your voice and your opinion matter. It's not just a vote, it's an act of engagement. It's the act of contributing to something greater then yourself. Like dropping a can of food into the foodbank. It might not mean much among 1000 lbs of food but it does make a difference and if we all just slacked off and said "our votes don't count," then not voting is a form of a vote as well. It ends up having a profound impact as part of the greater social machine.

Give a penny to your favorite charity, pick up a piece of trash, smile and say "Hi" to someone that you don't know, open a door for an elderly person, give your child just one more hug for no reason at all. It all makes a difference.

Your one vote by itself doesn't do much but all of those "one votes" make a massive difference.

... Now because I'm a hypocrite, I have to confess.   

I don't vote. I don't believe in the politicians. I have no faith in the system and I don't see anyone that is better then the others. I have no one and no party that I want to vote for. They are all corrupt, emotionally bankrupt and soulless parts of an immense political system that has no heart. All I see in government is corruption and greed.

To this end I say, "Give me a system and someone worth voting for and I'll give them my vote."


Online Callie Del Noire

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2012, 08:59:09 PM »
To which I must retort..

"If you don't invest yourself in the effort of changing it.. it will never change."

Offline Moraline

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2012, 09:24:29 PM »
Voting for things I hate, loathe, and detest doesn't change it either.

Instead...

I fight for change in other ways. I protest, I support causes that seek change, I educate people that ask about the things that governments are doing wrong and I suggest ways in which they can affect changes that are needed.

I'm Canadian but when the US was voting on the subject of SOPA I fought for months online to stop it. I helped websites that supported stopping it and I spread the word and educated as many as I could. I like to think that I made a difference.

If my local government had elected representatives that cared about things like this and weren't so corrupt then I'd go out and vote for that representative. (Which I have done in the past but currently there is no one that I support.) 

Instead we have politicians from top to bottom that only spend their time looking at dollar signs and concerning themselves with big business. Local politicians only seek office because they get a fat pension out of it and a cushy job that only goes on for a few months out of the year. They seek office to push gov't contracts into the hands of their relatives and friends. The system is morally bankrupt. I refuse to vote for one lesser evil over another.

Until I have a representative that has morals and a heart. I refuse to waste my time on them. Hell, I'd even vote for the local corrupt pigs if they had an honest and moral party leader up in the feds. However, they don't. They are all douche-whistles.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #23 on: November 12, 2012, 09:39:29 PM »
If you don't participate in the process and perform your duty as a citizen how can you expect the system to consider your desires and wants on how to reform it?

I'm all for participating in reform movements.. but if  you don't do your duty and vote.. you diminish the numbers.. and sheer numbers of voters increasing again and again will have the effect of showing those who WOULD step up that people want change.. sooner or later we'll get more and more good men and women stepping up to serve.. but if you don't do your part.. you're enabling the status quo.

I'm betting you're going to see a MAJOR schism in the GOP if the trend of younger voters and minorities to step up and do their duty. Want to bet at least in SOME jurisdictions in the next 18 months that the GOP will reverse their immigration legislation.. because the latinios.. who they EXPECTED to vote more conservative.. didn't.

Offline Moraline

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #24 on: November 12, 2012, 09:52:36 PM »
Now see that is an excellent reason to vote and a good argument for it. You should have said that instead of what you did in response to my post earlier.

That being said however....

Should I vote for a corrupt local politician just so I can register a vote against another politician that is corrupt as well? All of this in the name of encouraging them to make or counter encourage some governmental change?

I simple refuse to pick the lesser of two evils.

It's not right and I stand against it. I vote my conscious. My non-vote is my vote for change and if you knew me then you'd see me stand up and make that voice heard. (Just like I'm doing right now.)

Offline Stattick

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #25 on: November 13, 2012, 02:27:52 AM »
I simple refuse to pick the lesser of two evils.

