Dependable Erection

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Election dissection pt. 2

I had a chance to do a little number crunching myself.

There were 31,966 votes cast in the mayor's race yesterday. Each of those voters could have cast up to 3 votes for city council, making a total of 95,898 votes available. Only 82,286 votes were actually cast.

That's 13,360 votes that were left on the table.

Now, it's possible that there were 13,360 voters who all selected only two candidates for council. Equally, it's possible that there 4,543 voters who didn't bother to check off any of the candidates. But it's more likely, i think, given that most of the endorsers selected three candidates, except the Durham Committee, which only endorsed one candidate, that most of the missing votes came from ballots in which Farad Ali was the sole candidate selected.

Which would mean there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,680 voters who did so.

Given that Ali finished just over a thousand votes ahead of David Harris, i'm rethinking my earlier contention that the lack of endorsement by the Committee was not the critical factor in the election. It's certainly possible that had Harris run a different campaign and finished higher in the primary, the "split progressive vote" factor would not have worked against him.

But it's clear that, with so many missing votes in the final tally, the Committee's endorsement of just a single candidate was a major factor in how things played out.

So put me back in the camp of those who say that not getting the Committee's endorsment cost David Harris a seat on council.

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  • One of the reasons I'm a fan of approval voting is that it eliminates the need for people to feel like they should only vote for one candidate in a multi-candidate, multi-seat election (like this past City Council election). I've read that it's actually pretty common for, say, members of an ethnic group to vote solely for the candidate in their group, and not vote for others, so they can help get that candidate elected. Approval voting would mean we don't have to do that. You wouldn't really be penalized for, say, voting for all the Democratic candidates, or all the Latinos, or all of the "pro-life" candidates, or whatever.

    I think every election scheme has a problem -- literally. That is, you can always come up with a scenario where the voting system does something that's not intuitively obvious, or the insertion of extra candidates can fuck up another's chances. But approval voting looks pretty good to me. I think I even have a pamphlet somewhere that I can give you on it, if I can find them. I'm not going to go through all the pros and cons here, because there are too many issues, and I don't even remember them all.

    By Blogger Joe, at 7:50 PM  

  • I think single transferable voting is the fairest, but it is complicated to explain to people and very expensive in computing power.

    If Ireland can use it (over 2 million voting population), then so can localities in the US...

    By Anonymous durhamfood, at 7:56 PM  

  • I'd like to hear the explanations of both these otions: please?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:31 PM  

  • Hello Anonymous.

    Approval and single transferable voting AND MORE here in Wiki land

    By Blogger Phil, at 9:03 PM  

  • ah, sorry, I meant to link, but forgot...

    By Anonymous durhamfood, at 9:58 PM  

  • I don't know anything about approval voting. I think the system I "understand" the most is the one we have now. Politics to me is a humane substitute for fighting and killing, which is how people used to govern, that is, when they weren't achieving consensus. I don't see consensus working well except in very small groups, where all your countless options can be discussed to the point of tears and exhaustion, then whomever is left standing gets the say-so. My 2¢.

    Anyhoo, I'd like to know why anyone would consider Lavonia Allison a "good" Democrat, when in fact her Committee fails to endorse Democrats on a regular basis? Like Ali over Harris? WTF?

    I realize this is "Durham politics" we're talking about, but gee whiz, can we just stop calling Ms. Allison a "Democrat" and perhaps come up with a more accurate term? Like "PAC Boss"? "Special Interest Diva"? Ideas?

    By Blogger Tony, at 10:13 PM  

  • I am extremely disappointed that Mayor Bell did not endorse his fellow Democrats for city council. Even if he didn't officially "endorse" anyone, he still could have said some nice things to boost David Harris' candidacy. Instead, he kowtowed to Farad Ali to get the Durham Committee's endorsement himself. Or at least that's the way it appears. The placement of an Ali sign in front of his campaign headquarters didn't help that appearance.

    The only materials that Bell sent that included any mention of the other Democrats were paid for by the NCDP. I expected more from him as a leader in the party, especially after all the work the party did to get him re-elected. I think he could have done a lot more reaching out for the entire Democratic ticket.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:16 PM  

  • Well, prepare to be pissed off even further, 10:18 -- on election day, word got aorund that they were having a Vote Today rally on the NCCU campus. Some students supporting Harris alerted him, but when he approached the organizer for info, he was told they knew nothing about it. A few minutes later, Farad Ali walked up, was given a schedule by the organizer and headed off. What do you know? There was a rally after all -- of Farad Ali stepping with his fraternity brothers -- and there, right besides him, was Bill Bell.

    A lot of food was served at the voting rally. I'd be interested to know if Central -- an institution that is publicly funded -- used public money to push the candidacy of one candidate over another and to sponsor that rally, or to pay for the buses of Central voters that headed over early, unknown to anyone but Farad Ali and Bell, who just happened to walking past the BOE parking lot, apparently, just as each bus arrived.

    I lost all respect for Bill Bell during this election and will not support him for any public office ever again.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:39 PM  

  • In most circles, Lavonia Allison is known simply as "that twisted old hag."

    It works for me.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:40 PM  

  • "I don't know anything about approval voting"

    "I don't see consensus working well except in very small groups"

    You could go read about approval voting, then you might find out that it has nothing to do with consensus...

    By Anonymous durhamfood, at 10:13 AM  

  • Is it my imagination or did Diane Catotti totally bitch-slap Farad Ali in the N&O today?

    Barry, dude: move this to the front page, pretty please?! (I know, I know, I really need my own blog...)

    By Anonymous Coconut, at 4:28 PM  

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