Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Minnesota's Elections Are In Need of Reform

A note on how the state of Minnesota does its primary election cycle, by someone who's participated in it:

This shit is complicated unnecessarily because the two major parties want it this way.

In Minnesota, we have a caucus system like Iowa. Unlike Iowa, this is not the end of the system; it is just the start. The actual primary election is in August. I'll get back to that in a moment.

The Minnesota caucus system exists solely to determine who, amongst those of that party in your neighborhood, go on to the Senate District convention. This is a gathering of the party that lives in your part of the state, which is usually about the size of a county. There they do the caucus thing again and determine who goes to the state party convention that Summer. Then, and only them, does the public at-large know who's on the fucking primary ballot.

That's right, there's two caucus-style events and then a convention before the common Minnesotan gets to vote. What a fucking waste of time and resources.

Okay, now the actual elections.

Primaries in Minnesota confuse the hell out of people. The reason? All parties share a date and space on a ballot, and despite the Election Judges telling people (as required by law) that you can't vote cross-party, folks still fucking do it because they think this is the General Election.

It's not.

What's actually going on is that all parties agree to just get this shit done on the same day. You are still forbidden from participating in more than one party's primary election, so the smart thing to do is to choose the party primary whose races are most important to you. The process is designed to minimize outside participation by the public.

The General Election is in November (of course), and that's when the participation is botched by people mostly not properly filling out the damn ballots.

This system is old and busted. It's a relic of the days when folks were mostly rural, and communications were entirely by mail. While I wish that the former were still true (just under half of us now), the latter is entirely different and that change alone justifies reform in favor of the superior communications technologies we possess now.

At least Minnesota allows absentee ballots. By the way, vote absentee if you can. No time pressures. No need to take off work, find your polling place, or any of the other election day hassles. Absentee voting is the single best way to vote, and most folks have no idea how to do it. Until we can get serious reforms that take the gatekeeping and byzantine bullshit out of the system, this shift in individual behavior will be the best option for the most people to make elections work for them again.

Minnesotans: GO HERE. Get a fucking absentee ballot. Kill all of the pressures that voting at the polls put on you by doing this. Vote at home, before Election Day, at your own pace and with access to information to inform you about all the races and questions on the ballot. I--an Election Judge--do this, and so should you.

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