Usually, it's the better of two goods. Occasionally, you'll run into a candidate that's demonstrably evil though, and you know what they say, evil only triumphs when good people do nothing. So that's why I made sure to get out there and vote last week, because I wanted to make sure that the party that was against rape won.

Offline Valerian

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #26 on: November 13, 2012, 08:09:39 AM »
Well, assuming you're correct, and there's actually not even one politician in your area that isn't rotten to the core -- in which case I feel very sorry for that part of the world -- then I hope you're also doing something to encourage better people to run.

For example, there's a group here in my state that encourages women to run for office.  It's called Emerge Wisconsin, one of a dozen such programs offered in various U.S. states, and they offer training and support for women at all levels of government.  This training includes ethics classes.  I don't know if there's a Canadian equivalent, but that might be something to investigate.

If you didn't see the video I linked above, let me reiterate that the more extreme and corrupt politicians absolutely love low voter turnouts.  It's much, much easier to fool just a few people into voting the way they want them to vote, after all.

Offline Serephino

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #27 on: November 13, 2012, 09:36:32 AM »
If you didn't see the video I linked above, let me reiterate that the more extreme and corrupt politicians absolutely love low voter turnouts.  It's much, much easier to fool just a few people into voting the way they want them to vote, after all.

This.  Neither candidate may be your ideal, but you can stop looking at it as voting for the lesser of two evils, and look at it as picking the better candidate.  Then those politicians we'll see that you are willing to use your vote, and they will do more to try and make you happy.  If you don't do that one thing, none of the rest of it matters.  You can sign all the petitions you want, the politicians aren't going to listen to you.  They don't need you to get re-elected, so they don't have to care about your opinion, and they won't.

It may seem unfair, but it was set up like that to make sure the representatives actually followed the will of the people.  If they don't, they won't have a job when they're up for re-election.  Thing is, the smaller the group of people they actually have to care about is, the easier it is for them to stay in power.  Right now you aren't really making a statement, you are allowing those that do vote to make a decision for you that will affect you.

Offline Oniya

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #28 on: November 13, 2012, 09:56:58 AM »
It's like helping politicians evolve.  You start out with spineless disgusting things crawling through the primordial slime, and through constantly selecting the (infinitesimally) better choice, you eventually develop something with intelligence and a backbone.  ;D

Offline Valerian

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #29 on: November 13, 2012, 10:51:07 AM »
I am stealing that beautiful analogy to use every time I hear anyone question the usefulness of voting.  Just so you know.

Offline Oniya

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #30 on: November 13, 2012, 11:13:12 AM »
Just remember - it probably won't work on creationists.  ;)

Offline Stattick

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #31 on: November 13, 2012, 01:22:58 PM »
Yes, they have an amazing ability to resist evolution. On the gripping hand, they're slowly becoming extinct, so it's all good.

Offline FireflyWhisper

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #32 on: November 19, 2012, 01:59:02 PM »
I wish we would switch to popular vote rather than Electoral College.  I believe there would be less of a feeling that one vote doesn't count.  I think that the Electoral College system acts to suppress the vote, with so many states being nearly foregone conclusions in regards to presidential vote before the election has taken place. 

It is difficult to have a clear view of what Americans really want when so many feel that it is fruitless to show up in the first place.  Granted, I believe they should be showing up anyway, but I don't think the system should be designed in such a way that it discourages turnout.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #33 on: November 19, 2012, 02:55:37 PM »
I wish we would switch to popular vote rather than Electoral College.  I believe there would be less of a feeling that one vote doesn't count.  I think that the Electoral College system acts to suppress the vote, with so many states being nearly foregone conclusions in regards to presidential vote before the election has taken place. 

It is difficult to have a clear view of what Americans really want when so many feel that it is fruitless to show up in the first place.  Granted, I believe they should be showing up anyway, but I don't think the system should be designed in such a way that it discourages turnout.

