Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Voting Tuesday!

Since we live overseas and I've registered to receive an absentee ballot, I voted today. I wish they sent a little sticker so I could wear it after making sure to remove all hanging chads. Anyway, nothing too surprising - choose city council members, some Amberley Village stuff (my registered address is in AV at my parent's house), but then I had to read several paragraphs to decide on State of Ohio issues. I wanted to show you what we're voting on come November:

Issue 4:
<...some items removed...>

Provide that the commission must adopt a qualifying plan with the highest "competitiveness number," as defined in the proposed Amendment. The Amendment defines the "competitiveness number" of a plan by a mathematical formula, that is the product of the number of balanced districts multiplied by two, plus the total number of other remaining competitive districts, minus the total number of unbalanced uncompetitive districts multiplied by two. The competitiveness number for a general assembly plan is the sum of the competitiveness number for the house of representatives districts and the competitiveness number for the senate districts. Provide that the "measure of competition" of a legislative district be based on a calculation using the two average partisan indexes for the district, which are calculated on the basis of the percentage of votes received by each of the two partisan candidates who received the two highest vote totals statewide in each of the three closest general elections during the four previous even-numbered years prior to adopting a redistricting plan, keeping the index for one of the partisan affiliations always as the minuend and the index for the other partisan affiliation always as the subtrahend from district to district throughout a redistricting plan.

I tried to express the "competitiveness number" algebraically and was unable - the terms in the supposed formula aren't defined rigorously. Try it out if you like.

Can someone educated in political speak please explain this to me? I consider myself fairly intelligent, and I even have an affinity for mathematics, but this is so completely unintelligible as to render me speechless.

Could this be a conspiracy to:
  • confuse the uneducated (read: poor)
  • confuse the educated (read: white)
  • confuse everyone
  • leave the vote blank (read: void the ballot - perhaps?)
Let's say for the moment it is intended to confuse the uneducated. Is the logic that someone who is confused by the issue will vote Yes, assuming the people in power know what the right way of redistricting is? Or is the logic that the same uneducated person will vote No, thinking that obfuscating the issue unnecessarily will cause a person to believe the people in power are throwing fancy terms and math in order to obscure the real issue at stake, which may benefit the poor.

Or perhaps the intent is to confuse the educated. In which case I have to ask: why? The educated have all the power anyway, and they (we) write the ballots, so why not put some hidden meaning into the message - like the word "math", which we all know most people dread. If this is the case I can logically assume the "correct" vote would be a No, because most of the people in power don't really want to lose power and tend towards conservatism anyway, which means No changes.

Maybe, and this is most likely, the purpose is to confuse everyone. I find it sad that the people we choose to govern us are unable or unwilling to distill this information into something everyone can understand. When you realize people like Stephen Hawking or Richard Feynman can elucidate even the most complicated theories of modern physics, you have to wonder if redistricting is somehow beyond explanation, and that we the masses should just be happy we are allowed to participate in the voting process.

The last possibility, leaving the vote blank and voiding the ballot, may or may not be true. I'm not certain whether leaving a vote blank or voting for competing candidates would void the entire ballot or just that portion.

November 8: How will you vote?

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