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Why vote counting goes slowly

November 21, 2012 - Harry Eagar
The Guardian, still partly an English newspaper although it is morphing into the first bicoastal daily, marvels at how complicated voting is in America, compared to England, where you get a ballot with one choice: your MP. Here, by contrast:

"British general elections can, believe it or not, still be as simple as walking into a voting booth, marking X on a piece of paper and putting it in the ballot box.

"But voters entering a US polling station can be handed a telephone directory of candidates for president, Senate, House, governor, state senate and legislature, mayor and some combination of parish, county, ward, municipality, comptroller, supervisor, commissioner, judge and board of education, even if not the dog catcher of urban myth.

"On top of the voting for people, there's the voting for things, the propositions and state constitutional amendments to deal with – and it's not all fun and gay marriage. There's the municipal bond proposals, the sports stadium sales tax, and many more. California's voters had to mull over 11 propositions on election day, ranging from the death penalty and genetically modified food labelling all the way to state senate redistricting. It takes time to complete – hence the long queues outside – and even longer to count after the event."

I've never had the opportunity to vote for a dog catcher, but in Polk County, Iowa, we got to vote for the fence viewer. At the Des Moines Regiser one year, we plotted to get one of the reporters elected, but after much talk about it over beer at the Office Lounge (named so reporters could call their wives and tell them, honestly, "Honey, I have to stay late at the office") we never quite got our act together.


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