The problem with that is you'd only need to cater to something like 9 to 12 states to get the popular vote. Ever. Ever other state would be irrelevant

Offline Lux12

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #34 on: November 19, 2012, 02:59:21 PM »
The problem with that is you'd only need to cater to something like 9 to 12 states to get the popular vote. Ever. Ever other state would be irrelevant

Sad but true. The bulk of our population is not spread out evenly, it's concentrated in specific states while the others, even if they have millions, seem to almost serve as filler.

Offline Stattick

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #35 on: November 19, 2012, 03:13:22 PM »
I don't think we should retain the electoral college. It leads to small population states getting disproportionally high representation, and large population states being drown out. When you compare the most populous states to the least populous, the ratio is something like 6:1, where the votes by the small population state count six times to every one vote by the populous state. It's something not really seen in most republics. Of course the whole idea behind a republic or democracy is that one voice equals one vote.

The likelihood that we'll ever pass an amendment to get rid of the electoral college is virtually nil though, unless the whole Constitution is scrapped or rewritten, so there's not much point in discussing that. What we could do instead, is make every state assign their electoral college votes in a proportional system instead of a winner take all. That way, someone voting for Obama in the last election in Texas would have had their voice heard, as would someone who'd voted for Romney in New York.

In the case of the last election, it wouldn't have made a difference though: Obama still would have won by either popular vote or proportional assignment of the electoral college electors. It would encourage presidential candidates to campaign in every state though. It would matter if Obama took 45% of the Texas vote, or a mere 32% of the vote. Likewise, it would be important to Romney how much of the vote he took in California and New York.

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #36 on: November 19, 2012, 03:25:15 PM »
Here is the link to the website for the Electoral College.

http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/faq.html


This is from a source other than the Electoral College site but is a simple explanation of how it worls. 
Quote
Each state is entitled to a number of Electors equal to the number of the Repesentatives and Senators it is entitled to. Washington DC is given 3 electoral votes even though it has no Representatives or Senators. The total number of electors is 538, which is why 270 electoral votes are needed to win.

The Electoral College is made up of men and women who are chosen by each state's political parties to be the electors for that party's candidate. Shortly after the national Republican and Democratic Conventions, when the actual candidate for each party is determined, the State Republican and Democratic Committees meet separately to choose their respective electors. New Jersey has 15 electoral votes. The State Republican Party has chosen 15 persons to be its electors and the State Democratic Committee has chosen its own 15 persons to be the Democratic electors. If the Republican candidate wins the popular vote in NJ, all 15 Republican electors get to cast their votes for their candidate. If the Democratic candidate wins, then all 15 of the Democratic electors get to cast their votes.

The Electoral College does not meet in a single place at the same time the way Congress meets. Each state's electors meet within their own states to cast their votes. The electoral votes are then transmitted to Congress to be counted.

Offline Cheka Man

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #37 on: November 25, 2012, 09:08:07 PM »
My vote in the UK makes no difference as the political parties are the same as each other, or else crazy/evil.

Offline Lux12

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #38 on: November 25, 2012, 10:23:09 PM »
My vote in the UK makes no difference as the political parties are the same as each other, or else crazy/evil.

Are you certain?You certainly seem to have far more variety than we do here in the states.

Offline Zakharra

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #39 on: November 26, 2012, 11:16:29 AM »
I don't think we should retain the electoral college. It leads to small population states getting disproportionally high representation, and large population states being drown out. When you compare the most populous states to the least populous, the ratio is something like 6:1, where the votes by the small population state count six times to every one vote by the populous state. It's something not really seen in most republics. Of course the whole idea behind a republic or democracy is that one voice equals one vote.

 That's the point of the Electoral collage. So the higher population states can't run completely roughshod over the lower population states. It guarantees that the smaller population states have an actual say in the election and that their voices are heard.

The likelihood that we'll ever pass an amendment to get rid of the electoral college is virtually nil though, unless the whole Constitution is scrapped or rewritten, so there's not much point in discussing that. What we could do instead, is make every state assign their electoral college votes in a proportional system instead of a winner take all. That way, someone voting for Obama in the last election in Texas would have had their voice heard, as would someone who'd voted for Romney in New York.

Each state decides how their electoral votes are cast by the state constitution. It's not all, 'the winner of the popular vote gets all of the electoral collage ballets'. Some states send all of the ballets to the winner while others  have a split system that sends some to one candidate and others to other candidates. 

Offline Oniya

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #40 on: November 26, 2012, 11:57:00 AM »
Each state decides how their electoral votes are cast by the state constitution. It's not all, 'the winner of the popular vote gets all of the electoral collage ballets'. Some states send all of the ballets to the winner while others  have a split system that sends some to one candidate and others to other candidates.

To date, only two states have this provision:  Maine and Nebraska.  Also to this date, the votes have only ever been split once - the election before this one, Nebraska split between Obama and McCain.  It might be worthwhile to get more states to adopt this provision, and it would be a bit more likely to succeed if approached at the state level, rather than going headlong after dismantling the Electoral College itself.

Offline Stattick

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #41 on: November 26, 2012, 03:25:36 PM »
That's the point of the Electoral collage. So the higher population states can't run completely roughshod over the lower population states. It guarantees that the smaller population states have an actual say in the election and that their voices are heard.

You'd have a point if the US was composed of a bunch of different countries all under a common umbrella - give each nation it's own, equal voice in choosing the head of the alliance. It would like if the European Union had a president, I could see each member nation's vote for EU president could be proportional like the US's Electoral College.

Now, when the US was first created, it was as if the states were each their own separate nation. So, the decision to have an electoral college made sense at the time. However, as a nation we've grown way past each state having nation-state like powers, and each nation-state is a member of a weak federation that really only has powers in war and treaties.

With the current balance of power in the country, it makes the most sense to abolish the electoral college as an institution that's outlived it's usefulness. It would be like living in Canada, but because you live way out in the sticks in the Yukon, your vote counts more than a vote of a Quebecois when it comes to choosing your national leader. It just doesn't make sense to have that disproportionate vote/voice in a modern republic.
 
Quote
Each state decides how their electoral votes are cast by the state constitution. It's not all, 'the winner of the popular vote gets all of the electoral collage ballets'. Some states send all of the ballets to the winner while others  have a split system that sends some to one candidate and others to other candidates.

It's also against the best interests of states to change to a proportional system. States like Ohio are a BIG DEAL because they're winner take all. If they gave their electoral college votes out proportionally, both sides would mostly ignore Ohio, because the vote is going to be pretty much split 50/50 anyway. Why give out big campaign promises to the state when you're at best going to maybe get one extra EC vote out of it? The only to change it would be to get a whole bunch of big states to all agree to do it at the same time, and then put pressure on the rest to join in. If California, New York, Texas, and maybe the next 20 biggest states all agreed to do it, then we could leverage most or all of the rest of the states to do so too. But likelihood of accomplishing that are pretty small. No one wants to give away power once they have it.

Offline Zakharra

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #42 on: November 26, 2012, 04:42:32 PM »
You'd have a point if the US was composed of a bunch of different countries all under a common umbrella - give each nation it's own, equal voice in choosing the head of the alliance. It would like if the European Union had a president, I could see each member nation's vote for EU president could be proportional like the US's Electoral College.

Now, when the US was first created, it was as if the states were each their own separate nation. So, the decision to have an electoral college made sense at the time. However, as a nation we've grown way past each state having nation-state like powers, and each nation-state is a member of a weak federation that really only has powers in war and treaties.

With the current balance of power in the country, it makes the most sense to abolish the electoral college as an institution that's outlived it's usefulness. It would be like living in Canada, but because you live way out in the sticks in the Yukon, your vote counts more than a vote of a Quebecois when it comes to choosing your national leader. It just doesn't make sense to have that disproportionate vote/voice in a modern republic.

Your suggestion takes the election power away from the states and in essence, give it to the most populated states. As Callia pointed out, you'd have only 9 to 12 states that would be deciding who it the President. That is way WAY too much power in their hands. Abolishing it doesn't solve anything and concentrates the power into two few hands.

 Not to mention it would require a Constitutional Convention to do that.

It's also against the best interests of states to change to a proportional system. States like Ohio are a BIG DEAL because they're winner take all. If they gave their electoral college votes out proportionally, both sides would mostly ignore Ohio, because the vote is going to be pretty much split 50/50 anyway. Why give out big campaign promises to the state when you're at best going to maybe get one extra EC vote out of it? The only to change it would be to get a whole bunch of big states to all agree to do it at the same time, and then put pressure on the rest to join in. If California, New York, Texas, and maybe the next 20 biggest states all agreed to do it, then we could leverage most or all of the rest of the states to do so too. But likelihood of accomplishing that are pretty small. No one wants to give away power once they have it.

 /shrugs  That's the way the states decided to have their electoral ballets counted. As Oniya pointed out, only 2 states have anything different and those are, I believe, enshrined in the state constitutions. Something the federal government cannot touch or change.  Especially now. It's much too late and it's not the federal governments power to change how states cast electoral ballets.

If anything, I prefer Oniya's solution over yours. It's fairer and more representative of the people than simply abolishing it altogether.

Offline Oniya

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #43 on: November 26, 2012, 06:01:04 PM »
If anything, I prefer Oniya's solution over yours. It's fairer and more representative of the people than simply abolishing it altogether.

You will still have people complaining that it isn't, however.  Basically, what my suggestion would do is increase the number of 'states' to 580, and the votes would probably be awarded based on the way each Congressional District goes.  So, in the more populous districts (urban areas) an individual vote would still have less 'impact' compared to in the less populous ones, much the way that a single vote in California has less 'impact' compared to a single vote in Alaska.

Offline Stattick

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #44 on: November 26, 2012, 06:07:47 PM »
Your suggestion takes the election power away from the states and in essence, give it to the most populated states. As Callia pointed out, you'd have only 9 to 12 states that would be deciding who it the President. That is way WAY too much power in their hands. Abolishing it doesn't solve anything and concentrates the power into two few hands.

 Not to mention it would require a Constitutional Convention to do that.

Well, it would solve the problem of allowing people to directly elect the president, and get rid of the problem of a presidential candidate winning the electoral college while loosing the popular vote. It's academic though, since it will never happen without an amendment, and both parties at least moderately support the Electoral College, since they both think that at least occasionally, they can game the system. The states would be against it being abolished as well, so I think that there's very little chance it would ever happen.

So, every four years, I have to explain to my international friends on the internet how the EC works, and every year listen to them complaining that the EC is stupid and should be abolished, and,  "What kind of a country do I live in anyway, where the people don't elect their own president?". *sigh* It's a pain.
 
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/shrugs  That's the way the states decided to have their electoral ballets counted. As Oniya pointed out, only 2 states have anything different and those are, I believe, enshrined in the state constitutions. Something the federal government cannot touch or change.  Especially now. It's much too late and it's not the federal governments power to change how states cast electoral ballets.

If anything, I prefer Oniya's solution over yours. It's fairer and more representative of the people than simply abolishing it altogether.

Well, the idea of getting a bunch of states to sign in to go proportional would be a step in the right direction, and wouldn't require a constitutional amendment. There's been a movement to get a bunch of states to agree to it for years. I think they have seven or eight willing to do it, but not until a bunch of other states also agree to do it.

Oniya's suggestion is interesting, but would require a constitutional amendment as well. Also, I'm not comfortable having the votes tied to Congressional Districts, considering how much gerrymandering that goes on. There are states like Texas and Louisiana that have bent over backwards to try to create the congressional districts in such a way as to reduce the number of Democrat Congressmen to almost nothing. Not to be one sided, I'm pretty sure that Democrats have done the same sort of thing in some states as well, at least at some point. (I honestly don't have an idea of how badly gerrymandered any of the blue states might be, I've only heard of some of the really bad red states.)


I understand that you support the EC. A lot of people do. I lot of people hate it, and I happen to be one of those. I do recognize that there are legitimate arguments both pro and con to the EC. However, I don't think either of us is going to convince the other to change their mind. I propose that we agree to disagree.

Offline Kythia

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #45 on: November 26, 2012, 06:18:20 PM »
I understand that you support the EC. A lot of people do. I lot of people hate it, and I happen to be one of those. I do recognize that there are legitimate arguments both pro and con to the EC. However, I don't think either of us is going to convince the other to change their mind. I propose that we agree to disagree.

Well, I feel a bit bad doing this after a civil agreement to disgreement, but...

What ARE the arguments in favour of the EC?  I'm not trying to be argumentative here, I'm from the UK and I'm representative of the "international friends" you speak about who don't agree with it - I doubt it's you I've had the conversation with but I have had it with online American friends.

So yeah, really not trying to inflame an argument which you have so decently shut down, but I am curious as to what the pros are.

Offline Stattick

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #46 on: November 26, 2012, 06:37:10 PM »
Well, I feel a bit bad doing this after a civil agreement to disgreement, but...

What ARE the arguments in favour of the EC?  I'm not trying to be argumentative here, I'm from the UK and I'm representative of the "international friends" you speak about who don't agree with it - I doubt it's you I've had the conversation with but I have had it with online American friends.

So yeah, really not trying to inflame an argument which you have so decently shut down, but I am curious as to what the pros are.

It makes the less populous states have more of a voice in electing the president. So, for instance, if you live in Montana, Alaska, Kansas, or Georgia (to name a few), your vote counts more than if you live in California or New York. It was a safeguard so one or two more populous states didn't dominate the country back when it was formed. But today, the likelihood that one or two states would be able to dominate the presidency would be impossible.

Some also argue that abolishing the EC would allow Democrat candidates (the more liberal of the two parties) an unfair advantage. It's thought by some that they'd be able to do most of their campaigning in just California and New York and ignore the rest of the nation. The same theory proposes that Republican candidates would have to campaign all over, doing lots of little appearance in less populous areas.

I don't think the reality would work out like that at all, but I'll admit that we can't be certain as to how things would shake out in the real world. I think that what would probably really happen, is that campaigning in Lower New York and Coastal California would be necessary for Democrats, but that they'd want to hit LOTS of places where there's a concentration of Democrat voters, such as Detroit Michigan, Atlanta Georgia, Austin and Houston Texas, and so forth. Meanwhile, the Republicans would want to hit lots of areas that have a concentration of conservative voters, such as almost anywhere in the Midwest or South. But the GOP would also get something out of campaigning in Upper New York (state) or in the farming country of California.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2012, 06:39:55 PM by Stattick »

Offline Kythia

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #47 on: November 26, 2012, 06:40:10 PM »
Awesome, thank you.

Offline Skynet

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #48 on: November 26, 2012, 07:02:30 PM »
I recall that Jon Stewart is a proponent of the popular vote.

Only problem is that the system is part of the Constitution, and trying to change things would be met with fierce resistance.  Also, as described before, it prevents states like California from becoming too powerful.

Offline Cheka Man

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #49 on: November 26, 2012, 07:20:22 PM »
Are you certain?You certainly seem to have far more variety than we do here in the states.

Because of the voting system only two parties can get into power and theyt are the same as each other. And some of the other parties are too crazy or evil for most sensible people to want them in power.

Offline Kythia

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #50 on: November 26, 2012, 08:18:16 PM »
You know we have a coalition government with a third party at the moment, right?

I voted against PR in the referendum - don't wanna get too off topic by going in to it.  And yeah, there is a common opinion that the two major parties are similar, not sure how true it is but no real interest in holding that debate.  But the very fact that we have three main political parties makes it much more open than I get the sense the US is - just my impression, Americans, no offense if I'm wrong.  It feels like a third party candidate is almost a joke candidate at the moment while we have three major parties and a host of other minor but influential ones - the Greens have an MP, UKIP are important on a European stage, the BNP do well in some local elections.  Yeah, none of those I'd want in power but as I say, my impression is that we're way more diverse politcal party wise than the US

EDIT:  Just thought - thats not even getting into the horrific can o' worms that is Northern Irish politics and is also ignoring the strength of the SNP and Plaid Cymru.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2012, 08:25:59 PM by Kythia »

Offline Cheka Man

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #51 on: November 26, 2012, 11:45:19 PM »
The BNP are racist, the UKIP is crazy, the Greens are good but the voting system keeps them out.

Offline Kythia

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #52 on: November 27, 2012, 08:28:29 AM »
I suspect we're talking at cross purposes a bit here.  The greens have an MP and two MEPs.  To me that would mean the voting system doesn't keep them out because, you know, they've not been kept out.  But maybe you mean as a strong fourth party?  I think we'll see the English Democrats take that position if anyone does, they're doing increasingly well at a local level.  But whatever, it seems like we're defining some terms a little differently.

Offline Cheka Man

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #53 on: November 27, 2012, 09:17:48 AM »
1 MP out of 600+, hardly a strong third party.

Offline Kythia

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #54 on: November 27, 2012, 09:41:03 AM »
An increasongly strong possibility for fourth party - and only in  England at that.  The lib dems are pretty clearly the third party in England. Being in power and all.   As I say, SNP, DUP, Sinn Fein, Plaid Cymru, etc,etc, etc all have multiple representatives on a regional level, and UKIP are strong at what they do.  Not including independants there are fifteen parties with elected representatives that I can think of off the top of my head, there may well be town councils with other parties represented.

Boring List
Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru, Scottish National Party, UK Independence Party, British National Party, English Democrats, Green Party, Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Fein, Ulster Unionist Party, Social Democrat and Labour Party, Alliance Party of Northern Ireland and Traditional Unionist Voice

But yeah, it doesn't seem like we're gonna agree.  I can't see how you think the UK is a two party system, you can't see how I don't.  That's fantastic, I have a sneaking suspicion the world might be big enough for both of us.  But it does kinda mean we're both going to end up repeating ourselves so for the sake of the sanity of everyone else I'm gonna put down the whip and step slowly away from the horse carcass.

Until next we speak, Cheka.  Have a good afternoon.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #55 on: November 27, 2012, 10:25:38 AM »
It's still weird to see Sinn Fein in politics. (when I lived in the Republic they were regarded as a mouthpiece of the IRA in the north) and it still blows my mind to here that Ian Paisley was around after the turn of the century. Such a hateful man...

Offline Kythia

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #56 on: November 27, 2012, 10:32:53 AM »
Yeah.  They weren't regarded a a mouthpiece, they out and out were.  Sinn Fein are the political wing of the IRA.  I can't stress enough that this isn't conjecture, libel, anything like this, its solid statement of fact.  Martin McGuiness was head of the IRA.  It sticks in my craw that he's walking around a free man but whats the alternative?  Coming down hard on him and plunging Northern Ireland back into the troubles?  Neither alternative is particularly palateable but at least this way noone dies.

And I couldn't agree more about Paisley.  A horrific old bigot who can only claim any modicum of high ground because his opponents are murderers.  Awful awful human being.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #57 on: November 27, 2012, 10:40:56 AM »
Yeah.  They weren't regarded a a mouthpiece, they out and out were.  Sinn Fein are the political wing of the IRA.  I can't stress enough that this isn't conjecture, libel, anything like this, its solid statement of fact.  Martin McGuiness was head of the IRA.  It sticks in my craw that he's walking around a free man but whats the alternative?  Coming down hard on him and plunging Northern Ireland back into the troubles?  Neither alternative is particularly palateable but at least this way noone dies.

And I couldn't agree more about Paisley.  A horrific old bigot who can only claim any modicum of high ground because his opponents are murderers.  Awful awful human being.

Yeah, well in the south they were a LITTLE more but not much.  As for McGuniess he's not the only one with blood on his hands. Growing up in the republic in the 80s (79-82 to be precise) was an eye opener for a kid from the quiet south. The folks in Belfast had moved up to acid bombs in their clash with the police, the Montbatten assassination had just gone down, the hunger strikes and the rest were scary hints to me.

And as a Protestant to see a PREACHER like Paisley be so hateful..

Offline Kythia

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #58 on: November 27, 2012, 10:46:49 AM »
Ah, my apologies.  I'd missed your reference to the Republic in your previous post and just focused on South :-[

Yeah, Sinn Fein in the Republic are and were a little more.  I was born in 87 so I missed most of  the troubles - I remember Omagh though.  But a good friend of mine is from (London)Derry and talking to her mam about it all is amazing.

Offline Cheka Man

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #59 on: November 27, 2012, 11:35:23 PM »
I'd like to make the UVF and IRA have a Hunger Games, with the winner getting their version of Ireland as long as only one survives.  :P

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #60 on: November 27, 2012, 11:38:39 PM »
I'd like to make the UVF and IRA have a Hunger Games, with the winner getting their version of Ireland as long as only one survives.  :P

I used to joke that both the Republic of Ireland and the UK need to wall Northern Ireland off, let everyone who wants to leave out and wait a year or so for the crazies to kill each other..then let the rest of the folks back in and rebuild.

Both sides are ..well not nice folks, with ties in all sorts of criminal activices of one sort or another. I mean it was an open secret when I lived in the Republic that at least a few farmers along the border areas were 'double dipping' subsidies for income for the Provos.. and there are groups on both sides that did drug dealing AND protection schemes.

Offline Kythia

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #61 on: November 28, 2012, 01:59:29 AM »
Yeah, there was a fairly major bank robbery (apparently) 8 years ago.  Does that mean I'm getting old?  Coulda sworn it was yesterday.  Pretty open knowledge that it was the IRA, or at the very least pIRA members.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #62 on: November 28, 2012, 02:54:47 AM »
Yeah, there was a fairly major bank robbery (apparently) 8 years ago.  Does that mean I'm getting old?  Coulda sworn it was yesterday.  Pretty open knowledge that it was the IRA, or at the very least pIRA members.

Oh yeah, the Northern Bank job in Belfast. Largest robbery, bank wise, in the British Isles.  The Provos had a crew that specialized in kidnap/robberies if I recall. An article I read compared it to a robbery in Beruit in the 60s, in that it was to finance something for an organization. The PLO got their operating capital in the Beruit job and I'm guessing the Provos did the same in the job. 

Offline Kythia

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Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #63 on: November 28, 2012, 02:59:46 AM »
Honestly didn't think word of that woulda spread to the US.  Could have saved myself finding the wikipedia article, realising it was eight years ago and sobbing bitterly into my lemon tea about how I'm getting old.  Ah well.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: "My vote won't make any difference...."
« Reply #64 on: November 28, 2012, 03:21:10 AM »
Honestly didn't think word of that woulda spread to the US.  Could have saved myself finding the wikipedia article, realising it was eight years ago and sobbing bitterly into my lemon tea about how I'm getting old.  Ah well.

I was based in Spain at the time. And I watch a lot of BBC.  And try to follow new from places I've been. Was real depressed to hear Longford Cathedral had been set fire to.